Another chapter done. I apologize for the long wait, but I trust that the extra length and the long awaited start to the Atlantis part of the story will be well worth the wait. Anyway, read and enjoy.
EDIT: A minor correction in this chapter, I have replaced the mention of the Rand Protectorate with the now correct Andari Federation. Sorry for the mistake, I accidentally read a wrong part of my notes.
The halls of Atlantis, once the jewel of the great Alteran people were dark and silent, standing as mute witnesses to the millennia of solitude the city had endured ever since its creators abandoned it. Suddenly, the long silence was broken as its Stargate burst to life and a small tracked vehicle emerged from the gate, followed a few minutes later by a stream of people and equipment until the large room was crowded by about three hundred people, all wearing uniforms with varied colors and flags on their sleeves, denoting their purpose and country of origin.
"Alright people. Spread out and secure the city. All teams bring a member of the scientists just in case. There's bound to be lots of strange stuff lying around." The man in charge of the soldiers shouted, causing the soldiers in the crowd to salute and quickly gather into teams of four, several of them dragging one of the scientists to them.
Just as the teams were about to move out, the whole crowd caught a strange sound coming from one of the side passages. It was a mixture between static and electrical snaps and it repeated in different patterns and duration. It took only a few seconds to reveal the source of the sound to be two red robed individuals with all sorts of cybernetic attachments poking out from slits in the robes. One of them was holding a large data pad and floated a few inches off the ground, while the other was following a step behind and was drawing what looked like a blueprint on a rolling scroll using a cybernetic finger like a quill while two robotic arms held the scroll in place. Caught up as they were in their discussion, it took them a few moments to notice the crowd.
"Identify yourselves." The mechanized voice of a young girl echoed from beneath the red robe as the figure with the scroll leapt forward stashing it in her robe pouch and her right hand unfolding and shifting into a glowing gun while two of the mechadendrites above her head began to glow a faint red in the span of several seconds. Her body was also positioned to shield the second figure from the maximum amount of adversaries.
"So, you made it to Atlantis too. Stand down Jennifer, and contact the Inquisitor. Tell her we have guests from Earth." For those who had spent time at the SGC, the voice of the second figure was creepily familiar even if it was somewhat robotic, and the removal of its hood shocked many when they saw the half-robotic face of Samantha Carter.
"Colonel Carter?" One man gasped in shock, confused at seeing his former superior here and looking so mechanical.
"Ah, she made it to Colonel, huh? I am not her though. Archmagos Carter, at your service. This my personal aide, Techpriest Haley." Carter replied, unconcerned by the multitude of weapons aimed at her, and considering the body she currently had, it would indeed be rather hard to actually harm her. The Mechanicus liked to keep the people they actually elevated to Archmagos in a functioning state as long as possible after all, and for the Mechanicus, it was possible to extend life very significantly.
"The Imperium beat us to our goal yet again. How long have you been here?" Dr. Weir managed to step forward to meet the robotic counterpart of Colonel Carter.
"We arrived about six hours ago via ship. You're lucky we got here before you did. The city's Potentia were nearly completely drained, and it was at the bottom of the ocean. We have replaced them and raised the city to the surface." Carter informed them. While they weren't happy they were beaten here by the Imperium, they couldn't deny they were happy they managed to avoid a very unpleasant death thanks to them.
"Wait, you replaced the Potentia? That means you brought some with you." Dr. McKay exclaimed as he caught on that fact.
"We have brought four full ones with us, yes. Although I do plan to link plasma generators to the city's power grid and use the cells for emergencies only. The design while elegant is also somewhat inefficient. The Ancients were very sloppy when it came to redundant systems." Carter commented. To rely on a single power system, no matter how effective was sheer folly in the eyes of the Mechanicus.
"You can make the damn things?" McKay was really getting steamed up now. While he understood how the ZPM worked, he was still far behind the knowledge on how to actually construct one. Even with his massively inflated ego, he had to admit it would take him decades to fully understand the science behind the things.
"It is not an easy process, but yes. The four we brought represent our complete stock at this time." Carter admitted. It wasn't a big secret, considering the Fabricator-General brought one with her at the battle of Terra. What she wasn't saying was that the devices required a very complex alloy to construct, and that they had depleted all their supplies of it for the four. It would take Willow months before she could even begin to construct more.
"The Inquisitor was very displeased they interrupted her sleep, but she and General Chase will arrive soon." Haley informed them.
"Follow me. There's a conference room nearby we can use." Carter turned around, forcing the rest to follow. Other than Haley, three others followed while the others spread around the room to wait for further orders.
A few minutes later, the quick flash of teleportation deposited three people in the room. Cordelia cut an imposing figure as she now wore the uniform of an Imperial Guard General, and all who knew her said that it fit her flawlessly. The sole deviation from the standard uniform was the black peaked cap denoting her membership of the Commissariat. Cassandra in comparison was only wearing her black bodyglove with a simple coat over it, which made the men in the room try to keep their eyes on her face as the bodyglove really emphasized her figure, but then they caught the Inquisitorial rosette hanging from her neck and the look in her eyes, causing their eyes to wander, unable to focus on a single part of her. This was not aided by the third figure that arrived with them. Heavily augmented with all sorts of cybernetics and with a face covered in a large helmet stamped with the mark of the Inquisition was a mutilated being that would give the Atlantis leaders nightmares for years to come.
"Would it have killed you to come at a decent hour? I've been awake for nearly thirty hours now and I've only gone to bed an hour ago." Cassandra gave the trio from the Atlantis expedition a bleary-eyed glare as she yawned.
"We weren't even aware you were here." Dr. Weir countered once she managed to overcome her shock at seeing the cybernetic horror before her and the fact a teenager that was probably half her age was berating her.
"I suppose that's true. The question remains then, what to do with you now that you've arrived." Cassandra sat down, prompting the rest to do so as well, excluding the Mechanicus members and the cyborg, since they were all too heavy for the chairs to support.
"What the fuck is that thing?" Colonel Sumner, the military leader of the Atlantis expedition demanded, pointing at the cyborg.
"This is Tucker, my personal guardian and servant. He is such a useful boy." Cassandra patted the helmet, and to the trio's shock and revulsion, Tucker leaned into the touch like a pet enjoying the attention of its master.
"I thought the Imperium used only robots for their servitors?" Weir managed to overcome her shock first.
"We do. Tucker is an arco-flagellant, not a servitor." Seeing McKay try to move away without getting out of his chair, she smiled. "You're aware what that means Dr. McKay?"
"I wish I wasn't. I didn't think you people were vile enough to do something like that to another human being. I was wrong." McKay replied only to fall from his chair in shock as Cassandra's eyes sparked with eldritch energy and with a jump and a yell her fist smashed the table in two.
"You have no right to judge me or the Imperium. Not when you haven't suffered even a shred of what we've endured. Twice now I have lost my family and my world. There will not be a third time." Cassandra's gaze was indomitable, and all Weir and the rest could do was gulp and nod.
"Now then, for reasons beyond my understanding and contrary to my recommendations, Lady Summers has decided to cooperate with the IOA and ordered me to allow you use of the city. You are free to do as you please as long as you don't interfere with our own operations. Archmagos Carter will inform you which parts of the city are restricted to you." Cassandra took a few deep breaths before she sat down.
"And what makes you think we'll just do what you tell us, little girl?" Sumner finally found his voice again.
"Well, first of all because as an Inquisitor, I speak with the full authority of the New Imperium of Man, and I know for a fact that you have been ordered not to antagonize us if you found us here. Second, General Chase has three full regiments under her command here. That's over three thousand soldiers alone, and these aren't ordinary guardsmen. They're two heavy regiments and an armored one. Then we have the five hundred Skitarii the Mechanicus brought to guard them, and finally Lord Barachiel himself is here with four squads of his Storm Angels. But I don't need that to kill you all. I have but to say a word, and Tucker will tear apart half your expedition before you even realize what's going on. I am also quite capable of killing you all myself. After all, I was personally trained by Lady Summers. So, next time you feel like insulting me, remember those facts before you speak, Colonel." Cassandra's face was completely blank, but inwardly she was laughing her ass off. Being the unbending hardass was fun when you weren't on the receiving end. "Besides, the movement restrictions apply to my own men as well. Even I wouldn't enter a room here without asking a techpriest if it was safe. The Ancients left a lot of tech behind, most of it very unsafe for untrained hands."
"Well, some of us actually know a thing or two about Ancient technology. Maybe we can cooperate on this sweep of the city?" McKay decided to speak before the military types in the room caused him to end up with his guts all over a wall.
"That's under Carter's purview. If she decides to bring you in, that's her choice." Cassandra shrugged.
"In the interest of cooperation, I can allow their scientists to accompany our teams, provided they obey every instruction to the letter. You will not touch, look or even breathe on anything before asking." Carter said firmly. Considering the value of Atlantis to the Mechanicus, many Archmagi protested her appointment, some to such a degree that Willow had to remind them Carter was chosen by Buffy, the voice of the Omnissiah in this galaxy and any who doubted her decisions was disobedient at best and a heretek at worst. The protests died down quickly, but she knew she was under tremendous scrutiny so she was determined not to fail, and having the second rate at best scientists of Earth poking their noses everywhere was not something she believed would end up in her favor.
"That sounds like a reasonable request." Weir spoke before anyone could fuck things up now that they were finally starting to cooperate.
"It does. You and your men can move in the eastern spire. It's been more or less checked out. We can meet again in about six hours. That will give me enough time to get some sleep and for you to get settled in your new homes." Cassandra stood up. "General Chase and Archmagos Carter will lead you to your new home and answer any additional questions you may have." With that, Cassandra vanished along with Tucker, leaving the rest in silence for a few moments before Carter gestured them to follow her out.
"Everything alright, Colonel?" Major Sheppard, the 2IC of the expedition approached them once they returned to the main room.
"We came to an agreement with the Imperials Major. Gather all our cargo and follow us. They've told us where we can bunk." Sumner replied shortly.
"I didn't know the Imperium was so badly off to promote teenagers to general officer. Or perhaps you just need to know the right people." Sumner commented as he walked next to Cordelia. Now that he had time to get a grip on the situation, it seemed the man rediscovered his courage.
"Are you implying I am too young, the wrong gender, or undeserving of my rank? Or maybe all three?" Cordelia stopped and faced the man.
"All I'm saying that the US Army would never be stupid enough to make a girl in her twenties a General." Sumner sniped.
"I have practically single-handedly established the Commissariat and I have proved myself in combat on more than one occasion against enemies you can't even begin to imagine. So, if you really think I don't deserve my rank, why don't you put your money where your mouth is? You and me in the sparring ring in one hour." Cordelia managed to ground out, her hand twitching from her desire to blow the man's head off. At least no one in the Imperium was dumb enough to protest her appointment. All Commissars across the Imperial Guard held her in high regard, and anyone badmouthing her quickly found himself on punishment duties provided they weren't flogged instead.
"I'll be glad to school you in what a real soldier is like, little girl." Sumner smirked as Cordelia glared at him. Back on Earth everyone was scared stiff of the Imperium, but here, he'd show them who the true top dog was. They had been pushed back by the Imperium for far too long. It was time to push back, and hopefully, he'd inspire more people to do the same. Beating down this glorified cheerleader masquerading as a General would be a good first step.
"Colonel Sumner, this is…" Weir began but was silenced by Carter's hand on her shoulder. "It's a soldier thing, Dr. Weir. Let them have their match. They'll be unbearable otherwise."
"Soldiers and their dick measuring contests. I've had to endure far too many of those in the UN." Weir sighed.
"Well, I daresay the good Colonel will find himself surprisingly outdicked considering Cordelia's a woman." Carter chuckled as she floated along next to the woman. Weir pondered for a moment to warn the man of Carter's words, but after a few moments, decided to remain silent. She and Sumner had butted heads far too often during the setup of the expedition for her not to want to see the proud and stubborn man humiliated at least a bit.
"Welcome to the eastern spire. This is how you claim ownership of the room. Once you do, the door will open only for you. Everyone else will have to ring the bell first." Carter demonstrated the process on the door control on one of the rooms.
"Can anyone override this?" Sumner asked.
"The door will open if the city detects an emergency like a fire for example, and there is an override code for security personnel. It will be provided to your men, but you will not be able to change it without access to the city's central command protocols, which I will not share with you." Carter replied.
"Understood. Thank you for your assistance, Archmagos." Weir cut in before the Colonel could annoy yet another high ranking Imperial agent, and looking at the wide array of tools hanging from the woman's body, the result would most likely be slow and very messy.
"You're welcome, Dr. Weir. While everyone is settling in their rooms, I will construct a sparring ring in the spire's central relaxation area. I trust some training mats will be sufficient, Colonel?" The man simply nodded in reply. "Alright. I will inform you when it's time for the match. I need to pass a message to Cordelia's command staff. I daresay they'd like to witness the match as well."
Almost an hour later, most of the Atlantis expedition was gathered in one of the large areas of the spires set aside for social interaction and relaxation back when the city was built. Several large blue training mats were placed on the floor to establish a sparring ring, and several soldiers were cheering on Sumner while they passed around cans of cold beer from a large cooler. Since there was no immediate danger, Sumner agreed with Sheppard to allow the men the chance to relax a bit.
Sumner himself had removed his coat, shirt and shoes, and was currently wearing only his pants and undershirt and was warming up for his match.
Right on time, Cordelia walked in the room, followed by a dozen men and women, all of them looking rather young. Sheppard wondered if any of them were over thirty.
"This is the man that dared challenge you, General? He looks even dumber than you described." One of the women walking next to her commented loud enough to be heard in the room.
"All heretics and traitors are like that, Ciara." The man next to her added.
"Enough of that. We're supposed to be an example to them, not sink to their level." A second woman walking with the pair reprimanded them.
"Dr. Weir, Colonel Sumner, allow me to introduce my command staff, Colonels Holt, Snow and Nail and a few other officers interested in our little event." Cordelia introduced her underlings with a smile as two Guardswomen walked up to her and took off her hat and coat, then quickly helped her remove her armor and boots, leaving her like Sumner dressed in pants and undershirt, which made the expedition members stare in wide-eyed wonder.
Cordelia was in a word, ripped. Every muscle, every part of her body formed an ideal Amazonian figure, and everyone in the room could only stare in mesmerized awe in the way her body moved, while Sumner was beginning to think he may have acted a bit too rashly in challenging Cordelia.
True enough, in about fifteen seconds it was clear that Sumner was hopelessly outmatched. While very skilled, the man stood against an opponent that was younger, fitter and better. Every strike was blocked with ease, every feint seen through, every single attempt to gain the initiative shattered.
After five minutes, the man was bent over, panting for air, feeling dizzy from all the times he had been slammed into the mats, while Cordelia stood a few steps away, her skin showing only the slightest sheen of sweat, while her breath hadn't even changed from her calm pace since the start of the match.
"Alright. I'm man enough to admit when I'm beaten. I may have been too hasty with my words." Sumner managed to say once his lungs stopped screaming for air. He couldn't remember when the last time he had pushed himself so hard was. Had he really gotten so old?
"Apology accepted, Colonel. It was a good match. We should do this again sometime." Cordelia grinned. It seemed the man could be trained, and she didn't even have to break any bones to do so. "Well, I need a shower. Feel free to socialize or return to your camps everyone. We might as well play nice."
Half the soldiers that came with her followed her out, but the rest stayed behind, grouped together and eyeing the Atlantis expedition members a little warily.
"Hi, Major John Sheppard. Fancy a cold one?" Sheppard decided to break the ice and walked up to the highest ranking officer in the Imperial group, a rather tall brunette with a cute, round girly face and a short ponytail and held out a frosty can of beer.
"Thanks. Colonel Amelia Holt, 7th Langaran Armored regiment." She took the offered beer and made a face as she swallowed.
"Not a fan of beer?" Sheppard smiled a bit as others decided to follow his example and soon enough the group began to mix, both sides eager to learn more about the others.
"This is my first. Never had alcohol before. We weren't allowed any in the Academy, and after graduation we were too busy preparing to come here. What little leave time I had I spent with my family." Holt replied as she took another slow sip. "It's pretty good once you get used to it."
"So you graduated recently? How did you end up as a Colonel? There must be a story there." Sheppard led the girl to one of the tables scattered around the room. Around them, the rest of the soldiers in the room began to mingle as well.
"Yeah, three months ago as top of my class after a year of rushed and intense education. I slept for thirty-two hours after the final exams. Figured I'd get a Captain's post, spend a decade learning the ropes, maybe get bumped to Major along the way and then hopefully get a regiment of my own. Instead, Lord General Orim himself came to visit me, said they were forming three new regiments for a special mission and he needed capable officers to lead them. I never thought I'd become a Colonel before I turned twenty." Holt laughed a bit as she took a long sip of her beer.
"Impressive, but I don't think they'd have given you the promotion if they didn't think you could handle it." Sheppard commented with a soft smile.
"The Imperium is very sink or swim, I believe was the saying. If I fuck it up, I'll be demoted and maybe after a few decades I might be allowed to rise to lieutenant." Holt chuckled.
"Harsh. Anyone been busted down that bad?" Sheppard winced.
"Not yet, thank the Emperor. I prefer not the be the first though." Holt sighed.
"You're not what I expected when I was briefed on the Imperium. I admit it's a pleasant surprise." Sheppard said as he finished his beer.
"I'm from the Andari Federation. We're more pragmatic by nature, and I follow orders like a proper Guard officer. The General says you're not enemies, and until she says otherwise, I have no reason to dislike you. You should stay away from Jacob though. His father is the Cardinal of Langara, so his views on non-Imperials are a little, let's say inflexible." Holt informed him.
"Good to know. What about Colonel Nail?" Sheppard asked.
"I'd say she's even worse. She was there when Saint Faith brought Langara into the New Imperium. She's admirably pious, but her failure to join the Adepta Sororitas left her a little bitter. The Sororitas have very strict entry requirements, but I'm not sure why she was refused, but ever since she's been trying to prove herself." Holt replied. "I was refused too, but you don't see me bitch about it."
"What did you think about the match?" Sheppard asked.
"Your CO is pretty good to last against the General so long, but I suppose she was going easy on him." Holt commented.
"That was her going easy?" Sheppard whistled, remembering the one-sided slaughter he had witnessed.
"General Chase has the best biochemical and genetic augments a non-Inquisitor can get. She could have beaten him to death with his own torn off arm. He's lucky she has no cybernetic enhancements." Holt informed him smugly. "Speaking of which, never arm-wrestle a Skitarii. They have a weird sense of humor."
"Stuff like that is common in the New Imperium?" Sheppard asked.
"Depends on your position, purpose and rank I suppose. I went for the minimal physical package, but the full neural boost. A tanker needs to think and react fast after all." Holt smiled at him. "It's not cheap, of course. Without the discounts afforded by my rank, the stuff I have would cost a quarter of a million thrones."
"Where is your regiment? Are they stationed here in the city?" Sheppard asked, changing the topic while he tried to process the latest info.
"No, we're on the continent nearby. The cog boys don't want us trampling all over their holy city so they sent us off where we won't get in the way. We've been busy constructing camps and securing our vehicles since we arrived. You have any idea how big the checklist on my Baneblade is like?" She smiled again. "Maybe I'll show you around her one day. And speaking of my Baneblade, I should get back to making sure she's working fine after our trip. It was nice meeting you, Major Sheppard."
"Likewise, Colonel Holt. Until next time." Sheppard shook her hand and watched her walk away.
"Looks like you made a friend, Major." Weir walked up to him.
"I hope so. She's a true believer though. You could see it in her eyes. She'd grind us all beneath the threads of her tank and not feel sorry in the least." Sheppard sighed. That was a wrong thing to see in a teenage girl.
"That's why we stand so strongly against the Imperium. We may not be perfect, but at least we don't force children into battle." Weir gestured for him to follow her. "I had an idea I wanted to discuss with you and Sumner. I think…"
"So, you want to be allowed to explore this galaxy via the Stargate?" Several hours later, Weir and her subordinates were once again in a meeting with a now much more awake Cassandra.
"That's right, Inquisitor Fraiser. I understand you might be reluctant but…" Weir paused when Cassandra raised her hand.
"No, I think it's a good idea. I'll assign a Techpriest and an Administratum scribe to help you coordinate where to send your teams." Cassandra's cooperation surprised them greatly.
"I didn't expect you to be so forthcoming to be honest." Weir admitted.
"I'm full of surprises. Besides, if there's anything dangerous out there, it will kill your men, not mine." Cassandra smiled pleasantly at the woman who was reminded yet again to whom and what she was talking to. "When would you like to start?"
"As soon as possible. I can have a team ready in half an hour." Sumner replied.
"Excellent. I'll have my men waiting for you in the control room in twenty. Have fun out there." Cassandra stood up and vanished in a white flash.
The planet Sumner and his team picked turned out to be in its night cycle when the team arrived, and they quickly spread around the forested clearing the Stargate was positioned in.
A few minutes later, just as they were starting to move through the forest, two shapes darted out from the undergrowth, only to freeze when they saw the Atlantis team who were pointing their weapons at them. Before anyone could say anything, a man rushed in.
"Stop, they're just children." The man shouted, and true enough, under the light of their flashlights, the soldiers could see that they had stumbled on two children, one of whom was wearing a strange faceless mask.
"I am Halling. Welcome to Athos, strangers." The man greeted them once the confusion was cleared up. "I will take you to speak with our leader Teyla."
Sumner nodded, hoping that they'd manage to find some Ancient tech that would help them overcome the Imperials one day.
"Are you sure that was wise?" Cordelia stopped next to Cassandra on one of the balconies of the city's central spire.
"We need to do recon of the galaxy, and they're expendable. How are your troops doing?" Cassandra replied.
"All our gear is unloaded and the camps are nearly finished. All equipment and vehicles is in perfect working order and the men's morale is high." Cordelia replied.
"Good. I want a third of both infantry regiments at combat readiness at all times. The armored regiment is here more for the training opportunities, but keep a few vehicles at the ready as well. You never know when we might need armored support." Cassandra continued.
"Look into coordinating…" Her words were cut off by the Stargate activation alert. By the time they arrived in the Stargate room, Sumner's team was back, along with a large group of more primitive looking humans.
"Major Sheppard, explain." Cassandra's tone was frigid when she saw the man walk forward.
"We were attacked while scouting. Colonel Sumner and a large number of Athosians were taken by some sort of transporter beam. I decided to offer the remaining people sanctuary in case of further attacks." Sheppard replied, explaining what had happened and about the enemy they faced, called the Wraith by the Athosians. "With your permission ma'am, I'd like to launch a rescue operation. Lt. Ford managed to memorize the address to where the prisoners were taken."
"Cordelia, get some men here, I want these people secured and moved to the mainland immediately. Treat them politely and make sure they have all they need to make their stay here comfortable." Cassandra snapped off and walked closer to Sheppard and noticed he held a severed arm in his hand.
"I see you managed to get a prisoner." She smiled coldly. "We'll soon have more."
"Does that mean you'll approve the rescue mission?" Sheppard asked eagerly.
"Yes, and you will take part, but you won't lead it." She smiled and tapped the commbead in her ear. "Lord Barachiel, pardon the interruption, but I require you and two squads of your sons to come down to Atlantis immediately."
Sheppard couldn't hear the reply, but moments later several flashes of light deposited something that made his eyes grow wide in wonder.
Eight massive figures, encased in storm-grey armor with electric blue trim, with skull-shaped helmets that glared balefully with glowing red eyes at him, each holding weapons more suited for vehicles than men stood in two lines in perfect parade stance. And between the two lines of these impressive behemoths, standing a full head above these giants of flesh and metal was their leader.
A truly massive figure, clad in elaborately crafted gold-plated armor that still carried the colors of the men surrounding him, his chest emblazoned with a winged electric blue thunderbolt, his pale blond hair framed a stern but regal face, and the most amazing feature of all, a pair of massive pure white angelic wings rested folded upon his back.
It took only a few seconds for the first Athosian to kneel and bow his head, knowing that what stood before them was not only worthy of it, but simply had to be showed respect. Soon enough, every single one of them knelt down, awed to even be in the presence of such a majestic being.
"You've been busy, Inquisitor." Barachiel commented with a soft smile.
"You could say that. I have a mission for you and your sons. While using you in this manner is massive overkill, I want this done quickly and efficiently." Cassandra began as she led them away from the kneeling Athosians. By the time they were ready to deploy, she knew Cordelia would have cleared the gate room.
"What is the mission, then?" Barachiel asked. After spending some time with his sons in a demon dimension, the Primarch was now fully grown and even more impressive than the time of his emergence and more importantly, he and his sons now had lots of valuable combat experience.
"Assault an enemy stronghold, seek and secure human prisoners, capture and extract biological samples and high ranking enemy officers and finally, destroy enemy stronghold." Cassandra began. "Major Sheppard will accompany you and help extract the prisoners so you can focus on the rest of the mission. Archmagos Carter will provide you with a plasma bomb for the final objective."
"Understood. Captain Darel, opinion?" Barachiel turned towards one of the Space Marines wearing more ornate armor as befitting his rank.
"A stronghold implies lots of corridors and plenty of enemy troops. We should focus on CQC. Swords and pistols." The Optrisian born Marine replied after a few moments.
"Agreed, but we should arm each squad with a flamer as well. We'll return to the ship to prepare. Major Sheppard, gather your team as well. We will depart as soon as everything is prepared." With that, Barachiel and his men departed, allowing Sheppard to once again breathe more easily. Being in the presence of such a being certainly explained how the Imperium was able to convert the comparatively primitive former Goa'uld worlds so easily.
In about thirty minutes, the rescue teams were ready and loaded in several of the Ancient built gateships that were stored in Atlantis as the target address turned out to be an orbiting Stargate.
The four ships were piloted by Mechanicus pilots, as they did not allow any others to actually use the Ancient technology, and pretty soon, they were through the gate and down on the planet near the Wraith stronghold.
"Lord Barachiel, we have determined that the enemy stronghold is in fact a massive spaceship that has landed on the surface of the planet. I recommend placing the plasma bomb near their primary reactor for maximum damage." The pilot informed him once they landed.
"Captain Darel, escort Major Sheppard until you find the prisoners, then proceed to the primary ship reactor and plant the bomb. I will hunt down the prisoners the Inquisitor requested." Barachiel ordered and the large group rushed forward, the AE soldiers struggling to keep pace with the transhuman soldiers leading the charge.
The group quickly split off, Darel's group using their suit's auspex scanners to seek out the human prisoners. The Wraith ship was eerie, with organic looking walls and misty corridors, and Sheppard's team was quickly growing uncomfortable and grateful for the four Space Marines leading them.
It was just outside the prison that the first Wraith guards were encountered. While surprised by the presence of the intruders, the guards reacted quickly, but not as quickly as the Storm Angels. By the time the first guard raised his rifle, a bolt round was already in his head, blasting it to bits, while the second guard experienced the sensation of being bisected by a power sword.
"Forward brothers, show them the fury." Darel raised his sword and rushed forward, knowing that their weapons fire would attract more guards quickly.
The prisoners were suddenly shaken from their despair from their impending deaths at the hands of the Wraith by sounds they had never heard before. The sharp bark of the bolt pistols, the faint crackle of the power sword, and above all, the harsh roar of the chainswords were rapidly coming closer, and the sight that introduced the Athosian prisoners to the fury of the Emperor's Angels of Death would stay with them for the rest of their lives.
A Wraith drone suddenly landed in front of their cell door, and before it could stand up, a massive figure in storm-grey armor landed next to it, and with a single stomp of its massive armored foot, pulped its head to mush. It then twirled around and with a roar of its toothed sword, cut a second drone that sought to attack it from behind.
"Sheppard, we have found the prisoners. Move them out, my brothers and I will move on to plant the bomb." A second massive figure walked up to the door and cut it apart with a glowing sword, after which the four giants rushed off.
It was only after Sheppard and his team walked in that any of them remembered that they were able to move.
"What were those giants, Sheppard?" Teyla, the Athosian leader turned to the man she had met and spoke with only a short time ago.
"It's a long story. I'll explain it all when we're safe. Follow me." Sheppard was relieved they managed to find the abducted people. "Wait, where's Sumner?"
"He was taken a few minutes before you arrived. I pray to the Ancients that he is not yet dead." Teyla's tone was grim as she knew what the Wraith did to humans, especially humans that had intel they wanted.
True enough, Sumner was currently under the cruel ministrations of the hive's Queen, who was eager to learn where this particular human had come from.
"How many live on your world? Thousands? Millions?" She probed the resisting man, using her psychic powers to see the truth of his answers even if the man refused to speak.
"More. It has been a long time since we've had such a rich feeding ground. Tell me where to find your world, human." The Queen slowly reached down with her hand to allow the agony of her feeding to break his resistance.
"You will never set foot on Terra, vile creature." A deep voice filled with hatred interrupted her, and she twirled around only to freeze in shock at the sight of Barachiel, the massive spear marked with his legion's symbol under the blade currently impaling a drone to the floor, while a second hung limp from the sparking eagle shaped power claw on his right hand while behind him, his wings unfurled as a reaction to his anger that this creature thought she could actually assault Terra.
The Queen could feel the power of this strange being, but above all, she could feel his life force, so strong, rich and powerful that she felt intoxicated just by its mere presence. She tried to focus her mental powers to subdue him and then feed but what she didn't expect was for her mind to slam into a wall of pure hatred, of rage so deep and potent that she fell to her knees in atavistic horror. How could she even think to challenge this avatar of fury? Who was she before the might of humanity but another upstart xeno, destined to be wiped out and forgotten by the uncaring universe?
Lost in the terror induced by trying to win a mental war with a Primarch, she never noticed the large armored fist that smashed into her head, sending her into blessed unconsciousness.
"I never thought I'd be grateful to see an Imperial in my life." Sumner commented as he struggled to his feet.
"Thank your man Sheppard. He was the one that convinced the Inquisitor to rescue you so quickly. A few minutes later and all I would have been able to do for you is avenge you." Barachiel pointed out as one of his sons hefted the knocked out queen over his shoulder. The Storm Angels would never allow their Primarch's armor to be sullied by a filthy xeno after all.
"Lord Barachiel, the hive seems to grow more active. I trust you've located their leader?" Darel's voice came from his commbead.
"Indeed. We have captured an officer and their leader. Secure a couple of corpses on your way out." Barachiel replied as he and his men rushed out, the weakened Sumner carried in the arms of one of the Space Marines despite his protests.
"Understood. The plasma bomb is planted. Heading towards the exit now." Darel replied.
The Wraith harried the two squads throughout the corridors, but their armor proved resistant to the Wraith weapons, which were designed to merely stun their targets instead of killing them.
"Flamers, cover our escape." Barachiel ordered, and the two marines lagged behind, running backwards as they hefted their weapons, the pilot lights glowing sharply in the gloomy interior of the hive. A moment later, a wave of burning prometheum rushed towards the pursuing Wraith, engulfing the leading drones and covering the corridor in flame, forcing the pursuers to stop or be incinerated themselves.
Soon enough, the Storm Angels were back in the gateships and were almost into orbit when the plasma bomb detonated, causing the hive's reactor to explode as well, which completely destroyed the entire hive and much of the surrounding area. As the ships moved towards the Stargate to return to Atlantis, Barachiel stood calmly in the middle of his ship and thought about the battles to come in this galaxy and back home. He couldn't say if they'd win, but he was sure to do all in his power to ensure their victory. After all, they were the Storm Angels and theirs was the fury.