Getting this chapter out took far longer than I expected. I know many of you want a chapter each week, but my schedule doesn't allow for that at the moment. Despite a schedule defined by organized chaos, I will get them into your hands as fast as I possibly can. Anyone catch that 49ers game last weekend? It was amazing! Have a great week and a better weekend everyone!
Asgard Home World
Four hundred thousand kilometers from the Asgard home world of Idavoll, a massive hyperspace window tore open the fabric of space. During the decades long Asgard-Replicator War, an event such as this would have provoked a swift and violent response. Thankfully, those days were over. Emerging from hyperspace into real space, a vessel of incredible size and bulk came into view.
USS Prometheus, lead ship in the class of Earth's intergalactic super carriers, decelerated. Normally, Prometheus and her sister ships traveled with an assortment of escorting vessels. These carrier battle groups dwarfed in size and scope battle groups from even a few years past. For this journey, Prometheus traveled alone; her escorts sitting in dock within the bowels of Arkos Station.
Receiving instructions from controllers on Idavoll, Prometheus continued her deceleration. Passing close aboard a single Hala Class vessel standing as sentinel over the Asgard home world, the outer superstructure lighting illuminated on Prometheus as a show of respect for an allied warship. Seeing this, the Asgard vessel matched the gesture, while powering its sublight drives and moving further away from Idavoll.
Passing through high orbit, Prometheus continued on her course. Helmsmen, watching over the computer controlled decent process, stood as spectators on the mighty vessels bridge. Outside of the carrier's interior, friction rapidly heated the strong naquadah/trinium/carbon alloy of the Tau'ri warships outer hull. The curvature of Idavoll's surface was clear to see to all standing on the bridge, as was the divide between the black of space and the planets crystal blue skies.
At high altitude, in the thin upper reaches of atmosphere, Prometheus fired her deceleration drive. Power levels feeding into the vessels antigravity pods began to lessen. In response, Prometheus descended steadily under the full control her onboard automated systems. These automated systems were monitored closely by the vessels onboard artificial intelligence.
From a height of sixty thousand feet above the planets surface, the Asgard capital could be seen. Sunlight glistened off the towers far below, while glints of sunlight reflected off the decorative city's pools of cold blue water. As Prometheus continued her decent, towers of incredible height could be discerned by the eye alone. This city stood as testament to the technological superiority of the Asgard race, while also standing in memorial to all that had been lost along the path to this point. While impressive and awe inspiring, to the uninitiated this display could easily have been construed as imposing.
Silently, Prometheus glided over the city. Banking slightly, the warship began a long and slow descending turn. Floating above lush forest at the city's edge, a levitating docking point waited. This was the end destination of Prometheus's long journey to a galaxy far from home. Upon entry to Arkos, vessel control was seconded to the station itself for docking. Here, that same method was employed.
Under positive control from the dock, Prometheus slowed to a crawl. At a velocity of one meter per second, the great ship entered her docking point. Sensors within the dock took note of the vessels exact position, and brought her to a stop. Her momentum reduced to nil, powerful tractor beams engaged at eight points across the dock, securing Prometheus to her mooring point. From the inner walls of the oval shaped docking facility, an exit corridor extended to and mated with the airlock nearest the carrier's bridge.
As the airlock opened, Captain Samson Fisk, commanding officer of Prometheus, took note of several beings standing in the corridor outside. The three Asgard he knew not their names. Of the remaining two beings, he recognized Furling Ambassador Dorin, but not the other human appearing being beside him. That he did not know the identities of those who stood before him mattered little, as these were friends and allies of Earth, and of humanity as a whole.
"Permission to come aboard Captain?" The lead Asgard questioned.
"Permission granted Kvasir. Welcome aboard Prometheus." Captain Fisk said in welcome.
"Congratulations on being given command of this vessel Captain." Ambassador Dorin said in welcome.
"When I was given command, I expected command of a ship in fleet use. As the test and development platform, I expect we will do some interesting work though." Fisk said in reply.
"Captain, I understand part of your mission involves transfer of an item into my care." Kvasir prompted.
"That's right. The beaming storage device will be moved ashore for you. It contains supplies destined for Videum. We would be thankful if you send the package to Videum through the stargate." Fisk explained.
"It will be done Captain. With your permission, myself and those with me must proceed to the bridge and begin making preparations." Kvasir more said than asked.
"Preparations for what exactly? My orders failed to go into any detail on why exactly we are here, beyond your requesting our presence." Fisk stated.
"I will allow Ambassador Dorin to explain. For now, I must attend to preparations. Excuse me." Kvasir stated, before departing with his team in tow for the bridge.
"Ambassador?" Fisk questioned.
"Some time ago, my people gifted you with the sum total of our knowledge, which we accumulated during our time on the corporeal plain of existence. To make use of the collected knowledge of one advanced race is an endeavor that can easily span a lifetime. Your people are studying and assimilating the knowledge base of three races. We are taking it upon ourselves to gift you with something in particular, that you may not have studied in our knowledge base." Dorin explained.
"What exactly?" Fisk asked.
"A weapon, to be precise. Alei, a renowned scientific mind of the Furling, will explain further." Dorin replied.
"It is a pleasure to meet you Captain. Though I have never interacted with any from your world, I have studied Earth's exploits at length. Currently, the vessels of Earth's fleet are powerful by any measure of the word. While Prometheus is powerful, she is lacking in armament, unlike your worlds battle cruisers. You are here to rectify that. We are gifting you a weapon that was used to great effect by the Furling Fleet, during our time before ascension." Alei explained.
"Can you share what exactly it is that this weapon does?" Fisk asked.
"Are you at all familiar with resonance?" Alei asked.
"I am, but in no way am I an expert on the subject." Fisk replied.
"Allow me to explain then. All things display the characteristic of oscillating at increased amplitude when subjected to certain frequencies. One must view all elements as a system of storage for many different types of energy. For the purposes of this conversation, we will focus on vibrational energy. At certain resonant frequencies, even a minuet driver can induce large amplitude oscillations. These oscillations unlock stored kinetic and potential energy. Do you understand so far?" Alei asked.
"Yes, I understand what you are saying so far. Would it be possible to just tell me what the weapon does exactly? I only ask because I am not a scientist by any meaning of the word." Fisk explained.
"This weapon will channel the incredible amounts of power available from your Arcturus device, using the entirety of the outer hull as a firing platform. When in use with the Furling Fleet, this weapon lacked a power source as potent as the one aboard this vessel. When fired, an expanding beam will surge from the Prometheus. Anything in the path of this beam will begin to suffer from dynamic oscillation. Imagine if you will, heating and cooling, expansion and contraction, at a molecular level, of any matter the beam comes into contact with. This is achieved through quantum wave function. What we are giving you is a potent system that will greatly enhance this vessels combat ability." Alei explained.
"So, it's a disintegration beam then?" Fisk asked, couching his uncertainty with a joke.
"In a manner of speaking; yes." Alei replied with a smile of her own.
"That's all you had to say. Let us get this show on the road." Fisk said with an easy smile.
On the bridge of Prometheus, and within her computer core at the heart of the ship, Kvasir and his Asgard technicians made the necessary software alteration needed for the coming evolution. Power in key systems was diverted, while the output of Arcturus scaled back to slightly above minimum output. Even at minimum power levels, Arcturus still created enough power to light a city for a year, every second.
Outside the vessel, Furling technicians, taking their instructions from Alei, went to work. Their task was greatly aided by their powers as ascended beings, and these powers were now at work. Alei, now standing on the dock at the nose of Prometheus, raised both her hands to eyelevel. Her fingertips on both hands pursed, locked eyes on the whole of the ships hull. Splaying all ten fingers open brought about sudden and unexpected activity. Hull plating the length of the carrier's hull neatly separated from the vessel.
Hovering in the air all around Prometheus, hull plating sat stationary. Furling technicians at stations along the length of the vessel began to move components of the weapons assembly. Floating through the air, energy buffers, power transfer conduits, and beam relays were mated to Prometheus without a single hand involved. Like a symphony's conductor, Alei guided the efforts of all involved.
As this concerto of creation and modification took place outside, Dorin did his part within. Appearing beside Kvasir within the computer core of Prometheus, the Furling Ambassador summoned the newly added AI avatar of the vessel. Appearing seconds after being summoned, the avatar stood silently in front of Dorin. Raising his fingertips to the temple of the avatars head, a burst of soft light erupted. Through Dorin's fingertips, the software that would allow the weapon to function was transferred.
"Go forth with this weapon, and bring peace Prometheus." Dorin whispered softly.
Continuing on though the night, Furling and Asgard technicians and scientific minds alike, would continue their efforts. When complete, Prometheus would have at her disposal a weapon unlike any other in the Tau'ri arsenal.
Sol Solar System
Since the first high level meeting between diplomats from Earth and Alba Longa, a near constant stream of interaction had taken place. While pleasantries and photo opportunities abounded during these high level meetings, the true heavy lifting occurred at a much lower level. Those outside of government service often incorrectly assumed the art of diplomacy was reserved for practitioners considered elder statesmen. In reality, lower ranking functionaries, during back channel discussions, made possible the agreements and treaties nations depended upon.
Over previous months, many governments of Earth came to know those from Alba Longa. Accords were easily and eagerly reached with many of these governments. Bucking this trend was the one summit many on Earth thought would be free of difference. The delegation from Alba Longa was reserved in its enthusiasm for their Italian counterparts. Despite nearly two thousand years of separation, the Roman sense of superiority over their Italian cousins had not faded. Still, trade and other agreements were reached, though these were not nearly as generous in their terms as those reached with other governments. In all cases, mutual defense agreements were reached.
At the Pentagon, another first meeting was taking place. While lower ranking officers of the Alba Longan military establishment had interacted with those from Earth's militaries, this was the first time the overall commander of the Alba Longan military had been met. Primus Imperator, or First Commander, Appius Mucius Plautus sat in Secretary of Defense Landry's office. Also in attendance was General Jack O'Neill. After a tour and thorough briefing, the trio now settled in for discussions out of earshot of politicians from both sides. Conversation in all cases was made much easier, due to a nanite infusion, which transferred several dozen languages in common usage on Earth.
"Level with me Appius. What is it you, and I mean specifically you, hope to see out of the treaties to be signed tomorrow?" Secretary Landry asked dryly.
"I speak not just for myself, but all of my people, when I say we seek not to be just your ally, nor your friend. We seek to be rejoined with our brothers and sisters; to share in your triumphs and tragedies as your equal. We are the same, are we not?" Appius Mucius Plautus asked.
"How do your politician's feel?" O'Neill asked.
"The Senate views our two people's as one. Your enemies are our enemies. We share a bond stronger than any treaty. That bond is rooted in our blood, and belief." Appius answered sincerely.
"Every time we send a team through the gate, since the very beginning, we have hoped to find an ally that thought that way." O'Neill explained.
"This would come as a welcome surprise to the first man who stepped through your gate then, yes?" Appius asked.
"Yes, it does." Jack replied honestly.
"So you are aware, General O'Neill was the first man through our gate." Landry explained.
"Gentlemen, you are aware of my stance, and the stance of my government. What is it you ask of Alba Longa?" Appius asked.
"This one you should field Mr. Secretary." Jack stated.
"Earth has done well thus far throughout the universe. Admittedly, we have made mistakes and enemies. Despite that, we have made far more friends than enemies. What we need, more than anything else, is assistance in maintaining order in this galaxy. Though the Milky Way is our home turf, we have brought order to other galaxies far better." Landry said candidly.
"This is a responsibility we wish to share with our brothers and sisters. Certain limitations prevent my people from playing a role much more than supporting." Appius replied.
"What might those limitations be?" General O'Neill asked.
"You already know my people lack interstellar ships. Our movements throughout this galaxy are tied to the gate network, but you are already aware of that I am sure." Appius announced.
"What makes you so sure we are already aware of that fact?" Landry asked.
"It is a given that your people, knowing where Alba Longa is located within this galaxy, have watched my world closely." Appius theorized.
"What leads you to believe we would do such a thing?" Landry asked.
"If I had the capability to do so, I would have ordered that very thing. Neither of you strike me as unintelligent men. That makes my assumption a safe one." Appius stated knowingly.
"We have considered the limitations your world operates under, and believe we have a solution. Once the treaty between our two worlds is signed, officers of your military will be fully authorized aboard ships of our fleet. While there, we hope to train the beginnings of your fleet training cadre." Landry
"Mr. Secretary, we have no fleet and lack the technology to construct such a fleet." Appius argued.
"We are prepared to provide the beginnings of a fleet to your people. Using the design of this world's first interstellar vessel, we will equip you with the tools necessary. I will see to it that you are provided with an overview of the BC-303 before you depart for your world." Landry promised.
"If you mean to give us warships, do we have forces we must fear?" Appius asked plainly.
"As Secretary Landry stated, we have made enemies along the way. One of those enemies has recently resumed causing problems for the galaxy. Your relationship with Earth will not earn you their praise." O'Neill explained.
"You refer to the Lucian Alliance, yes?" Appius asked.
"That would be them." Jack answered.
"Based on the briefing your people provided me, they are nothing more than petty criminals with inherited technology. Criminals exist to be brought to justice. If it is Legion justice they wish for, then so be it." Appius said boldly.
At that moment, Chief Master Sergeant Walter Harriman entered Landry's inner office. Due to the long relationship Harriman shared with both Landry and O'Neill, neither man thought anything of Walter's unannounced entrance. Striding with purpose, Walter made his way directly to O'Neill.
"It's time sir." Walter said simply.
Turning towards Landry, General O'Neill arched an eyebrow.
"Now is your last chance to change your mind." Jack hinted.
"This is your show Jack." Landry replied.
"Ok Walter, send word to Maybourne on Svoriin that the salmon are running. Have NMCC send that out now." Jack ordered.
Appius, listening intently, shifted his gaze back and forth between Landry and O'Neill. Clearly, what he had just overheard was a code of some sort. In a split second, Appius decided what the code was for mattered not at all. Whatever it was, Appius was sure though that he had just played witness to an event of importance. In time, he would realize just how significant that one event truly was.
While Consul Fulvious Flavius was preparing for the State Arrival Ceremony a continent away in the United States, in Rome, another delegation from Alba Longa was laying eyes on Rome for the first time. Princeps Senatus, or Senate Leader, Publius Fundanius Gracchus and his aides took upon their task with joy in their hearts. During their flight to Rome aboard a US Air Force VIP aircraft, apprehension had filled Publius Fundanius. Making it bearable for all was the Roman history lesson from Doctor Daniel Jackson. Rarely in Jackson's professional career had he enjoyed such rapt attention from an audience.
Upon their arrival at the coral colored compound that was the United States Embassy in Rome, many welcomed the Alba Longan delegation. In official their official capacity, both the Prime Minister of Italy, and the Apostolic Nuncio from the Vatican welcomed the Princeps Senatus. To many, it appeared that Publius Fundanius was far from interested in either party, and tolerated both with a politicians smile.
The next morning, under the watchful eye of Diplomatic Security Service watchers, Jackson and the Alba Longan delegation set out to see Rome in all its glory. Assisting in this effort, the Polizia di Stato, or State Police, cordoned off the tourist attractions of Ancient Rome for the day. This did little to please tourists from all over the world, and these irritated tourists voiced their displeasure freely.
Up against Rome's world famous traffic, the delegation followed a predetermined schedule. First, the group was taken to the fenced in ruins of Trajan's Forum, and the still impressive Trajan's Market towering above. Each Alba Longan intently studied the ornate artwork etched into the towering Trajan's Column. In this artwork was depicted Trajan's conquest of Dacia. Upon learning of locals cannibalizing the Imperial Forum for its high quality stone, Publius Fundanius snorted, and muttered something in Latin Daniel Jackson failed to catch.
At their next stop, the delegation hit its stride. To the uninitiated, the Forum Romanum appeared to be nothing but a disorderly field of rubble. Applying a dash of imagination, that field of rubble turned into Rome at the pinnacle of its power, in each mind. Starting at the Arch of Titus, the group moved its way through the field of rubble. At the other end of the Forum, they reached the Arch of Septimius Servius. Having no knowledge of Septimius Servius, Daniel happily gave an impromptu history lesson.
Within the boundaries of the Forum Romanum, Publius Fundanius found himself enraptured by the Curia. Though not the original, the Curia was the true home of the Roman Senate. In his mind, the Princeps Senatus imagined the great orators in Roman history within the Curia. Here, the history of two worlds found portions of their origin. To lay eyes on the Curia, the true Curia, was a lifelong dream come true for Publius Fundanius.
As the delegation continued on, they came to the ruins of the Temples of Saturn, Castor and Pollux, and Vesta. At the ruins of the House of the Vestal Virgins, each Alba Longan discovered the true reason for the fall of Rome. Without the Vestal Virgins maintaining the sacred flame, Rome was without her true luck. Lacking that flame, it made sense to all that Rome's fall had been all but assured.
Whisked across the city, near the Aurelian Wall, the delegation laid eyes on the Pyramid of Caius Cestius. Built by a private Roman citizen, at his own expense, this structure spoke of the wealth within Rome two thousand years before. It was here that Daniel saw a visceral reaction race through each Alba Longan. In their eyes, this monument served as a painful reminder of their ancestor's abduction and enslavement. Hate, shame, and lose was plain to see in each of their eyes. Seeing this, Daniel and the DSS team quickly moved the group on towards their final destination of the day.
Arriving at the Farnese Gardens, atop Palatine Hill, the group slowly made their way through lush gardens. Around them, orange groves, and spring flowers late in bloom lined the decorative walkways. Stepping through a studiously maintained rose garden, onto a terrace enjoying panoramic views of the Forum Romanum and the ruins of Ancient Rome, Publius Fundanius found himself awash in emotion.
Looking out over this city, this dream, this vision, Publius Fundanius felt his throat parch. Tears welled up in is eyes, yet his eyes remained locked on the sight before him. In the setting sun, the ruins of Ancient Rome, and modern day Rome herself, were basked in rose and copper tinted tones. The effect was as powerful as it was moving. Standing silently, members of the delegation from Alba Longa reflected on the path that had finally brought them here; brought them home.
"The years as they come bring many agreeable things with them; as they go, they take many away." Publius Fundanius whispered.
"That is a quote from Horace, is it not?" Daniel asked.
"Quintus Horatius Flaccus." Publius replied simply, lost in emotion.
"If you need a moment alone, I would be happy to step away." Daniel offered.
Silently, the Princeps Senatus looked out over Rome. Several moments passed before he stirred. Then, unexpectedly, he turned to face Daniel. Looking upon the face of Publius Fundanius, Daniel saw the torment and pain in his charges eyes.
"For two thousand years, my people have found hope in a dream. Our every effort has been to someday return home to Rome. Fortune finally brings our two worlds together, and we find Rome. The Rome we find though is a shade of her former self. We have dreamed a dream, and now that dream is gone." Publius Fundanius whispered before breaking down in tears.
For a handful of minutes, this man of immense political power sobbed. He sobbed not just for his sorrow for a dream that never could be. He sobbed for Rome, and Romans. Filling the distance of his gaze was all that remained of the city where his culture had originated. Knowing that as his people advanced, the brothers and sisters left behind here had suffered the fall of Rome and all she represented broke the heart of Publius as nothing had ever done before. To find Rome in such a state was bittersweet at best.
Checking his watch, Lieutenant Colonel Evan Lorne impatiently glanced around the city's operations center. Seeing Lorne do this for the third time, Chuck found it difficult to suppress a grin. Luckily for Chuck, Lorne was a commanding officer with a sense of humor, and would have understood the reasoning for Chuck's amusement. Before Chuck could say anything to Lorne, the sounds of gate activation filled the star gate operations.
"Incoming wormhole." Chuck announced.
"Any idea where Woolsey is? I expected him to be here for our guest's arrival." Lorne shrugged.
"The last time I saw him, he was working on a speech for the next Coalition meeting." Chuck said.
As the event horizon settled in the active gate, Lorne made his way down the steps towards the gate platform. The moment Lorne came to a halt, the first of the new arrivals exited the wormhole. Captain Mathew Scott, beside Master Sergeant Ronald Greer, were the first to step through. Next to exit was Teal'c, accompanied by Captain Tamara Johansen. With Borealis currently stationed on Earth before its next mission, these four had been chopped to Atlantis for the coming mission. Exiting closely behind Teal'c and TJ, a platoon of Rangers followed.
The specifics of the coming mission were unclear to Lorne, but that was something to which he had grown accustomed. Once Todd arrived, a briefing would follow. Already in orbit, USS Bunker Hill stood ready to take these men and women into the coming fray. Putting these thoughts to the side, Lorne strode towards the new arrivals.
"Teal'c! Good to see you again!" Lorne began happily.
"Lieutenant Colonel Lorne, it is always a pleasure to be in your presence." Teal'c answered, while nodding his head.
"Care to fill me in on what exactly you will be doing?" Lorne asked hopefully.
"That briefing will not be forthcoming now. Once all parties have arrived, all will be explained. Until then, let me tell you of my journey to Comicon." Teal'c suggested with a smile.
"Meet anyone famous?" Lorne asked.
"I had my photo taken with the star of MacGyver." Teal'c explained.
"I loved that show when I was younger. Is he a nice guy in real life?" Lorne asked.
"Overly nice. He kept inviting me to partake in a fishing expedition. It brought back many memories of my time serving alongside General O'Neill. Fishing, even with MacGyver, is not an activity I enjoy. " Teal'c said sotto voce.
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