This first chapter is the work of


I want to thank him for letting me use it for the start of this story.

It truly was a marvellous sight.

The shimmering waters bounced light around across the concrete walls.

The gentle hum of power sent tingles down his spine.

The warm, glowing red lights set around the ring of water at even intervals were quite fetching.

The beauty of this sight was marred by the team of heavily armed soldiers standing in front of it on a grilled ramp, ready to step through - which they did.

Ripples played across the surface of the vertical pool of water as each member of the team went through. Not four seconds after the last one was through, the water disappeared as though it was a blue fireball dying out in the exact centre of the Ring.

Ranma turned around and went back to his seat in the Briefing Room, irritated at the unnecessary tightness of his dress-blue uniform as he sat down.

This was his very first Briefing after he graduated from the USAFA, as his shiny new second lieutenant bar attested to ... and the older men already sitting around the table in waiting for the Commanding Officer didn't seem very keen to be working with a rookie fresh from the Academy, regardless of how impressive his files were.

Ranma wasn't exactly wet behind the ears where hostile confrontation was concerned, but his head was still spinning from the information he'd been given the day before when he first arrived at Cheyenne Mountain

Humans weren't alone in the universe.

There existed several alien races out there, and Earth was engaged in a secret war against a race of parasitic beings called the Goa'uld, who would burrow their way into someone's neck, wrap around the upper spine of its host and extend tendrils into the host brain to gain full control over them. He had seen the footage of one such incident taking place in the Stargate Command - a veteran called Kowalski had been the unfortunate victim, and had been killed after an operation that emseemingly/em removed the parasite, but only turned out to have been the dead husk.

That particular footage made Ranma realise that if he was expected to step through that thing, he was not going to be near it when it started or disengaged - he might lose something vital.

On base there was an emalien/em being of a race of servants to the Goa'uld, called the Jaffa.

Speaking of which, accompanying the bald, overweight General was the flag team of the SGC - the SG1, where the Jaffa was stationed. Ranma had yet to learn their names - heck, he barely remembered the General's name - but his general shape made it easier to recall ... he was shaped almost like a ham turned upright, he was a ham man - Hammond. Not that he'd ever share this method of recalling the man's name ...

Ranma was the first to rise to his feet and into a firm stance of attention, a feat he completed before the more experienced men had even realised who had entered the room.

"At ease," General Hammond commanded in his thick Texas drawl as the last man in the room was at attention. "Have a seat, gentlemen - SG1 will brief you on your next mission ... or your first, as is the case with young Lieutenant Saotome."

"General Hammond, I believe introductions are in order," interrupted the large, black man with a gold tattoo on his forehead.

"Fair enough," agreed the General, and indicated each of the SG1, Ranma already having introduced himself to the team he had been assigned. "This is Colonel Jack O'Neill."

"That's with two L's ... there's another O'Neil and he has no sense of humour," added the man. Ranma could sense not only great sadness about the weatherworn man, but also experience in the darker of the military arts - this man was a warrior in the truest meaning of the word. From the man's semi-relaxed stance, and attempted wit, Ranma could only conclude he hid his true intelligence and feelings behind a mask of idiocy, bravado and humour.

"Next is Captain Samantha Carter," continued Hammond, ignoring O'Neill's comment.

"I read your thesis on worm-holes, Captain," commented Ranma lightly. "A bit over my head, but my physics tutor seemed to think you could walk on water."

"I'm glad," Captain Carter accepted gratefully. "I just don't think I'll try that trick for a while."

"True, it's very complicated at first," agreed Ranma in a tone that could be conceived as joking.

"I believe you've been told about Dr Daniel Jackson, the man who deciphered the glyphs on the cover stone found over the Stargate at the Giza dig," continued Hammond.

"Hi," greeted Dr Jackson pleasantly, if in a somewhat bashful manner.

"And finally, we have Teal'c, of Chulak," finished General Hammond.

"It is a pleasure to meet a fellow emwarrior/em," greeted the muscular man with a reverent bow of his head, then extended his hand, which Ranma reluctantly accepted, only to find the hand clasping his forearm instead of the hand. "Tek'ma'tek Lieutenant Saotome."

"Huh?" interrupted O'Neill quizzically to Dr Jackson.

"Er, it's a form of greeting between friends," the bespectacled man translated. "Teal'c, have you met Lieutenant Saotome before?"

"Indeed I have not," denied Teal'c stoically. "I happened upon him in the gym last night, and witnessed his prowess as a warrior. His skills will be a great asset to the service of this world - And any fellow defender of the Tau'ri is a friend of mine."

"That wasn't all that impressive," Ranma commented sheepishly and rubbed the stubble at the base of his neck, where his pigtail once rested. "It was just a few lesser kata to wind down before going to bed ..."

"Indeed," agreed Teal'c. "Regardless of your statement, the skills you displayed were impressive - not many of Apophis' forces will be a match to you if your skills extend to the handling of a weapon as well as your body."

"That's high praise, lieutenant," commented O'Neill, then plastered a mock superior expression on his face. "He hasn't said that about my skills in a few hours, though ..."

"Indeed," agreed the Jaffa with a humouring smirk.

"So what is your training?" questioned Major Styles, Ranma superior on the team.

"In what way?" Ranma asked for clarification.

"Which style do you practice, and what level are you?" the Major acquiesced.

"Anything Goes, it bases its foundation on the best of all Martial Arts forms, while weeding out the flaws," smirked Ranma. "And after having practiced and learned for most of my life, there is no level high enough to recognise my skills - the closest would be Grand Master ... but I never bothered to ask for the title from the current holder."

There was disbelieving scoffs from the rest of Ranma's team, but the Jaffa inclined his head in recognition of what significance Ranma's claim had. "Perhaps some time in the future, we may practice our skills against each other." He added politely.

"Sounds like fun," agreed Ranma.

"Now on with the briefing - Dr Jackson," interjected General Hammond.

"Thanks," said Jackson and marched to one end of the table, opposite from the General's seat, and the lights dimmed some while the others sat down. "P1-269 is an uninhabited planet, as near as we can tell. The MALP picked up on what seem to be heavily decayed ruins some miles away from the Stargate, but showed no sign of activity or heat. And the road leading to the gate has not been used by anyone for centuries, judging by the overgrowth of weeds and other flora."

"What kind of planet are we talkin' about here?" questioned Captain Mockry, raking his hand across his balding head.

"Like most planets we've made contact with, this planet has a breathable atmosphere," Jackson clarified, as though the Captain was slow-witted - everyone else seemed to have picked up on the flora comment, and as some of it had been named as weeds, it was safe to say the vegetation was Earth-like, which usually meant it was suitable for humans.

As though to clarify this further, the projector lit up and displayed a landscape shot of nearly uninterrupted green, with some dark spots marked by a red square.

"The highlighted area shows where the ruins are," continued Jackson. "Unfortunately, we haven't been able to make the MALP travel that far, due to certain magnetic disturbances in the ionosphere. The MALP refused to travel more than a hundred metres from the gate because of this, and the batteries seem to drain faster than normal - which means you might need to ... er ... give it a push back to Earth when you return."

"That thing weighs a ton!" erupted Dr Lankin, a fresh archaeologist assigned to Ranma's team just days before him, and having already been off-world on a brief visit to some other ruins.

"Only about half that," corrected Captain Carter. "And it'll be on wheels, so it won't feel as heavy."

"I say we let the rookie handle it," smirked Captain Mockry.

"No problem," countered Ranma cheerfully. "Should I carry it if the terrain is too rocky?"

Ranma's light tone was taken for sarcasm, and the briefing moved on.

"The origin of the ruins is a mystery," continued Dr Jackson. The image zoomed in on the red square, showing what looked like Mayan architecture gone to waste. "While the architecture appears to be of Earth origin, there are elements we can't really account for such as the carvings on the walls that seem to contain some sort of runic quality, while not having coherent meaning as of present.

"What we want you to do is to go and take some pictures and make some kind of map of where we might find something of historical interest in the future."

"Thank you Dr Jackson," said General. "Your mission is scheduled for tomorrow and oh-eight-hundred."

"General, sir," Ranma interrupted quickly before they were dismissed. "Permission to speak."

"Go ahead, son," Hammond granted.

"Will I be permitted to bring personal equipment?"

"Each team member will bring standard equipment," General Hammond announced. "But, you may bring anything in addition if you can carry it. Be warned that in the event of an emergency, standard gear is prioritised, and anything else will be abandoned - do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal, sir," Ranma grinned.

"Just don't bite off more than you can chew," added O'Neill.

"Never do, sir," quipped Ranma.