Authors Notes: This story is set in an alternate universe version of Stargate. In this timeline the Stargate was never discovered on Earth and both Earth gates remain buried under the sands of Egypt or beneath the glaciers of Antarctica forgotten.
For the Goa'uld System Lords their way of life continued pretty much as it did for thousands of years. Sokar and Anubis returned from their exiles prompting a massive galaxy-wide war amongst the Goa'uld. By the time of this story there now exists a balance of power between the forces of Sokar, Anubis and the System Lords led by the Supreme System Lord Ra with none able to defeat the other.
In the intervening centuries Earth Humans have grown technologically, developing hyperspace travel and other technologies all on their own and have spread amongst the stars close to Earth. They remain blissfully unaware of the existence of the Goa'uld and the struggle that has the fate of the galaxy on a knife-edge.
Terran Federation Survey Ship Charles Darwin
March 2nd 2535
Professor Melinda Jackson smiled softly as she read through the long range probe data on the planet she and the survey teams she were in charge of were being tasked to examine to see if it was viable for colonisation. The probe that had scanned the system several months ago had determined that like many worlds in this galaxy the planet was Earth-like, but Melinda knew from experience that didn't automatically mean it was a viable world.
On the hologram though the planet looked to be very promising, one of the most promising she had come across in her career as a xenobiologist. Readings taken by long range probes indicated that it was a world slightly larger than Earth, but with marginally less surface gravity, surrounded by a ring system and two moons. Climate appeared to be subtropical over most of the surface with an abundance of plant and animal life. All in all it appeared to be the perfect world to be the first Terran colony in this sector of space, and the perfect jump off point for colonisation and exploration missions of the surrounding area.
Pleased with the information that she was reading through Melinda made small bullet points of all the most important details of the planet, then saved them to one of the memory storage nodes of her neural implant. Then she saved and closed the file making the holographic screen floating in front of her vanish into thin air. After taking a moment to stretch she stood up. Not long now till we drop out of hyperspace, she thought, knowing they would be approaching their destination after nearly twelve hours in hyperspace, I wonder if I have enough time to go and get a coffee.
She was just leaving her quarters to go and get a coffee from the mess hall when the comm. unit on her wrist buzzed and vibrated for attention. Now what, she thought before raising the offending device and answering the hail.
"Jackson," she acknowledged.
"Professor its Commander Drake," the Charles Darwin's master answered. "We're approaching our destination. Would you care to come to the bridge?"
"I'll be right there," Melinda replied, she always liked being present on the bridge when they emerged from hyperspace over a new world. She liked being one of the first people to ever set eyes on a new planet; it was a personality quirk of hers.
"Good I look forward to seeing you, Drake out." The wrist comm. went dead; Melinda smiled and lowered her arm before changing direction for the Charles Darwin's small bridge.
Commander Timothy Drake smiled softly as he closed the comm. channel with Professor Jackson. Having worked with her for several years he had come to know and like the woman. In addition to being a good scientist, she was a good conversationalist and one of the few people on board he could have a decent debate or a game of chess with.
"Sir if you don't mind my asking why invite the professor to the bridge," Colonel Richard Swain asked from his workstation. Tim smiled slightly, having expected the question, Richard was new to this job, this being the first deep space mission together, his previous first officer having been transferred and promoted to commander.
"Melinda likes being one of the first people to set eyes upon a new world, colonel," he replied before gesturing to the bridge view ports. The entire front of the bridge of the survey ship was a view port out into space, and currently showing nothing but the glowing blue tunnel effect of hyperspace. "She can do that best from up here," Tim added.
"I guess so," Richard replied glancing at the view ports, he still wasn't used to them. It was such a departure from the warships he had served on in the past, which invariably had their command centres buried deep within the armoured core of the vessel, safe from all but a mortal blow. "Sorry, sir, I'm just not used to having a view like this from the bridge."
Tim smiled remembering that he had been the same when he had first stepped onto the Charles Darwin as master. "You'll get used to it," he said. "Helmsman, time to destination coordinates?"
"We'll be dropping out of hyperspace in one minute, thirty seconds sir," Lieutenant Jacobs reported from the combined helm/navigator stations.
"Tactical sound amber alert status," Tim ordered following the protocol demanded for emerging from hyperspace over a new world. "Bring all defence systems to stand by."
"Aye, sir," tactical replied, pressing the controls to sound the alert throughout the ship and bring the ships shields and limited weapons arrays onto stand by. Though a survey vessel the Charles Darwin was still a commissioned vessel of the Federal Guard and like her warship cousins she was not defenceless.
As the familiar two-toned klaxon sounded throughout the ship, summoning the small military crew of fifty-seven to their stations the door to the bridge opened and Melinda Jackson came onto the bridge. Melinda resisted the impulse to roll her eyes at the alert being sounded; she didn't see why it was necessary. In the four and half centuries since hyperspace technology was developed the Terran Federation hadn't encountered any other race technologically advanced enough to be a threat to them; though they had encountered other species on various planets none were advanced beyond an early industrial level. The only enemy the Human race had was as always itself.
"How long till we come out of hyperspace," she asked.
"About forty seconds," Tim replied. Melinda nodded and went to stand before the bridge windows and looked out at the swirling blue tunnel of hyperspace. A blink superimposed a small digital clock in the lower right hand side of her vision, courtesy of her implant. The clock counted down the seconds till they returned to normal space.
As the seconds wound down she heard a change in the soft humming of the hyperdrive, a change in tone as it began to power down. As her countdown reached zero the humming vanished to nothing, through the view ports the tunnel through subspace evaporated replaced with breathtaking suddenness by the star spangled darkness of normal space. For a moment all Melinda saw was the stars, and then slowly the planet she was to survey appeared in the corner of window as Charles Darwin began orbital insertion manoeuvres.
Melinda didn't move from her position as the ship entered orbit above the ring system surrounding the planet. The blue-green world, marbled with swirls of clouds was certainly beautiful to look at, and she found herself wishing that it would have no hidden nasty surprises that would prevent colonization.
"Orbital insertion completed, commander," Lieutenant Jacobs reported.
"Very good," Tim replied then smiled at Melinda. "Professor if you would like to do the honours."
Melinda smiled, this was a familiar part of the routine on this ship and she appreciated Tim allowing her to give this one order. "Tactical, launch probes," she ordered.
"Yes, ma'am," tactical reported pressing a control on his console; with a hollow series of thuds a number of probes birthed from the Charles Darwin's belly and streaking away from her. The probes split up into two groups, some heading up into a higher orbit to commence high orbital scans of the planet, while others descended into the atmosphere to began lower altitude scans and run tests on the atmosphere, searching for anything, any organisms that could be hazardous to the teams that Melinda would lead down later.
"Probes on course," sensors reported. "Rerouting probe telemetry to the main lab, wait probes in the atmosphere are picking up localised heat sources coming from the western continent. Computer indicates their camp fires."
"This planet is inhabited," Tim said in surprise.
"It shouldn't be," Melinda added. "The probe that swept this area reported no signs of civilisation on this planet."
"Sensors recheck the readings," Tim instructed.
"Reading confirmed sir, multiple camp fires clustered in one small area. Probes are picking up evidence of extensive mining, life signs… commander life signs are Human."
Shock rippled through the bridge at the report, Humans out here in unknown territory? How had they gotten here and who were they, and why hadn't they reacted to the probe when it passed through the system.
"Could it be a lost colony," Melinda said at last. "We know that a number of the early colony ships never made it to their destinations. Maybe one somehow ended up out here."
"Possibly," Tim agreed. "It is strange though, if they are a lost colony surely they would have seen us emerge from hyperspace, plus the survey probe would have picked them up. Communications have there been any attempts to contact us at all?"
"Tim may I," Melinda asked seeking permission to give an order to the sensor officer.
"By all means, professor," Tim answered. "Sensors pull up a display of the coordinates for us."
A holographic screen showing an aerial view of the sensor contact appeared even as Melinda spoke. "Sensors tell the probes to scan for any signs of technology or an old crash site. Anything that could explain how these people got here."
As the sensor officer carried out his task, Melinda turned her attention to the holographic display. The surface of the planet was heavily wooded, aside from the area where the probe had picked up the mine and the camp fires. An enormous pit had been dug into the ground, with the camp sandwiched between it and the side of a lake. A large structure was visible standing on its own a short distance from the camp, it appeared to be the only large building the probe could pick up.
"Scan complete, professor," sensors reported. "The probe is picking up some very low level power emissions from that structure; whatever technology is in there must be on stand by. No energy signatures detected in the camp, it appears to be composed of structures made of a mixture of brick, slate and wood."
"Any signs of a crash," Melinda asked.
"Negative. The probe is picking one odd thing, a concentration of heavily refined unknown material. More of this material appears to be beneath the surface but it's in an ore state, the mine is over the largest concentration of the mineral."
"Obviously what they are mining," Tim said. "This is strange; there is almost no technology down there of any kind. And if there is no crash site for one of those old colony ships how did these people get here? And why are they mining that mineral?"
"Those are good questions," Colonel Swain agreed from the first officer's station. "But how are we going to find the answers to them?"
"There is only one way that I can see," Melinda said. "And I'm hesitant to suggest it; you know the rules about contacting lower technology civilisations."
"The Senate edict forbidding contact with civilisations without space faring capability shouldn't apply here," Tim pointed out. "These people are Humans not aliens."
Melinda nodded and used her implant to remotely access the ships library computer and bring up the information on that particular senate edict, one that had been passed centuries ago when they had first discovered another race, albeit one with only very basic industrial infrastructure. Carefully she reviewed the text of the document and found what she was looking for.
"You're right, Tim it has no bearing here," she said. "Clause three, paragraph nineteen, subparagraph two states that in the event of a lost colony being discovered contact is to be established regardless of technological development of said colony."
"I thought it did," Tim agreed, reading the same thing with his own implant. A blink made the translucent text vanish from in front of his eyes. "We're clear to go down there then."
"I'll brief my teams," Melinda said. Tim nodded.
"I'm the meantime I'll inform command and the senate about our discovery here," Tim answered. "Then we'll scan the surface again to find a suitable landing site for you."
Melinda nodded. "Now if you'll excuse me, Tim," she said. "I better go and get my teams ready to go down there," she shook her head. "This is certainly not what I expected to find when we started out yesterday."
"Me neither, Melinda," Tim replied with a smile.
Melinda smiled back and left the bridge to go and get her teams ready to face the unprecedented situation on the planet below them. I wonder how those people got there, she thought as she walked, I'll find the answer. I have to.
Thirty Minutes Later
Melinda Jackson resisted the impulse the fidget impatiently as the Columbus-class exploration shuttle carrying her and the first few members of her team cleared the side of the Charles Darwin and began their descent down to the planet. She couldn't wait to get down their and solve the mystery of the Human presence on this world, a world almost a hundred and fifty light years from the border of the Terran Federation. She had always liked mysteries and this world presented perhaps the greatest mystery she had ever encountered.
Hopefully it won't take us to long to get some answers, she thought as the shuttle started to vibrate as it entered the upper atmosphere of the planet. The disturbance of the shuttle entering the atmosphere flash heating tenuous upper atmospheric gasses resulting in a flickering, glowing sheath of relatively low-temperature plasma. Melinda gripped the edges of her seat as despite the inertial dampeners the shuttle vibrated fiercely from the turbulence. Through the view ports she could see nothing but blazing ions dissolving in a bluish-white shimmer as they encountered the force field that hugged the hull of the shuttle like a second skin, the effect giving the hull a ghostly aura at they descended.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity the turbulence ceased and the plasma sheath evaporated to nothing as the shuttle entered thicker atmosphere. Turning to her team she spoke up.
"Okay people listen up," she said. "By now you all know about the settlement our probes detected. We have no idea how these people got here, it's possible they might not even remember their true origins. So I want everyone to proceed with the utmost caution, is that understood?"
"Yes professor," most of the team replied.
"Yes, ma'am," Lieutenant Peter Franklin – the senior of the two security marines assigned to her party – added a moment later before resuming checking his pulse rifle, making sure that the weapon was ready to use at a moments notice.
"Professor you should see this," the pilot called out from the front compartment of the shuttle. Frowning slightly Melinda slipped out of her restraint and went forward.
"What is it," she asked. The pilot nodded for her to look out the windshield so that's what she did and blinked in surprise. Beyond the thick deciduous trees that stretched from horizon to horizon she could see the structure that the Charles Darwin's sensors had detected, and it was a structure that looked very, very out of place on this world, in this environment.
It was an Egyptian pyramid.
Melinda stared at it in disbelief. An Egyptian pyramid here, thousands of light years and thousands of years away from the culture that had built them. And this pyramid looked new and considerably bigger than even the great pyramid at Giza. What the hell, she thought before glancing down at the sensor displays to confirm that it was indeed there. The sensors confirmed its presence, and revealed that appearances aside the pyramid was not constructed entirely of stone like the pyramids back on Earth, but was reinforced by sheets of refined trinium.
"I don't believe it," she said looking back up at the pyramid. "A pyramid here and one reinforced with trinium panels? It makes no sense. This mystery is getting deeper all the time."
"Yes, ma'am," the pilot agreed. "That's why I thought you should see it."
"I appreciate it."
"Shall I set us down right next to it, ma'am?"
"No, the people of this planet seem to be somewhat primitive, I don't want to alarm them by setting down right in their midst. Proceed to our planned landing site; we'll walk the rest of the way."
"Yes, ma'am," the pilot answered. Melinda turned and walked back into the passenger compartment, going over the ever deepening mystery of this planet in her head. First there were Humans here – seemingly living a primitive existence with no advanced technology of any kind that their sensors could detect, and mining an unknown mineral, no evidence of how these people had gotten here, and now an Egyptian-style pyramid thousands of light years away from Earth.
"What is it, ma'am," Lieutenant Franklin asked seeing the look on her face.
"This mystery is getting deeper all the time, lieutenant," Melinda answered. "That structure that the probe sensors picked up is an Egyptian pyramid, or at least one built in Egyptian style."
"What that's impossible," one of the other scientists objected.
"I know, and to make matters even more interesting the pyramid employs quite a sizeable amount of refined trinium in its structure," Melinda replied. "It appears that in coming to this planet we've stumbled upon a great mystery."
"Indeed," agreed the scientist who had spoken. "And I look forward to getting some answers about what is going on on this planet."
"So do I, Fred," Melinda replied sitting back down. "So do I."
A few moments passed in silence as her words died away and everyone thought about what she had just revealed, trying to understand it in there own heads. Then the silence was broken by the rumble of the VTOL jets as the Columbus-class shuttle came into land, kicking up a cloud of dust and leaves as with the faintest of shudders they set down, the first Terran made vessel to settle on this world.
"Okay people you know the routine," Melinda said standing up. "Helmets on please until we've determined there are no harmful bacteria or viruses in the atmosphere that we have no immunity to."
As she spoke she used her implant to relay a command to the metallic collar at the top of her field survival suit. Instantly it deployed a helmet with a transparent faceplate over her head and filters on the collar came on providing her with clear, but unscented air. Around her the team deployed their own helmets as they all stood up.
"Ready lieutenant," Melinda asked turning to look at Lieutenant Franklin as she picked up her field kit, and found herself face to face with the featureless metal of the marine's faceplate. Unlike hers and the scientists the marines helmets didn't provide a transparent viewer, instead the two marines would be seeing the world through high-resolution graphics being projected on heads-up displays inside the helmets.
"Ready professor," Franklin answered.
"Then lets see if we can solve this mystery," Melinda said going to the back hatch and pressing the release. With a hiss of releasing pressure the ramp-like door opened.
As regulations demanded Lieutenant Franklin went down the ramp first, pulse rifle at the ready. Carefully he scanned the area for potential threats, the sensors built into his battle-uniform which was part body armour-part survival jumpsuit building a complete picture of the immediate area in seconds. Aside from some small animals moving in the trees on the opposite side of the clearing they'd set down in there was no immediate danger.
"Clear," he called back.
Immediately Melinda descended the ramp, followed by the rest of the scientists with Sergeant Kyle Walkman bringing up the rear. A silent command to her implant immediately revealed to Melinda where they were in relation to the village and the pyramid that they wished to investigate first. Hopefully once they reached it, it wouldn't take them very long to unravel the mystery of the Human presence on this world.
"The pyramid and the village near it are several kilometres due east of here," she said even as she ordered her implant to feed the information wirelessly to the neural implants of the rest of the landing party.
"It shouldn't take long to get that far," Franklin commented.
"You're right it shouldn't," Melinda agreed. "So lets get started shall we people?"
One by one the members of the landing party nodded their agreement. Melinda took a deep breath and let it out slowly to calm her nerves, before beginning walking due east towards the pyramid – whose tip was only just visible above the trees. With calm professionalism the rest of the scientists and the two marines fell into a two-by-two column with her as they took their very first steps on the surface of this new world. Heading for a rendezvous with a destiny that none of them could conceive of.