Well, it's been a long time, and despite life trying its best, I've finally managed to get this chapter finished. I hope that those that were patient enough to wait for it will find it enjoyable.
"I can't believe we found another one of those damn head sucker things." Jack griped as they walked towards the Ancient ruins from the Stargate with four more SG teams and a team of Tau Earth Caste engineers in the hope they would be able to extract the Repository of Ancient Knowledge SG-2 found a couple of days ago on this world from the ruins in which it was embedded.
"Well sir, imagine what we could learn if we can safely extract the device. We might even be able to get ahead of the Imperium for…" Carter trailed off as they rounded the small hill that stood between the Stargate and the monument that contained the Repository only to see the entire field swarming with red-robed people and various blocky vehicles, several of which turned to point their weapons at them the moment they noticed them.
And if that wasn't enough, they saw a large construct turn in the crowd and approach them rapidly, moving on six robotic spider-like legs, navigating the crowd with shocking ease, its large legs often missing one of its compatriots by inches. Once it got closer, the SG teams barely suppressed a shudder once they got a better look. Nearly ten feet tall with an armored base that seemed more suitable for a tank, it looked like it didn't even need the weapons it was carrying. Two massive swords were strapped on its back, while a missile launcher rested on its shoulder. The thing had four arms, the lower ones were thicker and gripped a huge melta gun, while the upper ones were human sized and held an elaborately styled long rifle, similar to an old Earth flintlock rifle. Its head was covered by a large helmet with ten glowing red eyes, trailing wires down into its torso, leaving only its lower face exposed. It also wore the standard red robe of the Mechanicus, concealing most of the upper, human-shaped body.
"Stand down." It's voice was eerily familiar and the response it received of "Yes, Tribune O'Neill." got a very vocal reaction from Colonel O'Neill.
"Oh for crying out loud. Ten billion Imperials in the galaxy and I have to run into you?" O'Neill shouted, annoyed by the fact his android copy both survived and decided to join the Imperium along with Carter's copy. "And what in Homer's name did they do to you?"
"I've just made a few upgrades. The Mechanicus has some kickass toys. Check this bad boy. A Transuranic Arquebuss. Doesn't look like much, but this little toy can take out an Al'kesh in a single shot." Tribune O'Neill patted his rifle lovingly as he turned around. "If you want to stay for the show, send the xenos back. They might suffer some friendly fire otherwise."
"So, who in his right mind gave you an anti-material rifle that fires depleted transuranic shells?" Carter asked once SG-3 escorted the nervous Tau back and they started to walk to the large ruined statue that held the Repository. "And how do they even make stable superheavy elements?"
"You did, of course. Most of the time I'm stationed on Altair, running the new Skitarii through virtual simulations when I'm not busy annoying Archmagos Carter. The Fabricator-General ordered me here to maintain security. Not that we need it considering Parcy's above us with her big honkin' new cruiser." Tribune O'Neill grumbled. "And hell if I know how they make anything. I'm paid to smash stuff, not put them together."
"You guys have cruisers now?" O'Neill exclaimed in shock, catching that rather unpleasant bit of news. They were still barely catching up when the Imperium only had frigates. A cruiser or two was on a whole new playing field.
"They finished them two days ago. Ronson's off giving Ba'al a hard time, so Parcy's obviously steamed she's stuck babysitting us while we play around with our toys." Tribune O'Neill chuckled as they walked up to the site. "I wouldn't want to be the idiot that tries to crash this party."
"Why six legs? I thought walking on two would be hard enough for you." O'Neill quipped as they walked through the assembled cyborgs all busy moving or working on some sort of machine. The air was thick with the sharp scent of oils and thick clouds of incense, along with the nearly constant drone of binary cants.
"You do realize any insult you throw at me applies to you as well Jack?" Tribune O'Neill chuckled. He rather missed trading quips with his organic counterpart, even if the man seemed too antagonistic towards him. "And to answer your question, I wanted all-terrain ability combined with the platform stability to use heavy weaponry. Plus the platform's big enough for it so now I'm fusion powered."
"I always knew you were crazy, but you're actually carrying a fusion reactor with you?" Carter's outburst drew a look from both O'Neill's. "Sorry sir."
Grumbling about smartass underlings, O'Neill almost walked into his guide's legs when he didn't notice their group had stopped.
"Ah, I see we have some unexpected visitors. Any reason you decided to bring them here, Tribune?" Willow looked up from the device she was working on to look at them. A large metal cap covered the back of her skull, trailing wires to the machine she was working on. Two adepts were busy keeping the wires from tangling as she worked.
"Well, mostly to gloat and to show off. After all, if it wasn't for them, we might not have found this place in time to secure the repository." Tribune O'Neill replied with an extremely smug tone.
"What's that supposed to mean? I know for a fact our operational security is not that lax." O'Neill snapped. Knowing very well how annoying he could be to others, seeing his duplicate pull the same on him really steamed him up.
"It's not, but you've failed to take one thing into account. The two psykers that have entered your base and stood near all of you on several occasions. Buffy skimmed a lot, and Cassandra didn't need much convincing to spill every little thing she picked up from SGC staff. After that, Orlin helped us narrow down addresses we should focus on. Nothing overt, but he could tell us which worlds had an active Ancient presence back in the day." Tribune O'Neill explained.
"Well, isn't that just great for you? Anything else you'd like to brag about while you're at it?" O'Neill snapped.
"Carter's a real wildcat in bed." Tribune O'Neill quipped back with a shit-eating grin.
"So, you're planning on using the device?" Carter asked. While the two O'Neill's squabbled, she was examining the work of the Mechanicus. "Wait, what was that last part you said?"
"There's no way to extract the device from its place without causing irreparable damage, which would lead to the loss of the data inside. That's why I will use the device to extract the data and transfer it to this data storage device." Willow patted the massive device that was built around a stripped down Chimera chassis while the two O'Neill's ignored Carter's suspicious glare. "Once we're back on Tollana, the data will be unpacked, indexed and archived. We're building a facility with an unprecedented data storage and processing capacity for this purpose."
"I think you're underestimating the amount of data this device contains." Carter sniped at the woman she considered her greatest rival.
"If I allowed it to unpack, yes. But I have much better control and experience with this type of technology than Colonel O'Neill, Major Carter. Now, let us begin the ritual. Places everyone. An artifact of such importance should be given the respect it is due." Willow turned to her entourage, who began to chant and wave their smoking censers as she walked reverently towards the Ancient device mounted on the wall of the ruin.
"Shit, talk about perfect timing." Tribune O'Neill murmured as he turned around towards the field. O'Neill noticed the Mechanicus soldiers were beginning to take battle positions.
"Got some trouble, my clinking, clanking copy?" O'Neill gave his copy a smug grin.
"Parcy said Anubis is pushing them hard. A bunch of gliders and Al'kesh managed to get through. It won't really help them much. I have over five hundred men here, not to mention six Hydra batteries. Anything they squeeze past Parcy won't last long to reach the Repository intact." Tribune O'Neill marched to the front while SG-1 stood and watched the preparations for battle.
While they had seen the might of the Imperial Guard and the unmatched fury of the Adeptus Astartes, it seemed the members of SG-1 were not prepared for the precision and mechanical control of the Adeptus Mechanicus. With utter silence other than to utter the proper rites, the Skitarii took positions and readied their vehicles. The moment the first Al'kesh came into view, a deafening shot echoed across the field, bringing the craft crashing down. They looked down to see the source of the shot and saw Tribune O'Neill was reloading his rifle.
"Damn. I so want one of those right now." O'Neill sighed. He never could get his hands on big honking guns like that.
"It would probably pulverize your shoulder if you tried to fire it sir." Carter further burst his bubble as Death Gliders moved in to strafe the entrenched Skitarii. Before they could shoot, the Hydras roared to life, filling the skies with clouds of metal that quickly shredded the leading Gliders and forced the remainder to evade or share their fate.
"They're landing their troops outside our gun range. Form up and prepare for enemy advancement. Once the Fabricator-General finishes her ritual, this world is no longer a high priority." Tribune O'Neill used his vox system to order his men.
As hundreds of Jaffa and Kull marched from the forest towards the entrenched Skitarii, SG-1 got a very obvious reminder on why it was a bad idea to rush attack a superior and prepared enemy.
Skitarii fire discipline was eerie to observe, their shared targeting data and weapon status meant that none of them shot at the same enemy and every shot unerringly found its mark. Still, the number of enemy soldiers was large enough that they began to shoot back, and dozens of plasma shots struck the Skitarii line, but considering the cybernetic nature of the troops, it often took several shots to fell one, and few Jaffa or Kull survived long enough to do so.
Still, O'Neill had to admire the stubbornness of Anubis' servants, as they kept moving forward, even as they were slaughtered en masse, but considering that most of their reinforcements were being shot down and they lost a dozen men for everyone they shot down, there was no way they could maintain their pace.
It seemed though that they didn't need to, as with the familiar sound of Asgard transporters the amassed Mechanicus contingent began to vanish from the field. It wasn't long before SG-1 found themselves on the bridge of an Imperial ship, standing near Willow's group.
"We have what we came for, Lord Admiral. Set course for Tollana. We need to access the repository as quickly as possible." Willow turned to the woman sitting in the ornate command chair of the bridge.
"You heard the Fabricator-General. Shoot us a way through and get us to hyperspace." Parcy shouted at her crew and minutes later, the flashes of battle were replaced with the swirling energies of hyperspace.
"So, what happens now? I hate to tell my bosses we came all this way for nothing." O'Neill turned to Willow.
"I have discussed the matter with Buffy, and she suggested you may accompany me as liaisons to the IOA. We do need to keep our allies there happy after all." Willow replied.
It wasn't long before they arrived on Tollana and true to Willow's words, a large building that was filled with to the brim with towering racks of computers awaited them. The true surprise though were the pods arranged all over the walls, all of them full of Techpriests wearing large, wire-covered helmets.
"You're using humans to process the data?" Carter exclaimed in shock and outrage.
"The repository is designed to be accessed by an organic brain. They don't keep any of the data, they'd be quickly overwhelmed if they did. The data is indeed more substantial than we had previously believed. We have around over one hundred million years of history to go through. And considering that to truly understand their scientific knowledge you must also learn about the historical and social development that accompanied it, you can understand the daunting task before us. It might take us decades to fully process and index the database." Willow sighed. When the Ancients said the repository contained all their knowledge, they really meant ALL their knowledge.
"Any luck locating the Lost City?" SG-1 had been on Tollana for almost a week now, and other than being glared at by the various Imperial citizens they had walked by during that time, they had nothing to show for it.
"Actually, I was about to call you about that." Willow turned to the arriving SG-1. "We're just waiting for Inquisitor Maybourne to arrive."
"Speak of the devil…" O'Neill spoke as the door opened and Harry walked in, accompanied by two teenage girls. While Dawn had a look of bored indifference on her face, Cassandra did nothing but glare at the suddenly uncomfortable SG-1.
"Right on time, Harry. We found the location of the Lost City. Or to be more accurate we found the location of the location of the Lost City." Willow began.
"What do you mean by that?" Carter frowned. Why wouldn't the location of the Lost City be recorded in the Repository?
"The Ancients recorded the location in a single place. Their primary outpost on Terra Atlantis, or as we know it now, Earth." Willow's words surprised them all.
"So where is this outpost?" O'Neill asked first.
"We have its precise coordinates from ten million years ago." Willow sighed. "Now we just have to compensate for tectonic and glacial drift. I'll have the accurate location by tomorrow."
"That's good news. Keep me informed about…" Harry paused when a panting man ran in the room and handed him a dataslate.
"Oh shit. Dawn, tell your sister to get her ass on New Cadia right away. Cassandra, contact the other High Lords. We have big trouble." Harry commanded his students.
"What's going on Harry?" O'Neill asked.
"The System Lords have gone into a panic when they learned about the discovery of the Repository. Now, they're not sure if its us, you or both of us that have it, so they've decided to launch one big united offensive. This is their do or die move, Jack. They either wipe us out or their power in this galaxy is forever broken." Harry replied with a wince.
"Can we beat them?" Jack asked as they walked out of the repository storage facility.
"I hope so. Losing to them won't end well for us. Come along to New Cadia. We can discuss things more there." Harry led them to the Stargate and back to the primary Imperial facility in the galaxy.
"What do we know?" Buffy asked once the High Lords were convened.
"All System Lords have gathered for one big push against their greatest enemies in this galaxy, namely us, the Asgard and Earth. The leaders of this group are Yu, Ba'al and Anubis. Yu has the greatest number of ships, but few of them are suitably upgraded, so he intends to hit the Asgard Protected Planets." Harry began his report.
"We will be ready for him. The Asgard will not fail their mandate." Thor replied, being present via hologram.
"Ba'al has lots of upgraded ships thanks to the aid of the heretek we know is helping him, and we've also been told his strongest ships are further enhanced by sorcery." Harry's words were accompanied by angry mutterings by the crowd. Knowing where the servants of the Archenemy were and being unable to kill them was a sore spot. "Naturally, he'll be coming after us."
"Anubis has the smallest amount of ships, but he has managed to build a new super-mothership. We believe he'll most likely strike at Earth." Harry concluded his report.
"Alright everyone. This is the moment we've been waiting for. We just need to crush the Goa'uld this one last time, and the galaxy will be open to receive the God-Emperor's guiding light. Relevant intelligence data will be provided to your departments. Now, go and prepare for battle."
Despite the urgency of the preparation, it still took three days before the Goa'uld were in place to launch the offensive considering the sheer scope of the endeavor.
"It has been a long time since the Asgard have fought the Goa'uld at this scale. I admit I am almost eager." Thor turned to General Orin, who was present to observe the battle for the Imperium.
"Let today be the day history marks as the day the power of the Goa'uld was forever broken." Orin's voice carried a strong tone of bloodlust. While he would have rather been out in the field as his Imperial Guard stood their ground against the armies of the System Lords, politics demanded a high ranking Imperial agent was present at this battle.
"They are moving to engage four of the Protected Planets nearest their staging point. Our fleets stand ready." Thor commented as he watched the sensor pings from Yu's fleet move towards their intended targets.
Outside the ships, hyperspace windows opened by the dozens as the sinister pyramid shaped Ha'tak popped out and immediately began unleashing their cargo of Death Gliders and Al'kesh.
"All ships, move in and fire at will. Beliskner class prioritize unupgraded Ha'tak." Thor ordered, and Orin swore he saw a slight smile grace the usually expressionless Asgard's face for a brief moment.
The swift and deadly Asgard ships moved towards their prey, unconcerned about the cloud of burning plasma the Ha'tak sent their way, their deadly beam cannons scything through the inferior Ha'tak, often destroying them in a single hit. Still, even with the vast technological advantage, the Asgard could only field a dozen ships for each planet, their fleets still depleted from their long war with the now fortunately extinct Replicators, while the Goa'uld had over a hundred for each target.
"Commander, the Haraldr is destroyed. The Ha'tak that rammed it exploded with much greater intensity than expected. Two other Beliskner class that were nearby report heavy damage." One of the crew informed Thor. True enough, just as the report came in, four more kamikaze hits disabled another ship and damaged another.
"They're using fireships. Clever bastards." Orin snarled. "It forces us to scatter our formation and keep their distance."
"Indeed. It is a tactic born of desperation though. We will triumph despite their best efforts to hinder us." Thor stated with conviction as his ship destroyed two Ha'tak and crippled a third that was finished off by his escort.
Above Earth, the two Tau'ri spaceships floated in high orbit, awaiting with dread the incoming fleet of Anubis. Even though the Tau based ships were individually far more powerful than even the boosted Ha'tak Anubis fielded, they knew they stood no chance against the fleet of over a dozen of the things, not to mention the super Ha'tak that was Anubis' flagship.
"Here they come. All hands to battle stations." For this battle, General Hammond took command of the action, commanding their first true capitol ship, the Prometheus.
"We're only detecting two incoming ships." The sensor officer reported.
"Probably just a scouting force. Anubis wants to see if we really have the Repository. Power up the ion cannons and fire the moment they come into range." Hammond ordered. As expected, while the Ha'tak took several shots before succumbing to the Tau'ri weapons fire, they could not match them in combat without numerical superiority.
"Shields down to forty percent and rising. They sure hit hard, the bastards." The tactical officer commented.
"It's going to get a lot worse soon. Any word from SG-1?" Hammond asked.
"They have arrived and are moving towards Antarctica as we speak. The Fabricator-General believes she can secure the outpost and activate its defensive weapons within the hour." The comms officer replied.
"Let's just hope we last that long." Hammond sighed. Forty minutes later, the rest of Anubis' fleet arrived and began to move against the Tau'ri ships.
Down on the planet, floating above the Antarctic permafrost a modified Thunderhawk transport was busy shooting a bright beam of energy down into the ice.
"How much longer?" O'Neill asked impatiently. Considering he was tapped into the comms for the ships above them, he knew they were running out of time. While the two ships made a good showing, they were on the ropes and the countdown was coming any minute now.
"Almost there. The outpost was under several miles of ice as after all." Willow turned away from the Colonel as the ship reported it was done drilling, and she switched off the beam generator and prepared the ship's rings for activation.
They outpost was completely encased in ice, but inside the Ancient architecture was very distinctive and still undamaged.
"So, how do we activate the weapons?" O'Neill asked.
"The chair is the control mechanism Colonel, I just need to check on the power levels first." Willow knelt next to the chair and waved her hand over a hexagonal piece next to the chair base, causing it to slide away and a crystal to pop out.
"Depleted as I feared." Willow examined the device for a few moments before the adept that came with her lifted the case he was carrying, revealing an identical device inside, this one having a soft golden-yellow glow inside it. With a quick prayer, Willow slid it into the hole. She then sat down in the chair and activated it, getting a quick tactical scan of the battle.
"One of your ships has been destroyed, and the Prometheus is in critical state. Anubis is moving in on this location as we speak. His flagship and six Ha'tak remain. Activating weapons." A hole oppened before the chair, and from it, a stream of golden light, comprised of hundreds of squid-like drone missiles sailed upwards and through the hole made by the Thunderhawk, flowing around the Prometheus and completely obliterating Anubis' fleet.
Above Tollana, Lord Admiral Parcy was sitting stonily in the command throne of her ship, knowing that the biggest battle of this campaign would be fought right here. Reports were streaming from all over the Imperial territories. The Goa'uld were throwing everything but the kitchen sink at them. Attacks from space, via Stargate or both were reported from dozens of worlds, with the Imperial Guard and local PDF fighting hard to contain the tide of Jaffa that bore down against them. Even so, the leaders of the Imperium knew that Tollana would be the key target, and all other attacks were simply a diversion to draw their assets away from it.
If Ba'al managed to destroy their orbital shipyards, he'd cripple them, perhaps permanently as they'd be unable to repair and rebuild their naval assets which would probably be the first step in the death of the New Imperium, an outcome Parcy was determined to prevent.
"Hyperspace windows incoming. By the Emperor, there's so many of them." The sensor officer gasped. Bearing down on them were over sixty Ha'tak, all of them fully upgraded. "I am getting weird sensor returns from a dozen ships. Symbols are written across the hull. Sensors are unable to identify them."
"Probably the vile sorceries we were warned of. Don't try to scan them further. We don't know what their effects are." Parcy frowned. The magic of the Great Enemy was a big unknown in this equation, and considering her dozen ships were already vastly outnumbered, she didn't like it one bit.
"They've been very busy indeed. This is a mighty stronghold. Even in our home galaxy, such a system would be hard to breach." Akhor Menet commented from his place next to Ba'al on his flagship.
"I agree. It will not be easy, but I am certain we will triumph this day. The technology and magic you've provided has certainly closed the gap between my fleet and this Imperium." Ba'al added as he watched the battle unfold. True, only a dozen ships were fully upgraded, while the rest were Anubis grade ships, but they certainly kept the Imperial defenders very busy.
The only thing that kept the parity for the outnumbered defenders were the various defense emplacements scattered across the system and above Tollana, but even they didn't last very long against the Goa'uld aggressors.
"We've lost another frigate. Three more Ha'tak are moving against us." Parcy spat out a curse at that. As the largest ship present, the enemy had focused heavily against her, and her frigate screen had far too many gaps for her liking. True enough, they've managed to cut down the Goa'uld ships to only twenty-three now, but in return she had lost six frigates, and only two of those were potentially recoverable.
"Nova cannon recharged, Admiral." The tactical officer reported with glee.
"Target one of the boosted ships. They've been too much trouble already." Parcy grinned as the Nova cannon shell hit right in the center of the targeted ship, blasting it to bits and damaging another ship near it. The return fire focused quickly on her, causing the ship to groan from the barrage.
"Dorsal void shields are about to collapse." The tactical officer warned.
"Evasive action. Turn us about and fire lances to…" Parcy was cut off mid word as a lucky hit damaged a power conduit, causing it to overload and discharge on the bridge, causing a console near Parcy to explode, killing three crewmen and flinging her from her throne.
The crew was momentarily stunned as they saw their leader lay motionless before the bridge medic team rushed in to secure and stabilize her, while the bridge crew struggled to handle the battle without her expert leadership.
Just as despair began to set in the fleet as reports of Parcy's injury and possible death began to spread, a flash of white light on the bridge deposited a person no one was expecting to see. A tall, though young looking man with a regal face and golden blond hair stood before the command throne, but what truly caught the crew's attention were the pair of silver-white wings that grew from his back and glowed with a soft light.
For a moment the bridge were staring in awe and confusion at him, before a tremor reminded them of the battle outside.
"Send out a fleet wide vox please. I need to address the fleet." His voice, while still young, bore a tone of command and determination that simply demanded respect.
"Brave warriors of the New Imperium, hear me. I am Barachiel, Primarch of the Storm Angels, brother of Sanguinius and son of the Emperor. We stand this day on the precipice of destiny. Will we allow these foul xenos to destroy all that we have fought, bled and died to build, or will we stand strong and send them back to the foul pit from which they've crawled out of?" Across the Imperial fleet, the rapidly fading morale was stoked to new heights as the Imperial soldiers redoubled their efforts, knowing that a Primarch of the Emperor was present and they were determined not to fail him.
"Damn, that's a hell of a trump card they pulled out of their ass." Akhor Menet growled in rage. He had planned for nearly every contingency the Imperium might have in store, but even he didn't expect them to pull out a Gods damned Primarch of all things. "I suggest we order a fighting retreat. I don't think we can win this now."
"Retreat? But you said victory was assured." Ba'al was confused. Why was his ally suddenly uncertain?
"Not against a Primarch. Look, he's already reorganized and rallied the fleet. We don't have the assets left to win." Akhor snapped. "Retreat now and you'll have enough strength left to fight another day."
"You sound scared of this Barachiel." Ba'al needled him.
"I have personally seen Sangunius in battle. If he's even half as strong as him, I'd be a fool to challenge him. Even Ahriman isn't be arrogant enough to fight a Primarch alone. He could probably wipe out my entire warband on his own." Akhor replied, his hand twitching around his staff.
"Very well. Signal the fleet to engage in a fighting retreat. Let's maximize the damage we do here." Ba'al sighed. It seemed once again, he was forced to endure the Imperium's presence in his galaxy.
True to the sorceror's prediction, the Imperium lost only the most heavily damaged frigate while they in return managed to cut down Ba'al's remaining fleet nearly in half, with only thirteen ships managing to leave the Tollan system.
A few hours later, the final reports reached New Cadia. The Imperium had managed to emerge bloodied, but triumphant.