*Pyramid of Abydos*
The blue glow faded as Horus materialized on the ring platform. Above he could hear the low roar of the ship's engines as it rose into the sky. His fury raged, how could any human or system lord have the gall to ambush his god so openly? Baal or perhaps Sokar might be brazen enough to openly attack Ra, but the enemies on his ship were unlike any he had ever seen.
It was no matter, whoever they were they had doomed themselves and the people of Abyds to the full fury of Ra's wrath. He held an ark bomb in his hands, a powerful explosive device which he would attach to the stargate. The naquadah would act as a massive amplifier for the blast, and the resulting shockwave would obliterate the nearby city and shroud the planet in years of dusky night.
He stepped down the ramp as his eyes adjusted to the dim light of the temple, but after only a handful of steps he realized he was not alone. Hundreds of eyes stared at him, angry Nagadans. In front of the stargate stood Private Weylan, with Yasha and Kasuf on either side of him. All three brandished rifles, and the hate in their eyes was reflected again and again around the room. Horus looked around, shocked. "Apostates and traitors!" he cried, and his right hand dropped to his side to grab the handle of his zatnikitel.
A sharp crack sent blinding pain through his shoulder, as Weylan's rifle barked once. Horus' hand twitched, tossing the weapon away undeployed. "You're on the wrong fucking planet, spaceman." Weylan worked the action on his rifle and the casing [i]pinged[/i] musically off the floor. "Put down the box. Or don't. I really want to shoot you."
Horus looked around the room at the people who only two weeks ago would have fled at the sight of him, but they had seen men from beyond their understanding take battle to their one-time-god and he was fleeing. "You will all suffer! The vengeance of Ra is eternal!"
Kasuf brought up his rifle, as one of the marines had showed him, and sighted Horus' chest. "You… FUBAR." The body dropped with a dull thud, and the people cheered, falling upon the corpse and ripping the armor off of it. They cheered and smiled and clapped Weylan on his back.
"Good day, Weylan! Good day!" Lishai hugged him.
"Yeah, good day alright." He smiled at her, but it was short-lived. Above, the fading roar of the engines shifted, becoming a higher-pitch, and one that he recognized from the artillery range near where he'd done his basic. That wasn't all that concerned Weylan, though. It was getting louder. "Aw hell!" he hobbled as quickly as he could, shoving the crowd of confused Nagadans out of his way. From the door to the Pyramid, he could see smoke and vapor trailing at the horizon from a massive object. "It's coming down…" His stomach sank as it slammed into the distant sands, sending a massive plume into the air. "…hard."
*Ra's mothership, Nagadan Desert*
Major Chesty Puller groaned as he slowly regained consciousness. The good news was, he wasn't dead. Unfortunately, as he found out when he began to move, every square inch of his body hurt like a son of a bitch. Dim light filtered through the dust and haze, and as his eyes adjusted he could begin to make out the bodies of his men. They were tossed about the engineering compartment, though most appeared to be breathing. A few had even hastily lashed themselves to bulkheads or support beams with belts and strips from their uniforms. A glance to the door caused Puller to do a double-take, as the Tucker was wedged upside down in the top-half of the doorway, with only about four feet of clearance beneath it. He mentally thanked his stars that the machine hadn't tumbled THROUGH the doorway and flattened him and his men.
He sat up and took a deep breath. No broken ribs, and that was something. He heard a groan and a muttering of german invective. "Doctor Einstein, you ok?" He called out.
"Ya, I think I'll live. But I may have a bone or two to pick with a certain Englishman and his notions of gravity." He dusted himself off, wincing as he favored his left arm. "It would appear we are alive and once again on the ground."
"Great, let's get the hell out of here." The two men began waking the others and tending to their wounds. Around a corner, nearly out of sight, they found Bra'tac.
A beam had come loose, and was pinning the Jaffa to the wall. "Ah hell!" Indy dashed over to him. "Bra'tac! You ok pal?"
The old Jaffa coughed, and flecks of blood splashed on his beard. "I have been through worse, Indiana. Ra's ship is quite sturdy, they do not make them as they once did."
"I've seen that before," Puller eyed him "Punctured lung, he doesn't have long left."
"Not so, human." Bra'tac winked. "I merely need to meditate, for a time it may appear I am dead, but my Jaffa will tend to me." He passed Indiana a metal circlet. "This trophy is yours." And then he passed out.
The other Jaffa had all survived as had, miraculously, the remainder of SMF-1. They were carefully making their way towards an access hatch when Indy stopped. "Shh!" He held up a hand.
"What is it?" Teal'c raised an eyebrow.
"Do you hear that?" A rolling roar was getting louder and louder.
"I believe I do. We must be cautious." Teal'c reached the access hatch and activated the release, popping the door open. They had to be careful, because the way the ship had crashed the floor was nearly a thirty-degree slope. The roar became deafening as the door thudded, and Indy looked out.
He looked, a half-smirk on his face in disbelief, as tens of thousands of Nagadans surrounded the wreck of the ship, cheering and waving. Indy climbed onto the rim of the hatch and gingerly stepped onto the hull. He looked down at the circlet in his hand, and pressed a small gem on it. Instantly, Ra's helmet expanded from the metal band, like a living thing. It was surprisingly light as Indy held it aloft, the setting sun of Nagada gleaming red and gold for all to see.
*Hawthorne NAD, July 4, 1939*
Even walking with an escort of four US Marines, Secretary Woodring was nervous, and disliked the fact that the desert heat meant he couldn't stop sweating and therefore appeared MORE nervous. He had only been briefed eight days ago on what had happened out here in a distant corner of General Groves' little empire that was the Manhattan Project, and he didn't like it one bit. A secret door to another world? Battles with alien gods, and flying pyramids? When Woodring had read the report the first time, he almost fired his aide for taking part in such an outlandish joke. It had taken the word of both Roosevelt AND Hull before he would believe it. In fact, Secretary of State Cordell Hull was already on Abydos, putting the final touches on the treaty.
His escort led him into a building which looked quite haphazard, having been dramatically increased in size in the past three weeks. At the far end of the building, carpenters and masons from the Corps of Engineers worked busily away to extend another wing of laboratories and workshops.
Inside the building was no less chaotic. Large carts of materials went whizzing by while men and women scurried to and fro with stacks of papers. The marines guiding Woodring turned left, then right, and then left again before arriving at an open door. "General Groves."
"Mister Secretary." General Leslie Groves saluted. "Good of you to come, sir. Have you met Doctor Tesla?" He motioned to the elderly Slav bent over the worktable.
"Yes, I believe we met at a state function a few years ago." Woodring grimaced. "Trying to sell the government on your death ray-"
"PEACE BEAMS, Mister Woodring." Tesla snapped, annoyed. "Death ray is a term the papers made up, but they are all about peace." He turned, and smiled at the men. "And thanks to this new mineral your marines found, perhaps I shall see them before I die."
Secretary Woodring gulped and realized the device Tesla was working on was shaped very much like a gatling gun with bits of wire and tubes sticking out of the barrel. "Wait, is that-" Tesla threw a massive switch on the wall and the lights flickered in the room. A low hum sounded, and a dull red beam shot out of the barrel and lit up the far wall. A small red circle the size of a pencil shone steadily, but nothing else.
"Looks like your peace beam still needs work, Doctor." Woodring sighed, relieved.
"Peace beam? Hardly." Tesla smiled. "This is a recreation of an experiment I conducted almost half a century ago. It is the amplification of light by the stimulated emission of radiation. The mineral from the planet can be used in such a way to provide an inexhaustible source of illumination. No more lightbulbs! No more rural electrification. And, if two grams of the material can do this…" He smiled and turned back to his notes and researchers as they began to gauge the properties of the beam.
"Well, at least it's never dull around here." General Groves smiled. "Please, Sir, let me show you the stargate." They headed toward the gate room. "I read the President's dispatches, sir. Is he quite serious about all of this?"
"The man is rarely anything but, General. I think we may be overreaching a bit here, but if Tesla can re-invent the light bulb after just three weeks, then we'll need Abydos more than ever." He stopped, and looked General Groves in the eye. "War is coming, and soon."
Groves nodded. "Germany. They seem to be cozying up to Russia."
Woodring gave a brief sigh. "Yes, it's keeping Hull up burning the midnight oil." They arrived at a set of heavy doors, currently open as track was laid down through this part of the facility. Two armed marines saluted.
"Well sir, this is it." Groves ushered him in.
"Son of a bitch…" Woodring hadn't FULLY believed, not until this minute. He'd seen pictures, read the reports, and even spoken with Professor Langford. It still didn't come close to the huge ring in front of him.
"Don't worry Sir, everyone says that the first time." He nodded to the engineers. "We're ready." One by one, the symbols were locked as the gate spun, the new machinery attached to it hissing and clanking in an awful racket. Behind the two men, a full company of marines as well as several trucks were preparing. They could only open the gate every few days, such were the power demands, and there was no such thing as a frivolous trip. The gate would stay open as long as they could keep it, sometimes half an hour, as men and materiel went through.
Groves and Woodring climbed into a jeep; it was better to go through the gate while sitting than to collapse on the other side. Woodring steeled himself as they approached the shimmering pool, he refused to let his expression change.
*Fort O'Dell, Nagada*
July 4, 1939
The road was new, that much was clear. Coming out of the pyramid, their little convoy had rolled down the stone ramp and onto a meandering path of cut stone grounded firmly in the dunes. Twenty-two feet wide, it was enough for trucks to pass each-other, or for a large tank to get where it needed to go. A quarter-mile from the pyramid, the road split, with a sign in stencilled English. "Nagada, 8 miles" pointed to the southwest, while "Fort James O'Dell 12 miles" pointed to the north. They had turned and continued on, and Woodring was overwhelmed. Three moons hung over the alien sky, one of them just peeking over the too-close horizon that meant this world was smaller than Earth.
"This is incredible, General. How did your men build this road so fast?"
"Wasn't us, Mister Secretary. It was the Nagadans. One of their many thank-you presents they've given us since we freed them." Groves smiled to himself. Normally he wasn't much for going out into the world and dealing with the lower nations, but the people of Nagada were just so enthusiastically HELPFUL to the Americans that his men hadn't even had the inclination to come up with a derogatory nickname.
"Nagadans? I thought this planet was called 'Abydos'." Woodring raised an eyebrow.
"It is, sir. Nagada is their city. We're humans from Earth and we call ourselves Americans. It's the same thing here." As they rounded over another sand dune a huge hulking shape loomed into view.
"Dear… God…" Again, the reports didn't do it justice. A shining, angular metal mountain cast askew in the sand almost as if tossed by a giant. Woodring stood up in the jeep and shielded his eyes. He could make out shapes clambering all over the ship, swinging hammers and saws, like an army of ants. In the shadow of the mighty ship, on a scoured-out gash almost as wide as a football field and almost a mile long lay Fort O'Dell.
Major Puller had insisted on honouring the fallen lieutenant for his heroic stand that had allowed some of SMF-1 to escape that first ambush and get the word out, and so the War Department had authorized the name. Fort O'Dell was now home to several hundred marines, scientists, engineers, and a host of metalworkers as they carefully, thoroughly, dismantled Ra's mothership under the careful guidance of Bra'tac and his Jaffa.
As they pulled into the parade ground, the base personnel all ran to assemble. The military men formed ranks almost instantly, while the civilians stood to one side. A delegation from Nagada was also there, Yasha in his official robes, and Kasuf standing with his new wife Lishai by his side. Indy stood with them also, to translate, still slightly relieved and saddened that Lishai had been promised to Kasuf all along, and had never been intended to be a wife for him.
Major Puller shouted out. "COMPANY! ATTEN-SHUN!" As one, they snapped into place. Bra'tac's jaffa, almost eighty of them including some defectors from Ra's warriors. They all saluted, and Groves and Woodring returned the salute.
"Thank you, men." Woodridge took his place at a podium which had been set up for this occasion. "I convey to you my own admiration for your service, as well as the praise of a greatful president. I will now read a statement from President Roosevelt:
Truly, no greater soldiers have ever been born than those of the United States Stargate Marine Force. Unflinching, you walked into the unknown to retrieve a lost comrade, and yet as you went from danger to danger at all times you have conducted yourselves not only as soldiers, but as warriors and gentlemen, to the great honor of your nation. On this day, one hundred seventy-three years after America's battle for liberty began in Independence Hall, you gallant heroes have done great service in the cause of liberty for your fellow man without regard for personal safety. It is therefore my great joy to award you men the Navy Cross. In addition, for extreme gallantry and heroism above and beyond the call of duty, I am pleased to award the Congressional Medal of Honor to Lieutenant James O'Dell and Lieutenant Anthony Evans for their actions against the forces of Ra. Truly, these men have set a precedent and legacy for which the United States Stargate Marine Force can be proud."
The civilians and the Nagadans clapped, the latter a few moments later as Indy finished translating. He and Doctor Einstein had already received their own honors privately, but this was military and political ceremony with very political ends.
Secretary Hull then took the podium. "I want to again express my admiration and respect for all of you, for prevailing against such serious odds. Truly, the United States is lucky to have envoys as courageous as our marines, or allies as formidable as the Jaffa. I have received word from our government that the Treaty of Abydos has been ratified. The Commonwealth of Nagada is now declared to be a sovereign military protectorate of the United States of America. In addition, the United States has recognized Master Bra'tac and his 'Free Jaffa Alliance' to be a formal ally of the United States. As such, I have given Secretary Woodring word to commission you, Master Bra'tac, and your men, as the First Heavy Infantry Platoon (Jaffa) of the Stargate Marine Force. It is an honor for you to have joined us in our mission of freedom." He saluted Bra'tac and his men, who returned the salute.
"Furthermore, it is my pleasure to name Colonel Lewis Burwell Puller to be the Military Governor of Nagada, and the director of off-world operations for the Stargate Marine Force." Secretary Woodring walked over to Puller and handed him a new set of bars. Puller grinned.
"Now gentlemen, it's the Fourth of July. I hereby order you to stand down and relax, we've brought plenty of steaks and beer." With that, the parade ground degenerated into a cacophony of whoops and howls as the marines congratulated their new CO.
Nagadan women and children took care of most of the day-to-day life at Fort O'Dell, and they had already dug fire pits and filled them with dried dung for fuel. There was music and laughing as the celebration began. Bra'tac shook hands with Secretary Woodring. "Woodring of Kansas, I am honoured to meet you. As one First Prime to another, you have done me and my men a great service to treat us so."
Woodring winced at the term, but wasn't about to tell Bra'tac he hadn't commanded troops in the field since the Great War. "It is you that does us a great service, Master Bra'tac. You left everything behind, and you managed to keep this wreck for America to study."
"Yes, my pupil Teal'c has done much." Bra'tac smiled, proudly. "He delivered Ra's body to our lord, along with the remaining Jaffa who I would not let remain here with me. We have told Apophis that Ra released a plague upon this world which has made it dangerous for all life. There will be no visitors here for some time."
"And he believed that?" Woodring raised an eyebrow.
Bra'tac shrugged. "It is not an unknown practice. I have myself rendered four worlds uninhabitable at the word of my false god."
"Well great, I just hope Telk doesn't run into any trouble."
"Woodring of Kansas, hear me." Bra'tac put a firm hand on the man's shoulder. "To not trust Teal'c]," he emphasized the name "is to not trust my right hand will not strike you down against my will." He turned to a serving girl. "Ah, this meat is delicious. Secretary, you must have some." Woodring sighed, and downed the rest of his beer.
Across the grounds, Puller sat at a table with Indy and Doctor Einstein.
"Well, Doctors, I guess your adventuring is over." He took a bite of steak.
"What do you mean, Colonel?" Indy smiled and tapped on the new rank insignia.
Puller looked at them and shrugged "Well, we're here, and we can get home, and that spaceship isn't flying anywhere anytime soon. And the Nagadans said themselves this is the only settlement on the planet."
"Oh, he doesn't know!" Einstein fairly beamed.
"What's that?" Puller grew wary. "What don't I know?"
Indy smiled. "Kasuf and his friends showed me this morning, apparently when the ship came down, a piece of debris came off and punched a hole through a cavern near the city. I looked, and it's got hundreds of sets of tablets, just like the one with earth's symbols on it. All of them lead to different worlds, I'd bet anything."
"Ya, indeed." Einstein broke in. "And I have been discussing the gate's processes with Doctor Tesla, and I believe I have determined how to make the transitions more safe. No more stomach upsets."
"Hundreds…" Puller's mind swam.
"Yep." Indy took a swallow of beer. "You'll have a report soon Governor, but if these other worlds are all settled with people from ancient earth and lousy with martian gadgets, you're gonna be needing both of us for quite some time."
Puller sat back and thought about that as he let his eyes drift skyward. There were three flagpoles at the end of the parade ground. Six rows of eight stars flapped in the breeze, but below that were two new flags. One was a red pyramid on a gold field with three white stars over it for Abydos, and the other was more of an old-style military pennant, with a clenched fist surrounded by a ring of stars. All new, and yet somehow familiar and somehow, quite right. He pondered what would have happened if Jones and Einstein had declined the invitations to assist on the project. The Nagadans certainly would have been worse-off, and Bra'tac would still be working for a monster.
No, thought Puller. Things were just bully.
*Ahernabe Research Facility, Hamburg, Germany*
Seth was furious. "I told you under no circumstances to connect the dialling device to the gate!" He slapped one of the engineers.
"We were only trying to get a baseline for-" all of a sudden the gate began to spin, and hum.
"TO ARMS!" Klaxons began to blare as men of the Waffen SS Germania poured into the room, levelling their guns at the stargate. A shimmering sheet of light flashed into being, and a swirling vortex spun through the room. "Mein gott…" one of the technicians crossed himself.
For a handful of seconds there was nothing. Then, a tall, fit figure clad in grey stepped through the light onto the platform. Forty rifles worked their actions at once, but he held up his hands. "Peace! Peace!" The stargate behind him turned off. "I am glad to have arrived here. Truly, it does me honor to bring word to the ancestral home of my people." He looked at Seth. "I am Tolvar, of Euronda. I have come for your help."
TO BE CONTINUED...