Chapter Nine

Invasion by the Things

Imperial Place - City of Preffilo

The Great council Hall

"Honored Emperor, what do you mean there are hundreds of alien worlds filled with life forms as technologically advanced as we?" asked Ssumaz Gradell. The very concept was confusing to him and he simply couldn't wrap his head around it. The very idea was absurd, even ridiculous; however it would not do to say something like that directly at the snout of the Emperor. Instead of speaking immediately he chose the words carefully so that they were presented as respectful as possible. It was well known that the Emperor always spoke the truth, even if what he said was impossible to believe. "I understand that the universe is vast, but we…"

Before the Lizardian could continue, decorum was completely obliterated as the power throughout the Imperial complex died which was something unheard of since the power grid was developed over three thousand years ago. It came as a shock, one huge enough to cause immediate panic in the court. At the same time, decorum was then buried as two guards pushed opened the doors hissing in alarm.

Emperor Runshan was momentarily frozen by the event occurring around him, however he recovered quickly.

"My most exalted Emperor," one of the guards hissed loudly. He was so stressed that he barely lowered his eye turrets in deference thereby declaring the utmost urgency of the matter. "At least two metal explosive bombs have been detonated in the lower orbit of Home!"

"By the souls of Emperors past!" yelled Tinezz Pusanda. "An electro-magnetic pulse is the reason why we have lost power. The entire city is affected! How could this have happened? Who would dare to do such a thing?"

The Emperor was already moving towards one of the huge windows trying to see for himself what was happening in the sky. Behind him the entire court followed crowding behind him.

"Have the Tosevites attacked us? Have they broken their arrangement with us?"

"Who else could it be?" asked one of the members of the Royal family. "It has to be the Big Uglies that attack us."

He turned to his trusted adjutant. "Find out the reason why such a thing has occurred immediately!"

"Yes, Emperor," High Leader Ssumaz Ryssann immediately responded.

The aged male member of the Race had barely turned around when the most horrible of news reached them. Another guard rushed in. He froze when he saw the Emperor.

"I am not worthy," the male stammered.

"No, you're not," agreed the Emperor as fast as decorum allowed. "But tell me the news and quickly!"

"Home is being invaded by aliens!" he wailed, "tall, frightening, aliens!"

At that very instant, every nightmare of the last three years crystallized in the liver of Runshan. Invasion of Home! As impossible as it seemed, the claw supports were on the other foot now. Home had invaded others believing themselves to be the supreme power. Then Home discovered that there were other more dangerous things out there than it could have imagined and now Home itself was being invaded, or so he was being told. It had to be the truth but it also had to be verified.

"Quickly," he ordered to no one in particular, "find out what's happening. Are our space stations under attack? Have they been wrecked? How badly are our communications damaged? Are there aliens setting claws and feet on the surface of Home?"

"It shall be done," one of the guards said as he quickly skittered from the council room being followed by several high ranking officials.

Two more huge flashes of light signaling the detonation of more nuclear weapons illuminated the skies over Home. Was it true? Had a conquest fleet of creatures come to conquer Home?

To Ssumaz Yunnanz, he ordered: "I understand that electromagnetic bursts do not interfere with the probe that communicates with Home II. Find out if it is still functioning. We may have need of it!"

"It shall be done!" And he was gone.

"Is it the Big Uglies?" someone in the court asked? "Could it be them? Have they deceived us?"

Logically, it didn't make sense that the Tosevites would attack Home although no one could yet understand the alien mindsets. They were too much of an unknown factor and again the word 'alien' seemed the perfect way to describe them. Could they be the ones attacking Home, or was it some faction of the Tosevites that decided that Home was perfect for conquest? If it were the Tosevites then why would they freely offer Home II and then attack Home? The points didn't connect and he hadn't enough data to confirm or deny any of his theories at this point but his liver seemed to have settled on an opinion. After a moment's thought, the Emperor answered. "I do not believe that the Tosevites would do this, but we must verify and do so quickly."

The Emperor gazed at a sight he had never seen before and he was frightened as never before. The city of Preffilo was completely dark. As far as he could see there was no power anywhere as emergency lighting had not yet activated. But, the sound of fear rising up from the city was unmistakable. Everywhere males and females of the Race were on the verge of panic. This was something unprecedented and new, and the people of Home didn't do 'new' well.

CDF Poseidon C&C

"Janus Lead to Poseidon Actual. Attack shuttles have been destroyed. They were not in range to fire their weapons. Repeat threat has been neutralized."

"Acknowledged. Continue sweep. Do not engage unless fired upon."

"Threat board is clean. No resistance."

"Acknowledged. Continue sweep. There may be a possibly of Tau'ri ships in the area. If you come in contact with one of them, do not fire unless fired upon. Repeat, if Tau'ri are encountered, do not fire unless fired upon."

"Do not fire unless fired upon. Acknowledged."

As Ibison listened, his smile grew wider. He looked positively gleeful. The longer the Apellai remained ignorant, the better for everyone involved. "I must confess that this operation is proceeding better than I anticipated. But, I must also insist that you use the correct name. They are not 'the Tau'ri'. That is the name given to them by their slave masters that they have adapted in their own ignorance. They should be called by their proper Colonial name, because that is who they are whether they believe it to be true or not." Looking at the admiral, he shook his head. "It appears that the Apellai have no clue that we're here and in another few hours, it will be too late for them to do anything about it."

At that moment, Admiral Westergyne wanted to slap him. Correction, he wanted to shoot him, with prejudice, and then throw the rotten carcass out into the depths of space.

Of course, neither he nor anyone in his command would dare utter something as stupid as that out loud. It simply begged that forever cursed god of misfortune to do something just to prove said individual wrong. This tri-operation was far more dangerous than the priest assumed. Three planetary systems were being invaded simultaneously. The entire of the Race had to be subjugated before the Tau'ri found out what the CF was doing in their back yard.

The admiral felt the chill run down his spine that had nothing to do with the air-conditioning on the bridge. If this act wasn't a provocation for triggering a war, he didn't know what was. The Earther people would not take this well just as the Colonials would not take it well if this was happening in their backyard.

"No space-borne threats detected," Lieutenant Corann announced as he continued to scrutinize the incoming data. "All alien stations have been pacified and our troops are establishing control. Alien dry docks are being boarded. Minimal resistance, no casualties. EM pulse effective, Admiral. Ten percent of the planet is dark. Vipers and Raptor squadrons are in atmosphere, no resistance."

Another systems analysis broke in. "Sir, I'm not registering any increase in encoded communications. We have no increase in space or aircraft designated as military," he told the admiral in awe. The bridge went quiet. "Sir, there's nothing there, no defensive response. Raptors and probe scans…I don't see threats anywhere," she reported. "They have nothing protecting their planet."

So, it was true, thought Iblison. Even he hadn't fully believed that the Race Empire had no planetary or homeland defenses. These lizards really were alien in their thought processes and that almost made him feel sorry for them, however he ruthless smashed any sympathy he had for them back into the depths of his soul. They were after all, to his mind animals, nothing more and nothing less and were to be treated as such.

"What about the civilian aircraft?" asked Iblison. The way he inflected the word 'civilian' was some small indication of how contemptuous he really was about the aliens. His inflection was something that the General hadn't missed. "Are they still flying?"

"Yes, sir. DRADIS reports close to fifteen thousand aircraft are in the air. The EMP affected region has caused multiple crashes. The others are continuing towards their destinations at an accelerated pace. Most are attempting to land as quickly as possible on airfields around the globe."

"Communications?"

"Our translator computrons indicate that there is widespread traffic across the planet, most of it panicked at seeing our Vipers and Raptors. Civilian communications has decreased significantly in the last half hour, likely due to the EMP bursts in targeted areas. What little I am hearing seems confused. They have no idea what was happening, sir."

"As they should be," Iblison said. "Transmit to the creatures that we want all of their crafted landed within the hour. If they don't comply then they will be fired upon and destroyed. They will be made to understand that we are in control."

"Pontiff Iblison," Admiral said. "We're not in full control yet and those are civilian transports. I will order them not to attempt any additional takeoffs. If they do then they will be fired upon. At this point they 'are' attempting to land as quickly as possible. I will not have our fire on them and I will give them time to land to keep causalities as low as possible."

The pontiff sighed heavily, looking at the Admiral with something akin to pity. The man was such a weakling, and he didn't have the backbone to do what was necessary. However, for the time being he had to tolerate man. The time would soon come however when the Admiral would no longer be necessary.

"As you wish," smiled the Pontiff. "May I ask when will we begin to land our troops on our new colony?"

"Our advanced recon is on their way now. If all goes according to plan, then the Emperor should be apprehended within the hour."

"Excellent. It is a blessed thing when the gods are with us."

The admiral fought hard not to grind his teeth to powder.

Imperial Place - City of Preffilo

Ssumaz Gradell was frightened, like any normal member of the Race should be.

What was happening was unprecedented. The glorious shell of the universe had just crystallized to become a frightening, much smaller place. Nothing like this had ever happened to Home before and he couldn't have imagined that a possible invasion by alien creatures just a few years earlier. But his perception had changed forever when those big, ugly Tosevites had arrived in their spaceship that defied all logic. That event had been the beginning of his nightmares and like most members of the race, he blamed Fleetlord Atvar for that debacle. If the Fleetlord had simply conquered Tosev III like he was supposed to then none of this would have happened. At least that had been was his initial thinking. Later as he pored over the reports, he began to see the future scribbling in the sands of time. If the Tosevites could come to Home with a space ship filled with technology that the Race couldn't hope to match, then sooner or later someone else might do the same thing. If that were to conceivably happen at Home then what would the Race do? How would they respond?

His first thought was that the Emperor would know what to do. His second thought was that the Emperor was very likely pondering the exact same question as things walked the streets of Home. However the Emperor had many challenges that he had to deal with, so Gradell began to plan for such a scenario. If nothing else, the Race could not end up like the Rabotev and the Hallessi worlds, subjected to another Empire. This would never happen in his lifetime of course but as much as he hated it, the future of the Race had changed.

He still blamed Atvar years later, but he slowly acknowledged that the Fleetlord couldn't have done anything else. Although the events had forced him to think of the unimaginable, Gradell praised the spirits of Emperors past that he had an idea of what to do, which essentially amounted to the same thing that the Rabotevs and Hallassis had tried to do when the Race came to civilize them.

"My Emperor," he hissed violently. "The enemy conquest fleet will send soldiers to capture you. But," and this is where inspiration struck, "you must change your Imperial paint into something that will not identify you as the Emperor!"

"Are you insane?" screeched Tinezz Pusanda. "He is the Emperor! He changes his status for no creature!"

"With all due respect to the Emperor, the creatures coming to this very palace will not care if he is the ruler of Home. But they will care that he is the Emperor and will try to capture him, make him prisoner so that we will be forced to obey everything that these creatures will demand. The Emperor 'is' Home! They could have destroyed us with an explosive metal bomb, but they merely destroyed most of our communications. My Emperor, we must take the chance that they will not know who or what you look like without your body paint to identify them to you. I strongly suggest that for the sake of Home you change your Imperial paint to something insignificant so that we may have a chance to save you and not lose all of Home in a single attack."

"He is the Emperor! He is to be respected by everybody. He would not change his body paint!"

"The imperial palace is isolated from the rest of the city," Gradell hissed quickly. He had to make the members of the court understand before it was too late. "It has been the protection for the Emperor and the court for a hundred thousand years. But, that isolation is now a danger to us. The power is off. We are helpless. The enemy can and will cut us off and capture us all. The Emperor must be protected and removed from the palace and the city as soon as possible." He pointed in the direction of the doors. "They will be coming soon! They must if they desire to complete the conquest of Home."

"The point is worth considering and quickly," said High leader Ssumaz Ryssann.

"Wait! In order for this to work, another one will also have to where the paint of the Emperor."

"But that is treason to impersonate the Emperor! It cannot be allowed."

"But it must before the Emperor is subjected to the creatures coming here to capture him," countered Gradell.

"Ssumaz Gradell, you covet the throne with too much enthusiasm. Is this yet another trick to gain the throne?"

"Are you addled? My loyalty is to the Emperor! Hurry, we must save him if we are to remain free."

"Darkness was the enemy of the Race," whispered the Emperor. It was an instinctual enemy feared by the Lizardians long before they discovered the ability to reason. There were predators on Home still, willing to dismember and kill in the darkness where civilized eyes could not see. The Race instinctually huddled together for protection then as now. Here was yet another type of darkness, that of the unknown and the Race was again trying to huddle together. Politics was safe compared to what was coming for them now. Gradell was correct in his analysis. If the creatures wanted quick and efficient control of Home, then how best to achieve that goal than by capturing him? What chance would Home have then?

He already knew the answer.

None whatsoever.

"I have decided," Emperor Runshan said, silencing them all. "Ssumaz Gradell's plan is accepted. If Home is to resist, then we must do as he suggests and it has to be done now."

"It shall be done." announced Ssumaz Ryssan, speaker for the Emperor.

The old lizard wasted no time in doing exactly what the Emperor ordered.

Combat shuttle Twenty-nine

Lead One of Operation Peitho:

"Target area confirmed, Lieutenant," the pilot of Lead One said. "ETA, six minutes, thirty seconds."

"The operation is a go," said twenty-five year-old Lieutenant Areson. "Feet on the ground in six minutes. Target is to be captured intact. Resistance by any other than the target is to be considered hostile and treated accordingly. Follow your training and we will achieve our objectives." A course of 'yes, sir', greeted his ears. The men and women under his command sounded eager and he was pleased and proud of them all. They were about to make history.

The Hermes recon team was the most experienced in the Colonial defense force at what they did. Snatch and grab was the team's specialty. For years they'd train for Operation Python – the acquiring of certain authority figures located on Earth but the action was never authorized. It was considered too risky given the Apellai colony's capability to respond with extraordinary heavy weapons. If any of the Colonials were caught, the Colonies would be held responsible and there was no telling what those savages would do. Their attitudes and possible response were just too unpredictable when it came to planetary disputes. They didn't understand what war was and how it was to be prosecuted. You fought and if you won it was over. If you lost then it was over. But the Apellai were crazy. They couldn't even decide on a proper name for themselves. Calling their planet Earth and themselves Earthlings was beyond stupid. It was like calling their planet 'Dirt'.

'Hi. We come from the planet 'Dirt'."

How embarrassing.

So was the name Tau'ri, or did they mean Taurus? That was wrong, too. They were a part of the Apellai system and should have remembered that when they left Kobol. But the fact that they left last was probably the clue as to why they had forgotten their heritage. If they were the poor ones, the ignorant and uneducated on those last colony ships then it would make sense that they had forgotten just about everything. The Quorum and the High Priests agreed on that. They didn't retain the knowledge to remember who they were and apparently didn't care about their brethren. If they had, then the colonies would already be united by now.

They were a bunch of savages.

From what he understood, the Apellai didn't even believe in limited warfare. Every bit of data confirmed the belief that if you nuked them for whatever reason and they nuked you back, it wasn't over. It would be just the beginning, and no one in the Quorum was stupid enough to light that kind of fire. Every intelligence report suggested that if a Colonial incursion was serious enough, then the Apellai might response by blowing up Picon or some such nonsense. It had been a miracle from the gods that the Thirteeners hadn't went to war with the Colonies years ago after that cluster-frack of an attack by Admiral Cain and Pegasus; and scuttlebutt hinted that the only reason why they hadn't was that they were too busy fighting with someone else to bother with the Colonies, thank the gods.

However the whole incident indicated just how dangerous they were and the extreme need for them to be pacified. Half the colonies wanted nothing to do with them and the other half wanted to nuke the whole planet and get rid of the problem once and for all. But that would cause a whole new set of problems because as bad as the Earthers were, there were others out there that were worse.

As much has he hated it, Earth had to survive if the Colonies were to have a chance. The CF needed the technology that the Earthers so casually threw around. They needed the knowledge and most of all those stargates, the true secret of freedom and defense and at the same time the greatest threat to the Colonies ever known.

The Apellai would never give the Colonials the information on gate travel, not with their arrogant attitudes which is why the President had ordered feasibility studies on procedures as to how to successfully penetrate the Thirteeners planetary defenses and get deep cover insertion teams to Earth. The biggest problem remained how to get those teams to Earth given their abilities to detect any Colonial ship, stealth or not, within several light years of their home system – if they were searching. It was a big galaxy out there and the Thirteenth, like the colony worlds were – small. Hopefully the techs who discovered the Goa'uld cloaking systems could figure a way to back-engineer it into a practical working piece of tech.

Then Apellai, watch out. The billions on Earth would then raise up as one nation and throw off the oppressive Tau'ri overlords and rejoin their Colonial brethren and together they would all begin their quest to unite their Human brothers and sisters wherever they were in the galaxy. Because, there were alien things out here, ready to kill of Humanity without a second's thought. The Cylons had tried it and they lost. Those other creatures would, too. No one could stand against united Humanity. The United Church of the Gods was right about that.

"Four minutes," the pilot said, bringing him back to the situation at hand. 'Focus on the mission,' he whispered.

Two military shuttles escorted by four stealth-Clymes class Raptors landed just inside the palace's twenty – foot walls. Thirty members of the Hermes Recon team hit the ground running. Resistance was expected to be light but they were all on highest alert.

Lieutenant Davies Howard, the twenty-three year old son of Major Howard was first one out of the raptor even as it touched down. Night gear functioning perfectly, he surveyed the area round the landing zone. He and four others secured the ships as the others proceeded to exit the landing crafts. The orbit of this world was such that at this time of year there was no such thing as real darkness, only what would be considered 'deep dusk'. Still, the night vision was effective enough to see everything around him. But what he didn't expect was the stifling heat. Oh, he'd been told about it, and trained for it, but Caprica had nothing on this hell hole. It was dark and still the place was almost blistering with heat. It had to be about forty two, forty-three degrees celsiusen. A fast look indicated that there were none of the little aliens in the immediate area although that would change quickly enough. Two minutes later, teams were heading directly towards the palace, their objective, secure the Emperor. All data indicated that if they captured the chief lizard, then it was game over. Every lizards across the planet would immediately capitulate, if their leader but gave the order.

The city in the distance was dark, a result of the EMPs blanketing the area. None of their versions of automobiles or planes or electrical devices were functioning, as expected. There was a noise in the wind, an almost moaning sound that he took a moment to identify as Sergeant Riffin he blew the huge door off of its hinges. There was the sound of a collective hissing that he understood to be the terrified screaming of aliens in the distance. Too bad he thought as he and he others swarmed into the great building searching for their target.

There was a gunshot. A curious, but frightened lizard fell to the ground. There were targets appearing now, running from them. There was another shot and another of the aliens hissed in pain and dropped. Its body paint didn't match the one they were searching for.

Thank the gods.

'Try not to shoot our target,' he thought. 'Stop killing everything in sight.'

There was another huge door that was promptly blown apart. Colonial special forces rushed through, ready for anything. Three more of the short things were running away hissing in terror. So far, there had been absolutely no resistance at all for which Davies was grateful for. For all he knew, these creatures could have had some secret science fiction ray gun that could have vaporized someone. That scenario hadn't materialized. In fact, everything was going perfectly except there should have been more of the lizards than they were seeing for a building this large. Another door was blown and this time instead of being killed outright, several of the naked lizards were captured and herded towards the outside, but there still too few of them to be accounted for. They couldn't have gotten out before the SF arrived. The entire palace area was being surrounded by Colonial military Special Forces.

Apparently his commander had come to the same conclusion. "Fan out," she had ordered. "They must be hiding. Find them. Acquire our target."

Destroyer Hymradius

Lieutenant Mellus' hand s flew across the DRADIS console trying to clear the radar imaging focused on the palace. Something was happening. The Hymradius was designated as a heavy destroyer class battlestar used as a close support vessel for Special Forces.

"Commander Collins," Mellus started. The Commander was to his left watching the screen as the lieutenant attempted to improve the resolution. "The resolution's worse than on Scorpion. EMP's being compensated for, but ground penetrating DRADIS can barely cut through the interference. Heat signatures are disappearing."

Collins frowned. The heat down there had to be almost unbearable but the heat signatures from the Special Forces were discernible if just barely. The lizards heat traces were as well but many of the signatures were disappearing from the screen. If they had some way to mask their signatures from ground penetrating DRADIS then some would escape and the ground forces might not be able to do anything about it.

"Frack. What could be causing that?"

"Don't know, sir. Life signs are being lost. If they don't acquire the Prime Target soon, we may lose it."

"Get me Hermes lead."

"Sir, she on the horn."

"Hermes lead, the targets are disappearing, repeat disappearing. The numbers are down from four hundred twenty to two hundred six. They're bolting."

"Sir," Mellus said, "has to be a tunnel system, very deep."

Collins nodded. "Hermes Lead, they're escaping, most likely through a tunnel system, very deep beyond our ability to penetrate with DRADIS. The place is locked down, no resistance, but you're on your own. We can't track below surface from up here."

"Understood," Hermes lead answered before starting to scream orders to her squads.

"Increase the range and search for any increases in heat signatures for two kilometers in all directions. I want to find them. Our targets will probably be with them. Inform Command lead of the situation."

"Yes, sir," Mellus said, "increasing range, now."

The first thing that the Emperor noticed was that the tunnels were cold. In fact, he'd never experienced such a chill in his life and he didn't like it. Having the paint pattern of a lowly royal guard to the Emperor felt unnatural and being hurried by the real guards and Ssumaz Ryssann didn't appeal to his sense of decorum that had trailed him his entire life, however he didn't complain too much since Home itself was endangered. He had seen a glimpse of the things from another world before the hidden hatch had closed. The soldiers were Tosevites; that was unmistakable. He'd seen Doctor Daniel Jackson enough times to recognize the species. But he also believed that these were the other non-Tosevite Tosevites that the Tosevites were at war with, the same one that had tried to destroy the conquest fleet with explosive metal bombs near the fourth world of the Tosev star system. If that supposition was true, and he thought this likely, then the Tosevite enemies had discovered and decided to conquer Home. They were fast and he'd almost been caught twice.

Because of the Royal Painter's perfectionist's ways, it had taken too much time. They had barely finished the decoy Emperor before the final doors were blasted open by the enemy Big Uglies. Clutched tightly in his claws were the codes to contact Home II. The EMP had disabled all communication in the city and for miles around. But any radio could be used establish communications with the stealth probe orbiting Home. The Race had spent years trying to find that Tosevite Tau'ri probe with no success. He somehow doubted that this new enemy could either even if they knew it was there.

Two hours later he and his small entourage exited the hidden hatch and joined the crowd exiting the besieged city. No one even recognized him.

He wasn't sure how to feel about that.

Painted as the Emperor of Home, Ssumaz Gradell didn't quite how to feel other than being some type of traitor. He always wanted to be Emperor, but not like this. He and those around him had purposely allowed themselves to be captured by the aliens who guarded his group with those oversized, terror-inducing weapons.

They had been kept in the main hall for nearly two hours now. Amazingly the creatures had a device that could be used in basic communications with members of the Race. It was small, about the size of an enemy's chest, requiring only one of the alien things to carry it on their back. When you spoke into the microphone, it produced which ever language necessary to be understood.

The captive members of the Race were told not to move or try to run away or they would be harmed. Due of the few bodies still lying on the floor, no one dared move.

Finally another group of aliens entered. Gradell instantly saw the one alien in charge as the others bowed before him in that peculiar way. His strips of cloth were very decorative with blue and white colors. He was someone of importance and he headed straight for him, the faux Emperor.

For some reason they flat expressionless eyes of the lead alien reminded him of a predator and Gradell was afraid. The alien in strips of blue stopped in front of him. The creature towered over him, making Gradell feel even more intimidated.

"I am High Priest Iblison, ruler of Home," he said in slurred Home-speak. He spoke the language of the Race! The creature paused, daring Gradell to deny the fact. The faux Emperor wisely said nothing. "Your people, your, world, your empire now belongs to the Twelve Colonies of Kobol. You will be our servants forever. If you resist then you will die. Your people will die. This city will die. There is one to help you."

Gradell couldn't believe what he had heard. What had led the Race to fall so far, so quickly? Emperors of the past preserve us!

"Do you understand me?" the being known as Iblison asked.

"Yes," Gradell answered.

"Then bow and acknowledge your new masters of Home."

Was this how Rabotev and Halless felt when the Race conquered them? This was the worst day in his life as he lowered his eye stalks to the new ruler of Home. The others followed his example. Home was lost for now.

But – only for now. Surely the Emperor would take Home back. If only he knew how that feat could possibly be accomplished.

TBC

Due to lots of stress and deaths in the family, I've been somewhat slower in posting. It is my hope that I will now speed up the process.

Note: ATV -Friday