YES! STARGATE RETURNS! BWAHAHAHAHAHAAA! So, here we go with new chapters, hopefully closing out the story within the next two chapters at most.
All this is happening in "real time" now.
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Yuna bit her lip, wincing at Seymour's hard grip on her arm. The Maester smirked, looking out over the huge city in triumph.
"Are we ready to begin?" Asked the priest. Seymour nodded.
"Indeed… The infidels have no doubt fallen and-" An acolyte rushed up the steps of the tower, ascending to the topmost platform. He whispered frantically into the ear of one of the honor guard, who turned to the Maester and made the prayer sign.
"Maester Seymour, the Al Bhed ship has-" KABOOM!
All eyes turned to the source of the explosion, as the anti-aircraft gunnery turrets surrounding the tower opened fire. Another one was blown to pieces, and another, till all of the turrets were silenced. The troops raised their rifles uncertainly, as two angular birds, resembling vultures, flew high overhead.
The Al Bhed airship roared into view, and amidst continuous fire from the group troops fired anchor cables into the tower stairs.
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"So wait! I just jump on these things and surf down?!" John yelled over the roar of the engines and gunfire. Tidus smirked at him from his own cable in the "hanger deck", as John had mentally dubbed it.
"If you're too scared…" The blond taunted.
John rolled his eyes.
"Yeah, that's it bleached boy." The colonel, seeing no other alternative, pulled out a spare belt from his pack and wrapped it around the huge coil.
"Well, as they say on my planet… GERONIMO!" John slid down the cable, clinging to it like a fireman to a pole. He landed with a tumble to the carpeted steps of the tower, P90 already out and firing. He took down four guards before moving forward, scattering the guards higher up on the tower as they tried to take cover.
Behind him, Tidus landed easily from surfing down the cables, joining Sheppard in laying down suppressing fire. Lulu, Khimari, Auron, Wakka, and Rikku all followed, fighting their way up the tower. Lulu blasted apart groups of enemies, while John and Tidus took down the individuals. Auron and Khimari cut through the defensive robots, while Rikku merrily supplied grenades to the fortifications.
Wakka, per his usual, just threw his ball. More often than not bouncing it off the heads of guys John or Tidus had already nailed. John managed not to smirk.
At last, the group faced Seymour and his guards, behind which stood Yuna.
"Well well, Colonel Sheppard, I must salute your tenacity." The mad Maester smirked. "You strike me as a man who would fight his way through the Farplane itself to save the ones you love." John narrowed his eyes at the Maester, gaze shifting ever so slightly to Yuna, who stared back.
"You're not as dumb as you look," the colonel returned flatly. Yuna at this had a very noticeable blush. Seymour's smirk became more pronounced, as the reserve Yevon troops began filing in from more staircases and walkways to the tower. The Maester saw John's gaze shift about, as Auron and Khimari took defensive positions to the rear of the group.
"You do realize you are hopelessly outnumbered, Colonel Sheppard," Seymour simpered. "But, if you surrender, your lives may yet be spared."
"Hmph. Indeed. Mercy from the dead," Auron snorted.
"I would not be talking right now, Sir Auron," Seymour returned. Abruptly he spun around and struck Yuna, who fell to the tower floor in a heap.
"Yuna!" Shouted Tidus, Wakka, and Rikku. John glowered.
"You agreed to this whole wedding, just to send me? Truly Lady Yuna, you are Lord Braska's child. His determination and courage live on in you," Seymour mused, as Yuna got back up with a glare.
"They are my own, Maester Seymour…" Yuna backed away towards the edge of the platform. The group followed her with their eyes as Seymour watched in amusement.
"As I will demonstrate!"
"YUNIE, NO!" Rikku screamed as Yuna closed her eyes and fell back. John shoved his way through the guards, Tidus right on his heels, to the edge. Seymour followed, peering over in an almost bored fashion, as Yuna summoned Valefore in mid-air and flew down for the lower sections of the vast Bevelle temple.
"Holy…" Tidus began. Auron sighed.
"Always was a hothead," the old samurai muttered. Seymour turned to face John, who glared defiantly back at the Maester.
"Colonel John Sheppard. I know not what nation you come from, but rest assured-When this is done, we will have found where it lies and added it to Yevon's holy domain."
John merely smirked back.
"I wouldn't count on it, Bird Brain." At that moment, a Puddlejumper flew into view near the tower behind John, and rotated around while opening it's rear hatch. John threw a flashbang into Seymour's face and ran, Tidus, Auron, Lulu, Rikku, and Khimari joining him while leaping onto the craft's lowered ramp.
BANG! Seymour staggered back, gripping his face while screaming in agony, as the group stumbled into the 'Jumper and the hatch closed, flying away from gunfire.
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"Perfect timing, guys," John grinned, as he stumbled to the cockpit of the 'Jumper. Teyla turned her seat and smiled broadly at him, while McKay gave him a smirk from his controls. Ronan eyed the odd assortment of people now trying to get their balance in the back of the 'Jumper, while a glasses-wearing man John recognized as Daniel Jackson, and a long-haired woman he didn't recognize, tried to talk things out with them.
"Well, we thought you'd enjoy a thrilling, dramatic escape and-Who the heck are all those people anyway?!" McKay shouted. Sheppard sighed.
"It's… A long story… But right now, we've gotta get Yuna."
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Yuna panted, standing on her hands and knees before the fayth of Bahamut. Slowly she lowered her head. Her brow was slick with sweat, her face pale, but she was still smiling.
She had it… The next-to-last Aeon… Her journey was nearly over.
""Well… If my people ever find me, I promise… We'll find some other way of defeating Sin. And we'll make it so no one else ever has to die in defeating it. I promise."
"John," she murmured sadly. She'd grown very fond of the strange man during the pilgrimage. He had such hope, such tenacity. It burned brightly, like Tidus's, but he still wore the mannerisms of an old soldier, like Sir Auron. He was witty, kind, and even when so far from home, willing to put everything on the line for people he hardly knew.
If Earth had produced a man like John Sheppard… What kind of place was it?
Yuna wanted so badly to see it, to go with John and see the wonders of his world…
But how could she? Her fate… It seemed written in the very stone foundations of the temple around her. Even now, the wall facing her read from the Book of Yevon:
"Those who choose the path of Yevon can walk no other way."
This wall abruptly came apart as a brightly glowing thing blasted through it. Yuna ducked, crying out, as the projectile flew over her head and turned back around, smashing once more through the wall and clearing a wide opening into the abyss beyond.
"Yuna! You there?!" Yuna looked up to see John… In some kind of strange vehicle. It John, numerous other people who wore the same uniform as he did, and her friends. Rikku waved excitedly.
"What… What is that thing?" Yuna asked shakily. John grinned.
"My friends came with my ride…"
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(Back to journal mode!)
May 10th, 2006
I have to admit, that was probably the most explosive rescue/escape I'd ever been involved in. By simple number of explosions. Yes, I counted.
Anyway, once we'd picked up Yuna, I had us fly out of there to get picked up by the Daedalus, which was descending from wiping out Yevon's very large number of defensive drones with ease. Auron, Lulu, and Yuna all protested about this-They didn't want to end the mission-But the colonel wanted me back, and truth be told, Spira was probably not the safest place for them to be right now.
Auron protested even more when the Daedalus began to ascend out of Spira's atmosphere. He nearly ran through several SFs, and Dr. Jackson had to zat him to get him to calm down. What was his problem anyway?
… Aside from him beginning to fall apart. Tidus also began to fade, like he was disintegrating into fireflies.
Only these were pyreflies… The same thing the Aeons and fiends dissolved into when they were out of energy or killed.
Caldwell had the Daedalus stay in a low orbit, which stabilized Auron and Tidus. Just enough for them to fall into near-comas and be taken to the infirmary.
Yuna was in tears, and stayed at Tidus's side for the next 24 hours while I was debriefed. I told them everything I'd been through, the situation with Sin and Yevon, Seymour…
I have to admit, if I'd been listening to me at the time I wouldn't have believed a word of it. Even with the whole being-in-another-galaxy thing.
But McKay came in with the sensor readings they'd gotten from Yuna summoning Valefore, Sin itself, and Spira. Working with that long-haired girl (Aeris, an expert on… What was the word… 'Metaphysical planetary phenomena'?), they'd come up with a theory.
The pyreflies, Sin, the fiends, and Tidus and Auron… They were all constructs of ascended energy. Technically, they were partially ascended themselves. It was an energy that comes directly from the dimension the Ascended Ancients inhabit. Unlike the Ancients though, this energy was "fused" with normal energy and matter, which allowed it to do a lot of things that shouldn't be possible with real space physics.
Such as magic. Lulu was able to tap into this energy, the entire planet of Spira was saturated in it, and could convert it into other forms of energy (plasmas, solids, gases, liquids) through will and objects that focused the energy. She demonstrated a few simple spells and McKay went wild over it… And over Lulu a bit as well.
God I missed this… Missed them…
But yeah, off topic.
The Aeons and fiends and Tidus and Auron were also constructs of this energy. Aeris likened it to fossilization-Their original bodies were converted, somehow, into mostly ascended energy. The fiends were converted into monsters from people or animals caught up in the energy field because they couldn't consciously dictate how they were to 'ascend', while the Aeons seemed to have been 'ascended' with some design or program controlling how they did it. Tidus and Auron, well… I'll get to that.
No matter the case, while they were in Spira's 'ascended energy field', they stayed stable because they were provided a constant power source that kept the construct from coming apart. Get away from that field, and well…
They're melting, meelllting…
Ahem. Sorry about that.
When Auron woke up, we finally managed to put the last pieces of the puzzle together.
Yevon had been the ruler of Zanarkand a thousand years ago, and was outnumbered and outgunned by the technologically superior nations around him. He didn't have their advanced airships, warships, or fighting machines, but what he did have was access to the technology of the Ancients.
The Ancients had apparently found a world like Spira in the Milky Way-called Planet-that was linked somehow to the Ascended dimension and drew power from it. This energy took the form of a massive network within the world itself called the Lifestream.
On Spira, Ancients fleeing from the Ori's plagues in the Milky Way applied what they had learned from Planet and tried to harness the planet's Lifestream. They found ways of bringing back the dead, creating entire cities and beings out of the energy-You name it, they did it. The majority of the Ancients didn't know about this because, like in the Milky Way, these Ancients (Cetra as they called themselves) were very isolationist.
After bringing human clones to Spira and having them become fruitful and multiply, the Ancients died out. Why, no one knows. But, a few thousand years later found the humans left behind with their own nations and prepare to go to war.
Yevon, however, had a plan. He converted his entire population and city into ascended energy-A vast, indestructible construct that could never die or be destroyed. He did this by turning most of his population into 'fayths'-People who were linked into Spira's Lifestream and put into some kind of suspended animation. Their thoughts, with the Ancient's technology, shaped Ascended Zanarkand.
Taking with him his own group of fayths, Yevon created a huge partially ascended vehicle, ship, weapon thing for him to "pilot". This thing was called Sin, and when Yevon and Sin merged, the thing was tasked with destroying Zanarkand's enemies.
And it did so. Very, very efficiently. So efficiently that the nations in question were willing to do anything to be spared. One of Yevon's non-ascended followers came to Bevelle and told their leaders that Sin was the punishment of the gods on Spira's machine cities for straying from "the path". And only by embracing their religion could they be saved.
Easily one of the biggest scams any of us had ever heard of. And like the best scams, it kept itself running. Sin kept attacking any city or nation that tried to develop more advanced technology, to keep Ascended Zanarkand safe. It attacked any nation that got it's hands on Ancient technology to keep Ascended Zanarkand safe. And whenever a summoner managed to beat it, Yevon just took over that Aeon and the cycle resumed.
Wakka was really not happy to hear all this, and looked like he would bolt at any time… But the big guy was stronger than I thought. He stayed on to hear the rest of the tale, holding Lulu's hand in the infirmary.
Every time Sin was defeated, ten years would pass (the Calms) and then Sin would return.
But last time, something changed. Apparently, Yuna and Tidus's dads had gone on a pilgrimage with Auron years ago. Tidus's dad, Jecht, had somehow escaped Ascended Zanarkand. He didn't know how he'd ended up in the 'Real World', he just had. No red or blue pill to help.
Anyway, Braska (Yuna's dad) and Auron figured out that Jecht was mostly made up of ascended energy after infiltrating the main Yevon temple. And found out the truth behind Yevon and Sin. So, these three guys, as three guys seem prone to do on any world, came up with a plan.
A brilliant, crazy, incredible plan.
Jecht would become a fayth, and create an Aeon for Braska to summon. That way, when they defeated Sin, Jecht would become Sin. Braska died, as did Auron, but Braska had used some Ancient technology to ensure that when Auron was converted by Spira's Lifestream into Ascended energy, he stayed himself and not a fiend.
So there it was. Auron was supposed to lead Yuna and her Guardians to finding out the truth for themselves, so they could find a way to defeat Sin once and for all.
And I kind of mucked up the plan. Well, technically the Daedalus, my team, Atlantis, and myself mucked up the plan, but yeah, mostly me.
Caldwell wanted to help. After all, the Cetra's technology could definitely help against the Wraith and the Ori. Of course, the big question was… How do we do that?
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The final chapter next time!