Chapter 25

Location: Kobol, City Ship Olympus

Date: July 27, 2014

Time: 1100 Hours

"I don't like this Sheppard," Ronon stated, eyeing the unconscious form of the Colonial that had been the source of a great deal of trouble for the Earth contingent on Kobol.

"You think I do?" Sheppard responded testily from his spot in the front of the room. He hadn't liked this course of action at all, but still, if things got much worse someone could get seriously hurt. And hurting a uniformed member of a foreign military is not how you make friends.

So the Aquila was standing by in orbit after returning with some new kill counts to its credit after a massive battle against the Lucians over Tollana. They would be beaming her back to just outside the Colonial base camp and then watch from above with the Aquila's sensors to make sure that she made it back alright. The place they'd chosen was patch of forest on the ridge that was overlooking the Stargate itself and where the Colonials had set up a decent number of sentries. It was also stormy there, with many lightning strikes being detected by the Aquila so there wasn't much of a chance that the Colonials would think much of seeing the flash of the beaming. It would also give them a psychological advantage if the Colonials thought that the Earth unit was able to get that close without being seen.

"This is Mitchell, we're ready when you are Aquila," Colonel Mitchell called out on the radio.

"Copy Colonel, transporting to target in five," the radio returned, slightly scratchy from distance and a misbehaving ionosphere.

Within five seconds, a single flash of light enveloped the place where the young Colonial had been laying on floor. Her personal items had been returned to the pockets on her vest, but any weapons were kept by the Earth contingent for study and copying should the need arise for them to disguise themselves for special operations against the Colonials. But with this act, Colonel Mitchell hoped it would be avoided.

"Well Aquila? Any movement?" Mitchell asked, waiting for the Colonial Corporal to be found so that his own conscience was clear of any guilt in the event something were to happen to her.

"Affirmative, looks like our friend is stirring a bit, nothing from the Colonial troops though."

Mitchell nodded after acknowledging the message from Aquila, he knew that there was some danger to them with her in the hands of the Colonials, but he'd enacted a plan that would see to it that if things got ugly the Colonials would be left with nothing but a half-sunk, half-gutted, disabled, and worthless bunch of pretty buildings and a corrupted database swept clean of anything dangerous and swapped with worthless data about nothing at all in Ancient Lantean. That way, if the Colonials got the power running, and then managed to get into the computers they would have to try and translate nothing except what some random keyboard mashing makes. This would make any and all attempts at translation all but impossible. And one thing Mitchell knew after working with Daniel Jackson was that translations make reverse engineering Ancient technology possible. Without that, it's like trying to chop a tree down with a letter opener. That's exactly what his objective was: Make any attempts at reverse engineering Olympus as difficult as possible, and as of ten minutes ago, they were ready.

Colonial Base Camp

The sounds of the storm were finally moving off, the worst had passed, but the affects still lingered. A fine mist obscured the vision of the Colonial sentries on watch within one of two machine gun emplacements on their perimeter. The dark still swallowed the wet cold forest like a great monster, refusing to yield what hid behind the veil of black nothingness. Still, none of them were surprised at all when there was a small flash to their front, several dozen meters away.

Only one of them was awake however, the other was uncomfortably asleep against the dirt wall of their foxhole while the other stood watch. He'd been on watch for a while now, and nothing seemed to be wrong and he was getting tired. But when a flash of light in front of him appeared he refocused, getting startled a bit by the light and woke up a little. So as he'd been doing in that storm he started counting the seconds until he heard the rumble of thunder that always accompanied lightning. But when he got to fifteen without a sound being heard he was immediately suspicious. There were reports that the Earthers possessed some kind of transportation technology that had the ability to snatch someone out of anywhere in a simple flash of white light. This was only gleamed from the helmet camera footage from the missing Corporal Dean and there really wasn't much more about it that could really be figured out. But this simple Marine knew something was up as soon as he remembered the reports of the transportation tech. He quickly snatched up his rifle and shoved his partner.

"Wh-what? It's not time for my watch already?"

"Something's out there, man the gun," he whispered back, getting a strange look from the other Marine as he pulled the charging handle back and tucked the stock into his shoulder ready to fire.

"I don't see anything."

"Stay here, cover me, I'm gonna go check it out," the more alert of the two sentries ordered.

"What? No stay here, you know the orders, no one is to be out there alone!"

"Shush!" he responded with a whisper as he heard something snap loudly in front of their foxhole.

"I heard it too."

Both Colonials looked forward and saw a lighter shadow cast against the darker background of the dark, beginning to rise to its feet. The two of them didn't really know what to make of it, but trained their weapons on the shape instantly. Neither really knew whether or not to challenge the figure and risk giving away their position to someone who may or may not be hiding waiting to zero in on a hidden target. So they kept their quiet as the figure started to stumble forward awkwardly and then saw that it was a person walking their way. They tensed up as they heard the soft snapping of soaking wet twigs and the mushing sounds of the thick bed of moss squish as it was stomped upon.

Finally the figure came within a good twenty meters away without stopping and had by now regained some manner of calm and functioning motor skills instead of the half stumbling that it had come forward with. They had little choice now, who or whatever it was would soon be upon them, so the Colonial who'd seen and suspected something cupped his hands and yelled out.

"Halt! Identify yourself or fired upon!"

The figure stopped instantly, ducking to cover behind a wet rotted stump, surprised at the challenge but responded after a contemplative few seconds.

"Corporal Dean, Colonial Marine Corps!"

"Dean?!" one of the men yelled farther down the line, "That you Corporal?!"

"Yeah! Now don't shoot me you frakkers! I just got back!" she replied, moving to get up.

"Stay there! How do we know it's really you?" one of the Colonials called out.

"Oh for the love of-alright fine, ask me who's in the Pyramid playoffs, or ask how I beat the shit out of one the idiots in Third Recon Team in the mess hall the day before we got here. It's me you morons!"

"Fine only you would know that, but still, we have to keep you out there until the Colonel says we can bring you back."

"For Gods…okay, I'll wait, could one of you throw me a ration pack I'm starving here," she called out, resigning herself to waiting to be cleared.

"Here," one of the Colonials called out, tossing an MRE over near where she was now sitting on a fallen log.

"Thanks, and hurry up, I've got a lot to report to the Colonel."

"Radio! Get the Colonel up here now, our lost bird has flown home."

Unknown Planet, USS Apollo

"So, another Gou'ald?" the subspace communications station's speakers asked in the voice of General O'Neill, "Why isn't this a report about you showing me a pretty picture of him blowing up?"

"We're picking up energy readings sir, readings that a ship of this size and class are not supposed to have coming from them. My readouts are telling me we might be dealing with a ZPM in the hands of that Gou'ald," Colonel Ellis responded definitively.

"Okay, yeah might not wanna destroy that. How many marines does the Apollo have on board?" O'Neill asked.

"A full squad squad, twelve men. Not enough to get into the ship and get the ZPM and get out again."

"Alright, I'm dispatching the Germans' ship to assist, they'll be there in a few minutes and you'll be in overall command. We want that ZPM, please relieve the Gou'ald of it for us. Once that's done make that Gou'ald join the others in Hell."

"Yes sir," Ellis replied, liking his orders to destroy that ship, after all, the only good Gou'ald was a dead Gou'ald, and being the one to accomplish that was just a good day, "Once we've secured the objective you want the Apollo or the Von der Tann to deliver the ZPM?"

"The Apollo will be returning the ZPM. In the meantime, the Germans will take your spot watching the Colonials' little expedition. I've got another job for the Apollo, the Colonials have made some ominous diplomatic moves to get some stuff from us at the meeting satellite. We haven't dialed their Stargate for a while now and I want to know where it is. However, it's a bit risky to send a probe through and risk them reverse engineering it. So I want you to find its exact location."

"Yes sir, we'll be able to get that done."

"I shouldn't have to tell you why knowing the location of the Colonial Stargate is so important Colonel, get it done. First get that ZPM, the Germans are en route so I'll expect good news in a few hours."

"Roger that sir," Ellis replied, and saw the picture blink out as the call was ended, "Alright people, we've got our objective, retrieve the ZPM, or whatever that energy reading is, and then torch and burn and move on to our next mission. I want all Marines on board in the briefing room, sensors, give me a full brochure of the area, hotspots, hotels, the like. I want the full specs of this ship in the briefing room, check the database for this Gou'ald, see if there's anything we need to know about him. Move it people, the Germans are on their way let's not keep them waiting."

Just like that, the bridge snapped into action, the people in the sensors section immediately took to scanning the surface of the planet, mapping its terrain out to the tiniest details which included the type of vegetation around the target area, counting and mapping the numerous life signs on the ground and in the ship, and even checking weather conditions. The speakers on the ship called out dully for the shipboard Marine compliment to report for duty in the briefing room. The Marines on board were mostly scrounged from across the US Armed Forces, some were Marines, some were Army, some were Air Force, and the list went on. But due to the manpower shortage that was quick becoming critical for the USA aspect of the program they weren't so much Marines as they were a mobile response force used to repel boarders, beam to a target and accomplish a mission, or as simple security. It wasn't where most troops wanted to be, but until the program was made official and the next generation of purpose trained shipboard Marines was recruited, trained up, and deployed they were stuck the way they were. But now, their boring duties were interrupted by something they had all been trained for.

Each of them was wearing the normal gray fatigues, black vest, and red beret that the shipboard compliments usually wore. On their vests were P90's, the normal weapon of choice for them while on board. The briefing room was large enough to fit the entire squad of twelve as they stood around wondering what it was they were about to do. Each of them knew that it was had to do with the planet below and were already planning how to prepare for every potential situation. They each had every pattern of uniform in the US Armed Forces' inventory aboard as was regulation due to the fact that they were in a space warship where the theater of operations could change with the flick of a wrist. They also had a very full arsenal with weapons, equipment, and supplies for any challenge. But their greatest asset was the ship's beaming and sensor technology that allowed them to completely dominate where and how they engaged the enemy. And from what the information flooding onto the screen was telling them, they would need that kind of information.

As they waited they were surprised to see a flash of light envelop the area around them and saw that another group had joined them. Twelve men and women of the German warship Von der Tann equipped in their own shipboard uniform and equipment were standing around them with their own P90's on their chests. It was a bit of a surprise, but not a great one. The Marines of the Apollo were the most experienced in the Fleet, with the most boarding actions and insertions to their credit. Not even the Daedalus' crew could boast that. This new all-German squad had yet to see any offworld action, and were more than looking forward to this mission.

"Achtung!" one of the Germans called out as he saw Colonel Ellis walking towards the door.

The Americans didn't need a translation for that, and stood to attention alongside their German comrades. Colonel Ellis quietly waved them down and the group quietly settled into the rows of seats or stood to the sides or behind the chairs as Ellis stood in front of the screen displaying tons of information already.

"Thanks for coming, we've got ourselves a mission. A little over an hour ago we detected a strong power source emanating from this planet, when we got here we found that a Gou'ald pyramid ship was the source of it all. From what we've been able to gather it's an active ZPM that is being used. Our scans have revealed around two thousand four hundred life signs on the ground around the ship and as many as a thousand inside it. Your job, gentlemen, is to get that ZPM out of there and then beam out to allow us to wipe it out for good from orbit."

"Are we talking about Jaffa life signs sir or can we expect civilians used as slaves?" one of the Americans asked.

"Unknown," Ellis responded, "But there way too many life signs for this one ship to have brought them all here. It is very likely that there is a native population."

"What kind of weaponry will we be going against sir?"

"It's a Gou'ald in overall command, so assume the usual, Staff Weapons, Zats, and possibly the larger plasma cannons in cover."

"What is the terrain like sir?"

"Fairly rugged, sensors indicate the ship is landed in a low rocky valley, there is a high heat index and little plant life to speak of outside of high grasses and low shrubs. There won't be much cover, so we'll try to get you as close as possible, but you'll have to move quickly once you're on the ground. There's a lake here, which is where the bulk of the life signs are concentrated among this settlement and fairly obvious farmland."

"Will the Apollo and Von der Tann, or the Banshees be providing fire support sir?" one of the Germans asked.

"We'll be standing by to launch fighters strafing runs, the ships themselves will actually be on standby to descend into the atmosphere and be available to make pinpoint strikes with missiles and a rail guns should the fighters not be able to hit their targets."

"So there will be no APB fire to suppress any cannons on the ship's hull sir?"

"Negative, the risk of damaging the ZPM is too high. We don't really know what that Gou'ald is doing with it so we can't say with certainty what will happen to the ZPM if we hit the shields with a shot from the beam weapons."

"Very well sir," the same man responded.

"Alright, I'll leave you men to work on your tactical plan seeing as I'm not trained for this kind of mission and you are. Sergeant Major, report to me once you've got everything set, I'll be on the bridge."

"Thank you sir," the oldest man in the room replied stepping to the front of the room.

His name was Sergeant Major Hall, the most experienced man on the Apollo if not the most experienced man in the entire fleet. He had originally served aboard the Daedalus, and had seen action in Atlantis against the Wraith, the Replicators, and had served a tour in the Milky Way, fighting the Ori and Lucians. He was one of a few aboard that were actual Marines with twenty years of service in the Corps as Force Recon with tours in Panama, Grenada, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, and Afghanistan before being recruited to the Stargate Program. He was practically a legend, and was just the man for this mission. He was the senior NCO and thus the commanding officer of both the German unit and the American unit, so this mission was now his responsibility.

"Now, you Germans have not had any real combat experience offworld so I'll be frank with you. This won't be like any fight you've been in before. These will not be bullets coming at you, it will be plasma, you will see them coming and have a split second to get yourselves out of the way. Since it is Jaffa we're engaging then you will need to load mid caliber armor piercing rounds. We will not be infiltrating like you're used to, it'll be right into the thick of within the enemy vessel so we'll be close quarters from beginning to end. Due to the interference from the ZPM we will have to fight our way straight there, remove the objective and extract. Expect heavy resistance from determined hostiles. Apollo's squad will be Red Team, you Germans will be Blue Team. Red Team will lead the assault with Blue Team covering the rear. We can't afford to stop or we'll be swarmed, we move fast, hit hard, and get out. Any questions?"

There were none.

"Okay then gear up, we beam down in fifteen."

Kobol, outside of the Colonial Basecamp

There weren't many things that a BC-304 couldn't do when it came to sensory functions. The complex Asgard sensors could pick out just about anything on the ground even through thick tree cover. But when it came to hearing what an individual was saying that's when the limits of what the ship was capable of were felt. That's why Colonel Mitchell was out with a recon team composed of SG-1 and the Russian SG Team.

Both teams were spread out watching a group of Colonials in front of them working on something across from their own picket line. A trio of Colonial troops was standing nearby for security as the Colonials wrapped thick red cords around a dozen trees near the bases of them and connected all of them to wires going back to their lines as a back-up in case the remote detonators did not do their job.

"Looks like they're clearing a landing zone," Mitchell whispered.

"A landing zone?" Jackson responded, "Is their expedition really that close?"

"Hell no," Mitchell replied, "They're still weeks away. These guys are probably getting their own ships through."

"That's not good," Vala piped up.

"No it's not, come on, better clear out before they detonate, don't want anything falling on us."

At that prompting the group started backing away, staying close to the ground as the Colonials carried on about their business. They weren't taking their eyes off of the Colonials and the explosives that were set go off once their job was finished. Nothing seemed to be going wrong, it was just a normal recon, nothing at all ominous was happening. They all knew their orders not to make themselves known to the Colonials but that had been screwed up due to some unforeseen circumstances. So the objective now was to stay hidden, and not do anything that might provoke the Colonials. However, as with anything sensitive it would not take very much to set off a fuse that could turn a misunderstanding into something worse.

The SG Teams didn't know it, but as the Colonials were setting their charges they hadn't noticed that the detonators on the soggy trees were getting wet from the condensation of the wet air inside of them. The way the explosives were set up was so that a signal would be sent from a remote detonator to the explosives on a selected channel. However, little did the Colonials know that same channel was the current channel that the two SG Teams were using for their short wave radios. It was a dangerous combination, at the touch of a button on the walky talkies they carried the explosives would go off and take the Colonial engineers with them. To the neutral observer one could only hope that none of the Earthers saw anything that warranted a transmission, less the Colonials would be caught in the middle of a shower of flame and wooden shrapnel. But, in a mission where communication is always being maintained, it was only a matter of time.

One of the Russians had been watching through a small range finding scope at the Colonial picket line to pick out what he could. As he watched he noticed a slight bit of movement coming from the Colonial line. As he watched he saw that it was a Colonial officer, judging by the fact that the man who had been in charge of the entire operation saluted him. He could tell that it might be something the others might want to know about. So he carefully grasped his walky talky and tapped the talk button, and without knowing it, sent the signal out into the open air to where the Colonial detonators picked up on it and triggered their blast caps that set off a chain reaction that no one could have known of, much less prevented.

Outside Colonial Basecamp

Colonel Black had gone to check up on the progress of the clearing process for the future landing zone for the Raptors standing by to be shipped through in pieces. He'd been relieved as Corporal Dean had somehow appeared at their base seemingly out of the blue. She'd been quickly quarantined and Command had been informed of the reappearance of their missing Marine. It was from her that Black had learned that she had been inside some kind of city, although whether or not she had been on Kobol was not yet known. But Colonel Black had a feeling that she had been on Kobol, and that the same city she described was related to the winking of metal he had seen in the footage from the UAV that they'd launched yesterday before the storm had hit. And his feelings were rarely wrong.

To satisfy his hunch he had decided that the pace with which the engineers were going to complete the air pads was too slow and had gone over himself to kick things into a higher gear. He'd grabbed his rifle, slung it over his shoulder and made his way to where the Major in charge of the squad of engineers was overseeing his assignment. Unfortunately, he didn't know that things were about to take a turn for the worst.

"Colonel sir," the Major saluted smartly, "You came just in time."

"Not really, we're going too slowly. Get your men-," he began, but a sudden colossal explosion cut him off.

A powerful concussion lashed out from the trees as their powerful explosive cords detonated. Smoke, splinters, and fire flew in all directions, along with the bodies of several engineers who'd been calmly working on their job. Those that had been within a few yards didn't even feel a thing. The explosives were powerful enough that the mere concussion was enough to kill them. Their bodies were thrown into the air as if they were rag dolls discarded by a child. Those not close enough to be killed instantly were riddled with shrapnel from all directions as pieces of the exploded trees the size of a man's arm cut through their uniforms and bodies. Most were killed within seconds, while others fell onto the wet ground with splinters stabbing out of their bodies bleeding and screaming. The dozen trees that had just been torn asunder by that explosion creaked and moaned as the fell to the ground, laying out in all directions. The smashing and snapping of their great bulk loudly echoed out into the now silenced forest until they came to rest. It was completely silent now, punctuated only by groans and screams of the wounded victims of the detonations.

For a moment no one did anything. The suddenness of it all was unexpected even for these experienced hand-picked Colonials. Over a dozen of their comrades had been out there, and now, most of them were gone. However, the shock subsided, replaced by instincts that drove them into action.

"Medic!" Colonel Black yelled as he charged forward to where the dust and smoke now seemed to stand still as leaves and tiny wooden fragments rained down to the ground.

As he moved forward he saw the mangled bodies of his men and women, laying about in contorted positions of death with blood pouring from ragged gashes in their chests, arms, legs, and from ruptured eardrums and noses. He knew that the dead were dead and continued forward. But then he stopped as he saw a line of figures rise from the ground in the near distance and run forward. He knew that there hadn't been any more than three Marines on watch for the engineers and stopped to watch them until he saw that they carried weapons that were not Colonial. He looked down and saw one of his men on the ground that it appeared one of the figures was making a bee line towards, but he then saw that the wounded Colonial in question saw it too.

At that moment time slowed. The wounded Colonial, driven by fear, shock, and instinct brought his weapon up and pointed it at the figure. Colonel Black saw the man only had one hand on the pistol grip of the rifle attached to his vest and held his hand out with a small cloth box with a white circle on it with a red cross in the center. But that didn't register for the wounded man who squeezed the trigger of his weapon and fired. The bullets could not have missed from such close range, and didn't. Several white and red puffs jetted from the soldier's chest, stopping him in his tracks cold. He lurched backwards and upwards, bending at the hip and fell onto the ground. Then things started happening quickly.

The death of a comrade drives soldier to a state of mind that is impossible to comprehend unless experienced. And that instinct drove one of the other soldiers to raise his rifle and fire at the wounded Colonial who now started traversing to pick another target. Colonel Black watched as trio of bullets impacted his Marine and finished what an accident had started.

"No!" he shouted, seeing his man die right in front of him, and he proceeded to yank his own weapon into his hands and ducked down on instinct and tucked his rifle into his shoulder and aimed down the sights at the killer who'd shot his man.

He pulled the trigger, firing single shots that hit his intended target square in the shoulder as he dropped to ground to get into cover. He saw the man spin with the force of the bullet and collapse onto the ground as other Colonial Marines rushed to his side, weapons brought to bear. Gunfire erupted from both sides as Colonials rushed forward to where they instinctually felt they were being attacked. A machine gun from the line of foxholes roared out, shattering bark and sending dirt and moss flying into the air as the SG Teams returned fire and took cover as things quickly got out of control.

A Marine to Colonel Black's right ran forward to where one of the wrecked trees was laying but a burst of machine gun fire from one of the Russians took him off his feet and dropped him to the ground. Another Colonial grabbed him by the handle on the back of his vest and dragged him into cover as a large black man with a golden crest on his forehead grabbed the wounded Russian and dragged him behind cover as he fired his weapon one handed at Black himself, causing bits of bark to shoot out as the deadly bullets smashed into the tree he took cover behind. He saw his troops advancing, firing and ducking into cover as return fire lashed back out at them. Another Colonial taking cover in front of Black spun around as he was hit in the arm and grasped at the wound as the battle continued to rage. Then Colonel Black saw several flashes of light envelop the place where several of the now enemy troops were firing from behind cover. He hesitated as he looked to where he saw a face he had seen before. It was Colonel Mitchell of Earth. His face was contorted not in one of anger or sincerity that one would expect of a battle situation. It was one of sadness, at what could only be the face of a man who'd realized the tragedy of it all. Then, he too was enveloped in a flash of light and was gone. The firing continued for a second or two, until the Colonials realized that those they had just fought had vanished into thin air.

"Clear!" men and women began shouting.

"Stay down!" one of the NCO's yelled as several curious Marines began cautiously proceeding forward to where the Earthers had just been.

"Colonel! You alright?" a Lieutenant asked, sliding in next to him, "Who were they? Were they Earthers?"

"I'm fine, and…I need to get on the horn to Command, now," he said, shaking his head and getting up, "Form a detail to see to the wounded and the dead."

"Yes sir."

As he walked back to the base he saw that his troops were taking on a whole new mood. For the past few days it had been one of quiet confidence and pride. They were on Kobol, the home of their ancestors. But now, they wore a face somber sadness at the loss of their comrades, confusion as to who they had just done battle with and why, and something else entirely that if not controlled could become deadly anger, anger at what many thought of as a betrayal. Most had felt, as most Colonials did, that Earth was a returned sibling, a group that could be brought back into the fold as friends. Now, that friendship and brotherhood had been torn asunder with blood now shed on both sides. To the Colonials on Kobol, it seemed to now be the end of a promising peace and the beginning of a violent war.

But there were a few that held onto hope, a slim glimmer of the chance at righting the wrongs of this incident and healing the wounds. It was slim, but that hope was there. Colonel Black though that same way. He held that hope, but he knew better than anyone that the deaths of Colonial soldiers would not be taken lightly, not by his troops, not by his superiors, and not by the Colonies. But at the same time, he knew that the death of an Earth soldier would have the same effect. All he could do was hope that cooler heads would prevail before more people died and the possibility of peace was thrown out the window, all anyone could do was hope.

Finally, it's done. I'm sorry that it took as long as it did, but I'd been separated from my laptop for most the winter break and I had quite a bit of trouble with getting things going in a direction I felt comfortable with. In this stage the writing is increasingly difficult, the plot is becoming more and more complex and I have to think this thing through in great detail.

But I'm glad I was able to get this done. I know it isn't much but it's better than nothing. I hope you all enjoyed it and I'll try to get the next done in less time than this one took. But don't expect anything tomorrow or even next week. School has started again and I've got some heavy classes that will be my primary focus. Until next time folks, see ya until the next update.

Next Chapter Preview: Will cooler heads prevail, or has this only just begun?