I own neither Stargate nor the X-COM franchise. No infringement is intended, no profit is to be made and I'm just not worth the hassle of suing anyway unless you want a share of the wages of an underpaid Civil Servant.
Kelownan Capital – Langara (P2S-4C3) – November 2003
Rodney McKay stared at the drilling machine hanging in its cradle. 'This planet is like the golden age of science fiction come to life' he said eventually.
Jonas laughed. 'We get better results from our level of technology than you did on Earth' he noted.
'Assuming this actually thing works you do' McKay replied, turning to the local who was wearing an X-COM uniform with the addition of extra patches on the sleeves indicating he was from Langara and Kelowna. 'The powerplant is an Orbanian naquadah reactor right?' he asked.
'Two of them' Jonas corrected him. 'They provided us with about a hundred of the things as part of their aid package' he said. 'What we really need is some goa'uld and Earth tech to get her operational quickly' he continued, 'Tok'ra tunnel crystals would speed things up too' he added.
'There wouldn't have been any problem getting those for you even if it wasn't for the planet facing a global disaster' McKay told Jonas. 'We need more naquadria, we're running out fast' he said.
'If you'd made less into bombs Earth would have enough to make more AG-3X satellites' Jonas chided.
'That's pretty much what the Tollan said too' McKay noted. 'They were more condescending about it though' he continued. 'They've nearly used up the proportion of the naquadria stockpile that was intended for conversion to the allotrope we need for the AG-3X already.'
'For how many beam weapons?' Jonas queried.
'Six' McKay replied, 'and we'll have to use up one of them for testing if the things work at all' he reminded Jonas.
Jonas shrugged. 'According to the math it should' he replied. 'Of course according to the math they've also got about a thirty percent chance of exploding spectacularly every shot' he pointed out.
'Spectacular is one way to describe it' McKay replied. 'Personally I'd describe a litre of liquid naquadria going boom in stronger terms' he said.
'If all the naquadria under our feet goes up it'll make an AG-3X exploding look like a firecracker' Jonas told him. 'Kelowna will be destroyed and the rest of the planet will be an uninhabitable wasteland for millennia' he said.
'Better get this thing working then' McKay said, cracking his knuckles more for effect than anything. Evacuating the whole planet was the back-up plan one the Optricans had come up with it. A Maglev railway with carriages that could fit through the gate could transport a truly immense number of people in only thirty-eight minutes, the trains just had to be going at over five hundred miles an hour. As soon as the thirty-eight minutes were up and the wormhole closed the Optricans would dial Langara from their end and just send back the empty engines and carriages for the next batch of refugees.
The Tollan had delivered the additional stargates required and Optrican engineers were now constructing the Maglev lines, one stretch at the Langaran side and the other on a plain on their own homeworld around which they were constructing temporary shelters The Optricans would be diverting their entire railstock towards the project which meant an awful lot of people walking to work for a while but given the alternative was the death of hundreds of millions of people there wasn't much of a public outcry.
Other worlds had agreed to take some of the Langarans once the evacuation was complete, Optrica couldn't possibly look after them all, but hopes were still very much pinned on it being unnecessary because nobody really wanted millions of destitute Kelownans, Tirranians and Andari dumped on them. The Nox and Tollan had agreed to take the most since they had low populations, plenty of free land and a high enough technology base to cope. Since getting them to the Ida galaxy was a lot trickier, the power-requirements for intergalactic gate travel was too excessive, the Asgard couldn't do the same but they did offer material assistance to other worlds helping in the effort.
It would be fair to say that the Langarans would have much rather found out how naquadria was produced in a somewhat smaller scale experiment. Test-detonations of naquadria bombs on the planets surface by each of the three powers shortly before the Sectoid invasion had caused a self-perpetuating nuclear reaction that was now converting naquadah deposits deep underground into the naquadria isotope at an alarming rate of progression. Geological surveys and scans by the Asgard showed that as soon as a now known vein of naquadah deep underground was converted into it's far less stable form the heat and pressure would cause it to explode. Estimates of the yield had the Tollan muttering about what happened to Serita which wasn't exactly something anybody wanted to hear.
Fortunately the Kelownans had already developed the means to prevent the catastrophe, although they had originally intended it for a different purpose entirely, looking for new deposits of precious naquadria rather than trying to stop naquadria blowing their nation all to hell. The "Deep Underground Excavation Vehicle" had taken them two and half years to build and at the cost of over half the countries R&D budget, it wasn't ready yet but with the addition of some alien technology, and enough extra funds and personnel, it should be possible to get it operational and on its way very quickly they hoped. The DUEV would burrow its way ahead of the creeping conversion process and detonate an Earth supplied nuclear weapon to prevent it going any deeper. A few minor earthquakes had already resulted from small deposits going critical underground but if the big one could be averted then the evacuation of Langara wouldn't be necessary.
The goa'uld Thanos who had once owned Langara and first discovered naquadria had blown himself and a fair chunk of the planet to atoms by underestimating its instability thousands of years before. A data crystal belonging to him found near the site where the stargate was discovered had filled in a few of the blanks in the theoretical understanding how the process worked, the naquada to naquadria reaction itself produced sub-atomic particles that worked like muons did in catalysing deuterium/tritium fusion, but it wasn't much help in practical terms.
Naquadria eventually decayed back into regular naquada, in another ten thousand years there wouldn't have been any left on Langara if it hadn't been for the Kelownans triggering another explosion of the stuff, but as it was there was now a large mass of the material underground and assuming it didn't all explode then the three Langara governments planned to use it to re-build their economies. All the other planetary powers wanted naquadria either for experimentation or weaponry and the Langarans were willing to sell. If the AG-3X satellites worked then everyone would be clamouring for liquid naquadria to power them so Langara had a nice market opportunity right there, not even the Tollan who had perfected the production of the required allotrope objected too harshly to the sale of advanced defensive weaponry to less developed worlds than themselves these days.
The people of Langara were tired of being thought of as a charity case. Their off-world allies had first helped them to drive off Loki and then provided aid to rebuild their infrastructure and now they were helping again. Other than naquadria the one thing that Langara had that was unique was their people so that is what they were going to offer as well they had decided. The few survivors of what had been their equivalent of X-COM, plus other elite soldiers who had fought in the war and lived through to the other side, had all now been tested for psionic strength and skill and the very best of them had been asked to volunteer to serve alongside the Tau'ri military, most doing so willingly believing that it was both the best way to serve their own people. After the current crisis was over one way or the other they would transfer to Earth to undergo X-COM military training and would then be assigned to the Omega Site and attachment to combat teams. If they proved as useful as Jonas Quinn had to SG-1 then X-COM was happy to have them, moreover the Kelownan, Andari and Tirannian armies had put up a fight against Loki's forces that proved how stubborn and courageous they could be. Outgunned and technologically outclassed they had taken horrific losses and still held the line until the better equipped Optricans and Earthers could arrive and turn the tide of battle, you couldn't have asked any more of any military than what they gave, they died but they refused to be defeated.
Rodney McKay finished looking over the DUEV and then checked the blueprints. 'We can do this' he said confidently, 'I've no idea how you managed to get this far using goddamn valves for your electronics and without Computer Aided Design' he said, 'but we can do this' he said again. 'I'll need a few people from back home I've worked with before, Radek Zelenka for one but don't tell the guy I rate him' he continued, 'he's got a bit of an ego' he said, looking at the blueprints again intently.
'We've assigned you an assistant from our own personnel' Jonas told McKay, spotting someone approaching.
McKay snorted, still looking at the blueprints as he traced a power-coupling. 'I know you pick things up fast' he said, 'but you people are a few decades behind where you need to be in order to get this done quickly' he opined. 'He'll just get in my way.'
'I'm a she actually' a woman responded.
Even worse, McKay thought to himself looking up, or maybe not he decided changing his mind instantly when he saw her. 'Rodney McKay' he introduced himself, holding out a hand as he tried to look suave. 'Earth's foremost expert on alien technology' he declared.
Jonas wasn't of the opinion McKay had assessed himself right there but to be fair he probably made the top three at least. 'Doctor McKay may I introduce Kianna Cyr, one of our brightest and best' he said.
'It's a pleasure to meet you' Kianna told McKay with a smile.
Oh the pleasure is all mine, McKay thought to himself happily. Hot, apparently smart and with short blond hair, she was exactly his type and sure to be impressed by his awesome physics skills. 'Likewise' he replied, smiling back. This was already looking like it might overtake the Hebridan thing as the best job he had ever, if he saved the world maybe he could get the grateful girl too he hoped.
'Like myself Kianna was recruited straight out of university, even by our standards she's a quick learner' Jonas told McKay.
That probably put her IQ approaching two hundred, McKay realised, if it wasn't for all the radiation he'd absorbed over the years he might consider breeding, he thought, trying to look like he wasn't checking her out as blatantly as he was. 'How familiar are you with the DUEV?' he asked her.
'Very' Kianna replied, 'although to be honest I wanted to get into the naquadria bomb project instead' she admitted.
'Like blowing things up do you?' McKay joked.
'It's where all the very best physicists were assigned, I wanted to learn from the best' Kianna told him.
'In that case you were better off staying on this project after all' McKay told her, 'lucky you' he said.
'I'm going to get some coffee' Jonas said, 'if you can write up the other personnel you want I'll have it sent to Earth immediately' he told McKay.
'Coffee sounds good, I'll come with you' McKay replied.
'I've tried it, Jonas made me some, didn't like it' Kianna remarked, following them.
McKay smiled. 'If I didn't get my caffeine fix I'd go crazy' he said, don't blow this Rodney he told himself, to thine own self be true might be honest but it doesn't get you laid.
'I used to keep running out but then I asked Sergeant Siler to send through a couple of jars every time they gate someone from Earth' Jonas said, it was nice being back home but life without coffeee was intolerable.
'I'm a genius' McKay suddenly announced, 'or a complete idiot for not thinking of this before' he added.
'Sorry Doctor?' Kianna queried in confusion.
'I was thinking about naquadria, and then the tunnelling machine made me think about wormholes being tunnels through space' McKay said. 'Then I thought about the sub-atomic particles that catalyse the conversion of naquada to naquadria and everything clicked.'
'Sorry, still not following you I'm afraid' Jonas told him.
'The AG-3X' McKay said, 'it fires a sub-atomic particle beam' he said.
'Powered by liquid naquadria' Jonas agreed.
'Right' McKay said, clicking his finger furiously. 'Okay so a few years back Sokar nearly burned through the iris of the SGC stargate by firing a sub-atomic particle beam at it, the gap between the event horizon and the metal shield is large enough for the particles to re-integrate' he said. 'You can't actually have something touching the event horizon so there's always a narrow gap for any iris' he continued, 'even if it was an energy shield' he declared.
'The shield that protects Tartarus' Jonas realised.
'We test-fire the AG-3X by firing it through a stargate at Tartarus' McKay exclaimed, 'it'll burn right through that shield Anubis has on it.'
'Aren't we talking the equivalent of nuclear yields focused as a beam?' Kianna queried, 'what would that do to whatever was on the other side of the shield?' she asked.
'Well I wouldn't want to be there to find out first-hand' McKay told her. 'All that energy has to go somewhere and any solid matter in the way would become expanding plasma instantly' he said. 'I need to get to the stargate' he told Jonas then grinned, 'You've got to love the symmetry here given that Anubis attacked Earth through the gate with a beam too once' he said.
'This has a little less finesse than when he did it' Jonas observed.
'His way gave us days to figure out a solution, brute force is quicker' McKay replied. 'Well I'll say one thing' he continued, smirking. 'If there's a Kull Warrior standing in front of the gate that armour isn't going to help him very much' he said in amusement at the very idea.
* * *
USAF Prometheus – Abydos System – January 2004
Russell Sharp looked at the Asgard platform placed in the vessels canteen dubiously. 'So I just stand on that thing and my hologram appears on the other side of the gate?' he checked.
'Right' Carter confirmed. 'We'll have to give it back once we're finished with it unfortunately we just borrowed it' she said regretfully. 'Our own holographic projection technology based on a back-engineered goa'uld vo'cume device is far less sophisticated' she told him.
'And it'll work through the stargate and the shield on the other side?' Sharp asked.
Carter nodded. 'Anubis has used an asgard holographic projector to generate an image of himself through an open wormhole himself before, and we know that the same technology also works through his advanced shields even though the Asgard can't beam through them' she replied. 'As soon as we fire up the stargate floating out there and connect to Tartarus you can step on the pedestal and from your perspective you'll be standing in front of the gate there' she told him.
'Do I look alright?' Sharp asked.
Major Carter couldn't help but laugh. 'You look very nice for your date Sir' she told him.
'Just because you're no longer under my command that doesn't give you a license to say anything you like to a higher ranking officer Major' Sharp told her curtly. 'I think you've spent too much time with Colonel O'Neill' he added disparagingly.
'Sorry Sir' Carter responded. 'You look suitably X-COM' she told him.
'Good' Sharp replied. He was wearing the standard-issue grey jumpsuit with a brand-new cydonium/trinium alloy breastplate painted matt black covering his torso and had on a black beret with a trinium X-COM badge pinned to it. His rank insignia, a stylised skull and X motif were on his collar that just cleared the armour at his neck and he had XSGCOM patches on the upper arms of his jumpsuit above more rank insignia. The goa'uld appreciated a good show, look at how they dressed themselves and the uniforms they put the Jaffa in, so it might have been worth washing out all the bloodstains in his clothes, pressing them and making his boots shiny for once he decided, looking down at them.
The custom-made trinium-handled plasma pistol holstered on his belt had a new counter-weight on the other side. It looked like a metal side-handled baton, which it was, but it also had both a built-in stun-rod with electrodes that could be deployed and more unpleasantly it additionally housed a copy of the goa'uld pain-stick. The things were intended to be made standard issue eventually but given his seniority, and the fact he was known to be enough of a bastard to try it out on someone, Commander Sharp had been given a pre-production version for field testing. Although the Tau'ri much preferred to fight at long range the Jaffa habit of seeking close-combat meant that it couldn't always be avoided every time and the modified baton should help in that eventuality it was hoped. If nothing else the damn thing could be used for the occasional quick interrogation at least.
Sharp turned and looked out at the stargate hanging there in space with the oddly shaped block directly in front of it. Once the Tollan built gate was remotely dialled the Prometheus would slowly back away and he would stand on the platform, they didn't want to be anywhere near the AG-3X when it was activated.
The star system where Abydos used to reside was close to Earth which made it convenient to get to. Moreover there was no prospect of collateral damage in the now lifeless system and considering Anubis had killed it the weapon intended to kill him being fired from there was apt indeed. They could have simply dialled Tartarus and fired the AG-3X but if they could ensure Anubis was right there when it was unleashed, and maybe Loki too, that would be ideal.
Receiving the activation signal the stargate that Prometheus had deployed began to dial Tartarus, not that the Tollan gates actually had moving parts, their technology was solid-state in the extreme. The chevrons lit up and the wormhole connected as the X-303 began to pull back using its manoeuvring thrusters.
'Should have kept up those acting lessons' Sharp told himself as he stepped up onto the platform and the Asgard device activated.
Sharp found himself standing looking at a door a few metres ahead with a Kull Warrior stood either side of it. 'Take me to your leader' he told them. 'No, I mean bring your leader here' he corrected himself.
The Kull raised their arms and started firing their Plasma-Repeaters. It took considerable willpower not to try and dive out of the way as the bolts started going through him but instead Sharp turned around to watch them pass through his holographic form and splash against the shield covering the stargate directly behind him. 'I'll just wait here until you get bored then shall I?' Sharp asked the two Kull nonchalantly, looking around more. O'Neill was right, Sharp decided, Anubis really was a walking cliché he thought. His base was built into an active volcano like some Bond villain, the gate itself being on a platform set above a pool of molten lava below. The metal door ahead must lead into the main complex presumably.
'Look I can come back later if you'll take a message' Sharp told the Kull Warriors who were still shooting through him. 'Can I maybe talk to someone in authority?' he requested.
The Kull stopped firing put kept their arms raised to resume if necessary and the door slid open to reveal a man in the black clothes Anubis favoured in his minions. 'That is Asgard technology' the man stated, looking at the hologram. He was carrying a silver ball in one hand, likely a goa'uld long-range communication device.
'Yeah, Asgard hologram like you use, except we borrowed it and you stole it' Sharp replied.
'I am Thoth' the man announced, the door closing behind him.
'You're the goa'uld scientist that works for Anubis right?' Sharp queried. According to the Tok'ra intelligence briefings he had read Thoth was considered one of the smartest goa'uld around, his only professional rival was regarded as Nerus who worked for Baal, although for her part Nirrti considered them both extremely overrated.
'We all serve Anubis' Thoth responded, 'these with their strength' he continued, indicating the Kull, 'I with my mind' he said.
'Well you might serve Anubis but the only way I'll ever serve him is up for dinner for a hungry Unas' Sharp responded. 'But enough chit-chat I need to talk to your boss' he said.
'Who are you to demand audience with Lord Anubis?' Thoth replied with a sneer.
Sharp fixed the minor goa'uld with a stare. 'I am Commander Russell Sharp' he replied, 'Warlord of the Tau'ri' he declared.
Thoth's eyes widened indicating that all the psy-war-ops and propaganda stuff that Earth had been trying to spread had worked as intended. For some time now agents disguised as traders, or else wanderers through the gate network had been telling tall tales about the legendary Sharp of Canada, leader of the feared crossed-marked warriors of X-COM. Adding in the sheer number of Jaffa they had killed, and the amount of mayhem they had wrought throughout the galaxy, even the System Lords were wary of his reputation these days. 'I have heard of you also' Thoth admitted.
'Bet my rep is better' Sharp responded. 'Now I've established my credentials I don't talk to the monkey, fetch the organ grinder' he told Thoth.
The goa'uld looked confused. 'Is an organ grinder some kind of Tau'ri torture device' he queried.
'I mean go get Anubis I want to talk to him' Sharp told the underling, got to remember not to use cultural references he thought.
Thoth frowned. 'My Lord will not be summoned by a mere human' he said.
'Tell your master that the Tau'ri are willing to stop fighting the Kull and will give him a free hand if he cedes certain planets to us' Sharp told Thoth. 'As a sweetener we'll also sell out the Tok'ra and the Free Jaffa' he added.
'You are lying' Thoth replied, it was true that the Tau'ri and their advanced weapons had managed to kill more Kull warriors than everyone else put together, and they were proving a major thorn in the side of Anubis as he tried to crush the other System Lords, but welcome though their departure from the fighting would be he had to assume this was duplicity.
'I don't give a shit about the Tok'ra or the Free Jaffa' Sharp told him flatly. 'The Tok'ra would screw us over, I'm just doing it to them first' he said. Another reason he had been chosen as well as his seniority was that the goa'uld would be more likely to believe he was really that ruthless than they would certain other Tau'ri leaders.
That had the ring of truth about it, Thoth thought. The Tok'ra were backstabbing shol'va, traitors to their race. The Tau'ri were not stupid and would likely not trust them either, Tok'ra were infamous plotters and schemers after all, the goa'uld scientist knew. 'They are your allies' he noted.
'Earth doesn't have alliances it has interests' Sharp replied. 'If Anubis doesn't want to talk I'll go to Baal instead' he continued, 'with some of the technology we took from Loki in his hands Baal could kick your ass.'
'Baal's technology is primitive' Thoth blustered.
'Not as good as all the Ancient and Asgard tech you've got but he's still got a lot more ships and fighting Apophis all that time should have proven how much numbers matter' Sharp retorted.
Thoth looked at the communication device in his hand for a moment. 'Why did you not go to Baal first then?' he asked.
'Because he does have more ships' Sharp replied. 'It'll be years before Anubis has a large enough fleet to conquer and then hold the galaxy, he doesn't have the industrial base' he said. 'If Baal comes out ahead we'll have to face him much sooner' he continued. 'Anubis will have to beat the other System Lords into submission before he tries to deal with us because he can't attack Earth right now, it would leave his worlds undefended.'
'You think it would be difficult to conquer your world?' Thoth asked, laughing. 'You believe Anubis would require more than a fraction of his mighty fleet to do so?' he asked rhetorically.
'Ask Loki how many Ha'tak he thinks you'd need' Sharp replied evenly. 'This isn't Earth a few years ago when Apophis tried with two of them and might have pulled it off' he said. 'You can't absorb the losses we'd inflict, Baal could.'
The door opened again, this time it was Anubis himself. 'You hope that Baal and I will fight indefinitely whilst you live in peace' he said to Sharp, Thoth turning and bowing as he approached. 'You are deluded, the war will be over sooner than you think and after I am the undisputed Supreme System Lord I will raze your world' he said.
Sharp grinned. 'Nice of you to join us' he told Anubis. 'I don't suppose Loki is around too is he?' he asked.
'He is monitoring the conversation from orbit' Anubis replied. Loki preferred to remain on his own ship, the Ha'tak Anubis had given him in return for the Eyes, now lost forever.
Sharp inwardly sighed, it would have been too much to hope for. 'Someone on this side wants to talk to me, I'll be back in a second' he said, disappearing as he stepped off the platform.
'Fire' Sharp said with a distinctly evil grin as he found himself back on Prometheus, not that he had really ever left. Oh well, at least turning Anubis to ash made up for an otherwise horrible few weeks, the worst moment of which had been Henry Hayes being elected US President. Sharp didn't really have any particular issue with Hayes himself, the new Yank leader seemed pretty reasonable, but his running mate had been Robert Kinsey and having that slimy son-of-a-bitch one heartbeat away from being the leader of the free world was just horrifying.
Anubis and Thoth looked at each other. 'The Tau'ri are strange and rude' Thoth opined.
'I will have that human tortured to death and bought back to life in a sarcophagus again and again for centuries' Anubis stated before looking curiously at the shield over the stargate which seemed to now be glowing brighter and brighter.
Naquadria becomes more unstable the more power you try to get out of it and given this was a test-firing of an entirely new weapon it had been decided it should be ramped up relatively slowly just in case. Even at only a fraction of maximum power it was already stronger than an Elerium Plasma Beam however and it said a lot for the shield over the Tartarus stargate that it wasn't pierced immediately.
Anubis was on the verge of becoming concerned when both he and Thoth vanished in a flash of light that seemed to head upwards leaving the two Kull Warriors alone just before the particle beam cut through the shield and then carved a hole right through the base, turning anything in front of it to vapour as it seared away vast amounts of metal and rock.
Loki was sitting in his Asgard command chair on the pel'tak of his ship where once a more ornate but far less sophisticated goa'uld throne would have rested. 'I just received an urgent warning from my agent on Earth' he told Anubis and Thoth, the latter looking worried and confused. 'It seemed prudent to get you out of there before this happened' the rogue Asgard continued, a perfect holographic image of the Tartarus Base appearing before them. 'This is a live feed' he added as the image showed the facility being obliterated. The energy transfer of the beam to everything in front of it was as destructive in effect as a nuclear blast and the beam had ripped through the base easily, cutting a channel of destruction from one side to the other.
'No weapon the Tau'ri could make can penetrate my shield' Anubis declared.
'Assuming you have eyes somewhere under the hood of that cloak you are ignoring the evidence from them' Loki replied sardonically. 'They most evidently do' he said, pointing at the hologram.
'The power requirements alone would be horrendous' Thoth stated.
'They have a new power source, an isotope of naquadah' Loki explained, 'it is apparently unstable but immensely powerful' he said. 'As well as this beam weapon they are manufacturing warheads of a destructive yield that dwarfs the combined firepower of a fleet of Ha'tak firing their main guns' he announced.
'You knew of this?' Anubis growled.
'My agent has infiltrated the political and military organisations of Earth' Loki replied, except X-COM unfortunately he thought to himself, damn paranoid humans and their captured mind-probes. 'I was told of unconfirmed rumours but put little credence upon them until recently' he said. 'The Tollan are involved somehow, perhaps in the processing of the isotope into the correct allotrope.'
'The Tollan?' Anubis repeated, that was more unwelcome news though compared to the loss of his precious Tartarus Base it paled to insignificance.
'Yes their isolationism appears to be increasingly a thing of the past' Loki observed. Anubis hadn't seemed too bothered when the Tollan were attacking his facilities but now he was bothered by their veer away from neutrality the rogue Asgard thought in annoyance.
'We have lost our ability to make the Kull Warriors' Thoth stated dejectedly.
'I managed to transport away the Queen you were using to produce goa'uld for them, the manufacturing plant for the armour and some of the cloning facility' Loki told them. 'With my assistance you will be able to produce your foot soldiers again at another base soon but that is not what you should be worried about' he said.
'With these weapons the Tau'ri will change the balance of power in the galaxy' Anubis said.
'Yes' Loki agreed. 'My agent tells me they only have a handful of satellite weapons with these beams defending Earth, and it will be perhaps half a year before they have many more, but eventually they will have so many that they will be able to defeat an attack by perhaps hundreds of motherships' he said. 'More than the goa'uld could afford to lose even collectively.'
'I will have to destroy them before that happens' Anubis realised, turning to Thoth. 'You will set up a new base for production of the Kull Warriors' he said. 'We will have to weaken Baal to the extent that he cannot take advantage of us when we attack the Tau'ri, I will re-direct all my forces against him.'
'It shall be done Lord' Thoth responded, bowing.
'I will assist your attacks on Baal with my new fighters and creations' Loki told Anubis. 'Then I will aid you in your assault on Earth' he continued. 'Baal's deathgliders will not prove a testing enough opponent to evaluate them properly' he added dispassionately.
Anubis went back to looking at the hologram of the Tartarus facility, the beam had eventually stopped but by the time it cut out the damage wrought made most of it unsalvageable. Damn the Tau'ri, he thought bitterly, a new headquarters just wouldn't be the same. Did they have no understanding of just how difficult it really was to build a base in a hollowed out volcano surrounded by liquid hot magma?
* * *
Ancient Ruins – P3X-439 – March 2004
'Do you people wear some kind of fucking aftershave that attracts trouble?' Colonel Rodrigues yelled at SG-1 as they tried to use the remains of the old city as cover. Receiving an urgent request for assistance the X-COM officer had arrived through the stargate only minutes before with three platoons of light infantry and another two in Powered Armour and now they were trying to secure a perimeter and hold back increasing numbers of hostiles.
'It's the Sergeants perfume' O'Neill replied, firing off the last few shots from his Heavy Plasma Rifle and ejecting the spent clip. Andianov herself was a few yards away lying prone behind a stone block, leaning out occasionally to snipe Jaffa at long range with the L2-A2 Laser Rifle she still preferred over the more powerful Heavy Plasma. Thanks to the addition of the Kull Disrupter unit Nirrti had designed, and eventually reduced in size to the point you could just clip one to another weapon, it was still effective against the black-armoured super-soldiers, albeit at shorter range than a P3-A1 could manage, but the Laser rifle was more accurate, wasn't overkill against Jaffa and you didn't have to reload.
So far they had seen enough troop transports setting down over the next rise to drop off at least two battalions of Jaffa with dozens of Kull Warriors in support and more seemed to be on the way. Anubis must want the site and its artefacts intact as well or he would have already begun orbital bombardment but even without that it wasn't currently Daniel Jackson's idea of a nice relaxed archaeological dig in a pleasant climate as it had been portrayed in the mission briefing.
'What's so damn important here anyway?' Rodrigues queried, popping up to take out three Jaffa in quick succession, he really was a hell of a good soldier O'Neill had to admit.
'SG-2 found some inscriptions that indicate there's an Ancient Repository of Knowledge in that Temple over there' Daniel told him, pointing.
'The one that looks like there's a huge guy with no head sitting down on it taking a dump?' Rodrigues asked.
'I think the Ancients intended it to look like a throne not a toilet but yes' Daniel confirmed. 'We were hoping to retrieve it but we can't let it fall into the hands of Anubis' he said seriously.
'No problem, I'll get one of my guys to nuke it and we'll go home' Rodrigues offered.
'It's a priceless artefact' Daniel protested.
'And once we've heated it to ten million degrees really fast it'll be a worthless one' O'Neill responded.
'INCOMING' someone yelled as a deathglider swooped past on a strafing run firing its Plasma-Repeater-Cannon it continued on and then began banking to make another pass when a stinger missile streaked up towards it, fired from the shoulder by one of the X-COM Troopers.
'Cover your eyes' Rodrigues yelled as the missile caught up with the deathglider and its proximity fuse detonated the naquada-enhanced warhead. It wasn't a particularly large yield by nuclear standards but it was still very bright and a little too much for the shield on the glider. It might have been able to stand the Staff-Cannon of other more conventional deathgliders but it wasn't strong enough for this treatment and the few remaining parts of the machine plummeted to Earth as the short-lived nuclear fireball faded.
'That'll learn 'em to keep away' O'Neill said with a grin.
'Many of the Jaffa seem blinded by the flash' Andianov called out.
'Darn convenient' Rodrigues opined as he and the other X-COM soldiers started gunning them down mercilessly.
'Jack we need to save the Repository' Daniel insisted.
'This may be the place for archaeology but this is not the time' O'Neill replied.
'If we can't save the device then...' Daniel paused. 'We'll have to save the knowledge' he declared.
'Nobody is putting their head in one of those damn things' O'Neill told him. 'Last time I started speaking another language and it almost killed me' he pointed out.
'And the Asgard saved you' Daniel pointed out. 'We've got Heimdall right there at Area 51, I'm willing to take the chance' he said.
'I'm not' O'Neill told him. 'We nuke the temple and get the hell out of Dodge' he said with finality.
Major Carter was reloading her own weapon. 'I hate to say this Sir but we might need that information' she said. 'Anubis and Loki are kicking Baal's ass and we've already seen other goa'uld starting to switch sides, with all that Ancient and Asgard tech on their side plus Loki's new toys they're playing in a whole new league to anything we've faced before.'
'Indeed' Teal'c agreed. 'It is said that even the Asgard Technician Hermiod expressed concern at the sophistication of the Type 3 Fighters we captured at Cydonia and the new Type 4 is seemingly even more advanced' he said. 'The Free Jaffa reported Ha'tak ships being downed by groups of them.'
'It's worth the risk' Daniel told O'Neill. 'Think of the Ancient weapon that Anubis used to destroy Abydos, if we could find the Lost City, obtain technology that powerful...'
'Shit' O'Neill swore, cutting him off. 'Alright I'm sold' he conceded the argument. 'But you're not sticking your head in that thing' he continued, 'you're the only one that could translate whatever it was the person that did was saying to everyone else' he noted.
'I will volunteer' Andianov interjected.
'Never ask anyone under your command to do something you wouldn't do yourself' O'Neill replied. 'Anyway we already know it works for me' he continued with a distinct groan to his voice. 'Heimdall had better be able to get it back out before I croak that's all I'm saying' he added.
'Whatever it is you're going to do, just do it fast because they're re-grouping' Rodrigues yelled. 'And they've got armour support' he noted as a Kull Mini-Tank appeared only to be struck and destroyed shortly afterwards by a Tau'ri elerium-powered mini-nuke.
'We're going for the temple' O'Neill told Rodrigues. 'SG-1 with me and move fast' he told his team.
Colonel Rodrigues set his headset radio to transmit on the command frequency. 'Cover fire on my order' he said, 'I want everyone going full-auto, I want the whole fucking area lit up green' he told his troops. 'This would be easier if we hadn't lost all those tanks on P3X-666 the last time someone found some fucking ruins' he complained. 'You ready?' he asked O'Neill.
'Do it' O'Neill confirmed, tensed and ready to run.
'COVER FIRE!' Rodrigues bellowed, holding down the trigger on his P3-A1 spraying bolts of bright green energised plasma towards the enemy. Even the Kull ducked out of the way, they had learned not to ignore those weapons like they did goa'uld ones, the greatest advantage they had was that their Plasma Repeaters would still be working long after the Tau'ri ran out of ammunition. Long engagements favoured the forces of Anubis these days.
SG-1 and most of the X-COM troopers eventually managed to get back to the stargate, Teal'c having to carry O'Neill who was now comatose after putting his head in the Ancient Repository of Knowledge. As soon as they were clear Rodrigues then had the structure blown to pieces with one of their last three tactical nuclear devices, using the other two to cover their retreat.
Colonel Rodrigues was the last one that arrived back at the SGC, the iris closing behind him and the sound of Staff-Weapons and Plasma-Repeater fire echoing off the trinium/titanium alloy shield increasing in intensity until the wormhole shut down. 'Take a final head-count' he ordered, 'how many did we lose?' he asked one of his Captains as Elizabeth Weir arrived in the gateroom looking suitably concerned at the state of Colonel O'Neill and the number of other casualties, several of the troopers bleeding from wounds and most having scorched armour at least.
'Jack downloaded the Repository into his head' Daniel told Weir.
'Again?' Weir asked in surprise.
'Tell me about it' O'Neill responded, shaking his head and becoming able to stand unaided.
'We didn't really think we had much choice in the circumstances' Carter told Weir as medical teams started to arrive to take care of the wounded.
'With your permission Ma'am I'd like to return my uninjured troopers to the Omega Site' Rodrigues interrupted, addressing Weir. 'We're probably already needed on another planet' he noted.
Weir looked at the X-COM soldiers. 'You can't be serious, you need to rest' she told him.
'Ten minute power-nap in a sarcophagus for those that haven't been in one for a while and some amphetamines for the rest of us and we'll be out there stomping goa'uld butt again within the hour' Rodrigues told her. 'I've been awake nearly forty-eight hours already myself and I'm feeling fine' he said brightly. 'Good for another day at least' he added.
'Send these soldiers back to Commander Sharp' Weir called up to the control room. 'Dial the Omega Site' she ordered, they weren't assigned to the SGC so they weren't her responsibility.
'So how are you enjoying command?' Rodrigues asked Weir with a smile.
'Apparently less than you do Colonel' Weir responded.
'Try the power-naps, I recommend them a lot' Rodrigues told her. 'Just don't oversleep or you'll end up thinking like a goa'uld' he advised. 'Although the lack on conscience might be a bonus from some perspectives I suppose' he suggested as the stargate started to spin up.
The new President had wanted a change in the SGC once he was told about it, and was persuaded it wasn't all a massive practical joke at his expense. Finding that he didn't have final authority on assigning a new base commander, thanks to it now being an international operation under the auspices of the UN Security Council and the International Oversight Advisory, he still wanted someone who was non-military in charge if possible and was soon pleased to discover that a person he knew well by reputation was an acceptable option to the other decision makers.
Despite a memo arriving on his desk from one Commander Russell Sharp to the effect that appointing Elizabeth Weir to command of the SGC would be followed shortly thereafter by the end of the world, President Henry Hayes ignored the hyperbolic missive and with the approval of the IOA he put her in charge of the Stargate Program. The military, the USAF in particular, was not happy at the removal of General Hammond but they obeyed orders and with the IOA considering Weir one of their own, and the UN wanting to play nice with the new President, Weirs transition was smooth, predictions of resultant Armageddon by a seething Canadian notwithstanding.
As expected O'Neill soon started to speak in Ancient as before, only it seemed like the process of the downloaded knowledge unzipping into his brain seemed to be occurring more rapidly this time, perhaps because his mind had been overwritten before. Although medically cleared to return home he agreed to being constantly monitored at the SGC which meant being followed everywhere but the bathroom by someone with a video camera, just in case he started building Ancient Tech again, and being frequently placed in a chair and being scanned with not only a Mind Probe but also a Psionic Amplifier.
Major Carter stood by the door with Doctor Frasier as Jonas Quinn tried to read O'Neill's mind. With the threatened disaster prevented by the DUEV and McKay's team of scientists and engineers, Langara was now mining its newly created wealth of naquadria and production of liquid naquadria for AG-3X satellites was getting back underway on the Tollan moon Deril. Jonas was now in charge of training new psionics on his homeworld but had been drafted for this job because he was the second most skilled psionic available after Cassandra Frasier and O'Neill really didn't want Cassie getting a look in his head. She was too young, too female and too much like one of the family to let her glimpse into his psyche in the Colonel's view, even the idea of Jonas picking up a few stray thoughts regarding Carter was bad enough but at least Jonas would keep his mouth shut.
'It's really jumbled in there' Jonas spoke up loudly. 'And half of it is in Ancient' he added with a frown before he raised his eyebrows and turned towards Major Carter. 'A cheerleader outfit?' he whispered to O'Neill, turning back towards him and leaning in 'you think?' he asked, trying not to smile any more than usual as the Colonel glared at him.
'Daniel says to note down any words you don't know' Carter called back. Jonas had a fair understanding of the Ancient language, it was a proto form of Latin which helped people get to grips with it, but Daniel was still the expert.
'I'll remember them' Jonas replied, he worked pretty well without notes. 'Hey maybe I should have been the one that stuck my head in that thing' he said. 'According to Heimdall and Nirrti my brain is physiologically more advanced so maybe it would cope better?' he suggested.
'Well thank you captain hindsight' O'Neill spoke up sarcastically. 'Sometimes I think I'm the only one around here who's not completely derentis' he muttered to himself.
'I think we should leave Captain Hindsight and his new sidekick in peace don't you?' Janet Frasier asked Carter.
'Maybe I need a cape?' Jonas asked O'Neill.
'Derentis' O'Neill muttered to himself again. 'I need to stretch my cozars' he told Jonas.
'Give me another five minutes' Jonas requested, adjusting the controls of his Psionic Amplifier as Doctor Frasier and Major Carter left.
Samantha walked with Janet towards her office. 'I saw Commander Sharp the day before yesterday' she told the doctor. 'The black eye you gave him is almost all faded away now' she said, trying and failing not to laugh.
'He deserved it' Janet replied, 'and he told me afterwards he knew he deserved it the moment the words left his mouth which is why he let me connect' she said.
'I'm surprised you let him off that light after "Whose is it" to be honest, I'm not sure I'd have forgiven him so easily' Sam remarked.
'I haven't forgiven him' Janet replied, 'I'm just planning to make him pay for it forever' she said vengefully. 'To be fair it was probably a surprise and in normal circumstances he would have had cause to be suspicious' she admitted before hushing her voice so nobody else that might be passing could overhear. 'It never occurred to me that a sarcophagus might fix something that was deliberately broken that way' she said. 'If it reversed his vasectomy we might start seeing personnel who have their tonsils and appendix grow back too.'
'You're not showing yet' Sam noted.
'I'm already prohibited from off-world missions though' Janet replied.
'Not wearing the ring?' Sam queried.
'He spent three months salary on it because he heard that was expected' Janet replied, 'do you have any idea of what a sixty-thousand dollar engagement ring bought by a man with no taste in jewellery looks like?' she asked rhetorically. 'We're taking it back' she said.
'Too much bling?' Sam queried.
'It looks like it should be put on the end of a drill bit and used to find oil' Janet told her. 'Between that and the black eye it took a lot of the romance out of the proposal' she said. 'That plus the fact he was asking me to marry him because the bastard knocked me up' she continued. 'Never thought I'd regret all those safe-sex lectures I gave Cassie, she's making my life hell right now making cracks' she complained.
'Karma' Sam suggested.
'It's supposed to be negative karma that bites you on the ass though' Janet replied.
'Going to take his name?' Sam asked, 'you said before you weren't sure about it.'
'Oh he's fine with me keeping my name as long as our child has both' Janet told her. 'But I'm taking his' she added.
'Why?' Sam asked.
'Because unlike my fiancé, and boy does it feel weird saying that, I don't think that "Frasier-Sharp" would be just about the best last name ever' Janet replied, shaking her head sadly. The weirdest thing however was he was still an improvement on her first husband which might not say too much for her choice in men she decided.
For all of his faults several people, including the President of the United States, did however idly wonder if Russell Sharp was psychic when Master Bratac arrived through the stargate reporting that Anubis was massing his fleet for an attack on Earth. Most put it down to be a complete coincidence that Elizabeth Weir was now running the SGC however.
* * *
The Whitehouse – Washington DC – March 2004
General John Jumper the USAF Chief of Staff put down the telephone and turned to the President. 'Sir, under the terms of the 1998 Geneva Treaty, and with the approval of the UN Security Council, X-COM has ordered planetary military mobilisation' he announced. 'All UN Member Nations are requested to make ready their Armed Forces to resist imminent full-scale attack by an Extra-Terrestrial invader' he said. 'With your permission I'd like to get the missile silos prepared for launch and move to DEFCON 2' he requested.
'Do it' President Hayes replied.
'Thank you Sir' Jumper responded, 'X-COM have specifically asked for USAF Prometheus to be placed under their authority and for USAF Atlas to be launched from Area 51' he added.
'Is the Atlas even ready for combat?' Hayes asked, turning to General Hammond who he had invited to the Oval Office. From the briefings he had received he thought the second BC-303 wasn't close to competition.
'Her hyperdrive isn't operational but her weapon systems and shields should function Sir' Hammond replied. 'As long as her sub-light engines can get her into orbit she'll make a fight of it' he declared. 'Colonel Prendergast her new CO is a good officer' he said.
'Tell X-COM yes on the 303's' Hayes told Jumper, 'both of them' he said. 'George you're the expert what can we expect?' he asked Hammond.
Hammond looked thoughtful. 'Estimates on how many motherships Anubis has vary between twenty and thirty but he probably has twice that number of troop ships and three or four times that number of Al'kesh bombers available to send against Earth' he replied. 'Each mothership can be expected to carry upwards of fifty deathgliders so our F-302 interceptors are going to be heavily outnumbered' he noted.
'But our aircraft are better right?' Hayes checked.
'Yes Sir, even with the upgrades he made to them our F-302X Grim Reapers are faster, tougher, better armed and more manoeuvrable than his deathgliders' Hammond confirmed. 'Our plan calls for Avengers to deal with the Al'kesh while the Reapers take out the gliders' he said. 'We'll make a hell of a fight of it Mr President.'
'It's the motherships we've got the problem with am I right?' Hayes asked with a sigh.
General Jumper had finished his telephone call and put down the phone. 'I'm afraid so Sir' he confirmed. 'Enterprise and Kuznetsov can probably take on three or four Ha'tak between them and win, thanks to the Elerium Plasma Beams we added, but they'll get pounded to scrap in minutes if they try and take on a whole fleet' he said. 'With the new Fusion-Ball Launchers, the Rotary Staff-Cannon and their own Plasma Beams the Prometheus and Atlas will shred just about anything put in front of them but their shields can't take that kind of firepower either' he noted. 'Redemption and the two Al'kesh in our inventory are on their way to the Omega Site with most of our elerium stockpile and our arsenal of naquadria bombs' he said. 'If Earth falls X-COM has standing orders to unleash our strategic deterrent on the goa'uld, all the System Lords have been told.'
'Didn't that give Anubis pause for thought?' the President queried.
'Unfortunately Anubis cares even less about the fate of his followers than most goa'uld' Hammond told him. 'We did get a message from the First Prime of Lord Yu offering a post-war alliance against Baal however and requesting we don't attack any of Yu's worlds.'
'Is that a serious offer?' Hayes asked.
'It might be, Lord Yu has always played it straight with us in the past and his First Prime really runs things now anyway' Hammond replied.
President Hayes breathed out slowly. 'Have we heard from the Asgard yet?' he asked Hammond.
Hammond nodded. 'Yes, but its not good news' he replied. 'The Asgard believe that Anubis has persuaded other goa'uld to simultaneously attack additional planets that are included in the Protected Planets Treaty' he said. 'None of those worlds have any real defences of their own so if the Asgard don't send ships to protect them they'll likely be subjected to orbital bombardment almost as soon as the goa'uld arrive' he said. 'The Asgard have the most powerful warships we know of but they only have a handful and for all their technology they can't be in two places at once.'
'The Tollan?' Hayes asked.
'There was also a rumoured threat against Langara and the Tollan have dispatched two of their Cruisers to defend that world' Hammond told him. 'They don't have much of a navy either when you get right down to it, lots of quality not much quantity.'
President Hayes looked off towards the wall, as if staring into the distance. 'Then we're on our own' he said.
'Even with what we've got we're going to take out a lot of motherships Mr President' Hammond told him. 'We've got a full forty ZapSats up there now with the second batch deployed, we've got three Tollan Heavy Ion Cannon operational and they're working around the clock trying to get the fourth one at the European X-COM facility in Poland completed right now.'
'Do those things even work for sure?' the President asked.
Hammond smiled. 'We've only ever test-fired the one at the Antarctica base for obvious reasons' he replied, that was why they put the first one to be constructed there of course, very few witnesses other than penguins. 'But if that one worked the others should Sir.'
'I'll choose to accept your optimism' Hayes replied evenly. 'What about the other satellites?' he asked.
'Our AG-3X orbital cannon are cloaked and positioned, just like the laser ZapSats Sir' Hammond told him. 'Of the five we have up there we estimate one, or if we're unlucky two, will fail just charging for the first shot but the rest will destroy or cripple any ship they're aiming at' he said. 'The chances of failure go up with each subsequent firing so how many Ha'tak they take out before they're all gone is up to the roll of the dice I'm afraid.'
'Big margin between the best and worse case scenarios' President Hayes observed.
'Yes Sir' Hammond replied. 'We also don't know how fast Anubis will be able to take out the Laser ZapSats' he continued, 'they're designed to fire as groups at the same target because individually they don't have anywhere near the firepower to bring down the shield of a mothership, if we're lucky they'll score big before they're all knocked out' he said.
The President moved over to his desk and leaned back against it. 'I wish we weren't counting on luck so much' he said.
'Personally Mr President, unless the Asgard do manage to send their fleet our way I'm counting on SG-1' Hammond told him earnestly.
For some reason that not even O'Neill himself consciously knew, he wanted them to take the old Tel'tak they had purchased from the Tok'ra some time ago rather than one of the Avengers. This confused Carter as the Avenger used much the same hyperdrive design, and was slightly faster if anything, but as he gathered pieces of equipment for an equally unknown purpose the Colonel had managed to get the message across that they had to take the goa'uld transport ship. Teal'c used the SGC's Aschen Transporter Platform to travel to Area 51 where he picked up the Tel'tak then flew it cloaked to Cheyenne Mountain to pick up the rest of SG-1 and the gear O'Neill had collected.
'Having fun?' Daniel asked Jonas, it was hard to tell since he tended to smile a lot normally.
'Oh yeah' Jonas confirmed, 'I know I'm more use to the cause doing what I do now but I've missed all this adventure and excitement' he replied, watching O'Neill intently as the Colonel started to play with the hyperdrive for some reason.
'After this I may take a break' Andianov announced.
'You?' Daniel queried in surprise.
'I do not get home very often, the idea of a week or two of vacation is appealing to me' the Sergeant told them. 'If Russia is still there when we get back I am going to request some leave' she decided.
'Euge' O'Neill said, finishing whatever he was doing to the hyperdrive.
'That means good' Jonas translated before Daniel could.
'Oh I really hope he knows what he's doing' Carter said with a grimace as O'Neill picked up a P3-A1 and aimed it at the hyperdrive. Instead of firing either a plasma bolt or even the Kull Disrupter fitted to it he instead fired a discharge from the zat'nik'tel built into the housing.
'Our speed has greatly increased' Teal'c announced.
'Well we're on a schedule and we were days away from where the Colonel said we needed to go' Carter replied. 'How much faster are we now?' she asked.
Teal'c checked the navigation computer. 'Far swifter than any goa'uld vessel' he said, 'our speed is closer to that of an Asgard ship, if still slower' he told her.
Jonas raised his eyebrows. 'We do know that the goa'uld originally copied an Ancient hyperdrive to push their ships around' he noted. 'Perhaps the Colonel just bought the performance up to what it should have been to start with?' he suggested.
'There's no way it'll be able to sustain that output for very long' Carter observed. 'Normally a goa'uld hyperdrive would be good for centuries, this will burn out in days I'd think.'
'Inferior build quality' Jonas reasoned.
Carter nodded. 'The Ancient devices we've seen over the years indicate they over-engineered everything and built to last' she said. 'The goa'uld are hacks by comparison.'
'So at this velocity how long is it going to take us to get to Proclarush Taonas?' Daniel queried.
'We will be there very soon Daniel Jackson' Teal'c replied. 'We are travelling like a flying mammal out of Sokar's domain.'
'That's, "we're going like a bat out of hell" Teal'c' Daniel corrected him.
'As you say' Teal'c replied.
Back on, or rather above Earth, the situation was developing fast. Anubis sent a cloaked Al'kesh as a scout ahead of his fleet but it was detected almost immediately by the Ha'tak Admiral Kuznetsov. 'We have an uninvited guest that should have remembered this ship originally belonged to Anubis' Colonel Chekov informed Colonel Caldwell his opposite number on Enterprise in amusement. It had been the ability of the upgraded sensors on the ships used by Anubis to detect such vessels which prevented Apophis using his initial monopoly of cloaked Ha'tak effectively.
Chekov let the Al'kesh move in closer before he opened up on the craft with a plasma beam, destroying it with one hit. 'Welcome to the motherworld' he declared with a wry smile as his crew cheered.
Less than fifteen minutes later a much more formidable opponent arrived in the form of one of the latest Anubis Ha'tak motherships also on a reconnaissance mission. According to Tok'ra and Free Jaffa sources they had even more powerful shields than the previous vessels Anubis used, slightly more powerful main guns than their predecessors and additionally they had much more formidable secondary batteries with Plasma-Repeater-Cannon replacing the slow-firing Staff-Cannon mounted previously. It dropped out of hyperspace out beyond the orbit of the moon and accelerated slowly towards Earth, starting to send out active scanning sweeps as it did so.
'They're looking for the cloaked satellite defences' Colonel Ronson on Prometheus realised. 'We need to take that thing out' he decided. 'Full sub-light' he ordered, 'we're going straight at them.'
'Sub-light engines to full' Major DeLouise responded.
'Shields to maximum, charge all energy weapons, spin up the Rippers and prepare a full salvo of Fusions' Ronson told his crew. 'The last time we took on a Ha'tak it took too damn long to bring her down, lets see if hitting her with a sledgehammer first speeds things up' he said as they accelerated towards the goa'uld mothership.
The Jaffa commanding the Ha'tak fired first, opening up with his main guns sending huge bolts of plasma slamming into the shield protecting Prometheus. The Tau'ri ship kept coming and the mothership fired a second salvo before the human ship returned fire, retaliating with a weapon the Jaffa had not seen before.
Basically not much more than a greatly scaled-up Blaster Bomb, the guided shoulder-launched micro-nuclear weapons devised by Loki, the Fusion Ball was very fast and more importantly manoeuvrable in the extreme. Like its tiny cousin it could pull a ridiculously tight turn and as the four warheads tore towards the Ha'tak they performed a series of rapid violent jinks intended to avoid point-defence batteries. Two were still taken out by the Plasma-Repeater-Cannon which engaged them but the other pair detonated against the motherships's shield, the remaining elerium which powered them drastically boosted in its explosive power by weapons-grade naquada.
Prometheus began firing its twin rotary plasma cannon just as the warheads hit, each fusion-ball unleashing twelve-hundred megatons of energy as they exploded against the shield. Much of the energy was of course lost to space but what the shield did absorb reduced its strength significantly just as the Rippers started their relentless assault at a single point, weakening them still further. The two Elerium Plasma Beam Cannon placed between the Rippers on the bow of the BC-303 struck next, the shield generator of the Ha'tak straining to compensate.
Six seconds later the plasma beams fired again then at the third time they fired they finally managed to cut through the shield and ate deep into the Ha'tak. The next time after that the now almost unimpeded beams lanced through a vital system and the whole shield almost collapsed as a result, allowing the Rippers to get through now as well wreaking unimaginable destruction on the mothership as they did. The moment the shield failed completely which happened soon afterwards under the punishing onslaught Ronson launched a ripple of Mark VIII naquada-enhanced missiles from the X-303's tubes to finish it off in a titanic explosion before ordering his ship to turn around and return to its previous position, shields recharging as it went. 'I want the next one finished off even quicker' he told his crew, only inwardly satisfied at his ships performance. It didn't pay to ever let them think they couldn't do better as then they'd stop trying he knew.
When they had arrived at what had once been the Ancient Colony of Proclarush Taonas SG-1 had not been happy to find they were likely several million years to late and the star the world orbited had expanded into a Red Giant turning the surface of the planet to molten rock. However the discovery of a remaining structure which had been protected by a shield provided cause for hope, as did the fact that O'Neill started clearing the transporter-rings free of equipment and started putting on one of the Hazmat Suits he had insisted on packing. As pilot Teal'c was to stay on the ship, Jonas however refused to miss out.
The rings on the Tel'tak being just another of the technologies the goa'uld had taken from the Ancients it locked onto a set within the structure and with the Tel'tak hovering above they headed down. Fortunately O'Neill seemed to know what he was doing because he headed straight for an ornate chair up on a platform and sat down upon it. As he did so it seemed to power up, he pressed a control on the hand-rest which caused a forcefield to appear and sweep across the chamber.
O'Neill pulled off his Hazmat helmet, the previously toxic air had apparently been cleared and was being held back by the forcefield. He pressed the controls again and the chair swivelled leaned back in a manner much akin to a dentist's chair as a holographic projection of the Milky Way appeared above his head.
'Looks like every planet the Ancients ever colonised is indicated here' Daniel noted as certain stars were noted on the display. 'This is where we are' he continued, pointing at one of them. 'Proclarush.'
The hologram changed to display a planet spinning on its axis. 'Earth?' Carterqueried, the shapes of the continents were close but not right.
'Before thirty million years of continental drift maybe' Jonas observed, Daniel was slightly annoyed because he'd been about to say that.
'Sir why are you showing us this?' Carter asked O'Neill.
'Jack?' Daniel prompted him.
'Terra Atlantis' O'Neill replied.
'Terra is Earth in Ancient' Daniel; noted, 'Atlantis?' he queried doubtfully.
'The Lost City of Atlantis?' Carter asked in obvious surprise.
Daniel pointed to the holographic display, the continents were now drifting across the surface showing how they had moved since the image was first taken. 'Are you saying that the Lost City of the Ancients is here?' he asked, pointing at the area clearly being highlighted as important.
'Antarctica' Carter said.
'Subo glacius' O'Neill told them.
'Under the ice?' Daniel exclaimed. 'The city we've been looking for is under the ice of Antarctica?'
'It's been on Earth the whole time?' Carter asked incredulously.
'Heck of a detour coming way out here to go straight back' Jonas commented. 'Not that I don't like to travel but still' he added.
'Jack, we were just there' Daniel felt the need to point out to O'Neill.
O'Neill looked at him as if to say "Oh ye of little faith" and pressing the control on the chair again the hologram vanished, the chair straightened up and O'Neill put the Hazmat Suit helmet back on as did the others. He got off the chair and knelt down at a point on the platform where he removed a cover-plate and then yanked a large complex crystal from where it was inserted into the platform.
'Power source' Carter realised as everything went dark and the forcefield vanished.
'We must need it for the city under the ice of Antarctica' Jonas reasoned as they quickly headed back towards the rings.
Sending his forces in dribs and drabs clearly was clearly just serving them up to the Tau'ri for lunch Anubis reasoned so the next time hostile ships jumped out of hyperspace above Earth it was his entire force of Ha'tak and Al'kesh with his new flagship standing off watching the fray.
Knowing it would take time for the motherships to launch their deathgliders, even if they began to scramble them the moment they arrived, it had been decided that the full force of F-302X fighters available to Earth would be already launched and waiting to have a go at the big ships first. As soon as the enemy appeared five wings of Grim Reapers, each with six squadrons of eight fighters descended upon the closest motherships, firing the plasma beam cannon they carried in addition to their lasers, a full wing of Reapers being assigned to attack a single Ha'tak at once, they inflicted the death of a thousand cuts. The F-302's destroyed one mothership outright and badly damaged three more before they found themselves in a sea of deathgliders and had to start dealing with them instead, dogfighting amongst the capital ships.
All forty ZapSats simultaneously decloaked and started firing at the invaders, concentrating their fire on a handful of the motherships seeking to overwhelm their shields. In principle nothing much more than a laser rifle scaled up to the point where you could just cram it through a stargate for deployment the naquada-generator powered ZapSats lacked the technical sophistication of back-engineered sectoid weaponry but they compensated with plenty of raw wattage. Several unfortunate deathgliders which found themselves between the ZapSats and their intended targets were vaporised in a instant, their retrofitted Tel'tak shields hopelessly inadequate to resist that kind of firepower as the lasers played over the invader capital ships, bleeding off precious shield strength. The motherships returned fire but the automated ZapSats were both shielded and kept moving, increasing their life expectancy in combat.
Enterprise and Kuznetsov had wargamed this scenario many times. Their best course of action wasn't to try and take on a large chunk of the enemy fleet each, if they wanted to take out motherships fast they needed to concentrate their main guns on one target and then shift to another. Firing both their primary armament, goa'uld capital ship guns like those of the enemy, plus their elerium plasma beam cannon, the two Ha'tak that bore Earth insignia chose a single unfortunate mothership and collectively pounded it to scrap before moving onto the next.
If the attention of the lasers had been unwelcome the activation and firing of the AG-3X satellite weapons was a much more horrible experience. As expected the volatile nature of the liquid-naquadria meant that one of the weapons did detonate as it merely tried to charge for the first shot but the other four worked like a charm, one-shotting a mothership apiece, the beams cutting through capital ship shields with ease and coring the vessels inside before starting to re-charge. Two more exploded whilst trying to fire again, and one of the two that did fire a second blast successfully went critical shortly afterwards but the final satellite managed to take out a third Ha'tak all by itself before return-fire destroyed it. Anubis was only glad he hadn't waited any longer to attack Earth, a few more of the things would have carved up his whole fleet.
Already nervous of the AG-3X Anubis had also been warned by Loki not to underestimate the power of the elerium weapons even the Tau'ri fighters carried, but now the slightly larger human craft which Loki's agent said were called "Avengers" were proving even more of a pain in the mikta if anything. Outfitted for use against larger craft than themselves they carried a single Rotary-Plasma-Cannon, or "Ripper" in their cargo hold, with the uppermost cannon in the cycle just clearing the top of the fuselage for firing ahead as it span. Getting on the tail of an Al'kesh they would hammer down its shield then tear it apart with a long burst of fire before looking for another victim. They even strafed his Ha'tak, picking out the ones already being fired upon by the laser satellites for maximum effect whilst their fighter support kept the deathgliders away.
The two BC-303's Prometheus and Atlas were proving to have the most deadly armament of any ship in the battle, the combination of dual Rippers and Beams against a shield already nicely depleted by either their own fusion-ball launchers or the attentions of other weapons was simply the finger of death, point it at the enemy and wait for them to fall. The sheer chaos of the battle was helping them out considerably, goa'uld fleet command and control was sloppy so it was taking time for the superior numbers of enemy capital ships to be bought to bear effectively but it had been obvious from the start that eventually Anubis would win and as Enterprise started to go down the end was obviously near. All but a handful of the ZapSats had been destroyed by return fire and they were only effective in quantity alas.
SG-1 arrived back an Earth just as Colonel Caldwell ordered his crew to abandon ship and they began using rings and teleporters to try and get back to Earth. Enterprise was breaking up, the Admiral Kuznetsov wouldn't last much longer either and the shields of the two BC-303's were dropping fast. Although still greatly inferior to the F-302 thanks to their upgrades the new model deathgliders weren't inferior enough for their preponderance in numbers not to weigh heavily in the battle and the Grim Reapers and Avengers were being overwhelmed. As the single Tel'tak appeared, dropping out of hyperspace at the edge of the atmosphere before heading towards Antarctica, it sent a transmission to the effect that they had found something and they hoped it might stop the enemy fleet. It would have cloaked but it needed its shield instead because this was not the recommended way to approach a planet with more than a wisp of atmosphere, in fact the Tel'tak with SG-1 aboard looked more like a meteor on its way to becoming a crater than a craft under a controlled descent.
Their arrival was not missed by Anubis. At the controls of the flagship his loyal First Prime Herak turned and informed his master of the arrival of the ship and its destination and Anubis ordered part of his fleet to detach from the battle and head for a position above the planets southern pole.
The pressure lifted slightly off the three remaining Earth Capital ships as a number of Ha'tak moved away. The explosion of the AG-3X satellites earlier would have already caused enough EMP to cause major damage to communications down on Earth so Colonel Ronson decided to go all-in and rippled off every Mark VIII Prometheus was carrying, Atlas joining in soon afterwards. Ha'tak Point-defence weapons took out most of them but several still exploded against mothership shields depleting them enough to make Anubis order them to pull back out of the fight, he couldn't afford to lose too many more ships in this battle, Baal and his allies would bounce back and finish him off in a matter of weeks.
O'Neill seemed to know where he was going and took over the controls of the Tel'tak from Teal'c as they sped over the Antarctic wasteland. 'Oh wow, look at that' Jonas exclaimed, pointing out of the cockpit window off into the distance as a huge bolt of energy seemed to appear just below the horizon and hurtle skywards.
'That's the X-COM base down here' Carter told him, 'Tollan Heavy Ion Cannon opening up, we must have Goa'uld motherships directly above' she reasoned.
'It's firing again' Jonas said, watching a second bolt heading up.
'The little ones had a higher rate of fire' Daniel observed.
'Yeah but they won't do to an Anubis Mothership what those will' Carter replied, grinning.
The first blast from the Heavy Ion Cannon hit a Ha'tak with a shield that was already weakened by fire from the Tau'ri vessels, it was recharging but was still at less than sixty percent strength when it was struck by enough force to bring it down from a full charge in one blow. The shield collapsed, the generator that powered it overloaded and exploded in protest and part of the central pyramid blew outwards. The ship began to tumble, spewing atmosphere, debris and quite a few Jaffa into space, it was a sitting duck for the follow-up shot which blew it apart.
O'Neill had been doing something to the transporter-rings on the journey back from the planet and as he settled the Tel'tak down into a hover above a specific point a cutting beam he had modified from the rings began to bore into the ice. Jonas theorised that the Ancient facility would also have rings so they could get down there but first they needed to clear a miles thickness of ice out of the way.
Another Ha'tak appeared from hyperspace high above Antartica, it began to launch fighters but these were not deathgliders, they were something far more deadly and they began heading towards the ground. Anubis had summoned his ally, Loki had come and he had bought his most advanced creations, both mechanical and biological.
Since Anubis seemed hell-bent on stopping SG-1 doing whatever it was they were doing, even at the expense of pulling ships off the firing line, it seemed pretty obvious to all concerned on the human side that they needed to make sure that SG-1 did manage to do whatever they were doing. Avengers and F-302's were already burning hard towards the goa'uld ships positioning themselves over the south pole when Loki arrived and seeing the new aliens fighters descending towards Earth the Grim Reapers hit their afterburners and gave chase leaving the handful of Avengers to try and divert some of the enemy attention their way.
Stories about what Loki's new fighters were capable of had been spreading ever since he started to unleash greater and greater numbers of them on Baal. They were quite simply in a class of their own in terms of shielding, sensors, avionics and acceleration and he had put creatures at the controls who were better than any human pilot could ever be. Genetically engineered and enhanced with cybernetics that interfaced them directly with their aircraft they had been named Aereons and you could not out-fly them, they were literally made to be the perfect fighter-pilots.
Loki's latest Type 4 Fighter was known to X-COM as the "Shade". Unlike his previous air-superiority and interceptor craft it was not remotely saucer shaped and in fact was more akin to a machine that might have come from a manufacturing line on Earth in looks. That might have been a complement of sorts to the people that created the F-302 which had taken on the earlier Type 1 and 2 craft and won but even the latest model F-302X had yet to even catch up with the Type 3 and the Shade was another generation beyond that.
According to the analysts Grim Reapers taking on Shades required at least a two to one superiority in numbers to win, Colonel Cameron Mitchell was leading in thirty-four F-302's against forty-five Type 4's and with another five older Type 3's flying in support. On the plus side he hadn't really expected to live to the end of the day anyway.
The Tel'tak was still drilling through the ice when a massive dog-fight began over Antarctica, once it began Mitchell soon learned that the stories of Loki creating new more powerful telepathic aliens were also true because his pilots starting to be subjected to vicious psionic attack that had even those with known psionic strengths in the nineties suffering from waves of fear. 'Try to take out the saucers' Mitchell ordered when one of the other pilots noticed that Type 3's weren't being flown nearly as well as the Type 4's. Maybe the telepaths were in the older craft but even if they weren't the things were easier targets and if he could take them down first it would even up the numbers.
The Shades also had shields that could work in an atmosphere proving they were something special indeed given that Loki's earlier fighters weren't so lucky. They weren't as strong as they would be in space but they could still soak up enough hits that even if you got one in your sights a couple of bursts wouldn't finish it off and that was bad news considering it was so damn difficult to get one in your sights to start with, the Aereons flew their fighters like the Red Baron on speed.
The beam the Tel'tak was generating to cut through the ice stopped and O'Neill unhooked the additions he had made to the transporter rings. 'Teal'c as soon as we're down get out of here' Carter told the Jaffa. 'Head for the X-COM base as fast as you can and make sure you've got the IFF transponder working because they'll shoot you down otherwise' she advised.
'I will see you again once the battle is over and our victory is complete' Teal'c replied confidently as the rest of SG-1 moved inside the rings which then activated.
'This looks vaguely familiar' Carter quipped as they found themselves in a facility almost identical to the one they had been to on Proclarush.
O'Neill approached what appeared to be a large glass-fronted box in the middle of the chamber. 'Dormata' he said, touching it.
'Sleep' Daniel translated, getting their before Jonas this time.
A sound caught all their attentions and they turned to find Anubis stood before them. 'You are too late. The power of the Ancients is mine' he declared.
O'Neill walked up to him and then right through him. 'Fools' the hologram of Anubis responded as it disappeared.
Approaching an identical chair to the one they had found in the other Ancient base, O'Neill removed the plate that covered the power crystal and removing the presumably depleted one from there he installed the replacement one they had bought before taking his place in the chair.
The sound of the rings activating again took the attention of the rest of SG-1 off O'Neill and they turned to see a pair of Kull Warriors arriving which they quickly cut down with Heavy-Plasma and Kull Disrupter fire before taking up position to deal with the inevitable next wave.
'Take your time Colonel, we've got this' Andianov said loudly, smiling as the rings activated again.
The ground started to rumble and part of the floor fell away before a storm of small oddly-shaped missiles, glowing and almost organic in appearance surged out from what must have been another chamber underneath and after destroying a third wave of Kull just arrived they headed upwards like a torrent via the hole cut in the ice.
Cameron Mitchell had already ditched his F-302 after getting most of the back of it shot-off by a Phase-Cannon but as he lay there in the wreckage of his fighter he watched a light display tear Loki's fighters to pieces. 'Sweet' he thought before losing consciousness.
The Ancient weapons were either under direct control or else they were very smart because the column of them now heading for space jinked to one side to avoid getting hit by another bolt from the Heavy Ion Cannon before they started to rip the remaining ships belonging to Anubis apart, going straight through shields like they weren't even there.
Loki was in a higher orbit and had the good sense to run like hell at the first sign of some kind of weapon he'd never seen before but Anubis and his mothership were shredded by thousands of Ancient Drones and along with the rest of his fleet it was wreckage by the time the things stopped.
O'Neill got up off the chair and headed for the glass-fronted box. 'Dormata' he said again, opening the front and getting into it.'
'Stasis tube' Jonas realised. 'He's putting himself on ice until we can get the knowledge out of his head.'
'Will he be alright?' Carter asked nervously.
'Personally I'm having positive thoughts on the reliability of Ancient technology at the moment' Daniel replied. 'Well he saved the world again so do you think we could get a Congressional Medal of Honour made into a fridge magnet we could stick on this thing?' he asked.
Note from the Author:
The Deep Underground Excavation Vehicle (DUEV) was featured in episode 7:14 Fallout where it was used to save Langara from destruction by a runaway conversion process of naquada to naquadria. In the show the Kelownan scientist Kianna Cyr was a goa'uld host, here she's human and now the assistant to McKay who is helping out Jonas instead of Carter. It says in episode 4:17 Absolute Power that the "heavy liquid naquadah" powered AG-3 utilised "sub-atomic energy particles". Sokar used a sub-atomic particle beam to attack the SGC Iris in episode 2:17 Serpents Song and Carter built one to rescue O'Neill from Edora in episode 3:17 A Hundred Days where lava had set directly over the event horizon.
We see both Anubis and Baal project holograms through the gate using Asgard technology in the show. We also see them projected through the shield of an Anubis Ha'tak in episode 5:22 Revelations. Osiris was on Earth spying for Anubis in episode 7:15 Chimera. Here she's working for Loki instead and has continued her infilitration of the rogue NID faction (seen in episode 7:19 Resurrection). Knowledge of the imminent AG-3X strike leaked out and Osiris warned Loki. Henry Hayes has just been elected (with Robert Kinsey as VP) but he hasn't yet entered the Whitehouse, his inauguration happens in January.
Episode 7:21 Lost City starting to play out roughly as canon with O'Neill once again getting the contents of an Ancient Repository of Knowledge downloaded into his head. The prototype Kull Disrupter was seen in episode 7:16 Death Knell, by the end of Season 7 it was a unit that could simply clip to a P90. Janet was dead by this point in canon Stargate, she was killed in episode 7:18 Heroes. Perhaps her fate here is worse (hee hee) but having the sarcophagus reverse Sharp's vasectomy was pretty funny I thought. It's mentioned he'd had one back in chapter 45 and it's the reason he was in the sarcophagus too long in chapter 51.
Atlas is the second BC-303, a true sister-ship (or brother-ship) to Prometheus. It's under the command of Colonel Pendergast who in canon took over from Colonel Ronson as commander of the Prometheus. Proclarush means "Lost in Fire" in Ancient. Taonas was an old colony of theirs that was abandoned and still conveniently had a ZPM that was needed to fire up the old Ancient Weapons Platform in Antarctica. Ancient systems rely on a Control Chair to work, you need the ATA gene to make it function though. With all the additional hardware they've built up Earth is much better able to fight a full-scale goa'uld invasion than they were in canon but they're still in no position to take on dozens of Ha'tak at once. Lets just say O'Neill didn't have to fire off anywhere near as many Ancient Drones as he did in episode 7:22 Lost City here!
Just a couple of more things to say. Firstly it's been 52 chapters and well over 330,000 words (the equivalent of a trilogy of novels) so if you're one of the overwhelming majority of readers who've read this far and never bothered to leave so much as a single review this might be the time don't you think? It would be appreciated you know, I'll assume if you bothered to read this far you can't hate it. ;-)
Secondly if you're ever of a mind to re-read this story do yourself a favour and read the version on Twisting the Hellmouth instead, it's a nicer lay-out and the author's notes have hyperlinked references. There's a link to the TtH version on my profile here.
The Story continues in XSGCOM: Terra from the Deep.