***Ok, I feel really bad about this now. I've been saying that I have a beta lately, but I never really gave him enough credit for all the work he does making these chapters as good as they are. I want to thank Joe Lawyer, my beta, for spending hours editing my mistakes and generally just making these chapters as perfect as possible. So thank you Joe, for all the work you do on these chapters, and for putting up with me and my seeming lack of care. Even if I haven't shown it as much as I should have, I really do appreciate it.
Hammond had been thoroughly enjoying the thought of his looming retirement when an alarm sounded in his office, one that he had rarely had reason to hear these days. Base personnel quickly grabbed their rifles and pistols before running down the hallway to the room with the artifact.
Hammond found himself puffing slightly as he followed after them. The blast doors opened and his soldiers quickly entered the room, forming a textbook defensive position.
As he entered the room Hammond could see two ranks of three people in snake-suits protecting another two, one of which was holding a female airmen. The other airmen that had been in the room laid dead on the floor and the device was obviously active once again.
He barked at the soldiers to immediately open fire, staring at the man in the gold armor. He received a cruel smirk as the man's eyes glowed and the bullets hit some kind of orange energy barrier. The next moment the man turned around and activated the helm, turning around and walking through the portal as the American soldiers watched in fear and disbelief. A second after the last serpent guard passed through, the portal deactivated.
Hammond found himself walking forward, unable to believe that they had just been attacked without any warning. The device looked almost innocent in a way as it stood deactivated, the only sign that something had come through it were the bodies lying dead on the floor and the damage to the room.
February 2, 1997
Harry frowned heavily at the news that the stargate under the control of the US Air Force had been activated from off world. Apparently Jaffa with serpent uniforms had come through the gate and attacked several soldiers that had been playing a game of cards within the 'gate room.' The only Goa'uld who used that distinct uniform for his Jaffa was Apophis, which confused Harry. Apophis' territory was actually one of the closer ones to Earth, relatively speaking, but what could have possessed him to activate a stargate that had gone dormant nearly 10,000 years ago?
He was already preoccupied with the formation of a primitive government in conjunction with Merlin, the adult wizards, Aetius, and several less senior members of the Aurora's crew. It was heavily based off of the council on Atlantis, a group of people representing every facet of Lantean society and bringing the concerns of the whole to attention so that their leaders could make the appropriate decisions. There were representatives for the researchers, the artisans, the engineers, the medical professionals, and so on. Each of these representatives could prepare new laws and present them to the rest of the council, who would each consider the motion before voting on whether or not the ideas were sound. If the proposals were approved by the council, they would then be voted on by the entire adult population of Atlantis, including the members of the council. This pure democracy form of government wouldn't be able to last forever, of course, but at this moment with their population so ridiculously small, it made sense. When their numbers reached a certain threshold, they'd revisit the issue accordingly.
The council would meet once a month.
Harry, as the de-facto leader of the their people and its military would have the deciding vote should the decision end in a tie, and could also bring up his own proposals, but could not vote for them. He was also in charge of keeping the peace within meetings, in case tempers grew frayed.
Not that such a thing had happened yet, but all of these people were new to their positions, and would eventually grow comfortable enough with what they were able to do to start disagreeing more vehemently with one another. Harry was not looking forward to that day.
That, and the preparations that Harry had to make for a diplomatic meeting between him and the president of Novana, left him feeling a little strained with all the things that he had to do.
Colorado, Sheyenne mountain complex
Jack O'Neill followed General Hammond and Major Samuels as they both led him to the infirmary. It was odd, being back in this place a little over a year after the last time he had walked through these halls for what he thought was the last time. Of all the things in his long, mostly top secret career, traveling through the stargate to Abydos easily topped the list of craziest and most unbelievable.
He also didn't know Hammond at all, but the mixture of somberness and anger hidden in the man's eyes kept him from cracking a joke as he was often wont to do.
As soon as they appeared in the infirmary Dr. Warner pulled back a white sheet, showing a man with a strange X shaped cut across his abdomen.
"Anyone you know, Colonel?" The general asked him. The body laying on the table looked somewhat human physically, the only major difference was the X-shaped cut in his abdomen. O'Neill frowned minutely as he looked over the face. He wasn't familiar to him, not that he was all that surprised.
"They're not human." The doctor excitedly commented and O'Neill resisted the urge to roll his eyes.
The doctor ignored his obvious sarcasm and quickly continued. "Best we can tell, these slits are actually the opening to a pouch, similar to that found in a marsupial.
"Like a kangaroo." Major Samuels added helpfully. Jack almost rolled his eyes again. He may play the fool semi-frequently, but he wasn't that stupid or ignorant. He wouldn't have lived as long as he had if he was.
O'Neill bent closer to the body and absently heard the doctor mention that they had yet to do an autopsy.
"What happened?" O'Neill asked the room, but this was intended for the General.
"These people - or aliens, whatever you want to call them - came through the artifact, killed four of my people and kidnapped another using advanced weapons."
O'Neill's head cocked slightly in curiosity. "Weapons, sir?"
An officer hefted a very familiar looking weapon and handed it over to the General. Jack hid his surprise at seeing one of the staffs again, and Hammond passed the weapon to him. It felt heavier than he remembered.
"We can't figure out how to operate it." Samuels admitted ruefully, then his mouth opened wide as O'Neill easily flipped the activation switch and the head of the weapon split into four sections with a crackle of orange energy running along the edges. With a motion so smooth it seemed practiced, he touched the switch with his thumb again and deactivated the weapon.
The general was giving him a calculating look. "Seen one of those before, I take it?"
"Yes, sir." O'Neill replied as he gave the weapon back. His face showed a bit of confusion though as he added. "There were no creatures like this on Abydos. Those people were entirely human. From Earth. Ra brought 'em there thousands of years ago."
The general seemed irritable as he stated. "I know all about that. But your report said this "Ra" was in fact some kind of alien that lived inside a human body."
O'Neill nodded. "Yeah, his eyes glowed. That was our first clue."
The general stared at him thoughtfully. "You sure he's dead, Colonel?"
"Unless he can survive a tactical nuclear warhead blowing up in his face, positive. Why?" He asked half-joking. Hammond's face remained serious.
Somehow Jack didn't think he was going to like whatever the General had to say.
Jack hated being right.
Hammond had admitted that someone, who acted in a very similar way to reports of Ra, had come through the gate, capturing a female airman and leaving after killing every other airman in the room, but not before showing off his glowing eyes of doom. Of course, his guards were using armor with a Snake head motif instead of Eagles, but other than that the similarities between the two of them were uncanny.
The general had been less than amused when Jack admitted that he had not detonated the bomb on the planet's surface, as his report said he did, but rather detonated it in space by sending it up to Ra's starship.
And now he was being sent on a mission to investigate whether or not the snake-guards and their leader had come from Abydos. He wondered how the lovably infuriating linguist that was Daniel Jackson was doing living among the natives, and frowned slightly at the thought of him being killed by the snake-guards. He was glad that Jackson had returned his message via the Kleenex box, but if this so called god was attacking them, would he also attack Daniel's planet as well?
Absently he listened to Captain Carter babbling away at how amazing, scientifically speaking, the device was before he grew annoyed with her and shoved her into the active stargate. With a smirk he gave a signal and the rest of the group moved through the gate, several of them shaking their heads in amusement or exasperation, he wasn't sure.
The room looked just as he remembered it, especially the dust, and the sand. You couldn't have a creepy old temple without dust and sand...lots of it.
No wonder Jackson had been so grateful for the Kleenex. He had to be sneezing every time that he came in here.
Carter looked somewhat green from the trip through the gate, but quickly adapted, moving closer to the gate and the dialing device that controlled it.
A few moments after their arrival, a young boy appeared out of nowhere, pointing an Earth-made rifle at them. At least a dozen others came out from cover as well, eyes hard as they looked at him and his team suspiciously.
"Cha'hari! Cha'hari! Lower your guns." Jackson's familiar voice called, and the man himself appeared waving his arms slightly. The boys quickly pointed the guns down. Jack smiled as he saw the young man behind Jackson, moving past the doctor who looked slightly bewildered at being ignored before realizing who was behind him and shaking his head.
"Skarra." O'Neill murmured, smiling as the young man gave him a salute. He returned it and nearly crushed the young man in a hug, incredibly happy to see the person that so reminded him of his lost son.
"I did not think I would be seeing you again!" Skarra said clearly. O'Neill's eyebrow rose as he heard the near perfect English.
"You been giving them lessons, Daniel?" He asked half ironically. "Once a linguist always a linguist huh?"
Daniel rolled his eyes at the teasing, but didn't deny it.
"Welcome back, Jack." He said, his tone sounding like he wasn't sure if it was a good or bad thing that the military man was back.
Jack smirked a little at the lack of enthusiasm. "How you been doing Daniel?"
Daniel shrugged a bit. "Uh...pretty good, you?"
Jack gave a half shrug as his lips twitched. "Much better, now that I can see that everybody's okay."
Later, after a local meal and tasting the questionable liquor that Daniel denied having any part in making; the chronically allergic archeologist led them to a temple in the middle of the desert, explaining as he went. Ferretti and a few of the others were left behind to hold the fort.
Carter was stuck between bouncing on her feet at the idea of countless new addresses for the Stargate to reach and a bit chagrined that she and the team of scientists that had been working on the gate had not thought of the Doppler shift.
"This has to be the archeological find of the century!" Carter gushed, her eyes wide as she looked around the dusty temple walls, the symbol of Ra especially prevalent at the end of the room.
"It's a map." Daniel explained after much babbling between the two intellectuals about sets of seven symbols. He and Carter then engaged in some kind of strange geek session that Jack mostly tuned out in favor of looking around the room some more.
Eventually, Carter came to the conclusion that the aliens that attacked the SGC could have come from anywhere in the galaxy.
In the pyramid housing the gate, the soldiers and civilians that Daniel and his group had left behind were all sitting around the campfire enjoying themselves. Ferretti smiled at the antics of Skarra and one of his friends as the both of them and Sha're were laughing. She gave Skarra a playful shove before walking away primly, acting upset.
"You've got to give Daniel credit," he mused. "She's one beautiful woman."
His companion nodded, before stiffening in alarm as the gate started to activate.
The soldiers quickly jumped to their feet while the natives around the fire panicked and ran away from the now active device.
Ferretti and his men quickly hid themselves behind pillars, holding their weapons ready and trying to calm their racing hearts. Ferretti could hear some of the children whimpering in fear nearby.
The wormhole engaged and almost immediately people wearing snake-suits came through firing their staff weapons.
Ferretti watched painfully as three of the Abydonian boys were mercilessly killed as they tried to run out of the room and a hard look crossed his face. He gestured to his men and they opened fire on the snake-heads, their bullets doing very little against their armor. He saw one of his men go down and kept on firing, knowing that the man was already dead.
Several other Abydonians fell firing their earth made rifles, not having the training in evasion and firing that Ferretti and his men did. Several more of the snake-men came through the gate and followed their fellows in firing on the defending force. Ferretti ducked behind a pillar as a staff blast hit it, a small chunk of stone flying out and striking him in the head.
He fell to the ground in a daze, watching as a golden figure in the same snake-suit appeared in the gate before it deactivated. Moments after he came through the gate the room was silent, the soldiers and boys defending either dead or dying.
Ferretti heard shouting from Sha're and Skarra before his unfocused eyes saw them being brought up to the gate by one of the serpent men. A short conversation later, the golden snake man attacked both of the captive natives with a stream of glowing energy from a glove on his hand. Once that was done, he turned to the gate and started dialing an address. Ferretti did his best to stare at the device, knowing that if there was any chance of chasing after the bastard he would need to know where he was going. The snake-men trailed through the gate after their leader and the chamber was silent once more. Seconds later, Ferretti fell unconscious.
Jack's face was set in stone as he prepared to lead a group of men, including Captain Carter and the ever troublesome Daniel Jackson to the address that Ferretti had given them.
Even though his face was somewhat calm, beneath the surface he was a roiling mass of both anger and fear. Anger that someone would take Skarra away from him. Fear that both the young man and Daniel's lovely wife were dead.
Though his soldiers were very well trained, he remembered all too well what happened to them when Ra's ship first appeared on Abydos. If he wasn't careful he would most definitely cause not only his death, but their deaths as well.
He could not fail them.
Harry stood cloaked not five meters away from the group of soldiers preparing to disembark through the gate.
He could understand their drive, the overwhelming desire to retrieve their people, but he also did not think that it would end well for them. Not when they were so ignorant and at such a disadvantage technologically.
After a moment he snorted, remembering what had happened the last time someone had underestimated these resourceful soldiers. They managed to kill Ra, after all, the Supreme System Lord who had ruled the galaxy for ten thousand years.
Still, Ra had been arrogant after ruling for so long, and had nowhere near the amount of forces on that planet that he could have brought to bear when the Earthers traveled there in 1995. Apophis alone easily had a hundred times the forces in ships and jaffa on one of his capital worlds. It was mostly pure dumb luck that Ra only had a single ship with him when he visited the backwater Abydos.
Harry sighed to himself, and decided to give them just a little bit of help. He created a projection surrounding him for about a meter before having the ship in orbit build a portable translator and beam it down. Once that was done, he had it shift out of phase and float over to where the archeologist was standing. No doubt the members of the expedition would be confused by the ability to suddenly speak to everyone, but at least it would give them a better chance to stay alive.
He learned later that they had failed to bring the people they had been trying to save back, but inexplicably had managed to convince Apophis' First Prime, named Teal'c, to rebel against his master and go back to Earth with them.
Harry just shrugged to himself and returned his attention to the reports coming to him from the different sectors of Paradise. He was terribly happy that the level of technology that his race possessed allowed him to complete the 'paperwork' much faster.
Harry watched in interest at the appearance of Novana upon exiting hyperspace, now that the Goa'uld were not attacking it. The amount of orbital infrastructure was on a level far beyond the drone and ZPM facilities he had in orbit of Paradise. Even with the addition of the shipyards, the sheer amount of orbital weaponry and even civilian infrastructure in orbit of the planet made it somewhat difficult to see the surface of the planet by line of sight.
There was also a greatly increased presence of warships in the space surrounding the planet compared to the last time he had been here and his sensors detected a large number of shipyards working on producing many more vessels.
The Goa'uld attack had deeply shaken the people of the planet, and from what his probes had recorded of this people's history, the attack on their planet would make them vulnerable to the other nation-planets and moons within the solar system.
As such they had dramatically increased their production of warships along with recruitment for their navies, to both appear stronger than they were and to prepare for future attacks. It was a sad state of affairs that people sharing a common history and heritage on the same planet of origin would end up being so hostile to one another.
Harry wondered briefly if he should meet with these other nations as well, before sighing and making a note of it on his ever expanding list of things to do.
In comparison to their ships and infrastructure, the M-Hermes class ship was sleek and alien. Due to the advanced nature of its construction it appeared to be a solid piece of metal, unlike the more blocky and welded together look of the structures and ships in orbit.
Harry was here to hammer out the details of a protectorate treaty with the help of one of the Aurora's onboard diplomats, Andreus. The man was rather short and slender, but the captain vouched for him, stating that despite his appearance, he was a ferocious negotiator with an uncanny ability to reach agreements, one of the very best of the diplomatic corp Atlantis had in its ranks at the time of its fall. In fact this was part of the reason that he had been with the Aurora when they had been forced to place themselves in stasis. He had been assigned to the ship for the duration of their fact-finding mission just in case they would need to purchase the information from another race.
By nature, Harry was more of a loner, thinking that he always needed to be doing things by himself because of his need to be completely independent in his younger years. Merlin was growing increasingly irritated with his need to do everything by himself, and as such, Harry was making a concerted effort to try to work with others more often. It was especially necessary for his position in leadership.
His brother Andrew was training himself every day, feeling a need to do something useful for their small civilization. Harry often wondered what his brother and the wizards could do for the New Lantean society, but short of them working with the scientists and members of the security force, he really didn't know what to do with them.
He knew that it was incredibly shortsighted of him, but even though the wizards were being accepted as Lanteans, their abilities, skill sets and lack of knowledge concerning anything technological still set them apart from the majority.
"Unidentified ship, this is Novana Orbital Control, state your business within this system or leave. If you do not comply, we will be forced to open fire."
Harry rolled his eyes slightly at the paranoia. "Harold Emrys and a diplomatic team representing the Lantean Republic meeting with the president for negotiations of alliance and possible trade."
There was no such republic, as their numbers didn't even qualify for a city. But the name sounded impressive enough. He'd have to bring up the issue at a future Council meeting to decide upon a name.
There was a short pause as the primitive radio waves, that he was forced to use for their benefit, traveled from his ship to the receiving panels on the defense force flagship, then to the ground in conference with the leaders of the planet. "Very well, a squadron of fighters will escort you to the planet's surface. Do not deviate from the course set by your escort or you will be destroyed." The channel closed and Harry rolled his eyes at the bravado necessary to make that kind of statement considering they knew such a thing was impossible. He stared out the window in an effort to see the fighters. A minute later and the promised squadron of fighters appeared, sixteen single pilot ships remarkably similar in appearance to Wraith Darts.
Harry mentally directed the ship to follow the fighters, leaning back in his chair and closing his eyes for a moment, gathering his thoughts for the upcoming meetings.
Their ship arrived on the landing pad provided to them with a ridiculous amount of fanfare. Both military and civilian aircraft were nearly clogging the airspace around the landing pad, eager to witness the arrival of an alien race. Harry choked on a laugh as he listened to some of the radio chatter, the people would surely be disappointed when they learned that he did not, in fact, have three heads or a single larger eye with bright, acid green skin. He did applaud them mentally for their imagination though.
To the many observers on the ground, the gleaming silver ship seemed to exude no visible thrust from its underside to control its descent, but it was clearly lowering itself in a remarkably controlled fashion. Even the air around the ship was mostly undisturbed.
Helo Farrel, president of the Novanian people, was waiting for them on the landing pad. As the elected civilian leader of the planet Novana, his presence was required.
Harry and Andreus, along with several members of the Lantean security forces, currently masquerading as additional diplomats, came forward once the ramp in the rear of the ship was open. They were all wearing the same protective armor that Harry had long ago first designed and wore near constantly, but the holographic projectors along the outside of the suit were doing an excellent job of imitating formal clothing. There was no real need to cause alarm or engender mistrust by wearing incredibly advanced combat armor after all.
As soon as they stepped off, the ramp silently folded back into the ship, the seams invisible to the naked eye.
"Novana welcomes the Lantean High Councilor and Arbiter Harold Emrys." The man said, a political smile on his face. In reality, Harry could easily feel through his empathic powers that the man was not exactly happy that he was here, but was hiding it for the cameras. He mentally shook his head; politicians (which he did not consider himself to be, regardless of his new position) were disgusting the galaxy over, most especially when they were acting out of fear, desperately trying to hold onto their power in the face of a perceived usurper. This man had been President during the attack on Novana, and was barely keeping a hold of his presidency due to the peace-time protocols he had put in place to lower the exorbitant spending on the defense fleet.
"We thank you for your welcome and extend the greetings and goodwill of all the Lantean people. Our people also extend our sympathies to those who have lost loved ones in the attack by the Goa'uld. All Lanteans grieve with thee." Harry replied solemnly and formally, his eyes boring into the President's, letting the man feel his overwhelming mental presence for a moment. "We truly hope that the talks between us may bear fruit and mutual benefit to both our peoples."
The President's fake smile remained on his face, but only Harry and to an extent some of the Lanteans with him could tell that it was false, that he now felt a bit intimidated by Harry. Harry could also tell that the President's discomfort with them was making several of the stronger empathic members of the Lantean security force a bit twitchy.
Farrel gestured toward a waiting shuttle at the other side of the landing pad and Harry moved forward gracefully, the long line of dignitaries, military and security forces reminding him of a similar meeting between him and the President of the Hebridanians several years ago.
"For the very last time, our reason for meeting and saving your people from enslavement and death was not to give you technologies that you are not ready for." Harry snapped out, his temper finally breaking.
For the past two and a half days the meeting between them had consisted of the Novanians asking, even at times commanding, and generally being annoying in asking for trades of technology. Any material thing that these people could possibly trade to him was literally useless to Harry, and he had said as much through Andreus, who could convey that in sufficiently obtuse and flowery diplomatic language as to not offend them, something which was far beyond what he was capable of at the moment. Andreus was once again attempting to impress upon them why they were saying no to their request for advanced technology.
"We know that your requests are motivated by fear, fear of the other races in this solar system as well as the Goa'uld, who you are afraid will come back to your planet. Our people know the pain of war as well from belligerent species. However, there is a very good reason that we cannot give your people advanced weapons and shielding technology. In fact the reason we say no is out of fear as well. In our people's long memory, we have known many species who were gifted with technology that they were not yet ready for. It invariably led to their own destruction. Giving you technology you are not ready for would destroy you just as surely as war with the Goa'uld would, yet this destruction would be at your own hands. We only protect you by denying your request, even if you are not yet wise enough to see this while fear blinds you." Andreus said rather eloquently, attempting to cover for Harry's temper, but Harry could feel that Andreus was also irritated, even if he wasn't showing it, some of the irritation was with him too, he thought.
His long experience in matters such as these would not allow such a breach of etiquette by losing his temper or showing anger. Andreus rightfully expected his leader to follow the same protocols. Harry sent a mental pulse of apology to the man and received a faint sense of exasperation in return, as well as acknowledgement.
"And what happens when they do come back then? We will have to wait for your people to come save us once again?" Farrel shot back.
"Let us explore the possibility, for a moment, that we did give your people the technology you are asking for, what would you do with it?" Andreus asked directly, changing tactics. The President only showed a moment of confusion at the turnaround before confidently stating that they would use it to strengthen their fleets.
"And when your fleets are strengthened by our technology, what then?" Andreus persisted, causing the President to frown, obviously trying to figure out why he was being asked this and what answer to give to appease the Lanteans.
"We will defend our home against anything that threatens it." Farrel replied.
"'Anything that threatens it.' How terribly vague. Vague enough, I suppose, to justify using it against virtually anyone. Perhaps even preemptively attacking another one of the nations of this solar system for instance?" Harry asked, seeing where Andreus had been going with this.
President Farrel's mouth opened and then closed for a second as he stopped to think. "We would only attack if given sufficient cause." He stated, trying to sound sincere, but for all his training in controlling his voice, his emotions clearly indicated that if his nation possessed these weapons, then they would most definitely use them to conquer the other nations of the solar system.
Harry shook his head. "Simply giving you the technology would without a doubt start a devastating war within this system." He raised a hand, giving the man an annoyed look as he tried to speak.
"However, you do raise a good point about waiting for us to defend your planet from more advanced races." Harry continued, glancing at Andreus and sending a burst of telepathy that told him to go along with it.
"So here is my proposal; we will build several unmanned defensive satellites in orbit of your planet and maintain them on our own, however..." He noticed that the President looked triumphant. "...these satellites will only defend your world from threats originating from outside of your solar system. The satellites will remain our sovereign property. They will further be programmed to destroy any vessel which attempts to seize control of them. Their dedicated shielding will similarly prevent any type of scans. If, for some reason, they are in danger of being captured, the satellites will self-destruct. Furthermore, the other powers in this system will be told that they cannot be used against them."
He smirked mentally as the president looked like someone had shot his most beloved puppy. He knew that the man would have tried to use the advanced weapons as a deterrent for enemy fleets, and thus would have been able to successfully attack and conquer the other foreign powers without worrying about them attacking his planet in retaliation.
"In exchange for these defensive satellites, you will have your most elite troops and trainers teach twenty of our people about your combat tactics, methodologies, and philosophies of warfare." Harry smiled benignly at the now fuming man that was hiding his anger behind his cheerful mask. In his opinion this was actually a good trade, of mutual benefit to both their peoples. His people had grown complacent in matters of war and combat over millions of years of peace, assured of their near invulnerability through their more advanced technology. They truly believed that their ships and technology could defeat anything, and because they had forgotten the basic strategies and cold hard realities of warfare, the Wraith had soundly trounced them after many years of war. Learning how other races engaged in combat and warfare would be invaluable. Races like the Novanians did not have the same advantages that they did in terms of technology; they were forced to come up with efficient and innovative tactics, methodologies and strategies to win. The Lanteans reliance on overwhelming firepower and higher technology would not serve them well always. The Wraith had capitalized on that. The Novanians would have a much different perspective on how to fight. This was something they desperately needed.
Finally, asking for the tactics of the Novanians would likely be seen as a fair payment for what they offered, a way to save face and not appear weak, as no nation liked to give up its military secrets or training to another.
The President smoothed his expression before responding. "I will need to discuss this with both the military and public forums before making a final decision."
Or you just want to put off the only decision you can make to appear strong, even though the alternative is your possible total destruction. Harry thought derisively, before nodding in seemingly pleased acceptance and taking a dodecahedron shaped device slightly smaller than his fist from Andreus. This device was coincidentally, absolutely impervious to reverse engineering and scanning. The Novanians would not be learning anything from it.
"This is a communication device. You may use it to contact us when your people have reached a decision; simply touch the surface of the device with the intent to reach us and we will send our representatives to finish the deal between our two civilizations." He handed the device to the president who took it somewhat warily, but was eying it with interest. He sharply nodded. "Very well."
He gestured toward one of the men guarding the door and received a crisp salute before the man left the room. A few minutes later the man returned with a spherical object hovering above a stand. Harry eyed the crystalline structure appreciatively, taking in the intricate designs and symbols inscribed over its surface. It was a beautiful piece of art, and hand-crafted as well, that much he could tell.
Harry felt his opinion of the man (or perhaps his diplomatic staff) rise slightly in his choice of gift. Despite Lantean society not being overly materialistic, it was commonly expected that leaders of sovereign planets or organizations would exchange small gifts after diplomatic meetings. The man had obviously realized that anything technological as a gift would not be truly appreciated, so had gone for an artistic piece from the planet's finest artisans instead.
"The Novanian people cannot thank the Lantean Republic enough for assisting us in our hour of need. We truly hope that this small token of our gratitude may at least express some of that feeling." The president spoke carefully.
"The Lantean Republic accepts your most gracious gift, and we hope that the progress made here today is a sign of a long, productive relationship between our two peoples." Andreus returned this sentiment with a polite smile. He sensed that Harry was pleased with the gift, even if he hadn't wanted one in the first place.
The president and his entourage followed them into the transport shuttle, and not ten minutes later they were arriving at the landing pad for the M-Hermes that they had arrived in.
Harry mentally shook his head in amusement at the oversaturated airspace around his ship. These people were very curious by nature, that was rather obvious.
Harry frowned as he learned that the SGC had sealed the mountain due to the presence of a virus that somehow de-evolved them. The things the Air Force kept on stumbling into by accident...
He grumbled to himself before traveling to Earth and placing a barrier around the mountain that would keep any pathogens inside. The SGC could do the rest; they had gotten themselves into this mess, they'd get out of it on their own too.
Joshua ignored his parents conversation as he listened to the small mp3 player he received from them for Christmas last year. One of his friends had given him a few Green Day albums after he helped him with several of the math assignments their class had been given. The assignments were beyond easy for him thanks to all the things he had learned from Harry's tablet, which unfortunately, he didn't have with him because his parents had forced him to leave it at home.
Joshua was ignoring them at the moment because he hadn't even wanted to go to the stupid fair in the first place, and had told his parents that he was not going to enjoy it at all. He wouldn't admit it to them, but he had really enjoyed it, and so he kept on ignoring his parents to keep up the facade that he did not. Youth had its own logic after all.
He closed his eyes and hummed along with the tune of 'Minority.' A bright light came across his face and he opened his eyes to glare at the offending object. He heard his father curse as he opened his eyes, only to see the terrifying vision of an eighteen wheeler meters away from crashing head-long into their car at high speed.
There was a deafening screech of metal, overwhelming pain, and then Joshua knew no more.
It took only a little under ten minutes for emergency services to respond and they did so rather admirably. The front of the car was crumpled like a tin can, and several of the workers offered murmured prayers for whoever had been in the front while attempting to cut open the back door, seeing the unconscious, yet alive and wounded child in the backseat.
Carefully, they set to work cutting open the door. A stretcher was brought out while the EMTs did their best to stabilize the boy before loading him into the ambulance and heading for the hospital. Several of them felt pity for the boy. Even if he survived the shock of his injuries, the loss of his parents would be crippling to the thirteen-year-old.
Harry looked sadly at the boy lying on the bed, his eyes tinged red from crying.
Joshua's family had been involved in a horrible car crash two days ago, and he wouldn't have even known if a neighbor that once babysat the boy hadn't retrieved the tablet for when Joshua woke up. Harry had come as soon as the tablet had registered Joshua's condition, but it was far too late to heal Dan and Helen, as they had been killed on impact and their brains devoid of any activity for over 40 hours. Even if he healed the remains of their bodies, their minds would have been unsalvageable.
The heated room felt so cold against his skin at the realization that people that he had loved and cherished were gone now. He would never hear Helen laugh or make another one of her ridiculous inane comments. He would never see Dan shouting at the television whenever the Miami Dolphins failed to execute a play properly.
And Joshua...his spine had suffered terrible damage from the crash. It was taking every ounce of his self-discipline to keep from healing the boy in an instant. Only knowing how suspicious that would be and how difficult it'd be to cover up was holding him back.
Despite how much Dan and Helen's deaths hurt him, Harry knew that his pain would be nothing like that of Joshua's once he woke up. A part of him wanted to lie to the boy, to say that his parents were only injured, but that would only give the boy false hope and make the eventual loss even worse.
As far as he knew, Harry was the only person that Joshua had left. There was no way in hell that he would let the boy be placed into the foster care system, but Harry was also worried that a revelation of how different he really was from everyone else would cause the boy's mind to snap.
Harry shivered again, looking around the room in discomfort. He hated this place. There was so much pain and misery in this part of the hospital and it made him feel nauseous.
The low beeping sound from the heart monitor started to increase in pace. Harry looked at the wrapped-up boy with the diagnostics of his suit and determined that he was waking up.
Harry sat down in the stiff backed wooden chair in the corner of the room, then picked it up and moved it so that he would be within the boy's immediate line of sight once he woke up, but not too close to the boy either.
Joshua opened his eyes slowly, almost instantly shutting them at the brightness of the room. Harry quickly got up and turned down the lights, putting a soft comforting smile on his face as he sat back down.
Joshua blearily opened his eyes again. His head felt fuzzy from the copious amounts of painkilling drugs that had been pumped into his system.
When his eyes cleared he looked around the now-darkened room, spotting Harry sitting in a chair not too far away.
"You came to see me?" He asked, beyond happy that Harry had come to visit him despite being in the hospital. Harry gave him a soft smile and scooted closer on the chair, holding Joshua's hand gently.
"I came as soon as I heard." He replied, still cursing himself for not having placed a tracker that would have let him know of Joshua's condition sooner. If he had, then Joshua would likely still have his parents.
Harry was unsure of what to do about this situation. Joshua had no clue about his parents' deaths, and he didn't want to be the one to break it to the boy. At the same time, he couldn't just let the doctors do it; they wouldn't be able to comfort him.
The little literature he had found on consoling a young teenager was not very helpful. Harry was incredibly mature for his age, but Joshua had not had the life and upbringing he did, and though he insisted that his parents were annoying, he was still deeply attached to them, as almost all children were.
Harry let out a deep breath. He couldn't wait for Joshua to get better before telling him, he needed the boy to know as soon as possible.
Joshua frowned as Harry's smile turned sad, as if there was something bad that happened.
"Harry, where are Mom and Dad, are they still hurt?" He asked softly.
Harry suppressed a flinch and shook his head, his throat tight. ""I'm truly sorry Joshua, but they didn't survive the crash." He murmured, holding onto Joshua's hand.
Joshua's eyes widened in fear, betrayal, disbelief, and a myriad of other emotions; experiencing them empathically was heart wrenching. "You're lying, they can't be dead. They can't!"
Tears leaked down Harry's cheeks as he swallowed. "I'm so sorry Joshua." He whispered hoarsely, and the boy began crying as well, cries of denial leaving his lips as he tried to move around, then cried out again as his back flared from the pain.
Harry quickly used his telekinesis to hold the injured boy in place, knowing that he could aggravate his current injuries if he didn't hold him still. It didn't seem necessary though, that brief stab of intense pain had been enough to keep Joshua from moving further on his own.
Harry's hand stroked Joshua's softly; he wished that he could just gather Joshua in his arms and hug him. After several minutes Joshua fell asleep out of sheer exhaustion, tear tracks marking his cheeks. Harry gently wiped them off, keeping his own at bay.
After weeks of recovery from the crash, Joshua was well enough to attend his parents' funeral in a wheelchair.
The funeral was a small affair as there was no family to speak of. Harry didn't know the whole story but there was some kind of bad blood between Joshua's father and his maternal grandfather that caused a rift between the family, and his paternal grandparents were already dead. The boy literally had no relatives to take him in.
Joshua was wearing a conservative suit, his eyes suspiciously shiny, but stubbornly not showing any tears. Harry stood beside him, offering his silent support as the ceremony continued, the voice of the pastor washing over ears that didn't really hear the words being spoken.
The boy had been moving through the last few days in a trance, eating his meals and doing his homework for school, but Harry knew that inside the boy felt dead, as if there was nothing else left for him. He had been helping him get around, suspending anything else that was going on in Paradise and having Merlin take over his duties for the time being.
Once the ceremony finished, the limousine dropped them off at the inn Harry had been staying at this entire time. Harry gently pushed the wheelchair forward, guiding them to his room.
"Joshua." He murmured, pulling out a chair and sitting down next to him. The teen looked at him blankly, his eyes not seeming to see him, but rather an event deep in the past.
"Joshua!" Harry spoke more forcefully, lightly grabbing ahold of the teen's shoulder and shaking it to get his attention.
"What?" Joshua glared at him, but Harry wasn't having any of that. He knew the boy was sad, but he needed to talk to the boy about his future and his nervousness at the coming conversation was making Harry a little testy.
"I need to talk to you about something important, ok?" He said, staring directly into the teen's eyes. Joshua leaned back slightly at the fervor in his gaze, but he nodded all the same.
"Ok. First off, what I am about to show you might scare you, but I promise that it will not hurt you, ok?" He explained, barely keeping a lid on his nervousness.
Joshua watched with wide-eyes as the pillows on the bedspread lifted up by themselves, nothing that he could see holding them up.
And then, a strange feeling went through his head before he heard Harry speaking. "Pretty amazing, huh?" But Harry's lips were not moving.
Joshua tensed, trying to move backwards. "How the hell are you doing that?'"
Harry felt the spike of fear and backed off as well, smile dimming slightly. "I am not entirely human Joshua, and neither are you."
A scoffing laugh escaped Joshua's lips before he could stop it. This had to be some kind of trick. Harry was just trying to cheer him up or distract him or something.
The laugh froze as he saw the dead serious expression on Harry's face.
"You can't be serious!" Joshua's voice was a strange mix between a denial and deadpan.
"I am serious Joshua, and I wanted to offer you a chance to be with your people, with our people." Harry spoke soothingly.
"You're crazy! I don't believe you!"
I wonder what he will think when he sees Earth from orbit. Harry thought.
"I can prove it to you Joshua, if you'll let me." Harry said softly.
Joshua looked unsurely at him. Harry had always been a sort of brother figure to him, and he had not once done anything that would hurt him or his family. But the levitating thing was really freaky, and Harry was saying that he could do something like that?
"Fine." He grumbled, still believing that this was some kind of huge joke on him .
Harry beamed them both onto the M-Hermes in orbit, and was not disappointed in Joshua's reaction. Joshua stood slack jawed for over a minute, his brain trying to deal with the impossibility that he was seeing in front of him.
"What the hell?" It seemed like the boy had finally regained his wits, clumsily turning the wheelchair toward him with accusing eyes.
"Our people left descendants on Earth thousands of years ago when they married into the natives." He said, gesturing toward the planet's surface.
"Before that, they had lived all over the galaxy, and had been one of the most powerful races in this section of the universe." He explained. Joshua simply stared at him, his eyes flickering toward the blue and green globe beneath them.
"I was afraid of telling you and your parents. I…I thought that you would all reject me, call me crazy, and so I pretended to be a normal human." He said, before raising up his hands and making them glow with a golden light. Joshua stiffened, but did not move back yet.
"Do you trust me Joshua?" Harry asked softly.
Joshua wanted to say no, to say that he was crazy, but they had literally been teleported from a hotel to a starship in outer space for crying out loud! And despite Harry hiding this from him, deep inside he knew that Harry would never do anything to hurt him or ...his family.
"Yes." He whispered softly, and Harry smiled before stepping forward, his hands touching each shoulder. Joshua felt a surge of warmth not unlike swimming underwater in a heated pool, and it flooded through his body, making him feel relaxed and painless.
A few seconds later and the glow was gone. Harry smiled at him mischievously before gently pulling him out of the chair. Joshua stumbled, about to yell at Harry for doing something so stupid, when he realized that there was no pain in his body, and though his legs were unsteady, they could still support his weight somewhat.
Harry was surprised when Joshua slammed into him with a flying hug, landing on his back and groaning a little at the weight on top of him.
"Thankyouthankyouthankyouthankyou…" Joshua murmured over and over again, and Harry got the both of them up.
"Now, do you want to meet everyone else?" He asked.
Joshua nodded with a slight amount of hesitation, which Harry noted. "You can still come back here whenever you want Joshua, I won't keep you from your home planet."
"Isn't it yours too?" Joshua asked, trying to hide his discomfort with the thought of leaving.
Harry smiled wistfully. "Not anymore..." He stated, trailing off before he shook his head. "Now, I want you to watch closely, you're going to love this part."
Joshua tensed as he felt a low hum build up in the ship around them. Before he could ask what was going on, a green-blue vortex opened in front of the ship, which accelerated and then lurched forward into the hole in space.
"Whoa." He murmured, staring at the massive tunnel like structure that had formed around them, lines of blue seeming to run parallel to the ship.
"It's pretty awesome, isn't it?" Harry asked with a hint of amusement in his voice.
Joshua stared at him. "How..."
Harry shook his head in amusement, ruffling the teen's hair a little. Joshua scowled at him again. "If you stay with us, you can learn anything that we know, including how hyperspace works."
The teen looked pensive, and Harry understood. "If you want, you only have to stay here for a few days, You can then go back to Earth, it is your decision."
Joshua looked at him with an expression that seemed unsure of what to express. Fear, happiness, confusion, excitement, and a jumble of additional emotions that Harry was having trouble differentiating.
They came out of hyperspace after only a minute of travel, long enough for Joshua to experience the journey, but short enough that he would not become impatient.
He stared out the window at the sight of the jungle-covered planet, various stations and production facilities visible to the naked eye even from orbit.
"Welcome to Paradise Joshua." Harry spoke softly.
It wasn't that hard for Joshua to make a decision to stay.
After three days of living among the people of this place, he felt...safe, somehow.
Of course, he still missed his parents terribly, but he had very few friends at school, and he didn't have any family that he was really connected to except for Harry.
Harry was incredibly happy when he said he wanted to stay, a vibrant smile crossing his face before he grabbed Joshua by the arm and started introducing him to everyone.
By the end of that day Joshua was exhausted, and barely heard Harry say something about schooling before he fell asleep.
Jack was still a little uncomfortable after coming back from the Nox Homeworld. Dying and being brought back to life can certainly do that to you.
There was also the fact that the Nox were scary smart; seeing the floating city that was completely hidden from view made it pretty obvious to him.
Was this going to happen to them every time they met an alien race? Would they always be so far behind them?
He hoped not, if only for the sake of his people's safety.
"Let this Council meeting come to order." Harry spoke, a commanding tone in his voice. The mantle of leadership had settled nicely on his shoulders.
The council table was shaped like a circle, the surface of the table made of a luminescent white crystal that you wouldn't be able to tell was embedded with copious amounts of technology. Harry sat in his position as the Arbiter and High Councilor of Atlantis, his chair slightly higher and more ornate so that the other Councilors could see him clearly. He also served as the Supreme Commander of the Lantean Fleet and military. The Lanteans had long ago recognized that a military commander could not work by committee or timely respond to changing situations if he'd need to call a Council session each time a decision was required. As such his powers were broad when it came to such matters.
Merlin sat on his right and Aetius on his left, and the various representatives of Lantean society sat with none appearing to be higher in status than the other besides Harry himself.
"I am sure that all of you are aware by now of the young boy from Earth that is now living with us now." Harry began, noting several frowns. Though they hadn't been hostile to the idea of Harry bringing in someone that shared their genes, they were somewhat bothered that the boy's mind and body had essentially been changed into those of a Lantean by accident, never mind that it had been Harry that did it. No one was quite sure how it had happened yet either.
"I am also sure you know we will soon be joyously welcoming several new people into our society in a few months." He added, nodding happily at the representative for the vocal arts, whose stomach held a gentle swell to it as evidence of her pregnancy. She was one of over a dozen pregnancies in Paradise that had been confirmed since he had rescued the members of the Aurora, a quite high percentage considering the small size of their population.
"I would like to reveal a project to the Council that I am quite embarrassed to admit slipped my mind with the craziness that has been going on lately." He offered with a sheepish smile, receiving a few grins in return. He gestured with his hand and a holographic projection of a blue-white A-class star appeared above the council table.
"On the planet that I was born, there was once a visionary scientist, a theoretical physicist specifically, that came up with an interesting theory. The theory was that any sufficiently advanced extraterrestrial civilization could, over the course of millions of years, envelope its system's sun in a physical shell, one which would allow that civilization to harness the full energy output of that sun for their own gain. This shell would provide that civilization with all the power it could ever require."
He paused to let them take it all in, seeing a few thoughtful nods, before he continued. "When I was younger, I began such a project for our people using the temporal dilation technologies that Moros himself created to speed up the process…well, relatively speaking that is." Chuckles were heard round the Council table at his little joke concerning the relativistic properties of a temporal dilation field as opposed to normal space time in synch with the rest of the universe. You really needed to be there…and be Lantean. The picture shifted again, now showing that nearly a third of the sun was obscured completely by interconnected hexagonal plates. Murmurs of awe and excitement from the more scientifically minded of the council members moved around the room as Harry zoomed into the image, showing the covered surface in far more detail.
"While I admit that my original desire for the shell was to provide all the power requirements we'd ever need to fabricate ships and other materiale, the sheer size of the shell gives us many possible opportunities."
"I now look to this project for something more, for the future of our people. A place for our race to finally put down roots, a place of sanctuary, to be protected against whatever forces may try to destroy us now and in the future."
He stopped speaking, waiting for someone else to criticize his idea.
Luposis, the representative for Lantean health, was the first to speak up. "Putting aside for a moment the sheer size of this object, would it really be in our best interests to move our population to such a place? We have Atlantis, why would we need to move our population to a place that could be dangerous?"
"I am assuming that you are referring to the sun itself as being the danger Councilor?" Merlin asked, or Moros as he went by during the council meetings, spoke up.
"Yes, all it would take is some mistake with the time manipulation technology or something happening on the inside of the shell, and the sun could go supernova, taking our entire civilization with it in one event." The man said decisively.
"I do not believe that we would be in danger from such a place. If there is one thing I know about our Arbiter and High Councilor, it is that he is quite meticulous when it comes to decisions that could greatly harm us. After all, he was the one who successfully planned and executed the complete destruction of the Wraith, our long-time enemies and the ones who defeated our brethren, driving them from our home in Atlantis. He spent years to be certain that nothing could go wrong before acting. This is all the more impressive considering his young age."
Harry nodded in thanks to the representative for transportation and travel(though there was little the man had to do at the moment considering that their entire population was living in a single settlement and travel options were rather limited). "First, if there was ever the slightest chance of such an event, then it would be relatively easy to place some failsafes in the sphere itself, perhaps a time field that greatly decreases the interior time expenditure in comparison to the exterior or an inner energy shield surrounding the sun's corona to prevent anything from entering it or affecting the sun itself? Both plans can be worked on by our scientists."
"There is also another system in place to prevent the star from going supernova. As you all know, a blue-white A-class star already has the fuel necessary to maintain itself for billions of years before it cools, without any intervention from us. We already have the technology in place within the sphere to add or remove fuel from the sun through beaming in order to maintain the star's stability. Our sensors will constantly monitor the star's stability to prevent events like a premature supernova. Solar flares and such events are expected and our technology would absorb the power behind them."He added, before changing the image again.
This time the sun was completely obscured by metal, and the material was far thicker, 600 kilometers thick to be precise. "I have here a model of what the finished shell would look like." The image zoomed in and rotated before showing a cut-away image of the inside of the shell.
"There are four distinct types of cells planned for the finished shell." He said, the slideshow shifting to an image of a tall grey tower reaching into the heavens as seen from ground level. "Each cell is an extension of the original cells that you saw before, only with material added onto its surface. "The first type of cell would be the capacitor cell. This type of cell would store the excess energy collected from the sun by the solar collectors on the interior while also channeling just enough heat from the collectors to simulate a planetary environment capable of supporting life."
"Excuse me Arbiter, but are you suggesting that the interior of this shell will simply be a massive landmass created by the solar collectors?" Another counselor broke in.
Harry gave the man a slightly aggravated look for interrupting him, but he nodded in answer to the question. "The capacitor cells will be scattered evenly throughout the interior of the sphere, separated from each other by at least 40 million kilometers(1)."
"Now, the second kind of cell structure and the most useful to us at this moment in time, would be the shipyards." The room watched with rapt attention as twelve hexagonal spaces appeared around the power cells, not unlike a honeycomb. "Twelve shipyards will be located around a single capacitor cell, taking advantage of the stored energy."
"Given the size of each shipyard, I would estimate that each shipyard would be able to produce approximately 50 M-Ares class ships, as currently designed, every 80 days once fully operational, though once we learn to increase the factor of the time dilation then it will be much faster. In the future, these shipyards will be able to produce any kind of new ship design we come up with, even perhaps ones for our people's use for pleasure purposes or ships for pure scientific exploration. The sphere can provide our people with limitless power. Avenues of scientific innovation we never conceived of before will be within our grasp. I even envision a day, my fellow Councilors, in the not so distant future when our fabrication technology could take a ship as we've designed it, and simply 'beam' a fully completed ship into existence! We've never explored such a possibility with our matter/energy technology as we never before had the unimaginable power requirements instantly available for such a large and obviously complex project like a starship would be."
Murmurs of excitement and enthusiasm once again broke across the room. The scientists in the room had strange little smiles on their faces, their eyes glazed over in deep thought at the possibilities they had never dreamed of before.
"Regardless of whether we can build these ships, or how fast, just who is going to pilot all of these ships?" Luposis asked again. "We do not have anywhere near the manpower necessary to staff this many ships or the infrastructure to run and support a Navy with multiple fleets."
Harry grumbled mentally before turning his attention back to the man. "As I already mentioned in previous Council sessions, I designed this class of ship specifically for war, to require very little in the way of maintenance by a crew, or any crew at all, although the ship is designed to support a small crew if we desired. Thanks to our ability to mentally control the ships remotely, from a great distance, there would be no risk for any of our people to fight with them."
"What other structures will be present on the surface of the sphere?" Merlin asked, trying to move the meeting along and keep it productive.
"The vast majority of the spheres will be covered in living habitats, capable of supporting incredibly varied climates and terrains to create a natural ecosystem with cloned animals and plant life. These habitats will be shielded from any excess solar radiation that is not collected by the solar collectors."
More murmurs could be heard in response to this answer, then the Councilor for Transportation spoke up, albeit this time somewhat hesitantly. "Why would we need so much plant and animal life on an artificial super structure like this?"
"The non-scientific answer would be so that we can have a natural climate instead of an artificial one, but my answer would also be so that the sphere would have a sense of beauty to it instead of a seemingly endless, dull grey expanse. This sphere and its environments must serve our people long into the future, and thus must be adaptable."
"And the final type of structures?" Another counselor asked.
"City cells. Based vaguely off of the design of Atlantis, though much larger in scale and more adaptable, more green spaces, etc. There is currently only one such city being planned, located at the highest 'northern' point of the sphere. Though I envision many of our people choosing to live in the various environments of the Sphere, at least for a time, during their long lives."
That made some sense, given that their population was so low that there would be no point in having multiple cities.
"Are there any other questions?" Harry asked.
"When is this sphere scheduled for completion?"
Harry thought for a moment. "The project was started on October 17th 1992. From that day it was thought to take approximately nine earth-years to complete, so five years or so from today in real time. In relativistic temporal terms, when the sphere is completed, it will have taken more than 2.7 million years in time dilation to complete."
The room went quiet at such a huge amount of time. "Are there any other questions or comments for the proposal, that of the migration of our people to this location?"
Another counselor spoke up. "Though the amount of space these sphere's contain is impressive, what need would we really have for this much space? Even if every member of our current population was cloned a thousand times over, we would not even need to expand further than the single city you were planning. To me, having such a large amount of space is wasteful and impossible to manage." He stated decisively.
Harry looked at him and nodded his head slightly in acknowledgement of the rather valid point that was being made.
"It is true that the amount of space on the surface of this sphere is far more than we could conceivably use in even a hundred generations. However, this sphere is meant to be a proper home for our people until the end of the universe itself, our sanctuary. Our race has been forced to flee from its home far too many times in its history; first from oppression, then from disease, and finally from war. I am tired of seeing our people, the oldest and most accomplished race in the known universe, being forced to flee for our lives over and over again!" His voice reached a crescendo as he related the low points of their history, vowing that he would do all that he could, be as ruthless as needed to ensure that his people prospered.
He gestured back to the image of the sphere.
"Countless AI and Lantean controlled defense systems of drones and pulse weapons will be added to the outside surface of the sphere, protecting it from any hostile race that would try to take it for themselves. Energy absorbing armor based on our current warships will cover it entirely, a hundred meters thick and capable of automated self repair.
Its shields will be overlapping, powered directly by the continuous energy output of the sun itself, and if necessary, the excess energy stored within the capacitor towers placed throughout the surface of the sphere. The only possible way to deactivate or penetrate the shields would be to overload the emitters through continuous overwhelming fire, though as the number of regenerative shield emitters number in the millions, it would take firepower equivalent to a hundred supernova every second bombarding the shields for over an hour to weaken the shields enough in any one section to penetrate. I doubt many races have weaponry capable of doing that much damage, we certainly don't. And even if they did, their ships' shields would need to be simultaneously strong enough to weather the powerful weapons systems we would bring to bear, to defend the sphere."
He paused for a moment, letting that information sink in.
"Finally, large doorways, or portals if you prefer, can be opened on the surface of the sphere, allowing our warships and fighters to pass through its shields, even while up, during an attack. Only our ships will be able to do so, as the shields will only allow very specific frequencies to pass through them."
Harry's face was lightly flushed after his passionate description of the sphere's defensive capabilities. He had gone a bit off topic with the description of its defenses, but he felt that it also reinforced his point that it would protect their people from any race that would try to drive them out of their home once again. "Are there any other arguments against using the sphere as the future home of our people?"
No one said anything. "Then let us vote on whether or not we should bring this to the public forums for our people to decide; so that we may move on to the next topic."
Five minutes later all the votes were cast. Harry, of course, abstained from the vote, as it was his idea.
Seventy five percent of the councilors agreed to the proposal. They would bring the idea to the Lantean people once the council session was over.
August 4, 1997
Hammond stared at the revolting weasel of a man in front of him with the same disgust he would give to stepping in dog shit.
Even if they were not from Earth, these people were still human, and should have the same basic rights of any human regardless of their origins.
But if Maybourne had the ear of the President there was nothing he could do about it. How he wished that there was something he could use to stop this, some kind of justification.
Harry received yet another urgent alert from one of the listening devices he had placed in the Cheyenne Mountain sighed in resignation as he was forced to turn away from his work once again to see what was wrong this time on Earth. He swore up and down that his ascended ancestors had to hate the SGC since they somehow managed to get into trouble so often. It wasn't natural!
After the first ten or so alerts that bothered him while working or soundly sleeping, Harry had finally grown exasperated with the system he had put in place and reconfigured how it worked and prioritized the alerts. Initially, he had been recording everything said in the briefing room in order to know what was happening on base. He soon realized, however, that listening to every conversation, no matter how informative, would take up a ridiculous amount of his time. To save time he continued to record everything, but had a primitive AI screen the information being recorded so that he would be notified only if there was something that would interest him or required his personal attention.
His eyes narrowed dangerously as he took in the information being relayed to him. He had been growing leery of the sheer amount of trouble that the SGC had been getting into as of late; that was true. He had thus far refrained from interfering in the previous situations he had learned about because he did not want to reveal himself and his people unless it was absolutely necessary. Knowledge of their existence would cause far too many problems. Helping the SGC out of every sticky situation would also hinder their growth as a people. The Lantean culture was quite big on allowing a people to become self sufficient while minimizing interference in a native culture's natural evolution.
However, that did not mean he would just turn a blind eye when they started enslaving advanced races to do their bidding and artificially advance themselves with stolen technology.
He quickly compiled a message to Merlin, who would report to the Council, before beaming himself to Paradise's gate room and dialing the gate for travel to Earth.
Hammond opened his mouth to speak, only to be interrupted by the sound of klaxons.
"Unscheduled off world activation. We have an unscheduled off world activation." Siler's voice came over the speakers and Hammond turned his back, glad that he didn't have to deal with Maybourne's request for at least a little while longer.
He stormed into the gate control room to see Sergeant Walter frantically tapping at the computer.
"What's wrong Sergeant?" he barked. It was then that he saw the iris protecting the gate seemingly slide open on its own.
"Sergeant!" He barked again. The gate technician turned around, hands trembling.
"I don't know what's going on sir; some kind of signal came through the gate and overrode the iris' control mechanisms. I can't close it!"
"Get some people down there and secure the room!" Hammond ordered, hiding his worry at the situation. "Lock down the base, no one gets in or out!" He ordered another airman.
Not even thirty seconds later soldiers bearing rifles and flack armor rushed into the gate room, forming defensive lines several meters away from the ramp. A few seconds later, a pair of figures walked through the gate. One was male, a young man, likely in his late teens. The second was female and looked to be in her mid-thirties. Both of them were wearing some form of skin-tight body armor that accentuated the shapes of their bodies. The suits were black and scaly looking, almost like snakeskin but obviously far more advanced.
The boy had a stormy expression on his face as he looked directly at the control room, completely dismissing the soldiers at the bottom of the ramp as no danger. The woman seemed less aggravated, but disapproval radiated from her body and facial expressions.
"I would like to speak to the leader of this installation." The boy said, no, commanded, in clear English with a slightly musical inflection to it.
Hammond narrowed his eyes. "How do I know that you will not attack me or anyone in this facility?"
The boy's eyebrow rose in a manner eerily similar to that of Teal'c. "If we had wanted to attack you then we would have sent an explosive device through the gate and vaporized this mountain; it's not like you were able to stop us from opening your 'iris' after all." He stated nonchalantly, still ignoring the soldiers as if their rifles were not trained on his heart.
Hammond assumed that the advanced looking armor covering their bodies was what was making them so confident. He backed away from the microphone and let out a low sigh. Sometimes he really did wish that he had retired before the gate had activated again. After a moment he leaned forward again and gave his approval for the requested talk. "Very well."
Jack opened his mouth to protest and Hammond gave him a firm glare."We need to see what these people want and deal with it Colonel!" he stated lowly before walking out of the room. Jack jerked his head toward the other members of his team before rolling his eyes and following the general out.
Maybourne and the rest of SG-1 quickly followed after him.
Harry waited impatiently for the blast doors to open.
When he had heard that the US government was about to enslave an advanced race solely to advance their technology and presumably make weapons, he was beyond furious. Merlin had quickly reacted to his message, convincing him to calm down somewhat and bring Trebal with him, the former first mate of the Aurora, as a sort of mediator between him and the SGC. Reluctantly, he agreed.
Finally the door to the left of the room slid open, revealing the balding general flanked by a group of five people. Four were wearing the green uniforms of the base personnel while the fifth was wearing a blue military uniform. Harry hated the man on sight. His emotions and body language screamed arrogance and a ruthless quest for power, no matter the cost.
Harry stared directly into the eyes of the General before speaking. "If we had known that your people would be enslaving other races through the gate we would have never allowed your people to keep it."
A small smirk crossed his face as the words nearly created an uproar, but these people were too well trained to do that in the presence of their superior officer. However, the man in glasses behind the general looked especially horrified at the thought. The man in blue's face turned into a deep scowl.
"How can you even accuse us of such a vile thing?" Said man hissed, his face turning an unhealthy shade of red.
Harry shook his head at the man's naivety and brought up his left arm and clenched his fist. Holographic panels covered in Lantean characters moved around his wrist. He ignored the awestruck look of the blond woman and the sudden tensing of the other soldiers before tapping one of the holograms. A perfect recording of Maybourne's voice filled the room.
"That's an order releasing the Tollans to our section. You're to be congratulated, General, the Stargate program is finally paying off. This was... quite a coup."
Harry noted the sudden stiffness of his immediate audience with a sense of dark satisfaction. The General's face was completely stony as he nearly glared at him. "What gives you the right to spy on my base?" The General nearly growled.
"The fact that your soldiers managed to take out the Supreme System Lord Ra with nothing but a primitive nuclear bomb perhaps?" Harry asked with the same smile on his face. He then held up a hand to stall a flurry of accusations. "Why and how we spied on you really doesn't matter at the moment, what does matter is what we are going to do about your people taking an advanced race as slaves against their will."
"What do you mean 'do about us?'" Maybourne demanded before Hammond could stop him. The aging General gave the man a dark glare before Harry gave a pleasant smile and said. "It's all rather simple, if you insist on enslaving members of an advanced race, then we will have to take away your method for doing so."
Maybourne rapidly paled before shouting, "You can't do that!" Again Harry's eyebrow rose, somehow conveying a sense of both disgust and amusement. With that same pleasant smile he snapped his fingers and had the M-Hermes class ship in orbit beam up the stargate.
The General stiffened as the stargate disappeared before his very eyes, while several of the soldiers jerked in place as if itching to fire at him.
The reactions were honestly a bit comical. Harry snapped his fingers again, immediately before the Stargate was beamed back into its pedestal without a single wire or clamp out of place.
Harry gave Maybourne an infuriating smile. "Yes, we can." before looking back at Hammond. "Now that that's out of the way, I would like to meet with the members of the race you have in your custody." His voice held a hint of a command in it, something that made Jack bristle at a kid ordering the general around.
Hammond decided to humor the young man that could take away their stargate with a thought and nodded stiffly as he dismissed the soldiers covering the gate room. If he could take the gate, he could take any of them just as easily.
After being led along a maze of corridors that Harry recorded for future reference, they were lead to a door with two soldiers guarding it. They looked at Harry and Trebal uneasily, but saluted the General as he came up nonetheless.
The General nodded and asked them to open the door. Though they were still obviously quite nervous about the two people behind the general, they complied without any hesitation, their training taking precedence over their personal feelings on the matter.
Harry and Trebal walked in first, the general following behind them with the two soldiers behind him closing the door.
The people were wearing interesting clothing made of a silvery material that looked cloth-like, but was obviously far more sturdy. Cubic objects were attached to their upper arms for easy reach, each obviously some kind of technology well beyond that of Earth's. Harry discreetly set his suit to begin scanning them to see what the objects did and how they did it. Innovations, large and small, could come from even the most unlikely places after all. While the Lanteans were a million times more advanced than virtually every species in the galaxy, including this one from his scans, some ideas were just never thought of, or for some reason, never explored or pursued.
Their faces were blank, looking at the two Lanteans with a hint of curiosity, but not saying anything. One of them was carrying a cat in his arms, of all things.
After several seconds a sleepy looking man with graying hair made his way through the group of people. His face seemed stuck in a perpetual frown, and his eyes glanced at the newcomers before focusing on the general. "Is this another primitive race you have sought out to take us in?"
Harry twitched slightly at the insinuation that his race was primitive, before mentally reviewing the intensive scans his suit had just taken. "You call us primitive when your ships have yet to locate you and take you off this planet? The subspace locators you are wearing only have a range of a few thousand light-years, how can you expect to locate anyone in this galaxy with such a small radius of detection?"
The man's expression seemed to darken slightly as he looked up and down Harry's suit, his face mostly neutral. "And how did you solve such a problem?"
Harry smiled with a hint of teeth. "It's a simple matter of signal amplification really and a much greater understanding of the nuances of space-time, though I find it surprising that your race has yet to develop more advanced reactors than the ones your trackers are powered by. We haven't used such a primitive and limited power source in millions of years."
The general and SG-1 were looking between the two of them warily, not liking the tense atmosphere between them. Trebal rolled her eyes in amusement before clearing her throat. "Arbiter, if you are quite done with the posturing?" She asked dryly.
Harry gave her a small aggrieved look before sighing to himself and nodding. "I guess it was a good thing you came with me after all."
"What do you mean?" The glasses wearing man, Daniel Jackson, if he was correct, asked.
"Well, she's mostly here to keep me from doing something I might regret." Harry smiled with a flash of teeth, before making another request to the General. "May we use your briefing room to come to an agreement over what is to be done here?"
Hammond looked slightly uncomfortable, but he nodded in acquiescence all the same. He obviously felt he had little choice in the matter.
"I don't understand why you are so against receiving our help! Do you have some strong desire to remain here and be enslaved by these people?" Harry scowled at the leader of the Tollans, whom he now knew was called Omoc. The man was both stubborn and arrogant, not a very pleasant combination, and even worse in a leader.
"You have shown us no proof that your absurd claims are true, and I seriously doubt that they are." Omoc sneered, referring to the claim that Harry could bring them to their home planet in only a few hours. In reality, the longest it would take for Harry to travel anywhere in the galaxy would be less than 15 minutes, but he was hiding their true speed capabilities for the time being.
"And even if your claims are true, then how can we be certain that you will not enslave us once you have spirited us away from this planet?" He asked sarcastically.
Hammond, tired of the fighting, interrupted. "Now I know that tempers are running a little high right now, but we need to come to a decision regarding your people. Even with the presence of our newest…guests." Here he nodded toward Harry and Trebal. "Maybourne has the ear of our President and may convince him to use more violent means of persuasion."
"Let him try it." Harry growled out before Omoc could even reply. "I know a few good out of the way places on this planet that I can send him to if he decides to be annoying."
Jack bit back a snort at the mental image of Maybourne being plopped down in the middle of the Amazonian jungle, or the Gobi desert. Hell, even the San Francisco Bay would be pretty funny.
"Um, General, if I may...I have a suggestion." Daniel cut in hesitantly. Harry tilted his head slightly in curiosity. What could the archeologist have that could solve this impasse with these fools who wouldn't accept water if they were on fire? He was getting more and more tempted to simply beam the Tollans up and take them home whether they wanted to go with him or not. He could easily use his telepathy to rip the location of their new planet from their minds after all. Being polite really did put a damper on what he could do.
"I'm sure you remember the events of our mission to P3C-117, when we were looking for that creature that could turn itself invisible?"
Harry perked up in interest. There were only a few magical creatures capable of invisibility, and even then it was rather selective to which people they would be invisible to.
"We met a people named the Nox, and they were a very advanced-" Here he broke off at the light gasp that Trebal unwillingly released, and noticed both of the Lanteans were sitting incredibly still.
"You have met the Nox?" Harry asked with a breathy whisper.
"You know of them Arbiter?" Teal'c asked in a grave tone.
Harry only nodded absently, still reeling at the thought that another one of their former allies was still around and in this galaxy, as he seriously doubted that the humans of Earth even realized the stargate network could reach other galaxies or even had the power requirements necessary to establish such a connection. He had thought that the probes he sent all over the galaxy would have detected them by now if they had existed, but apparently they hadn't.
"Anyway, I would like to suggest that we bring the Tollans to the Nox." He turned to Omoc. "They are incredibly pacifistic, but they are very advanced, I doubt that they wouldn't be able to bring you home."
Omoc looked into the man's eyes, judging the sincerity and eagerness in them.
After a moment, he nodded solemnly. "I would prefer to meet these people before entrusting our safety to them, but this seems to be the best idea your people have come up with so far."
He failed to keep the condescending tone out of his voice, causing Harry to roll his eyes.
Daniel fidgeted. "The problem is that they sealed their gate after the last time we went there, and we have no way of contacting them."
Harry cleared his throat. "I believe that we can send them a message if provided with the coordinates." He already had the coordinates of the planet, of course, as he'd heard Daniel Jackson use their version of a gate address. It took less than a few milliseconds for his suit to correctly identify the planet and its precise location in the galaxy. In fact as they were speaking the network of sensors and probes throughout the galaxy were ordered to conduct intensive scans of the planet, at least those that were in range of the Nox's supposed homeworld. There was no good reason to let them know he knew quite so much about their procedures after all. Turning his attention back to the matter at hand, he wasn't going to miss the chance of reconnecting with one of his race's former allies. He frowned slightly at the thought of the Asgard. He would have to start looking for them as well, now that his people had finally numbered more than just himself and the small handful of wizards.
Omoc stared at him, before nodding in acquiescence.
Five hours after Harry sent a message the stargate activated without warning.
Much to his amusement, the iris slid open on its own much like when he had come through, and he could see the General's slight irritation at the ease with which other, more advanced races could bypass their defenses. He sent Trebal, who was currently with the guarded Tollan, a mental signal to tell them to come to the gate room.
All thoughts of amusement towards the General vanished when a figure walked through the gate, leaving it to deactivate on its own. She appeared to be vaguely human with a bio-organic material woven through her hair whose function he couldn't divine. Her calm gaze turned to him and he bowed slightly to her, using the customary greeting between members of the Great Alliance by crossing his arms over his chest in the shape of an X. She bowed in the same way, amusement and delight touching her thoughts at being acquainted once again with their ancient allies after so long a time. When he had a chance he'd have to study the information he had available on the traditional greetings given specifically to the Nox in their own language, and the various diplomatic protocols to follow should they meet again.
A sucking sound was heard as the Tollan, along with Trebal, came through the walls and into the gate room. The Nox woman, Lya, sent a burst of telepathy to Harry sending him the coordinates of her planet so that their people could meet once again in friendship. Harry sent a burst back thanking her for the sign of trust, even if they both knew that he could have just taken the address from the SGC computers.
Lya turned toward the Tollans and gave a friendly and open smile, an ancient sort of wisdom seeming to emanate from her being.
She turned toward the gate and raised her right arm, sweeping from left to right in a half circle, an event horizon forming in the gate without the unstable vortex that usually accompanied it. Harry felt her amusement at the open disbelief of her activating the gate in such a way (from everyone besides Harry and Trebal) and couldn't help but smile as well. The gate had been designed to accept telepathic dialing and activation, thus any advanced race with a sufficient telepathic ability could do the same, with varying levels of ease, as the telepath's mind was being used unconsciously to make calculations like the dialing device normally would. It looked quite impressive to less advanced races though.
"The Nox welcome the Tollan." She offered softly, gesturing toward the now activated gate.
Omoc took a short glance at her before seeming to nod to himself. He gave Harry a short glance, and to his surprise, even a small bow of respect. Harry returned it, a bit bewildered, and the man seemed to have a hint of a smile on his face before walking into the event horizon, his people following after him.
Lya was the last to enter the gate, walking backwards with her eyes on the two Lanteans standing at the bottom of the ramp, a small smile on her lips. "Until we meet again."She spoke softly in an old dialect of Lantean.
"Until we meet again." Harry and Trebal responded in the same fashion and language, causing Daniel to frown at the similarities, though small, considering the sheer amount of time the language had changed in, between it and Latin.
Lya smiled softly once again and stepped backward into the event horizon, gentle ripples forming across the event horizon for only a second before the gate deactivated.
1 The surface area of the Earth is about 510.1 million square kilometers
Yeah...I really have no excuse for how long it took to write this chapter. It did break a new record for words though, nearly 16,000.
I hope that this chapter answered any questions people had in their reviews, if not send me a pm.