A/N: This chapter's a little shorter than normal, but that's because the next chapter's probably going to be rather long.
Also, this is the last chapter until December. As I mentioned last update, I'm doing NaNoWriMo and my focus will be on that. Sorry! :/
"Naquadah," Charlie says the moment Dean and Sam return to the rubble.
"Yeah, I could've told you that," Dean grumbles. "Heth has Goa'uld on their side. Not sure if they're aware of that or if they're under Goa'uld rule now, but we saw the eyes and heard the voice. There's something more than just old feuds going on here."
"What about Jones?" Walker demands, storming up to him.
"We were a little distracted by the snakes," Dean snaps back. "How much interaction does your planet have with Goa'uld?" He directs the question to Anna, the only Ushuth he sees. The rest of them probably are getting bandaged up. She's standing off to the side, watching.
"Not much," she answers quietly, stepping closer. "We know enough to recognize them when we see them, but no one's seen one in centuries. The last great war we had was against them, but it was long before anyone still alive today was even born."
"I take it you guys won," Dean says, impressed.
"At great cost," Anna said with a nod.
"Colonel, sir," a small woman from SG-14 interrupts whose name Dean can't remember, but he's sure he recognizes her. "Sorry, but I think I just put something together. Earlier when Jones was captured, one of the Hethians called us snakes. I thought it was just a general insult at first, but..."
Dean frowns. "Why would they call you snakes? They're the ones with the Goa'uld..."
"Maybe they thought we were Goa'uld for some reason?"
"They'd only think that if they saw the gold eye flash or heard the distorted voice," Anna says.
The woman shrugs. "I don't know. I just feel like we would know, or at least the Ushuth would've been aware if a Goa'uld ship had landed on the planet."
Dean looks to Anna for confirmation of this. "I guess she has a point."
"So are we saying the Goa'uld could just be a hallucination?" Sam asks disbelievingly. Dean looks between Anna and the SG-14 woman, but neither look willing to commit to a statement like that.
"I don't know about the Goa'uld, but this naquadah is not a hallucination," Charlie says slowly. "Does the planet have naquadah mines?"
"No," Anna replies. "Unless the Hethians found a reserve and didn't tell us, which is entirely possible."
Dean sighs. "Okay, so all we have right now is confirmed naquadah from who the hell knows where and suspected Goa'uld."
"And Jones still in enemy hands," Walker adds, and Dean resists the urge to glare at him. He respects the man's concern for his team, but this has too quickly blown up into something so much bigger than Dean was anticipating dealing with today.
"Walker, take Benny and your team to get Jones. Benny, you got your staff weapon?"
Benny gives him a short nod.
"Good. Don't take any unnecessary risks and check in regularly. Be back in an hour. Got it?"
Walker doesn't look pleased, but he's never liked taking orders so Dean ignores it. Benny's nodding and pulling himself to get ready to go.
"SG-3 and SG-5, I want you back on the frontline. Your priority is making sure civilians aren't killed."
"Charlie, Sam, Anna, we're staying here. Anna, you're giving us as much information as you can on Heth and the war with the Goa'uld."
Anna nods. "I'll do what I can."
"Thank you." Dean turns to the other teams. "Go. Keep in touch as much as the radios allow." He watches them depart before turning back to Anna. "Start with when the Goa'uld arrived in the first place."
"Wait, Dean, I just... one moment," Sam interrupts quickly. Dean turns to frown at him to see he's got his phone out and is squinting at it with a rather intense expression.
"Anna, have there been any falling stars lately? It'd be really impressive, not something you'd easily miss."
"Yeah, actually, just a couple days ago."
"How's the water been?"
"We were hit with a really sudden drought," Anna says. "Just before the shooting star."
Sam gets that look that says he's figured it out, though Dean has no idea what 'it' is. These questions sound completely random. Sam's shoving his phone at him, however, so Dean's pretty sure he's about to figure out.
"I downloaded a couple versions of the Bible before we left Earth this morning. This is Revelations."
Dean frowns, taking the phone. "Isn't that the bit about the Apocalypse?"
"Exactly," Sam agrees. "Those verses right there are about one of the Four Horsemen. War."
Dean stops skimming the verses to look back up at Sam. Charlie's looking at him too, just as incredulous.
"War?" she asks.
"Sammy, are you saying what I think you're saying?" Dean says slowly.
"That War is here?" Sam says, eyes wide and excited. "It would explain why the Hethians thought SG-14 were Goa'uld. And the hallucinations. I bet War is somehow making us all see Goa'uld everywhere and, bam, we've got a war on our hands. But War is Goa'uld so that would explain where the naquadah came from. It makes sense, Dean."
Dean rubs at the bridge of his nose wearily. "And here I thought we'd actually be able to not deal with this Lucifer shit for a day or two."
"We might need help on this one," Sam says slowly, watching Dean cautiously. Dean frowns at him.
"What do you mean?"
Sam shuffles a little, weirdly embarrassed and it hits Dean. He glares. "No. We're not calling in someone who may or may not be an Ancient. It's not happening."
"An Ancient?" Anna asks, sounding interested. "You mean the Altera?"
"Dean, you gotta have a little faith in him-"
"Not happening, Sam!" Dean yells. "I don't trust Castiel and, since I'm the only one here who's actually met him, my opinion is the one we'll be going off of!"
Sam snaps his mouth shut, looking like he'd continue arguing in any other situation. Dean's just glad he doesn't have to pull rank again. Charlie's looking thoroughly embarrassed and is looking at what must be a particularly interesting piece of rubble. Anna, however, looks intrigued.
Dean shakes his head. "It doesn't matter. Charlie, did you get any progress done with the radios?"
Charlie shakes her head. "Something's blocking the signal down on the battlefield. If this is War, I guarantee you it's on purpose."
"So you think it was on purpose that the news about the general was able to get through?"
Charlie shrugs. "Be my guess."
"And Benny and Walker are underground so we aren't gonna be able to get them on the radios either," Dean says with a sigh. "Sam, you go to them, let them know what you've figured out. Charlie, you go to the frontline, let everyone know there. Maybe we can stop this before it gets any worse. Anna, we're going to take a dive into this planet's history."
Sam returns first with SG-3 and -5, plus a group of haggard looking Ushuth. Most of them look skeptical about the idea of War, but Dean and Sam manage to get around fully explaining while still addressing questions.
By the time Charlie, Benny, and SG-14 return Dean's about ready to go after them himself. It's clear right away what took them so long, however, as Dean notices Walker's limp, Charlie's bleeding forehead, and the presence of Jones. Charlie throws Walker one last glare before walking up to Dean and hissing,
"We have a problem.'
Dean glances over her head at Jones and Walker and frowns. "Another one?"
"Remember that Sarvis guy?" she whispers as Sam comes up by Dean's side to listen. "The one the general sent to get SG-14 earlier?"
"Nervous guy. Yeah," Dean says with a nod. "What about him?"
"He was there when we were rescuing Jones. Looked completely at home, nice and inconsequential."
"Why would he be with the Hethians?" Dean asks, confused.
"You think he might be War," Sam says.
"Good choice of host," Charlie agrees. "Close enough to General Milton for him to be trusted and get an insider's view on the side of Ushuth. Enough of a pawn to blend in with the Hethians."
"Right. So we focus on him. See what he can tell us about stopping these hallucinations, then eliminate him," Dean says. "The four of us will take care of him, leave SG-3 to hold down the fort here."
"Right now?" Charlie asks, eyebrows raised. Dean frowns at her.
"Yeah. No time like the present."
Charlie rolls her eyes. "Well, for one, Benny and I are a bit wiped out, and I'd like to get this cleaned." She points at the blood trickling down the side of her face. "Considering War's host is Ushuth, he probably didn't get here by ship but through the Stargate, and he isn't getting back there without going through all of us." She gestures around at the large group surrounding them. "Plus, we're running out of light and don't know the lay of the land."
Dean looks up to look out at the grey sky. She's right. The grey is steadily turning black, and Dean hadn't even noticed.
"First thing in the morning then. We'll set up a guard and tell everyone not to let anyone through." He eyes her injury critically. "You need help with that?"
Charlie smiles wryly. "I'm fine."
"So tomorrow we're going to kill War," Sam says under his breath as Charlie walks away to find a med kit. Dean shrugs.
"Looks like it."
"Our lives are strange."
Dean turns his head to give Sam an amused grin. "Don't know what you mean."
Sam rolls his eyes, chuckling, and walks away towards a small group of scared-looking Ushuth. Dean lets out a sigh and observes the crowd of people surrounding him. There's what actually looks like a young family huddling together, two little girls who must be under seven clinging to their parents. An ancient-looking man's curled up by the remains of a wall, clutching himself and trying to sleep. A few SG members are scattered throughout, talking with Ushuth in what's hopefully encouraging tones. Dean's gaze finally lands on Anna, whose wide and curious eyes seem to indicate she's been watching him for a while. He smiles at her and walks over to sit by her side.
"How're you holding up?"
Anna shrugs casually. "I'm fine. How about you?"
Dean raises an eyebrow. "Me? This is just another day in the life for me."
"That's not what I was talking about," Anna says, turning her large blue eyes on him. For a moment there's something in them that reminds Dean of Castiel, but that's a bit bizarre and random, so he ignores it.
Anna smiles softly. "Something's happened in your life recently, am I right? Something you don't know how to deal with."
Dean stares at her blankly. "How would you know that?" he asks, trying desperately to keep the hoarseness he feels out of his voice. Anna smiles again, ducking her head bashfully.
"My mother used to say i have a gift for reading people. Sorry if I scared you."
Dean continues to stare at her, something twisting uncomfortably in his stomach. There's a whole year missing in his life. A void of absolutely nothing. No pearly gates, no pitchforks. Just nothing. And the more Dean thinks about it, however much he tries not to, the more it feels like something is missing. And, though he won't ever admit it, it scares him.
"I... I can't talk about..."
Anna nods her understanding. "It's okay, Dean."
Dean feels caught in her gaze before he manages to tear himself away, quickly getting to his feet. "I'm going for a walk."
Anna stands up as well. "I'll come with you."
Dean tries to tell himself he's nothing like Captain Kirk as he wakes up with Anna in his arms the next morning. Maybe he has slept with more than your average number of alien women, but, well, how many people can say they've slept with one? Of course he's above average. And he's not like Kirk. Nope.
Anna shuffles in her sleep, and Dean winces at himself. It had probably been a good thing Anna had gone with him on the walk, actually. She could tell somehow that his head was in a dangerous place and tried to help. By kissing him. Something in the back of his mind could see Sam's bitchface when he finds out, but that was quickly pushed away as he kissed her back.
And, honestly, he doesn't remember the last time he'd had sex like that. Less fucking, more lovemaking. The last time was probably Lisa, actually, and that was a can of worms he was not prepared to deal with right now.
Anna... seemed to know exactly what he needed, exactly what he was 'd seemed somewhat fascinated with the handprint on his shoulder too, clasping her own hand over the scar in a way that had made Dean's heart jump up to his throat for some reason. The whole experience had been... oddly centering.
They were in a room that seemed to have escaped the worst of the blast. It still looked rather sorry, but there was a decent couch that was clean and intact that they were squeezed on. Dean can already feel his back protesting, however, so trying not to wake Anna, he slides out from under her and starts pulling his clothes back on. He frowns at Anna's small, naked figure and decides to leave his jacket with her like a blanket, just in case anyone walks in before she wakes up. Then he leave to find his way back to his team.
Sam gives him two eyebrows raised high when Dean returns, which he stubbornly ignores. He greets Benny and Charlie with a nod.
"We ready to go?"
"Walker let Sarvis through," Charlie says quickly through gritted teeth. Dean's eyes fly wide.
"Apparently he figured the order not to let anyone through didn't include people he recognized."
"How long ago?"
"Just before we woke up," Charlie replies. "Maybe ten minutes ago."
"Well, then let's move!" Dean barks.
They all break into a run. Dean tells himself he's going to kill Lieutenant Gordon Walker after this is all done. The man's been a royal pain in his ass this entire mission, and if he's let War get away, Dean doesn't care if he'll get court martialed. The idiot. The swoosh fills the room just as they arrive, Sarvis/War on the verge of walking through.
"Stop him!" Dean barks at the handful of Ushuth guarding the 'gate. Sarvis/War whirls at the sound of his voice, glares, then widens his eyes in mock shock.
"Look at their eyes! They're Goa'uld!"
The looks on the Ushuth's faces would be funny in any other situation. There's six of them, plus Sarvis, but he seems a little more focused on getting away. Either way, they have the advantage of numbers and panic, and SG-1 only have the advantage of experience. Dean grabs Charlie by the collar and yanks her back to cover. A term he uses loosely because the hallway leading to the 'gate room is pretty open. Benny and Sam are scrambling back as the Ushuth break out in shouting and gunfire.
"Benny, you stop War before he gets through the 'gate, we'll deal with the Ushuth," Dean orders quickly. "Go!"
Benny barrels forward without a moment's hesitation. Dean ducks around the corner to let off a few rounds by the Ushuth's feet in an attempt to distract them from the Jaffa.
"Look, Sarvis isn't who he says he is!" Dean bellows as he pulls back to safety. "We aren't your enemies!"
"I don't think yelling at them is going to help much," Sam intones as Charlies pulls back from letting off a few rounds of her own. Dean throws him a glare. It's a little late in the game for Sam's adversity to violence.
"You got a better idea?"
Sam nods, dropping his P90 on the ground and stepping out into the 'gate room with his hands in the air. Dean swears profusely under his breath.
"I'm unarmed!" Sam says. "I just want to talk-"
Dean's not surprised with what happens next. The Ushuth are panicked and untrained, of course a trigger gets pulled despite Sam's words. Sam jerks back where he's hit in the shoulder, and Dean swears again, pulling himself out from safety and into the fray. Sam made it too far into the 'gate room for Dean to pull him back, but Charlie's diving headfirst into the fight as well. Up by the 'gate Dean catches a glimpse of Sarvis/War getting a staff blast right in the chest. He feels a moment of triumph but quickly realizes War's death hasn't stopped the Ushuth's attack. Sam is crumbling, clutching his shoulder, and two of the Ushuth closest charge him.
Dean can't get to Sam in time, and he knows it. He makes for him anyway, grimly thinking 'if you let him die, I swear to god...'.
Before Dean knows what's happening there's a flash of dark hair and khaki fabric, and both Ushuth are on the floor either unconscious or dead. Castiel meets Dean's eyes as Dean skids to a stop. Without preamble Castiel grits, "There's a device on War's person that is the cause of all this. Destroy that, and this'll be over."
Dean stares back for a beat before turning to Benny and hollering, "Device on Sarvis! Shoot it!"
Benny drops to a knee, rummaging through the clothes on Sarvis's body until pulling out a small cube. He drops it on the floor, stands up, and shoots it with his staff weapon. The effect is instantaneous. The Ushuth who Castiel hadn't knocked out (by, it looked like, a simple touch) stumble, blinking rapidly.
"It didn't just cause hallucinations," Castiel says, confirming Dean's thoughts (hopefully not reading them). "It also caused high tempers and fear the longer a person was exposed."
Dean turns his stare back to the Ancient, still a little off-center from his sudden appearance. Castiel, however, is looking down with a hand outstretched to Sam. Looking stricken, Sam takes the offered hand slowly and struggles to his feet. Everyone's staring at Castiel, Dean can feel the tension of it, but Castiel looks nonplussed.
"Can you-" Dean starts in a croak, clears his throat, and tries again. "Can you heal him?"
Castiel meets his eyes again, and Dean could swear he sees an apology in his expression. "I've already risked too much."
Dean grits his teeth. "You mean with the Others."
Castiel inclines his head in a confirmation. "I'm sorry."
"It's not that bad," Sam says, still looking awestruck at the presence of Castiel. Dean fights the urge to smack him.
"We'll let Ellen decide on that," he grumbles.
"Dean?" a small voice from behind them asks. "You're not leaving, are you?"
Dean whirls around at the voice, wincing when he see Anna in the entrance to the 'gate room with his jacket drowning her small figure. He's confused as to why she'd think they were leaving until he remembers the 'gate's still active. Right. He opens his mouth to reply but is cut off by the most emotion Dean's heard in Castiel's voice.
"What are you doing here?"
Anna's eyes widen as she sees Castiel, and she takes a tentative step backwards. Dean looks wildly between the two of them, feeling like someone just swiped out carpet from under his feet.
"You two know each other?" he asks incredulously. Castiel looks betrayed, Anna looks caught, and none of that is making Dean feel any better.
"She's ascended, Dean," Castiel hisses. "She's one of the Others."
Dean turns to Anna for her rebuttal, but she simply looks guilty. Dean stares, waiting, hoping for her to laugh and call Castiel insane.
"Is he telling the truth?" Dean asks a little more roughly than necessary. The world's narrowed down to just the three of them, even though he knows in the back of his mind they have a rather large audience. All he can think about is last night, and how if Castiel is telling the truth... Fuck.
"Dean, I didn't mean-" she starts, but it's not a denial, and Dean doesn't want to hear anything more.
"Are you fucking with me?"
Anna winces and backs down immediately. Castiel steps forward, placing a hand on Dean's shoulder.
"I'm sure it has nothing to do with you," he says in what is probably supposed to be a reassuring tone. "You're here to keep an eye on me, aren't you?"
"Supposed to figure out how far you've gone," she replies with a slight nod. "If we needed to stop you now before you take this any further."
Anna's eyes flick quickly between Dean and Castiel before she answers. "You're fine. For now."
"Glad to hear," Castiel says, and if Dean didn't know any better he'd say Castiel was being sarcastic. He almost says as much, but the space next to him is empty before he even opens his mouth. He decides instead to give Anna one final scowl before returning his attention to where his team is all unabashedly staring. Sam's mouth is even hanging open.
"Dean, I didn't-"
"We're only halfway done," Dean says, ignoring Anna. "We've still got negotiations to try and finish. First, though, let's make sure destroying that thing," he jerks his head at the device giving off a small stream of smoke, "actually worked outside this room." He frowns at Sam still holding his shoulder tenderly. "And you're going to let me take a look at that."
No one argues or tries to get Dean to explain what just happened, so continuing to ignore Anna looking at him pleadingly, Dean heads back to where the rest of the SG teams are waiting. After a few moments, Charlie speaks.
"So that's Castiel, huh? Tall, dark, and mysterious. No wonder you've been keeping him to yourself."
Dean resists the urge to punch her.
Glossary of Stargate terms:
Naquadah: Naquadah is the most prized mineral in the galaxy. Both the Ancients and the Goa'uld used naquadah in the creation of their advanced technology. The Ancients made the first practical application of the mineral with the creation of their network of interplanetary Stargates, constructed from refined naquadah ore, similar to quartz. Naquadah is a stable mineral, capable of many applications and uses, including the creation of weapons of mass destruction and the generation of seemingly limitless amounts of clean energy.
Naquadah is used to power all Goa'uld devices, providing an efficient source of energy. Jaffa staff and other weapons, Goa'uld motherships and other space vessels, communications and sarcophagi are all powered by naquadah. It is even found in the bloodstream of the Goa'uld, though it is not known how it came to be part of the symbiote genetic make-up. Those taken as hosts by Goa'uld symbiotes absorb some of the naquadah into their bloodstream. The presence of naquadah in the blood is the key which unlocks the most vital Goa'uld technology, including the controls of a mothership, and both the ribbon and healing devices.
Staff weapon: The Staff Weapon is a two-handed weapon, presumably of Goa'uld origin, used extensively by the Jaffa. The weapon fires an energy plasma blast that is very destructive. The blast causes severe burns to the skin and is deadly if it hits a vital part of the body, such as the chest, by shocking the organs within. It tends not to cause a great deal of external bleeding, as the wound is quickly cauterized by the heat of the blast.
The swoosh: When the Stargate activates, a blue whoosh of energy emanates out from the Gate, destroying anything in its path. After this initial burst of energy, an event horizon, a two-dimensional energy field that permits entry to the wormhole and that looks like rippling blue water, is created within the ring of the Gate itself.