By Michael Weyer
I suppose recent specials have inspired me to get this particular chapter out earlier than expected. The events here take place after my story "Secrets of Serenity," which might be confusing but then we are dealing with time travelers, aren't we? Also, I don't own Stargate SG-1 and imagine the events here take place circa season four or so.
For the umpteenth time, the Rani wished the Doctor would just listen to her and fix the damn brakes on the TARDIS. The constant grinding and wheezing whenever it came to a stop was aggravating her to the extreme. She'd tried herself but somehow, her repair work still didn't do the job, almost as if the TARDIS was refusing to let her fix it. Right now, she did her best to put up with it as she exited the ship, dressed in a light blazer and professional pantsuit, her dark hair immaculate as ever. She glanced about to take in the large cavern before calling back into the TARDIS. "We're lost again."
"The old girl never gets lost," the Doctor replied as he stepped out. "Maybe the long way around but not totally lost."
The Rani ignored him as she looked around, taking in the area with a large altar and markings across the wall. "Interesting," she noted. "Earth markings yet clearly not Earth." She turned about and stopped in place. "Oh, my."
The Doctor moved to join her, staring right along with her at the large object taking up the rear of the cavern. It resembled a giant ring, metallic all over with markings and symbols etched in specific squares in a secondary ring. "Well, well, a Stargate," the Doctor noted. "Haven't seen one of those in ages!"
"I always considered them a tad archaic," the Rani noted. "Those endless coordinates and the transport system…"
"Now, now, don't be so posh," the Doctor chided. "They've stood the test of time and get you places much faster than ships."
"True," the Rani admitted. "Not to mention the idea of actually getting where you want to go is much more appealing to me now." She studied the nearby markings on the wall. "Hmmm…interesting mix. Looks like ancient Egyptian but also some Nordic as well. No doubt a rather backward civilization."
"Now, you never judge a book by the cover," the Doctor stated. "Although you can judge it by the Amazon reviews." He paused before a nearby secondary altar, studying the large circular sundial atop it. "Hmmm…" He reached into his pocket to remove his sonic screwdriver, causing it to beep out as he ran it across the altar. "I'm sensing some serious gravitational and tachyon readings here. More than what you'd see alongside a Gate."
The Rani let out a deep sigh. "Is it possible we can just let this go this time, Doctor?" Her answer came as he rose up, calmly following the path of the screwdriver as it let out a series of beeps leading out of the room. Rubbing her temples, the Rani followed him, stepping over rocks as the Doctor entered a larger secondary chamber. It was far bigger with a circular dome to it allowing sunlight to enter and red coloring to the area. The Doctor was humming to himself as the screwdriver's signal led him to a large panel nearby. It resembled a stone marker with various drawings on it, the Doctor kneeling to examine it.
"What is it?" the Rani asked as she came up, leaning on a nearby table.
"Some sort of energy signal behind this," the Doctor replied. "I just need to study it more…" He waved the screwdriver over as the Rani studied her nails, resigning herself to once more needing to wait for the Doctor's odd behavior to run its course.
Her attention was caught by footsteps and the sound of voices. She kept her nonchalant pose while also alert in case of danger. Into the chamber came a quintet of people, all dressed in green uniforms with boots, the Rani quick to note the markings of early 21st century United States military on them. In the lead was a tall man who appeared to be in his late 40's, face rugged with silver hair under a cap. Besides him was a younger woman with short blond hair, intelligent features, attractive even in her uniform. A man her age followed, not armed with sub-machine guns as they were, brown hair and glasses on his face, not the same demeanor as them. Another woman followed with red hair in a bun under her own cap, also not armed and carrying a small case. The final figure was a large and imposing black-skinned man, his head bald with what appeared to be a golden emblem on his forehead. Instead of a rifle, he carried a large staff in one hand.
"Why do you have to complain?" the leader of the group was saying in a complaining tone. "It's one set of ruins, Daniel. You see one, you seen them all."
"If that was true, O'Neill, we would not be here," the black man stated in a powerful voice.
"I was being sardonic, Teal'c."
The other man pushed his glasses up his nose. "I just needed more time, Jack. The markings there were so unique, I swear there was a Nordic influence on them!"
"Oh. Rapture." The man was about to say more when he saw the Rani and stopped in place. "The hell?" He raised his gun, the woman at his side following as the large man hefted his staff. "Who the hell are you?"
The Rani made no move except a raised eyebrow. "Charming. I had so missed the manners of the United States on Earth. Almost like a rash that never quite goes away."
"I asked you, who are you?" the man demanded.
"Oh, I'm the Rani and that's the Doctor." The Rani waved at the man on the ground. "Don't worry, we won't be staying very long, right, Doctor?"
He seemed to ignore her, too busy studying the tablet. "Both of you, hands up!" the grey-haired man intoned. "Now!"
With a deep sigh, the Rani did so, standing up straight. "Doctor."
"We're being ordered to surrender."
"They won't shoot us."
"They have rifles."
"They won't shoot us."
"They're Americans from the 21st century."
"Don't shoot!" the Doctor called as he shot to his feet, hands raised up high.
"Drop the weapon!" the leader of the group said aiming his rifle.
The Doctor frowned as he glanced at the object in his hand. The Rani just rolled her eyes. "It's a screwdriver! What do you expect him to do, tighten shelves at you?"
"Teal'c, keep 'em covered," the man stated.
The man with the glasses coughed. "Ah, Jack, maybe we can try talking first?" He stepped forward with a smile. "Hello, I'm Dr. Daniel Jackson. We're from a planet called Earth, we're explorers."
The Rani snorted. "Of course. Who else but the Americans would explore at the business end of a P—90?" She shrugged at the Doctor's look. "Topher was obsessed with video games, bothersome all the time."
The humans seemed surprised at the talk. "You know about Earth?" The blonde woman asked. "You've been there?"
"Oh, I pop in now and then," the Doctor stated with a cheerful smile. "Lovely place, don't you agree?"
The man in the lead frowned. "Doc, check them out." The red-headed woman carefully moved forward as the others kept their weapons carefully trained on the two Time Lords. She reached into her bag, pulling out a stethoscope and sliding it onto her ears with a professional air. She moved to put it at the Doctor's chest to listen. "Heartbeat is strong." She frowned. "Wait.." She moved the stethoscope over to listen to the Doctor's right side and her eyes widened. She grabbed at his wrist and pressed her thumbs onto it, gauging what she felt. She backed up with wide eyes. "Sir…this man has two hearts."
The grey-haired man blinked. "That's overcompensating."
The woman moved to the Rani only to have her slap the stethoscope away. "My biology is the same as his, I detest examinations."
"Very true, you should have seen her on exam days," the Doctor said. "By the by, we didn't get your names."
"Oh, um, Dr. Daniel Jackson," the man with the glasses said. He began nodding to the man with the lead gun. "That's Colonel Jack O'Neill, Major Samantha Carter, the woman checking you out is Dr. Janet Fraiser and-"
"Danny?" O'Neill said in a calm tone. "Did we not discuss a little thing called team security in the field?"
"Can we lower our arms now?" the Doctor asked. "Rather tiring here."
O'Neill glared at them. "Fine." He kept his rifle up though as Carter moved next to him. "Sir, our initial scouting reported no indigent life on this planet."
"Oh, we're not from here," the Doctor stated. "Just passing through." He turned to move back to the panel. "That is, once I study this a bit more…"
"What are you doing?" Carter asked as he waved his screwdriver back over the panel.
"You can ask but that's no guarantee of an answer, believe me on that point," the Rani said. She took notice of Teal'c and frowned deeply. "This may seem an obvious question but then you humans tend to overlook such things but are you aware you have a Jaffa with you?"
The members of the team exchanged surprised looks. "You know of us?" Teal'c said in his rumbling tone.
The Rani examined her fingernails. "I generally tended to stay away from the Goa'uld to be honest. Short-sighted to the extreme, so petty in their wants and cares. I dislike people in love with their own egos, hardly effective to be around." She thought for a moment. "Now, Nirrti, she was an intriguing person to work with."
It took a moment for the Rani to become aware of the glares she was getting. "You've met her?"
"You know that psycho?" O'Neill demanded.
The Rani frowned. "I'd hardly go quite that far with her. A tad extreme, I'll grant but quite sane, refreshingly so for a Goa'uld. Excellent insight for genetics and made a rather nice batch of tea to boot."
Carter leaned to O'Neill. "Sir…"
"I know, Carter," he muttered. "Anyone friends with that snake…"
"Yes because humanity has no history of mistreating others for their own gains," the Rani dryly stated. "And we weren't friends. I don't have any. Right, Doctor?"
"Nope, no friends, can barely stand me most days," he answered without looking up, the Rani making a "see?" gesture with her hands.
O'Neill looked to the others. "I got nothing."
"Sir, maybe we should check in with the base," Carter suggested.
"I can go back," Fraiser said. "Apparently, those reports on possible sickness weren't true after all."
"All right, Doc goes back and reports in, Danny keeps talking to these two nuts, Carter you now have time for this wave readings or what not and Teal'c, you remind me again why I'm not home fishing."
"I was under the impression there were no fish in your lake, O'Neill."
"Ah, I am still attempting to translate that."
"In which case, you're in luck, the Doctor is fluent," the Rani remarked.
"Ah ha!" The Doctor called out, getting everyone's attention. "I knew it!" He stood up and pointed his screwdriver at the panel, hitting a button. A loud whine echoed through the chamber as a rumble went out. Slowly, a large section of the floor began to pull back, sliding slowly away, dust and soot falling about. A set of large stone steps led down below, the Doctor slipping his screwdriver back into his coat as he brushed his clothing off. "I knew there was a reason for that thing."
"Which is more than can be said for you," the Rani intoned.
O'Neill frowned as he joined them to look down the steps. "So whoever built this place had a Scooby-Doo fetish, interesting."
"It's not the original design," the Doctor stated as he studied the dark interior. "This was placed in recently and far better technology than the rest of the temple."
"Goa'uld?" the Rani asked as she joined him.
"Not sure," the Doctor intoned. "But one way to find out." He was about to step forward when O'Neill held up a hand. "Hold up. This is our operation still."
"Oh, posh," the Doctor waved him off. "This won't take a moment." He began heading down the stairs, whistling to himself. With a sigh, the Rani began to follow him. O'Neill looked at his team and shrugged. "Fine, down we go."
"Sir, maybe we should contact the base first?" Carter suggested.
"Just a quick recon, Carter."
"Is anything we do quick?" Daniel asked rhetorically.
"Shut up," O'Neill said as he led SG-1 down the steps after the two Time Lords. The tunnel they came through was dark, only a few torches here and there to light the path. The soldiers were naturally ready for trouble with raised weapons, Daniel and Fraiser a bit more wary. "Sir," Carter said softly. "We still know nothing of these two…"
"Now, Carter, what's life without a little risk?"
Footsteps echoed before them and the group instinctively pulled into nearby alcoves. They peered forward to see a group of men march ahead from a side tunnel, all clad in similar bulky armor of grey with white symbols on their chests and matching head symbols of Jaffa. As soon as they walked off, the group moved back together. "Weird armor," O'Neill stated.
"Indeed," Teal'c rumbled. "The design is not the usual type of any System Lord I recognize."
"Well, that's not a bad thing," the Doctor said. "I mean, doesn't hurt to shake up your style now and then."
"Says the man who wears the same damn suit every day," the Rani pointed out.
"Always something to be said on not changing a good thing."
Fraiser frowned and leaned in to softly say. "Is this man in his right mind?"
The Doctor looked insulted. "I'm quite a bit in my right mind but that's because my left mind is so crowded."
"Enough," O'Neill snapped. "Come on." He moved forward, the rest following as they made their way down the tunnel. They soon found themselves coming to an opening, dropping down in crouches as they made their way to a nearby outcropping. Below them was a massive chamber, much of it solid rock but clearly advanced alien machinery about. More Jaffa marched, still in those strange uniforms the Doctor found so oddly familiar. They mixed about, over a thousand to be seen but the chamber seemed ready to hold more. A large stone platform rested at one side of the cavern with a balcony holding three thrones.
"Damn," O'Neill muttered, keeping his voice low. "Serious snake pit."
Daniel was peering over his shoulder at the structures set up. "This resembles the remains of that village we found," he stated in a scholarly tone of curiosity. "Nordic in a way but mixed with some language I don't quite understand."
"Remains connected with Jaffa, never a good combination," O'Neill said.
Fraiser coughed softly. "Sir, we're heavily outnumbered and I'm not exactly inclined toward combat itself so maybe we should return to the Gate."
"I do believe the red-haired ape is right," the Rani intoned. "We should be going."
At that moment, a loud booming sound echoed and all the Jaffa present stopped what they were doing. Most gathered in formation in the main circle before the stage, all at attention. The booming sounded again before a trio of figures entered the stone platform. They resembled walking stone statues of figures in robes, each bearing a huge sloped helmet that resembled a hood but far more solid. Their white eye-holes were blank with slits going down the front and a circular symbol at their foreheads. They gazed down upon the gathered Jaffa before settling onto their thrones.
"Good God," Fraiser whispered.
"No," the Doctor hissed, his face set. "Bad gods. Bad gods, all around. The Gods of Ragnarok."
Daniel looked at him with interest. "As in the Norse myths?"
The Doctor nodded. "Actually, they're Rag, Nah and Rok."
"Proof how you never let Dad pick your names," O'Neill stated.
Ignoring him, the Doctor continued. "They're Old Ones, from the time before the creation of our universe. In fact, they may be the reason the previous one died out. They manifest themselves in different times and places, using other species for their mischief."
"And Jaffa fit into that well," O'Neill said.
"I ran into them on a planet a few hundred years ago," the Doctor said. He paused before looking at the humans, who just stared back. "Sorry, I'm just used to people being surprised when I say things like that."
O'Neill shrugged. "You lose all sense of wonder on this job."
"That's just sad." The Doctor rubbed his chin. "I thought I had destroyed them then. I should have known they'd find a way to survive. Or they're from a time period before I met them."
"That sounds confusing," Daniel said with a frown.
"You get used to it," the Rani remarked.
"You beat those guys?" Daniel did a double-take at them. "Wow, that's impressive."
"I get that a lot." The Doctor frowned. "Well, not a lot…"
"You said they based themselves on Norse myth," Carter stated. "Does that mean they're connected to the Asgard?"
The Doctor's eyes brightened. "Oh, you know them? Lovely chaps, all of them, well, Loki can be a handful but Thor's the right sort."
"Yeah, he's damn cool," O'Neill agreed with a grin. He glanced back to where the trio of figures were speaking out in a strange tongue. "Okay, anyone catching that?"
Daniel cocked his head frowning. "It sounds like a Norse dialect, can't quite make out…"
"We are your Gods, the one true ones, our power is greater than any Goa'uld, serve us well and all shall shudder before us, etc, etc, etc," the Rani stated in a bored tone.
"Um, yeah, okay," Daniel said.
"Okay, think we've got enough for now," O'Neill said. "Let's haul back to the Gate."
The Doctor bit his lip. "Colonel, this might not be that easy. These creatures are immensely powerful, only more so when they use others. If left alone too long, they can build their power even more. Stopping them quickly is the best option."
"Yeah, sorry, Doc," O'Neill snapped. "But this was a scouting mission, not search and destroy. We don't have the people or weapons to take on a full Jaffa base on our own. We need to get back, get reinforcements and figure out a plan first."
The Rani snorted. "How unlike the military."
O'Neill glared at her. "I'm sorry, who are you two again?"
"Concerned citizens. Well, the Doctor is concerned, I don't really care too much."
"Whatever," O'Neill said. "Come on, double-time back to the Gate." He lifted his weapon up and backed up, Carter and Teal'c following. The Doctor took another glance down before sighing, hating once again how his past came back to haunt him.
The group were making their way back down the hallway when the sound of marching footsteps came from before them. "Crap," O'Neill said as he lifted up his weapon, Carter and Teal'c following suit. A quartet of Jaffa came into view, stopping startled at the sight of the humans before them. O'Neill fired a burst from his gun that knocked one down, the other three pulling their own weapons out to fire back. SG-1 took to the sides of the tunnels as they exchanged fire, Carter and Daniel holding back.
Teal'c was blasting with his staff as he heard footsteps behind. "O'Neill!" he called out as he turned to fire blasts with his staff at the Jaffa beginning to rush them from the other end of the tunnel. "There are more coming!"
O'Neill cursed. "Right, split it up! Carter, Fraiser, make for the Gate! We'll hold them back!"
"Roger!" Carter said as she fired a burst to cut down the last of the Jaffa before them. She took off in a fast run, Fraiser behind her. The Rani was soon moving to join them as the Doctor blinked in surprise. "What are…"
"Safer with them than you," she fired back. The Doctor just shrugged as he put his hands over his ears and wished once more that people could find some sort of more civilized way than gunfire to solve things.
Carter raced up the steps, Fraiser following and the Rani behind them. They were halfway to the chamber holding the Gate when movement caught the Rani's eye. "Down!" she yelled instinctively as a group of Jaffa rose from behind a nearby cropping of rock. Most of them were firing their staff weapons but one held a zat gun to spew out its electrical blasts. Carter was firing back at them with her gun as the Rani raced forward. She gasped as she felt one blast hit her and then another, stumbling onto the ground. Fraiser turned to look back at her, surprised to see her still moving. "Sam, she's still alive!" she called out.
"After two blasts?" Carter was surprised even as she fired back. "I didn't think that was possible."
The Rani gasped out as she swallowed her pride to let Fraiser help her up. "Dammit," she moaned. "Did not want this, not now…" She glanced down at her hand and could see a light glow coming over it. Clenching her first, she stumbled forward as Carter threw a grenade at the Jaffa, scattering them as they entered the Gate chamber.
Carter moved to the dial. "Here's hoping they hold back." She saw the Rani shove her away and toward the large blue box nearby. "What are-"
"No time for that," the Rani hissed as she pulled out a key to slide into the lock. "In here if you want to live." She pushed the door open and a confused Carter and Fraiser exchanged looks before joining her, the hurried footsteps and yells of Jaffa not far behind.
As she moved up to the console, the Rani rasped out. "Yes, it's bigger on the inside than it is on the outside, get over it!" She threw buttons to set the rotor off before stepping back.
Fraiser, as expected, was staring at the interior of the TARDIS in open-mouthed wonder. Carter was also surprised but more bemused. "Amazing. A pocket dimension connected to that craft interior. We must have bridged a spatial gap in entering…But how do you maintain the stability inside the frame?"
The Rani glanced at her with honest surprise. "Huh. Too bad the Doctor isn't here, would love seeing you deflate his ego with that reaction." She hissed out as she hunched over the console. "Be…quiet…I'm….concentrating."
"You're just standing there."
"On the cellular level, I'm quite busy."
Fraiser shook her head as she started to walk up the stairs. "Listen, you need attention. Those zat beams-" She was cut off as the Rani waved a hand at her, the fingers glowing with strange golden energy.
"I said be quiet," the Rani snapped. "Unlike some people I can name…I try to put some effort into this…Not just be…random." She took a deep breath. "Always feel like I should be saying something profound at this moment but…No, never the poetic sort." On the one hand, the regret of having to change was clear in her mind but the Rani was a realist enough to know there was no sense in wasting time with such sentiment. She slowly stood up, wincing as she faced them, taking deep breaths. By this point, the golden glow was spreading across her entire face, eyes closing as she prepared herself. "Away…I…go."
With that, she threw her hands outward as she exploded with light. It poured from her sleeves, her pant cuffs and her collar, spraying in all directions. It wasn't just light but seemed to be a strange dust that flowed with it, pouring onto the floor before vanishing. The two other women held hands to their eyes against the glare, neither understanding what was going on. They heard a cry from the Rani, a scream of pain but also one that reminded Fraiser of a newborn's first sounds.
As suddenly as it had appeared, the light vanished and they could see a completely different woman standing in the same clothing. She was a few inches shorter and thus the clothes hung on her a bit, her frame a bit more shapely than before with a touch more athleticism to it. Her face was younger, looking like someone in their late twenties, with full lips, a pert nose and well sculpted cheekbones. Her hair was raven black and cascading to her shoulders. Her blue eyes blinked a few times as she held up her hands to examine them. Rummaging through her coat, she pulled out a compact mirror, flipping it open to take in her reflection.
"Right, right, nose not bad." She paused as she suddenly took in her soft voice, strong but also containing a husky side. "Oh, wait, hello, hello! That always takes getting used to." She looked back at her reflection. "Good face, lips, ah, had worse, hair could be shorter but at least not blonde…"
"Hey," Carter automatically said but the Rani (and as impossible as it seemed, Fraiser and Carter knew this was the same woman) just ignored her to pat herself down. "All right, things seem in place, very good." She stretched her hands out, feeling cracks as if things were settling into place. "Right. That's taken care of." She moved to the console, adjusting some buttons. "Let's see, scan the area and what shall we find…"
Fraiser was slowly moving forward with care, staring in disbelief. "You just…How did you do that?" She looked the woman over. "You're at least three inches shorter! How do you just transform your entire skeletal and muscular structure to…"
The Rani held up a finger to silence her. "Ah…there we have it." She took some readings and nodding. "Well now, that just makes sense, doesn't it?" She rose up and began to walk down the steps and to a nearby hallway, undoing the buttons of her top. "All right, give me ten minutes and we'll be able to figure out a plan to rescue the rest of them."
"Where are you going?" Carter demanded.
The Rani stopped and looked at her with a frown. "I'm going to kill a god," she said as if the answer was obvious. "I want to be well-dressed for it."
If this was an episode, the cast credits would be ending with "And introducingNatalie Dormer as the Rani." Even before her turns on "Game of Thrones" and "Elementary," I always thought she'd be great for the role, had in mind this regeneration since the story began. Also, the Gods of Ragnarok appeared in the Seventh Doctor episode "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy." Hope for updates soon, keep the comments coming.