Disclaimer: I do not own Ranma 1/2, Sailor Moon, Lost Universe, Stargate, or Ah My Goddess. This is a non-profit work of fanfiction meant only for entertainment.
by Lerris Smith
Sarah and Rodney stared at the devastation of their battle. The landscape was pockmarked with craters with the area the aliens blasted cleared clean down to the bedrock.
Rodney suddenly jumped up from his console and ran back to check on Makoto. He said, "She is unconscious, and these burns look bad. Ouch! She is still emitting stray burst of electricity."
Sarah said, "The scanners have picked up a couple of our pilots still alive. One of them registers as in bad shape. I'm going to land nearby. Once we load them we can head to the Alaska base. There should be medical help there."
"Sounds good." Rodney removed his outer shirt and wrapped it around his right hand before carefully shifting Makoto to a more comfortable position. He then put his shirt back on and his coat and waited near the air lock.
Two stops later they had both pilots onboard and Rodney was applying his limited first aid skills while Sarah flew them at top speed to the Alaska base. A few minutes into their journey Sarah activated her portable military com system and said, "This is Lieutenant Commander Sarah Smith on special assignment to Seal team Delta for General Hammond. I'm piloting an experimental vessel and need priority clearance to land. We have two injured airmen on board, one in critical condition. We also have a VIP civilian that may be suffering from electrical damage. She appears stable at the present time."
"Roger that experimental vessel. We have been apprised of the situation. You are clear for the main runway. EMT specialists are standing by."
Immediately after they landed Rodney and Sarah were quickly called into a secure conference room for a teleconference with the President, the Joint chiefs of staff, the Secretary of Defense and General Hammond. They explained the situation and what they knew, which wasn't allot.
General Hammond said, "The report I have from the group I sent with Sailor Mars and Endymion states that Endymion collapsed due to extreme pain. Now from what we know of this group, he is the one supposed to be directly associated with the Earth. Sailor Mars explicitly said the Earth was dying."
"What are you suggesting? Surely you don't believe?" the President said.
Rodney said, "I should think that is obvious. They didn't attack someplace in the middle of nowhere for no reason! This all happened when that tree that appeared was blown away. I'm betting this isn't a coincidence, especially since right afterward we see someone tied closed to the Earth collapse in pain followed by another saying the Earth is dying. Now, this is either all some big hoax and hostile aliens attacked a target in the middle of nowhere for no tactical gain whatsoever, or, they achieved something and I'm betting that it is something that is not in our best interest."
"Okay, presuming that your right. What do we look for? Are we on a clock? Is there anything that can be done?"
Rodney said, "How should I know? I'm a scientist, not a magician. I wasn't sure any of this stuff existed until I met these people, but it clearly works. The one with us, Sailor Jupiter, was able to severely damage that ship with something that I wouldn't even guess would function."
"Very well. We have a few contacts which we will approach. The joint chiefs will insure the battle site is secured as we conduct our investigation. What about the nuclear payloads used? I know we never fired any, but what about the crafts that were destroyed? Do we have any broken arrows?"
General Hammond said gravely, "Two are unaccounted for. One is recovered. We have a lock on the emergency transponder on another one, but have not recovered it from where it is mostly buried yet. There are already teams working round the clock with more on the way."
"Good. The last thing we need is to add a nuclear detonation to the mix."
The secretary of defense said, "Possible, but unlikely, as our telemetry clearly shows they were not armed at the time of loss."
"Keep at it. Call any time day or night if I am required to expedite things. Now General, what is your plan?"
"I request to keep the special ops agent codename Sarah Smith at the Alaska base. I'm hopeful Sailor Mars will be able to recover, and if that craft is needed again, it is just better to keep it all together."
The secretary of defense said, "That is not a problem, though I would like Mr. McKay to also remain and if need be summon more of his team to try to learn something useful from that shuttle and the wreckage, if any of it can be salvaged."
General Hammond said, "Understood."
Sarah said, "Lieutenant Commander Sarah Smith here. I request to take the craft I came in back out to the sight asap. I don't think we missed anyone alive, but the sensors on it might help find the broken arrow more quickly."
The president asked, "Can that be arranged without further revealing the existence of that craft?"
The secretary of defense said, "Everyone involved in the search already has the clearance required. I see no harm in using it initially if it saves us time."
General Hammond said, "We have been unable to get in touch with Prometheus, although there are many possible reasons for that. I have already ordered an F-302 with a long range subspace communications pod to their last known coordinates to attempt to make contact. I hope to hear back in a few hours. I believe one of us should leave to meet with Sailor Mars and Endymion as fast as possible. Whatever is going on, we almost certainly want leadership on site. I'd also recommend making appropriate inquires around the world and see if anyone knows anything. We are flying in the dark gentlemen, and that is a condition I do not intend to persist."
The president said, "Plan approved. I want you there George. You have the most experience with dealing with off-world headaches. Send me your top three choices as interim commander for Cheyenne. I'll get one of them there asap and let me know what the F-302 finds out as soon as you know."
Ranma and Nabiki walked onto the bridge at nearly the same time as Usagi got back from the Prometheus. Jack started to get up, but Ranma said, "You're fine, and for now likely doing a better job than I could."
Jack nodded a small nod before sitting back down.
Ranma said, "I have no intention of leaving Kasumi to them." Moon started to say something but stepped back.
Canal stepped into the room, for once solid looking when there was no need to be. She said, "The most likely location is their core world. It is called Amalar. Several of the probes ended up at what I believe is the hyperspace exit near there. We won't be able to tell their position in normal space until we exit hyperspace, so that's the best I can tell for now. Their hyperspace gate is close to Amalar. Should that gate be destroyed, the planet would likely suffer catastrophic damage."
Jack said, "Damn! I assume this Amalar is populated."
Canal said, "My data on it is limited, but there was an old population estimate of 4 billion souls."
Haruka asked, "Couldn't we just threaten to blow it up if they don't give her back?"
Pluto said, "That is a very dangerous game. Up till now we defended ourselves. If there is one thing that is apt to send their entire society down on us, it is annihilating their home world."
Nabiki said, "Never attack a superior enemy directly. You need to target his supplies and weaken his underpinnings."
Ranma said, "The gateways. There must be more right? Do we have a list of them? If we threatened to destroy them it might get us some bargaining strength. They can't all be right next to a planet, can they?"
Canal said, "The data I have suggests there is a network of nine that they actively use, excluding the one near Amalar. One of those nine is too close to an inhabited planet to safely destroy."
Pluto said, "It might work. Its risky though."
Jack said, "Ah come on! My team has pulled off plans much riskier than this one."
Teal'c said, "Indeed."
Suddenly on the main view screen the view changed to an air force pilot in an F-302. He said, "Prometheus, this is Sargent Micheal Brown. Do you read me?"
Jack pressed the reply button and said, "We read you Sargent."
"Sir. Can you set your system with emergency decode set four thousand nine hundred and two?"
Jack said, "I have no idea how to do that. Hold on, let me get the Prometheus on-line." He pressed the same button again. It was definitely nice to have an AI continuously making one button do whatever you needed done. Jack said, "Major Davis, do you copy?"
"I have a Sargent Micheal Brown on from and F-302. He is talking to us from hyperspace, if the blue glow means anything. He had a message with decode..."
Nabiki said, "Four thousand nine hundred and two."
Major Davis said, "Understood. One time pad is loaded. We are ready to receive. We are receiving. It seems your ship forwarded the message. Reception done. Hold on." Jack twiddled his thumbs absently as the others looked on. A couple minutes later he said, "It seems that our enemies had a ship attack a location near the North Pole where an old giant tree appeared. They destroyed the tree. We destroyed them using that shuttle you brought. The latest information we have is that Sailor Mars said the Earth is dying right after."
Jack said, "Ah hell."
Moon said, "That must be what I sensed. The Earth must have established a magical biosphere regulation matrix. It shouldn't have been needed. Earth was the cradle of civilization, yet it seems it was needed, else why bother to attack that point? I'm surprised they even noticed it. It would imply a very high degree of magical engineering. Fortunately, there are usually multiple redundant key points established due to their importance." Mercury was furiously tapping on her laptop.
Jack, after glance at the laptop, asked, "And what happens if one is destroyed?"
Nabiki said, "The others would all be thousands of years old as well, and likely in no better shape. Based partly on other information, there is a very good chance the failure will cascade to the others effectively removing the feedback that was stabilizing the system. It may start to get colder and colder..."
Major Davis who was listening said, "Tell me you aren't serious?"
Michiru asked, "How much time do we have?"
Nabiki said, "There is too little data to tell. At a guess, months, but that is only a guess."
Jack said, "Ah come on. There has to be something we can do. The Asgard might have an idea, if nothing else."
Usagi motioned to Canal to mute the microphone to the other ship. She said, "What I don't get is how it lasted this long. Any matrix should have failed thousands of years ago without maintenance. I'm also not sure how to rebuild one from scratch without a very large team of trained mages and well I'm guessing about a million volunteers."
Jack's head swiveled sharply. "A million? Are you kidding me?"
Usagi nodded. She said, "It is only a guess, but assuming some group was helping to maintain the system, and assuming things are as I remember them to be, and that our classified methods for what may happen are true, then a matrix this old must be immensely powerful and countering forces immensely powerful. With the damage it is very likely you'd have to rebuild from scratch and fight against the pressure being exerted on it that the old matrix held back. Such things were taken very seriously when I last reigned. We would not dare let one decay or be damaged. The price was too high. Beryl's attacks destroyed us because they targeted similar nodes on the other planets."
"So a million people would have to die to fix it?"
"They would live on in the new matrix after a fashion. It is not a bad way of life, but inevitably those who choose it grow tired and wish to embrace the rest they rightly deserve. It was considered a high honor. Typically volunteers were those in their last decade of life."
A pained look crossed Setsuna's face. She asked, "You don't think they have been there all this time?"
Usagi also looked pained at the concept. She said quietly, "I hope not. I dearly hope not. Such heroes deserve so much better than to be forgotten and left to rot."
Ranma said, "I'll gladly help all I can, but this isn't saving Kasumi."
Teal'c said, "If these people knew enough to know what to target..."
Jack said, "Then they may also know how to fix it, without desperate measures."
Nabiki said, "Doubtful, but they may have the mages we need to help fix it."
"For crying out lout. So let me see if I get this. The Earth had some magical heating system. The bad guys we just defended ourselves against just destroyed part of it, with the rest likely to fail soon, and oh by the way we probably need their help to fix it," said Jack.
Nabiki said, "Simplistic, but still the most likely conclusion based on the limited data."
"And your not going to tell us how you know part of it."
Usagi said, "No. Our sources and methods for one piece of information can not be revealed. They would not help anyway. We only knew the effect, not the cause, at least not until today."
Jack grimaced but nodded. He pressed the button again. "Major Davis. The situation is complex. It is possible we may need the help of the people who attacked us to resolve the situation on Earth. I'll let you know more when I can."
"Understood. Is there anything we can help with?"
"Not at this time, well other than perhaps making sure the ship is ready for anything."
"Understood. Prometheus out."
Ranma said, "Canal plot a course to Amalar." He looked at Jack who nodded.
"Course plotted. Engines engaged. Full wavelength cloak available at your command, though it will require more power due to the Prometheus, and may be detected while the engines are active."
Ranma said, "Activate the cloak." The ship just vanished as both co-captains felt the additional strain on their psyches.
Nabiki said, "We are going to need something more though. If we open a communications channel they will find us regardless and likely try to destroy us before we get a chance to say much."
Canal said, "Several stealth probes are just finishing production. We would be delayed by a couple hours, but they could be launched to form a communications relay. If we used laser communication with them, they could then communicate with Amalar, or we could end the chain with one of the probes we launched earlier that is already there."
Jack said, "Carter would love to be here. For once someone else is coming up with the saving the world gizmos." Canal gave him a brief annoyed glare.
It was decided that Jack would speak for the Earth. He was the highest ranking they had, and more apt to be taken seriously than those so much younger. He ended up borrowing Major Davis's dress uniform and then Dr. Mizuno ended up having to alter it, but they were finally ready.
Canal said, "Com system on-line. As usual I am handling the translation in real time."
"This is Colonel Jack O'Neil of Earth. I demand to speak to your leader to answer for your unprovoked attacks and kidnapping of one of our citizens."
Silence replied for several minutes until the face of their former captive appeared on the screen. He said, "I am the Emperor. I find I must give thanks to those who rescued me. Now, what is it that the empire can do for you?"
"You can start by returning the woman you took."
"That will be quite impossible. She is to be our Empress. I have never seen a woman who has impressed me so, and you would have me give her up? That is quite impossible."
"You do not even speak the same language."
"That is a trifling matter. Already a team of linguists is deciphering her language and teaching her ours."
Jack's eyebrow rose at that. He said, "Nevertheless we want her back. If necessary, we can go beyond merely defending ourselves to taking out your military assets. I should think a few less of those gateways would complicate life for your empire."
"While what you say is true, in the end the Empire would crush you, and even the loss of our hyperspace gates would not stop us long. Already our scientists are near to the point of being able to recreate them. I am a fair man though, so I am willing to offer you some compensation."
"Compensation? We are talking about the life of a non combatant!"
Alex raised an eyebrow as if curious about the concept. Setsuna motioned for them to cut the microphone. Canal gave a small nod to indicate she had done so.
Setsuna said, "If they will let me, I will go. I can help keep her safe and try to learn something useful. I'm actually fairly practiced at this kind of work, and in the worst case I may be able to open a portal to get us home."
Usagi looked at Setsuna with a sad expression but finally nodded. She said quietly, almost in prayer, "May god always stand between you and harm in all the empty places where you must walk."
Teal'c said, "I would like to volunteer to go as well."
Jack said, "But we need you on SG1."
"This may not be permanent and I cannot think of a better way to serve. You will need eyes and ears in this place and I am familiar with the role."
Jack nodded. He pressed the com button and noted wryly that the Emperor was now drinking a dark beverage on the rocks. Jack said, "For now we have these terms. Two of us will stay with Kasumi to insure that she is unharmed. We will send with them our own communications equipment, so they may remain in contact with Earth. Furthermore, we require a team of your best mages. It seems one of your ships escaped its original attack on our galaxy and then proceeded to destroy a very old and very powerful part of the magic that protects our world."
Alex seemed shocked at that. He said, "That goes too far! How dare they waste resources like that! Sure you may have been proven to be a threat but to destroy a valuable resource is simply unforgivable. If they weren't dead I would kill them!"
"So you agree to our terms?"
"Very well Colonel O'Neil of Earth. We shall send you our Sister and two of her friends. Among us, there is none better at such magics. She should be able to help, though be warned the price to your people may yet be high."
"So I have been told."
"We shall send a shuttle to the coordinates you specify. It can return with your people. Should my sister come to harm, your world will be destroyed. I may not wish to waste resources, but family is important. I only do this because our empress's world should be preserved." He said the last as if it was nothing more than the simple truth.
Jack said, "Just so we are clear. Should you violate these terms, we destroy the gate next to your home world, which will destroy the planet along with it."
"We had never thought of the great gates as potential bombs. They were so precious to us that the very idea was abhorrent. Still, I suppose that means our family will have to relocate." Then, as if in afterthought he said, "We agree to your terms. The shuttle should take off within a day, once my sister and her friends have time to prepare for their journey."
Usagi cornered Setsuna shortly afterward in her bedroom. She said, "I was a part of empowering your connection to the Gate of Eternity and Pluto itself. I know the limits of your powers well and can make a good guess of their current limits with Pluto displaced as it is."
"Yes, I very well know what I was offering. I could not make portals crossing the universe even when Pluto wasn't displaced, yet with my own willing sacrifice..."
Usagi said softly, "Life fire. I had not known that you knew of it."
Setsuna smiled sadly. "A girl can learn a few things in her free time."
"I understand. I could not be prouder of you daughter of Pluto." Usagi then embraced the taller green haired woman in a hug. Tears fell down both their faces. Usagi's voice was muffled due to her position when she said, "Don't sell your life cheaply. Help them if you can. There has to be a way to end the bloodshed."
"I will do my best your majesty."
"I do hope you have not risked my sister without good reason. I nearly refused when I heard that through my implant," stated the Emperor.
"Alex, you know she is problematic. We simply thought it best to accomplish two goals at the same time. Even if they treat her well, she is at least no longer our problem for awhile."
Alex said, "That is a valid point and I doubt they will treat her badly. They even took me in after all."
"It is unimportant. I could almost wish they failed to save their planet, but even if they do not, it may be best to keep them around, for now at least."
Alex asked, "Why is that? While I do believe the Empress's planet should be preserved. I was under the impression you did not care for my choice."
The man pulled out a folder and handled it to the young emperor. He flipped it open and looked through it before saying, "So, this Colonel O'Neil is one of the top targets of our enemies the Goa'uld and so is his planet. It seems intelligence did its job for a change, if a bit late. Do you think they are worth keeping around as a distraction?"
"Does it matter? When two of your enemies are fighting each other the logical course of action is to..."
"Stay out of the way and let them kill each other. Yes. Yes. I learned my lessons well. Still from all accounts the threat is mostly that ship. Have a team setup with no other goal but capturing either the ship or the technology behind it. Destroying it is acceptable too, however if they are making more, then we really do need that technology or a way to nullify it."
"Of course my Lord," the man said dryly. The Emperor glared at him and in response the man nodded and walked out. As he was leaving the Emperor said, "Make sure you get a translation matrix from them as well. I would speak with our future Empress soon."
The man gave one final half nod.
Alex said, "Actually, perhaps we could arrange for that troublesome ship to be destroyed fighting the Goa'uld?"
"No my liege. That is something we cannot risk. Should the Goa'uld manage to recover the ship and incorporate its technology then we may very well be the next ones conquered."
"A valid point. Very well, if intelligence can find a way to destroy it, then they may do so without regard to information collection, though I still would greatly prefer to get it back. Perhaps it could become our new flagship."
The man nodded once and exiting out the side door.
Later on the man was talking to another small group of men. He said, "Alex grows more and more troublesome as he gets older."
"We could always eliminate him. We have done it before."
"No. The people like him. For now he serves his purpose, and we lack any other direct heirs."
"What of the girl and this deal?"
"Ah yes. Our future empress." The man's voice was dripping with sarcasm.
"I say we honor that part of the bargain, for now at least. It will be no great trouble keeping three people out of things they should not be in, and if the woman distracts Alex from his notions of leadership..."
"Then things will be even easier. Yes, I take your point. Still, we will have to monitor the situation closely."
"We always do, but for now let the boy have his toy. She is most attractive and it would be useful to have another heir. Still, it's a pity he never accepted any of the women we selected for him."
One of them grumbled out, "I still say someone told him they were our recruits."
"Perhaps one of them did. There is nothing to be done about it now. The investigation is complete and I'll not kill a half dozen high grade operatives in the off chance one is a traitor. We have been over this time and time again. It is time to move on."
"The main question is what do we do about that ship? Shall we follow the boy's plans?"
"Perhaps. The basics are solid, yet a greater focus needs to be on obtaining the technical data of that ship. I can't believe we had it in our fleet for years and didn't discover what a gem it truly was. I'd gladly sacrifice dozens of ships and thousands of soldiers for the knowledge of how to make ships that small that powerful."
Another mused, "One of Kira's friends is vulnerable. It would not take much to persuade her to help, and she is likely going to go with them."
"See to it, and make sure Danzo prepares her personally right away. We have little time."
General Hammond set across the table from Rei Hino at a small Thai restaurant near the hospital. Across from them both was Daniel Jackson. Mamoru was in a coma and showed no sign of waking. Several plain clothed security personnel had taken nearby tables to be sure their conversation wasn't overheard. Rei was reviewing a thin folder of information, though it seemed she was struggling from time to time. She looked up to the General.
The General noticed her look and said, "Please explain to me again whatever you can."
She said haltingly in English, "I will do my best. My English is ..."
Daniel said in Japanese, "My Japanese is rusty, but I suspect it is better than your English. I was the one that included the Japanese translation in the notes you just read."
Rei let out a small sigh of relief. Hammond said, "Yes, it was fortunate that Dr. Jackson got back from his business trip early and was able to meet us here."
Rei said in Japanese, "It was not a tree, or rather not only a tree. Something is horribly wrong. I think they destroyed something important. I think. I'm guessing you realize, but I think it was part of a magical construct used to regulate the Earth's environment. I think with it gone the rest will follow in time. I can feel it now that the tree is gone. My friend Mamoru, you know about him?"
Daniel said in Japanese, "If you mean his penchant for formal-ware, then yes."
She replied, "He is tied to the Earth. Anything that greatly affects the Earth will affect him. If the Earth dies, or even suffers a catastrophic enough change then he too will probably die."
"Well, we are here to help. Do you know how to repair this construct you mentioned?"
"No. My memories of the Silver Millennium are spotty at best, and I don't think I was involved in any of the constructs that sustained the other worlds. I don't recall ever knowing that one on Earth existed. It was the one world where life flourished without one."
Daniel translated what he was told back to the General. He then said in Japanese,"Tell us what you do know or any guesses you have. Anything at all. It could be important."
Suddenly a very short old lady walked into the restaurant and hopped into the remaining chair. They waited quietly until she placed an order for tea and chicken pad-thai. The old lady then said in excellent English, "Don't let me interrupt. Go on, I believe you were getting to the important bit."
"Who are you?" asked General Hammond.
"My name is Kho-Lon. I am matriarch of what you would refer to as the lost tribe of Chinese Amazons. We are also the last keepers of Avendesora, which is the name of what you referred to as the magical construct that keeps the Earth alive. Your incompetence just cost us one of the three principle nodes. Over a thousand souls made that place their home and now all are gone. The others will fail soon."
The general didn't bat an eye at the insult. He simply said, "How do we fix it?"
She said sharply, "We can't. While our tribe is a keeper of lore thousands of years old, we do not have the knowledge to repair the breach. It was only through regular sacrifices of our most promising that the thing has lasted the last few thousand years!"
Hammond said, "I am sorry. If I could fix it I would. The ship that might have been able to stop them went with some others to face a potentially larger threat."
Kho Lon nodded. She said, "I suppose I do have one thing to thank you for. You have brought my own daughter time at least. She was about to sacrifice herself to become part of Avendesora, but with this there was no point."
Daniel asked, "There must be something we can do."
Kho Lon turned towards Rei and asked, "Daughter of Fire, where is your leader? She is the only hope I know of, though I fear the cost will be high indeed for our lack of care."
Rei said in her best English, "She is on that ship."
Kho Lon nodded and turned back to Hammond.
Hammond said, "Good. They should be back soon. Now what do you mean by a high cost and sacrifices?"
Kho Lon said, "Our best records indicate thousands of souls resided in the three nodes, but that is partially guesswork. Our records only go back so far, and do not cover the nodes creation. We do not know from whence they came. We ourselves have sent two hundred and four of our best and brightest to join them since our records began."
Shocked Daniel said , "You use people to power this magic life support system?"
Rei said quietly in Japanese, "Volunteers. My memory of that time may be spotty, but it was our highest law that they would have had to be volunteers, at least if it was one we setup. Ours were said to be a nice place to, well not live, since it wasn't life as you know it, but they were communities and people were together. I do not know how one setup by Earth might differ." Her eyes grew wide before saying, "I just had a terrible thought! What if we have ignored and let those pour souls languish there for all the thousands of years since the fall? We would have failed entirely in our duty! They were never meant to be permanent. A soul has a right to go to its appointed rest! Others were supposed to take their place. You say you had a couple hundred volunteer? That is not remotely enough! Kami-sama, what have we done?"
The general was alarmed at her tone and was not especially soothed by Daniel's hurried translation.
Kho-lon said simply, "They never communicated to us that. Perhaps they knew our little village could afford no more. Perhaps they agreed with us that even acknowledging the existence of such a thing to the wider world could be very dangerous. I do not know, but it seems we too have failed."
Kho-lon brought her aged hand down on the table absently busting off a piece of it. The plain clothes security started to move when a glare from Hammond stopped them.
The general asked, "What can we expect when it fails?"
Sailor Mars said in Japaense, "Cold. I can't say why, but the temperature should continue to drop. There may be other factors, but I'd bet that is the first one."
"You can't say why?" prompted Daniel in Japanese.
"I'm sorry. I simply cannot. Some secrets must be kept. I do not believe that knowing this one would help here."
Daniel translated. The general just nodded.
Akane asked, "So what do we do now?"
Shampoo said, "Great grandmother is looking. Shampoo will do her duty if possible."
"You still plan to die?" asked the chef.
Shampoo looked puzzled. She said, "If world falls, village die too. Shampoo life too small price to pay for even chance to save village."
Not far away Happosai cursed. He had no idea what to do now, other than to stay close to the people involved and continue to protect them. He just hoped hell would get a reign on its darker members, or that heaven would mobilize the Valkyrie squadrons again. Who was he kidding? The last thing they needed was the truce broken and open war between the hoards of heaven and hell! He very much doubted the Earth would survive it.
General Hammond returned to the van that was at the moment the closest thing they had to a mobile command center. He got on a secure phone back to Cheyenne mountain. He said, "Contact all our more resourceful allies. Have SG teams discretely deliver the message that something that was keeping the Earth warm is in the process of failing. Ask for suggestions and help."
He listened for several minutes before saying, "I understand. Hammond out."
Daniel said, "Your hoping the Asgard might be able to help."
"I'm not too certain they will be able to, not with the protected planets treaty."
"We still need to ask. If we don't have a plan soon, we will have to begin evacuating to the alpha site. Materials are already being ordered and stockpiled should that eventuality be authorized, but I don't need to tell you the amount of people the alpha site can sustain is highly limited."
Ranma said, "I hate this plan! I mean we are leaving Kasumi and now two others to the people that tried to kill us!"
Jack said, "I know. The plan sucks, but sometimes a sucky plan is all you got."
Teal'c said, "It reminds me of the plan Colonel O'Neil proposed to me which finally encouraged me to betray Ra."
"My plan wasn't that bad!" exclaimed O'Neil.
In response Teal'c just raised his eyebrow.
Jack said, "At any rate it worked, and this one can too. At the very least we buy a little time and hopefully get the expertise needed to fix this mess."
Haruka exclaimed, "You don't actually expect us to trust them?"
Jack said, "Hell no. Whoever they send we watch like hawks and expect they will do the same with our people. We are playing in the big league now boys and girls."
Several of the younger Senshi glared at him.
"It's just an expression!"
Ranma said, "I should go."
Nabiki had tears in her eyes when she held onto him and said quietly, "If anyone should risk their life for Kasumi it is me. I owe her so very much, but if either of us go Swordbreaker is weakened and they almost certainly win."
"It's not right! Kasumi was the best of us. Everyone left Kasumi alone. If she is hurt there will be hell to pay!" half screamed the pigtailed martial artist.
Teal'c said, "On my life, she will come to no harm."
Setsuna tilted Ranma's head to look him in the eyes. She said, "I swear to you that I will protect them both and if necessary get them both out."
Ranma could see it then. It was written in her expression as if in giant letters. He said quietly, "You will die."
Setsuna's eyes misted. She said simply, "I have served with pride for so very long. I have watched civilizations rise and fall and rise again, and even manipulated them to bring us to this very day. It is my right and my choice to claim this duty. Do you not understand?"
Ranma nodded. He understood. They all did.
In a lonely temple in Nekomi, Belldandy was worried. Heaven had recalled both Skuld and Urd, saying they were needed but had not explained why. She could guess of course. Father wanted them under his eye, since otherwise it was likely they would interfere in what was coming. That left her. If it were other circumstances she might suspect Urd of a plot to give her and Keiichi time alone. Of course those plots were always appreciated, regardless of the reason.
She was surprised when Yggdrasil whispered the new Moon Queen's prayer to her on the wind and the events behind it. The remnants of the Moon Kingdom and in particular Setsuna were often discussed in heaven. It was amazing how often that one's plans derailed their own, yet in the end she thought they would grant Usagi's prayer when the time came. Seeking to live forever was a very corrupting goal, however, seeking to be able to continue to help was generally not. It all depended on what ones real goal was. Sadly the second often became the first. Fortunately, Setsuna had been more of a force for good than bad, and she had done it all with only the imperfect clarity that their gate gave to them. More importantly, she had been able to act in areas where heaven could not because of rules that they themselves must enforce. She would have to speak to father soon. She did not think her words would ultimately influence Setsuna's fate, yet she could not but try.
The real question that the prayer had temporarily distracted from her was whether or not she would disobey heaven and act herself knowing it would mean being eternally separated from her beloved Keiichi. It was a thought she could not stand. It was probably only that she had never disobeyed in the past why she was left free now. She also knew that even if she did do all she could it would not be nearly enough. The ultimate force would not be her ally if she disobeyed father. She shivered as she lay under the covers and took in the heat from the warm body beside her as Keiichi gently stroked her hair.
He said softly, "You are worried."
"Yes. I am very afraid. If I do nothing and obey father, then the world may die though Tokyo and part of Japan would live. I am allowed to save that much, but I am the only first class goddess left on Earth. If I forsake my vows to heaven then you may die and all that we cherish may die. At the very least I would never see you again! How do I forsake one duty for another and if I leave here, do I doom you and all the people in this city to slowly freezing to death? Why does heaven test me so? There are good people fighting and I know they will do their best to save us all, but even with everything it may not be enough."
Keiichi smiled at his beloved and then followed that up with a searing kiss. "Then go if you want. I will always be here waiting for you."
"But if I help them, I won't be able to see you again!" Belldandy was racked with sobs as Keiichi pulled her naked body closer to him.
Keichi tried to speak, but couldn't get the words out as he held her tightly to him and felt her heart beat next to his. He tried twice more to get the words out and failed. His own tears streamed down his face as they gently held and kissed each other for over an hour before Belldandy suddenly stiffened and said, "I must go." Then more hopefully she said, "Will you come with me?"
"Always my love. I will face anything if only to stand by your side."
"We will not be disobeying heaven today, yet it will be a fine line we walk." She embraced him. They disappeared only to reappear fully clothed in the corner of a private hospital room for one Mamoru Chiba. With Keiichi's help she pulled one of the bigger chairs up to the side of his bed and sat down with Keiichi snuggled into her side.
They were surprised a few moments later when the old priest from the Hino shrine walked in and gaped at them. He bowed deeply to Belldandy.
She said softly, "There is no need to bow to me Hino-san. I see that you have already tried to help him."
"Yes, after I recovered Rei asked me to try. I'm sorry. My skills were too poor."
"Do not apologize. If the world had more people like you we would not be at this place at this moment."
"You do me too much honor." The old man paused for several seconds before carefully asking, "Will you please help him megami-sama?" He then bowed deeply as his old bones would allow, even partially grabbing onto the bed to support himself.
Belldandy smiled up at him before saying, "Thank you so much." He seemed shocked at her words of thanks. Keiichi too seemed confused. Belldandy continued saying, "Please ask the people of this place to open their doors and windows. Let this place for the time I am permitted know the healing of heaven."
Shocked the old man quickly straightened to carry out the goddess wishes. Understanding dawned on Keiichi as he scrambled to get up to open the rooms windows. As he was departing the room Belldandy gave him her best smile of approval even as she herself pushed the chair back and summoned her angel Holy Bell.
She began humming softly under her breath as she waited for Keiichi and the old priest to have time for their task even as she wrapped herself and Holy Bell in the joy and love she had just experienced with Keiichi by her side. She smiled a particularly fond smile as she thought of last night with him. With that final thought she sang with all the skill and power she had at her disposal. It was not the power of a first class goddess. Her limiters would allow only a fraction of that and she dare not remove them for this, not when this was only the beginning of what must be done. Still her power was impressive nonetheless. Throughout the hospital, and in particular in those rooms close by health returned to those sick in body and in spirit as a song older than man combined with all the positive energy a goddess and her angel could call forth swept through the area.
An old general who had been waiting in the nearby waiting room walked in as her song ended. His heart felt so much lighter seeing the goddess with her angel. He felt better than he had in decades as he noticed the young man beginning to stir. After her song finally ended he asked with wonder in his tone, "Who are you?"
She said softly, "My name is Belldandy. I am just a friend who thought she could help, if only for a little while. You have in your own way done more good than me of late. I thank you for it."
He blinked. "What? Me? I'm just an old has been general living out my time till retirement. Now what you did was amazing. I have never heard or felt the like." She smiled at him, not upset by his lie.
He asked, "How long?"
She smiled a mysterious smile as Holy Bell returned to her. She said, "I have given him some of my own energy and a touch of the magic inherent in the song. It will not last I'm afraid, though if he can avoid using his power he should have perhaps a month."
"That soon," he said softly. "And if he uses his powers?"
"His connection to the Earth is deep, as is his connection to Avendesora, which was damaged and is in near collapse. One tries to heal him. The other pulls him down with it. Should he use his powers before he is separated from Avendesora then he will almost certainly die, yet his separation would accelerate the collapse."
He asked, "Is their nothing we can do?"
Belldandy smiled. Keiichi stood behind the general waiting patiently.
She said softly, "Every time you choose to ignore the aches and pains to get up and do your best to see the world become a better place for your granddaughters, you are doing all you can do and heaven thanks you for it." She gave him a small bow to indicate her approval.
He smiled a small smile and then asked wryly, "Is there anything more specific we can do?"
Belldandy and Keiichi quietly came together and began to fade away. As they left he heard her last words. They were little more than a whisper in the wind. He heard, "Father says my sister puts too much faith in computers and not in people."
A bemused old general sat in the chair that the goddess had so recently sat in as he reached for his cell phone. He did not know what to make of her last words, but he was sure they were important and he knew he would spend much time thinking on them. As he was dialing the old priest returned to the room and said in English, "I already called Rei. She will be here as soon as she can."
The general nodded as the phone connected. He said, "Dr. Jackson. Our patient is awakening. Could you come down?"
He listened for a moment and then said, "No, no donuts this time. Try to bring something healthier. I think it is past time I stopped eating all that junk." There was a pause. Finally he said, "I'll see you when you get here."
Jack and Teal'c sat on the bridge by themselves for a change. The others were all resting, or trying to. No one particularly liked this plan.
Jack said, "This plan sucks!"
"Perhaps we can think of a better one?" suggested his stalwart friend.
"Man, I wish we could. I don't suppose we'd be lucky enough for them to have a nice stargate you could all escape through."
"I will of course endeavor to find such a thing after we arrive."
"That's the spirit!"
"You miss Captain Carter?"
"Yes. No! I mean she is always the one to come up with the fancy plans when I couldn't. She would be useful."
"Wait a second. I've got it!" exclaimed O'Neil. Then he added, "Well not so much it, as part of it, and perhaps only a small dangerous and incredibly risky part of it..."
Teal'c raised an eyebrow in curiosity.
"Go get the others. I have no idea if this crazy idea is going to work. It may even get us all killed, but I'd rather die trying to bring everyone home than leave anyone behind."
Teal'c gave a brief nod and proceeded to go and collect the others.
After Teal'c left the bridge a small smile graced his features. If he had to guess, he was fairly sure that many in the chain of command would hate O'Neil's new plan, as it risked exactly what they needed to save the Earth. That O'Neil's took such risks for his people was the main reason he still followed him.
Danzo considered his instructions, then he reconsidered them. Creating a covert operative was not difficult, though the rush job might not hold. If he had just had a months notice he could deliver perfection, but no, that was too much to ask for. They had to keep handing out these jobs last minute then expect him to clean up the mess. Still there was nothing to be done about that. Of more concern were the two new guests that were due. Perhaps he could arrange for them to spend a few days with him first? Several councilors had even written private notes suggesting it. Two even offered vast sums of money should he uncover any useful details about that troublesome ships technology. He smiled. He had always wanted a new house in the first district.