Author's note: Hi all. Here begins the second book, the sequel to Stargate: The Guardian's Order. So, if you stumbled onto this story and didn't read the first one, you should go and read that one first before proceeding any further. As promised, the book is out at the end of summer and chapters will be published every week until it is completed.

The book turned out a lot more complex than what I anticipated and because of it, it's written as a continuous story rather than separate chapters like the first book. I hope you won't mind the story jumping around between six galaxies. I tried to minimize the number of irrelevant characters and stick to the one we already know and love, but with so many galaxies... well, it is not easy.

Also, I used a stardate system similar to the one used in Star Trek. This way I'm hoping you'll be able to track the passage of time a little better. If you don't want to use a Star Trek date calculator, just keep in mind that stardate zero is the date when The Second Great Alliance was formed (January 1st 2008), and that a thousand means a year.

I would also like to thank chain reader for helping me with my writing so that you don't have to navigate through the many grammar errors I usually make.

Also, the chapter's name should be Peace (N)Everlasting (Part One), but somehow I think the site won't let me keep the brackets.

Thanks for reading and I hope you'll enjoy the story.

Furling Galaxy - Unknown Location
Stardate: 1836.0 November 1st 2009

Soren looked from the window of the control room located inside the tallest building of the marvelous flying city, the one that had been built by the Asurans. He was remembering the day, more than six months ago, when Liam came to him with a proposal. Since the Pegasus galaxy was for the most part at peace, Liam wanted him to take the Asuran city and go in search for the Furling or whatever they'd left behind. A ship had returned from the Senari galaxy with clues where the Furling had gone and Liam believed he would be the perfect candidate for such a long mission of exploration. He was pleased to see that Liam was placing so much trust in him, and he was excited at the prospect of a long term mission, especially since his current job had become pretty boring and uneventful. However, there were a few elements of the mission that he wasn't particularly happy with.

Apparently, the Furling had traveled almost forty million light years to another galaxy from an already distant galaxy reachable only through one of the anomalies in the Senari galaxy. It meant support from home would be impossible in any meaningful time. The plan was to send the flying city to the long journey with whatever it could take, but he knew it wouldn't be as much as he would like. The city could house two ships on two piers and one ship-builder on the third pier while the rest would be for as much raw materials as the city could store, and that wasn't a lot to start a completely new colony, surely not for one that needed to sustain itself indefinitely without any additional support. This was a big problem, but the other thing that Liam wanted from him, was troubling Soren even more.

When Liam had offered him the new job, he was also planning to change him. He would be the first Edenian to be turned into an Alterran, something Liam had apparently been planning to do for quite some time. Even with all the assurances of the procedure being safe and that there would be no problems or side effects whatsoever, Soren still felt uncomfortable. After all, he would become somebody else entirely and he liked who he was. The main reason why Liam wanted to change him was because he would need the Repository of Knowledge downloaded into his brain and only an Alterran could survive the download.

Another reason for the change was because of the Furling. Liam knew the Furling had left clues on purpose so that they could be found, but Liam was also certain they would never leave anything important without taking some precautions. They would most certainly have placed security measures to make sure only an Alterran, Asgard or Nox could access whatever they had left behind.

Reluctantly, Soren had agreed with the terms and his transformation had begun, and only a month later, he was a fully-fledged Alterran with their entire knowledge in his head. In the meantime, the city had been filled with whatever they thought would help them on their mission and more than fifty thousand Edenians were selected to participate from the large number of volunteers, very excited at the prospect of such exciting mission. And with the crew selected and everything loaded into the city, they were finally ready to begin their long journey.

It had taken almost three months of travel in order to reach the galaxy where they thought the Furling had gone, first through two anomalies to reach the galaxy where they found the clues and then by traveling through hyperspace for the forty million light years long journey before finally settling down on a planet near the outer rim of what they began calling the Furling galaxy.

And now, Soren was looking outside the window into the vast ocean the city was floating on, on the planet they'd named Cydonia. A planet located more than 190 million light-years from his home planet Eden Prime. It was exhilarating and frightening at the same time, mostly because there was no easy way of contacting home. Even with all three ZPMs, the stargate could not be used to connect such distances. It meant that they were alone.

Soren turned to face the other people in the conference room. They were all waiting for him to finally sit down so they could start their first official meeting since they'd arrived in this strange, new and unexplored galaxy.

"Alright, let's begin. Nolan, what have our ships found out about this galaxy," Soren asked, while looking straight at Nolan.

Nolan cleared his throat before beginning, "Nothing good I'm afraid. Our two cruisers were unable to find any precious metals in this galaxy, the same as on this planet. It appears the galaxy doesn't have Naquadah, Neutronium or Trinium in any quantities we can use."

"That's not good. Most of our technology relies heavily on these materials," Soren replied more to himself than to anyone else in the room.

"Yes, and without Naquadah we can't build reactors for our ships or the installations we were planning to build on the mainland. And the reserves we brought with us won't last us forever."

"No, we cannot use those reserves to build new ships or anything else we were planning to build on the mainland. If we can't replace our resources, we have to keep them for when something in the city or in one of our three ships breaks, so that we can replace it," Soren explained.

"But how can we build a completely new infrastructure on this planet if we can't use these materials?"

"Well, we don't know for how long we will have to stay here, but we don't have to build things that last for millions of years as it was usual for everything the Alterran ever built. We can use what is available to us in this galaxy," Soren explained. It was true the Alterran always built things to last.

"And what are we going to use for energy generation? There is no reactor that we know of that can generate as much energy as a Naquadah or a Neutrino-Ion generator, and both of them use materials that are not available to us here."

"Then we will make fusion reactors that only need Deuterium and Helium 3 to work. They won't be able to generate the same amount of energy as the Naquadah reactors we are accustomed to, but it will have to suffice."

"What about ships we need to build? Can a fusion reactor give enough energy to feed a hyperdrive?"

"Probably not, but millions of years ago the Alterran used other types of FTL drives that needed much less power than a hyperdrive. Of course, they are much slower, but I think we have no other choice here," Soren replied.

"Well, apparently the Alterran are not the only ones who know how to build other types of FTL drives," Nolan said, thinking about something.

"What do you mean?"

"One of our cruisers spotted an unknown vessel. Our ship cloaked immediately in order to avoid detection and under its cloak it was able to scan the alien vessel. They somehow must have detected the scan because they left soon after. The strange part was that the ship didn't open a hyperspace window, but instead it used some other type of FTL travel. Our ship was able to monitor the ship traveling faster than light, though it looked as if it was still traveling through our space-time, just slightly edging towards subspace," Nolan explained.

"From how you described it, it looks like the same type of FTL drive the Alterrans used a long time ago," Soren added, glad he had the Repository of Knowledge downloaded into his brain.

"So, we are going to build our infrastructure on the planet and our new ships practically the same way as the Alterran did in the distant past?" Nolan asked.

"In part, yes. We will have to completely redesign the ships we were planning to build. On the other hand, building these ships will go much faster with our current technology."

The others agreed. Even one positive side to the lack of precious metals was better than nothing.

The meeting had continued for several more hours, in which time they had discussed how they were going to build their new home on the planet's mainland where, once finished, most of the Edenians would be relocated. There was no point for them to stay in the city and they still needed to make their production facilities on the mainland anyway. The city also didn't have the space needed to produce food or anything else the Edenians would need to survive in this new galaxy. One thing was certain though. The lack of precious materials in this galaxy was inevitably going to change their timetable. They needed to build a fleet capable of canvasing an entire galaxy and since they wouldn't be able to use hyperdrives, except for the three ships they already had, the canvasing was going to take much longer than anticipated. Soren's only hope was that what the Furling had left on this planet would eventually give them something they could use to limit the search area for whatever the Furling had left for them to find. By now, Soren was more than certain the Furling were not here, and that meant they must have left other clues somewhere in this galaxy.

Another positive side that Soren could think of was that the cruiser that crossed paths with the alien vessel had been able to access their computer core and download their data. From what they were able to decipher thus far, there were many races in this galaxy, many capable of space travel, and Soren got the idea of trying to befriend some of them. In a way, those races knew more about this galaxy than they did and they could prove to be an invaluable source of information, helping them in their quest to find the Furling or whatever the Furling had left behind. Soren was already thinking how the initial two years, the time he and Liam had thought it would take them to find the Furling, would probably not be enough. Thankfully, the massive ship-builder Liam had given them would be able to considerably speed up construction of their new home, because if not, Soren thought it would probably have taken them decades to accomplish anything.

Milky Way Galaxy – Earth
Stardate: 1845.0

Jack had been walking through the large corridors of the main building for a while now. He was waiting for another in the never-ending chain of meetings to start and he didn't want to spend that time in his office. His assistant, Walter, was relentless when it came to filling up paperwork and he was always lurking around, trying to catch him and drag him to his office. It was amazing how Walter always knew where he was, so much that Jack started suspecting that the man had placed a tracking device on him.

As Jack turned another corner, he almost bumped into Daniel who was running to somewhere, always busy doing something Jack didn't much care for or liked at all.

"Jack, where are you going?" Daniel asked.

"Nowhere, just buzzing around and waiting for the meeting to start," Jack replied.

"Trying to hide from Walter, huh?" Daniel replied knowingly.

"No-no, why would I hide from Walter?"

"Paperwork comes to mind. Since you just returned from your two weeks' vacation, I imagine you have a lot of the stuff waiting in your office."

"I wouldn't know, Daniel. I still didn't visit my office today," Jack replied.

"Jack, it's three o'clock. How have you managed to stay out of your office for the entire day?" Daniel said, but then he remembered how Jack didn't know he even had an office for the eight years while he was a Colonel in the SGC. "Never mind, dumb question."

They continued their walk towards the large conference room where the meeting was scheduled to take place until Jack decided it would be a good thing to know what the meeting was all about, "So, what is this meeting for again?"

"Again? So, you are saying that, at one point, you knew what the meeting was about, but you've just forgot?" Daniel asked, knowing full well that Jack had never known what the reason for them to meet today was.



"Nobody likes a smartass."

"Fine. We have to talk about a lot of things that happened in the last year and a half since we won the battle against the Ori, especially about the Aschen involvement in the war against them," Daniel explained the main topic of the meeting.

Jack's face took a sour expression the moment Daniel mentioned the Aschen, no matter what the context was, "Alright, what else?"

"Well, we have to talk about the Wraith, the Jaffa and the current situation Earth is in relation to the the Chinese."

Jack thought about the trouble they were having with the Chinese. Almost two years ago, the Chinese had come to the President of the United States with a peculiar request. At the time, the situation on Earth had become precarious enough. Jack knew Earth was on the brink of a war with the Chinese and the North Koreans on one side, and the countries in the Terran Alliance on the other. Jack thought there were only two possible solutions to the problem. The first was war and the second was China finally joining the Terran Alliance. Instead of either one of these two choices, China came up with a third solution. They wanted to establish a colony on a nearby planet, the same one they'd visited with their single ship, the one they'd visited when they had tried to steal the stargate. They asked the Terran Alliance to help them establish a colony, which would in turn help them enter the colonization era, without the need to enter the Terran Alliance. At the beginning, nobody liked the idea of the Chinese having a colony, but they had to admit, it was a better choice than war. And indeed, war was the only other possibility they could foresee. Reluctantly, the Terran Alliance came to the decision to help the Chinese build a colony only seventeen light years away.

The Terrans had built a much larger ship than what the Chinese had built the first time around and they'd also provided them with whatever they would need to start building the needed infrastructure on the planet. After almost two years, the Chinese colony had grown considerably and they now had even more ships than what the Terrans had believed they would be able to build in such a short time. Now the Chinese were starting to explore the neighboring systems, already thinking of colonizing another planet. If nothing else, you could always say the Chinese know how to build fast.

Their current problem was that the agreement they had signed with the Chinese didn't limit them in how many planets they were allowed to colonize. The only limit was them not being allowed to take any planet if the planet in question already had some form of sentient life form on it. The Terran Alliance also thought it would take years for the Chinese to build the necessary infrastructure on the planet and even more years to build more ships and start exploring other worlds as candidates for further colonization. Instead, the Chinese had other ideas in mind and in less than a year they already had several ships free to explore the galaxy. Their hyperdrive technology was still much weaker than what the Terrans or even the Jaffa had, even before the Terrans had helped them in that area, but it was still enough to canvas a thousand light years radius around Earth.

At least discussing the Jaffa would be a much easier topic since the Jaffa had made incredible progress, especially in the last year. After Gerak had inexplicably disappeared, the Jaffa had slowly embraced the Tau'ri as their friends and many had finally understood that what the Tau'ri were trying to teach them on how a modern society should look like, wasn't because they wanted to turn them into peasants or farmers, but because such society simply cannot survive without people working such jobs. The Jaffa had understood how they needed to be more than just warriors and with Bra'tac as their leader they were making incredible strides towards that goal. Now it was time to think about formalizing an alliance between the Terrans and the Jaffa, an alliance that would strengthen their friendship even more.

The Wraith was the third topic Daniel mentioned as one of the more important that they needed to discuss. After the last attack the Wraith had executed on the planet the Guardians were using as a stopping point before transferring humans to the Andromeda galaxy, the Pegasus galaxy had become a peaceful one. They must have understood the planet's defenses were more than enough to repel even a many times larger fleet than what they'd used or, as the second possibility, the faction that attacked the planet didn't tell the other factions about the planet at all. The result was the same, with the planet remaining safe to be used without the Wraith attacking it ever since.

To this day, the Guardians and Terrans had managed to transfer almost one fourth of what they thought the total population of humans in the Pegasus galaxy was and the Wraith must have felt the diminishing amount of food available to them, especially since largely populated worlds were now under the protection of the Terrans and the Guardians, while worlds with smaller populations had almost all been cleared of any human presence. Soon, the number of Wraith had started to diminish and the Guardians had theorized that the Wraith had returned into hibernation, as the only remaining option left to them if they didn't want to starve. Now, they needed to find them and finish them before the inhabitants of the Pegasus galaxy could safely return.

Jack and Daniel had finally reached the chamber where the meeting was to take place. Inside, the other members of the Council were already seated and ready to begin. Jack walked to his seat at the head of the table, nodding to the various members of the Council.

After the usual pleasantries with the other members, those he hadn't seen in more than two weeks, the meeting finally started.

"So, what is this I'm hearing about the Aschen?" Jack said while looking at Klaus.

"A week ago the Aschen sent us a message asking to meet with us. They want to make some kind of alliance," Klaus explained to Jack what had transpired while he was on vacation.

"An alliance? Why do they think we would even consider making an alliance with them?" Jack asked, clearly not liking the idea of an alliance with elements such as the Aschen.

"I don't know. The message said they have changed in the last two years and that they now think of us as equals."

"I somehow doubt they have changed at all," Jack said thinking how it was impossible the Aschen had changed their method operandi so suddenly.

"Nonetheless, we have several reports stating the Aschen have helped in the fight against the Ori by freeing planets from their oppression. They also didn't take those planets into their fold as was their previous M.O.," Dmitri interjected into the conversation.

"I'm not convinced. I think there must be something else at work here. Something we are not seeing," Jack replied.

"I agree. The Aschen changing so much, and in such a short time, and now asking us to make an alliance with them, there must be more to it," Klaus said, agreeing with Jack. "It also seems strange they would so easily forget what we have done to their planet and just start friendly relations with us."

"What did we do to their planet?" Sam asked not understanding to what Klaus was referring.

"Remember how Liam told us their home planet had a big crater and the only explanation was that they had used the address we gave them, the one with the black hole on the other side?" Jack explained what Klaus meant.

"Oh, yeah, I completely forgot about that," Sam replied.

"Well, he's right. No matter how different they are from us, there's no way they are forgetting something like that. Just like we wouldn't," Jack continued.

"So, what is their reason then for wanting an alliance with us?" Dmitri asked, also thinking there must be something else behind all this.

Daniel thought about it for a moment, "Do we know how and when they've acquired hyperspace technology? Or the ability to use the gate network for that matter?"

"It was around the final battle with the Ori when we heard the first rumors of strange flying machines coming through the gates and killing the Ori followers. Around that time, we also detected a probe that came to the Solar system, which we now believe was Aschen in origin. The probe had a hyperdrive very similar to what the Goa'uld use, but with some improvements to their initial design. All this suggests they have acquired some Goa'uld vessel and reverse engineered its hyperdrive, but this doesn't explain how they have gained access to the gate network. Usually the Goa'uld don't keep gate addresses on ships," Klaus explained, knowing the Goa'uld had the ability to easily memorize all known gate addresses and keeping them in the ship's memory would be redundant as well as a security risk.

"So it means two years ago they must have learned about the Ori and what kind of threat they pose. The destruction of the probe they sent to Earth must have also showed them that we won't be such an easy obstacle to overcome," Daniel said.

"You think they had to choose who they wanted to fight first, us or the Ori, and they've chosen to fight the Ori knowing they couldn't possibly survive if the Ori defeat us?" Jack added.

"It makes sense, doesn't it? They are probably planning to stub us in the back the moment we win against the Ori," Klaus said.

"It's possible, but I still don't understand how they think we will agree to an alliance with them," Daniel said.

"Probably because we think alike. You know what they say. Keep your friends close, but keep your enemies even closer. It is to our own advantage to have more information about the Aschen and an alliance with them would probably give us the access we need," Klaus said.

"You are not really proposing we make an alliance with them?" Jack said. He knew about the need to monitor one's enemies, but an alliance with such a race was so unappealing to him that he couldn't think Klaus would ever suggest something like that.

"Why not? It's not like we don't know their real motives. This alliance would be a farce in which both sides know it is a farce," Klaus continued, really believing they should make such an alliance.

Jack was torn between logic, the dislike he felt towards the Aschen and his complete inability to understand anything Klaus was saying. Maybe it really was a good idea to make an alliance with the Aschen, but he was still reluctant to make it even as a charade, "I still don't get it. If they know this alliance would be only to gain intel, and we know they know it would be only for that, and they also know we know they know it is only for show, we are not going to get anything out of it. So what's the point then?"

The other eight members of the Council stood silent for a long time, clueless on what Jack had just told them or better yet what he'd tried to tell them. There had simply been to many 'we know' and 'they know' to be sure.

"You may have a point there," Klaus answered, also receiving strange stares from everybody else, Jack included. "Still, we should at least meet with them and see exactly what they are proposing."

"Ok, who's in favor of meeting with the Aschen raise his hand," Jack said, and waited until all members raised their hands. Apparently, he was the only one thinking this was a waste of time, but diplomacy was something the others liked more than big honking space guns and he too had to oblige with the Council's ruling.

"Fine, we will let the Aschen know we are open to discussion. Let's go on the next topic. I believe we need to discuss the Wraith problem and the Pegasus galaxy in general," Jack said.

Daniel was the one to pick up on that, "While you were on vacation, I spent a few hours talking with Liam about the Pegasus galaxy. The first thing he said was that we need to find the remaining Wraith and get rid of them once and for all."

"And how are we planning to do that? I mean, the Pegasus galaxy may be smaller than the Milky Way and even more compared to the Andromeda galaxy, but still, we are talking about a massive area of space to search through. It is not that easy to canvas it all," Jack asked.

"Well, he gave me this," Daniel said before pushing a button. The main display showed some kind of probe design. "This is a probe that he says is relatively easy to build and it doesn't use any precious materials we wouldn't be so ready to waste on such project. The idea is to build a lot of them and send them to canvas the galaxy on their own while relaying information back to us as it is collected. If the probes find something of interest, we can follow up by sending a ship to investigate. It also doesn't have any tech we wouldn't want to fall into the wrong hands like the Wraith."

Sam was looking at the strange design not understanding one thing, "Wait a minute. Are you telling me that such a small probe can house a working hyperdrive?"

Daniel shook his head, "Liam thought you would notice. No, the probe doesn't have a hyperdrive."

"It doesn't? So what use do we have of a probe that can't travel faster than light?" Sam asked again.

"I didn't say it doesn't have an FTL drive. I just said it doesn't have a hyperdrive," Daniel replied, clearly liking the fact that, for once, he was the one explaining scientific stuff to Sam. "The probe uses some other kind of FTL drive. It's smaller and it needs less power than a hyperdrive, but it cannot achieve the same speed as a hyperdrive. That's why a hyperdrive is the preferred method for traveling the stars."

Jack remembered the time when Liam told him the Alterrans had used other types of FTL drives before researching hyperspace and the possibility to use it as a medium for travel, "Yeah, Liam told me his people know about other types of FTL drives and had used them in the distant past."

"Yes, and the probes also use a small fusion reactor that needs only deuterium as fuel. The probe can even refuel itself in space if it finds a gaseous region, so we don't have to worry about the probes sucking our reserves of Naquadah or the need to chase them around the galaxy in order to refuel them."

Sam was looking intently at the probe's design thinking of all the possible applications such technology could be used for. Having automated ships that don't use any precious materials like Naquadah, Trinium and Neutronium, plus the ability to replenish its fuel reserves whenever needed, could be incredibly useful to them. No matter how many ships they had built, they still have a too small fleet to canvas any larger regions of space. Also, the ability to use some other kind of FTL drive, no other races in the galaxy use, was of great interest to her. Theoretically, nobody could intercept such a ship, which meant that they could build automated transport ships without having to worry about being intercepted by the Lucian Alliance or some other pirate-like race flying around the galaxy. The shipyards on Earth, Tollana, New Terra and especially those on Asura could cram up such ships with incredible speed and ease. "What kind of speed can this drive achieve?"

Daniel looked at the document Liam gave him, "Oh, let me see. Okay, I found it. If this is correct the drive can achieve a quarter of the speed of a typical Goa'uld Ha'tak for an indefinite amount of time without burning out. They can be pushed faster, but not for long. It also says it needs almost ten times less energy than what a ship of a similar size that uses a hyperdrive would need for traveling at such speed."

"Ten times less? This is incredible," Sam stated.

"Carter, hold on for a minute," Jack said.

"What? I didn't say anything."

"Yes you did, at least in your head you did," Jack replied, knowing full well what Sam was thinking.

"Well, if you know what I was thinking, then tell me if it isn't a good idea," Sam asked.

"Can somebody tell the rest of us, those who can't read minds, what the hell is going on?" Dmitri said, not understanding anything of what was happening.

"Sam wants to use this type of technology not only to build these damn probes, but also to make new types of ships, like automated transport ships or something like that that are cheap to build. Our shipyards could probably build hundreds of such ships in a year, at least that's if the sparkle in Sam's eyes is any indication."

Sam was a little pissed at Jack, but she was also dumbfounded on how Jack had understood what she wanted to do without saying anything, "Well, think about it. The only negative side of such technology is that it uses slower FTL drives, but there are many benefits that come with it. We have been thinking about building transport ships for a long time, but we are reluctant to make them because we don't want to use the Asgard hyperdrives as a propulsion system or any other advanced system because the ships could be taken by somebody and reverse engineered. It is also too expensive to build Asgard hyperdrives for such a purpose and we always want to build more of our cruisers and battleships instead of transport ships. The end result is that we very often use our warships as transport ships, which is also ridiculous since they were never meant for that. This technology on the other hand gives us the ability to build as many ships as we need, cheap and without having to worry about pirates gaining some technology we don't want them to have. Plus the ships would be virtually impossible to intercept since they use an FTL drive that no other race is using."

"Carter, I'm not saying it's a bad idea. I actually think it is a good idea, but now is not the time to discuss this alright," Jack watched as Sam nodded in understanding, but he also had the slight feeling she wouldn't let the matter wait for another meeting, one Jack would want to be at least several days later. "Alright then, let's continue with what we have been discussing so far. As I understand it, Liam wants us to build as many of these probes as we can and then send them in the Pegasus galaxy to try to find planets where the Wraith have gone in hiding, is that the idea?"

"It is," Daniel replied.

"Okay how much of our resources can we relocate without delaying by too much our other projects?"

Paul thought about it for a while, thinking of all the projects they were currently building, "I think we can reallocate twenty percent of our current small ship's building capacity. In two months we will be able to do more when the other shipyards on Tollana and Terra Nova are completed. I still can't give you an estimate on how many we'll be able to build. We'll need to build a prototype first to see how much time it takes."

"Good, let's do that. Do we have anything else regarding the Wraith or the Pegasus galaxy?" Jack asked.

"Uh Jack, Liam also told me to tell you the Guardians are planning on leaving the Pegasus galaxy once the Wraith are not a threat anymore and the plan to relocate the people of the Pegasus galaxy is completed. They have already sent a lot of their people back in the Andromeda galaxy."

"Okay, I was expecting that already. Okay, let's now talk about the next topic on our list. We need to decide if we want to formalize our alliance with the Jaffa. Does anyone have anything to say about that or can we go straight to voting on the subject?" Jack said hoping nobody would say anything, but that wasn't the case.

"I have something to say," Klaus said, making all people in the room turn towards him. "There is a problem regarding the Jaffa that I have learned only today. It took me some time to be certain, but it appears the Jaffa have gone to war."

"What?" Jack asked, not understanding what could have possibly happened in the two weeks he hadn't been here.

"Early today, one of my spy-ships informed me that several Jaffa planets have sustained heavy losses due to an attack with the symbiote poison. We are talking about tens of thousands deaths here and it would have been much worse if so many Jaffa hadn't switched to Tretonin in the last few years." Klaus explained what happened.

"Do we know who did it?" Jack asked.

"The Jaffa do, or at least they are convinced they do. They have found some proof of the Lucian Alliance being involved in this and, as of twelve hours ago, the Jaffa have declared war to the Lucian Alliance."

"What?" Jack repeated the question, "And they didn't tell us?"

"This isn't good Jack, and not just because of the losses the Jaffa have sustained," Dmitri said before explaining. "I know the Jaffa are our friends and in a way I think of them as allies already, but when it comes to making a formal alliance with them, I'm against it. This last act of declaring war without telling us is just confirmation of my fears."

That struck Jack like being hit by a wet towel on the face, "I don't get it. What does that mean?"

"I'll explain. First of, I like the Jaffa, I like them a lot, but I also think they are not ready and they won't be ready for quite some time. Once we formalize our alliance, it becomes a contract that shouldn't be broken. In such a contract there are many rules and I fear the Jaffa will eventually break at least some of these rules. At that point, we will be obligated to intervene, simply because we shouldn't look like playing favorites with anybody and no matter what kind of sanctions we decide are adequate, the Jaffa will resent us."

"What are you talking about? Why are you already thinking they are going to break some rules?" Jack asked Dmitri not understanding where he was going with this.

Dmitri sighed, "Okay then. Let me give you an example. Our alliance with the other three great races prohibits us to go to war with anybody without talking to at least one of the other races first. Only after the other races have concluded that no other option is possible we are allowed to declare war. The same rule is applied when somebody asks us for help and even we have difficulties following this rule. Most times it would be the easiest way to immediately retaliate against the aggressor, but we are not allowed to do so. Don't misunderstand me. I think this rule is a good one. This rule protects the entire alliance against any unwanted wars that otherwise could be started by a single race in the alliance, something that should never happen. Now tell me Jack. Do you think the Jaffa can follow such rule religiously or would they sooner or later bend the rule? Look what they just did without telling us. Technically we are not yet formal allies, but still, they should have informed us of what was going on immediately."

Jack thought about it for a moment and he had to admit, there was a good chance they would disregard such rule even after they signed the alliance. After all, they are a warrior race and diplomacy was never their forte, "I understand what you mean, but do you think we are better off without signing anything?"

"I do. We are now friends. We can help each other when needed and when they screw up we can guide them and help them, the same way we have done for the past two years. Only after these two years we can say the Jaffa have finally understood what a modern society should look like and in that time there were many cases when we were ready to give up. That's how stubborn they are."

Jack was thoughtful. A minute ago, he was certain this would be the easiest point on today's agenda that they would have to discuss, but now it looked as if they would decide against it and Jack could even understand the reason why. He actually thought the same as Dmitri, but his friendship with Teal'c and Bra'tac had obfuscated his reasoning. The sad truth was that the Jaffa were not ready and he didn't know if they would ever be, at least not any time soon. Besides, if what Klaus had just told them was true and the Jaffa had declared war to the Lucian Alliance, they couldn't sign an alliance with them anyway, at least not at the moment. Jack looked at Daniel and saw the same reaction in him. He knew Daniel was also torn between his friendship with the Jaffa and the logic Dmitri's words had contained. "I have to agree."

That answer made the other members look strangely at him. They all thought he would have fought much harder on this issue. They weren't even sure they could sway him against making the alliance, but it looked like Jack had his doubts even before this meeting had begun. With the recent information, those doubts must have become even more prominent.

"I also agree. No matter how much I like the Jaffa, I think Dmitri's assessment is right. The Free Jaffa Nation is still too young and it could do more harm than good if we formalize an alliance with them right now," Daniel said, agreeing with Dmitri.

Soon the others agreed as well and the vote of not making an alliance with the Jaffa was unanimous. They also discussed what to do about the recent development between the Jaffa and the Lucian Alliance and Jack decided he would go to Dakara and talk to Teal'c to learn a little more.

The Council continued with the other topics on their list. The next one was the Chinese expanding at a frightening pace and already planning on colonizing another planet. It was a problem the Terrans hadn't anticipated and didn't know how to solve. The Terrans didn't care much about the Chinese expanding in the galaxy or at least it wasn't their primary concern. What they really feared though was what might happen once the Chinese started interacting with other races in the galaxy and how would they be perceived by other races. Would those races think of them as a separate race, or would they think of them simply as the Tau'ri? They also feared the Chinese would sooner or later bend some rules, especially the one they stipulated that states they can't colonize planets with other sentient races already on them. Of course, the Chinese would never defy such rule, not directly, but they could always try to annex some world and all the inhabitants on it in some kind of confederation. Of course, such planet, with probably only a few hundred thousand humans, wouldn't stand a chance against the numerical superiority of the Chinese, very few races could. They would be quickly taken into their fold and the planet would be theirs. The Terrans would also have a difficult time trying to stop them in such tactics since the situation on Earth was still precarious in many ways. There was no more talk about war or anything similar, but an incident on one of the Chinese colonies could send them back when there was still fear of WWIII happening. Another problem they might have was, what if the Chinese started a war with some other race? The Terrans would still have to protect Earth as this was their main job. This would inevitably toss them into a war the Chinese would have started, with no way of claiming neutrality.

"So, does anyone have any idea on how to deal with the Chinese expanding on other planets?" Jack asked since he didn't know exactly what or if they should do anything.

"We can change the location of our third colony for starters," Jacques Dupont, the Head of the Colonization Department replied.

"Change it where?"

"To a planet close to the Chinese colony. I think there's a planet nearby that has some useful minerals and possibly even Trinium. If the Chinese haven't visited the planet already, they are going to do it very soon," Jacques said, also pushing a few buttons on the console in front of him to change the galactic map on the main display.

Paul looked at the planet the map was displaying. It was a good planet and it was only 26 light-years from the Chinese colony. The display also showed the various minerals the survey mission had found on the planet, "The planet looks good to me. Maybe not as good as the planet we were planning as our third colony, but the vicinity to the Chinese colony would give us a way to monitor them more closely, and the vicinity to Earth should also be a bonus. "

"So, we are going to grab the planet from the Chinese. Don't you think the Chinese are going to object to that?" Dmitri asked, knowing full well such a move could have repercussions.

"And what if they do? They don't have monopoly over planets," Jack said.

"That doesn't mean they will like it. If we take that planet, they'll have to look for another one and there are no planets in the vicinity with a stargate. I think they are going to be pissed," Dmitri explained.

"Well, I still think it is a good idea, but I think I should talk about this with president Hayes first and see what he thinks," Jack said.

The others in the room nodded and the meeting continued with another in the endless list of subjects they still needed to discuss. Jack was still thinking how this wasn't the greatest way to start working after two weeks of vacation. This meeting had completely negated the stress release he had felt during his well-deserved fishing vacation, and he could almost feel a headache coming to the forefront.

The meeting had continued for several more hours, in which time the Council had discussed several more issues. Those issues were not critical since the Terrans and the rest of the galaxy were finally at peace, at least most of the time. The Ori were still here, but they hadn't done anything in almost two years. They would show up from time to time, their priors still trying to convert some planet with a smaller population to their religion, but there hadn't been any major campaign like the one on Langara. Jack believed that, after they'd lost so many followers and ships almost two years ago, they needed to rebuild and reevaluate their tactics since, by now, they must have understood the Terrans and their allies were not going to be such an easy prey. Jack knew that sooner or later they would come back, especially since they hadn't found the second supergate yet and it meant the Ori were still able to bring whatever they wanted to this galaxy. The Terrans knew that and they hadn't spent the past two years doing nothing. In that time, they had increased their production capacity by more than two hundred percent, they had colonized another planet, Terra Nova, and they were planning to colonize a third one in very short order. Also, Jack could only imagine what Liam had accomplished in these two years of peace. After all, the Guardians didn't have to worry about the Senari in the Andromeda galaxy, the Wraith in the Pegasus galaxy or the Ori in the Milky Way galaxy. They had a lot of time to devote to building their infrastructure without having to worry about anything. Jack also wished he knew more about the Asgard and what they were doing, but except for the monthly meeting on Heliopolis, he knew very little about what the little grey aliens were up to.

Andromeda Galaxy – Space Station
Stardate: 1846.9

Sitting on the floor of his room, with his legs crossed, Liam was spending his free time meditating. A practice he had learned to do every day ever since Lya had talked to him, explaining how he was changing and that he needed to exercise both his mind and body, now more than ever. While he was seated on the floor with his eyes closed, the room in front of him was riddled with holes in the fabric of space-time. The cracks in the fabric of reality would change form, color or suddenly close, only for new ones to pop out as if from nowhere. Such exercise wasn't easy to do and Liam was so concentrated that he didn't even register the sudden arrival of Aenea in his room. Something that hadn't happened in quite some time, since he was now more than capable to sense an ascended being in his vicinity even when they didn't want him to. The first time he had greeted Aenea, even before she'd showed herself, he'd almost given her a heart attack. Not that it is possible to give a heart attack to an ascended being, no matter how much you tried, but her expression conveyed that exact sentiment. She started to babble, asking questions like how or when he first started showing such ability that not her or anybody she knew could explain. He had simply replied that this had been the first time he was able to sense her and that he also didn't know how, just that he could. Then, they'd started a game of hide and seek in which she would disappear and he would continuously reply – 'nope, you're still here… now you are there' – and so forth until Aenea was convinced that indeed it hadn't been just luck the first time. She was now even more surprised that he hadn't sensed her, but when she saw what he was doing, she understood why.

"Liam, stop it!" Aenea yelled at him.

The spatial anomalies suddenly disappeared and Liam opened his eyes, "Are you trying to give me a heart attack? Don't do that again!"

"Are you trying to blow up the station? Or is it just sheer recklessness?" Aenea replied angrily. "Nobody can be in control of what you were doing."

"As you can see, I can," Liam replied, not liking her patronizing tone of voice.

"What are you even trying to accomplish with this?"

"By making these anomalies, I'm closer to understanding them and to understand the fabric of reality," Liam replied, knowing full well she would press the matter further.

"To what end?"

"Aenea, the Alterrans have always been scientists. Understanding how things work has always been our way," Liam said, pausing for a moment. "And I also want to understand how that stupid anomaly in this galaxy works."

"Ah well, now we are getting somewhere. Why are you so obsessed with that anomaly?"

"Because, if I understand how, I'm a step closer to understanding those who made it and their real capabilities," Liam explained.

"Liam, that thing's been there for a hundred thousand years. There is a chance that whoever built it is long gone, probably dead."

"Somehow I don't believe that to be the case. No, I'm more than certain that whoever made it is still alive and kicking," Liam said, thinking of the vision he had with the Vargas fleet in it.

"Fine, do as you please, but don't say I didn't warn you when you blow up the station, with everybody in it."

"I'm seventy-five percent certain it won't happen," Liam replied mockingly.

Aenea sighed. There was no hope for her husband and she knew it. Aenea remained silent for a long time, something Liam picked up immediately, "Aenea."


"Why are you here?"

That reminded her that this wasn't just a social call, "I have a mission for you."

Liam blinked twice. What could she have possibly meant by that?

"A mission?" Liam asked, really wanting to hear the answer.

Aenea nodded in confirmation before proceeding to explain, "I need you to find Anubis."

Again, Liam was plastered, immediately jumping on his feet with incredible speed, "Find Anubis? Why? Or better yet, don't you know where he is?"

"No, I don't," Aenea replied.

"Wait-wait, are you telling me you can't find that bastard anywhere? Why do you think I can find him if you can't?"

"It's not that I can't find him, not exactly. It's more like… I'm forbidden from trying."

This was becoming more ridiculous by the minute, "So, you know where he is?"

"I have my suspicions, yes."

"So, why do you need me?"

"I need you for what comes after you find him."

Liam took a long moment to think about what Aenea had just said, pacing up and down the room. Finally he understood what she wanted to happen after he found him, "Well, that leaves us with one question you haven't answered yet. Why?"

Aenea took her time, not sure if she should answer, "Do you really need to know?"

"What do you think?" Liam deadpanned without a second thought.

"It's because of Oma. There are rumors she has spent the last two years on… Anubis' duty."

Finally the picture became a little clearer, "So, you want me to take care of him and by doing so, free Oma from her punishment. That also means Oma's disappearance was actually her finally taking actions against him."

Aenea nodded, "These are only rumors, there is no proof of that, but her disappearance coincides with his and I don't believe in coincidences."

"No, me neither. Alright, I like this mission, but where do I start looking?"

"Try the place where Oma spent a lot of her time."

"Kheb," Liam replied knowingly.

"There is a problem though. I have no idea how the others are going to react."

"To which part? Going there, trapping Anubis or killing Anubis?" Liam asked.

"To all of them, but if I were you, I wouldn't go so far as to try to kill him… even if you can. Can you?"

Liam smiled, "Maybe."

Aenea didn't like the answer one bit, "Maybe? How do you mean maybe?"

"Well I never tried so, I can't be certain," Liam replied, thinking about the research Merlin did and that Liam had continued ever since he had received the data Merlin had given him.

"Okay, but, as I said, try not to go too far. The majority still believes in the old rules and you know how they get when somebody doesn't follow them."

"I know, I know. Although, there is a contradiction in those rules."

"There is?"

"Well, they preach a lot how the lower and higher plane shouldn't mix, but when things don't go as they planned, they have no problem messing with the lower plane. Theoretically speaking, they should never interfere with whatever I do in the lower plane if they are to follow their own rules to the letter."

"I would rely less on what theoretically they should and shouldn't do, and more on what the reality is. And you know very well what that is."

"Don't worry, I do," Liam replied, still unsure what he was going to do once he reached Kheb and he was finally face to face with Anubis.

Aenea nodded. It was time to leave. Liam was also very surprised no other ascended being had dropped unannounced while she'd been talking to him. Usually they'd monitored her very closely when she would pay a visit to her husband, but today this wasn't the case, which he found to be very peculiar. Nevertheless, it's never a good idea to test one's luck too much and Aenea too knew it was time to leave.

Liam once again remained alone in his room. He wasn't about to start meditating again even though, thanks to Aenea, his session today hadn't been a very long one. He decided it was time to leave the Andromeda galaxy and travel to the Milky Way galaxy, but Kheb wouldn't be the first planet he would visit. Instead, he needed to talk to the Terrans first.

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