Hey everyone. Despite my best efforts, the holiday season proved too chaotic for writing pursuits, so my work was rather delayed, but I hope you will find this next installment enjoyable nonetheless.

Chapter 39

"Can't we go one month without facing some new enemy?" Buffy complained as the High Lords gathered to discuss the latest attack on their territory.

"Well, technically this is not a new enemy. Archmagos Novak and myself have examined the attacker carefully, and the armor and its wearer are clearly Goa'uld technology, albeit pushed to its very limits, which means this is most likely an attack by Anubis." Willow began.

"I concur. My network has already heard rumors of these armored warriors attacking minor Goa'uld on several worlds. Some time later, Anubis arrives to absorb the world." Maybourne added.

"When I get my hands on that annoying fuck, I'm going to ram my force sword so far up his ass his eyes will glow for a completely different reason." Buffy growled.

"Graphic mental imagery aside, the warrior is a very interesting and disturbing topic. I'll allow Archmagos Novak to discuss the wearer first before we discuss the armor." Willow turned to the Biologis next to her, who used her mechadendrites to access the hololith embedded in the meeting table, projecting a hologram of a humanoid figure with translucent skin and skull-like face.

"The being you see before you is very clearly engineered for one purpose, raw physical ability. Starting from the skeleton, the musculature and the organs, everything was built to make this thing as strong as possible, however the offset for such enhancement is a massive strain on the being's system. Its longevity would be measured in days if not for one thing." The hologram changed, showing a Goa'uld parasite wrapped around its spine. "The parasite compensates for these shortcomings but even with it, this thing can't survive more than a year. There is one other interesting fact of note. This thing shows marks similar to vat-grown flesh, and the tissues are saturated with energy similar to that produced by a sarcophagus, but at a much higher intensity. My conclusion is that this thing was grown, and then animated using a device similar to a sarcophagus."

"That could be a weakness in these things. If the energy was neutralized, it would most likely kill it instantly." Orim commented.

"That was my hypothesis as well General, however without the device in question I cannot test it. My theory is that the device is linked to the sarcophagus somehow. Exploring the roots of that device might yield some clues." Novak replied.

"We'll setup a task force to investigate. Now, what about the armor?" Buffy turned to Willow.

"It's an impressive piece of technology, I'll give Anubis that much. The material itself is capable of absorbing and containing huge amounts of energy. So much so that stress testing samples of this material were done in space. It does have limits, of course. Too much energy at once will bleed through, injuring the wearer, and as we've seen, large caliber kinetic weaponry will damage it as well. Anything vehicle mounted will have no trouble punching through, and Astartes grade heavy weapons will do the same, though not as easily. Of course, Anubis is aware of the stopping power of our guns, which is why the armor has a Goa'uld personal shield, which despite its crude design is still rather effective. This gives the armor extreme resilience even against our heavy weapons. Make no mistake, one on one against an Astartes, these things don't stand a chance, but unlike Astartes, they are far simpler to make. We can expect to encounter several for every Astartes we have, and in a group they can take down even our strongest warriors." Willow's report was grim, but not as bad as they expected. "As for weaponry, it falls rather short. It carries a pair of plasma repeaters, which although possessing great rate of fire, have only a third of the stopping power of a Jaffa Staff. It also has a pair of wrist mounted monomolecular blades, most likely for melee combat. These are strong enough to cut through anything but our heaviest armor with ease."

"Since our fleets are currently stretched thin with maintaining the safety of our domain, any attacks on the source of these things will most likely have to be via Stargate. Have a task force prepped to move in the moment we get some reliable intel." Buffy concluded the meeting and moved on to other matters of state.

A few days later, Buffy was surprised to receive a call from the SGC inviting her for an urgent meeting at the facility.

"General Hammond, I was surprised to receive your invitation. I was under the impression I was no longer welcome here." Buffy gave the group a smile that didn't reach her eyes.

"Normally we wouldn't contact you, but the situation we're dealing with is something that affects all of us. Please, follow me." Hammond led her to a lab where she was surprised to find a live specimen of the same warrior that attacked their world.

"You captured one alive? It seems I've been underestimating you." Buffy surprised them with their knowledge of the warrior.

"We lost a lot of good men and women in the attempt. We hope it wasn't in vain though." Hammond sighed.

"I take it you've met these things?" Selmak asked. The Tok'ra member was here to help interrogate the warrior.

"One of the Jaffa held worlds was attacked by one. They took some casualties but managed to take it out. I have ordered heavy weapons to be distributed to all worlds with a Stargate. A second attack will not be as successful." Buffy's tone was frigid as she regarded the creature before her. Its mind was incredibly simple, and penetrating its thoughts was almost pathetically easy, which revealed this being was taught only enough to serve its function and little else. Meanwhile SG-1 took note of the fact that the Imperium had begun to guard their Stargates with heavy weapons. Considering their auspex systems, that did not bode well for any potential operations inside Imperial space.

"Have you examined the one you captured?" At Buffy's nod Carter continued. "Then you probably noticed the unique energy in its body."

"Archmagos Novak mentioned it. She said the energy was very similar to the one of the sarcophagus." Buffy saw no reason not to reveal something they probably knew already. "I have a team investigating the origins of the device already."

"Well, we're ahead of you in that regard. Dr. Jackson already determined the location of the device is somewhere in Honduras and was in the process of retrieving it when we lost contact with him. Colonel O'Neill has moved in the location and has determined that Honduran rebels encountered Dr. Jackson and kidnapped him, but we are unable to pinpoint their location." Hammond explained.

"You have a rough location?" Buffy said after a few moments of thinking. "And you realize we will be seizing the device once we've secured it?"

"Dr. Jackson deserves better than to die in the ass end of South America, and you're better equipped to study the device anyway, though I will ask that you share any method you devise to counter these warriors." Hammond replied.

"I can agree to that. It's not like this weapon system can be used on anything else. I'll order the Asgard satellite to scan the area. Now that the device is removed from what was probably a shielded location, we can locate it, either by looking for its energy or the naquadah it probably contains. As it happens I have a Space Wolf squad that's here to help Xander. I don't think they'll mind a small detour first." Buffy grinned as SG-1 shivered, remembering the terrifying sight that was the aftermath of a Space Wolf attack.

In the makeshift shack that served as their prison, Dr. Jackson, worn out by torture and deprived of food, water and sleep nearly missed the distinct sound of Asgard transporters, but the bark of bolters and the harsh voices of armored Space Marines was impossible to miss and it wasn't long before their prison was torn apart, and Dr. Rothman and himself found themselves in the embarrassing position of being thrown over the massive pauldrons of two of the Wolves before they and the device they were there to recover vanished in a flash of light, leaving only blasted corpses as a mute witness to the power of the Emperor's Angels of Death.

As that operation took place, Selmak used the armor of the captured warrior to investigate and if possible, destroy their production facility on the planet Tartarus.

While the Imperium began working on a weapon to counter what they learned Anubis was calling Kull warriors, the SGC and the Tok'ra managed to destroy the Tartarus facility, but according to their report, Anubis had hundreds of them already shipped offworld, and while they stopped him making more for now, there was nothing to say he wouldn't rebuild the facility elsewhere.

"Such an interesting device. It's a shame it is irreparably damaged, or it would have been a great boon to our medical staff." Novak commented as she and her team studied the Ancient device Daniel found.

"Damaged? But the device works, Archmagos." One of her adepts commented as she recorded the data she was observing for later analysis.

"Yes, but it is stuck on maximum intensity and tuned for an Ancient physiology. At this setting, it would revive a near-dead Ancient in a matter of minutes. On humans, it is far too strong. It regenerates a lot more than it should. The mind is overwhelmed by it, and the body is overtaxed. The device is meant to scan and tune its energy to the needs and condition of the patient. As a healing device it is therefore useless, but that doesn't mean we can't design a more reliable healing technology than Goa'uld techno-heresy, and also finding a way to neutralize its energy in living tissue." Novak explained.

"I understand, Archmagos." The adept nodded and returned to her work.

A few weeks had passed since, and to the relief of everyone, the Mechanicus succeeded in creating a weapon to counter the Kull warriors, which was distributed to all worlds across the New Imperium, with the blueprints delivered to the SGC as promised by Buffy. After the few encounters with the Kull disruptor weapon, Anubis stopped sending his super soldiers against the SGC and the New Imperium, reserving them for his Goa'uld rivals that didn't have the means to neutralize them quickly.

To offset that bit of good news, during their latest mission, SG-13 was ambushed by Anubis' Jaffa, and in the ensuing firefight to rescue them, Janet Fraiser was KIA while providing medical aid to one of the injured airmen. The mood in the base was grim as the memorial service was held considering the significance the petite doctor had to the members of the facility, and afterwards, SG1 sat down to discuss the mission and what the loss of Fraiser meant to the SGC. After several hours of discussion, someone finally decided to talk about the enormous rainbow-painted elephant in the room.

"Sir, what do we tell Cassandra?" Carter turned to her CO who winced at that reminder.

"Anyone have any idea how we're going to tell the psychic teenager her mother was just killed?" O'Neill joined in. Ever since she started her psyker training, Cassandra's views became increasingly pro-Imperium, and on the rare times she visited the base with her mother, she was openly critical of their 'xenoloving ways' as she put it. The fact that Dr. Fraiser was killed because the Tau were unable to provide enough armor for all their personnel since most of their production capacity was tied in ship production would not be met well by the rather dangerous girl that was already angry at them.

"I'll tell her. She deserves to hear it from a friend." Carter stood up with a determined look at her face, but as she stood at the driveway of the Fraiser home, she found her determination leaving her, and by the time she rang the doorbell, she was almost ready to flee than tell the girl the grave news..

"Sam? What are you doing here? Why isn't mom…" Cassandra must have red something in Carter's face as her eyes widened in shock and horror. "No. Tell me she's not…"

"I'm sorry Cassie." Carter pulled her into a hug and once inside began to explain how the tragedy occurred.

"I want her body delivered to Sunnydale. I'm done with you all. I don't want to see anyone from the SGC ever again. Now get out while I am still able to control myself." Cassandra ground out as her eyes sparked with power. Carter could only nod as she rushed out of the house. Just as she reached her car, every window in the Fraiser house blew out as a scream of pain and anguish that was heard more in her mind than her ears echoed across the neighborhood.

"She will be missed." Buffy rested her hand on her student's arm as her mother was interred in the crypt built beneath the complex in Sunnydale.

"The only reason she died was because some xeno bastard decided they couldn't be bothered to help their human allies. Well, I'll show them how mistaken they were. I won't rest until I hunt down every single xeno scum that thinks they're better than us." Cassandra spat, her eyes glowing with rage.

"I'm sending you to New Cadia. There you will learn all you can from Harry until you're ready to operate on your own. Welcome to the Inquisition, Interrogator Fraiser." Buffy informed her and walked away, leaving the teenager to mourn her mother alone.

"So, I heard Cassie's on New Cadia to studdy from Harry." Buffy looked up from her dataslate to give her sister an annoyed look. "So, I was thinking about my own career prospects…"

"What career prospects? What do you want from me this time Dawn?" Buffy snapped. Even with their anti-Kull weapon, things weren't as great as she wanted them to be, as the Goa'uld managed to rally and were starting to push back against the Imperium. It was unlikely they would commit to anything big for now, but it paid to be cautious.

"Well, since you're obviously expanding the roster for the Inqusition, I thought I'd put my own name in the hat as well." Dawn gave her sister a confident grin as Buffy took a few seconds to fully process her words.

"Why in His name would I give you Inquisitorial authority?" Buffy snapped. Truly her sister was an Emperor forsaken blight sent to endlessly test her patience.

"You know I'd be good at it. And you need a Witch Hunter. The Ordo Malleus acts when shit already hit the fan. Wouldn't it be better if you had someone to find and kill the heretics before they summon all of the daemons?" Dawn's innocent expression was ruined by the spark of mischief in her eyes.

"You know what? Fine. You're an Interrogator too now. Prove you can handle the work, and I'll give you your own rosette. If you fail, well, I'm sure I can find a place suitably embarrassing for you." Buffy gave her sister a wicked smile.

"Failure is not a word in my vocabulary." Dawn met her challenge and sparks seemed to arc between their eyes.

"Get your annoying ass to New Cadia before I regret my decision." Buffy sighed and returned to her work. She nearly groaned in dismay as Tara passed by Dawn carrying a new pile of paperwork.

Several days later, in Washington DC, the new President of the United States Henry Hayes was being briefed on the Stargate program and everything connected to it.

"Alright. Let's put aside the fact you've been traveling to other worlds and fighting aliens for almost seven years now. You're telling me that our world is also threatened by demons as well, and that the biggest force on the planet that's fighting them is also the strongest faction in the galaxy as well, and we're currently opposing them? What were you people thinking?" Hayes snapped. All these revelations were difficult to process after they were piled on one after the other. If he didn't know for certain the people before him would never pull off an elaborate hoax like this, he would have been inclined to take this as huge joke. A small part of him kept praying that was indeed the case, because if not, the implications were painful to consider.

"You did read the brief on the New Imperium I belive?" Vice-President Kinsey asked.

"I can see why the previous administration wanted to distance themselves from them, but are we sure tying ourselves with these Tau was the best decision? From what I've read, we're lagging badly behind the Imperium. I mean, we only have one spaceship. How many do they have? A dozen? More? Their ships are over a kilometer long for God's sake. Ours is barely over six hundred meters according to your briefs." Hayes frowned.

"The truth is, the Imperium is bogged down fighting the Goa'uld and other enemies to bother with us. That gives us time to catch up." Kinsey assured him.

"I don't share your enthusiasm Bob, considering the amount of soldiers and resources they have. I mean according to your estimates, they have billions of people under their control, with probably tens of thousands of soldiers all better equipped than anything we have out there, not to mention their supersoldiers that can eat our boys for breakfast. Still, despite all this, I agree that working with the Imperium is not something I'm willing to agree to from a moral standpoint. But I expect results. It's bad enough they have a strongpoint on American soil, we can't let them run roughshod all over the galaxy as well." Hayes commented as the discussion moved on to other topics.

At the same time in the outskirts of Sunnydale, a handsome man wearing a priest's uniform stood before a large group of men whose pale faces were marked with all sorts of scars and various runes branded across their sewn shut eyelids.

"The great plan has failed. Our strike against the Watchers has failed, and the Potentials are secured from our strike. Our great master has decided to focus his efforts elsewhere, so you are no longer needed." With that, the priest raised his hand and a blast of energy shot out from it, spreading to all the men standing before him, burning them to ash. "Enjoy your reprieve little Slayer. My master's army will find its way here eventually, and we shall see how strong you are then." With that, the priest vanished from the patch of desert he was standing on and reappeared before a massive city resting on a large watery plain. "Hallowed are the Ori."