"The Shadow of the Light"
The following is written by thekillman
© 2011 by The Killman (thekillman)
Stargate, Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis, Stargate: Ark of Truth, Stargate: Continuum, and Stargate Universe are the property of MGM Television Entertainment, Stargate Productions, and NBC/Universal. This work is solely for the enjoyment of the author and readers, and is not to be sold or otherwise distributed for profit.
All plotlines, characters, locations, technologies, and creatures original to this work are the intellectual property of the author, and may not be used for any purpose without the author’s express, written consent. The content reserved above may be used by members of the New GateWorld Virtual Fleet.
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Lucian planet Adaro.
“Yes commander.” he answered. “there have been some compatibility problems, but our specialists have managed to solve them. We're ready to do the first test with the ship fully operational.”
“good,” Xenar replied. Her short blonde hair, tall body and fearless eyes made her look like the commander she was.
“how far are the other four vessels?”. Vano swallowed.
“well, unfortunately the naquahdriah technology, in fact all technology on these vessels are different. We're modifying warships without blueprints. Even our former hosts are having trouble with the technology differences. Right now, we're in uncharted territory. The Tau'ri don't have sufficient experts, the Tok'ra don't have the manpower nor the knowlegde of this technology, and well, many other planets barely grasp naquahdah and it's applications. Besides, the Tau'ri abandoned Naquahdriah as a powersource since Icarus and it's successors failed. There's nobody to steal the knowledge from. And besides..”
Xenar cut him short. “we have excellent experts. And we never stole technology. How can we steal it, if it was stolen in the first place? We're merely returning it to the righteous owner. The people of the galaxy, us. They're like Noktia. Stealing everything that's shiny. Collecting but never sharing”
The two had arrived at what appeared to be blastdoors. Xenar entered a code, then her identification pass, then her access pass. With a mechanic sound, the door opened. They continued, walking through the access tube that lay behind it. Then, they had arrived at their destination: the Bridge.
Central was a large, round table, made of black material and finished with gold touches. The table was built into the ship, making it look more like a very low plinth than the average human table. Around this table, four stations had been built, with three people per station, in a X-fashion. Still standing at the balcony, Xenar looked down.
Closest to her were Communication and Navigation. At the ‘front’ of the Bridge were the Weapons and Defence stations. A guard standing next to the door announced their presence, and the officers at the various stations saluted. Then, they returned to their duties.
“this ship, it’s a great personal investment. If the project fails, i might as well put a bullet through my head, or face a worse fate by the hands of the Lords. It has cost me much. Money, naquahdah, precious information, good people.” she turned to face her XO. Though the floor was level, she looked down on her -much shorter- XO. “failure is not an option. We lost three of the four prototypes at Icarus. I can't loose more.”
Xenar had settled in on the bridge. She looked at the holotable, or at least the enourmous digital planet. She zoomed in on the lucian base established here. “I assume the Lords will be here to check progress?” she asked an approaching officer. The young, black-haired man nodded. He couldn’t be more than 28 years old.
“yes. The Chappa has just activated and the signal came through. They'll be here shortly.”
The rings activated, teleporting three Lucian Lords.
Kakaro, a ginger, short woman. Her appearance was that of an arrogant, selfish woman. Her dress was clearly inspired by the goauld period, a dress seemingly woven from silver fiber. It was, for all intents and purposes, a blinding appearance.
The second person was Balr. A small, fat man. Most earthlings would call him the stereotypical dwarf. His crazy hair seemed to have a mind of it’s own, fatty, gross black hair. His entire body waved like water whenever he walked.
The third was a general of some long-forgotten human world. The man had light blue hair. Whether that was natural or not on his planet was a mystery, but hair dye was always an option. The hair was a typical military coupe, namely short. His suit was grey, with silver ornaments. Surprisingly, he seemed friendly.
Xenar and Vano entered the same room. If it had been up to Xenar, she would’ve sent someone to do a tour of the ship and she would’ve stayed on the bridge to check out her new ship. Vano had talked her out of it. Kakaro wasn’t very pleased with Xenar anyway, and sending some underling surely wouldn’t have helped the strained relationship. Xenar forced a smile upon her face and approached.
“welcome, welcome to my Ko’tak. I hope you will be pleased with our progress.” Kakaro’s eyes were cold.
“please, spare me the pleasantries. We want to know if you haven’t lied to us. How long have you been working on this project of yours? Years and years. When is this ship finally finished? There are about a dozen people standing in line, ready to take over this… prestigious job.” Xenar shot her a look.
“i'm [i]honored[/i]” she said with sarcasm, “that so many people want my job. But it's mine.”
“i won't make it a secret, if it were up to me..”Kakaro started, but she was interrupted by Xenar, “it isn't, fortunately.” Kakaro looked at the other Lords, hoping to get support.
“things can change, keep that in mind.” Before any more words could be said, Belr interrupted. “ladies, ladies. Spare the threats for your enemies. Xenar, if you would?” Belr said, gesturing to the door.
“of course,” Xenar replied. She nodded to Vano, and started the tour.
“and this is the shield generator”, Xenar announced. “not exactly a standard ha'tak generator, in stead this one was custom-built by the Vyrrians.” a blank look from the military man, Omari, told her enough.
“they are a faction of minor goa'uld. Few people know that secret. They hide under the guise that they are former hosts. They sell goa'uld knowledge in exchange for specific stuff, like supplies, hosts, slaves, et cetera. Cost me 8000 slaves and a chest of naquahdah. How fortunate that I had raided a jaffa transport and captured an entire village of medieval farmers.”
The shield generator was about two hundred meters in diameter and circular. Unlike the original ha'tak, there was no massive space above it; The generator barely fit. And Xenar hadn't even told the Lords that the blueprints were those of Sokar's mothership. It wasn't the only system, the weapons were similarly reverse engineered from those blueprints.
“those power conduits... they appear... familiar.” She looked back at the Lords. Omari had spoken. And he had reason to, the conduits had been taken from him. Omari had been told that the Tau'ri had raided one of his warehouses. Well they had, but Xenar's forces had defeated the Tau'ri strike force, and taken the price instead. She then brainwashed any of Omari's forces involved that had seen her forces, and made it subtle enough so Omari wouldn't find out.
“Vyrrian,” she replied. “custom built, but those idiots -unfortunately- have a sense of humor. They didn't fit, so my own engineers had to modify them.” Omari looked at her, then back at the conduits.
“i assume you punished the Vyrrians for their...prank?” Xenar snorted.
“excuse me, Lord Omari, but the Vyrrians are not stupid. When I returned to their last known location, displeased, the guards I had left behind were unconscious and the Vyrrians were gone. They rarely stay at one particular location for long. In fact, they don't even reveal their construction planet. It's always a different, deserted planet, where they trade and deliver.”
“i... see...”, Omari finished, and hinted that he was pleased. “you said this ship was almost finished?”
“yes it is,” Xenar answered. She couldn't help but feel a sense of pride. “all that remains is some calibration.”
“good. I'd like to see the bridge, and then a demonstration of this ship's capacities,” Omari added. “that can be arranged,” Xenar replied, while gesturing to the nearest ring station.
On the bridge, Kakaro seemed displeased. “i thought this was a goa'uld ship. What is all this.... this.. Tau'ri technology doing here?” she gestured at the various LED screens which were visibly of Tau'ri design, the names of various tau'ri companies visible on the casing. Furthermore, various Hebridan-looking computers were placed at the various stations, and thick cables ran across the floor. “i assumed that the performance aspect of this vessel was the priority,” Xenar defended herself. “if I have to get the goauld equivalent of these technologies, I unnecessarily increase the costs of this ship, and well, hebridan and tau'ri technology happen to be user friendlier. Additionally, it's easier to replace and repair. To me, it was a no-brainer.” Belr looked around the bridge and half-laughed. “i knew refurbishing ha'tak was the trend, but this... you pretty much rebuilt the entire ship!” “you see, Kakaro,” Xenar said, “those are the words of someone who understands my methods. It took long, I know, and the other Lords can not wait to put it to use, I know. But it's a delicate job, with hundreds of technologies working together. Technologies that were never meant to be compatible and never meant to work together in the first place.”
“Very impressive,” Omari said. “very impressive indeed. I am pleased. And now, the test phase.” Xenar looked semi-surprised. She had expected Kakaro to do that announcement. “We revealed the location of your base to the Tau'ri. We expect them to be here within a few minutes. Then we can truly see the power of your.... Ko'tak you called it?” Xenar exploded with rage. “WHAT!” she took a deep breath, walked back and forth. “ARE YOU MAD? THE TAU'RI? DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT TECHNOLOGIES LIE IN STORAGE HERE?” she shouted at Omari. “GUARDS. Escort these people to the bri...to their quarters”. The security officer looked at her. Xenar knew his question. “then give them chocolate” she told him, her rage cooling down rapidly. She went to survival mode. Omari remained calm, however. He plainly ignored the guards approaching, and walked to Xenar. “you see, you lied to me. And I don't care. And you stole technology from me. And I don't care. Consider the conduits my...share in this project. But the humiliation, of my men, and thus of me, that is what you will pay for. I have every bit of confidence that this ship will survive. And you and me will survive this. Let's see how well your forces fare. I don't need to punish you. Let them be your punishment.” and with those words, he elegantly turned around, faced the guards, and calmly walked to the access tube. It was clear that the guards respected him. With visible reluctance, Kakaro joined him. Belr didn't seem to understand exactly what had transpired, shot questioning looks at Xenar and Kakaro, then shrugged and followed Kakaro.
The doors had barely locked in place, when Xenar turned around. Vano's face was filled with disbelief, and the people on the bridge appeared dreaded. “If that's your choice, Omari,” she muttered under her breath, and looked over the bridge. She shared a look with Vano, who then started to issue orders. “Battle stations!” he announced with a loud voice, “Reactor to Combat Mode, raise the shields and power weapons! Alert the fleet!” One of the Navigational officers announced that a BC-304 had been detected en route to their position. Xenar tapped her earpiece. “listen up, people. This is Xenar. We have an unscheduled, well, call it a test. The Tau'ri have figured out our location. A 304 is en route, ETA of 3 minutes. You have 2 minutes 30 seconds to get to your designated area, and do your job. I have confidence in both your, and the Ko'tak's abilities. The tau'ri have had their spaceship dominance long enough. Now it's our turn!” That said, Xenar walked down the stairs. They had been located at each side of the balcony to provide access to the actual bridge floor. She walked straight through the Tactical Holo Table, and faced Vano. He looked at her. “When this is over, we gotta talk,” he said short and sharply.
“Are you sure this is gonna work?” Xenar asked Vano nodded. “while you were away, I had the ship's systems run tens of thousands of simulations. Simple ones at first, more complex ones later. I know what this baby can do, and what I will do.” “Tau'ri ETA, one minute,” the Navigation officer announced. Xenar took a deep breath. “good, get the holotable active”. Vano pushed a button at the side of the table, and a hologram activated, displaying the vessel in detail. Three Vocuum had been linked to project the 3D image. The table was about 4 meter in diameter, making the hologram quite large. The bridge lights had dimmed, making the hologram clearer. Xenar looked at the Ko'tak. Ha'tak on the outside, but something far more powerful on the inside. “Status report!” she spoke loudly. From the Weapons section, a man rose up. “Weapons are powered and ready. Targeting systems to autofire.” From the Defence section, a Hebridan soldier rose up. “Shields are powered, 100% integrity. Defensive plasma batteries are standing by.” Xenar turned to face the other two sections. Two women stood up. “ETA, 40 seconds, enemy 304, based upon the subspace signature it's a post-Jotnar Deadalus class. Nuclear armament is to be expected. 8 Ha'tak are under way to reinforce our position.” Xenar turned from the ginger woman to the brown-haired, dark-skinned one. “base is evacuating, the Chappa has been constantly active. No reports of enemy activation. The three ha'tak at the base have raised shields, and are loading up the valuable technology and resources. Tactical nukes are ready for self-destruct.” Xenar nodded approvingly. “Very well. We're prepared for the battle. Xenar noticed a guard approaching her. “yes?” she said. The man didn't seem happy. “the, erm, the lords want...to, well, talk to you.”. “Give them a tray of fruit, some of that stuff the Tau'ri call chocolate, and a good meal. And a book, perhaps.” the guard was baffled. “but..” “i know,” Xenar said. “The chocolate was a gift, but it's a price worth paying.” She smiled friendly to the guard, who then walked away to carry out his orders. Vano smirked, then switched back to his iron look. “Tau'ri vessel, ETA, ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three two, one...”
In orbit over the planet Adaro, a lone Deadalus-class emerged from hyperspace.
Xenar looked at the hologram of the Ko'tak. It had zoomed out, to show the battlefield. Them against a single 304. “this is going to be fun,” she said. The order to fire had already been shouted by Vano. Though it could not be seen from the fully enclosed bridge, powerful prototype cannons located on the hull were spitting out powerful bolts of plasma. Two bolts of the brightest yellow had hit bare metal before the BC-304 had any chance to raise a shield. CON was a powerful ally for the Tau'ri, but that split second of blindness after dropping out was all that the Ko'tak had needed. One shot had half-severed the left hangar bay, the other had destroyed the forward antennae array and the tip of the 304's nose. After the shield had raised, things didn't go a lot better.
“what the hell are they hitting us with?” Col. Mckoy shouted over the loud noise of weapon impacts. “set CON to full autofire!” Missile bays opened on the 304, called the Dyonisus, but to no avail. The very second they pierced the shield of the Dyonisus, they were hit by waves of plasma. With every hit, the Dyonisus shook, and while the Ko'tak had a rate of fire half that of a regular ha'tak, every hit brought more energy to bear on the Dyonisus’ shields. “Launch 302's, use of nuclear ordnance authorised!” Mckoy shouted. The strain of energy leaking through the shields was simply too much, however, and the left hangar was severed completely from the rest of the ship. Fighter fuel and oxygen leaking from their tanks mixed, and ignited, and bright flames burst from the hangar, and the explosion that followed shredded it to small pieces. And as fast as the flames had come, so fast were they gone.
“Sir, we lost the left hangar bay,” Mckoy's helmsman reported. “emergency hyperspace jump, now!” Mckoy ordered. “sir, we lost the hyperdrive a few moments ago. Shields are nearly gone.” Mckoy sighed. “open a channel.” The bridge of the Troy was occasionally illuminated by blue light from the energy weapons, and lit bright yellow whenever another bolt hit them. No sight for epileptic people. “i guess this is it then,” Mckoy spoke softly.
One hit, two hits, three. The neck was torn in half, two shots were taken by the hull. A fourth pierced the right hangar bay. What remained of the 302's and the people working there was explosively decompressed into outer space. The nose of the Dyonisus drifted away. The fifth destroyed the bridge and the five decks below it. A sixth hit the engines, tearing right through it. The impact sites were still glowing white hot, when the seventh blast hit the Dyonisus in the middle. And a magnificent ship was reduced to white hot metal fragments.
On the bridge of the Ko'tak, there was dead silence. Xenar stared at the hologram. Vano stared at the hologram. And the officers were staring at their screens. The guards present were trying to figure out what was going on. One guard made a gesture, but his friend did not seem to understand what he meant. A third guard shrugged. Xenar stared at the hologram.
And then she spoke.
Xenar closed the door on her quarters. Vano took a seat, and Xenar did the same. “What was that on the bridge? With Omari and all? Why'd they send the Tau'ri?” Vano asked. “Listen, Vano. There were some misunderstandings. One of Omari's vaults was raided by the Tau'ri. I then raided the Tau'ri. The power conduits installed in the shield generator are therefore mine. Omari falsely believes that they are still his. And Omari dislikes it when other people have his stuff. Combine that with Kakaro, and well..” “so you're saying, all of this is one big mistake? I know Omari's ways, Xenar. Unprepared and uninformed are not among them.” Vano paused. He sighed. “Sometimes, Xenar, you're making things unnecessarily complicated for us and yourself.” “I'm not in the mood for lectures,” Xenar said, uninterested. “if you keep a viper near your bed, at least you'll know what direction the attack comes from,” Vano spoke wisely. Xenar turned her eyes away from Vano. “And when you're in the wilderness, you build campfires around you to keep wild animals at bay. You're not gonna sleep next to them.” Vano sighed. “I guess it’s a matter of opinion.” Then something hit Xenar. “I’ll be back soon” she said to Vano and she walked away, leaving a baffled Vano.
On the bridge, the access tube doors opened. In the door opening, Omari stood, guarded by two men. A few people looked up, some surprised. “there’s been a change of plans. Xenar will be removed of command, and I will personally command this ship. As a superior to all of you, I expect your full cooperation. Failure to do so will not be… accepted,” Omari announced. He said it casually and calculated. “OMARI!” Omari looked behind him. Xenar had appeared in the access tube. She had her hands on her back, casually strolling onto the Bridge balcony. “I thought I told you to stay in your quarters” she said to him in a rather patronizing way. “I’m sorry,” Omari said. “I didn’t like my quarters.” “Oh but you should’ve contacted me first. This ship is big, there are plenty of quarters for you to use. How about a decompressed Glider Bay? Plenty of room!” They sounded like a couple taking things over with the pleasure of a cup of tea. “I couldn’t find a phone,” Omari said. “and I like to think… big. I’d like this bridge as my personal room.” “well well,” Xenar said. “there are two problems with that. First, I think me and my crew won’t appreciate you standing here in your underwear, brushing your teeth. Second, and this is the most important reason, this ship and thus this bridge is mine. You can’t have it.” Omari’s face changed from forcedly friendly to angered. “but I can [i] take[/i] it.” He pulled out his sidearm and in one swift move, aimed and pulled the trigger. A bullet shot from it’s chamber, via the barrel and the air towards Xenar. An orange shield lit up around her. “Surprise,” she said, smiled, and revealed the Goauld hand device she was wearing. She immediately aimed at Omari and a shockwave sent him reeling through the air. As he flew backwards over the balcony, he emptied his gun clip on Xenar, or rather her shield. He hit the floor hard, almost two meters below.
Xenar had approached Omari. Omari looked up from the floor, slightly dazzled. “W-w-what the?” he muttered. Xenar kept her hand device trained on Omari. “listen,” she spoke. “what’s done is done. What’s happened happened. I want you to leave. This isn’t a time for internal war, nor a time to fight over what belongs to who. I’ll give you free passage through the gate, to any address you want. But you leave, and you leave me alone. It’s not arguable, nor negotiable. The other option is that I forcible ditch you on the most galaxy-forsaken planet I can possibly find.” Omari touched his forehead with his palm, then rubbed over the back of his head. “So you don’t have the stomach to kill me?” he asked, taunting. “You are too valuable for the Alliance to be slaughtered like an animal” Xenar replied. She made a gesture that Omari should stand up and walk away. “Leave” she said sharply. “that’s the last word I’ve spoken on this matter.” “Fine,” Omari said. “I’ll go. But I want an Al’kesh for transport. There are more matters on my schedule than arguing with a First Commander.”
“I didn’t know you could use that thing,” Vano said. Vano and Xenar had retreated back to the Mess. “yea well,” Xenar started. She searched for words. Vano seemed concerned, Xenar confused. “I, I didn’t even know I could. I mean, I never thought about it. It just… felt like the thing I should do. I…I figured Omari would be ready to kill me if needed. The…the Hand Device was in my personal quarters. It… it felt good.” Vano seemed to grow more concerned. “are you allright?” he asked kindly. “I believe there’s something you’re not telling me.” Xenar sighed. She let her hair slip through her fingers, and played with it. “I think I need time to think. There’s so much going through my head. Memories I forgot….” “memories?” Vano interrupted. “Memories isn’t the right word…. Flashes. Faces. Feelings. Fear. But also satisfaction.” Xenar’s attention seemed to fade away. “my hands feel cold,” she said. Suddenly, alarms sounded. “Commander, report to bridge, I repeat, Commander repeat to bridge.” Vano looked concerned at Xenar. “I think you should rest. I’ll spread the word that the hand device wore you out or something.” “no. no signs of weaknesss…” Xenar said softly. “tell them I’m personally making sure Omari is gone.”
Vano walked onto the bridge, highly alert. “Status report!” he exclaimed. “a large subspace distortion has been detected by one of our arrays. We’re unsure what type of ship.” Vano thought for a second. “I bet that’s the Athens checking us out. ETA?” “ETA 16 minutes,” one of the officers reported. “prep the ship for battle. Alert the other ships present. Get the evac going as fast as possible,” Vano commanded. He looked at the THT. Hyperspace detection was still in a highly experimental phase, but it was a system that worked. A small, distorted red dot slowly approached the 3D planet hovering slightly above the table. “Three of the recalled ha’tak have arrived, Sir,” one of the Communications officers reported. “good. Let them help with the evac.” The same Officer seemed confused. “what about orbital defence?” “we’ll go to defensive mode. The last thing I want is the enemy to find out what power this ship has. We won’t last very long against the Athens but a few minutes should suffice for a quick retreat. The other Ha’tak will be here soon anyway.”
Vano was right. Within a few minutes, two more ha’tak arrived. Five were still under way. The minutes passed, the evacuation continued. An officer walked over to Vano from Communications. “sir, the evac is nearly done. One ha’tak is loaded and ready. Al’kesh and Tel’tak have been ferrying troops and supplies. The ground troops expect to be ready in six minutes.” “good,” Vano replied. “set the tactical nukes on a nine minute timer.” “yes sir,” the officer said, and he headed back to his work station. A countdown clock displayed four minutes ticking down. “All right,” Vano announced. “the Athens will be here in four minutes. The evac will take six. That’s two minutes overtime. That’s how long we have to stand against the Athens.” Vano paused. This was it. The ultimate test of the Ko’tak’s abities. “No gun can be fired without my permission. I want only defensive batteries active. I want any tel’tak to leave. I want the Al’kesh divided over six groups. I want them positioned in a hexagon configuration around the Ko’tak, at 80 million kilometers from us. Once the Athens jumps in, they make a short hyperspace jump in order to surround it. They have to circle the Athens and bombard it continuously. Any Al’kesh with nukes has permission to use it.” Vano looked around him. His orders were executed without question. Then Vano remembered something. “I want three nuclear weapons detonated in orbit at a distance of 8000 miles from the Ko’tak.” That order raised some questions. “sir, why would we waste precious weapons?” one of the Communications officers asked. “ “because the radiation interferes with sensors. We don’t need precious sensor data as this ship won’t fire. The Athens however won’t be able to gather much information about us.” Vano looked at the hologram. The red dot was incredibly close to the sphere representing the planet Adaro.
“Five.” The countdown had started. “four” Vano looked sternly at the hologram of the Ko’tak. It had replaced the planet. “Three” This would prove his command abilities. “Two” A defensive stance was unusual, but not necessarily ineffective. “One” Space tore open, and the Athens dropped out in all it’s glory and terrible power. The Athens was fitted with the most advanced, up-to-date CON in existence, and it showed. The very moment it was physically possible to raise shields, a blue barrier surrounded the ship, and the very moment power flowed from the Hyperdrive to the weapons, the first bolts of energy were already shot at the Ko’tak. About a dozen nukes blasted from their missile silos and shot into outer space, searching and aiming for any viable target. The Ko’tak’s defensive batteries tore them to shreds, and the few Death Gliders present moved in to destroy the next salvo. The Ko’tak’s shield light up brightly and ate blue plasma bolt after blue plasma bolt. Then, space around the Athens seemed to tear away, and twelve Al’kesh dropped out in a configuration around the Athens. From a few dozen kilometers away from the Athens, they circled the human ship and unleased plasma bolt after plasma bolt. Three Al’kesh had been fitted with missile silos, but that didn’t help: the CIWS of the Athens made very short work of any missile fired.
On the surface of the planet Adaro, the ha’tak had raised their shields. One ha’tak was preparing to lift off, it’s engines humming already. Tel’tak rapidly launched and soared through the sky. Most tents and houses were still standing, only vitals had been packed up. By the time the first ha’tak was airborne, the second and third were powering their engines in order to follow.
In orbit, the Ko’tak was calmly taking an enormous beating from the Athens. “Shields are at 70% of total power. Weapons grid and defensive grid are still online. Hull integrity is at maximum,” One of the officers reported loudly. “Hold position,” Vano calmly commanded as he watched the holograms. The battle was going well, the Ha’tak were taking off. “Sir, the Athens has ceased firing on us.” It was true. The Athens had rolled over to focus its fire on the other ha’tak. A new barrage of nuclear missiles was unleashed, and it headed for the planet. The defensive batteries of the Ko’tak intercepted a few, but the farther they got, the easier they evaded the plasma bolts. “ETI?” Vano asked. “Estimated time to impact is 2 minutes” one of the officers reported. “Damn, that’s fast,” Vano cursed. He paused to think. “have the Ha’tak execute an atmospheric jump.” Vano finally commanded. “sir they have fifty seconds left. We’re being hailed,” a Communications officer reported. “show it.” On the screen, an LA captain appeared. “Such a maneuver is suicide,” the captain sharply said. “the alternative is certain death. There’s no time to argue.” Vano responded equally sharp, “fine.” The Captain sounded reluctant. The connection was terminated.
Within the atmosphere, more than a dozen nuclear missiles were still heading to their target: Five ha’tak were attempting to reach orbit. Two Ha’tak had left moments before the Athens had arrived. Almost half of Xenar’s forces and supplies stationed on this planet were at stake. Within the atmosphere, a Hyperspace window opened. Tentacles of plasma and huge electric distortions appeared around the window. This was tricky business. Opening a window within the atmosphere is hard. A stable window is even harder. A window sufficiently large for a ha’tak was next to impossible. The Window had stabilized within seconds and the first Ha’tak escaped it’s doom. A second ha’tak opened one, and this time the atmospheric effects were even worse. A massive discharge of electricity came from the window and blasted down to the surface. It left a small crater. It took nearly ten seconds before the window stopped flickering and stabilized, and the second ha’tak had escaped. Meanwhile, the ha’tak were splitting up fast. Two escaped, three to go. The nukes came closer and closer. Two ha’tak opened their window simultaneously. Electric bolts flew in every direction, hitting the Ha’tak shields and arcing down to the surface. Similar to bursts coming from the sun, a purple wave of plasma blasted out from the hyperspace window and scorched several square kilometers of the planet’s surface, while also hitting the ha’tak creating the windows. Then, the windows stabilized, and the two ha’tak jumped shortly after eachoter. The missiles were now bearing down on one lonely ha’tak. It didn’t wait for a stable window. The ha’tak waited a fe seconds, but the nukes were within spitting distance. It entered. The window closed, and the nukes continued downwards and exploded, wiping out one tenth of the continent.
In orbit, Vano had no reason to stay. “have all ships escaped?” he asked. “we are the last ones,” a communications officer confired. “good. Execute hyperspace jump.” “sir, the shields are at fifty percent,” the Defensive section reported. The Athens came about, and focused it’s weapons one last time. A torrent of missiles blasted out of their silos. Bolts of plasma filled the space between the two ships. “Hyperdrive, quickly!” Vano urged. “window is forming.” Navigation announced. A purplish-blue window formed. Three quarters of the nukes were destroyed. More and more got blasted from the sky. Gracefully, two missiles approached the Ko’tak, one from each side. They both detonated.
The last Vano remembered was hitting the THT. He woke up in the Infirmary, and found Xenar next to him. “you did…pretty well out there,” she said kindly. Vano tried to laugh, but it hurt so much it was more like half-crying. Xenar couldn’t help but laugh. Vano glanced at her. “c’mon,” Xenar defended herself. “you should’ve seen that.” Vano was not amused. “ah well you’ll survive,” she said in an attempt to finish the conversation. “how many..survived?” he asked. Talking hurt. “of the five that did an atmospheric jump? Two were found with a disabled hyperdrive, some 20 and 50 lightyears away. The other three, well we haven’t found their subspace link nor any chatter. We’re still looking. This isn’t over yet” she said firmly. “Indeed it isn’t. We still need to talk, you remember?” Vano answered.
Vano had gotten up. Xenar closed the curtains in the infirmary. “So,” Vano started. “where are we?” Xenar shrugged. “some 80 lightyears from Adaro. They’re still figuring out where we are precisely.” “Right,” Vano said. He looked at the floor, thinking. “How’s the ship?” “Damaged but in one piece. There’s some hull damage and we have two large burn marks. The hyperdrive gave up because of some error, and that’s priority right now. The shield generator diagnostic showed some problems but that’s fixed pretty fast,” Xenar spoke. “good.” Vano looked at his uniform. It was unharmed. “let’s go to somewhere quiet.” Xenar opened the curtains and both walked out. The doctor threw Xenar a look, but she gestured that they were fine. There were plenty of other people with wounds, relatively minor ones but still, they had to be treated. The Doc shrugged and walked to the nearest patient.
In galactic terms not even so far away, an Al’kesh dropped out of hyperspace. In stead of immediately dying out, the Window remained active, spitting out two Tel’tak and two more Al’kesh in V-formation. On the first Al’kesh, the Lucian Prime called Alexius stood in the cockpit. Before him, a Vocuum linked to the ship’s system displayed the star system. “Sir,” the pilot said. He turned around in his chair. The young, red-haired man spoke rather fast. “we dropped out nearly a lightyear away from the star. It’s going to be near impossible to find the Ha’tak based on visual.” Alexius rolled his eyes. “why do you think we have scanners?” “That’s the prob, sir. A preliminary sensor sweep shows nothing,” the young man said. “Then perform a full one. Oh and have the other pilots break formation and scan on their own as they see fit,” Alexius said. “Based upon simulations, it should be here.” He paused to think. “I’ll go find out if it hasn’t arrived at the rendezvous coordinates.” Outside, the other ships performed short hyperspace jumps in order to quickly traverse space.
“So what really happened?” Vano and Xenar had retreated to Xenar’s quarters. A plate filled with food and drinks stood on the table and both sat next to it. “Like I said. I remembered things I had never done. Places I had never been. Feelings I felt, but not that intense. I felt rage and madness,” Xenar said. “Have you been a Goa’uld host then?” Vano asked. “Never knew that.” Xenar sighed and took something that looked like a grape. “Not that I know of. Why do you think I have been?” Vano looked at her. “about a decade ago, if I’m correct, the Tok’ra changed their protocols. While some hosts they had freed were mentally strong enough to deal with what they had done, many hosts could not. Quite a few attempted suicide within a few days after being freed.” “And you’re saying..” Xenar inquired, wondering where this was going. “When a person undergoes serious trauma, sometimes the mind suppresses those memories for the sake of the person. We found out that the Tok’ra do this by protocol using some kind of memory suppressor technology. On every single host they freed. It’s possible you underwent the same process and simply can not remember it,” Vano explained calmly. “there’s one problem with your explanation. I clearly remember my past. From the dirthole I was born to the school I visited to the people I befriended and the day I joined the Alliance. and I clearly remember that I was born 36 years ago, not 2000 or 5000 years ago.”
Alexius had walked back to the cockpit. “the ‘Tak should still be here. No more ships have showed up at the RP.” “Full sensor sweep has been finished. Nothing. Nothing but the occasional chunk of rock and block of ice,” the pilot reported. “Well then, Amar, let’s move on then. Jump 60 Gigameters forward, same vector.” The Hyperdrive powered up, and the engine hummed for a moment. A window appeared, and the Al’kesh disappeared into it. Within a few seconds, the ship dropped out again. “Same routine. Perform a full scan.” The Co-pilot looked out of the screen, slightly leaning forward. “What do you see?” Alexius asked. The Co-pilot almost touched the glass with his head. “there seem to be a few stars missing.” Alexius seemed confused. Yes they were a thousand lightyears above the galactic disk, but stars missing? “Clarify.” Alexius ordered. the Co-pilot sat back into his chair and pointed at the glass. “If you look there, you can see that there’s a sudden gap in the starfield, like something big is sitting there.” Alexius walked over to the co-pilot and tried to look at the spot he was pointing at. “do the scanners pick up anything?” he asked pilot Amar. “no sir, but that doesn’t mean something can’t be there. We’re scanning for energy signatures matching a ha’tak, or at least a damaged one. And since there’s not an asteroid for dozens of lightseconds, it could be the ha’tak.” “Good,” Alexius said. “Get us over there. Activate the searchlights.” With the engines at maximum thrust, the Al’kesh was there within a minute. As they got closer, the light from the searchlights became obvious. In this poor lighting, plus the beams of light coming from the al’kesh, they could just make out a Ha’tak. “Send our identification codes. Prep for docking.” Amar pressed the according buttons. They waited, but nothing happened. Growing impatient, Alexius ordered to dock. “Use the standard override commands for the docking bays. The Al’kesh moved to the hangar doors, which opened when the right command was transmitted. They docked in the very empty docking bay, and walked out of it, guns raised. Alexius had brought at least two dozen guards, armed with various projectile weapons. Alexius himself carried a G-36, bought from human arms dealers. Suddenly the doors of the hangar opened, and dozens of guards poured in, shouting and waving their guns. Alexius remained calm however, as the guards surrounded them. “Put down your weapon!” The lead guard shouted. Alexius removed his finger from the trigger and calmly put it on the ground. Once his troops had done the same, the lead guard looked at him. “who are you? What are you doing here?” “I am Alexius, sent by First Commander Xenar. Our job is to find the Ha’tak that went missing because of their atmospheric hyperspace jump. Identification code AX 3 17 4.” The lead guard paused. “Then commander Anada wants to speak to you.” He made a gesture to his guards. “your men are confined to this hangar. Those guns too.” Alexius removed his sidearm and tossed it to the ground. “after you then.” He spoke casually. The lead guard grinned. “ladies first,” he said and motioned Alexius to go first.
Xenar and Vano walked onto the bridge. “Sitrep?” Xenar asked. “Commander, we are approximately 78 lightyears from adaro, roughly 800 lightyears above Galactic plane,” a Hebridan replied. The hebridan look at his screen. “so far no signs from Adaro itself. The Athens still appears to be there.” Xenar sighed and looked at Vano. Their eyes met and it was clear they both thought the same. “they’re attempting to trace us. Given the sensors and computers installed on that thing, it’s likely they’re here sooner rather than later,” Vano explained. “Is the hyperdrive operational yet?” Xenar asked. “No miss, there’s some damage and they’re still looking into it. It could take at least an hour or two,” The hebridan calmly replied. “Two hours is too long. Can we execute a short jump? It only needs to be a few dozen lightyears to throw them off again,” Xenar thought out loud. Vano shrugged. “if executed properly, yes. Make the jump when they’re almost here, and they’ll have to recalculate again.” He paused to think, looked at the Hebridan and back to Xenar. “can’t keep that up forever though.” “Anything to extend our life expectancy. If we stay here they’ll find us. We can hold the Athens off for a while but any nuke hitting will drastically reduce the shield power,” Xenar replied. She turned to the hebridan. “have the hyperdrive prepped for a short jump. Inform me when it’s done, the second it’s done.”
Alexius had been brought to the bridge, where a blonde, short-haired man wearing a leather outfit similar to Kiva’s troops with a green rectangle patch on either shoulder waited for him. “My name is Anada, Third Commander of lord Za,” he introduced himself, “Commander of this Ha’tak. And you are?” “My name is Alexius, Prime of First commander Xenar, of the clan of Za. I’ve been sent by Xenar to find the ha’tak that escaped at Adaro,” Alexius replied. “so they did send help!” Anada exclaimed. “I was getting worried. The main reactor is offline and the backups are not responding. Most power is down, we just have a small generator powering the lights and a few computers.” Alexius looked around. The bridge wasn’t on the original location. In stead, all systems were routed here via thick cables. Though the power was on and the various computer screens were powered, they displayed nothing. “and the bridge is still fully active?” Alexius asked. “yes,” Anada replied, “it’s powered separately.” He looked away from Alexius to the guard that brought him. “look we need power. Your ships have generators. It won’t be enough but it’ll definitely speed up repairs.” Alexius nodded. “I understand. But we still have to look for the other ha’tak. They might be off worse.” Those last words clearly irritated the commander. “listen, I have technology onboard that many Lords will want, and the tau’ri want it even more. I can’t risk staying out here for long.” “we didn’t find you until we were pretty much on top of you” Alexius replied sharply. “it’s an order and that’s the end of the conversation,” Anada said, angered.
“Sir.” Cameron looked at his helmsman. “yes?” “Calculations are done. We have pinpointed the Lucian Ha’tak’s position.” Cameron sighed from relief. “finally, I was beginning to wonder how long I’d be sitting in this chair. Get us there. Actually, get us one lightsecond from them. I don’t want an ambush.” The helmsman nodded. “yes sir. Plotting course.”
Xenar was walking back and forth on the bridge of the Ko’tak, impatient. “how long ‘till it’s done?” she asked the communications officer. “they’re 5 minutes further than the last time you asked, sir,” one of the officers reported “this is a serious situation,” she snapped. “I know, sir, and the second I know, you’ll know, sir,” the officer replied. Less than a minute later, one of the consoles beeped. Xenar didn’t wait for a report. “engage the hyperdrive,” she ordered immediately. “Ma’am! Subspace turbulence detected. Closing in really fast, really big signature,” a sensor officer announced. “Engage the hyperdrive” Xenar repeated sternly. “Hyperdrive is powering.” “a hyperspace window has been detected! It’s the Athens!” “Ma’am, we’re in hyperspace!” Xenar looked up. “we’re in hyperspace,” the Hebridan officer repeated, visibly relieved. “hyperdrive is holding, all systems fully in the green.” Vano looked around at the various stations. “when this is done, I need a stiff drink.” Xenar walked over to the Hebridan officer to check the readings. “better not too stiff, I don’t like chewing my drink.” Once she saw that all readings were indeed fully in the green, she smiled. “looks like this long, long day could be over soon.” A strange sound filled the ship. Xenar sighed deeply. “typical.” Vano rolled his eyes. “drink’s getting stiffer.” The Ko’tak dropped out of hyperspace, in the middle of what seemed to be a nebula. “what godaweful situation are we in now?” Xenar asked. A sensor officer threw his hands up, signaling that he had no idea either. Vano headed over to the sensor station, looking at the various screens. “no clue.” The white-haired sensor officer looked at one of the screens. “we seem to be surrounded by a large cloud of plasma. That’s all I can say.” “shields are active?” Xenar asked. “positive, they engaged as an emergency procedure,” an officer at the defensive station answered. “we got a few scorch marks on the hull,” another replied. “plasma seems to be around 2000 degrees. I’m thinking hot nebula,” a third replied.
“Any news?” Mitchell asked. “negative sir, scanners show negatives only. Nothing to indicate a ha’tak is here. There’s some mild turbulence in subspace, it’s possible they escaped,” his helmsman replied. “can we follow them?” Mitchell asked. “don’t know sir. There’s something odd about the trail. Can’t put my finger on it. CON’s spitting out some errors.” “errors?” “yes errors. Non-specific ones, just 409’s.” Mitchell snorted. “English please.” “incomplete data. Insufficient for extrapolation,” his helmsman semi-quoted. “and some more generic ones. it’s vague, I know. I think we lost their trail.” Mitchell sighed, paused, and thought. “get us back to earth’s space. I think we’re done here. Check if there are any known habitable planets nearby and if so, send a Valkyrie to check them out. It’s possible they have a base or something here.”
“Sir, subspace distortion, big one,” the Sensor officer reported. “attempting to trace.” “that’s fast,” Vano said. He and Xenar looked at eachother. “that’s impossible. They can’t possibly trace us THAT fast. We’re in the middle of a nebula!” “I’m sorry sir but I’d have to correct you. It’s a supernova remnant. Few decades old. Good news is, in terms of stealth in both realspace and subspace, this is as good as it can get. Bad news is, our shields are draining for every second we stay. And since quite a few conduits were damaged in the battle, that’s bad news,” the white-haired sensor officer announced “sir, the subspace distortion is getting weaker. Whoever it is, they’re not coming towards us,” a second sensor officer announced.
Anada stood up from his command chair. “we’re ready to attempt the first jump,” he told Alexius. “tell your men to be ready, this could be a shaky ride.” A man yelled something. An officer somewhere in the access tube to the bridge yelled something along the lines of “ok”. The first officer turned to Anada. “sir, a new control cable has been installed. Data from the engineering section is once again routed to here.” “good” Anada said. “status on the hyperdrive?” “hyperdrive is green,” the officer said. Anada clicked his radio. “Engineering can you confirm a green on the hyperdrive?” “Engineering here, hyperdrive is green, I repeat hyperdrive is green.” Anada smiled slightly. “finally some good news.”
Xenar stood on the bridge of the ko’tak supervising the work at hand. “the hyperdrive is nearly online,” Vano reported. “that’s good,” Xenar said. It was odd. Her fingers were feeling cold, yet the bridge was warm. A familiar feeling returned. She turned and walked to the stairs. “you know where to find me, Vano, I’ll be back in a few minutes.” Vano had been called on the radio and was talking with someone. As he saw Xenar leaving, he merely put up a thumb and continued his conversation. It was getting colder. Xenar walked to the nearest ring platform, stepped on and typed in the location of the most remote ring station. When she arrived, she could see her breath condensed in the air. The walls were frozen, and as she walked away, the floor was more and more covered in snow. She ran, but the snow layer only got thicker. The ceiling was gone and replaced by a bluer-than-blue sky and a weak sun. Xenar looked around, her trails went back for miles. The ground was just perfectly white snow and the sky was perfectly blue. Her eyes were sore from the brightness. Her hands were pale. Her feet, well she couldn’t even feel them anymore. Xenar wore little clothing, so that didn’t help either. And then.
Vano checked the clock. Xenar was gone for half an hour. He sighed, walked away from the bridge to the nearest ring station and punched in the address for the ring nearest to Xenar’s quarters. Once there however, there was no Xenar to be seen. Neither in nor near her quarters. No response on the radio. Vano ringed back to the bridge area, looking around for any signs of her. “please, I hope you haven’t done anything stupid.” Vano thought. “I can’t use that/.”\ He sighed, went to the rings, opened the console, typed in his access code and got entry into the machine’s programming. Vano thought for a moment, then searched for the history. After looking on his watch, he searched for ring activity during that period and found an address. Vano walked out of the ring station. It was a hallway near the capacitor stations, undamaged by the fight and far from both the bridge and the hyperdrive. He looked left, seeing nothing but a hallway. He walked to the right. There lay Xenar, seemingly in a trance, unresponsive and unmoving. Vano ran over, checked her pulse. Nothing.
Vano ran into the Ko’tak’s medical bay, carrying the body of Xenar. Luckily it was very quiet, only a few injured here and there laying on beds behind curtains. The Doctor, Beka Khar, noticed Vano. “my Ra, what happened?” she asked, worried and confused as she hurried over to him. “no time to explain, open the revive bay!” he commanded. Beka ran over to a thick door, put her full hand on the scanner and the door opened. Inside was a clinically sterile room, and Vano quickly headed inside. “wait, what’s the cause of death?” Beka asked. “no time,” Vano said briskly. “sometimes the Sarcophagus does more harm than good. I need to know the cause of death,” Beka insisted. “electrocution.” Vano replied while the Sarcophagus inside the revival bay opened. He put Xenar inside, and the Sarcophagus closed again. Khar looked at Vano. “how long?” she asked softly. “few minutes. I’m not sure how long exactly,” he replied equally soft. “you know the facts and figures, don’t you?” Khar asked. Vano sighed, and looked away from the Sarcophagus. “brain damage within one minute, serious damage after five. Gets progressively worse. After the seven minutes mark the treatment can not fully compensate anymore.”
Vano had been checking his watch periodically. “it’s done when it’s done, Commander.” Khar said in an attempt to comfort him. “I know, I know.” Vano said, his mind absent. Finally, the sarcophagus opened. Vano hurried over to the device, and looked inside. Xenar lay inside, her eyes open, staring into infinity. “Xenar? You there?” Vano asked, worried. Xenar however did not respond. Suddenly, she got up and sat up right, her eyes still staring. Like a zombie she moved up and looked around, but seemingly without actually processing what she saw. “Xenar? XENAR?”. Vano shook her, something Xenar responded to by grabbing his throat and squeezing. Khar backed off, overwhelmed by it all. “Vano? What’s happening?” suddenly Xenar’s soul seemed to return as her zombie stare vanished. She let go. “vano? What just happened?” she asked. “I don’t know. I was hoping you had answers” vano replied as he tried to catch his breath. “this madness has to end. I can give you three choices” Xenar seemed somewhat surprised. “three choices?” “Commander Xenar? Commander Vano? We are ready to execute a jump, but we can’t do it while we are surrounded by plasma. The ship might survive the jump, but we won’t,” a voice announced over the radio. Vano looked at Xenar, who gestured that he should reply. “right,” Vano said. He tapped his radio. “Bridge, this is Vano. Figure something out.” “sir, this is Majara,” the Hebridan figure on the bridge said. “I already took the liberty of creating a solution. If we expand our shield momentarily, we can create sufficient empty space to execute a jump. But it’s not without risk. The shields are dangerously low on power.” Vano glanced at Xenar. She grabbed her own radio. “this is Xenar. Do it. The longer we stay here the worse it gets. She turned to Vano. “what three choices?” Vano stepped forward. “choice one, I can kill you, and assume the position of First Commander.¨ Xenar stepped back slightly. “Vano that would be betrayal.” “choice two, we surpress those memories. Choice three, we keep you this way and see what stuff we uncover.” Xenar attempted to draw her gun but found that her holster was empty. Vano held up two guns, his own and hers. “I was about to shoot you when you strangled me.” He said. “tell me, Xenar. What is it going to be? Because the third option isn’t an option. I can’t allow you to periodically leave and go crazy. You died, for crying out loud!” “Vano calm down. Za is going to kill you if you kill me. That would be treason and treason is punishable by death.” Xenar paused. “it’s not treason if the person in command is unfit for her job. Going crazy very well qualifies for unfit.” Vano lectured. “if we surpress those memories again, will you be fine?” Xenar thought for a moment. “good I’ll have those memories surpressed. Even though I have no clue how we’re going to do that.” The ship started to shake, and the Hebridan announced an entrance into hyperspace. Moments later, the shaking was over. “guess we’re going home,” Xenar said in an attempt to make the conversation easier. “this is home,” vano said under his breath as he walked away, leaving a slightly baffled doctor and Xenar behind.
Lord Za stood behind one of her consoles in a large, dome-shaped room. The console before her contained five 17 inch screens, a standard QWERTY keyboard and a plethora of other buttons. Her hair was blonde, her face and skin looked younger than they should be. She wore a leather suit, not unlike those worn by commander Kiva’s forces, similar in design to the rest of her faction. while she was busy with some designs, a console bleeped. Dozens of consoles were present in the dome room, with an equal amount of people working behind them. At the center of the room was a large version of the Tactical Hologram Table, displaying the state of the galaxy, many colors representing factions, forces, fleets and planets. “What is it?” Za asked without looking up. The woman to which the console belonged to responded “it’s a ship, Lord, it just dropped out of hyperspace in orbit. It bears the IFF of commander Xenar.” “hail it.” “we’re already being hailed,” the woman responded. “on screen.” On one of her screens, the face of Xenar appeared. “Lord, I have returned with good news,” she informed Za. “any particular reason you showed up in person?” she asked casually. “my ship is damaged. I lost the planet Adaro to the Tau’ri. But the Ko’tak project is completed,” Xenar replied. “use the ring stations,” Za commanded. She tapped the screen and it returned to it’s original display of a ship.
A few minutes later, and Xenar met Za in person. Xenar wore her official uniform, the same leather uniform as Za but with three green patches on her shoulder to indicate her status as First Commander. Za had no patches or any other indication other than purple stitching on her uniform, perhaps to indicate she stood above the rank system. “report.” Za said sharply. She gestured that Xenar should follow her as they walked away from the ring stations. “Omari believes that I stole a particular technology from him. Which is untrue by the way,” Xenar began, but she was cut short by Za sticking up a finger. “there is probably more to it. So Omari alerted the Tau’ri to you planet?” Za semi-asked. “yes, Lord.” Xenar confirmed. “a Daedalus-class was sent, which I blasted out of the sky with the Ko’tak. I will append the sensor data to the official Ko’tak file.” Again Za put up her finger, not like a student asking his teacher but rather she kept he upper arm down, a short, authorial finger cutting her short. “you blew up a Daedalus. I sure hope THE Daedalus?” she asked. “unfortunately, no. it was the Dyonisus.” Xenar replied. “but it’s quite an achievement in itself,” she hastily added. “they’re hard to destroy, those BC-304’s”. “so tell me, is the Ko’tak something we can mass-produce?” Za asked. Xenar was silent. “so I guess not. Then tell me of some technology we CAN use. Weapons, shields?” Xenar was still silent. Then she spoke. “the Naquahdriah reactors work fine. I have my people working on blueprinting the entire ship. Which isn’t easy considering that unnoted modifications have been made to make this thing work in the first place.” “I was hoping to fit the Aggragator class with weapons technology derived from the Ko’tak. But since that’s not feasible, the naquahdriah reactors should do,” Za explained. They took a left turn. “Balr already expressed concerns about his resources being wasted on ships that wouldn’t fight our battle. Now that we can fit the reactors into those ships, we can finally use them.” Za tapped her radio. “copy the Ko’tak database to our own servers. Use APCHRON encoding, we can’t let that data fall into the hands of Tau’ri spies.” Xenar seemed surprised. “APCRON?” “an encoding algorithm I designed. I only use it for my own files.” Za replied.
The architecture of the base went from a cobbled together look to what seemed to be Ancient. “what is this for base?” Xenar asked. “It’s an age-old Ancient structure. It was found by one of the original Lucian lords. When the First Lucian Alliance fell and dissolved, it was unused for almost a year. When I went scavenging for useful things, I came across the coordinates. The only time I ever found any reference to it. The base I speak of has since been nuked to the ground. The only ones who know of it are you, Yitari and I. plus everyone who has been permanently stationed here,” Za explained. “this has been built by the ancients?” Xenar asked in wonder. “well, what’s left of it. The Lord who found it didn’t exactly do a proper maintenance job. The entire structure is damaged. I’ve been repairing it ever since,” Za said casually. “as you no doubt noticed, the planet we are on sits closely to it’s star. One side is a field of magma, the other side a cold, harsh wasteland. Every 30 hours the hottest place on the planet becomes the coldest place. Plus 2000 degrees, minus one hundred. This facility sits on the planet’s mantle in a sea of permanent magma. It’s shields have been designed to drain energy from the sea of magma, geothermal energy at it’s most literal.” “invisible to any sensor.” Xenar added. “the Ko’tak can’t find it either? Good I was wondering about that,” Za said with a slight smile. They had entered a testing hall. left and right, people were experimenting on all sorts of things, behind thick safety glass. Goauld and Ori staffweapons, Sodan cloaks, half a dozen devices Xenar had never seen. At the very end of the hall, before they went right, was a much thicker, much larger room. Xenar peeked through the glass. Inside, half-covered by thick cables, large superconductors and at least two large crystal racks, sat a semi-cylindrical crystal device. A weak glow came off of it, and a small red dot sat atop, held in place by black wiring. “you have a Zero Point Module?” Xenar asked in amazement. “ it’s not that big of a deal. If I hooked it up to a ha’tak, it would burn out in two seconds. I have people trying to figure out how to reverse the process. Unfortunately, Tau’ri research on the subject is among the top prizes, along with their shield and hyperdrive technology. Those are their best-kept secrets.” Za fell silent. She had a clear thirst for knowledge. She already possessed a whole lot of it, but being one of the few pioneers in the entire galaxy, more knowledge is hard to acquire. Stealing it was another option. Yes, they had stolen human technology before. And they had access to several advanced worlds, so computer and projectile technology was no secret either. The ko’tak was their current pinnacle, the benchmark of Lucian technology.
Za and Xenar had arrived at the central chamber. Ancient symbols and markings covered the walls and ceiling. Za’s console was beeping, and by the looks of it, had been beeping for a while. “Lord, Yitari is requesting to speak with you,” one of her staff reported. Za tapped a button and one of five screens showed a male face. Handsome, but he bore the marks of experience. “how far are you with the Aggragator modifications?” Za asked. “the Aggragator ships are almost finished. We still require the latest blueprints for the reactor cores. Once those are here, plus the requested materials, we can finish them.” Yitari spoke. “but –forgive me- that is not why I need to speak. A fleet of ships is en route to our location. While I do have a large fleet, three quarters of my fleet consists unfinished Aggragators. I can’t hold them off. And I can’t escape.” “what kind of ships?” Za asked. “Tau’ri, Republic, Empire, Hebridan?” Za inquired. “they are ha’tak. Given the data our sensors return, I’d say Republic Ha’tak.” Yitari responded. It was clear that he understood the gravity of the situation. Za looked at Xenar, at her console and pondered. “Xenar, I need you to go there with the Ko’tak. It is the fastest ship available, you’ll be there first. The Aggragators are located even closer to the Galactic core, obscured from alien sight. Once there, Yitari is responsible for the ships, you for the defence of them.” Xenar nodded. “understood, I’ll make my way back to the ring stations.” While Xenar turned and jogged away, Za’s console beeped again and a second screen lit up. It was an invitation of some kind. She turned to Yitari. “you know what to do. Do it.” That said, Za turned off her console, removed a small green crystal from the top, put it on her necklace and walked away.
A short walk later, and she stood in a small room, not unlike a small chapel. Pillars surrounded Za as she stood on a small pedestal. A forcefield became active, then the pedestal lit up. “Ah, Za, there you are.” Za looked to her left. She was in a very different chamber, of Lucian construct. Eighteen pedestals like hers, but no constructs around them. A large, circular chamber with no doors. A large, dome-shaped ceiling with markings and drawings. Ten holographic figures stood, spread over the available pedestals. Za looked at the person who talked to her. She stared at a holographic Omari. She herself was holographic. This was the Convocation Chamber. “why did you call for a convocation, Omari?” Za asked. “I, well I presume we all, were wondering on the status of the Ko’tak. Since the last inspection, we haven’t heard of it. Isn’t it, well, finished? Unlike the last three convocations about this matter?” Omari asked. “it is finished.” the other lords sighed with relief, some more forcedly than others. “So when does the production of this vessel begin?” This time, it was Kakaro who asked. She stood two pedestals from Omari. “As you understand, building the Ko’tak was not easy. The blueprints are incomplete. They have to be corrected before we can even consider producing them en masse. And even then, can we spare the naquahdiah?” Za asked. “There should be no doubt about that.” It was the somewhat warmer voice of Balr. Dressed in a green and brown suit, he seemed somewhat like a leprechaun. Not that anyone, not even his personal dressers had told him that. Not that they knew anything about leprechauns. “Ah, Balr, always a shining presence,” Za said with mild sarcasm. “You do understand the inherent problems with the power levels the Ko’tak operates at?” “No. I have people who understand it for me. People like you. But the amount of naquahdriah you request is absurd. I can spare it, yes, but that doesn’t stop it from being absurd,” Balr replied. “it only makes your reserves look absurd,” one of the other Lords said in mild jest. He continued in a more serious tone. “do we even want to spend large amounts of naquahdriah on such technology. the… traceability. Naquahdah is a safe, established currency. We shouldn’t be investing in this.. high-profile material.” “Naquahdriah is what made the Tau’ri big. It is an element that pushes the boundaries of goauld technology further. The Ko’tak has unrivalled power levels. Power has it’s price. That price is Naquahdriah,” Za defended. “Is it a price worth paying?” another lord asked. “I understand, that the Ko’tak is a powerful weapon. By modern standards, perhaps even a superweapon. But in the fight for our cause..” -a few Lords snorted or coughed- “… our power, it is a weapon, a superweapon we need.” “It is an object of power. An object of power any and all of us want. Which is why we, and I, want more of them,” Omari interrupted. The chamber was silent. “It is a valuable asset to my fleet. If I need to, I will buy it from you,” he added. “It’s an asset I won’t sell,” Za replied. “because of it’s funding, it belongs to all of us.” Another Lord spoke. “The funding doesn’t make it belong to all of us. But I will use it to benefit all of us. Not just me,” Za spoke. The chamber burst out into chatter. “Well I’m glad those memories were suppressed. Especially before we went to see Lord Za,” Xenar spoke to Vano. “It could’ve been awkward and worse, very dangerous if we hadn’t done it.” Vano looked around the Bridge. About a dozen engineers were repairing it, working away thick cables behind panels, placing new ones and replacing a few monitors which had shorted out. The hebridan Bridge Master approached Xenar. “Commander, we are near the coordinates the Lord provided us,” he informed her. “Good, drop us out when we’re there,” she replied.
A few moments later the Ko’tak dropped out of hyperspace. It had arrived in a patch of empty space. The sensors picked up a few ships. “commander, we have detected over a dozen ships,” the Hebridan announced. Xenar was worried. Had they dropped out in a trap? “identify them,” she said. “we’re picking up 12 unidentified ships, three goauld Troop Transports, Five ha’tak and three Al’kesh,” came the reply. One console beeped. “we’re receiving an identification request" “send our identification codes,” Xenar commanded. It was silent for a few seconds. Then the communication console beeped approvingly. The THT activated and Yitaro’s face appeared. “Ah, Xenar, I’m glad you are here. Where is your fleet?” he asked. “there is no fleet. This ship is the only one that could come in time,” Xenar replied calmly. “It’s the experimental ship, you know?” Yitaro thought for a few seconds, then nodded. “I believe it has already gathered fame under the name of Ko’tak. An incorrect spelling but that’s a detail.” “yes how sharp of you. Two of my main weapons are fried, do you have any replacements?” Xenar briskly asked. “one of the Troop Transports is a factory ship and the other is a warehouse. So i should have one,” Yitaro said. He looked at his scanner displays. “Are those custom weapons? I don’t believe that particular shape and size is standardized in any way.” “I –hopefully- have the blueprints for them on board, so I could send them,” Xenar said and she motioned Vano to check for them. “how long would it take to build it?” “that completely depends on whether you used custom components or standard sizes. Anywhere inbetween two and twenty six hours,” Yitaro guessed out loud. “I found them,” Vano said as he pulled up the schematics. “I’m sending them now.” Yitaro looked at his screens again. “yes that’s going to take some while.” He looked at a clock behind him. “three hours before the enemy fleet is here.” “our subspace detectors can’t see that far out,” Xenar pointed out. “I know, Xenar. Which is why I spread out a dozen or so subspace listening satellites to expand that limit. Just as I have placed Shield satellites to protect us from the harsh radiation.” Xenar looked at him. “can we use those to protect the ships from the invading force?” Yitary smiled sadly. “if only. No I'd be surprised if they could take a single Al'kesh bomb. They stop the radiation so I can do EVA, they can't stop weapons fire.
One more pedestal activated. A hooded figure, not quite human, had appeared on it. “Ah,” Balr said. “Machayo. I thought you’d never come.” “I was otherwise occupied,” Machayo said. “A stray hebridan ship nearly discovered my planet.” “so what happened?” Kakaro asked. “the ship was captured by cloaked Tel’tak before it could send any distress signal and the crew has been brainwashed and chappa’d home.” “Why send them home?” one of the lords said. “Because complete disappearance would raise questions and it would do the opposite of what I was intending to do,” Machayo replied. “they now believe their ship crashed and they managed to get home by chappa.” There was a pause. Machayo removed his cloak, revealing a face that wasn’t even remotely human. A reddish, scaled reptilian face revealed itself. Machayo’s mouth was lined by small teeth, and two horn-stumps protruded from the back of head. Once the stumps were horns, but for whatever reason were cut off. “is there anything I have missed?¨ he asked. “We were debating the Ko’tak, and it’s use,” Za responded. “I fully support the matter,” Machayo said and looked around the chamber. “Now that that’s clear, how far is the next batch of Aggragators, Machayo?” Za asked eagerly. “Construction has just begun on five Aggregators. We expect to have them finished in about six months.”
The holographic Yitaro looked at Xenar. “the plan is this: i'll use my few guarding ships to escort the Aggregators through hyperspace. They are brought to a safe place about 80 hyperminutes out. My ships return to get the second batch and we're out of here.” “yes,” Xenar said, “but are they back in time? We only have three hours, your trip would cut the second run awfully close.” She looked at the holographic layout of nearby space, and noticed something. “do you even have enough ships for two runs? I doubt the Transports and the Al'kesh can carry Aggregators in hyperspace...” “It kind of was my plan to use your fleet for the rest. But since you only have one...” Yitaro said. “Speaking of ships, why aren't yours leaving? Time isn't exactly a luxury right now,” Xenar interrupted. “Some modification is needed for the task. They're old ships you know. Since people like Omari have all the shiny Anubian ha'tak, i'm left with old Apophian ships. Well if they're not pre-Apophis...” Yitaro said, his voice growing more annoyed. “yes yes, what a shame. I'm sorry for you, yada yada,” Xenar said. “do we have an ETA on those upgrades?” “They should be done right about now,” Yitaro said. “convenient,” Xenar added. “well since we have three hours of uninterrupted fun left, why don't you show me the Aggregators?”. “that can be arranged,” Yitaro said. He actually seemed to lighten up. “good. Vano, think up a defence strategy,” Xenar said and she headed to the Ring Stations.
Yitaro stood by the ring station. It activated, as expected, and Xenar materialized before his eyes. “Welcome, to the A-7,” he said invitingly. “A-7?” Xenar wondered out loud. “yes, Aggregator seven. I name them systematically, it's much easier that way,” Yitaro responded. “My ships just left,” he added, and he checked his watch, “ETA for their return is two hours twenty minutes.” Xenar nodded and stepped into the hallway. The entire inside had a somewhat claustrophobic feel to it. Pipes ran atop the ceiling, and simple metal grates decorated the walls and floors. Two people could barely walk next to each other and Xenar could barely stand up straight. TL-lights lit up the ship, spreading a cold light. All in all, miles away from any goauld interior ever. “The bridge is this way,” Yitaro said as he gestured her to go first. “i suppose you don't have any helmets around” Xenar asked with a chuckle as she head the right way.
In the Convocation Chamber, a Pedestal lit up in the middle of a heated debate. The person who appeared was a Jaffa, the golden mark of Cronus still on his forehead. He appeared cloaked in a color somewhere between beige and sand, carrying some symbol on a chain around his neck. He immediately looked Za's way. He interrupted her welcome. “Za, are you aware that the Republic launched an assault on your Aggregator Hold? “So, it's the jaffa,” Za said. “i couldn't tell by the Goa'uld ships, every half-minded thug has one these days.” That remark visibly wasn't received well by the other lords. “so the Aggregators, our collective property, is in danger?” one of the lords asked. “they're currently under my guard so they are currently my property,” Za responded. “secondly, there is both a fleet waiting and one under way for backup. The Aggregators will be relocated to a safe location.” “I wasn't aware that five ha'tak count as a fleet. Nor one ha'tak,” Kakaro said with snide. “it's fleet enough for the attacking force. Plus that the Ko'tak should be there by now, which I count as a one-ship-fleet. Or should I obliterate a jaffa battlegroup to prove that?” she said in an increasingly threatening way. When a Lord attempted to reply, Za interrupted. “and since when are my forces spied upon?” she asked Kakaro. “i do it because I want to safeguard the Aggregators. Specifically the two I ordered.”
Xenar and Yitaro entered the docking bay of the Aggregator. It wasn't exactly large, a handful of Tel'tak would barely fit in. “Why even bother with a docking bay?” Xenar asked. “it doesn't add that much..” “It's always useful. Besides, there is only one,” Yitaro said. “to pick up stray tel'tak, or to do scout missions. Anyway, have you thought about how you want yours equipped?” Xenar was somewhat taken aback by his question. “mine?” “well Za ordered two Aggregators for testing. Since the Lord is always in her base, what better use than to give it to us?” as Xenar was about to answer, an alarm blared. “what's the alarm? Isn't the fleet supposed to arrive in three hours?” Xenar asked Yitaro. His face however had an aweful, scared face of recognition. “that's the undocking alarm.” during the short conversation they had already reached the other end of the room, and there was only one proper entrance for space reasons. The other entrance was for goods only and it was placed in the ceiling. Xenar followed Yitaro. “what do you mean, undocking alarm?” The doors to space opened, and the atmospheric shields failed that instant. Yitaro and Xenar were sucked out into space.
On the Ko'tak bridge, there was a short beeping. Vano didn't even look up from the THT. “Sir.” Vano looked up. A sensor officer looked at him. “we picked up two lifesigns in space. No sheduled external maintenance.” “wat the? Send a tel'tak to investigate!” Vano quickly commanded. “there must've been a hull breach.”
In space, Yitaro and Xenar gently floated away from the A-7. Yitaro had grabbed an oxygen tank just before they were sucked out, but the mask was ripped off. He grabbed the tank, and a scared look covered his face. Various tools floated alongside them. Yitaro grabbed a large spanner, and threw it away from him to get closer to Xenar. He exhaled, opened the valve and took a breath of oxygen from the tank. The gas blew straight in his face. Xenar attempted a swimming move to get even closer to Yitaro, and her face got paler. Far away, a Tel'tak dispatched from the Ko'tak for a rescue operation. It was Yitaro who noticed, and Xenar noticed the look on his face. As she saw the bleak searchlights of the Tel'tak, her lips widened to smile. Yitaro let his breath escape of excitement and hastily grabbed another breath of air. The two met inbetween and Xenar hastily breathed in the oxygen. Her skin started to look reddish. After an eternity or two, the Tel'tak became visible. A bright light encompassed the two First Commanders and they landed harshly on the cold Tel'tak floor. Both Commanders gasped for fresh air, their skin reddish from decompression.
It wasn't much later when Xenar stood up and got to the cockpit. Two Lucian soldiers saluted her, and she meagerly replied with a salute. “contact the Ko'tak, secure channel.” Vano was happy to see her holographic face. “Xenar! I was worried it was you!” “touching. But this wasn't an accident,” she replied. “it was an outright assassination attempt.” “i'll contact Yitaro” Vano said as he pressed a few buttons. “no need to, he's standing right besides me,” Xenar said, as Yitaro arrived from the back compartment. “he's fine too, by the way.” “i see why you're suspicious,” Vano said. There was a pause. Yitaro noticeably kept gasping for air with every breath. “damn,” he gasped, “that was hell,” he gasped, “i see your point,” he gasped as he looked at Xenar. His radio crackled. “Commander, one of your officers has just committed suicide. Pill. He tampered with basic security protocols.” “well well, you have a spy in your midst,” Xenar said. Yitaro tapped his radio. “i noticed...” he said. “but good work anyway.” “i have a Sarcophagus onboard,” Xenar said suggestively. “no i'm fine,” Yitaro said defensively, slightly annoyed. “i didn't mean for you, smarty,” she said. “you mean resurrect him?” Yitaro asked, his eyes widening. “that's kind of the purpose of a Sarcophagus, yes.” she mocked him. “i'm sorry but that is not an option.” it was Vano who said it. “why?” Xenar said, slightly annoyed, slightly disappointed. “the Tau'ri pills ensure the toxins remain after resurrection. In short, he'd die the moment he lives again,” Vano replied. “i encountered it with practically every Tau'ri spy. It's not even a complicated recipe.” “Great,” Xenar said. “well let's prepare for the assault then. “wait,” Yitaro warned. “we should visit the infirmary first, check for any radiation or barological damage.”
Finally, five ha'tak dropped out of hyperspace. “they're back,” Vano announced to Xenar. “good.” she checked the countdown screen. “They're late.” “only five minutes with a two minute deviation. The Jaffa will be on top of us any moment now,” Vano made up the time balance. Xenar walked to the THT, and pressed a button. The face of Yitaro appeared. “yes?” he asked. “can the Aggregators use their engines?” Xenar asked. “if so, have them move away now. The more distance between the Aggregators and the Jaffa, the better.”
As the Aggregators engaged their engines, the Ha'tak aligned with them. Within a few moments, both were underway. After they escaped the boundary of the radiation shields, the Ha'tak practically clamp to the Aggregators, and they entered Hyperspace. “well,” Xenar said over the transmission. “Two left. Ever thought about how you're gonna get the last two out?” “yes,” Yitaro said. “i saved the two most complete ships for last. They only have 10% power but they can enter hyperspace on their own. At least, once the reactor is properly installed. It's nearly done, so you need to buy us a minute or so.” “well,” Xenar said, wondering, “have you ever thought of leaving it behind?” “we can't do that. Whatever Lord it belongs to will not be happy. Even though I carefully stashed away the list of what Aggregator belonged to which Lord, they'll still blame me, and you, and the Lord, for it's destruction. We simply can't do that,” Yitaro said worriedly. “Great, again i'm risking my ship, my crew and my own life for someone elses problems,” Xenar said. “so you're leaving?” Yitaro asked. “No, I just accepted the challenge.”
A hyperspace window opened, as they tend to do. A Republic fleet emerged, ten Ha'tak, then fifteen Al'kesh.
Xenar stood on the Bridge of the Ko'tak. “seriously?” she asked softly. “problem?” Vano asked equally soft. “some days I ask myself why I even get up. I guess I'm so damn stubborn I even ignore myself.” she replied in a whisper. “good,” she continued out loud. “We destroyed a Tau'ri battlecruiser, surely we can handle this!” “it's good to hear that,” Vano said calmly. The Hologram table beeped. The three Troop Transports each took their own route and left for hyperspace. The Tel'tak move in to intercept. It was as if a battlespirit took possession of Xenar. “NO NEED TO POSE.” she shouted. “OPEN FIRE, MAXIMUM POWER.” Vano was slightly surpised. “you go girl,” he muttered under his breath with a smile on his face.
On the Ko'tak, large cannons swiveled around and aimed for the approaching Al'kesh. A second later, multiple bright bolts of energy made their way through space. Though the Al'kesh attempted to evade, the flurry of bolts was not avoidable. One al'kesh attempted to trade a main cannon bolt for a secondary bolt, but made the wrong choice. It exploded in a bright fireball, the force of the blast made the other Al'kesh deviate from their course. Two more plunged into the weapons fire. Within a few moments, the Al'kesh force was turned to a field of smoke, debris and plasma. “The Ha'tak are changing formation,” Vano reported. On the THT, the various dots formed three rows of three ha'tak. One ha'tak cowered behind the middle one, creating a pyramid formation flipped 90 degrees. “they want to force us to spread our fire,” Xenar analyzed. “concentrate fire on the back middle ha'tak!,” she added. “there's a ha'tak in front of it,” Vano remarked. Xenar reacted with a “precisely”. The Ha'tak entered firing range, and the exchange began. Nine ha'tak versus one Ko'tak. “You know what to do,” she said to the pilot. The Ko'tak moved upward, evading the weapons fire and ensuring it was drawn from the Aggregators. “they're hailing us,” Vano announced. “put it on” Xenar commanded. “Surrender is still an option,” the Jaffa said. Xenar chuckled. “i'm glad you noticed it yourself. Use this moment before your ha'tak is a smoldering wreck.” The Jaffa clearly did not see the irony and terminated the transmission, without any traditional jaffa words, threats or other speeches. “the shields are already down to 80%” Vano reported. “put it on the screen, I don't need to hear that,” Xenar calmly replied.
In space, the battle continued. The Ko'tak took an unprecedented beating from nine ha'tak. However, it's weapons hit the other ha'tak much harder. Although the formation kept facing the Ko'tak, the central ha'tak rotated slower and slower, until it's engines were too damaged. While another ha'tak attempted to take it's place, the Ko'tak continued it's ruthless attack. The central ha'tak failed and plasma bolts penetrated the armor. Within seconds it was devoured by flames and debris.
Finally, Yitaro contacted the Ko'tak. “we're done over here. Make sure they don't hit us or this plan will be over very soon.” “will do,” Xenar briskly replied as she focused on the battle. The powering up of the Aggregators did not go unnoticed however, and two ha'tak broke off to face them. “follow those ha'tak,” Xenar commanded. The Ko'tak broke off it's evasive maneuver, took a few extra bolts to it's shields and pursued the two ha'tak. A flurry of weapons fire hit the first ha'tak, slowing it down somewhat as the shields drained extra power. “keep going,” Xenar said as her eyes narrowed. The Aggregators raised shields and powered their engines. Just in time, as the first bolts were on their way and missed by a hair. “Xenar, the shields are getting awefully low,” Vano noted as he checked the shield value. “i know, I know,” she said. One Aggregator jumped to hyperspace, the other got hit and it's window disintegrated. Yitaro's worried face appeared on screen. “Xenar, please” he pleaded. It was his ship. “maximum power to the engines. Get us up close with the Aggregator and perfom a synchronous jump,” Xenar said, to Yitaro's delight. “risky.” Vano noted, followed by a routinous “I know” from Xenar. The Ko'tak overtook the Ha'tak, pummeling their shields and receiving their weapons fire. It then took the brunt of the attack as the ship placed itself inbetween the attackers and the Aggregator, then opened a window and tugged the Aggregator in. the maneuver was only seconds long, but the Ko'tak took it's share of blasts, several penetrating the shields and testing the hull.
Lightyears away, in the safe zone, the Ko'taks hyperdrive burned out. As Vano noted Xenar, she merely responded with an “i know”. “not again.”
A light flickered. Xenar looked up, to see one of the many lights for the bridge damaged. She sighed. “Vano, remind me that it should be fixed.” Vano came walking down the stairs of the bridge, slightly taken aback. “how'd you know it was me?” his eyes were small and his hair was poorly done, even for a short military coupe. He had bags under his eyes, and he didn't make a very well-rested impression. Xenar was no better in that regard. “it's your turn to command,” Xenar said, tired, and she walked away. “hey, what about the report on recent events?” Vano questioned. “the same as last time,” Xenar replied as she walked past Vano. Vano walked to the Holotable, and checked the logs. Every day, at precisely the same time, Ha'tak showed up and attacked. Every day the same thing. Every time the same precise moment. Fist, Vano had thought it was just a mental attack, but the more reasonable explanation was that the ships simply couldn't keep up with them faster. “not a surprise when you have billions of dollars of bounty on your head,” Vano muttered but the words barely came out of his mouth. Everyone was tired. The ship was beginning to fall apart from extensive battle damage. The Ha'tak, however, would simply fall back and the next row of ships would attack. The hyperdrive was fast, but needed frequent cooldown and repair to keep functioning. Repair time was what the Ha'tak used to catch up again. They couldn't fall back to a world with sufficient supply and backup without revealing a major shipyard world.
Vano checked the holographic clock. 30 seconds and counting down. “prepare for combat,” Vano announced but it was not necessary. Everyone had been drilled for this by the dozens and dozens of attacks. The clock counted down, the light kept flickering. Ten seconds. The THT indicated shields were up and weapons were powered. Then, four seconds before time, the alarms blared and six Ha'tak dropped out of hyperspace to attack. Vano let out a “what the.” and the ship shook heavily. “Shields are holding,” one of the officers announced. “at 95% and dropping steadily.” Vano's heartbeat raced. Had the ship been repaired sufficiently? The Shield counter dipped below 60%. An alarm blared. “sir, we're getting a hyperspace window alarm!” Vano looked at the THT which displayed just two ships dropping out. The entire device then flickered twice, and died. “shields down to 20%,” one of the shield officers announced. “what in sokar's name is going on?” Vano asked, perplexed.” The ship shook heavily, and the damaged light came crashing down in a shower of sparks and glass and light. Vano braced himself from it. In seconds it was over. The ship rocked one last time and a deafening silence filled the bridge.
“sir?” one of the officers announced. “we're being hailed.” Vano got up, his arm covered in blood. It barely bled, but his arm had been cut by a thousand small pieces of glass. “open a channel. And point me to a working screen.” The female officer gestured to come over there, and Vano did so. On a 16 or so screen, a familiar face greeted Vano. “Well well, you sure don't look so....well.” Vano stared in astonishment. “Omari? No offense but what the Sha'is are you doing here.” “i don't take offense to words I don't know,” Omari responded calmly. “i actually was tracking your ship and watching it's battle performance. Then I...” Vano cut him off. “WHAT!” “i said I was watching your...” “YOU BASTARD” “Vano calm down.” It didn't come from the screen. Behind Vano, Xenar had appeared again, a slight bit less bad looking than before. “Omari, you're pure evil but you know that. Why now?” Vano breathed quite heavily and he decided it was best to back away. He walked a bit, kicking a computer, and the accompanying screen displayed a 'no signal' message. Xenar ignored him and continued. “why now, if you had the ace card all the time?” “well,” Omari said. “it was fun to watch, but I thought that this should be the threshold, so I sent my Aggregators to clean the place up. So why didn't you call for backup? Pride?” “come on, Omari. You know i'm halfway to Ne'tu. No backup would be able to catch up. And there's no running backwards,” Xenar defended. “a choice's a choice,” Omari replied cryptically. “now, can you get onboard my ship. I need to discuss something. The ring codes should show up any moment now.” there was a sound and indeed, a set of codes appeared. “Vano, you have the bridge. I'm gonna have a talk with my old friend,” Xenar said with a hint of sarcasm. “can't I come?” Vano asked, but he half knew the answer. “i said I wanted to talk. If I wanted to fight, i'd just take a gun.”
On an even more distant world, the local Stargate activated with a kawoosh. The gate had been placed on a small plaza, with the necessary ornamental pillars, plants and a set of guards. Once the puddle was calm, a figure stepped through. Dressed in a simplistic, but iconic leather outfit with purple stitching, was Lord Za. She looked at the guards, none of them human, all of them about the same height. They looked like typical grunts, although still alien. All had more or less equally red scales, stood about 1.80m tall, were armored in shining, white metal armor with orange-colored undergarment, two rows of eight total. All carried the same, black rifle. Not in assault mode, more like a ceremonial guard. All had two horn stumps on the back head. Za looked around. “pretty place you have here,” she said but none of the guards reacted, and none of them probably understood her anyway. Before her, there was a slope, paved with what seemed to be marble. And as her eyes followed the uphill road, she saw another figure, dressed in a cloak. Za walked forward, and the figure spread his arms. “Welcome to my planet, Za,” said Lord Machayo. As Za walked up the slope, the Stargate deactivated and the Guards were dismissed. “Quite a reception, Machayo.” Za said with a smile. She looked around, and it became clear that she didn't walk up a hill, but that the gate plaza was several meters lower than the rest of the place. “join me,” Machayo said. He turned and the two Lords walked next to each other, away from the Stargate. Machayo clicked a little remote, and a shuttle decloaked a few meters ahead. “I wasn't aware you had cloaking tech,” Za said in wonder. Machayo laughed a bit. “we do not, at least not exactly. I had a Tel'tak stripped and most of the components placed in a personal shuttle. It was a bit of work as you'll certainly know, but it's worth it”. They entered the shuttle, where two comfortable seats awaited them.
“I did not expect a visit,” Machayo said, “so I was quite surprised when I read your request.” “Yes, I imagine. I was interested in the production process for the Aggregators. I would like to see how you make them, and how close you are to schedule,” Za said calmly. “well the project is a blessing for my people. Thousands of employments are it's result, and many companies did massive investments in production technology. It has allowed them to get Forcefield-Casting technology with unprecedented precision and detail, and dozens of other technologies, to produce the Aggregators. It is excellent for our economy.” Za merely nodded. “any opposition to it?” Machayo paused. “well there are always those who believe it's squandering of tax money. And our third grade countries are not exactly seeing eye to eye on it. Not that they normally agree with us anyway.” Za looked out of the viewscreen, as they passed an enormous skyscraper which went far above the clouds. They flew over a tightly packed city. “It's quite a place you have here,” Za said in admiration.
A ring station activated. There was a bright light, and Xenar appeared. Two guards stood ready, another searched her for weapons. After she was found clean, they went through the narrow hallways. A walk, and dozens of equally boring and metallic halls later, Xenar stood in the nervecenter of the Aggregator. It was similarly cramped, with a central commander chair, equipped with a control interface at either side, and against the walls, several work stations were placed. The Command chair turned around, and Omari revealed himself. “So you actually came. How are things?” Xenar was slightly surprised. “well aside from being chased and battled for days while someone watches from a distance and barely getting enough sleep, things are surprisingly fine.” “ah well, good to know. Now I asked you here because I need a little...favor,” Omari said as his mood turned more serious. “what exactly?” asked Xenar in surprise. “you see, this ship is built wonderfully. So full with all sorts of technologies. My engineers say it has a touch to it they have never seen before, not even with other things Yitaro made for me. It's quite... excellent,” Omari began. “well you're very flattering,” Xenar replied. “and?” “The problem is, I want to interface a certain device with this ship, and it's not quite working, even though every name-worthy engineer I have tells me it should.” “You're not telling me you want to interface a ZPM, do you?,” Xenar asked. “no, it's goa'uld technology. I want this ship to cloak. But despite my best engineers, it simply refuses to operate, even though the cloak generator itself works fine,” Omari said with a smile. “the ZPM was a nice one though.” “yea well... why me?” Xenar asked. “our record isn't exactly shiny.” “but I know you can keep a secret. This should be a thing between you and me,” Omari said as he leaned forward. “I was half expecting some kind of 'but'”, Xenar replied. “so I have to keep it a secret from my Lord?” “No, no, Za can know it. It was more of a thing against Yitaro. If I asked him, half the galaxy would know before I would have his answer,” Omari answered. “he's not THAT bad,” Xenar replied. “bad enough,” Omari said firmly.
The Shuttle had arrived at Machayo's palace, and landed in a private bay on the 3rd floor. Before it did so, it passed through the Palace shield first. “Nicely guarded, I like that,” Za said as both walked out of the shuttle. The bay was not very large, and was made of what appeared to be steel and marble, although the steel was a tad too white and the marble seemed somewhat synthetic. About a dozen guards had been placed in the Bay, with similar outfits to those near the gate. “so what is the real reason of your visit?” Machayo asked. Za looked around. “no spies, no microphones?” she asked. Machayo merely nodded. “it's my palace. I know the location of every fly in a 100 meter radius around this building, and everyone inside has a proper security check.” “good,” Za responded. “i have a plan.” “many people say that. Yours needs to be quite stellar to be credible.” Za smiled. “it's more like universal. I have the plan to change the battlefield forever, definitively. “That's....ambitious,” Machayo replied, and his reptilian eyes looked at Za with interest. “it requires two components. One I can get myself, but it requires the continued secrecy of the Aggregators. The other part, I need quite a force to acquire,” Za said mysteriously. “yes?” Machayo simply said. “i need you to help me get it through the Convocation,” Za responded. “you didn't tell me the plan,” Machayo noted her. “the half I need other people for is called Langara.”
Xenar ringed back aboard the Ko'tak. She had barely stepped away from the device when Vano rushed in. “and?” he asked impatiently and excited. “we need to talk in private.” A short walk later and both sat in Xenar's quarters. There, Vano repeated the question. “Omari asked me a favor,” Xenar explained. “Don't we own him one because of, well, an hour ago?”, Vano asked. “Kind of, yes. Anyway, he wants me to install Cloaking Generators on his Aggregators,” Xenar explained further. “why?” Vano asked. “you mean aside from the obvious 'to cloak'? I think his distrust for Yitaro is rooted much deeper than his hatred for me. He could've asked the Lord but she would probably have asked Yitaro anyhow. I only agreed to it because it allows me to see his Aggregators up close. He's quite impressed by them, by the way,” Xenar continued. “so you are going to do it” Vano said. “yes. You'll never know when it becomes useful to us.”
One by one, the Holographic pedestals activated. Za was the first, and she had called the Convocation. “Well well, this will be interesting,” one of the lords muttered disinterested. Za ignored him. “Welcome, welcome,” she said once no more pedestals activated. Suddenly one pedestal flickered, and Omari arrived. “welcome,” she repeated. The chamber was filled with mumbling, but it quickly died. “i have called this convocation for a very good reason.” Za paused. “i have recently discovered how to permanently change the war.” “We though the Ko'tak was that already?” one of the lords snapped. Za smiled a bit. “this is on a much grander scale.” the interest of the Lords clearly peaked. “the main reason why the war goes the way it goes, is because the tau'ri possess quite formidable shields, complemented with formidable weapons.” Za paused again, to let the information sink in. “While the Ko'tak is a successful attempt to match those weapons and shields, and while the Aggregator is meant to complement and support that, both are new ship classes that have to be built and maintained. My solution can be implemented cost effectively on every ship and every class.” “What is this miracle?” another lord asked, slightly snappy.” “Using the very Shield Frequency Modulation technology the Tau'ri use to penetrate old Ha'tak shields, we can make our shields far less vulnerable to their weapons, with no extra energy consumption. In fact, it should reduce,” Za explained. “Since when do you possess such technology?” Kakaro asked. “I do not. At least, not yet. But it can be done. It requires, however, two rather rare and exotic components.” Za paused again. She swallowed. The hard part had arrived. “i need two ships to create the patch for all our ships and shields. I need a Daedalus class, whole, and I need Destiny.” The chamber exploded in chatter, complaints, shouts, and general disbelief. “Madness”, “impossible,” and many similar words flew around the chamber, bounced against the walls and came back in full force. “SILENCE,” Za shouted. After two more attempts, the chamber was finally silent. Omari was the first to step forward. “so you want us to chase old dreams of Destiny?” “I don't need full control. What I need should be in the shield generators, so I need one to take back home. And I need a plasma weapon from a Daedalus Class.” “Why specifically a Daedalus class?” Machayo asked. “The ship is a middle way between a Valkyrie and an Athens. It's cannons will be quite representative of the entire arsenal,” Za explained. Another lord raised his hand, but did not await a turn. “How do you intend to get to Destiny, and perhaps even more interestingly, how do you intend to get back?” “the only existing gateway we know of, is Langara.” there was a pause. “Taking langara won't be easy. Ever since they mastered their Naquahdriah extractors, their technology has bloomed. They can match our shields and weapons by pure power,” Omari thought out loud. “True,” Za replied. “Which is why I need your support in the first place. A proper, coordinated attack on Langara should buy us the time we need. Again, I do not need full control of either Langara or Destiny. We need a Langaran Geothermal Drainage Point and a Destiny Shield Node.” “And a Daedalus class.” A shadowy figure had appeared on a previously unactivated pedestal. The voice was dark and deep. Everybody turned his attention. Omari was the first to respond. “welcome back, Odai Ventrell,” as Ventrell removed his cloak.
An icy silence filled the Convocation Chamber as Ventrell looked around. “well, i'm back. And I heard something big was about to go down, so I thought i'd drop by.” “The plan,” Za continued, “is to use the Shield technology onboard the Destiny to make all our shields far more effective against Tau'ri weapons.” “how do you know of that technology?” Ventrell asked. “I didn't know of it, and I doubt anybody else here did either.” “i recently acquired the last piece of the puzzle in the form of an engineering report of one Mr. Brody. Most of the Destiny mission reports have been...properly stashed away and are extraordinarily hard to acquire. Which is why I only got a copy after nearly 15 years,” Za answered. “What kind of Engineering report?” Omari asked. “They are the engineering details of a plan to adopt Destiny's shields against the Drone enemies, which should make the drone weapons nearly useless. Considering all Goa'uld shields are derived from ancient ones, I started to research this possibility for our own use. And the outcome, is that with a few minor modifications, I can change the frequency of our shields to make them more effective against Tau'ri weapons. And I can do the same for Goa'uld weapons, although the patches can not be used in sync,” Za explained further. Ventrell looked somewhat puzzled. “I did not know we had found an Icarus-class planet,” he said. “Langara has always been an option, but it was never deemed worth it. This is a strategic and technological advantage we can not ignore. I only need Langara for a few minutes to dial Destiny, and I only need to be on Destiny for a few hours. We have sufficient understanding of the 9th chevron code to dial back to a world of our own choosing,” Za pleaded. “Well,” Ventrell replied, “It's certainly interesting.”
Xenar stood on the Ko'tak bridge. She had just repaired the THT, and a holographic Omari appeared. “You can make use of one of my resupply bases,” Omari announced. “yea, well our Hyperdrive has been fried by your nuclear barrage. Some assistance will be helpful,” Xenar replied. “A Slipstream jump should do,” Omari simply said and turned off the screen. A few seconds later, and three codes appeared on screen. Xenar opened up the Navigational interface and entered the codes. A few seconds later, and the computer confirmed the codes, then began a synchronized jump calculation. In space, the two Aggregators lined up with the Ko'tak. Within seconds, the individual ship networks joined, and the three ships jumped to hyperspace in a single window. The Ko'tak gracefully made a way through the hyperspace tunnel, flanked by the Aggregators. “Commander,” One of the communication crew announced. “we have just received a databurst, APCHRON encoded.” “send it to the THT,” Xenar commanded. Seconds, later, the THT displayed a “request password”, and Xenar entered a long code into the device. The Computer noted that the code was accepted. Vano took a step closer to the device. “what is it?” he asked. Xenar merely shrugged. “i don't know.” the file unpacked, and a video opened. It was Za. “Commander Xenar. The Lords have agreed with my plan. Your role and the details are enclosed in the databurst. Good luck,” the holographic Za said. “What plan?” Xenar muttered under her breath. Za had plenty of plans. She opened one of the files, displaying a simulation. It showed an Aggregator, almost out of power and leaking radiation. The simulation fast-forwarded, and a Deadalus-class arrived. It launched a Scorpion, which boarded the Aggregator. Seconds later, a few ships came from the Aggregator and boarded the Daedalus-class. The Daedalus-class' red halo turned green. “so that's the plan,” Xenar said with sarcasm. Vano had opened a text file and quickly read through it. “from what I gather, the idea is to use an aggregator as bait. The Tau'ri show up, they board us. We kill the boarding party covertly, and board the Tau'ri ship and take it over.” Xenar contemplated the plan for a few seconds. “how can we be sure a Daedalus-class shows up?” Vano had already accessed some of the other files. Five different files were displayed by the THT. “from the looks of it, in five days a Tau'ri battecruiser on a mission will be the only ship by lightyears to respond to our emergency beacon. The coordinates for the ambush are a few hundred lightyears from here.” “We're being hailed by Lord Omari,” a Communications officer announced. “open the channel.” Xenar commanded. On the THT, Omari appeared. “Whatever plan Za sent to you, I have a better one.”
And so the plan happened. Five days later, Xenar stood onboard her Aggregator, next to the Command Chair. She sat down and accessed her controls. “Putting the ship in sleep mode,” She announced, and she flipped several switches, cutting power to dozens of systems. “Power down the Naquahdriah Reactors completely, make sure we can emergency boot the Naquahdah reactor.” The ship further powered down, and the lights switched to emergency lighting. The bridge was mostly lit by the computer screens. “Put the computers in sleep mode, so we can quickly reactivate them.” Behind her, Vano stood at the ready. “I have ordered my and Omari's men to their proper locations,” he reported. “Good. Sending emergency Subspace Burst, and activating the emergency beacon,” Xenar announced. Alarms blared for a few seconds, then died again. “Eject the radioactive waste,” Xenar commanded, and an officer issued the commands to the computer. The bridge went silent. “we'll see when they take the bait,” Xenar spoke softly.”
An hour later, and a BC-304 dropped out of hyperspace a few thousand miles out. It's shields activated as soon as they could, and the weapons powered quickly. On the Aggregator bridge, the tension was high. Xenar and Vano stared at each other without saying a word, barely blinking. The 304's weapons then depowered, but the shield remained active. The ship quickly closed the distance. “they must be hailing us now,” Xenar said, calmly. “They'll be here soon.” The Daedalus-class cautiously approached, as they had never seen an Aggregator before. After what seemed like ages, a Scorpion moved out of the hangar bay towards the Aggregator docking bay. As it was made for small craft, the Scorpion fit in nicely and landed. Tau'ri troops and medics poured out, panning out to secure the bay, but there was nothing to secure. On the bridge, Xenar silently nodded to Vano, who turned around and ran away from the bridge. He quickly arrived at his destination: a small room filled with heavily armed guards. They carried projectile weapons not quite unlike Earth weapons, but fitted with a small device under the main barrel. There was a clear distinction between two types of soldiers. One group carried the iconic leather suits with a piece of body armor on top, and the other group carried cameo gear, complete with leg and arm guards, plus a helmet. The cameo group carried the modified earth guns, and the leather group carried goa'uld looking, bulkier weapons with a staff weapon head. “They're on board,” Vano announced. “Spread out and take them silently.”
Through the many cramped corridors, Tau'ri forces moved swiftly to scan the craft for survivors. From the core of the ship, the Lucian groups moved out to find them. Vano quickly moved to the Docking bay. There, he met up with a very different team: all of the 'leather' type, but all carrying a shotgun-shaped device with a clearly visible red crystal. Vano nodded, and the team quickly entered the Scorpion, taking out the guards and the pilots with quick and effective red plasma bolts. Vano took the backseat, as two of his soldiers took the pilot and copilot seats. As the Scorpion undocked, a Tel'tak met them outside, and covered them in it's cloaking field. The radios remained silent however, as any wrong signal could change the whole operation. The two ships quickly made their way to the Daedalus-class, passing through the shield like it was intangible. Both craft touched down on the hangar deck, with plenty of space left. Vano walked into the back of the Scorpion. “Once the cloak drops, all hell breaks loose. You know what to do. Backup will follow soon.” He punched a button, and the back door unlocked and lowered to form a ramp. The soldiers got up, and quickly made their way out. Vano himself carried one of the plasma weapons, and took a step outside. There, the fight had already begun. Red bolts and flashes filled the hangar, as the deck crew dropped like flies with every hit. Some attempted to flee, but were shot in the back as they attempted to do so. Vano noticed a crewmember about to punch an alarm, but his bolt hit first. The man fell on the ground, stunned. One soldier shouted “clear,” and they began to make their way out. Vano signaled to team up again, and the men formed groups. The teams from the Tel'tak had already joined them. Vano could hear more plasma blasts, and gunfire. The first resistance. The Lucian soldiers poured out into the adjacent hallway, and Vano followed. The next target was the shield generator, as it would block other ships from boarding. Vano heard a bullet ricochet nearby, and turned around. Behind him, a Guard had his sidearm pointed at him, but Vano fired first. The man fell down into a heap of stunned meat. Vano then continued following his teams. Then, the alarms began to blare. They had been discovered.
Onboard the Aggregator, Xenar still sat in the command chair, twitching her thumb. One of her officers stood up and walked to her. “commander, several teams have been pinned down by the Tau'ri forces. They request backup.” Xenar nodded. “then send it.” The officer walked back to his work station. Suddenly, alarms went off. “what's happening?” Xenar shouted over the alarm. The computer automatically booted. “The Tau'ri are powering weapons,” an officer announced. “Power shields, get us into action NOW,” Xenar commanded, as she undid her earlier shutdown procedure. “on backup power, shields will only be at 10%. we won't be able to take a whole lot,” A Defence officer replied. Outside, the Daedalus class' weapons swiveled around to target the rather helpless Aggregator. It's nose pointed the other way, putting the 304 in it's weapons weak spot. Suddenly, two other Aggregators appeared, and fired their plasma weapons on the Daedalus class. The 304 rocked, and the weapons swiveled around again to target the new threats. Plasma and railgun fire shot towards the two Aggregators. Onboard the Daedalus-class, Vano stood in the Shield Room. He grabbed a few of the iconic Lucian bombs, put them near the shield generator and shouted for the troops to get out. Just as he arrived in the engineering room to shield from the blast, he noticed the controls. “Such a shame to waste that technology,” he muttered, and fired on the controls, until no crystal or circuit was whole. The ship rocked heavily as the shields failed, and then it stopped. Almost immediately, Tel'tak swarmed from the two decloaked Aggregators, and in no time they landed in the hangar bay.
“Set the self-destruct,” Colonel Anderson commanded. He quickly entered a set of codes in the left console, while his helmsman did the same on the right one. “Sir, are you sure?” the much younger man asked, but Anderson had a firm look of determination. “I can't let this fall into enemy hands. The millions of lives they could take with this...” Just as his helmsman finished entering his codes and the Self-destruct sequence began, red flashes appeared in the adjacent hallway. “quick, lock the doors,” Anderson said, but he was too late. Two quick bursts later, and they both decorated the floor. Vano entered with a firm pace. “did they do it?” he asked, as he walked to the command chair. Two engineers had followed him, and took the other two positions. “yes, the self-destruct will activate in 26 seconds,” one of them noted. “Damn. Can you hack it?” Vano asked. Both engineers looked at eachother. “well we can, just not in...20 seconds..” Vano thought firmly. “prepare to get my men onboard the AX-1.” “we're lucky. They didn't have time to lock us out of the system,” the left hand engineer noted. “how long,” Vano asked. “12 seconds.” “begin a shipwide beam-out.” Vano commanded.
Xenar watched from her Command chair as the screens displayed the ongoing situation. The two Aggregators from Omari had ceased fire and simply flanked the 304. Her own ship was at combat capacity. Suddenly one of her officers announced “we're getting reports of troops being beamed onboard.” Xenar sighed. “it has failed.” she slammed the console in anger, which died out for a second and then returned to life. Suddenly, in the distance, her computer noted her of a high-energy event. Seconds, later, a much bigger explosion followed. “we're being hailed,” The communication officer announced. “open a channel,” Xenar answered, and the face of Vano appeared. “what the hell was that?” She asked him, and Vano only grinned. “you just watched the ship's reactor and self-destruct blow up, three thousand miles from here.” “what?” Xenar said. “you did what?” Vano still smiled. He clearly stood on the bridge of the Milennium, a Tau'ri Daedalus class battlecruiser. “they set the self-destruct. However they did not lock us out in time, so I used the transportation system to beam out the self destruct. I thought beaming out the reactor as well would be a safe bet, as it would be an excellent back-up.” Xenar's disbelief turned to a grin. “damn it you did it!” she congratulated him. Vano merely continued grinning. “Now onto the easy part,” he said, and he ended the video feed.
In orbit of the planet Langara, a Battlecruiser dropped out. The planet had changed a lot, and from the position of the Battlecruiser, five large space stations could be seen in orbit. “Langara Orbital command to unknown ship, please identify.” Xenar stood on the bridge of the Millenium, with her back to the viewscreen. Commander Anderson sat in the command chair, in sight of the camera. “This is Colonel Anderson, I am the commander of the UNE vessel Millenium. IFF should confirm my identity in a moment.” “Acknowledged.” said the voice. “please state the reason of your presence. No earth ship is sheduled to be here.” Anderson's face changed to confusion. “i'm sorry? We're responding to your call for help.” there was a silence. Xenar carried a tablet PC and activated a routine. Slowly and almost passively, the sensors started to scan the surface. She urged Anderson to carry on. On the link, Xenar could hear scratching, some background muttering, and finally the voice responding. “uhm. Colonel, we know of no such thing. No emergency broadcast is in our logs, or even authorized.” Anderson grunted. “My own logs state otherwise. Why did you send out an emergency broadcast when there's no emergency?” there was a pause. “i will inform my superiors of this, please wait a few moments” Anderson turned to face his helmsman. “get us into a stable orbit.”
“Who are you?” “Deep Infitration Agent 32, Identification code 248289. Efom's territory. I have an urgent message.” Anders Schei Looked up at the guard. Impatiently, he glanced at the small box-shaped device on the table. The top was a translucent white, and a blue stone lay on top of it. “ I don't have forever,” he added. The Guard looked at the laptop attached to the device. “the pattern is correct. Welcome back Agent 32.” “look, I need to talk to the Colonel as soon as possible,” Schei said. “what is it?” the guard casually asked. “something big is about to go down!” Schei exclaimed. “something very, very big.” the guard raised an eyebrow. “that's it?” “no. the Lucian Warlords are rescheduling their patrol missions, reassigning their fleets and preparing their forces. They're preparing for some massive attack. I haven't been able to verify the goal, but the rumors are it's Earth.” The guard kept his eyebrow raised, and grabbed the phone. He dialled a number, and began to speak. “yes, this is Vanderbelt. I have an Agent reporting a potential attack on Earth. No it's not verified. I know. Yes, the Lords are doing a massive reorganization, and preparing for a large assault. Yes, that's verified. Yes. Ok.” he looked at Schei. “Good. You can return. Shall I?” he said as he prepared to re-activate the device. “you have no idea of the scope of this attack,” Schei warned. There was a sudden loud noise, and Schei quickly determined it came from the hall. He heard almost an echo. A man was shouting: “No, you don't understand. They're preparing for a massive battle!” Schei got up quickly and walked to the hallway. The hall had many doors, indicating the room Schei had been was just one of many. Other doors opened, and more agents reported exactly the same thing.
Xenar looked at her tablet. There was a ping-sound, and a small red dot appeared on the screen. “gotcha,” she said. She looked at Anderson, who was talking to the Orbital Guard of langara. “so you're absolutely positive that no signal was sent?” Anderson asked. “yes,” the Orbit Manager said. There was a pause. “one sec,” the Orbit Manager said and he audibly removed his headphone and mumbling could be heard. The Helmsman whispered something to Anderson. “the orbital station is increasing it's power output. A huge energy spike.” Xenar didn't hear it but understood the situation. She stepped forward. “begin the assault. Nuke that station.” she turned around to see the transmission already dead, as the screen displayed a “transmission end” message. “signal is sent, fleet ETA in 30 seconds,” the Helmsman reported. “nukes are launching.”
From the Millenium, almost a dozen missiles blasted out of their silos, corrected their course and headed off to the space station. The Millenium was parked in spitting distance from it, and within a handful of seconds the nukes hit, just as the first few plasma blasts and interceptor slugs left the station. It lit up, and for a second it was as bright as the stars themselves. Although structurally intact, the Station had intense blast marks on it's hull, and the shield remained active. It had lost it's stable orbit though, and the station began it's long fall into the atmosphere. Then, the plasma batteries started a torrent of plasma weapons fire, a stream of plasma bolts impacting the Millenium's shields. “shields at 97% and holding. Fleet arrival is imminent.” Anderson turned to his Helm. “What does CON say?” “CON is still down, otherwise we could be disabled by the flick of a switch. Well not literally, but..” “spare me the tech talk. Ignore that station, begin the bombardment. Plasma and kinetic only.” Xenar observed the crew for a few seconds, and then walked towards the hall. “i'll prep for the ground phase,” Xenar announced and walked away.
A hyperspace window opened, and a Ha'tak dropped out of hyperspace. The window did not close, however, and within a few seconds, another ha'tak spat out. All of a sudden, Al'kesh, Tel'tak, four Troop Transports and even more Ha'tak began to drop out of hyperspace at an increasing pace. Plasma fire from the langaran surface reached space, and the other Langaran Space Stations fired as well. Immediately the ha'tak took up a defensive formation and bombarded the surface as other weapons targeted the space stations. On the Ko'tak, Vano observed the battle using the Tactical Table. “Initiate countdown,” he ordered. Two counters appeared holographically. One was a countdown timer, timing down from about two minutes. The other was a percentage counter, which stood at approximately 99%. Vano looked at the central hologram, namely that of the Planet Langara. “the simulation has begun,” he remarked. “fire at the provided coordinates. Maximum firepower.”
lighted by a weak summer sun, the nation of Kelowna lay under siege. Especially the city Barnok, illuminated by a strong energy bubble protecting the inhabitants. A constant torrent of plasma came from above, like a hailstorm. Some of them were a brigher orange than others, but still it was an impressive sight. On the outskirts of the city, elevated on large pedestals, were equally large cannons. Each shot resonated like thunder, and the bolt of plasma coming from it was barely visible, so fast did it go up towards the sky. All of a sudden, an Al'kesh dove from the clouds and unleashed a volley of plasma bombs, unstable overcharged bolts of plasma, so powerful they could only exist for a few seconds. The bolts hit the planetary cannons, and the ground shook from the impact on the shields. Anti-air defences could barely engage before three Al'kesh appeared in formation and unleashes the same bombardment, in three-fold on the same cannon. This time it broke through, and the cannon was hit. It snapped in half, and crashed down in slow-motion. Almost out of nowhere, a series of missiles struck the Al'kesh, or rather it's shields. Although it had little impact, the railgun shots that followed did break through and blasted a hole into the ship, causing it to crash down far away from the city, leaving a fireball to mark the impact site.
“we are detecting a series of missiles coming from the surface.' “shoot them down.” Mauric looked up from his left display. He sat comfortably in a chair, surrounded by screens and controls. “power the MAC's. Heavy nuclear payload. I'm giving you the coordinates.” Mauric tapped his right touchscreen and one of the stations displayed lit up. “fire.” from the nose of his Aggregator, two heavy nukes launched from their Mass Driver tubes and shot through space at break-neck speeds. It took only five seconds to cross the distance, and two huge flashes marked a successful attack. Meanwhile, the first nuked station was still descending into the atmosphere, firing towards the Lucian fleet in an attempt to at least bring down the attackers. Escape pods were launched every second, like flares launched to counter incoming missiles. “Dacrus, why is that station still not hitting the atmosphere?” Mauric said to a face on the left screen. The man on the other side appeared to be in a similar chair, and his marine-blue hair matched his coverall nicely. Dacrus, the man at the other end, smiled. “you'll see in one sec.” suddenly, the descending station lit up, as two nukes hit it's weakening shield, accelerating the descent. Super-heated hull slowly broke off in pieces, and an unaware hobby astronomer would easily consider it a falling star. Fire engulfed the shields as it hit the atmosphere, and the final descent finally began.
Vano checked the timer. He clicked his radio. “Xenar. The event will begin in about fifty seconds.” there was a pause. “deviation?” she asked. “it's 99.something% correct,” Vano replied. “good.” Vano turned to face communications. “open a channel to Kelowna.” after typing in the necessary commands, the lead Communications Officer put up a thumb. “Kelowna,” Vano said calm but loud. “i give you one offer, and one only.” He paused for effect. “In a few moments, your planet will be struck by an earthquake, of sufficient magnitude to topple buildings. But that does need to happen. If you surrender now, I command the Lucian forces to hold fire and the situation will be averted. The sooner you surrender, the better.” On the other end, there was some crackling. For a moment, Vano doubted they had heard it at all. Then, there was a single, clear voice. “we will never bow to terroristst,” it said firmly. “Then I suggest you hold on tight,” Vano said equally firmly, and motioned for the link to be severed. “Commander,” the on-deck Hebridan announced. “i'm detecting a high energy event.” On the surface, the plasma-lit city of Barnok shook. Buildings moved and the ground trembled as an earthquake struck the city and it's surroundings. The Planetary Cannons remained unharmed, as the pedestals they were placed on were built to withstand worse. The city itself was not so fortunate, as a few buildings collapsed, and people ran into the streets. Almost immediately, fires erupted and cracks appeared on virtually every building. Screams, smoke and dust filled the sky. Vano checked the simulation. The timer had reset to about five minutes, and the deviation counter turned to 95%. “Xenar, the accuracy dropped by a few percent,” he informed her, and the reply was short. “that's fine. I'll continue my work here.”
Onboard one of Omari's Aggregators, Mauric was coordinating his own forces. “Ha'tak 51 and 64, move in closer. Target the Geotermal Access Point only. Prepare the invasion forces.” an alarm blared. Mauric looked at Sensors. The Sensor officer checked his screen. “rocket-assisted fighters are entering orbit. I'm prioritizing them for the CIWS.” “No,” Mauric responded. “they're not my concern. Their damn nukes are much worse.” as if to prove a point, a series of nukes broke through the bullet torrent and struck the shields. “shields down to 79, Capacitors to 85,” the Defence officer reported. “inform me when either is down to 40,” Mauric commanded as he focused on the grand scheme. From the atmosphere, Fighter craft modified for space operations were entering orbit. Each carried a double booster rocket, not unlike a human Space Shuttle. The rockets detached and the fighters moved on. As soon as they could, missiles launched from the fighters and struck an Al'kesh preparing to move into the atmosphere. It was hit and fire blasted out from the hole created.
Xenar stood in the hangar bay of the Millenium. She stared at the hangar bay doors, which were opening, and she could see a space station slowly soaring down into the atmosphere. She turned around, and walked into a waiting Tel'tak.
Vano checked the THT. The Lucian fleet was intact. Omari had refused to share ship data, so the shield integrities of his ships were guesswork. Other Lords had mixed in their own Ha'tak and Aggregators, but all answered to Mauric, the Commander Prime. Xenar had been tasked with capturing the GTAP, the access point for naquahdriah power. After that, the planet had to be held on to for at least a few hours. He worriedly noticed the Langaran fightercraft. “Mauric thinks he can take them,” he muttered under his breath. He thought for a second. “send two escort Al'kesh to Mauric. Get those fighters down.” “sir.” it was the hebridan. “Sir, we detected two unknown ships. No IFF. No known marks.” Vano pulled up the sensor data on the THT and noticed the ships appeared to be upside-down T-shaped ships. Seemingly out of nowhere, nearly a hundred fighters launched from each and they headed into the direction of the Langaran fighters. “Commander, they're broadcasting to all our ships. Encrypted.” A face appeared on the THT. It was blurry, and became clearer. It displayed a vague reptillian face. “My name, is Chiar. I command the forces of the Machai. I have come to your aid.” The red-scaled creature spoke the words with some effort, not free of an alien, hissing accent. Vano pressed the reply button. “I thought Machayo did not want to be discovered.” a few seconds later, the Machai general replied again. “approximately two days ago, a Hebridan scout group came to check out the mystery of their disappeared ship. We have been discovered.” Vano nodded. “well then, i'd suggest you get those Langaran fighters out of the air.”
On the ground, two Al'kesh broke through the clouds, and bombarded the Geothermal Access Point. Immediately after, two Troop Transports landed, still under Fighter bombardment. The Langaran Planetary cannons could not move fast enough to intercept and in stead it was left to secondary weaponry. Lucian troops poured out of the transports, and quickly and decisively langaran troops were defeated. After a few minutes, Xenar already stood in the GTAP. They had been modernized quite a bit, with better computer and generator technology supporting the hyperadvanced technology. Xenar admired the sheer power of it all, as around her, strike teams fanned out to take out resistance groups. She walked to a console, and checked the status. The systems had been locked down. “who's the lead engineer?” Xenar asked out loud. A soldier from Omari made a gesture. Xenar walked over to the soldier. He pointed at a body placed against the wall. A bullet had gone through the man's head, and his nametag indicated he was lead engineer. Xenar grabbed a Pain Stick from her bag and gave it to the soldier. “find out who can crack that code.”
Mauric sat in his control chair, commanding his own Aggregator. A screen flashed, revealing a woman. “I speak for the nation of Kelowna. We surrender peacefully.” Mauric glanced with suspicion. “where is the real president?” “he's dead. Killed by falling rubble as he tried to relocate to a safer place,” the woman explained. “ah,” Mauric said. “my condolences. Now shut down your defense grid and order your men to stand down.” “Kelowna is just one nation among many. I can only control Kelowna's defences,” the woman said. “it'll be many dead among one nation if you don't hurry!” Mauric threatened.
On the ground, the cannons fell silent. City shields still stood tall, shining from the sheer power pumped in. almost immediately, more troop transports came from the sky and began to capture the cannons.
At the GTAP, Xenar watched a man punch in the right commands, unlocking the system. Fresh gashes were across his face and he limped away from the console. Xenar walked to it, and noticed the systems were unlocked. She typed in some commands. “Is the chappa there yet?” Xenar asked. A man nodded. Xenar typed in some more commands, and the roof retracted. It had been necessary to maintain the facility, as most technology present simply was too big to fit through any door. Above, a Stargate hung suspended under a Tel'tak. It lowered, and was placed on a Gate Clamp still present from a decade-old dial attempt. Xenar nodded approvingly. “most if not all systems are still present from the 15-year-old dial attempt. In fact, I believe dr. Mckay's modifications are still there if I correctly recognize his work.” she turned to an engineer who stood next to her. “have you checked for boobytraps?” she asked. “yes, Commander. Nothing has been found. However, the system can not draw the amount of power we need. It's been built in to prevent anyone from doing, well, precisely what we're doing.” Xenar turned to watch the Gate being clamped in. she stared at it as she spoke: “Can it be reversed?” “it's a matter of replacing some conduits and failsafes. Could take about half an hour. If I can get access to the rerouting system, it would be even easier.” Xenar stepped back from the console. “it's yours to play with.” she then turned around and walked away, radioing Anderson to beam down the supplies. As she continued to walk, people and boxes appeared out of thin air behind her.
In orbit, Mauric was approached by a communications officer. “Commander,” the man said. “we detected a databurst from Langara. It's been decrypted.” Mauric turned his chair to face the man. “and?” he inquired. “it's a plea for help to the Tau'ri, Jaffa and Hebridan. Plus they know of our plan, and have included the location of the facility and the strength of our fleet.” Mauric nodded. “so be it. We're all in.”
Planetsided, Xenar had taken a walk around the facility, checked the systems personally and had come to the conclusion that they were good to go. She entered the temporary Gate Room, and tapped the Radio. “Vano, the plan is Green. Send the message.” There was a pause. “Message sent,” Vano replied shortly after. Xenar turned to face the gate, anxiously awaiting. The Gate received it's orders, and the inner track began to rotate. As the final chevron locked, it engaged. Xenar admired the puddle, and then a woman walked through, dressed similarly to Xenar and her forces. All she carried was a box, and she walked down the ramp like she held the universe in her hands. Xenar stretched out her arms and took the box, stroked it once and then opened it a bit. Inside was a semi-cylindrical, crystalline device. She put it on the ground next to her, looked for the Omarian in command and gestured him to come. “use the Stargate for re-inforcements once i'm gone. Under no circumstances can this site fall. It's our only hope of getting back, and it's likely our only hope of escape once I'm back. Guard it well.” The soldier, with his extremely light-blue hair and bright blue eyes, nodded. “It is what we were trained to do, Commander Xenar.” Xenar turned around again, and punched in the 9th chevron address. Immediately the Gate began to dial. The first seven Chevrons, nothing special happened. As they approached the 8th, Xenar felt that her heart skipped a beat. This was about the greatest feat anyone could ever do, and she was about to do it. The 8th locked. The gate began to shake, and the generators in the background began to emit a sound increasing in pitch. Out of nowhere, electricity blazed across the clamps attached to the Gate. Xenar felt powerful shockwaves in her stomach, emanating from the gate, and any loose object shook in harmony with it. It seemed to take an eternity before the inner track had rotated to it's correct position. Finally, it was there, and the gate vibrations were like a quick drum. A Kawoosh blasted out further than it should, and all Lucian soldiers stood to watch the event horizon stabilize. After almost 15 years, it was there again. The lead Omarian soldier approached Xenar with a grenade launcher, and handed it over to her. “Commander, the honor of the first shot is yours,” he said as he bowed his head. Xenar bowed her head in return, took the weapon and fired six times through the gate. Behind her, her troops were assembled and headed through.
The next thing was the floor. Xenar got up quickly and looked around. Her soldiers had already secured the room, guards standing at the entrance. “Allad?” Xenar looked around. A man hurried to him. In a flash, Xenar noticed someone looking vaguely like Brody lying on the floor, a gash on his face. “Yes?” Allad was almost a head shorter than Xenar, with dark brown hair and bright green eyes. “Get to the shield generator. I need you there,” Xenar instructed him. The man nodded, called his men and hurried out the door. “Carys?” A tall female stood behind Xenar. “yes?” “Get to the Bridge as quick as possible. We need to overrun them now. Narm and Halis should have secured the perimeter by now.” Carys nodded. “Yes commander.” She hurried to the door, her team followed. Xenar looked around, there were still at least two dozen troops getting up. Behind her, the Stargate spat out some boxes and then shut down. Xenar finally noticed she was still holding tight to the box. She opened it, revealing the ZPM inside. A nearby engineer noticed and decided to ask. “Commander, what's that?” Xenar threw him a look, but after a second realized that she needed to explain it at one point anyway. “It is a ZPM.” The engineer gave her a blank look. “The powersource of the Ancients. Our ride home.”
“Receiving a data-burst” Vano looked up. “On holoscreen” he commanded. On the hologram table, a Jaffa face was displayed. “Tor'ac” Vano whispered to himself. “The Republic has received a Langaran transmission and has dispatched their 6th fleet to investigate,” the Hologram announced. It then froze in place. Vano looked at the hebridanian Bridge officer. “That's it?” The hebridan nodded. “How many ships are in that fleet?” Vano asked. “The most recent reports say 24 Ha'tak class vessels and 13 Al'kesh.” Vano stared at the frozen holographic face. “So we're screwed.” The hebridan nodded. “If the Commander does not return in time, yes.”
Allad stormed through the corridors of Destiny, followed by five soldiers. He turned around a corner and was greeted by a hail of bullets. Immediately he was pulled back by one of his soldiers. “Thank you,” he said to the blond man who saved him. The soldier said something under his breath and prepared his weapon. Bullets ricocheted off the walls. Then there was a silence. “Uur turn,” Allad said firmly, took his plasma rifle and fired a few shots around the corner. More bullets were sent his way, and by the sound of someone screaming, Allad knew he had hit someone. He nodded to his men, and they sprinted across the T-crossing, as Allad randomly fired around the corner. Then his team laid down suppressing fire as Allad made it across. He noticed one of the soldiers grabbing his shoulder, red blood between his fingers. Allad stepped towards the man. “I’m fine, I’m fine” the soldier said to him. “it's merely a flesh wound.” Allad took some bandage from his vest pocket and quickly bandaged the man under the flashing and sounds of supressing fire. In no-time they were ready and continued their way, blocking off a door to prevent the Destiny crew from following.
Xenar opened a box lying on the ground before her. Inside were pieces of some device, pieces of a cylinder. On the underside of the lid, a blueprint was drawn, and Xenar began to piece the device together. Near the Stargate, two engineers cut open the floor and others were assembling and installing cables.
“Veridas, is this it?” Veridas looked behind him. A Lucian soldier had asked the question. Two others kept a close eye on either side of the hall. “I believe so, yes,” Veridas said as he checked the heavy blast door before them. He pushed the door opener and a heavy metallic sound was heard. After a complex locking mechanism had unlocked the door, it slowly split in three pieces, each retracting a way. Behind it was another door. It was an air lock. Veridas looked at it, then signaled his men. “Let's go,” he said calmly. They walked into the airlock, and closed the thick door behind them. The door opener in front of them turned green. Another complex locking system unlocked, and the door again split into three pieces, each retracting their own way. Veridas looked at the opening door, excited, but the only thing it revealed was another door. Again they walked in, again the door closed behind them and again the door opener in front of them turned green. Veridas shrugged, waited a second. “This has got to be it,” he said. He punched the opener, and the door slowly unlocked, slowly split in three separate doors which retracted on their own. Behind the door was darkness. Veridas signaled his men to remain at their position, and slowly took a few steps forward, expecting something. A light turned on, flickered a bit, but it's light revealed the object they came for. In the middle of the room, a device not unlike the Apple Core was illuminated. Smoke slowly sank from holes in the ceiling. When Veridas approached the device, it quickly became obvious that the device was more than three times as big as the Apple Core. “We're at the right place” Veridas said with pride. “We're at the memory of Destiny.”
Carys stood at the Control Interface Room, also known as the Apple Core. Behind her, two guards lay face-down on the ground, and every entry was covered by one of her five Lucian soldiers. She had pulled out her sidearm and aimed it at the man before her: Eli Wallace. “You look thinner,” she remarked, as she held the gun trained on a spot somewhere between Eli's eyes. “Do not get your finger near any button.” Eli looked at her, slightly confused. Then he seemed to realize. “So you are the Lucian alliance,” he said. “I didn't realize it was you, the others had fancy leather you know.” “Spare me the pleasantries,” Carys said. “I want full control over the Destiny.” Eli snorted. “You need the bridge, I can't give you anything from here. Isn't the Alliance always well-informed before they do anything?” “You controlled this ship, from here, for a year. It can be done, it has been done. Do it again, now!” Carys insisted. Then she heard a 'ting' sound, like metal hitting metal. It was as if the world ended in a flash and a bang, and time appeared to slow down. Carys saw something grey and it took a while to realize she was laying on the floor. Loud noises were around her as bullets and plasma bolts flew around, hitting metal, flesh, cloth and bone. She rolled over to look at Eli, and saw him punching in some commands. A single red flash and he lay on the ground for dead.
Veridas slowly walked around the memory core, checking the device. The device was covered by far more wiring and electronic circuitry than the Apple core. He had seen sketches made by Wray, who had used her drawing skills to provide visual reference for the people on Earth. One of his men looked at the core while pulling a tablet PC out of his backpack. “Sir?,” he asked. “Where do I put this,” as he held a plug in the air. Veridas shrugged. “I'm not the engineer here.” A young man, perhaps in his twenties, knelt and said “here.” He pulled a Pad from his backpack, and plugged it into the core. After a few seconds a script booted up and a steady stream of data soared over the screen. “And?” Veridas asked. The man looked at his pad. “The script is just booting,” he said. “It'll take some time before the program has built an interface.”
Carys woke up. She tried to get up, and an excruciating pain shot through her body. She felt something warm in her hand, and realized she was bleeding. She quickly assessed the situation, and found out that Eli was awake with her gun in his hand. “Hello, sleepy” he said in jest, as he pressed some buttons on the console. Carys quickly looked around: the doors were closed, the two guards she took out were still on the ground, and the console Eli worked on was smoking. “What the..” she said. “My people tried to free me. But as you can see, a lock-down protocol activated and the console responsible for that sort of thing is...not very operational,” Eli explained. “Are you happy now?” Carys laughed without joy. “It's YOUR people who wrecked the place.” Eli tried another console. His efforts were not very fruitful, and he sighed. There was a moment of silence. “How are things back home? I mean, why are you even here?” Eli asked. “Earth gave up hope on us, so did the Lucian alliance.” He turned his head to Carys. Eli seemed disturbed. “Why bother now? It's been like, what, 20 years,” he thought out loud. “It might have felt like 20years,” Carys said. “It's been fifteen years. Give or take a year.” She paused, contemplating how much she would tell. “Things have changed, you know,” she said. “The Lucian alliance you know, is no more. They've been replaced. The fools and petty thieves are gone, replaced by powerful, intelligent people who do know what they're doing.” “Is this a PR stunt?” Eli said, turning around. A different thought entered his head, and he looked directly at Carys. “Are you, are you trying to recruit me? Is that it?” “No” Carys replied. “But it is the truth. We're here because of something you have. Something not very important to you, perhaps, but for us it could make quite a difference.” Eli looked back at the console. He was not very comfortable. “What on this ship could make a difference?” Carys paused. “I answered your question, now you answer mine.” She paused. “Why did you break contact with Earth?” Eli snorted. “They broke contact with us. Not the other way around.” “What do you mean?” She looked at her gun, and at Eli. Eli again paused. An idea seemed to spark. “Listen,” Eli said. “The trip did not take three years, as planned. I was late.” “Late for what?” Carys interrupted. Eli sighed. “The countdown clock. I was too late. The two weeks had already passed by the time I figured out a solution to the stasis problem. It wasn't that..long, but enough. By the time we woke up, we spent four years adrift. Four years.” He turned to face Carys. Eli became more agitated.“The journey had taken us seven years total, and that was -apparently- too long for Homeworld Command. When we engaged the stones, well there was nobody to answer the call.” Suddenly the lights went out and the ship plunged in darkness. Carys knocked down Eli, disarmed him and reclaimed her gun. Eli had fallen on his back. There was a click and a red flash, and he screamed in agony.
In the Gateroom, Xenar looked at the cylinder before her. It was a device nearly three times as big as the ZPM it contained, with thick bolts and rings holding it together. Fist-thick cables ran from the device to either side of the Stargate, where tiles had been removed. A blue pulsing light came from something below the floor, illuminating the room. Three laptops monitored the device, one displaying the power levels inside the ZPM. They had risen slightly. Xenar smiled. “It's time for the next phase.”
Carys activated the holographic screen, and made it display the power systems. The main capacitors were empty, and only the reserves used to get to the nearest star were available. She heard a noise, pulled a knob from her uniform and put it in her ear. “Yes?” she said loudly. “This is Veridas. We have a problem. Destiny uses Cloud Computing. The files are fragmented and spread over several databases and we can't access entire files from here. Are you at the bridge?” Carys signed. “No, i'm at the control interface room. One sec, I could find you the files and send them.” She brought up another screen, displaying a library of some sorts. Enormous amounts of data scrolled down the screen. Carys typed in some words, and received the search results in the form of thousands of files. She started a data transfer and a progress bar appeared on the bottom of the screen. “Transfer has been started,” she said. “It'll take a minute or three.” it was at this moment that Carys noticed a small blue light in the corner of her eye. She turned to face the hologram, and noticed that, in fact, there were two blue lights flanking Destiny. From what little ancient she understood, Carys noticed that the stardive protocol had engaged, and indeed the two blue dots were quickly falling behind on Destiny. She thought for a few seconds, then looked at Eli. He was still unconscious from the blast of her side-arm. Had they found allies here on the edge of the known universe?
Xenar observed the ZPM interface. Within no-time, Destiny's reserves had been transferred to the device. It meant that Lord Za had been successful in getting a ZPM to recharge. “It does not seem to be very efficient,” Xenar thought out loud. The Lucian engineer walked over from the console. “It isn't?” “Unless there is a huge flaw in the energy monitoring system, only about 30% of the energy has actually been put in the ZPM,” Xenar said. “It is far less than I expected. We might have to stardive twice.” She glanced at the engineer. “If we can hold ground for that long,” he said. “Exactly.”
Veridas impatiently walked about the Memory Core. He almost tripped over a wire, angrily stared at it and then looked at his lead engineer. “How much longer?” he asked. “Just...about......done,” the engineer replied. He checked his screen. “I actually think we have all the data we need,” he said. He unplugged his tablet from the core. Four memory devices had been plugged into the core as well, and the engineer unplugged them too. He took one device, about the size of an external harddisk, and handed it over to Veridas. “The data is evenly split over these four devices. If we all carry one, we minimize the risk of losses.” Veridas took the device, put it in his backpack and looked around the chamber one last time. “Let's go.”
“Commander, we have a problem.” Xenar looked at her radio, placed on a crate at the side of the room. She walked over and grabbed it. “Say again?” “Commander, this is Carys. I'm locked in the Core room. The crew has allies.” Xenar frowned. “Did you really say allies? Out here?” In the core room, Carys stared at the hologram. The two blue dots were further and further away, as the Destiny approached the star. A countdown timer was active in the lower left of the screen. “Yes. The Crew has allies. Two allied ships. We're currently getting away from them, towards the star. We'll reach it in a minute or three, by the way.” “Three minutes, noted,” Xenar said over the radio. “Any indication of ship size, type, firepower, anything?” “Not a clue,” Carys said, her finger pressing on her ear plug. She noticed something on screen. “One sec,” she said. Carys quickly typed in a few commands, and the hologram zoomed in. Destiny was covered by eight small blue dots, spread across the ship, both on the bottom and top. “Commander, I am detecting small ships on the outer hull of Destiny. Whoever their allies are, they're counter-invading,” she reported. “Damned,” Xenar cursed. “A team is under way to extract you. Once the star-dive is complete, we're out of here.”
Destiny came in at an angle, it's shields already glowing from the energy emitted by the star. It came out of the photosphere and adjusted it's angle, then dove into the surface of the red dwarf. It quickly disappeared in the superheated plasma.
Xenar looked at the laptops surrounding the ZPM recharger. “Beracis,” she said, “I could use your help.” The engineer behind the console looked up. “There won't be anyone to check if the Tau'ri are getting through our firewalls,” he warned. “I know, I know. Quick, the dive has already begun,” she said, as she knelt before the laptop. Beracis walked over to one of the laptops. “I'll begin the dial sequence,” he said. He entered a command, and the stargate began to rotate. Quickly, it locked chevron after chevron. The lights in the room flickered as power flowed back to Destiny. The 8th chevron locked, and the room shook as the gate rotated for the 9th chevron lock. Electricity arched from the orb above the stargate, and the blue pulsing light coming from below the floor at either side of the stargate increased in frequency and intensity. The arching got worse, the crackling sound got deafening. Xenar noticed the ZPM power levels increase slowly. The stargate did not lock the 9th chevron, in stead it kept rotating. The light show was impressive. “It's working faster than I thought,” Xenar shouted over the crackling. Beracis nodded, talking was difficult at these noise levels. He put up a thumb. On his laptop, the stargate dialing simulation was displayed. Xenar noticed that the light on her radio was active. She got up and headed over. She could barely hear the sound of static over the crackling of electricity. Xenar picked up the radio and walked outside the room. She closed the gateroom door behind her, significantly reducing the noise levels. “Yes?” “this is Halis, we captured a high-value target,” a voice reported over the radio. “Can you specify?” Xenar said. “I am not sure you will believe me commander. It's best if you look for yourself,” Halis reported. Xenar frowned, then clicked the radio again. “I'm on my way.” She opened the door again, and the crackling thunder greeted her again. She grabbed a plasma rifle from a rack near the door, and signaled Beracis that she would be gone for a short while. Before he could acknowledge, she turned around and ran to Halis' position.
Carys looked at the door. She was sure she had heard something. Three quick knocks. Then, a voice shouted “get back!”. Carys instinctively jumped behind the console for protection, as the door seemed to explode. Soldiers entered, shouting, their flashlights illuminating the room and the dust in the air. Carys looked up, and only could make out people dressed in blue, with white chest armor, white helmets and shin protection. She quickly raised her hands as she was surrounded by the soldiers. One of them checked the two guards near the door, one checked Eli. “Two dead!” the first shouted, as the second called out. “This one's alive! It's Eli” One of the eight soldiers Carys counted, presumably the leader, quickly went over to Eli and mildly slapped him. “Crap, he's unconscious. Get him out of here”. He then turned to Carys. “So, you're the lady causing all the trouble?” “Glad I could help,” Carys snapped. “So, you are the blue dot?” she asked, looking at the still active hologram. Two soldiers got her up, and the leader looked at the Hologram. He touched the area where his ear would be under his helmet, and spoke. “Colonel Young, this is Mark Wallace. I have control over the Apple Core, and I got Eli. Cleaning up now.” Carys could not hear the Colonel's reply, but she took the time to assess the situation. Then, there was the sound of metal hitting metal. Recognizing it, Carys knocked out one of her captors and covered her ears, as the flash-bang went off. As a puff of smoke rose up, Lucian soldiers entered, opening fire on the white-armored soldiers. The White soldiers did not seem to be particularly affected by the flash-bang, and quickly returned fire. Carys took the opportunity to grab her side-arm and shoot several of the soldiers, the cross-fire overwhelming them. As sudden as it had started, it was over, and Carys greeted the five remaining soldiers. “Just in time,” she said with a smile. Her ears still ringed, but she knew there was no time for that. She signaled the soldiers to secure the room, then she removed the body armor from Mark Wallace.
Xenar had arrived at Halis' position. Someone sat against the wall, bleeding, and she noticed it was a familiar face. “Like I said commander, you had to see this for yourself. We captured Odai Ventrell,” Halis said, his face a mix of pride and confusion. The man sitting against the wall looked up at Xenar. “Please tell these idiots i'm not Vettel, or whatever. My...name...is...Varro” Xenar looked at the man, her eyes widening. Her rifle made a click-sound, and she pulled the trigger. Varro fell on his side, unconscious. As Halis protested, Xenar's radio activated. “Commander, this is Carys. I got rescued just in time,” Carys' voice informed her. “Good,” Xenar replied. “Get to the gate room. Any word on Veritas or Allad?” “No commander,” Carys said. “But there's more. The invaders are human. They carry white armor, and it's quite resistant to firearms and plasma weapons. Flash-bangs have little effect.” Xenar paused, as she looked at Varro. She changed the setting on her radio. “This is Xenar to all Lucian personnel. The radio silence is lifted. We have intruders, and they're armored. 3rd perimeter, fall back to the second perimeter. Hold it until my command.” She still looked at Varro. “Bandage him, make him unrecognizable. I don't want a stir among my soldiers.” Xenar looked sternly at Halis. “And get him to the gateroom. Alive.” There was a silence. Xenar began to walk away. “Good work,” she said as she turned around the corner.
Xenar arrived at the gateroom, only to find the stargate deactivated. “Is the star-dive already completed?” she asked. But there was no reply. The entire gateroom was empty. As Xenar hurried to the computers, she found them still active, and the ZPM charged to a little over 80%. She noticed the smell of fire and as she looked over, she noticed a badly burnt body behind a flight case. As she got up, she took in the environment, and it became more and more clear what had transpired. Something had gone wrong. Xenar felt disturbed, and began to walk around. About ten people had been in the room, and as she walked around, she counted the dead. Ten bodies. All of them were badly burnt. The hardware was sufficiently protected, but the people were not. Xenar looked around. As she checked the debug coding on her laptop, and the ZPM charging history, she found nothing wrong. Xenar walked over the the console, softly cursing as she stepped over a dead body. The console displayed Destiny's course, and it had already left the surface of the star. In two minutes, they would be sufficiently far for gravity to no longer have a significant effect on stargates. In two minutes, they could go back home..
Carys ran through the halls of Destiny, closely followed by the soldiers that rescued her. Suddenly, a door to the left opened. Coming to a quick halt and drawing her weapon, Carys nearly shot Veridas. “WHOAH!” Veridas shouted. “WHOAH! Don't fire!” Carys looked at Veridas and his five other team members. “You got what you need?” she asked. Veridas nodded. “Yea, yea, we have it. Now let's move.” Carys grinned as she walked past him. “Yea my thoughts exactly” she muttered.
In the gateroom, Xenar stood lonely by the console. She tapped her radio. “This is Commander Xenar to all lucian personnel. Fall back to the final perimeter.” She looked at the screen. The timer had hit the one minute mark.
Carys and Veridas ran through the halls of Destiny. The sound of gunfire became apparent, slowly rising in volume with every door they went through. In no-time, it sounded like cannon fire. Carys looked at Veridas. “Flank them,” she said, and she went left. Veridas took the right. Quickly they made their way to the white armored soldiers. Carys sneaked up on a soldier, and broke his neck. A plasma blast shot past a second later, barely missing. Not that far from her position, Veridas appeared, quickly downing two soldiers, his men downing several others. Two lucian soldiers appeared from behind cover. The plasma blast struck the wall behind Carys. “Don't fire!” she shouted. The soldiers looked at each other. “Shiny armor you have there,” one of them said. Carys threw the soldier a look. “We should quickly join the rest at the final perimeter,” Veridas said. “I kind of have important stuff on me.”
Xenar walked to the ZPM charger. She looked around. How different it could have been. She heard the sound of guns in the distance. Suddenly, the door opened. Allad walked in, alone. Xenar looked at him. “Alone?” she asked. Allad nodded. He remained quite silent, walked forward and put a bag on the ground. Xenar looked at him, then at the bag, and opened it. It contained a device not much bigger than a vase, with eight white crystals in it, and plenty of wiring. The bag contained some more pieces of technology. “It's all...we... could get,” Allad said. His face had a gash, and he seemed absent-minded. He walked to the side of the room and sat down on a box, burying his head in his hands.
It didn't take long for Carys and Veridas to arrive. Veridas opened his backpack and showed the harddrive. “We got it,” he said with a grin. He then noticed Allad sitting, and a burnt corpse on the ground. “What in Ne'tu happened here?” Xenar knelt besides the ZPM recharger and tapped the enter-key. The stargate began to dial. She sighed, then looked at Veridas. “An accident,” Xenar said absently. She got up, and tapped the radio. “This is the Commander. It is time.” She looked at the floor, as if to gather strength, then at the ZPM charger, and then turned to face the stargate. As Lucian soldiers retreated to the Gateroom, the stargate spun, locking chevron after chevron. The eight chevron locked, and the stargate shook mildly. Electricity blasted from the dialing orb. A dozen soldiers stood by as the stargate locked it's final chevron, and the kawoosh blasted out. Behind Xenar, the ZPM energy bar began to decrease quickly. “GO!” Xenar shouted, and the Lucian alliance began it's retreat. Veridas went through, but Carys stayed behind, next to Xenar. Xenar's face was stern, unmoving, the light of the stargate reflecting in her eyes. From both gateroom entrances, soldiers rushed past, half-jumping into the event horizon. Carys looked at the laptop. A countdown timer ran, with only seconds to go. Xenar turned around, glanced at the laptop. The ZPM charger powered down, and she unplugged it from the stargate. Xenar pulled out her side-arm and shot the lid of the recharger. The bolts holding it in place snapped, and she removed the lid. Xenar quickly pulled out the ZPM, put it in the flight case it had been transported in before, and closed it. As the gunfire drew closer, the air rushed out of the gate-room, quickly muting the sounds. Xenar and Carys quickly ran to the stargate, and jumped through.