Peace and War
Part IV of the Potentials Series
Dedicated to Ecolea, for without her Changing of the Guard series, none of this would have been possible.
War – Part II
Using clues provided by Tok’Ra, SG-2 gated to P3X-439 where they discovered some ruins of an Ancient’s outpost. SG-1 were brought in and arrived just before the Goa’uld launched an attack on the teams there. Knowing that the information repository could not be allowed to fall into the hands of Anubis, Colonel Jack O’Neill downloaded the material into his own brain, then planted C4 around the area before ordering the teams there to evacuate back to the gate. As the Jaffa approached the structure, the C4 detonated, destroying the Ancient repository and taking out a large number of the Jaffa in the process.
While SG-1 was off-world, the national elections took place. Kinsey still managed to capture a fair percentage of the vote, but it wasn’t nearly enough to displace Jack Ryan as he captured close to seventy percent of the popular vote and well over the 270 electoral votes required. And so it was back to business as usual for President Ryan. He’d finished out the remainder of Roger Durling’s term, and would soon be inaugurated for his first full term as President of the United States. SG-1 arrived back on Earth as the announcements of the new President were being made. Finally, they thought, a President who actually understood the need for the SGC.
A few days later, Jack O’Neill was busily working on something or other, the knowledge of the Ancients slowly overwhelming his brain. Tok’Ra was nowhere to be found, and Methos was by Jack’s side almost all of the time, writing down the bits and pieces of the Ancient’s tongue that Jack managed to spurt out. Daniel was busily looking at some of the images he’d taken of the ruins on the planet, and had at last calculated the location of Praclarush Taonas, where he expected the lost city was located. They attempted to gate to the world, but were unable to do so, as the gate would not lock. Borrowing a Jaffa cargo ship, O’Neill made modifications to the engines, enabling them to travel far faster than normal. But Bra’tac’s warning had not gone unheeded. Three days. Three days before Anubis and his Cylon allies would begin their attacks. But where was still up to interpretation. The fleet, what few ships were available, were made ready.
Marius was in his office, looking over the current reports of the fleet, when the alarm came in. New Tollana was under attack, by a large fleet of Goa’uld motherships and Cylon Basestars.
“Marcus. Are you ready to engage the enemy?”
“I am Marius. May the Gods be merciful to us this day!”
“Godspeed old friend.”
The Halsey had come out of refit only a few hours earlier. Two Hyperions pulled up along side, and four of the Prometheus battlecruisers locked themselves to their exterior docking points on the Halsey. A full flight of twelve Peregrine gun boats and four Defiant escorts would join the fleet for this first massive encounter. New Tollana was a few hundred light years distant from Earth, and had they used only the Goa’uld hyperdrives, that might have taken them several hours, but instead the Halsey and the Hyperions opened jump points in the fabric of space, and the fleet zoomed in.
The four battlecruisers left behind of the Halsey fleet were added to the two already in the system, and they began patrolling the perimeters of the system, flying with their fighter wings deployed. All haste was made to finish the hull work on the Galactica, and on the Kuznetsov, with extra shifts of workers brought up to the shipyards for the push to make the ships ready. Some thirty minutes after the Halsey strike fleet departed Sol space, a second distress call was received, this time from Kelowna. A hastily assembled fleet with the Battlestar Caprica at its center jumped to Kelowna. Close to an hour after the second fleet departed, the SGC received a message that the Tok’ra base at Risa was under attack by Anubis. A fleet centered around the undermanned Douglas Munro left Sol to assist the Tok’ra. The third fleet included both Nova dreadnoughts, two Olympus corvettes, and four Jeep escort carriers. That left the carrier Kennedy as one of the few remaining protectors for the Sol system.
New Tollana System
First Battle of Tollana
The fleet had been in hyperspace for little more than an hour, when Admiral Constantine was informed of their proximity to the system.
“Sir, Tollana High Command reports their critical buildings are still shielded, but their ion cannons are having little effect on the shields of the Goa’uld. The Cylon Basestars are staying well outside of the range of the ion guns.”
“Do we have accurate targeting data?”
“Find me the largest clumps of ships, and jump into those groups. All stations, battle alert. All ships, weapons free at this time.”
Anubis was not with this particular fleet, though Svarog was. He had been ordered by Anubis to seize the Tollan world and to take as many prisoners as possible. Their phase shifting technology was something Anubis greatly desired.
“My Lord, there is an anomaly forming in the system amid the fleet.”
“Show me this anomaly.”
“Yes my Lord.”
On the screen there were three massive blue vortices, very different from what a wormhole should resemble. But these vortices had tremendous amounts of energy and had opened in the midst of the fleet. Several motherships had been unfortunate enough to be caught in the gravitational wash of those released energies and Svarog watched as they vanished from the screens and new and larger ships entered the fray, each of which immediately began firing some form of phased energy beam at his combined fleet, and also began launching vast numbers of fighters unlike any he had ever seen before.
“Weps, find me a command and control ship.”
“Got something that looks like it might be one sir. At the rear of the formation.”
“Good. Target it with the Vorlon cannons and fire when ready.”
“My Lord! We are being targeted!”
“Shields to full power!”
It was his last order to his First Prime. He quickly realized that such a ship might actually do him some damage and he left the throne room and quickly made for a ring room where he ringed off just in time to a nearby Ha’tak. The Jaffa in the pel’tac were amazed that a single blast from an energy cannon could immolate such a large mothership. With the news that their God was aboard, they moved their ship away from the fighting, only to laugh at the puny ship that now pursued them. Svarog was still making his way to the pel’tac when the ship shook repeatedly as the pulse phaser cannons of the Defiant-class Valiant punched the Goa’uld shields well into the red before they collapsed spectacularly. The Honor pressed the advantage given to it by the Valiant and followed up the blasts from its forward phasers with two photon torpedoes. The resulting explosion did more than swat a Goa’uld Ha’tak out of the night sky; it vaporized Svarog before he could even wonder who these ships belonged to.
With the Goa’uld now leaderless in this engagement, the Cylon forces took control, moving their massive Basestars forward to bring their heavy weapons to bear. The Lexington, a heavy cruiser of the Hyperion-class, brought her main guns to bear and fired at something close to point blank range. The ship had eight heavy pulse phaser cannons which fired almost continuously at the target directly in front of them. The targets to either side felt the heat and power of the anti-matter cannons that fired not beams, but packets of anti-matter that was devastating at close range. Above the main guns, a single launcher was spitting out torpedoes as fast as the weapons officer could get a target lock. The Lexington was taking on three Basestars, but her sister ship, the Concord was meeting four Basestars and two Ha’taks.
The four Prometheus battlecruisers were holding back a bit, acting as carriers for all of the fighters of the fleet, bringing them in, rearming and refueling them, and launching them just as fast as possible. The flight of twelve Peregrines were doing their best to whittle down the amount of Udajeets and Cylon Raiders. In the distance, the Defiant and the Valor had done like the Valiant and the Honor, double teaming a Ha’tak. One of the ships would fly in close and strafe one of the shields of the Ha’tak, punching them well into the red zone with only one pass. The first ship would be followed closely by the second of the pair, firing another set of phaser pulses before targeting a pair of photon torpedoes at the ship from the aft launcher.
First Battle of Kelowna
Methos stood on the command deck of the Battlestar Caprica. The Colonials had asked him, at the last minute, if he would take command of the battle group being sent to aid Kelowna, and he had accepted. He had a somewhat smaller fleet than the one commanded by Constantine, but he did have the two Whitestars at his disposal, and just one of those ships packed an equivalent punch of this massive Battlestar. But the Whitestar only carried four fighters, which relegated it to the role of a frigate rather than ship of the line.
Unlike Constantine, Methos didn’t wait for the targeting data and jumped directly into the midst of the attacking fleet. Anubis had thought Kelowna an easy target as he had sent only two dozen Ha’taks. There were only two Cylon Basestars with this attacking fleet, more to provide additional fighters than for their heavy guns. Methos tasked the Whitestars to handle the Basestars, leaving the bulk of his ships to deal with the Ha’taks.
There was no Goa’uld System Lord commanding this fleet, only a First Prime to Svarog. But that was more than enough. He moved six of his available gunboats to fly a wedge ahead of the Caprica to punch a hole through the incoming fighters, while the ship he was on closed to heavy weapons range with the Ha’taks. The remaining six Peregrine gunboats flew with the fighters, acting as command units and lending their fire support to them.
“Marco. I have some good news for you.”
“Spill it. I need some good news.”
“The first battleship is ready.”
“You sent me a time-delayed message before you disappeared, remember?”
“That’s right. I’d forgotten all about that. With all the new goodies we brought back, what did you end up putting on her?”
“She has six main gun turrets, each with four barrels. Four turrets top-side and two underneath. She’s got more than enough anti-fighter turrets to act as one hell of a shield for the larger cap ships. She sports twelve tubes in the bow, and sixteen on each side. There are an additional four tubes aft. We’ve dubbed it the Constellation-class. You didn’t ask for this next part, but we put it in. There are two openings on either side, fore and aft. Single fighters come in through the rear, and are launched forward. The ship itself won’t carry fighters, but it can rearm and refuel them in a battle. The other major thing we did was make it smaller. Once you got back with those new techs, we took advantage of that. The engine tech alone allowed for smaller and more powerful designs which freed up a lot of space. Those big guns use up a lot of power. Each gun turret has its own fusion reactor to provide power. Each gun turret also has its own shield generator and that shield generator is powered by a naquadah generator.
“Like I said, we shortened the ship somewhat, so instead of the seven hundred meters you specified, the new Constellations will only be five hundred meters, or about the same length as a Whitestar. The first two ships, the Castor and the Pollux, will be out of the shipyard by the end of second shift. Once that space is freed up, we’re going to go full bore on the Olympus and Hyperions, as these are relatively easy to build quickly. The industrial replicators are proving to be a big help in that respect.
“I know that we’ve just sent the bulk of our forces to Tollana, Risa, and Kelowna, so we don’t have much in system. The yard crews are rushing the refit of the Galactica. The Kuznetsov is getting the last of her new hull plates now and should be space worthy in a couple of days, with the Galactica a couple days after that. Daedalus and five battlecruisers are all we have available for the moment.
“One last thing, sir. The Castor and the Pollux are both mostly automated. The bulk of her systems are fully automated and this includes the launchers and the guns. The flight deck still requires crews, as well as the bridge and the medical bay. But beyond that, we’ve managed to reduce the crew compliment to two hundred, and that’s mostly flight deck crew.”
“Best news I’ve heard today, Mitch. I hope our task forces are doing well. This is our first major test against the Goa’uld and the Cylons with our new ships. Take a look at my report on the Ferengi. They managed to build stations during our long war with the Borg fairly quickly. See what we can do along those lines. It will benefit us to place stations over each of the home planets for our major AIS members. And, it opens a door for interplanetary commerce.”
“I like the way you think Marco. Maybe you should incorporate the IDB and go public. I’d sure as hell buy stock in it.”
“I’ll mull that one over.”
“Sir, we’re getting reports from the surface that a large contingent of ground troops have landed.”
“XO, deploy the pods to the surface. Both of them.”
In the skies above New Tollana, the Concord was battling six ships. Her fire was concentrated on the Ha’taks as they had closed first with the Concord. But the four Basestars were closing as well, two on either side. Their intentions were to capture the Concord in crossfire of murderous proportions.
“Captain, four Basestars closing to point blank range!”
“Today is a good day to die! Weapons officer! Fire all tubes! Concentrate main guns on those two cowardly Goa’uld ships!”
The Basestars had closed to minimum weapons range. The two Ha’taks began pouring out large amounts of plasma fire at the Lexington and she responded with full barrages from the anti matter cannons. Each packet of anti matter was devastating, and the combined effects of so many packets quickly brought down the shields on first one, then the other Ha’tak. As Koth ordered the heavy guns to fire on the Goa’uld ships, the Cylons fired their own heavy pulsar cannons at the Concord. Each of the Basestars had targeted the primary shield generators for the ship. Intense pulsar fire rained down on to the shields, cutting through the outer shield, then the middle shield, and finally the inner shield before washing across the surface of the Vorlon-Minbari armor. The armor did as designed and managed to absorb almost eighty percent of the energy being poured onto its surface, redirecting that energy to the now non-existent shield generators and to the weapons arrays. The intense fire of the Cylon pulsar cannons had melted the shield generators into puddles of metal.
Great tears were appearing in the armor as large sections of hull failed, opening the inner areas to vacuum and forcefully ejecting crewmen into space. The Lexington saw that her sister ship was in danger of falling to the enemy and turned to engage them. With the shields on the Concord down, there was no way she could withstand the nearby detonation of those ships, so the Lexington and the Defiant and Valor pair charged in, trying to draw fire away from their wounded comrade. The Lexington closed to point blank range with the two Basestars to starboard of the Concord and let loose with all of her main guns, tearing large chunks of armored hull away from the Basestars. Whether it was a well placed shot, or a very lucky shot, one of the beams from the heavy plasma cannons cut through the central pillar of the Basestar, and the ship was cut in two, each section slowly drifting away from the other. Peregrine and Falcon flights dove at the two separated sections and launched all of their micro-photon torpedoes, targeting the critical systems and bringing them down.
The Lexington’s engine compartment had been holed and opened to vacuum, her engines shut down completely, melted to slag. She would need a tow back to the shipyard, if she survived the battle. On the Concord, Koth was screaming in rage at the cowardly enemy who chose to battle him. His ship was gravely wounded and many of her systems were now inoperative. The eight fighters she had carried to this battle were now gone, victims of a vicious pinwheel attack on behalf of the Cylon Raiders. But that had been at the onset of the battle. The surviving fighter pilots were now of a special breed; those that had survived their first all-out space battle. The pilots from the battlecruisers and the Halsey had fared better, but their numbers were also severely depleted. Dotted here and there in ones and twos and in slightly larger clusters, were the escape pods of hundreds of fighters, all of their occupants praying fervently that their side won the battle. None of them looked forward to execution or interrogation at the hands of their enemies.
The Basestars to starboard of the Concord were now drifting, lifelessly. They’d been taken out of the battle for good. But the Basestars to port were faring much better than their two unfortunate comrades. Well, marginally better. The Defiant and the Valor were flying in close proximity to the Basestar, weaving through its superstructure, removing anti-fighter turrets and cap-ship turrets as quickly as possible. But while they concentrated their fire on only one Basestar, the other one fired all of its pulsar cannons at one point on the Concord.
Just aft of the main superstructure, on the long skeletal-like section that separated the engine compartment from the forward decks, where the fighter bays were located; this was where the pulsar beams hit. The effect was destructive in the extreme, shearing through the ship and ripping it in two. On the command deck, emergency lights immediately kicked on, and air systems started venting the smoke and toxic fumes out into space. But while there may have been just enough power to run life support and gravitational systems, there was none left for the main guns. All she had left were the forward tubes, but she had no targeting sensors available.
“Helm, turn the ship! Weapons, fire tubes as they come to bear!”
“Sir! We have no targeting solution!”
“Damn you! Communications! Order all ships to activate IFF transponders! Weapons! Fire!”
The helmsmen used the navigational thrusters, the ones normally used to dock the ship, to turn the forward section towards the enemy. As her tubes came to bear on the Cylon ship, they fired, one by one, until the four forward tubes were empty. The automated systems had shorted out; each tube had only one shot. The four missiles shot forward and covered the short distance between the launching ship and the target ship in under ten seconds. These were naquadah enhanced sub-kiloton nuclear warheads atop Shipwreck missiles. The Concord had gone through her stores of sixty photon torpedoes quite quickly and had turned to the Shipwrecks and Harpoons still in storage.
The four missiles had no targeting data. Their on-board computer systems quickly interrogated the IFF transponders of nearby ships. All four reached the same conclusion nearly simultaneously. The large blob on radar directly ahead was the enemy; no IFF received. The first missile flew in through an open hangar door and exploded within the ship, its naquadah enhanced warhead setting off large secondary explosions that began to spread to other hangars on that section. The second and third missiles struck the central support column, each one tearing off enough of a chunk of superstructure that the column collapsed. The fourth missile was detonated just inside the space created by the upper and lower halves, by a lucky shot from an anti-fighter turret. The shockwave from the explosion served to further push the two halves apart.
The first battle of the war was now over. The remaining Ha’tak fled into hyperspace and away from the scene of the fight, taking with her the news of the defeat of the fleet. Scattered around the system was large debris from fifteen Ha’taks, and equal number of Basestars.
Marcus Constantine felt sick. Yes, he had seen warfare at its worst when he had been at the head of the Roman army, but this was different. So many lives lost in minutes. Though the battle in orbit was now done, another battle raged on the surface. The Dallas was moving forward to help the Concord and his SAR craft were searching through the debris fields looking for downed pilots. The aftermath was far worse than the battle.
City of New Tollana
The Tollan, living for centuries in peace, were unprepared for the realities of war. The more important buildings were shielded, using the Ramos force shields, but the general population were left to fend for themselves. As soon as the first enemy soldiers were detected on the surface, a call sounded, ordering the population to the shelters. The Tollan might have been advanced, they might have seen the Tau’ri as primitives, but they had almost no defenses other than their ion cannons. The few security forces they had were tasked more commonly with keeping law and order, not with defense of the city.
Narim was standing at the window of the Curia, looking out over the city he loved so much. High Chancellor Travell was at his side as well. They were hoping to see the Tau’ri security forces enter the city before the enemy did. And their luck held out in this case. They had seen the deployment pods come down on their scanners. But they hadn’t seen anything since that event some minutes ago. Now, though, they did see something. In the distant skies, they could see smoke trails, though they knew not what was creating those trails.
The Harriers and Yaks had been the first to launch. The ground commander had ordered the Harriers to target the landing craft and the Yaks to lay down cluster bombs over the advancing troops. For the pilots in the Yaks, they were amazed at the sheer stupidity of the ground troops. They were advancing line-abreast in box formations! The large formations made laying down the cluster bombs easy. Four of the Yaks were also carrying CB-78s, the mine dispersal version of the Rockeye cluster bomb. For the safety of the Tollans, the self destruct timers had been set to detonate the mines fifteen minutes after they were dropped. Each of the 78s carried 60 anti-personnel mines, and the Yaks managed to lay down a pattern in front of the advancing troops of approximately 240 mines.
The Harriers advanced on the landing craft by first flying away from the advancing troops on a line perpendicular to their approach, then reversing course to come in behind the landing ships. The Jaffa warriors of Anubis’ fleet had come in via Al’kesh bombers. These eight ships were still disgorging their troops and had planned to fly in support of them once the off-loading was completed. The Harriers were carrying six AGM-65s each, and as there were eight of them, each plane targeted all of its missiles on a single Al’kesh each.
The Jaffa on the ground could hear a far off whine in the sky, but could not place its location. None of them considered that an attack was coming. A few dozen looked up in time to see bright streaks of fire in the sky just before those same bright streaks impacted on their ships. Eighteen hundred pounds of explosives hit each Al’kesh, immolating them and the troops that were still off-loading. It was unfortunate for the Jaffa that the standard Al’kesh transport had all of its guns in a turret on the bottom of the hull. They had no defenses against the onslaught of missiles that came from far away. The Harriers retreated to their base to re-arm and refuel, but not before each one dropped one pair of unguided Mk. 82 500-pound bombs on the ships they had targeted, further adding to the chaos on the ground
In the Curia building, Narim and Travell could see smoke rising in the distance, and they hoped that some of the enemy had met their deaths. But Narim turned to the window again, hearing a strange thrumming sound, like a fast beat on a drum. He could not identify the noise, until a moment later, numerous aircraft with rotating wings above them flew low and slow over the city proper, searching out targets to destroy. These flew ahead of the vehicles that were now coming into sight. Though he could not identify the types of vehicles, they were APCs carrying troops and medics, MLRS and Stingrays, and behind them the Paladins were lumbering, bringing up the rear. The ones with the long guns and the box like units on their backs advanced to the far edge of the city, in the direction of the advancing Cylon troops.
The cluster bomblets and the mines had depleted their numbers, but there were still several thousand advancing on the city, and all from the same direction. These Cylons, advanced though they were, knew nothing about attacking a city. The Paladins stopped where they were and dropped their jacks, anchoring and stabilizing them for long range fire. Behind them, a row of MLRSs were doing the same thing. The lead MLRS elevated its launcher, adjusting for wind and distance, and prepared to fire. The Paladins fired first, laying down a smoke barrier close in to shield the defending force from visual targeting by the enemy.
Then came the first salvo from the MLRS units. Each fired twelve rockets and each rocket carried six hundred and forty-four submunitions designed to detonate on impact. Each MLRS unit fired its entire load in a ripple pattern to cover the largest area possible, and each one fired its pattern so that it landed with sufficient overlap to saturate the area. The units fired their salvoes about thirty seconds apart, in effect creating an almost continuous hail of bomblets that rained down on the advancing enemy. On either side of the artillery pieces, troops were dismounting from their APCs, and setting up positions from which to engage the enemy.
In the Curia Building, Travell could see the effect of the rocket launches. Her sensors showed that each group of rockets covered an area of two hundred thousand square meters, though these were overlapping somewhat. The effect, she saw, was a rainstorm of death over the enemy. She was completely grateful at that moment that the Tau’ri were on their side. She could not begin to imagine the devastation such a weapon might cause to her people had they decided to take a hostile approach to the Tau’ri. She admired them for their bravery and their ingenuity. They were still a primitive species, but they were honorable.
When she had first been informed of the idea of an alliance, she’d had her doubts about the situation. The agreement that had formed the Alliance of Independent Systems had at its core, a mutual defense pact. If one member world came under attack, the other member worlds would rally to their defense. The Tollan did have ships, and they were light-speed capable, but they did not have a vast number of them. They were used for locating habitable worlds on which to spread their progeny, not for defense, though they were armed. They’d had only one ship in orbit when the attack came, and it managed to hold off the enemy just long enough for her to call for help. In less than a minute, pieces of the ship began to burn up in the atmosphere after its destruction. And the next target after the ship was New Tollana’s only orbital station. She turned her attention back to the fighting below her.
The Cylon warriors that emerged from the destruction laid down by the first salvo of rockets had been decimated. Some were walking, but were missing an arm. Behind them, over a thousand of their mechanical comrades lay in smoking piles of metal and wire. They could see the city now, still some five thousand meters distant. Another round of rockets came in, dropping their number by fifteen hundred more. Now those at the front heard something entirely different. Like a fast beating drum. They scanned the area around them and saw nothing but trees and short hills.
Behind those short hills, the Apache helicopters were taking every possible advantage of the coverage offered by the terrain. The pod with the Marine Expeditionary unit had carried eight Apaches, while the pod with the Armored Cavalry Regiment, had carried sixteen, and sixteen Werewolves as well. A Cylon happened to turn in the right direction to see a pair of Apaches pop up from behind a hill, but was unable to give any sort of warning to his fellows before slugs from the nose-mounted thirty millimeter cannons tore into their ranks.
A few hundred feet to one side of the first pair of Apaches, a second pair popped up. They hovered for a moment as the gunner took aim with the targeting sensor and let fly with the full load of seventy-six 70 millimeter rockets. But these rockets didn’t have a high explosive warhead. They had, instead, a submunition called a flechette, which was a highly sharpened steel dart. When the submunitions were deployed by the rocket, they flew at the targets in a disk like mass for a few seconds before spreading out. The impact wasn’t explosive. The steel darts were designed to impart kinetic energy into their targets, and were excellent for anti-personnel reasons.
In the Curia building, Narim glanced skyward and was surprised to see more of these rotary wing aircraft diving down on what was left of the advancing enemy troops. But these aircraft, though similar in appearance to the ones low on the ground, seemed to have two sets of rotating wings, one set slightly below the other. He wondered at the different designs for a moment, but only a moment, as these new craft pulled up at what seemed the last moment before striking the ground. He thought the manoeuvre strange until he realized that these craft had dropped bombs on the few remaining enemy troops. When the smoke and dust cleared, all of the enemy troops had been killed by the combined air and artillery assault.
Minutes later, troops of the Tau’ri swarmed the field, looking for survivors. There were none, but there were enough weapons that they began picking them up. Anything salvageable off the enemy was picked up.
First Battle of Risa
The Goa’uld had long known that the ranks of the Tok’ra were small and it was for this reason that Anubis had sent only two Ha’taks and four Al’kesh to lay waste to the base of the Tok’ra. The Jaffa warriors in the vessels over the planet were new and untested in battle. Anubis had thought this an easy conquest and had sent these warriors here to test their mettle. He didn’t count on a fleet from the Tau’ri arriving.
There weren’t enough officers of command rank available in the Alliance. Though command of this fleet should have gone to an Admiral, it went instead to the man who had formerly served as third-shift commander aboard the Halsey, Kapitan Tretyego Ranga Grigori Ivanov. His flagship, the Douglas Munro, was ready in all respects to drop from hyperspace. The Normandy and the Nova led the charge out of jump space, with guns blazing and missiles leaving their tubes as quickly as their gunners could get a target lock. Behind them, the Langley, Ranger, Yorktown, and Wasp were launching their Thunderbolt fighters to deal with the few enemy fighters in the system. The Poseidon and the Hera remained behind to provide cover for the now mostly defenseless escort carriers. Thunderbolts zoomed into the fight with the enemy fighters, quickly cutting through their inexperienced ranks and carving an unobstructed path to the Ha’taks. The two dreadnoughts broke apart and headed for the two Goa’uld carrier vessels, each one taking a target. Neither Ha’tak could stand the punishment it was taking from the combined assault of heavy plasma, neutron, and fusion beams, as they each exploded in spectacular bursts of light. The four Al’kesh bombers that had been preparing to land on the surface of Risa instead turned away from the surface and streaked up into orbit to assist their bigger cousins. They were no match for the small Shadow cannons that the dreadnoughts had in reserve. Purple beams lanced out, carving the four Al’kesh into oddly sized chunks.
Before Captain Ivanov could so much as order troops to the surface, the battle had ended. It would now be a rescue operation to help the Tok’ra dig out from their collapsed tunnels.
There was suddenly a lot of debris in the system. The wreckage of twenty Ha’taks littered the space above Kelowna. The remaining four Ha’taks, badly damaged, had managed to escape back to friendlier spaces. The two Basestars had not been easy to defeat, but the flexibility of his Whitestars had turned the tide against the Cylons. With swift passes, they had knocked out weapon emplacements, and engines, leaving the ships to drift. More passes and the hangar bay doors had been sealed, preventing the Cylon fighters from returning to rearm. Even the fighters had proven ineffective against the ships of the Caprica strike group. The Caprica’s Viper squadrons had made quick work of the Udajeets, and the few Thunderbolts in the strike group had launched a devastating attack on the Ha’taks. The Viper was designed first and foremost as a fighter killer, not a ship killer. But the Thunderbolt fighters handled the ship killing quite effectively. The ten external hard points for missiles made them most formidable.
This attack force had not managed to land troops on the surface, and for that Methos was entirely grateful. He had no easy means of deploying troops to the surface. But the battle was over for now. Now came the cleanup. For this, he directed the Peregrines, as they had tractor beams, to collect all of the pieces into one central area, where the engineers he had aboard could scavenge through the sections, looking for usable items. The Caprica had launched a number of shuttles to go out and perform the duty normally relegated to SAR ships, but only the Halsey and her sister ships carried those big Bulldog SAR craft. An oversight he planned to bring up as soon as he returned to Luna.
The one good thing that had come out of this engagement was that it looked like they had managed to capture a nearly intact Cylon Basestar. His ground commander was busily organizing his troops to go over and seize the vessel.
“Sir, communications from the surface.”
“Visual please. Ah, Jonas Quinn. I trust all is well on the surface?”
“Adam? I’m glad to see you’re ok. Everything is well enough down here. None of their troops managed to land. How did it go up there?”
“Lots of pilots down, and some damage to our ships, but nothing a few hours of repair won’t cure.”
“On behalf of the new government of Langara, I wish to express my condolences at the loss of your pilots, and the gratitude for your timely rescue. Though we have no space going vessels to aid you in orbit, I have been authorized by my government to inform you that we have five hundred pilots and over one thousand ground troopers who have volunteered for duty with the Alliance.”
“The other two powers of this world have come together with us to form an alliance. They chose the ancient name for this world; Langara.”
“Marius, there’s an incoming communication from the fleet at New Tollana.”
“I’ll be there shortly.”
“Ok, put the call through.”
“Marcus. How went the battle?”
“The battle is over for now and we are victorious.”
“Some. Falcon flight group was wiped out, but their crews managed to eject just in time. The battlecruisers lost all of their fighters but have managed to recover most of their pilots. The Lexington is operating on emergency power, and is presently without both shields and fighter cover. The Concord was cut in two by point blank firings of the Cylon heavy pulsar cannons. SAR operations are underway. We’ve got a couple of Basestars that we managed to cut in half. The four saucer-like sections are drifting for the moment. I have the remaining Peregrines out collecting the debris and marshalling it to one area. The Dallas and the Ryan are trying to bring those saucer sections under control so that we can salvage their contents.
“The enemy managed to land a significant number of troops on the surface, but these troops are far from enlightened. Would you believe they approached the City in line-abreast formations? For all their advancements in science, they leave a lot to be desired when it comes to the warfare that you and I are so familiar with. My forces on the ground cut them down before they could get within four thousand meters of the city proper.”
“Do you require assistance?”
“I wouldn’t turn it down.”
“Ok. The cupboard is mighty bare, but I’ll see what I can do. Luna out.”
“Sir, another call coming in.”
“Commander Pierson, sir.”
“Marius. I hope all is well there?”
“It is. How went your battle?”
“We were victorious. SAR crews are out and about now.”
“Some minor damage to the fleet, but nothing a few hours repair time won’t solve. We did lose Kite and Sparhawk flights, but their crews have been picked up. The Caprica has all of her fighters, but the battlecruisers can maybe put together one fighter group between them. On the other hand, the Kelownan government have offered us five hundred replacement pilots, and a thousand ground troopers.”
“Ask them to send them via Stargate, would you Methos? How are you fixed for munitions?”
“The battlecruisers expended all of their ordinance. Caprica is still mostly at full levels, but her missiles and torpedoes aren’t compatible with our tubes.”
“Ok. I’ll see what I can do on this end. Luna out.”
“More news, sir. Kapitan Ivanov reports victory over Risa. The Goa’uld were soundly defeated and no troops were able to land on the surface. Rescue operations are underway. Apparently the Goa’uld vessels bombarded the planet from orbit, and a number of the Tok’ra tunnels have collapsed.”
“Send him a ‘Well Done!’ and find out what he needs?”
Marius walked the short distance from the command center in the main dome, to the offices of the IDB, in the adjacent auxiliary dome. He found Mitch sitting at his desk, going over the latest reports on manpower and materiel at the shipyards.
“Mr. President. Did the battles go well?”
“Yes and no. We won, three times, but we suffered casualties in terms of personnel and ships. We lost one Hyperion, and twelve gunboats. Another Hyperion is on emergency power and has no shields at the moment.”
“Ya know, when I initially drew up the plans for the Halsey and her class, she was intended to be a long range support vessel, carrying extra fighters and supplies. But you guys changed that. We managed to procure one ship and build another while we were ‘away’, but those two support ships aren’t going to be enough. Those long range tenders are excellent for repairing ships away from a space dock, and they can carry an awful lot of cargo. Halsey’s strike group went through about half of their ordinance, and the Caprica group? The Caprica is pretty full, but the rest are ships that came from the IDB shipyards, and unfortunately their missiles and torpedoes aren’t compatible with our tubes.
“You’ve seen the database of ship schematics we brought back. How soon to build more long range tenders? Stock as it is in the specs? No special armor on it, just add the shield generators.”
“Well since we won’t have to grow the armor, maybe five days to get the ship completed. It’s not an overly complex ship as it’s mostly cargo space and collapsible dock structures.”
“Do it faster if possible. How many replacement fighters do we have available at the moment?”
“We have the fighters that were due to be a part of the Kuznetsov. “
“I know you said the battleships won’t normally carry fighters, but just how much deck space is there?”
“Room for one hundred, maybe one-twenty. I see where you’re going with this. I’ll get the fighters loaded aboard the ships. One to each group, yes?”
“Yep. How many fighters would you have to pull out if I wanted to send ten Construction Furys on each ship?”
“Five less fighters.”
“Get it done as soon as possible. Those two strike groups need the support.”
“I’m on it.”
“One more thing, Mitch. You know as well as I do that our resources are stretched way too thin. The Colonials are even worse off than we are, even though their shipyards were a gift from the Ancients. And Earth is pretty much screwed in that department. They don’t have any orbital facilities, other than Indy Station, and she doesn’t have any large scale construction yards. So I’m wondering if we can build a short, say couple hundred meters, ship who’s primary mission is assault and capture of other ships? Say, rig it with transporters of sufficient size and power such that we can beam to a target ship in large numbers? Maybe give it just enough weaponry to defend itself against fighters? Ya know, one of the weapons we brought back from the UFP universe was something called an energy dampener. Maybe that would work?”
“I’ll see what I can do. Have a good day Boss.”
Twelve Hours Later
“Sir! Long range sensors show a ship approaching! Configuration unknown!”
“Damn it. Bring the fleet back to red alert. Ready all weapons and guns. Get our SAR crews clear of the area.”
The ship that came out of the hyperspace conduit was like none the crews had ever seen before. Long and something of a cross between a cylinder and an elongated rectangle, the ship sported six massive looking gun turrets.
“Halsey. This is Alliance vessel Castor. How copy, over?”
“New ship sir. Fresh off the assembly line. President Marius sends his regards. We have some replacement fighters for you, but no pilots. We also have some cargo containers lashed to the deck. These are for you as well. Replacement ordinance, I believe.”
“Damn. You are a sight for sore eyes, Castor. I’ll get my pilots over to your ship on the double. How many fighters you got for us?”
“We fit in as many as we could. One hundred and ten. We’ve also got ten Construction Furys to relieve the strain on the ships doing clean-up duty.”
“Those will certainly help. My Peregrines need down time and maintenance.”
“That’s what we’re here for. We can’t service the gunboats, but we can service fighters.”
“What about the Concord?”
“She’ll be pulled into orbit. The Nightingale is about an hour behind us, and she’ll take care of the Concord. In the meantime, the President asked that as soon as you are able, to take all of your ships except the Tollana and the Dallas, back to Lunar space for refitting. The Castor will remain in the system to support the battlecruisers.”
“Roger that. We still need to retrieve our deployment pods, but after that, we’ll depart. Halsey out.”
Three days later
The two strike groups had come back, each one slightly smaller than when they had left. Replacement gunboats were quickly put together and shipped up to the fleets that had lost them. Replacement fighters also went to the fleets. The strike carrier Kuznetsov had finally come out of the shipyard, and she replaced the Caprica for that strike group. The Lexington was in the shipyard, having her shield generators replaced, while the remaining ships took on ordinance that brought their missile and torpedoes stores back up to full. The day after the fleets returned, Galactica came out of space dock, freeing up the Phobos shipyard to build more support ships.
Still, the Castor was calling almost daily back to Luna, requesting tankers to offload the solium and tylium they’d managed to recover from the now-dead Cylon saucer sections. One of the destroyed hulks had apparently been sent along as a replenishment ship as her holds were chock full of spare parts for fighters, and additional armaments for the fleet. But there were too few freighters available at the moment, something that had been overlooked in the requests for ships. The IDB and Colonial shipyards now had J Class freighters on their build lists, but they were far down the lists for the moment.
Base of Anubis
Metak, First Prime to the God Svarog led what was left of his fleet out of hyperspace and into a barely maintainable orbit over Tartarus. He’d already learned that his God had fallen in the battle for Tollana. He could not understand how a God could die. Perhaps, he thought, there was something to what the Shol’va Teal’c was known for stating? That the Goa’uld are, in actuality, false Gods? But that mere thought was heresy to one such as he. But for now, he faced an altogether different problem than the contemplation of his Gods. He had to report his failure to capture Kelowna and the source of the naquadria to Anubis. And, he knew all too well, Anubis did not tolerate failure.
Metak ringed down in person to see Anubis, asking his most trusted comrade that if he failed to return from the planet below, to take in his wife and sons as his own.
“We were defeated, my Lord. The Tau’ri responded to our attack with severe force, destroying twenty Ha’taks and the two ships of our allies.”
“How is this possible! They could not have built enough ships to destroy your forces and those of Svarog!”
“This I do not have an answer for, my Lord. Their weapons were unlike any we have ever seen. Their largest ship had weapons to equal our allies, but there were two smaller vessels, whose designs I have never before seen, that fired beams of such intensity that they were able to pierce through our shields with relative ease.”
“Show me these vessels!”
Metak waved a hand at one of his lesser subordinates and images of the battle replayed on the main screen for Anubis to examine. The lesser Jaffa pressed something on the control panel, isolating a shot of one of the Whitestars and allowing Anubis to examine the ship in some detail.
“You have only visual images of these ships. Why is no sensor data available?”
“My Lord, our sensors, even at maximum power, were unable to penetrate their shields.”
“Hesa! Thoth! I require your presence immediately!”
“You summoned us, My Lord?”
“Yes. I find these new vessels of the Tau’ri troubling. Take a task force immediately to Kelowna. Capture these and any other Tau’ri vessels of unusual design and return them to me! I must have their secrets! I will request an equally large taskforce from our allies. Go! Now! At once!”
It was a matter of hours before a rebel Jaffa learned of the new plan to attack Langara. Using the network of Jaffa informants the Rebels had created, the message was quickly passed along to the encampment on the world the Tau’ri called the Beta Site. The news that an even larger fleet was being assembled to take control of Langara was not any good. The Lexington was still being repaired; with new hull sections being replicated to replace the damaged ones. The Hyperion would take her place, and she was to go ahead and wait in hyperspace for the Goa’uld fleet to arrive. She was to take the Raleigh and the Seattle and use them to lay down a field of cloaked anti-matter mines. The Halsey and Kuznetsov strike groups would be behind them by twelve hours. All ships were to remain in hyperspace until the Pollux could pass along accurate targeting data, which the fleet in hyperspace would use to create jump points into the attacking fleet.
A day passed. The Halsey and Kuznetsov strike groups joined the Hyperion in hyperspace, but no Goa’uld fleet. Another day passed. Then two. Then four. A week. More ships made the trek in hyperspace to join the strike groups already there. The Taurus, another Constellation-class battleship pulled into position with the Kuznetsov, bringing with them two hastily assembled Trooper-class assault vessels, the Militant and the Guardsman. Another Hyperion, the Bunker Hill, arrived with four more Whitestars; the Midway, Kursk, Anzio, and Stalingrad.
After having had his ship shot out from under him, Captain Koth, late of the Klingon Empire, had made a formal request to be executed. It was nearly unheard of, for a Klingon, to lose his ship but to remain alive. Marius denied his request, but did give his reasons for it.
“I have lost my ship, Admiral. My honor has been taken from me!”
“Nonsense! Do you really think that just because you lost your ship, in combat, to a force far larger than your own, that doing so has cost you your honor? I think not! I too, have faced untenable situations where I have survived because I had the will to do so! Decades ago, the Earth was involved in a war that stretched across continents and nations. I was a fighter pilot then. Do you realize what that means? The ‘ship’ I flew was maybe 30 feet in length and had a wingspan of nearly forty feet. Dramatically smaller than the Peregrine fighters the Federation had and that we now use as gunboats. No shields, no energy weapons. Just me and a bunch of fabric-covered wood. But I flew those small fighters, without computer help, and I took down scores of enemy planes in combat.
“But the most important thing you must realize is that as of ten years ago, my Earth had no space going fleet. Well, we did have shuttles, but they were limited to the space around Earth, and most importantly, they had absolutely no weapons. Four years ago, the Prometheus project was conceived, and after a long construction period, it finally flew. But up until a little less than two years ago, it was our only ship. Do you see where I am headed with this?”
“I do not. The Prometheus was your only ship? How is that possible?”
“We did not have any sort of orbital facilities, Koth. The ship was built on Earth in an underground hangar facility. But the point I’m trying to make is this; you are among a very few people I can call upon to Captain a ship. Yes it’s true, that Earth does have navies, and that those navies do have ship captains, but, and this is a critical issue, those ship’s captains command sea-going vessels. There are perhaps a dozen or so officers of command rank, that have any sort of experience in space. You are among those officers, Koth, and quite frankly, I need you. So, enough of this ritual suicide nonsense. Yes, the Concord was a good ship, and she will be rebuilt. But for now, I want you to command the Taurus, our newest battleship”
“You honor me with your request. But I have one of my own to make as well. You have need of experienced captains. I can not grant this to you. My father, Torath, is the elder of House Torla. He was once a General and commanded the fleets of our House. The reason only thirty-two of us are left, is that many of our proud warriors fell in battle with the Dominion. Entire fleets were destroyed. He is old, true, but he has the heart of a warrior. I will take you to him. You will know what to do. Then I will transfer my command to the Taurus.”
The walk from the Administration sector to the housing sector of Dome Ryan was not a long one, but it gave Marius a chance to formulate his thoughts, and to look out onto the surface of Luna. In the distance he could see the work crews working under the force fields at Darwin Crater. The energy shield kept out harmful radiation, allowing the crews to work in less complex suits than a full environmental suit. But the majority of the work crews were over at Beaumont Crater, which was to be turned into farmland suitable for growing the crops that Luna depended on. Darwin would become the new home for the IDB, and its surface shipyards. It wasn’t long before he was standing in front of a door to one of the larger communal type domiciles, this one with a stylized Klingon banner hanging over the entrance.
Over the next few minutes, Marius explained his proposal to Torath, who accepted the challenge of training Humans to be worthy of command of the vessels of the Alliance. Among the members of the first class would be William Scully, who was slated to take command of the Defiant-class heavy escort, the Spirit, pending successful completion of his class.
Second Battle of Langara
The news of the impending second attack on Langara had been passed along to the governments of Langara as soon as it had been received. But a week later, and there was no sign of the Goa’uld/Cylon attack fleet. Just as they reduced the planetary alert level, the attack fleet appeared.
“My Lord, there are three vessels in orbit over the planet. Our sensors can not penetrate their shields.”
“Open a channel!”
“Channel open, my Lord.”
“People of Langara! You will bow down before your Gods and worship us! We require your absolute subservience. You will give to us the substance naquadria. Or we will destroy your world and take it.”
“My Lord, we are receiving a transmission from one of the three ships in orbit.”
“…Goa’uld and Cylon vessels. You have trespassed into Alliance-controlled space. Leave the area immediately. This is your only warning.”
“Insolence! Launch all fighters! Bring our ships into weapons range!”
“Sir, they’re launching fighters.”
“Good. I’d rather hoped to have the opportunity to try out the systems on the Pollux. Order all ships to activate their IFF transponders. Activate the mine field. Weps, how soon until those ships out there are in range of our main guns?”
“Thirty seconds sir.”
“Weps, pass along targeting data to the fleet. Prepare main guns for firing.”
“My Lord! Our fighters are reporting a mine field! They are being destroyed!”
“Press the attack! I will show these impudent Tau’ri the price for their defiance!”
“Weps, distance to the closest cap ship?”
“Front rank of ships have now entered weapons range.”
“Excellent. Comms, ask the Taurus to jump in behind that fleet. Let’s see if we can catch them in a crossfire. Weps, give them two salvoes from our main guns, then request the fleet join in.”
“Aye sir. Main guns firing now!”
The Pollux had turned her broadside to the advancing enemy ships, bringing all six of her main guns to bear. Each gun turret had four barrels, the outer two of which were Vorlon cannons, with the inner two firing anti-matter shells. The first barrels to be fired from each gun turret housed the Vorlon cannons. Each gun had been targeted on a different ship. The beams of the Vorlon guns reached out to hit their targets, easily punching through the armored hulls of the Cylon ships and cutting through the vessels completely. The Pollux had managed to draw first blood in this battle, with the disabling of six Cylon ships. The inner two guns on each turret had a shorter ranger than their two larger brothers, but their effect was even more devastating. The ‘shells’ were small magnetic containers holding one kilogram of antimatter. The magnetic containment units would decay quickly over a short distance, and immediately upon contact with any surface. The result was a devastating barrage of anti-matter aimed at a ship. And, as any science geek would tell you, anti-matter and regular matter tend not to mix well at all.
The next weapons to fire were the phase shifting Shipwrecks, from the side mounted tubes, but unlike the similar caliber of torpedo that Starfleet had utilized, these possessed naquadah enhanced warheads of a sub-kiloton variety. Along the front ranks of Goa’uld motherships, six of the vessels staggered and began to fall behind the other ships as the torpedoes struck true in their targeting, easily penetrating the shields and exploding on the lightly armored hull.
The fighters of the enemy fleet had not fared well and the mines they’d run into had decimated their numbers. The two escorts for the Pollux, the Kelowna and the Dallas, opened up with their point defense systems, adding their fire to the anti-fighter turret fire coming from the Pollux, and cutting large swaths through the ranks of the approaching fighters. It was inevitable that some of the enemy fighters would get past their ships, and for this reason, the fighter squadrons from the Kelowna and the Dallas were waiting behind the bulk of the Pollux to give chase to those fighters headed into the atmosphere of Langara.
The main guns of the Pollux fired a second time, destroying five previously damaged ships and disabling six more. The front ranks of the attack fleet were now scattered and in disarray. This was how the fleet, making their jump into the system from hyperspace, found them. Easy targets that fell to the immense energies of the exit vortices. A total of eighteen vortices opened in the fabric of space, and some thirty nine ships, that were in close proximity to the exit vortices, were vaporized by the release of energy. The assault ships, Militant and Guardsman, jumped in with the Taurus, which had come in behind the enemy fleet. Her main guns added to the melee that was the enemy fleet caught between the pounding heavy guns of two Constellation-class battleships, and the Alliance fleet that had jumped into the middle of their formation. The Pollux began moving forward towards the fleet, her big guns firing almost continuously, damaging and destroying ships in this very one sided battle. Anubis had greatly underestimated the survival instincts of the Tau’ri, and now his fleet was paying that price.
With the Taurus covering their forward movement, the Militant and Guardsman moved up to tackle one target each. The ships themselves were heavily armored and heavily shielded, to withstand repeated hits while they deployed their troops onto an enemy ship. Each ship had a Cylon Basestar in its sights. The main guns for both ships were based on the energy dampening technology they’d obtained from the Dominion. The Militant fired first, and the beam struck true, draining the energy stores of the Basestar to port of the ship. Within the Basestar, the Cylons aboard all stopped when the cascading energy wave hit them. The Basestar stopped dead in space, and all power emissions dropped to zero. The troops began materializing aboard her, all wearing light duty force fields and life support helmets.
The Guardsman fired shortly after the Militant, bringing another Basestar to a complete halt. While both ships began sending their troops over, the ships turned to face other Basestars that were now approaching them, and firing their main guns from long range. It didn’t matter where the guns struck the ships, as the effect was always the same. Ships halted wherever they were, their energy stores drained, and the Cylons aboard them stuck fast to their last position.
Aboard the first Basestar, the one stopped by the Militant, two hundred and fifty troops had been beamed aboard to one spot. They began moving out in pairs to clean the ship of the Cylon presence. They were armed with Zats and with phase pistols. Their orders were to vaporize any Cylons they encountered, alive or otherwise, but to remove any weapons from the targets if at all possible. One pair of troopers found a veritable treasure trove of armaments in what looked like an armory, while another chanced upon the fuel tanks and found them to be full with the fuel the Colonials used.
Outside the two now captured Basestars, the battle raged on. Two more Basestars fell to the energy dampening guns, and two more sets of troopers were beamed over, leaving both Assault vessels empty of troops to dispatch, but they continued firing their main guns, bringing down more and more Cylon vessels.
The brutal crossfire which the Goa’uld found themselves in, between the heavy beam weapons of the Pollux and the Taurus, was tearing into the shields of the Ha’taks, draining them to near depletion for some and punching through the near non-existent shields for others. The Goa’uld Thoth had been charged by Anubis with the capture of any and all Tau’ri vessels, but it was looking more and more like he would be lucky to escape with his life. Already the Ha’tak controlled by Hesa had been obliterated when first its shields collapsed, then the vessel was hit by five torpedoes of a type that appeared to have a Tollan phase shifting device embedded on them. The weapons passed through the outer hull as if it wasn’t there only to explode deep within the ship. Hesa had been talking to him on the Vo’cuum when the devices had exploded. He had seen the other Goa’uld vaporized before the picture was shut off. It was not something he cared to see happen to himself. These Tau’ri, these insolent humans, they would be made to pay a thousand times for what they had done to him and to Hesa and to Svarog.
That time would come, but it would not be today. Thoth ordered what was left of the fleet, six ships, to retreat. They almost made it. Just as he gave the order to pull away from the defenders, more ships appeared in the system. Three Asgard battleships. Against those ships, he knew what was left of his fleet would stand no chance. But they were blocking his path of retreat. He had no choice but to order the other ships to their deaths. It made no difference to him as they were crewed only by Jaffa. He saw an opportunity to flee and he did so, leaving the other five, nearly intact Ha’taks to cover his retreat. Metak had once been First Prime to Svarog. But his God was dead. An incomprehensible thing, but it was true. Svarog had not arisen from the last battle with the Tau’ri. So being a reasonable man, even for a Jaffa, before the ships he commanded could open fire, he ordered a signal of surrender be sent out. But only if the one known as Teal’c were to come to speak to him.
A day later, Teal’c arrived on the fleet tender Attendant. The ship arrived in system with the third battleship, the Orion, and four more flights of Peregrine Gunboats, along with two former Colonial freighters that had been pressed into military duty, carrying extra supplies for the 1st and 2nd fleets. Immediately after her arrival, the Attendant deployed her mobile docking arms and the ships in system began pulling up along side to restock and replenish expended ordinance. The ship itself carried no fighters, but it did have a full compliment of Construction Furys, which enabled the ship to round up the stray bits of ships that littered the space around Langara.
Teal’c convinced Metak and his fellow Jaffa to join the rebellion, and they added their five Ha’taks to the Rebels ever-growing fleet of vessels. The five Ha’taks flew off, first to Luna under escort for repairs, then to the Beta site, where the Jaffa Rebels were currently encamped, again under escort.
The troopers from the Militant and the Guardsman had managed to capture six Cylon Basestars nearly intact. The Cylon vessels had numerous circuits that had burnt out when the energy dampening pulse had hit them, but except for that, they were operational. The Basestars would eventually be split into their obvious halves, with each half serving duty as a station in orbit of one of the major member worlds of the Alliance. Temporary duty until such time as actual stations could be constructed. But for now, these Cylon halves could defend themselves and could house numerous squadrons of fighters.
In the Sol system, the shipyards of the Colonials were busily churning out Viper and Thunderbolt fighters for these new temporary stations, and as replacements for the fleet. It was a sad tale, but both the 1st and 2nd fleets had lost over half of their fighters, though luckily, more than ninety percent of the pilots had managed to eject safely. The only two Colonial freighters currently in service had been joined by eight Camel-class military freighters the Halsey had bought from the Ferengi, and all were busily replenishing the fleets at Langara, shuttling back and forth under armed escort between the fleets and the supply station in orbit over Luna.
The Kelownans proved true to their word and provided the five hundred pilots they had offered. Three hundred of them would stay in Kelownan orbit to man the fighters that would be delivered to their new, if temporary, station. The remainder of the pilots were delivered via Stargate to the instructional facility on Luna for advanced training. They joined one hundred Tollan and over a thousand pilots from Earth nations in the first training class. The officers destined for shipboard command duties would quickly realize that Torath of House Torla was a brutal taskmaster, and those pilots and ground personnel would see that the Immortals were no less strict than the Klingon.
Base of Anubis
Thoth was a Goa’uld with a problem. The fleet Anubis had given to him and to Hesa should have been more than enough to defeat the Tau’ri, but it was he who had been defeated. The Ha’tak which Hesa had used as her command ship had been utterly destroyed in the opening moments of the battle. Now it fell to Thoth to report the news of this debacle to Anubis. It was not something he was looking forward to.
“My Lord Anubis. I have failed you. Hesa was killed in the opening shots of the battle, her command Ha’tak destroyed utterly. The new ships of the Tau’ri proved to have previously unseen weapons and shields. Our Cylon allies fell quickly to some type of new beam weapon. The Tau’ri managed to capture almost all of their ships intact. I ordered my remaining ships to cover my retreat so that I might bring you this news.”
“How can this be! It is not possible! These insignificant Tau’ri could not have advanced so quickly without outside help! We must locate these helpers of the Tau’ri and defeat them so that we might bring their technologies under our control. For now, we must wait. These recent battles have depleted our fleet strength. Thoth, you will continue work on our new weapon. It must be ready to deploy as soon as possible. I will speak with our allies. They will send ships against the Tau’ri to wear them down. This has become a war of attrition for the moment. The Tau’ri can not hope to sustain their effort for long. Leave us!”
It was a strange sight when the fleet returned to Sol space. There were six intact Cylon Basestars with them. The six new ships were parked into a lunar-synchronous orbit over the IDB crater facility, where shuttles and transporter pads worked continuously to offload the supplies aboard those ships, and to upload new gadgets that would make the ships into the temporary stations they were destined to become.
From the shipyards over Luna, the Spruance emerged, completed and ready for its shakedown cruise around the system. The Spruance only had a minimal compliment of fighters as yet, for the most pressing need for fighters were to replenish those lost in battle to the other two strike forces. It was a grand ship with a grand name, one that hopefully would live up to the strategic history of its namesake.
The better part of a week went by with no attacks by Anubis on the Alliance. Stores of precious solium and tylium were offloaded from the captured Basestars and transferred to the Colonials for their use. True to his promise to Jack Ryan, the Immortals had begun purchasing shipments of nuclear waste from first the United States and then from Russia. The waste was fed into the singularity generators on Luna for power production with the by-product being a tremendous amount of power and a substantial amount of anti-matter that for the moment was being used exclusively for weapons.
During the week of downtime, Thor, Supreme Commander of the Asgard fleet came to Luna for a regularly scheduled meeting of the Alliance High Council.
“Greetings President Marius. All is well?”
“As well as can be expected, Thor. Our first battles with Anubis’ forces went to our favor, though we did lose a lot of fighters and unfortunately, some personnel as well. But for the moment, both Langara and Tollana are safe. The Tok’ra have temporarily relocated their base of operations from Risa to the Beta Site.”
“Loss of life is always an unfortunate event, but when given for a greater cause, then it is a worthy sacrifice. The men and women who spent their lives will be remembered by the Alliance.”
“I’m sure their families will take a small comfort in that regard. Speaking of sacrifice, have you had a chance to review the recent travels by the Halsey?”
“Yes. I find your reports most interesting. Were there any technologies that could help the Asgard?”
“Actually, yes. One of the races we encountered gave us the technology to build something called an energy dampener, which we have successfully used against the Cylons in the last engagement. For electrical equipment, it completely drains power. It may work for you against the Replicators. And, from another race, after we spoke to them of the difficulties you were having with cloning, we obtained their sum total research into that field. Apparently they mass produce clones to serve in a number of positions, from diplomatic, to soldiers. We also managed to obtain genetic samples of races that are similar to the Asgard.”
One week later
Alliance Council Meeting
The seven permanent members of the Alliance council were present; Tau’ri, Colonial, Immortal, Tollan, Asgard, Langara, and the Ancients. There were representatives from various smaller worlds that were in the process of gaining membership and as such were considered temporary protectorates of the Alliance until such time as membership was either given or denied. Six of these representatives were present for this meeting; Tagrea, Talthus, Cimmeria, Orban, Amra, and Caledonia. Also present was the Goa’uld Goddess Bast (Bastet), representing Lord Yu and the Goa’uld Hegemony.
“This meeting of the Alliance Council is called to order. We have a long agenda and precious little time to go over everything in detail, but we shall attempt to do this in an orderly fashion. Let us begin with the Tau’ri Representative, President Jack Ryan of the United States.”
“Thank you Mr. Chairman. Our planet, while still fragmented into small nation states, is united in our effort to defend against Anubis and his Cylon allies. To this end, I have been given the authority by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council to offer a force of five million ground personnel and one hundred thousand pilots. Construction continues apace on the new SA-43 fighters for this force of pilots, and we expect to be able to field five squadrons from each of the aforementioned nations by month’s end. Also, with the new technologies given to us by the Immortal Council, a number of previously virulent diseases have been eradicated.”
“Anything else to report, Mr. President?”
“Not at this time, Mr. Chairman.”
“Very well. Let us move on to the Colonial Representative, Tigh, President of the Quorum of Twelve.”
“Good morning, Mr. Chairman. Our construction programs are also proceeding with all due haste. The newest Battlestar, the Caprica, has already been blooded in battle, and has performed in excess of all our expectations. For the first time since our exodus from our home system, our fleet is at full strength in terms of fighters and pilots. Our three Battlestars stand ready to meet any demands placed on them by this Alliance. I will also report, at this time, the commencement of construction on two additional Battlestars, as yet un-named. While our population is beginning to flourish once again, it will be some time before we can offer any sort of ground personnel to this cause.”
“Very well. I will give the report for the Immortal Council. Allow me to pass along the regrets of Marius, our President. The last time I saw him before this meeting, he was neck deep in paperwork. A task I feel he is highly qualified to accomplish and one I will hand over to him at any given opportunity. For the moment, construction on the remaining two strike carriers has ceased, while we process the remaining upgrades to their systems. However, construction of other vessels for the fleet continues at a break-neck pace. Within two weeks time, we will add six more WhiteStar-class frigates, bringing our total strength in this class to twelve. Additionally, we will add three more Hyperion heavy cruisers, three more Constellation battleships, and eight more Defiant heavy escorts. Our secondary shipyards report that at the end of this same two week period, all ships capable of carrying fighters will have their full compliment aboard, along with the full fighter compliments for the six new planetary stations that are presently undergoing refurbishing for use by our allies.
“Lady Bast, I believe you are next on the agenda.”
“Thank you Admiral Constantine. Our own construction efforts continue, but within the month, the first ships of our fleet will arrive for tasking orders. It is a difficult thing for myself and other system Lords to allow our ships to fall under Alliance control, however, we trust in our Jaffa to accomplish this task. Lord Yu has asked me to pass along his regrets at not attending this meeting, however, it has recently come to our attention that several members of the Goa’uld Hegemony have elected to switch sides in support of Lord Anubis. This has, unfortunately, halved our effective fighting force, but those ships that we can spare, will arrive as promised.”
“How many ships will you be able to pledge to this cause, Lady Bast?”
“One hundred Ha’taks, six hundred Al’kesh, and twenty Shalkras.”
“They will be well received by the Alliance, my Lady. You honor us with your pledge to this fight.”
It was always a wise thing to flatter a Goa’uld.
“Chancellor Travell? What news of the Tollan?”
“The attack by Anubis’ forces destroyed our only shipyard, and one of a very few ships that we have in our fleet. The remaining ships have been pulled back to New Tollana, and construction is commencing on a new shipyard. We regret that until this shipyard is completed, we will not be able to offer construction facilities to the Alliance.”
“Yes, that is unfortunate. However, at the Second Battle for Langara, Alliance forces captured a number of Cylon Basestars. We are in the process of separating the hulls and refitting them to Alliance standards. Though it will not take the place of your shipyards, perhaps you can adapt it to that purpose? In any case, the new station will give you a large amount of protection, and will serve as a home base for six fighter squadrons.”
“You have the thanks of the Tollan people, Mr. Chairman.”
“Next is the Representative of Langara, Mr. Jonas Quinn.”
“Good morning to you Mr. Chairman. After the attack by Anubis, the government of Langara pledged to the Alliance, five hundred pilots and one thousand ground troops. Langara has now authorized me to augment that first number. An additional five thousand ground troops will be made available to the Alliance. With help from the Tau’ri in regards to mining equipment and techniques, production of naquadria has now tripled.”
“Commander Thor? Have you anything for this meeting?”
“I do. On behalf of the Asgard High Council, we wish to acknowledge our debt to the Immortal Council for the timely gift of the anti-Replicator weapon. Said weapon was hastily built and test fielded on the Asgard battleship Daniel Jackson. The weapon worked as promised and the Asgard are now fitting a more refined version of this weapon to all of our ships. With the information presented to us in regards to cloning technology, we have identified several techniques to reverse some of the cellular degradation that is occurring, but not all of it. It is, however, a step in a direction we had not previously pursued, and is currently being examined by several of our top scientists.”
“I’m glad we could help, Thor. The Asgard have done so much for us, that we felt it necessary to repay at least some of your kindness. Hopefully, we will be able to do more in the future.”
“The High Council is examining methods by which we may aid the Tau’ri even more than we are now. Hopefully, they have come to the same conclusion that I have, that you are ready to take your place as the fifth member of the original alliance.”
“Uhm. That’s a good thing. Ok, well, on to the next person on the agenda. Master Bra’tac, if you would please sir?”
“The Rebel Jaffa, along with myself and Teal’c, recently went to where the System Lord Ramius makes his home. We had received word that the Jaffa there wished to join our ranks and that they had access to Ramius’ fleet and had offered those vessels to us, if we came through the Chappa’ai to assist them. As we approached Ramius’ Palace, the Chappa’ai activated behind us and an unknown creature stepped through it. It systematically killed everything in its path. It decimated our forces, and nothing we could fire at it, seemed to effect it at all. Staff weapons, Zat blasts, even projectiles from the P-90s we have been given, failed to affect it in any way. It was eventually defeated, but only after scores of Jaffa, Rebel or otherwise, were dead.”
“Were you able to retrieve the body for our scientists to examine?”
“We have. I believe that your Doctor Scully and her team have begun their examinations as of a few hours ago.”
“Very good sir. As soon as her reports are ready, we will make them available to all members of the Alliance. Anything else, Master Bra’tac?”
“Not at this time, Mr. Chairman.”
“Very well. The Alliance Council has been approached by representatives from Tagrea, Talthus, Cimmeria, Orban, Amra, and Caledonia. The Council has reviewed their applications for membership in the Alliance and at this time, we offer to these worlds the status of Protectorate world. We will begin sending diplomatic and scientific teams to these worlds, first to establish embassies, and then to interact with the scientific communities of those same worlds. Not all of you are ready for full membership, but we will help you to obtain that technological level so that you might fully join the Alliance.
“Now, if there is no further new business to discuss, we will recess for a short break, and then continue. The next item on the agenda will prove to be a contentious one as we determine the best method for integrating our forces into a cohesive whole.”
Pilot Training Center
“Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the first class of our new training center. Over the course of the next few weeks we will attempt to bring you up to speed in the various one and two-man craft in use by the Alliance, and those same crafts as used by our enemies. I fully realize that all of you already have experience flying terrestrial aircraft. Those skills will come in handy, but whereas a furball on Earth might range over a few tens of kilometers, the most recent engagements we’ve had have shown that fighters could well end up several hundred thousand kilometers from where they first encountered the enemy. Such is the nature of flying and fighting at sub-light speeds.
“Your instructor pilots are being pulled from the ranks of current squadron and flight leaders in the Alliance. They have been tested in the crucible of space combat and come out on top. Some other instruction you will receive will be on the nature of our enemy, so that you might learn their individual weaknesses and strengths for when you face them in combat.
“Now, we’re going to dim the lights a bit so the holographic projectors can have their full effect. The first fighter is the F-302 Mustang. It is a two seat space superiority craft capable of atmospheric flight. It can be equipped with either pulse phaser cannons or rail guns in the two wingtip stations. It also has two hard points, where, depending on the mission, we can mount six anti-fighter missiles on two triple-mount racks or two anti-capital ship missiles on single hard points.
“The next craft is the SA-310 Thunderbolt Starfury. It is also a twin seat model, with a dual mission of fighter and bomber. It has four pulse phaser cannons mounted one per wing tip, and one nose mounted multi-barreled rail gun. It has ten hard points for anti-fighter missiles.
“Next is the SA-23 Aurora Starfury. This is a single seat fighter, and the only fighter where the pilot rides in a standing position. Like the Thunderbolt, is has four pulse phaser cannons mounted one per wing tip, but unlike the nose gun of the Thunderbolt, the Aurora has two rail guns mounted to either side of the cockpit, and eight hard points.
“The SA-43 Hammerhead has been designated for space superiority missions, but since it also has directional VTOL thrusters, it can also perform CAS duties. This is a single seat craft, with one gimballed rail gun mounted beneath the nose, and a rear turret with twin pulse phaser cannons. In either role, the six hard points support triple-ejector racks for missiles or bombs.
“The final fighter is the Colonial Mk III Cobra interceptor. This is a single seat fighter capable of manoeuvres that you could only dream about performing in some of the other platforms. It has two heavy fusion cannons mounted one in each wing root, and a retractable rotary launcher in the belly that can hold nine anti-fighter missiles, or eighteen micro photon torpedoes.
“The next two vessels aren’t really fighters, but they can fit into that role if the need arises. The Danube-class heavy scout has a crew of four; pilot, navigator, engineer, and weapons specialist. It fields twin heavy pulse phaser cannons, six type VIII phaser strips, and a photon torpedo launcher in a top mounted hard point. The last vessel is the GB-1 Peregrine. It carries a crew of six to eight and serves as a space-borne AWACS platform, with the ability to defend itself. It has two forward firing Type VIII phaser cannons, six type VI phaser strips, eight internal hard points for micro photon torpedoes and six external hard points. The eight internal points are mounted four per wing, and the best description I could give you would be to compare the internal mounts to something that many fighters in WWII had in their wings.
“Are there any questions? Yes, you in the third row. State your name and branch if you could, and the type of aircraft you flew.”
“Major Riley Hale, USAF, B-2 pilot. Nice pictures there, Chief. But I didn’t see anything that could remotely be called a pure bomber.”
“No pure bombers here, Major. All of the fighters I’ve just shown you perform multiple roles. The closest equivalent in terms of bomb capacity would be the Al’kesh bomber that we have a few of in our inventory. However, as its primary mission is to deliver troops to the field, it’s not really what you have in mind. It carries anywhere from five hundred to one thousand troops into battle.”
“Sheesh! You don’t do anything by halves, do ya!”
“The Al’kesh bombers were made by the Goa’uld, not us. Let’s just say that a Goa’uld’s ego is a rather large thing and leave it at that. Yes, you in the fifth row.”
“Colonel Reginald Stuart, USAF, A-10 pilot. When do we get started on training sir?”
“Everyone, please stand up.”
The assembled pilots in the room stood at that request. Marius pressed a few buttons on his podium and the podium and all the chairs in the room vanished, to be replaced by what everyone in the room would call a hangar. In fact, the assembled crews for this first class were situated in a holographic training center, the first of its kind in the Alliance.
“Gentlemen, the miracle of holographic technology. A few seconds ago, all of you would have sworn you were in a classroom. Now you’re in a hangar. We’re going to get started with the F-302 Mustang, as this is still one of our front line fighters, and is based on the typical fighters of our Goa’uld enemy. The major difference between the Udajeet fighter and the Mustang is that the Mustang has hard points for missiles, while the Udajeet does not. Another difference is that our Mustang fighter has a hyperspace window generator on it and the Udajeet does not. What that means, is that if you find yourself in the middle of a massive furball, and are outnumbered, you can activate a split second jump through hyperspace. The generator eats through the naquadria fuel at a pretty steep rate, so you won’t be able to get but maybe five or six one-second jumps out of it, but it will drop you at least a million klicks away from the furball. That’s about twenty to thirty seconds flight time for an Udajeet.
“Now then, climb into your craft. You’ll see a short piece of plastic-like equipment sitting on the seat. Pick it up and place it against your cheek. It will adhere itself there. That funny looking little thing is the equivalent of the standard communications gear you’ll find in any aircraft on Earth. Myself and the other instructors will be flying against you in Udajeet fighters.”
Marius was flying as wingman to Colonel Starbuck. Teal’c and Bra’tac were ahead of them as squadron leader and wing leader, respectively. Several of the tried and tested pilots from the recent engagements were also a part of the squadron. Their mission was a simple one. The pilots they were flying against were no strangers to aerial combat, but combat in space was fairly different. It was easy for a fighter versus fighter battle to range out over several million cubic kilometers of space. It was easier to get disoriented when there was no compass to tell you which way was North. But the Mustang fighters were built with all sorts of safety and guidance features. It wouldn’t take long to transition this first batch of Earth trainees into the wonderful world of space based combat.
“What makes you qualified to teach us in these fighters?”
“Actually, I probably have less time in these fighters than the rest of the instructor pilots. However, the fact that I’m a founding member of the Aerial Assassins Club probably had something to do with it. Forty air-to-air kills in WWI, ninety-three in WWII. Missed out on Korea, cause the Air Force had me designing better combat systems. Tested a few of those systems in Vietnam and came back with less than a dozen kills. That ok for you Stuart?”
“Yeah. I think that’ll be ok, sir.”
They were in a holographic environment, but you’d have a hard time convincing the pilots of that fact. The trainee pilots came at the instructors hard and fast, as they’d been taught, taking the fight into the vertical, but in space that mattered little, as they all too quickly realized that chasing a target into the vertical in space meant a very long chase. On Earth or on any planet, taking the fight into the vertical meant that eventually, gravity would force the hand of one pilot or the other. In space, gravity wasn’t a factor. After a few hours of this, the instructors called for an end. They made their approach to the landing field in a standard combat formation, peeling off at the last second to land in pairs. When all were on the ‘ground’, Marius terminated the hangar environment and all of them found themselves once again in a classroom.
“Well, now you’ve gotten a bit of a feel for the tactics the Jaffa will use against you. Get some rest. At oh-eight-hundred tomorrow, Colonel Starbuck will take you through the basics of flight in a Viper and teach you all about our Cylon enemy. Major Riley. Colonel Stuart. Please stay for a bit. The rest of you are dismissed for the day.”
“Would you gentlemen care for a drink?”
“Beer if you have it, sir.”
“Beer it is. Colonel, your former CO speaks rather highly of you. I’d like to offer you a choice if you want it. You can either continue the training as planned, or you can skip right to taking command of a new unit that’s being formed. A dedicated Close Air Support unit. You interested?”
“So you’re moving me straight to the Hammerhead?”
“Yes. There is one other aspect to the CAS unit though. In addition to the Hammerhead squadrons you’re going to take over, you’ll also have to worry about the VTOL jets and helos that are now based on the big ships in the fleet. You don’t have to give an answer today. Just think about it.”
“I’ll do it, sir.”
“You bet, sir!”
“My Lord, the Cylons report ready. Their six ships are ready to depart for Tau’ri space.”
“Order them to go. Send six more ships each to Tollana and to Langara. Those worlds will be mine and their inhabitants will bow before me, or I will destroy them all!”
“As you wish, My Lord.”
New Tollana Station
“…engineering, we need extra power on the outer defenses…”
“…sensors showing all clear out to three light minutes…
“…great…we got the weapons shipment but no planes yet…”
“…command, we’re showing a fault disconnect on three defense sats…”
“…Castor, do you have any extra power couplings?…
New Langara Station
“…engineering, why are we still on emergency power?…”
“…sensor acuity down to mush…”
“…my Mama told me there’d be days like this…”
“…alright, who’s the bird brain that ordered gravity bombs?…”
“…command, we’re showing good connectivity to all defense sats…”
“…what do you mean the plumbing is backed up?…”
“…command, we’re showing a fault feed light on the port launcher array…”
“…Pollux, where are those extra fighters?…”
“…Tom, get someone from engineering to look at that power reading…”
“…Daedalus, we show you clear of station and you are free to proceed…”
“…Raleigh, check your turn…”
“…sensors show nothing out to six light minutes…”
“…so Mars and Luna have the DefSats, but Earth doesn’t? Why not?…”
“…message from Langara…someone shipped gravity bombs?…”
“…gravity bombs…me thinks that supply chief is on drugs…”
“…no pilot…you’re other right!…”
“…defense grid shows green across the board…”
“…command, we’re showing a power spike over Beaumont Crater…”
“…I have no idea why they were shipped gravity bombs…”
“…power center, we’ve got an inbound waste shipment for you…”
“…oh joy…more trash…”
“…Sheridan to docking control…where do you want me?…”
“…please Jake…not over an open channel!…”
“…command, sensors…we’re showing a small spike in quadrant 6…”
Pilot Training Center
“…so you see, the Viper is unique among the fighters in that it can fly backwards and get behind an enemy that was behind you…”
“…with the aft turret in auto-engage mode, anyone getting on your Six is in for a surprise…”
“…pulse phase cannons deliver a lot of firepower against enemy fighters, but are like mosquito bites to a bigger ship…”
“…use the anti-ship missiles to bring down the enemy’s shields so the big boys can take them out…”
GroPo Training Center
“…your mission is not to hold ground, but to kill the enemy…”
“…our engagements have shown that the Cylons move in large box like formations…”
“…a well placed grenade will do a lot of damage to the Cylons…”
“…don’t be afraid to call in an artillery strike…”
“…remember, incoming fire has the right of way…”
“…you can never have too much ammunition in a firefight…”
“…Recruit Lehayne reporting for training, as ordered…”
“…you’re a small one aren’t you…”
“…smaller is better…”
Joint Command Center
“So, we’ve agreed to follow the USN model for battle group compositions?”
“Yes. It may not be the perfect model, but it does offer a point of reference since the majority of our personnel are coming from the Earth forces.
“Very well, Admiral Constantine. Let’s start with battle group one.”
“As you say General Hammond. After looking over the lists of ships at our disposal, we have enough to create four small…ish battle groups. Battle Group One will be centered around the Halsey. She will have four Shark-class missile destroyers, four Prometheus-class battlecruisers, four Olympus-class corvettes, two Shield-class flak frigates, two Jeep-class light carriers, and one Nightingale-class fleet tender. Battle Group Two will be centered about the carrier John F. Kennedy, with much the same makeup as BG1 except instead of four Olympus corvettes, BG2 will get four Whitestar frigates. BG3 will be the carrier Kuznetsov. She’ll get four Hyperions instead of Prometheus’, four Defiants instead of four Olympus’, and two Whitestars in place of the two Shields. BG4 will be built around the Spruance. She’ll get four each of the Prometheus and Defiant class, two each of the Nova, Shield, and Jeep classes, and one Nightingale tender.”
“What about Mars’ contribution?”
“We’d like to hold those in reserve for system defense. The Battlestars Galactica, Daedalus, and Caprica will take up station keeping orbits over Mars, Luna, and Earth. At least for the time being. The truth is sirs, that we just can’t build our escort ships fast enough. Even with the replicator farms going at full bore. What we on the Immortal Council would like to see from our Colonial brethren, are strike groups of Battlestars, at least three in size, with a suitable number of escorts, for deep strike missions.”
“That is agreeable to us. The truth is, while we have enough personnel to man two of our Battlestars, thus the Caprica is for the moment woefully understaffed. Until such time as the Fleet Training Academy on Luna can begin to turn out large numbers of trained personnel, we will always be at this stage.”
“The first classes are underway even as we speak. It is simply a matter of time before we have a formidable fleet. We have the ships, true, but we lack the personnel to accomplish our mission at present.”
“Who do we want at the head of these Battle Groups?”
“Admiral Constantine, President Ryan is asking that Admiral Bart Mancuso be appointed as one of the task force commanders.”
“The Colonial Quorum requests that Colonel Athena be made a task force commander, along with Colonel Sheba.”
“After much thought, the Immortal Council will offer command of a battle group to Robert, Baron de Valicourt.”
“Airman de Valicourt? Why him?”
“Because, General Hammond, once upon a time Robert was a captain of a pirate vessel. His tactics may be old, but the Council doubts that those tactics have gone out of style.”
Three days later
Smythson had gone from Sensor Operator Second class on the third shift, to SensOp on first watch, and with that had also gotten a promotion to Petty Officer in charge of the long range sensor section. With the LIDAR array in good operational order, they now had a medium resolution out to five light minutes, fine resolution at two light minutes, and very coarse resolution out to nine light minutes. At that extreme range, all they could tell from the sensory imagery was that something was coming in. It would be up to the IFF transponders set up around the approaches to the system that would tell if someone was friendly or not.
It happened almost simultaneously at three very separate watch stations. Long range LIDAR was picking up incoming ships. Big ships. Very big ships. Smythson knew that all ships in the Alliance fleets, save two, were presently in system. He knew also, that the ships on LIDAR had no IFF signature. He wasted no time in pressing the alert button on his console.
Alert klaxons began blaring their warnings in the Lunar Command Center, the SGC on Earth, the Colonial Operations Center on Mars, and in the Joint Command Center on the Indy. Sensor information was quickly passed along the various chains of command centers so that everyone was now tied into the system.
As the targets grew closer to the Sol system, the scanner resolution improved. Word spread quickly of six Cylon Basestars coming in. Battle Groups One and Two would spread out in the inner system, with Groups Three and Four making quick jumps into Hyperspace to stand by as possible reinforcements. The incoming hostiles were one light minute out when word came from Langara and Tollana of new attacks there. Group Three sped out at maximum speed for Tollana, with Group Four going at full burn for Langara. The battleships Castor and Pollux were screaming for help.
Second Battle of Tollana
Castor screamed for help the moment the Cylon Basestars appeared on LIDAR. One Cylon Basestar would be a match to the Castor, but six? Castor screamed for help as loud as they could and as long as they could until Cylon jamming made that impossible.
“What’s the database say on the fighter strength?”
“Three hundred fighters per Basestar, sir.”
“Comms, open a channel to Tollana Station and to the Curia.”
“Channel open, sir.”
“Tollana Station, this is Commander Jameson aboard the Castor. Be advised we show six Cylon Basestars incoming at this time. Recommend you evacuate all non-essential personnel to your shelters. Be advised, that we have sent a sub-space message to Alliance Command. We don’t know if the message got through before the Cylons commenced jamming. Curia, launch your fighters, but keep them in a CAP over the city. Any enemy fighters that get by us will have to be taken care of by your fighters. Recommend you activate the defense grid. We are going weapons free at this time and are moving up to engage the enemy at maximum range. Godspeed. Castor out.”
On Tollana Station the chaos was barely controlled.
“Weps, get those targeting sensors up now! Castor won’t be able to hold against eighteen hundred fighters for long! Full power to all shield systems! Bring all flak turrets online!”
“Helm, bring us around to give them a broadside. All gunnery stations, fire as they come to bear!”
Third Battle of Langara
Pollux was also screaming loudly, though ineffectively. The LIDAR didn’t pick up the incoming Cylon Basestars until those same ships were in the system and jamming all communications frequencies. It fell to Jonas Quinn on the surface of Langara to send a message via the Stargate to the SGC to notify them of the attack. Though the station was fully manned, and though all her weapons systems were fully active, the station had not yet received its compliment of fighters. It would be up to the point defense systems on both the station and on the Pollux, to stop the eighteen hundred fighters that were inbound.
“Helm, give ‘em our broadside. All guns, fire as they come to bear!”
Pollux moved away from the station, placing itself between the station and the incoming fighters. As the distance closed, the men and women aboard the Pollux made their peace with their respective Gods.
It began all at once. All guns on the port side of the Pollux fired at one time. The large massive guns firing long bursts from the Vorlon cannons, cutting wide swaths in the incoming waves of fighters. The point defense rail guns and pulse phaser turrets firing continuously. Where phased light met Cylon armor, the armor disappeared. Where the explosive tipped rail gun rounds met Cylon Raider, the fighter vanished in a burst of expanding gas and matter.
Behind the incoming fighters, the six enemy motherships approached in a classic wedge. As each ship entered extreme weapons range, it fired its twin mega-pulsar cannons at the Pollux. At extreme range, the Cylons were doing nothing more than illuminating space around the battleship, nicely bracketing the ship. As the distance closed, however, the pulsar beams came closer and closer to hitting the vessel.
“Weps, give ‘em a broadside. All guns and tubes!”
Space around the Pollux seemed to glow for a few seconds as all six heavy gun turrets fired at once, and sixteen tubes belched out sixteen QSG Shipwreck missiles; all of them targeted on one ship. It was overkill, pure and simple, but necessary. The twin mega-pulsar cannons of the Cylon Basestar could eviscerate the Pollux with a direct hit. In the distance, the beams of the Vorlon Cannons met at the same point on the target and cut through the target like a scythe. Space lit up yet again, but this time it resembled the supernova explosion of a star. With the primary target now gone, the Shipwrecks turned to their IFF modules for a target. Their systems identified non-friendly targets to either side of the previous target location, and the group of missiles split into two groups, each one locked onto a Basestar. And when those had expended their short and brief lives, there were three Basestars left. Unfortunately for the Pollux, the intense wash of radiation that was the site of three tremendous explosions blinded their sensors long enough for the remaining three ships to close to almost point-blank range. Six mega-pulsars fired. Six beams. Six coordinated beams. Beams that struck true on the Pollux.
Those personnel aboard Langara Station saw empty space where there had been an Alliance battleship. Their faces grim, they turned once more to the task of defending their world.
New Tollana Station
The Castor fared a little better than its sister ship, taking out four of the massive Basestars before a direct hit from a mega-pulsar beam cut it in two. The fighters based aboard New Tollana Station had made a good accounting of themselves, trading one of their own comrades for twelve or more of the enemy. The combined forces in system, those remaining fighters from the Castor and the station, and the previous fire from the Castor and the station, had taken out more than fifteen hundred fighters in the opening minutes of the battle. But now there were too few fighters to make a difference. The flak turrets on the station and the defense grid over the planet were all that stood between the planet and the still advancing two Cylon ships.
“Weps, activate the defense grid. Tell the remaining fighters to head for New Tollana City.”
The Global Orbital Defense satellites had been the result of a technology trade between the Alliance and Babylon 5. Now they would defend a planet against two massive Cylon ships. Each satellite had one heavy pulse disruptor beam, three type XII phaser cannons, two pulse phaser turrets, and eighty anti-matter missiles mounted in two sections of forty on either side of the main guns. The whole unit was powered by a single naquadah generator. A slightly larger fusion generator was also aboard the GOD platform and all it powered was the single shield that surrounded the platform.
The defense satellites were arrayed in layers in multiple orbits around Tollana, so not all of them would fire at one time. Ten satellites would add their fire to that coming from the station. Missiles tipped with anti-matter warheads spat out of the nearest satellites to the incoming ships. The fire was heavy and thick from the Cylon ships and more than two-thirds of the missiles were intercepted before they could find a target. The remaining third made small but significant impacts on the two capital ships. Not enough to stop them, but just enough to hold them at bay.
The Cylon pulsar guns began firing again, this time the targets were the GOD satellites in orbit. One by one, the satellites fell to the massively powerful beams. The ones that remained were on the far side of the planet and would be of no use in this particular battle. The big guns switched targets, from the satellites, to the station.
Where Cylon pulsar beam met station armor, sections of armor vanished into the vacuum of space. The station was fully automatic now, as all of her crew had evacuated to the surface, to prepare the defenses there.
First Battle of Sol
It was the Shark-class destroyer escorts (missile) that took the first shots in the battle. They fired the few photon torpedoes that the Alliance had managed to build. But their unerring accuracy in dodging incoming interceptor fire made the difference in the opening moves. The missile frigate Bull Shark let fly with all fifteen of her photon torpedoes and they flew straight and true to their targets. Thresher Shark, to one side of the Bull Shark, had done the same. Their torpedoes impacted the targets and in the space of less then five minutes, two Cylon Basestars had been eliminated before they had managed to launch a single fighter. Four more were still incoming, however.
Battle Group One moved to the right, while Group Two moved to the left, leaving the Battlestar Caprica in the middle, with four Shield-class frigates borrowed from the two battle groups to add to her anti-fighter coverage.
For the Cylons, seeing a Battlestar moving to intercept them was old news. This was the type of enemy they had fought against for countless yahrens. They could not know, had not yet realized, that the Caprica was the first of a new generation of Battlestars, one that took full advantage of the new technologies of the Tau’ri, and of the Ancients. The first new item that surprised the Cylons were the heavy duty shields of the Caprica, when twin mega-pulsar blasts failed to do anything but illuminate the shield bubble around the ship. The second surprise came when twin beams of Shadow-enhanced Slicer beam lashed out and eviscerated the upper hull of a Basestar, cutting through the four meters of heavy armor with ease. Another surprise came when rather than fire off only two anti-ship missiles, the Caprica launched a dozen of the big capital ship killers pulverizing the Basestar which had so recently had it’s hull perforated by the Slicer beams.
The three remaining Basestars were more cautious in their approach, making micro-jumps at light speed to close the distance to something approaching point blank. These three ships were able to launch their fighters all at once, and a wall of nine hundred fighters quickly raced past the Caprica and headed for Earth, where a much smaller wall of fighters was waiting for them. And just as the Cylon ships thought that the newer Colonial vessel could surprise them no more, the Caprica revealed one final trick. Four Vorlon heavy cannons had been hastily added to the vessel in the weeks before this attack. Two had replaced the heavy laser cannons that the Caprica and all Battlestars before her had been equipped with. Two more were added, one each ventral and dorsal, near the nose of the ship. Each one alone could swat a Ha’tak class vessel from space, but the four beams could be fired at an angle that met on a large focusing crystal carried in a chamber at the very tip of the bow. The crystal focused the four independent beams into one beam of massive power. The quadri-focused beam fired and where it met a Basestar, said Basestar vanished from space. The sheer power and heat energy of the beam was such that anything that stood in its way became as one with the universe.
Of course, the major limitations of the quadri-focused beam were that it could only fire forward, and using it against a target like a fighter was a pointless waste of energy. The energy requirements were such that the beam could only be fired every other minute as it took the generators that long to rebuild the power needed to fire all four beams at once, but it could fire two beams every sixty seconds. Thus while the ventral and dorsal pair were charging, the port and starboard pair could fire. The heavy Vorlon cannons were the primary anti-capital ship weapon of the Alliance, and it was one they were more than willing to use against any enemy of the Alliance.
Combat Information Center
“…Red 6, you got a pair of bogeys on your tail…”
“…Lunar Command, be advised we show a dozen fighters headed your way…”
“…Affirmative Indy…our defense grid will take care of them…”
“…Multiple incoming vessels…IFFs read as friendly…”
“Independence Station. This is the Pride of the Emperor, First Prime Oshu commanding. We have activated our transponders as per our agreement.”
“Good work there, Pride. We’ve got some uninvited guests here. Stand by while we pass along targeting data.”
The fleet assets promised by the Goa’uld had finally arrived. A fleet numbering close to six hundred ships; Ha’taks, Al’kesh, and Rel’tac troop transports. They arrived in time to witness the destruction of the fifth Cylon ship at the hands of the Caprica. The sheer destructive power of the primary guns left Lord Yu, in his throne behind his First Prime, shaking with unmitigated terror.
“Oshu! What is the power rating of that weapon?”
“Unknown, my Lord. I regret to inform my Lord, that our sensors are not calibrated that high. The highest point on our scales is a force of five times our main cannon output.
“We must find this out! Such a weapon, if it were to fall into the hands of our enemies, would be devastating!”
“Indeed, my Lord. We are receiving targeting data now, my Lord. I am ordering our fighters to assist the Tau’ri fighters in defense of their world.”
The view screen on the Ha’tak lit up, but not as brightly, as a pair of smaller Tau’ri vessels fired from point blank range into the remaining Cylon ship. This other type of beam weapon was an unknown type to the Goa’uld, and the various major and minor Goa’uld in the fleet, along with their First Primes, were startled to realize that the energy beam drained the targeted ship of all energy, rendering it a lifeless hulk, adrift in space.
“My Lord, there is heavy transport activity emanating from those two smaller Tau’ri craft. I believe they are transporting over to the Cylon ship.”
“What sort of weapon did they use on it?”
“Unknown, my Lord, but it appears to have drained the vessel of all energy. As the Cylons are mechanical in nature, it would have rendered them lifeless.”
“Most intriguing, is it not Oshu?”
“Indeed, my Lord. It is quite intriguing.”
“All units, this is NORAD control. Be advised that a number of enemy fighters have broken through the defensive lines in space and are making approaches to the planet. All units, you are weapons free at this time.”
When news of the incoming fighters had been passed along to the various world governments, they had taken the only action they could take. Alert levels went up to war time footings, and from air fields around the globe, flights of fighters rose up to await the enemy. More than two hundred enemy fighters had broken through the lines in space to make strafing runs on the planet. Standing in their way were several thousand frontline fighters and interceptors from various nations, all of them with one goal in mind, to defend their country as best as was possible.
“…Gunfighter 6, Black Knight’s are on your left and anxious to party…”
“…good to have you Black Knights…”
Downward they came through the atmosphere, their hulls glowing slightly from the friction of the passage through the upper atmosphere. At a distance of nearly two hundred kilometers, the F-14 Tomcats in the ranks of fighters over the US each locked on to four targets descending towards them. When the distance closed to one hundred and fifty kilometers, the calls of ‘Fox 3!’ sounded loud and clear over the airwaves, as an uncountable multitude of AIM-54 Phoenix missiles were launched at the enemy fighters. Two hundred fighters had come down to the US, with the single minded mission of causing as much chaos and destruction to the mountain complex that housed the SGC.
But because it was such an important facility, ranked perhaps among the top ten most important military installations on Earth, the facility had received its own set of force fields and Surface to Air missile emplacements. The fighters diving down towards the mountain got a surprise in the face when rail gun emplacements began firing at them, pumping out thousands of rounds every second, creating a veritable wall of lead in front of the enemy fighters.
Trapped between angry defensive fighters behind them and withering fire from the ground, the enemy ships elected to spread out along an altitude just above the flak from the ground, dropping their charges from a higher altitude than planned.
The fighting in the air closed to knife distance, and new calls of ‘Fox1!’ and ‘Fox2!’ filled the air as AIM-7 Sparrows and AIM-9 Sidewinders filled the skies over Colorado Springs. Eventually, calls of ‘Eject, Eject, Eject!’ and ‘Mayday!’ added to the chatter over the air waves. After what felt like an eternity to the surviving pilots, many looked down into their cockpits to see that they were dangerously low of fuel.
“Petersen Tower, Gunfighter 6. Requesting priority approach. Bingo fuel.”
“Take a number, Gunfighter 6. Pretty much everyone is Bingo at the moment. Switch to GUARD frequency for hand off to civilian controllers. You’ll be landing at the first field available.”
In the space near Earth, the fighting was done for the moment. Shuttles flitted here and there, beaming aboard surviving crews to the waiting arms of overworked medics. The attrition rate had been high for the newly trained pilots coming up from Earth militaries. It had been less so for those pilots who were veterans.
One Day Later
UN General Assembly
The thoughts on the minds of everyone present ranged from sheer outrage to sheer disbelief. So many changes in past months that many were still being briefed on the implications of those changes. For certain, a great number of military and strategic consultants had suddenly found themselves overwhelmed with work as nearly every nation on the planet sought their expertise. But the debate today, or rather outrage today, was not so much about technologies and their distribution to the nations of the world, but rather at the lack of defense that their world had in the previous day’s battle.
“The Chair recognizes the honorable representative from Saudi Arabia.”
“I thank you Mr. Chairman. The Kingdom easily defended itself in yesterday’s battles, but that was only because no enemy fighters came within our airspace. I am told the Americans lost many squadrons of planes to the enemy, but thankfully, there was little loss of life. Some months ago, this assembly was asked if we wished to install as a planetary body, the defense satellites offered to us by the Alliance, and we said no. At this time I wish to ask if this offer is still available?”
“Mr. Chairman, as duly authorized representative of the Alliance, I can state that yes, such an offer is still on the table. Had the defense satellites been in orbit yesterday, there would have been far fewer enemy fighters entering our airspace. The constellations of defense satellites over Colonial Mars, and Immortal Luna, stopped all enemy fighters before they could get in range to drop their payloads on the surfaces of those worlds. We have just a few hours ago received information that similar constellations of satellites around two of our member worlds blocked large numbers of fighters from attacking their surfaces. Unfortunately, several hundred fighters got through those lines of satellites, and Langara and Tollana took heavy damage.
“For the moment, the Alliance Council voted to leave Battle Groups Three and Four in Langaran and Tollan space. This leaves us with two full battle groups for home defense, along with the newly arrived group from the Goa’uld Hegemony. The Alliance shipyards are endeavoring to produce as many fighters as possible to supplement the Earth forces, but we are in dire need of qualified pilots. We have asked before, and we have received squadrons of pilots from the five permanent members of the Security Council, but today, I am authorized by the Alliance to ask for qualified pilots from all member nations of the UN.”
“Mr. Chairman! Mr. Chairman! If I may, please!”
“The Chair recognizes the honorable representative from Iran.”
“Unlike my colleague from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, I do not trust the Westerners. How can we install such a Sword of Damocles over our own heads and not be fearful of the system being turned on us? Moreover, if we do provide our best pilots to the Alliance, how can we not be in fear that not everyone will do so, and therein would another nation state seize the opportunity to invade a nation state that provided pilots?”
“Admiral Constantine, do you have an answer for these questions?”
“I do Mr. Chairman. I wish to state for the official record that the defensive satellite constellations work in two directions. They will protect the planet from threats in space, and they will protect nations on the planet from attack by another nation. That is, if one nation launches ballistic missiles at another nation, the satellites in orbit will target those weapons and destroy them. The nations of the world can keep their ballistic launchers if they so desire, but the defense satellite network will destroy any such weapons launched. What we would propose is that a joint command facility be established in orbit. Said facility will have control of the defense satellite constellations around Earth, along with control of a number of ground to space intercept squadrons.
“The space-based squadrons for the moment are located on the space station Independence, and two Prometheus-class battlecruisers are generally on detached duty with the station. The two ships are our system patrol, and once per day, they sweep the outer planets of the system, searching for threats.
“To answer the second question by the representative from Iran, we can not control the wants and desires of other nations. It could be possible that if you lend us your best pilots, that doing so might leave you unprotected, but the Council has authorized me to make the following offer. Any nation state that offers us one squadron worth of pilots, will have one squadron of ground to space interceptors based in their country, under the control of the Joint Forces Command Station. The squadron might come from a western country, or it might come from an Alliance member world. Tell me, Mr. Ambassador, how would your countrymen feel about having a wing detachment in your country from the United States? Or a wing detachment from the Alliance?”
The losses to Alliance ships and personnel had been harsh. The Pollux and Castor had been destroyed, with only a few life pods picked up in the aftermath of the battle. Battle Group Three had now taken up a semi-permanent residence in the Tollana system. Her sister group, number Four was doing the same in the Langara system. Anubis definitely wanted those two systems for a number of reasons, but the Tollan phase shifting technology, and the naquadria deposits on Langara were at the top of the probable list.
Two battleships, the Taurus and Orion, were taking on replacement fighters for the stations at Langara and Tollana, to replace those lost in battle. The ships were presently swarmed with cargo pods as they also took on emergency supplies bound for those two worlds. A small cadre of officers, taken from the various naval services of Earth, had gone through an abbreviated training class, just to familiarize them with the new systems aboard Alliance vessels. The class had gone through the Lunar Academy in only two short weeks, certainly not enough time to learn everything, but those new command crews would have some veteran members within them, members from the Halsey strike group that had spent close on four years in space in various dimensional travels. But there were other matters for which there was no easy solution.
Office of the Immortal President
“Mr. Sheridan, I’ve been reading your Chronicle.”
“Oh, geez. What’s it say in there?”
“For the relatively short lifespan you’ve had, having become an Immortal in 1865, you’ve led an interesting life. Law enforcement interspersed with terms of military service. What was the highest rank you ever achieved?”
“During the Civil War, sir. I was a cavalry man. Started out with RIP Ford, as a sergeant. By the end of the war, or my end of it, I’d gotten a couple battlefield promotions to Captain serving with the 14th Texas Cavalry under Ector. In the first World War, I was a corporal in the infantry. In the Second, I was with the Rangers. Started off with the 1st Battalion. Cisterna. Hell of a mess, that one. The 1st and the 3rd were pretty much captured intact. Six of us managed to escape and evade and made it back to our lines. Remind me to show you all those pretty medals the military has given me over the years. After I got out of that mess, I got transferred to the 2nd Ranger Battalion just in time for the landings at Normandy, and later in the Ardennes.
“I stayed in the Army after that war, with the 82nd Airborne Division. When war in Korea broke out, I was among those volunteers for new Ranger companies. Saw action in Korea. Went back to a life of law enforcement until some yokel decided he didn’t want to go to jail. I ‘died’ in the line of duty in 1963. Joined up with the army again, eventually getting a post to a unit I’d served in a century before. 7th Cavalry. Ia Drang, and that’s all I want to say about that one. Later on, while I was with the Texas Rangers again, my reserve unit got called up, and I went in with the Rangers during Desert Storm.”
“A very colorful history, more so than most Immortals for the 20th century. I was also in uniform for a large part of that century. Army Air Force in the Second. Air Force ever since. Well in any case, I’ve a reason for this trip through history.”
“I kinda got that feeling, sir.”
“Now that we seem to have a short lull in the fighting, what we want to do is form a new unit. The good thing is that we have brought a couple new shipyards online, and our new manufacturing centers, and mining colonies are getting up to speed. As long as we can protect those, the Alliance will stay in a good position. Normally, we would have counted on support from the Tok’ra in this case, but after the attack on the Tok’ra base at Risa, well, there aren’t many of them left. Certainly not enough to do what we need. Those who are left have joined the Alliance Intelligence Agency.”
“So now they’re Krycek’s problem?”
“I’m sure he loves us for that one. Which goes back to our problem. What the Alliance needs is a number of strike teams. The SGC has two of them, made up of Immortals, for that purpose. But what the Alliance Council would like is to have strike teams that can deploy anywhere, any time, and with as little notice as possible.”
“So you want me to join a strike team?”
“Something like that. What I want, and based on your Chronicle I think you’re up to the task, is to put together the strike teams and to lead the unit.”
“Lead a strike team?”
“That too. You’ll have command of one team, and overall command of all of the teams. Interested?”
“That’s a tall order, Mr. President.”
“Do I get full control over the selection process? Full control over the type of ships we get to use to aid in deployment?”
“Selection process yes. Ships? Did you have something in mind?”
“Let me think on that. I think I’ll go over to the training academy to talk to some of the DI’s. Is there anything else, sir?”
“Not for the moment.”
“Thank you sir, for this opportunity.”
“You’re more than welcome. Stop by the Quartermaster’s section for a uniform before you go over to the Academy. It might make things easier for recruiting purposes.”
Lunar Training Academy
If one discounted the fact that the landscape outside the dome walls were an unmitigated gray, then one could easily believe that they were in any military academy on Earth. But Earth military academies didn’t have selectable gravity areas. They didn’t have Klingons and Immortals as Drill Instructors. And sure as hell, they didn’t have that many different types of humans and aliens in a class.
Jake was watching one of the classes go through a combat drill. It looked like a variation on ‘Capture the Flag’, and it seemed to have a purpose. A defender team and an aggressor team. Each vying for control of one central hilltop. As he looked over the exercise, Jake realized that there were a lot of things he would have done differently. But as he’d learned so well during his time in Green, opinions were like assholes in that everyone had one. He made his way down to where the DI’s for this drill were watching over their charges.
“Sir! Morning, sir. What can I do for you sir?”
“I’ve got some marching orders direct from President Ramos. I’m gonna need your help, and the help of all the other instructors here to carry out those orders.”
“The Alliance wants to field strike teams for deep penetration raids, for scouting missions, hell, pretty much anything. What I need are qualified candidates for those teams.”
“You got any field experience sir?”
“I’ve been a grunt all my life, Sergeant. From the Civil War with the 14th Texas Cavalry, to Desert Storm with the 2nd Rangers.”
“Yep. Fairly recent one at that. Less than two hundred years of life. One hundred and seventy-five come this June, to be exact.”
“What size team are you thinking on sir?”
“Seven to ten. A medic, couple of snipers, light gunners, and heavy gunners.”
“One pilot, two drivers.”
“That’s ten. What kind of vehicles sir?”
“Well, I haven’t really looked yet. Something small that we can deploy from a ship like the Danube.”
“Well, sir, I used to be an instructor for the SEALs. They use a Desert Patrol Vehicle, which can hold oh, maybe four or five troopers apiece, including the driver.”
“Yeah? Is it armored?”
“Hell no. Company out in California makes them. They’re heavily modified off-road race cars. The SEALs use them in pairs; one with a fifty cal, the other with a Mk19.”
“Sounds like just the ticket. Have you seen the new sniper rifle the Army is testing, the M109?”
“Sweet little thing, sir. The M107 fires a fifty caliber round, but the 109 is a 1-inch projectile. High explosive air bursting, flash bang, thermobaric, or armor piercing. The one I saw demonstrated was accurate out to two thousand meters. I’d love to see what those armor piercing rounds do to those tin-can Cylons.”
“So would I. So, you got some personnel recommendations for me?”
“Off the top of my head, yeah. We got a German infantry man. Sniper guy. Lethal with the fifty. He’s a staff sergeant by name of Hans Dieter.”
“Only need one sniper. I’m the other one. Who else?”
“Got one medic in the current class. She’s pretty darn lethal with the FN-P90 too. She’s a PO Third. Charlotte Masters. Ian McShane and John Ayres are downright lethal with the big guns. Both of them like the M240, though both are also damned good with the Mk79 grenade launchers. Both are British sergeants.”
“Got two more for ya. Top of their class in light gunnery so far. Gunnery Sergeant Jose Rivera, USMC, and a non rated woman, Faith Lehayne. She came to us by way of the California Penal System.”
“Ex-con? What was she in for?”
“The way I heard tell, sir, was something like six murders. Bare handed.”
“Amen to that sir. She’s a small thing, but oh man can she pack a punch. She’s a street fighter, pure and simple, though it does look like she got some form of martial arts training somewhere along the line.”
“Ok. Sounds like a good start, but we’re gonna need more. Pick them.”
Few Days Later
Office of the President
“General Sheridan. Find anything you like?”
“Yes sir. Picked my premier team sir.”
“Ok, Sheridan. At least in here, you can call me Marius. Cut the sir crap.”
“Yes sir, uhm, Marius.”
“Better. So you’ve got your team picked out?”
“Seven members, including myself. Now, about those ships?”
“What did you have in mind?”
“Well, I’m no engineer, well at least not a modern one. But I think the Danube-class will do nicely, provided we can stretch it out some. We’d need to have room for nine total plus the pilot. Room enough for all of our gear and then some. And room for two Desert Patrol Vehicles. Side by side, would be my guess.”
“Ok. We can stretch the Danube some to accommodate all that. Anything else?”
“Well, in a more longer term light, I’d say maybe the Saber-class. Depending on what size the Danube ends up being after the modifications, I’d like to see the Saber carry up to four Danube Scouts. But still, that will only give you a strike team size of maybe forty personnel. Certainly not enough to take a planet. So maybe like the Halsey has docking ports for the battlecruisers, the IDB can design a carrier for the Sabers? Say, something that can dock maybe six or eight at a time? With six Sabers docked, and with say, four ten-man strike teams per Saber, that would give us a ground force of two hundred and forty. Eight Sabers gives us a strike force of three-twenty. Maybe if the carrier itself carried more Danube scouts, say twice what the Sabers already had aboard, then we could field a large force. Ideally, I’d say a force of about seven hundred to one thousand, but if pressed then the three-twenty number would be the lower limit.”
“I’ll get the IDB working on the whole package. When you have your first four teams together, I have a strike mission for you.”
“A couple weeks sir. I’ll need at least that.”
“Done. Now, get back to work, Sheridan.”
New Langara Station
The newest battleship to come out of the Luna Shipyards, the Orion, had arrived in system only an hour before, and had taken up station next to the orbital facility. Orion was still transferring off excess cargo to the station along with its replacement fighters. Battle Group Four, centered around the Spruance was in system and her escorts were busily repairing or replacing the numerous defense satellites and long range surveillance birds that had been crippled or outright destroyed in the most recent engagement.
As much chaos as there was in orbit over Langara, it paled by comparison to that on the planet. The capital city of Kelowna had been bombed from orbit, before the final two Cylon motherships could be destroyed. Loss of life was heavy and there were many thousands of Langarans trapped in the rubble of the city. Fortunately, only the one city had been hit, and that had been because it was where the Stargate was located. Rescue workers were combing through the wreckage looking for survivors, and makeshift field hospitals had been setup by the dedicated medical crews of the 4th Battle Group. Langara would be ill-prepared to face another attack for any time soon.
New Tollana Station
The 3rd Battle Group was in system and making what repairs it could to the station and to the defense satellite network. Taurus had arrived and was being put through its paces in system. The Tollan weren’t one to show strong emotions, but in this case, with the loss of so many in the defense of their world, they were showing it. The Cylon Basestar had managed to get off a few shots at the capital city, but just a few. The ion cannons that defended the planet had added their firepower to that of the station and of the defense satellites and had held the day. The damage was almost cosmetic, and so they had dispatched search and rescue and medical teams to assist the Langarans in their efforts. The Colonials had sent two of their Agro ships to Langara to assist them with force-grown food stuffs, as the agricultural areas of the planet had been hit hard.
Time passed, as it inevitably did. There were more skirmishes, but these were single Basestars that attempted to probe the defenses of the Alliance. Fighters and small capital ships came out of the expanded shipyards at Luna. Destroyers and frigates came out of the shipyards on Phobos, and Earth brought its first shipyard online, producing waves of Hammerhead and Thunderbolt fighters for local defense. The holographic construction methods that had been obtained in a technology trade with the United Federation of Planets had been put into immediate use. What had once taken days to set-up a factory yard for a particular run of craft, could now be accomplished in hours, and more often that not, it took less time than that.
The latest addition to the ever growing fleet had been the newest strike carrier to come out of the Belt Yards, the Bismarck. A new battle group was being formed around this vessel, and when it was completed, it would become the vanguard of the combined Alliance-Goa’uld fleet. Targets were being selected by the joint command staff for this combined fleet. It was time to take the battle to the Goa’uld, rather than wait for more piece-meal attacks.
Battle Group Five would have the Bismarck as its flag ship. She would be escorted by two Novas, four Hyperions, two Constellations, and six Defiants. While BG-5 engaged the enemy, Support Group Alpha (SG-Alpha) would wait in hyperspace until the battle was over. The support group was built around the Terran-class troop carrier Douglas Munro, and she had as escorts two Constellations, four Troopers, four Olympus corvettes, a Nightingale-class fleet tender, and eight heavy bulk freighters.
Of course, there was also the Goa’uld fleet to consider. Six hundred Ha’taks, along with several dozen Al’kesh and Rel’tac troop transports. The smaller transports carried only six hundred Jaffa, but the larger Ha’taks carried four thousand Jaffa, all of them loyal to their own Goa’uld Gods. The Tok’ra operatives were now working closely with Krycek’s own operatives to determine the major and minor holdings of Anubis. One such target, located on a desolate world known to the Goa’uld as Duat, where the ships of Anubis’ fleet were built. Another prime location was Aaru, where hundreds of thousands of his Jaffa and their families resided. Aaru, was known to the Goa’uld as a verdant and fertile world, where anything that was planted quickly grew for the harvest. According to intelligence provided by the Tok’ra, Aaru was also home to a major research center for Anubis.
The two worlds, Duat and Aaru, were on the border between Alliance territory and Anubis-claimed space. These would be the first targets for the Strike group. With these two targets firmly in their control, the battle group would move on to Tartarus, where the Cylon fleet was gathering. Once Duat and Aaru had been pacified, Support Groups Bravo and Charlie would move in to assist the local populations with their newly won independence.
Military Command Center
It was an interesting group in this room to be sure. On the one side, the Alliance representative, Marcus Constantine, and on the other, the First Prime to Lord Yu, Oshu. Each had aides that were busily moving to and fro, updating fleet strengths and dispositions.
“Oshu, may I ask you a question?”
“Ask your question.”
“It is my understanding that a First Prime, leads the armies of Jaffa warriors for their God. That you could have as few as a dozen Jaffa and as many as several thousand Jaffa. Is this essentially correct?”
“Are there ranks below that of First Prime?”
“Do you mean to ask, are there what you would call seconds-in-command?”
“Yes. I have a number of Seconds that serve to direct the armies of Yu.”
“Would you mind then, if for the purposes of this temporary alliance between your master and the Alliance, that we refer to you as General? The rank of general is one who commands vast armies.”
“That would be … acceptable.”
“Excellent, now I know how to address you, at least in terms that I can more easily understand.”
“You are also a General?”
“Tell me then General, you have led men into battle?”
“I have been in the service of one empire or another for close to two thousand years.”
“You are of the Alliance race called Immortals? How do you live for so long without a sarcophagus?”
“I am an Immortal. Our life energy is natural. We do not need a sarcophagus to extend our lives.”
“Then you are truly a God!”
“No. I am no God. I am a man, like you Oshu. A little different, admittedly, but still just a man.”
“But you cannot die?”
“Only an Immortal can take the life of another Immortal. But otherwise, no, I can not die.”
A simple white lie. That’s what his statement was. But it had become the adopted truth for all Immortals when dealing with other races, other species.
Alliance Military Council
“Your report please, Director Krycek.”
“Yes, of course. The first world on the proposed target list is Duat. This is a storm-beaten hunk of desolate rock nearest to Alliance held space. Interestingly enough, Duat is the supposed place where Egyptian dead went to be judged. The surface of the planet is not conducive to life. Fierce windstorms drive sand at extreme speeds, forcing the inhabitants to live in underground cities. The only surface buildings are protected by force-fields. In orbit over the planet are several shipyards. One of our Tok’ra operatives has identified these yards as fully in production. According to the operative, a typical Goa’uld shipyard can build three or four vessels at any one time, but the Duat Yards are currently building fifty at once. Metals to build the ships are coming from mines on the planet. The slave laborers in the underground cities dig up the ore and in turn use the mined-out sections of tunnel to live in.
“After reviewing the intelligence gathered by the operative, we have determined one weakness in the Duat facilities. The Goa’uld believe no one would chance being caught in one of the storms on the surface of the planet, so they believe themselves to be safe from attack. The defenses of the Yards at Duat are protected by several hundred orbital cannons, and hundreds of Goa’uld fighters. But, all of these defenses are coordinated from a command center on the surface of the planet. If we can figure out how to exploit that, then the battle is half over.”
Immortal Council Headquarters
Office of the President
“Come in General Sheridan. I’ve got good news and bad news for you.”
“Should I be worried sir?”
“Probably. We’ve identified your first mission. It’s a world called Duat. Anubis has massive shipyards there, and if we can take them out of play, then his forces could be crippled for some time to come.”
“So what’s the bad news?”
“Duat is a desolate world wracked by fierce wind storms. The command center for the orbital facilities and defenses is located on the surface of the world, and is protected by a force field. Preliminary estimates on wind speeds at the surface on any given day, are upwards of one hundred and twenty miles per hour.”
“Ooh, lovely. Reminds me of North Africa.”
“Get your mission put together. As soon as your ready, you’ll be briefing the Alliance Council.”
“I’ll get straight on it, sir.”
Lunar Naval Academy
Conference Room Fifteen
The conference room Sheridan was in now was one of many at the Academy. It was generally configured as a classroom, but as it was holographic in nature, it could be reconfigured at whim. Including himself, there were fifty people in the room. All had been hand picked by their DI’s for a special mission.
“Ok, people, settle down. My name is General Jake Sheridan. Your Drill Instructors have told me you are the best of the current class of trainees at the Academy. Good. In my outfit, we only want the best.”
“What kinda chicken-shit outfit is this anyways?”
“Welcome to the Alliance Rangers. If you don’t want to be here, well, there’s the door. If you stay, there’s bound to be plenty of fighting.”
Sheridan waited for all of sixty seconds, and when no one moved to leave, he activated an emergency medical hologram.
“Please state the nature of the medical emergency.”
“There’s no emergency at the moment, Doctor Hansen. I would like for the medics in the room to follow you to another room for additional training.”
“Of course, General.”
“Medics! Front and center! Follow the Doc and get briefed in on the latest medical gadgets. Where we’re going, you’re gonna need them.”
“Now then, five of you in this room are pilots. I want you to go into the room next door. It’s been set up as a simulator. You’ll find the Danube II-class scout ships. Familiarize yourselves with those ships. There is an instructor waiting for you. We have precious little time, so get moving!”
“The rest of you, let me fill you in on our mission.”
Jake pressed a series of buttons. The lights dimmed and a holographic projector showed three images, side by side. One was of a planetary system. The second, of an orbital facility and all the defenses it had. The third, was of the target world and the surface and subsurface facilities.
“This is our mission. We are to infiltrate by stealth a world belonging to Anubis. The local name for it is Duat. It’s a barren world with highly intense wind storms. We need to find a way to get in undetected. Then we need to infiltrate the underground and make our way to the command facility, accessible only via a subsurface entrance. Once there, we’ll need to take command of the facility, and hold it until relieved by an Alliance task force. I won’t kid you, the odds are long on this one. According to intelligence reports, there are upwards of five hundred Jaffa in the facility, along with a dozen or more of the newer Kull warriors. This is your last chance to back out. Doing so will not be reflected on your record.”
No one left.
Earth, Same time
Earlier that day, First Protector Mako had received a call from Earth. Specifically from some low-level functionary at the Pentagon. It seemed that a prisoner at the Guantanamo Bay facility was claiming to be an Immortal, and since Sheridan was on another mission for the President, it fell to him to investigate the possibility. He’d landed his shuttle on the helicopter pad outside the main building and just now was waiting to speak with the base commander.
“So, you’re an Immortal? You don’t look any different to me.”
“Would you prefer I had horns, sir?”
“You’re a funny man, Mr. Mako.”
“Please. Just Mako. Or Protector Mako, if you must use a title.”
“Alright then, Protector Mako. We have prisoners, as you are aware, that were picked up in various raids in Afghanistan and other areas of the Middle East as a result of the War on Terror. Most of the prisoners are awaiting trial, and up until a couple weeks ago, the prisoners in question were quite content to wait. But one of them must have read that article that appeared in the Washington Post some months back, when the President announced your presence on Earth. Now, we have no way of knowing if they’re lying or not, but my superiors at the Pentagon have ordered me to find out. I’m told that it takes an Immortal to know another Immortal, that you have some kind of natural radar.”
“Radar is as close an approximation as any, Commander. And while I can feel an Immortal on your base, I can not tell if it is one or more than one., So, if you would care to show me these prisoners?”
“Follow me. Chief! Get those special prisoners out and into the open.”
Mako stood and watched as two men and one woman were led into a conference room. All wore the orange jumpsuits that were the standard issue for the prisoners here, and all were shackled at the wrists and ankles.
“Yes. She was picked up in a raid in Afghanistan, with several explosive devices, and a lot of money. All three of them have claimed cases of mistaken identity, but since we can not identity them to begin with…”
“Yes, Immortals do have a tendency to create false identity trails. That is why I am here. Will you permit me to enter the room?”
“Sure. But my guards will be watching.”
“I would have it no other way.”
Mako entered the room and was immediately hit with several powerful Quickenings. The ones in this room were not recent Immortals. But then again, neither was he.
“I am Mako. First Protector of the Immortal Council. Identify yourselves.”
“The names we use now? Or the ones we were born with?”
“The ones you were born with.”
“Katherine, of England.”
“Very well. Now, give me a name of an Immortal whom you know and preferably one who will vouch for you. Mr. Xerxes?”
“Darius was a student of mine.”
“And you sir?”
“I am Hector, Prince of Troy.”
“And I need to make a phone call.”
“Captain Pierson, this is Protector Mako.”
“How can I be of service, Protector?”
“I am presently at the US Naval Base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. There were three prisoners here claiming to be Immortals and the Pentagon asked the Immortal Embassy to investigate.”
“I see. And how does this impact me?”
“One of the prisoners is a woman who claims that MacLeod would know her. Another identified himself as Xerxes and claimed to have been Darius’ instructor. The other claims, and I’m not sure if I believe him, but he claims to be Hector, Prince of Troy.”
“Well, Duncan is on base at the moment. We can take a shuttle to your location.”
“Or you can beam directly to my shuttle as well.”
“We’ll be there shortly.”
A gentle humming noise filled the aft cabin and very shortly Adam and Duncan joined Mako in the main cabin.
“I hear they have good cigars here too.”
“Only you would use a transporter to buy some Cuban cigars, Methos.”
“Gentlemen, I am grateful that you have arrived as quickly as you have. Methos, as Elder of the Immortals, perhaps you can identify the two men?”
“Who do they claim to be?”
“One gave his name as Xerxes, the other as Hector.”
“Can’t recall ever meeting Xerxes, though Alexander might. And while I did meet Menelaus and his wife Helen, I wasn’t there for the Trojan War. How did his Quickening feel?”
“Old. Very old. Older than I at the least.”
“Then let us go and meet these prisoners and see for ourselves who they are.”
Mako in the duty uniform of Protector, and Duncan and Adam in Air Force Blues, approached the holding cell again. The sensation of the Quickening within brought Duncan and Mako up short, for the feeling was a powerful one, but to Adam the sensation was a vague one.
“You! I know you! You rode with Kronos!”
“You have me at a disadvantage sir, for I do not know you.”
“I am Xerxes. Once known as Xerxes the Great, ruler of Persia.”
“The Persian Empire. Yep, wasn’t your empire conquered by Alexander?”
“An upstart young boy, but he was a formidable strategist.”
“I’ll be sure to tell him the next time I see him.”
“He does. Captain Alexander Phillipson serves with the Alliance as a leader of infantry.”
“And what of the Gathering? We three felt its pull, but were unable to attend.”
“The Game is false. The prize is false. The Gathering was a calling together of all Immortals for the purpose of returning to the mission for which we were created.”
“Created? And who, pray tell, created us?”
“That’s a rather long story. Something I’ll tell you on the way to Luna, provided you wish to leave here?”
“I wish it.”
“Duncan. It’s been a few years.”
“It has. Imagine my surprise to learn you were here in this place.”
“Imagine my surprise at not being able to get away from this place.”
“And what of me? Shall I be forced to remain here?”
“No. I have orders that will effect your release to my custody. I will take you to Luna to stand before the Immortal Council. They will decide your fate.”
One month later
A Saber-class frigate was in orbit over Duat, using its transporter system to carve out a small chamber where the strike teams would beam down into. It had been an accidental discovery. If matter could be beamed from place to place, then why not use it to beam matter out of a place? It had been tested on a small asteroid first and had worked as theorized. So now, the frigate, running under full stealth, was just about finished in this part of the mission. A subterranean cavern, some hundred meters in diameter had been carved from the rock beneath the wind blown surface of Duat. The first item sent down into the new chamber was a sensor probe, not unlike the MALP probes used by the SGC, though this one was attached to a small hover platform. The chamber had no atmospheric gasses and so the next item beamed down was a second probe; this one carrying a set of tanks that would release a breathable mixture into the cavern. Still, it would be necessary for the teams sent down to wear emergency respirators until such time as the probe had completed its work.
Next, the teams were sent down. Sheridan’s team would be joined by two others, while two more teams waited in orbit for the signal to beam down to the force-field-less surface command center.
“Alright people. Let’s get it in gear. Rivera, Lehayne, get the basics done. Masters, I need surface readings as soon as you can. Ayres, break out the phaser drills. Team Two, get the gear sorted out, and Three, get the camp set up. Look folks, it’s gonna be mil-rats until we’re done here. The quicker we can get through this, the quicker we can get to a bar where I’m buying.”
“Alright you mutts, you heard the man! Let’s get a move on!”
In the vast underground city that supported the orbital yards, a Tok’ra operative was moving with a purpose. He had delivered his report to his supervisor and then returned to await reinforcements. His mission now was not so much information gathering as it was surveillance. As a minor Goa’uld assigned to the facility, he could come and go as he pleased, yet there were still areas he could not enter without arousing suspicion, and the Goa’uld were definitely a suspicious lot.
So instead, he was planting miniaturized surveillance cameras in obscure locations that would give the Alliance attackers all the information they could need. Each camera unit fed it’s imagery to a centralized location which in turn sent out data microbursts through a low-powered subspace transmitter.
The nearest receiver for that transmitter happened to be in the newly carved underground cavern inhabited by three strike teams from the Alliance.
“Sir, getting feeds from the Tok’ra cameras. Oh geez. The facility is friggin’ huge, sir!”
“Keep an eye on it. We’re gonna need estimates on troop strengths. See if there’s any pattern to the shifts and roving patrols.”
“I got it, sir.”
“Ayres, how’s the drilling going?”
“Drill is set up and ready to start.”
“Let’s get to work then.”
On low power, a phaser could make a rock glow. On a higher setting, that same phaser could melt through rock. On an even higher setting, the rock would not so much melt away as vaporize. Though the phaser could theoretically vaporize a tunnel all the way to their target site, it wouldn’t be a sturdy tunnel. Which was why they were going slowly, and using the replicator to make reinforcing beams for the tunnel walls and roof.
As soon as the initial part of the tunnel passed a distance of sixty feet from the starting point, a second phaser drill was put into action. This one was to carve out a small cavern as living quarters for a team. At a distance of one hundred and twenty feet, and again at one-eighty, the process was repeated, until they had three such sleeping areas. At two-forty, the first energy pack was fully drained. Sheridan called a halt in the action so that everyone could grab a quick meal. Though it felt like they had only just arrived, it had in fact been eight hours since their beam down. Eight hours and two hundred and forty feet. Not good at all. They had to speed things up. At the rate they were going, it would take a little more than a week to cover a mile, and they were three miles from their target. Three weeks living like moles underground was not anyone’s idea of fun.
With the two living areas carved out, the second phaser drill was set up alongside the first one, and the rate of travel doubled from thirty feet per hour to sixty feet per hour. That translated to one mile of travel every three and two-thirds days. Eleven or so days to reach the target location. Another day or so to widen the cavern under the target site, set up the explosives, and then launch the attack.
One week earlier
Command Level Briefing
“…only fifty feet per hour? Surely you must be incorrect on that aspect, General Sheridan. One would think that a phaser on high power could cut through the rock much faster than that!”
“Yes sir, one would think that. However, one would only be correct if the cut one were making were the diameter of a pencil. Unfortunately in our case, the tunnel will need to be at least eight feet high, to allow our larger equipment to squeeze through vertically, and at least twelve feet wide, so that we can move easily and quickly. Also, we will be carving out control points, or ambush points if you prefer…”
“Very well, Sheridan. Continue with the briefing.”
“Of course sirs. As I was saying, we will carve out a tunnel, some temporary living quarters for the teams, and several pre-set ambush points, in the case that the tunnel is discovered prior to achieving our primary goal. Once we have entered a point directly beneath the generators for the force fields, we will enlarge that section of tunnel to encompass enough of the above ground structure to completely collapse it when our charges go off. Within seconds of that collapse, and as the Jaffa and resident Goa’uld are in the most disarray, my teams will strike from three directions, to capitalize on that chaos.”
“Difficult to predict, sirs. I would say none, unless one of our personal shields fail. I’m praying for a hundred percent survivability, but the realist in me says I should expect at least a ten percent death rate. We’re talking about a highly complex mission in which damn near anything could go wrong.”
“A student of Murphyism?”
“Sir, I’m sure Murphy might have a thing or two to say about this little op of ours, but I’m hopin’ he’ll keep his mouth shut, for once.”
“Give me a sitrep, Ayres.”
“Team Two is finishing up the demo placement. The first set of charges will blow the original supports, and the reinforcements we’ve placed under the generator rooms will come down as planned with the second set of charges. That should bring those generators down into a cavern that will be at least one hundred feet below the surface.”
“Excellent work! When Team Two is done there, send them to their entrance point. Team Three, get a move on. My team, meet me at our control point.”
Exactly fifteen minutes later, all was finally in readiness. The Tok’ra operative had instructions to come in to the command center after the shooting had started, to make it appear as though he were responding to the attack. He was known by sight to all of the team members, and it was hoped that he would survive this particular mission. Sheridan gave the GO order, and one second later he heard a distant detonation as the first set of supports, the ones the Goa’uld had driven into the surrounding bedrock, were sundered and splintered. This rocked the building above it and the current residents, two minor Goa’uld technicians, looking about in alarm. Five seconds later, the second set of charges were set off, and the remaining structural supports were cut in two.
It didn’t happen all at once. Aboard the Saber-class vessel the Yuri Gagarin, the images from the surface probe were sent to the main view screens. It was a slow motion sort of collapse, and those aboard the Gagarin were hard pressed to see which section collapsed first. It was something they couldn’t see however. The center of the surface complex was where the force field generators were located, with several corridors around them that served as choke points for invading armies. But the heaviest part of the structure was at the center and that’s where the collapse began. It moved radially outwards to encompass the entire building and when it was done, nothing was left of the surface complex but a hole with dust rising up out of it.
The resident Goa’uld first realized something was wrong when he felt the distant ‘thump’ through the ground. The shouting of Jaffa warriors soon thereafter brought him to the command center where the reports of an explosion at the generator room were just being received. Obviously something or more probably someone had failed in their job and the result was a temporary lack of shield coverage.
It was in this first few moments of chaos and disarray that new reports of warriors falling at their posts began to filter through to him. He ordered a cohort of Jaffa to investigate and turned back to the task at hand, so he was unaware when that investigating cohort disappeared as well. Not disappeared really, just rendered unconscious by men and women wearing Jem’Hadar cloaking fields and firing single pulses from Zat guns. In fact, the resident Goa’uld knew next to nothing as several men and women suddenly appeared in his command center and fired Zat guns at his underlings.
“Who are you! What is the meaning of this!”
“I am General Jake Sheridan of the Alliance of Independent Systems, and you, sir, are my prisoner. Instruct your Jaffa to lay down their weapons or we will be forced to kill them, and frankly, I have no wish to kill those who have suborned by the petty desires of a parasite.”
“How dare you speak to me in such an insolent manner!”
“Ya know, Lehayne, I’ve always wondered about something.”
“What’s that Bossman?”
“Who writes the dialogue for these Goa’uld? I mean, it’s just so, well…predictable.”
“See what I mean?”
“Goa’uld. Do you have a name?”
“Your insolence will you be your undoing, Tau’ri. I am Ma’at.”
“Ma’at. The ancient Egyptians believed you would be their judge in the afterworld. When an Egyptian died, they believed they would be sent to Duat, where their hearts would be judged by Ma’at. Those deemed worthy were sent on to Aaru, or the eternal field of reeds, to serve out eternity under Osiris. Those deemed unworthy, were sentenced to an eternity of damnation in Duat, where their souls would be feasted upon by the serpent Ammit.”
“Lotta useless trivia in your head there, Bossman.”
“Yeah well, when you have a Horseman as your teacher, well, you end up with a lot of useless junk.”
“Who is this Horseman?”
“Were you ever on the home world of the Tau’ri, Ma’at?”
“I was there. For centuries the Goa’uld ruled your world. We should have burned it to a cinder when we had the chance.”
“And when you were there, did you hear tales of four horsemen, who rode the plains of many lands, and brought fear to the hearts of mortals everywhere they went?”
“A tale meant for scaring the younglings of the Tau’ri. Nothing more.”
“I’ll remind you of that, when you meet Death.”
“By what right have the Tau’ri to be anything more than slaves to their Gods? Explain this to me, Tau’ri.”
“By the right of our ancestors. Once, we were too young, too primitive to know better than to worship the Goa’uld as Gods. Now, we have been accepted by the major races of this galaxy as equals.”
“We do not view you as equals. Who accepts you in this fashion? Whomever these other races are, they are fools to do so.”
“I’d be hesitant to call an Asgard, a Nox, or a Furling a fool. I dare not call an Ancient a fool. “
“Ancients? What know the Tau’ri of the Ancients?”
“Let me guess, you’ve been out of the loop for awhile, eh? Been helping Anubis while he was in exile? In any case, the Ancients are still very much in this galaxy. Millennia ago, they created a species to carry out their work in this place. A creation they planned as guides, teachers, guardians, and protectors for their Chosen race.”
“And who are the Chosen of the Ancients? Who are their guides and protectors?”
“The Ancients evolved on a world in this galaxy. A world you know of as the home of the Tau’ri. In the fullness of time, when the Ancients passed beyond the veil to a higher plane of existence, they left behind the seeds that would eventually grow into the Tau’ri you know of today. They also created myself and others like myself to be their protectors. The Tau’ri never knew we were among them, until recently. But these protectors were there when the Tau’ri first cast you off their world. And these protectors, though small in number, have now been awakened to the threat the Goa’uld possess. We have once again taken up the mantle for which we were created.”
“If the Tau’ri are the Chosen of the Ancients, then who are their Protectors? This you have not answered.”
“I did answer. You just weren’t paying attention. You ask who their protectors are. I am one of that species. I am one of their Protectors.”
“Well, lies or not, and insolence or not, you are now a prisoner of the Alliance. In a few moments, you will be moved to a secure brig facility on one of our ships now in orbit. Your Jaffa will be rounded up and transported to a secure facility on a distant world. Life as you have known it has come to an end.”
The Goa’uld’s eyes glowed fiercely, but before he could launch into another tirade of inept rhetoric laced with cries of ‘insolence’ and ‘Tau’ri’, a transporter beam engulfed him and he was gone.
“Gagarin actual to strike team actual. Prisoner is aboard, but none to happy about it.”
“I expected as much. Status of support mission?”
“Group Bravo is entering orbit and beginning their operations. As soon as the operations chief is on the ground, we’ll pick up your teams to head for target two. Your supplies in the cavern have already been retrieved and placed temporarily into one of our cargo bays. We will keep the prisoner aboard for the moment.”
“Understood Gagarin. Awaiting Bravo Ops Chief.”
One Week later
It had been a very short R&R period for the strike teams under General Sheridan. Five teams, including his own, were now aboard the Yuri Gagarin, cloaked and in orbit over Aaru. This world, unlike the last one they had so recently spent many days burrowing beneath, was a verdant and lush tropical planet, filled will all manner of plant life, but almost no animal life beyond the human life signs on the planet. Another Tok’ra operative had identified this world as belonging to Osiris, the Goa’uld which currently inhabited the body of Sarah Gardner, formerly of Earth.
In the Ancient Egyptian pantheon of Gods, Osiris was identified with all things agricultural, and it fitted that this entire planet was the equivalent of the ‘bread basket’ for Anubis’ empire.
Sheridan was in his small ship-board office going over the paperwork for the last mission when one of his team mates came in.
“Hey Bossman. You busy?”
“Ya know, Lehayne, no matter how many times someone tries to convince me that our society in the Alliance is paperless, I really should stop believing in that. Even though what we use are screens and crystals and data-pads, there will always be ‘paperwork’ to do. But other than this stack of reports that I should be going through, no, not real busy, why?”
“Cause I’m in need of a sparring partner and I just wondered if you’d care to join me?”
“What kinda sparring?”
“Well since we’re supposed to go in to Aaru looking like Jaffa, I was thinking Staff Weapons?”
“Works for me. I’ll even go easy on you.”
“Nah. Give it your best shot. I’ll even make it interesting. Loser has to do all the cooking on the next mission.”
“And if I win?”
“I’ll figure something out.”
“Ok. You’re on. Training room in half an hour?”
“I’ll be there.”
The teams were in a cave overlooking the main heavily fortified city of Aaru. While the surroundings were similar to their last mission, at least this time, they didn’t have to dig. They’d been on-world for three days now, scoping out the lay of the land, watching the slaves as they went to and from the city into the fields, and observing the Jaffa as they walked about on their patrols. Sheridan was still grumbling a bit about losing the staff match to Lehayne. In all his life as an Immortal, he’d never seen anyone move as fast as she had. For someone that had so recently been in prison for multiple murders, and who didn’t have any formal fighting style beyond what she’d said was a street fighting technique, she’d had him on the floor and yielding in under a minute. It’d made him quite humble at the time. But he’d been true to his word and had taken over the KP duties for this mission. The teams under his command were not grumbling about that at all.
Teams two and three had stayed behind on the ship, ready to beam down after the mission had commenced. Teams four and five were with his team one for this part of the mission.
“Yakim, Al-Qadir, I have an idea.”
“Uhm, Bossman, when you get an idea, it usually means this mission just got harder.”
“Hey! No fair. Y’all gots to treat the cook right or you might get a dose of my famous Texas chili.”
“No! No. We’ll be nice!”
“That’s what I thought. Ok, so my idea is this. We have the personal cloaking fields as part of our gear. We used them to surprise the hell outta Ma’at. So let’s use them again, but this time to gather intel before we make our move. Yakim, I want your team to scout out the patrols. Find out their routes, and the times they make those patrols. Al-Qadir, you and your team are to observe the slaves as they go to and from the city. Find out what times they go out and come in. See if the gate guards do any sort of random searches. I also want you to listen in on the conversation of the workers, if at all possible. See if there’s any grumbling about the resident ‘God’.”
“What are you gonna do, Bossman?”
“My team and I are going to scout the inside of the city. If we can get close to the shield generators and to the defense systems, I’m gonna paint ‘em.”
“For an orbital strike. Sounds like a plan, Boss. When should we move out?”
“Well, from what we’ve seen, the people appear in the fields a little after sun-up, so I’m thinking we need to be in position around thirty minutes before sunrise. I think what we’ll do is make it an early night, activate the automated sensors, and tuck everyone into bed. We’re gonna need our sleep over the next few days.”
“Are you sure you want to forego the watches tonight?”
“Yeah. The sensors can deal with the watch for a few hours.”
“You say so sir.”
1100 Hours Local
Yakim’s Team Four was shadowing the Jaffa patrols on their sweeps around the perimeter, but so far they had seen nothing out of the ordinary. Al-Qadir’s team was observing the locals as they worked in the fields and though they were hearing a few rumblings, it was nothing that they could use. Sheridan’s team, on the other hand, was inside the city and sending tight beam transmission to the Gagarin in orbit, marking the locations of the various surface to orbit cannons and shield generators. Sheridan had seen nothing untoward until he got a call from Lehayne. She had stumbled onto something very big and he was making his way to her location.
“What do you have, Lehayne?”
“Something the Tok’ra operative either didn’t know about, or failed to mention. There’s passage over there that leads to underground hangar and manufacturing facilities. At a guess, there must be over a thousand death gliders down there. I saw more Jaffa than I could count. And one more thing. Kull warriors. Hundreds of them.”
Sheridan moved quickly to a spot just outside the city and opened a tight beam link to the ship above.
“Strike Actual to Gagarin Actual.”
“Something wrong, Jake?”
“You wouldn’t believe it if I told you, Scully.”
“Instead of waiting to make contact with the local Tok’ra operative, I sent out my teams to do a little scouting. This target just seems too perfect. Call me paranoid, but I just didn’t trust that such a ripe target would be so unprotected.”
“Yeah. Udajeet fighters. Well over a thousand of them. And several hundred Kull warriors.”
“Strange how our resident Tok’ra failed to mention those little facts, eh Sheridan?”
“Relay that info back to Alliance HQ. Tell them I need new instructions.”
“Roger that. Stand by.”
“Ammit. Have you new information?”
“The Tau’ri have fallen for the trap, my Lord. I have been contacted by my ‘control officer’ and have been instructed to await a communication from the strike team leader.”
“Do you know who the Tau’ri will send?”
“Soldiers from the Alliance, my Lord.”
“Any hok’tar among them?”
“It is my understanding that the leader of the strike force is hok’tar.”
“Imagine it Ammit. If we could capture some of these hok’tar, we would no longer need the sarcophagus. We would become stronger even than Anubis himself!”
“What are your orders, my Lord?”
“As soon as the hok’tar contacts you, arrange a meeting. I will ‘surprise’ you at your meeting with a full cohort of Kull Warriors. We will capture their soldiers and force the hok’tar to work for us.”
“How can you force him to work for us, my Lord?”
“By putting his soldiers under threat of death.”
Citadel of Aaru
“All teams, Sheridan. Retreat at best possible speed to campsite. First team on site needs to get packed up. We’re changing locations as soon as possible.”
“Boss, Yakim. What’s up?”
“Those feelings I had yesterday? That this target was sweet? It’s a friggin’ trap! All teams, get the campsite packed up and head to alternate site Helo. Repeat, site Helo. Team leaders, confirm.”
“Yakim confirms Helo.”
“Al-Qadir confirms Helo.”
They had prepared this site as a fall back position, but now Sheridan wanted to use it because he feared the Tok’ra operative might be working for the other side. If that were true, then the fate of his teams rested in his hands. For about half a second, he regretted taking the President’s offer, then he felt remorse for the feelings of regret. These people under his command were good soldiers, all of them. He would do his best by them. Even if it cost him his life. As soon as the last team was inside the new cave bunker, Sheridan called an immediate meeting with the other two team leaders.
“What spooked you, Bossman?”
“Lehayne found a passage to an underground facility. Over a thousand fighters, and several hundred Kull warriors.”
“That about covers it.”
“Chief Briggs, get on the radio relay. Let’s send a message to our Tok’ra operative. Make sure the transmitter we left behind at the other campsite is the one transmitting.”
“I’m on it, sir.”
“Are you Sheridan?”
“Have you arrived on the planet?”
“I have. Do you have an update for me?”
“Yes. We should meet. What is your location?”
“No. Not here. I’ll come to you. Tell me where.”
“In the city, there is a central square. Look for the blacksmith. I will be there in one hour.”
“One hour. Got it. I’ll be there.”
“Chief, give me one of those hologram projectors. There’s no way in Hell that I’m gonna meet with the Tok’ra in person. Dieter, Lehayne, you’re with me. The rest of you, get this bunker ready for a fight, just in case.”
Sheridan made his approach to the city with caution, even though he and his two team mates were wearing cloaking fields. Hans Dieter, the other sniper in his team, he left on a small hillock overlooking the city gates. Lehayne went in with him to watch his back. He still had about fifteen minutes before the meet, and he’d already found the smithy. He set up near it, and activated the holographic projector. It looked like him, it talked like him, and it moved like him. He used the camera part of the projector to take a snapshot of the locals, then used the images therein to create a reasonable facsimile of the local clothing for the hologram.
At the appointed time, the holographic Sheridan was seen to walk out of a nearby building and up to the smithy. Less than a moment later, the Tok’ra operative, Ammit, joined it.
“You have the pass phrase?”
“’For he today that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother’”
“Be he ne’er so vile. Henry the fifth, act four, scene three.”
“You and your team are in place?”
“We are. Do you have new information for me?”
“I do. Osiris has recently set up a manufacturing center on this world. The, I believe the term is uniforms, of the Kull warriors are made here.”
“Well, that is interesting news. Anything else?”
“One more thing. Jaffa! Kree!”
The holographic Sheridan looked up in surprise and turned around quickly only to find a score of Jaffa standing there. One raised a zat gun and fired it at him and the holographic projection vanished into the ether. Ammit looked surprised at that. Very surprised.
“Dieter, watch our six. The meet was a trap. Ammit is a traitor. Lehayne and I are bugging out now!”
But the planned egress and the actual egress were two entirely different things. As Sheridan began to move away from the commotion, he ran into a child who screamed at the sudden hit from nothing. Lehayne grimaced and Sheridan grunted. Between Sheridan’s grunt of surprise and the child’s scream, it was enough of a ruckus to turn the heads of the Jaffa, who began firing indiscriminately into the area from where the noise originated. Sheridan took a glancing blow from a zat gun, and the extra energy coursing around him overloaded the cloaking field. He was not fully exposed, but it was enough to allow the Jaffa to be able to target him more directly.
Sheridan ran. He knew that Lehayne was somewhere ahead of him, but he couldn’t see her. There. The city gates. Just a few more feet and he’d be in Dieter’s sights.
“Dieter! I’ve got a tail. Discourage them for me!”
“Of course, mein leader.”
The rifle Dieter was using was a recent addition to the Alliance forces. It had built on Earth by the Barrett Company and it fired a twenty-five millimeter shell out to a distance of well over two thousand meters. He wanted to discourage Sheridan’s pursuers, but obviously he didn’t want to hit Sheridan. He loaded a flash-bang round into the breech and dialed in the distance. From his perch atop a small hillock, the city gates were a mere eighteen hundred meters away. An easy task for this new gun.
The flash-bang round had been initially designed as a demonstrator model, but had been adopted by the Alliance military as a practical round. It had the capability of creating the same type of flash and bang as a hand-thrown grenade, but could reach a target much farther away. This would be his first shot of the battle, but odds were, not his last.
The pursuing Jaffa were just beginning to emerge in strength from the city gates when he depressed the trigger. It broke at a clean six pounds of pressure. With the first round on its way, Dieter loaded a second shell, this one a high explosive round with an air burst capability. By the time the second shell had been seated in the chamber, the first round had detonated amongst the pursuing Jaffa cohorts, stunning them with the loud report of explosives and the bright flash of magnesium light. Dieter dialed in the distance and pulled the trigger, sending out his second round of the engagement.
Sheridan had gotten well clear of his pursuers by the time the second round appeared over head and detonated, flattening the Jaffa to the ground, and killing one or two outright.
“Thanks, Dieter. I owe you one.”
“Lay down a couple smoke, and beat feet back to the bunker. I’m gonna head for site Golf. I’ll come in under the cover of darkness. My cloak is fried.”
“Understood, lead. Luck.”
Instead of heading directly for the bunker in the hills, Sheridan zigged away in a new direction, leaving a clear trail for the Jaffa to follow. There was a narrow river about three klicks away. His trail would lead them right to the river and then disappear. He planned to enter the water, float downstream some, then exit the river at a point two or three klicks from his entrance point, then backtrack cautiously to site Golf, where hopefully, the Gagarin would have beamed down a spare pack and weapon. Then he’d head back to the bunker to prepare to lay siege to the citadel.
“Mr. Roberts, drop our cloak and raise shields.”
“Aye sir. Shields coming up and cloak is off.”
“Mr. Bailey, lock in targeted coordinates and fire when ready.”
“Yes sir! Coordinates locked in. Firing pulse phasers. First target destroyed. Switching to next set of coordinates.”
“Sir! Sensors show multiple vessels decloaking ahead. Readouts indicate Al’kesh bombers!”
“Arm all weapons! Fire as they come to bear!”
Space was awash with beams of phased energy and globs of plasma. The Gagarin was a ship of comparable size to the Al’kesh, and one on one or even three on one would have been a fair fight, but fifteen on one wasn’t. The Gagarin gave as good as it could, taking out four of the Al’kesh before its shields fell to a critical level, and its captain, William Scully, Jr., ordered a retreat. For the moment, the strike teams on the ground were on their own.
There were two operations underway at the moment; a peace-keeping mission to stabilize Duat now that the inhabitants there had been freed, and the strike mission to Aaru. The watch officer thought for a moment that all might be proceeding according to plan, when the incoming message light began to blink in a fierce red pattern. That meant there was CRITIC information coming in from somewhere in the field.
“…Gagarin reporting. Forced to retreat with battle damage. Surprised by fifteen cloaked Al’kesh. Strike teams on surface of Aaru compromised. Tok’ra operative is a traitor. Team betrayed. Headed to DRB Six for repairs. Request instructions…”
Oh fuck, he thought. The watch office in question pressed the panic button and shortly was joined by Admiral Constantine.
“Message received from the Gagarin sir. They were betrayed by the Tok’ra operative on Aaru. Strike teams left to fend for themselves. The Gagarin was jumped by fifteen Al’kesh. They took battle damage. They’re headed for Deep Range Base Six for emergency repairs. Gagarin is awaiting instructions from us.”
“Monitor the channel. Instruct the Gagarin to repair as quickly as possible and to await further instructions.”
The Deep Range Base network had been only recently established. It was, in essence, a salvaged half of a Cylon Basestar that had been modified to repair and replenish the ships of the fleet. It had no fleet yards attached to it, but it had extensible docking arms and cradles that could support a vessel while repairs were under way. Base Six was located approximately four hundred light years from Aaru, and fifteen hundred light years from Earth. It had a minimal compliment of fighters as it relied heavily on defense platforms and the hundreds of flak turrets on its structure. The main gun was the same standard Cylon Mega-pulsar found on all of their capital ships.
Gagarin arrived in a burst of hyperspace and starlight. It was directed to a docking cradle. As it pulled along side the station to enter the cradle, those personnel looking through the nearby windows saw long scorch marks on the hull of the vessel, and several punctures where only the emergency force fields were holding space out and atmosphere in. But that damage was external. It was the interior damage that would keep them here at DRB Six for at least two weeks. Ruptured and overloaded conduits. Inoperable torpedo launchers. Burnt out phaser arrays. A collapsed hangar deck with four crushed Danube II’s.
The Gagarin’s sister ship, the Vladimir Komarov was on its way to DRB-Six, but was still a couple hours out. When it arrived, it would have to wait for a lot of help before it could proceed to Aaru.
Office of the President
Marius took a moment to look at the three men seated opposite him. All were legends in Earth history. Xerxes the Great, a one time Persian King from a time before Alexander conquered those lands. Alexander, seated in the middle, who had been with Marius during their inter-dimensional journeys, and who had fought exceptionally well during the Borg Campaign. Hector, son of King Priam, of Troy. Thirty two hundred years of life and experience in that one. Alexander, he knew, would not hesitate to offer his services for the mission ahead, but could he ask the same of the other two?
“As you’ve undoubtedly heard by now, we have a strike team cut off from support on the Goa’uld stronghold world of Aaru. The strike team leader is a young-ish Immortal; General Jacob Sheridan. If anyone can survive what lies ahead in the next few weeks, it will be him. But his teams are relatively untested. The operation on Duat was a cakewalk by comparison. Our last communication with them was through the Gagarin before she had to leave orbit of Aaru. Sheridan and his teams were betrayed by a Tok’ra operative. We need to form a force to rescue and relieve Sheridan. I can’t, no, I won’t order one of you to go.”
“Say no more, Marius. I will go.”
“Alex, you’ve been with me since the beginning of this campaign against the Goa’uld. But in all honesty, we need your skills if we are to pull off the planned operation on Tartarus. The main enemy there will be the Kull warriors on the ground. The fleet can handle itself against the forces of Anubis.”
“I can do this mission, then move on to the planning for Tartarus. You know it, and I know it.”
“You have a thousand men under your command Alex, all of them trained and ready to fight against the Kull. But you are all we have at the moment, and I’m hesitant to use you for a rescue operation.”
“Then it falls to one of us, if not to Alexander. I will go, Mr. President. If the forces of the Alliance will follow me, I will lead them into battle on Aaru and save Sheridan.”
“I don’t think the Alliance forces will have any problems following a man who fought the Greeks for ten years. If you truly want the job, and the rank that goes with it, it is yours, Hector.”
“And what of me?”
“How do you feel about going to school for a short while?”
“To learn what, exactly?”
“We are in need of Immortal officers of Flag rank. You already have the leadership ability, but you need to learn about the ships of our fleets and how best to utilize them.”
“Then I accept your offer.”
Sheridan was a bit winded by the time he reached Site Golf. He was concerned that he’d been unable to make contact with the Gagarin, but he was grateful that a spare pack and a sniper rifle had been beamed down to this location. He had been about to replace the cloaking module on his field gear when he heard a noise behind him. He turned quickly, bringing his sword up in a defensive posture and was both angry and relieved when Lehayne dropped her cloak.
“I should be grateful that you’re here, Lehayne, but I should also be angry because you didn’t go back to the bunker.”
“So, you’re gratefully angry? Look, Bossman, you’re the Chief and I’m just an Indian, but I figured you could use the help.”
“Ok. The thought is definitely appreciated. Let me finish up here, then we’ll rig a few claymores for our ‘friends’.”
“Head back to the city area, find a place to hunker down and give them as much hell as we can while we wait for reinforcements.”
“You think the Alliance will send troops out?”
“I’m counting on it. Let’s move out!”
Sheridan had replaced his cloak, but he still moved with caution lest he leave a trail a blind man could follow. He and Lehayne had gone about two klicks when they heard a muffled explosion behind them.
“Scratch a few Jaffa from the equation, Lehayne.”
Sheridan had a spot in mind and he was headed there now. The Goa’uld citadel lay in a shallow valley, surrounded by low forested hills on all sides. He was headed for one of those hills now. He planned to carve out a small opening on the back side of the hill, and then tunnel his way to the other side, and set up a second bunker and firing position. If he could get this new position set up quickly, and then get a third position set up on the other side of the Citadel, he might be able to catch any troops coming out of the city in a nasty crossfire. It would take some doing, but it was theoretically possible.
About four hours later, Sheridan and Lehayne reached the spot where he wanted to dig an opening. He sent Lehayne to the top of the hill to keep an eye on their surroundings while he started to dig. He wanted to use his E-Tool first, to get the hole started so as not to give away his position with any lights from the phaser drill. Fortunately the top soil broke fairly easily. He’d gotten about eight inches in when he hit solid rock and bent his shovel blade. A few tree limbs and a non-reflective heat shield in place, Sheridan broke out the phaser drill and started cutting into the rock. He stopped two hours later when he’d carved out a small niche, just big enough for him and Lehayne to crawl into and pull a camo net over them.
He crawled in first, and set to work, while she crawled in behind him. There was just enough room to crawl, but not even to squat. He set the phaser to a wider cutting beam and began carving downward into the rock. He worked all through the night, changing out the power packs only when they were completely drained. Lehayne had six power cells in her pack, and Sheridan was already on his third cell. But by the time the sun rose the next morning, he’d managed to carve out a small chamber, tall enough to stand up in. He sent a quick message to Yakim, informing him of the new plan, and then proceeded to make a quick meal for himself and Lehayne before getting some much needed rest. He would continue the digging after he’d rested.
Palace of Aaru
“Ammit. You failed to capture the hok’tar.”
“I did, my Lord. He used a technology I did not believe the Tau’ri had yet mastered. He used a holographic projector to show an image of himself while he stayed out of sight.”
“And you did not perceive that it was a projection?”
“The projection was solid to the touch, my Lord. It was impossible to tell the difference.”
“I see. We must learn how they are able to do this. We must capture them and bleed them for information.”
2100 hours local
Sheridan was back at work, drilling and drilling, widening out their sleeping chamber and cutting small side tunnels that would eventually become passages to the surface. Passages that would allow one person a perch from which to shoot, or lob mortar shells. At his next scheduled check in with Yakim, Sheridan learned that Al-Qadir’s team had moved out to find a spot for another bunker. Apparently both of the other team leads agreed to spread out their limited firepower. Also, it was a good idea never to concentrate your limited forces in one area, as there was too much chance of your forces being captured by the enemy. And in this particular case, capture by the enemy, meant interrogation, Goa’uld style.
2100 hours local
Three days later
The new bunker was complete and his team would be joining him shortly before sunrise. They would be bringing with them spare mortar tubes, and two of the six bigger guns that they had. A fifty caliber machine gun, and an Mk-19 grenade launcher. A belt fed grenade launcher. Lehayne approached him and sat down beside him, as he looked down the hillside towards the Citadel.
“Boss, you were a cop before all this happened?”
“Yep. Texas Ranger. Why?”
“You have access to my records, right?”
“I know you were in prison. I know it was for murder. But I don’t think that’s accurate.”
“Oh? Why not?”
“Like I said, I was a Texas Ranger. I’ve been with the Rangers since just before the Civil War. I know a murderer when I see one, and you, Lehayne, are not one.”
“But I did kill a man. More than one actually. And you know what? I enjoyed it.”
“He musta been a very bad man then.”
“He wanted to take over the world. He wanted to make all humans into his slaves.”
“Like I said, a bad man. Way I see it, you did the world a favor. As far as I’m concerned, when you signed on to be one of my Rangers, the slate was wiped clean.”
“And when my duty tour is up and I head back to Earth, I won’t be able to get a decent job because I’m an ex-con.”
“So, stay on Luna. Stay with the Rangers. You’ve got potential, Lehayne. You can be the best. I’ve seen it in the way you fight, in the way you move.”
“Know why I joined up?”
“To kill things?”
“That too. Fighting makes me horny. And what can I say, I like sex.”
“Hell Lehayne, I like sex too. But I sure as hell am not gonna have it with you in this here foxhole of ours. For one, at my age, I’d much prefer a bed.”
“Are you suggesting something, sir?”
“I’m not suggesting anything, Lehayne. You’re a soldier under my command. It would break so many regulations it wouldn’t be funny. But I like your style. When this war is over, maybe you and I could have dinner?”
“Wouldn’t I still be under your command?”
“Nope. I’m guessing the Rangers will be disbanded after the war is won.”
“Oh. I see. Well, then yes, I’d love to go out with you.”
“Just do me one favor Lehayne.”
“What’s that, Boss?”
“Don’t go and get yourself killed.”
“Are you kidding? And risk missing our date? No way!”
“What do you mean, he’s missing?”
“I’m sorry Jack. He missed his scheduled check-in.”
“Do we have any information yet?”
“Just this. It came via the State Department. Some rebels in the hills claim to have taken two American scientists prisoner and are holding them for ransom.”
“It’s gotta be Daniel and Dr. Lee.”
“The government won’t pay their ransom.”
“They won’t have to. I’ll go down and get him myself.”
“Good luck, Jack.”
O’Neill went straight to the armory to draw out a few weapons and nearly walked right into Adam.
“Going hunting, Jack?”
“I did. I’m coming with. I owe Daniel.”
“Get your gear, Adam.”
A week passed. The three teams remained undiscovered, watching over the target, making plans for the fight they knew would soon come. The discovery of Team Five happened by accident. A child wandered away from its parents on the field and literally stumbled onto the sentry that Team Five had posted near the base of the hill. Of course, the sentry was cloaked and of course the child didn’t see him, but the child screamed all the same and the Jaffa came to investigate. That’s when all Hell broke loose on three hills surrounding the Goa’uld Citadel.
“Shit! Chief! Jaffa incoming!”
“All teams, lead. Warm it up folks! Give them everything we have!”
“Lehayne! Try the subspace radio again! If the Alliance is listening like we think, they have to do something and quick!”
A score of Jaffa warriors started up the hill where team Five was located. They made it about ten feet before a half dozen mortar rounds landed amongst them. All of the Jaffa were killed by flying shrapnel, cut to ribbons before they hit the ground. From the hilltop where Teams Four and One are located, long range sniper fire began to pick off targets coming out of the Citadel. At first, the Jaffa fell easily as the armor piercing rounds penetrated their armor, but then the first Kull warrior appeared. It was something that was bound to happen, given the fact that they were present on the planet, but Sheridan had hoped they wouldn’t be used. The volume of fire became heavier as the teams tried to stop the advancing Kulls, but it was of little use. Their armor and their shields were just too strong to allow the more primitive projectile weapons of the Alliance to break through. Sheridan was the first to try it. The rifle version of the PPG. He unloaded a full cap at one target, hitting it with thirty-two high power shots, enough to burn through several inches of steel. It took all thirty two shots to kill the Kull.
They didn’t have a lot of caps for the rifles, only a dozen for the entire team. McShane and Ayres were steadily pouring fire into the ranks of the Kulls; the heavier seven point six two millimeter having a limited effect. But they were also pumping out grenades at the near targets while Rivera and Masters were dropping sixty millimeter mortar rounds on the advancing enemy soldiers.
“Boss, do you hear that?”
“Hear what Lehayne?”
“I’m not sure. It sounds like a wolf howling.”
Sheridan’s head angled to the left and he thought ‘a wolf howl?’ then it angled to the right and he thought again, ‘a wolf howl?’. He’d heard such a howl before, but that was back on Earth, right? As soon as that thought framed itself in his head, his radio chimed in.
“Strike lead, do you copy?”
“Strike lead. Who’s this?”
“Cavalry’s here, strike leader. Give us a smoke round where the enemy is concentrated so we can relieve some of the pressure.”
“Dieter, one round, smoke, in the middle of the advancing Kulls.”
It was a wonder that he hadn’t heard it before now. It did sound like a wolf’s howl. From behind the hills to his right, seven helicopters popped up. Never had he seen a sight so sweet as at that particular moment. ‘I guess Marius and Archangel worked out a deal after all,’ thought Sheridan. It looked similar to the helicopter, to the Airwolf that he had seen in Texas not too long ago, yet it was different. It seemed sleeker and meaner, if that was possible.
“That you Hawke?”
“We meet again, Ranger.”
“I gotta say, I’m glad we did. The enemy soldiers are wearing Jackal head armor and black skin-tight armor. Take them out if you can, cause we’re having a hell of time taking down the guys in black.”
“We’ll take care of them for you.”
“Cait, give me chain guns. Let’s see if the new rail guns work as designed.”
“Chain guns online.”
The man in the pilot’s seat was Stringfellow Hawke. For many years he had flown a secret helicopter for a certain US Intelligence Agency, doing their bidding in exchange for their assistance in locating his brother who was at the time still missing in action in Viet Nam. Now, both Hawke brothers had been reunited. Stringfellow flew the lead bird in this formation while his brother Saint John was flight lead for another section that was even now flying cover for the advancing elements of the 1st Armored division.
Now Jake heard something different. A loud and low rumble that made his heart jump with joy. Those could only be tanks coming up behind the hills. Oh, I’d hate to be Osiris right about now.
Thirty minutes earlier
Palace of Aaru
“My Lord. The Jaffa report there are three positions from which the Tau’ri are attacking. We will have them surrounded within moments.”
“Excellent! Take them prisoner. I shall want plenty of Tau’ri on which to hone my interrogation techniques.”
“My Lord! Sensors detect multiple vessels in orbit. They must have been cloaked!”
“How many vessels!”
“Twenty-six vessels in two distinct groupings.”
“Have they made any hostile actions as yet?”
“Sensors indicate one vessel has split into three units. One of those units is coming down to the surface! It will land fifty kilometers north of the Citadel.”
“Launch all fighters! Kree!”
But before any fighters could launch, a series of strikes from orbit, using the locator beacons that Lehayne had left in place many days before, struck the hangar entrances, collapsing them and trapping within all the fighters and Al’kesh bombers. Only a few fighters that had been on patrol in the system were available, and these were quickly dispatched by the hundreds of fighters launched from the Alliance vessels.
“My Lord! We are unable to launch any fighters! Tau’ri weapons have collapsed the entrances to the hangars!”
“Kree! Prepare my vessel for launch!”
“I regret that we are unable to My Lord. It was in the hangar for routine maintenance.”
The tanks that appeared from behind the hills were not what Sheridan expected. He expected the Abrams Main Battle Tank. What he saw instead were the new phaser tanks and photon artillery units that the Alliance had just completed in time for this battle. The phaser tanks had a single turret with a type VIII phaser cannon, and two small type VI phaser strips for defense against airborne targets. The photon artillery were styled similar to the Paladin self-propelled guns, but instead fired a low yield photon shell at the enemy.
There were also troop carriers that hovered less than a foot above the uneven ground. The tops of each APC had one rapid fire rail gun, and each unit carried sixteen soldiers into the battle.
As Goa’uld heavy cannon fired at the approaching vehicles, they learned that the vehicles were shielded, much to their dismay. Photon artillery shells began falling around the Citadel, neatly bracketing it and telling those within that the Alliance had their number, lock, stock, and Jaffa. The next shots could very well come directly into the city, killing hundreds. A photon round flew up from its launcher and landed dead center amidst a large group of Kull warriors. Their shields coruscated with intense energies before they fell to the ground, lifeless at last.
House of Tanar
Citadel of Aaru
Tanar was one of many slaves on Aaru. His family had been on this world for generations. The Ancestors had been brought to this world from a place far away through the Chappa’ai from a world only remembered in myths and legends. Their God, Osiris, had brought them here to work the fields for this place had very fertile soils and it took not much work to grow food. But theirs was a cruel God, one that reveled in torture and pain. Word of uprisings had trickled to them from visitors from other worlds, though they knew not what had begun the rebellion. Tanar imagined that it was the people, learning that their Gods were false ones.
Tanar was a man among men on this world. As a descendant of a tribal king, his family had long taken up the reigns of authority over the other slave families. And for generations, when there had been no God on Aaru, the peoples of Aaru had gone about their business, hoping against hope that the evil Gods would not return. But they did. Now, as Tanar and his family cowered under their rickety furniture in their one room hut of a home, he prayed that the mysterious Tau’ri would come to their rescue.
A man came to his home, running and out of breath. His home was nearer to the palisades that surrounded the Citadel of Aaru. From his window, he saw the Hell spawned Kull warriors fall lifeless to the ground. He spoke of mysterious magical machines that spat beams of light that made the ranks of Jaffa vanish from sight. Tanar knew the moment had come at last. Using the man to spread the word, the slave residents of Aaru took up whatever arms were at hand. Pitch forks, scythes, axes, and clubs of wood. The few huntsmen who lived in the Citadel, those who hunted with bow and arrow and spear, took up the cause as well.
In his palace, Osiris learned of the uprising amongst the slave population from his first prime. The planet was in the midst of a revolution and for the first time in centuries, Osiris was in fear.
Outside the walls, the ranks of phaser tanks covered the approach of the APCs. Hundreds of troops came out of the backs of the personnel carriers and stormed through the gates of the Citadel. Interspersed among them were the strike teams that had been under siege for many days. Sheridan and his team moved to the front, taking the lead of a company of infantry, and charging up to the doors of the palace. A few well placed charges and the doors were down and the infantry was in.
The palace was laid out much like a standard Goa’uld Ha’tak, only that this structure was very much planet bound. Sheridan and his team led the way to the throne room to find Osiris hiding behind a score of Jaffa.
“Osiris! We have come for you! Surrender yourself!”
“Never! Jaffa, kree!”
The personal defense shields of the infantry repelled the attacks by the Jaffa staff weapons, just long enough for Zat guns to be deployed and fired. The score of Jaffa fell to the ground and now Osiris faced an angry company of infantry.
“Last chance to surrender, Goa’uld.”
“Your choice, lady. Lehayne, take her out.”
“You send a child to fight me?”
“I’m no child, you bitch!”
Osiris stood no chance against Lehayne. Faith was poetry in motion, with kicks and throws and punches that rained down on Osiris. In one movement of distraction, Lehayne managed to take the Ribbon Device from her hand and tossed it behind her.
“You move with such speed and grace. Surely you are hok’tar. Why do you fight for these lesser creatures?”
“I ain’t no hok’tar you twit. I am just myself.”
Osiris seemed to pause for a moment to consider the answer. He had been beaten, in a fashion that had not ever occurred to him. Hand to hand combat was something the Jaffa partook of, not a God. But the outcome was inevitable.
And with that, the battle for Aaru was over. In the hours afterwards, Sheridan learned of the slave uprising and spoke with the acknowledged leader of the uprising, Tanar.
“You are of the Tau’ri?”
“I am. I am called Jacob Sheridan. I am a leader among my people.”
“I am Tanar. The slaves of this world were brought here through the Chappa’ai from a world far from here, many generations ago. Our tribal shaman say that there have been over twenty hundred winters on this world, yet we are a small population. For a time, for many hundred winters, the false God Osiris was not here. Then a few winters ago, he returned in the form of a woman. Our numbers were vast before the Return, but the God demanded many of my people serve him as Jaffa. Then came the Sokar spawned Kulls and our lives changed for the worse.”
“Do your tribal shaman have any names for the world from which your ancestors came?”
“Our shaman tell of a God called Apoyan Tachi, who created the world. We do not know the name for that world, but it is said that our tribes were plentiful and strong, and they worshipped nature in all her gloried creations. It is said they lived in villages called ‘pweblos’ but this we can not confirm, as the legends and myths are handed down through stories.”
“That is most interesting, Tanar. On my world, the world of the Tau’ri, there are tribes collectively called the Pueblo Indians. Among them, are a tribe called the Zuni, who are much as you describe. Perhaps, your people were taken from among them?”
“Perhaps this is true. But we do not have any desire to return to the world of the Ancestors. It is good to know that our Ancestors and the Tau’ri are one and the same. I thank you for freeing us from the cruel and vile false God, and we pledge our assistance in ridding the stars of all of the False Gods!”
“Come Tanar, let us walk among your people. I wish to know what this city produced for the false ones.”
“Then let us walk among the people, Sheridan of the Tau’ri.”
Alliance Command Center
One Week Later
Debriefing in Progress
“Your report, please, Director Krycek.”
“Of course, sirs. An informant on Earth has given us some new information. A new group calling themselves the Trust has been formed. Our early information on this group indicates that it is made up of powerful corporations that want the technologies now in possession of the SGC and the Alliance for themselves. They have managed to obtain a sample of the Tok’ra symbiote poison and are preparing to mass produce it. They have managed to lay their hands on a Goa’uld vessel, and they will use it to deliver the poisonous cargo to a number of targets. The information our informant obtained indicated that the vessel in question possess a cloaking field and that it is somewhere within the solar system. The Trust apparently has access to a Star-class long range scout and they are using this ship to drop off cargo and personnel to the Goa’uld vessel.”
“This is most disturbing, Director Krycek. Fortunately, the IDB had not sold a large number of Star-class vessels, so tracking them should be relatively easy. Locating the cloaked vessel is your top priority for the moment. The reason the Tok’ra abandoned research into the symbiote poison was that it is an indiscriminate killer, targeting Goa’uld, Jaffa, and Tok’ra symbiotes.”
“I will assign a team to track down that vessel, sirs. That is all I have for the moment.”
“Very well. General Sheridan. Your report please.”
“Yes. Our new strike teams have now completed two planetary campaigns. The first, on the planet of Duat, where Anubis had a number of shipyards. These shipyards are now in our control, and the population of Duat has formed a temporary government and asked for Protectorate status.
“The second liberated world is called Aaru. The particular planet was an agricultural one, providing food for other planets in Anubis’ empire. There are, perhaps, twenty thousand inhabitants on the planet, and all of them are descendants of a native American tribe called Zuni. The have also formed a temporary government and have requested Protectorate status. Additionally, Aaru produced not only food for Anubis, but also the black uniform clothing for Kulls, and the chain mail armor for Jaffa, along with the various hand-held weapons associated with those two soldier types. The leader of the freed population, Tanar, has agreed on behalf of his people to continue producing the Kull armor for our own troopers, in exchange for more modern methods of agricultural production. They will also export a number of food stuffs only to member worlds of the Alliance.”
“Well done, General Sheridan. Admiral Constantine has recommended, and this committee agrees, that you and your strike teams will be placed at once on leave. Your have two weeks to rest and relax, before your next mission.”
“And what is our next mission?”
“Has the committee given any thought as to whether I will be allowed to recruit more teams?”
“We have. You have full authority, at this time, to recruit a full regiments’ worth of teams. Twenty-two hundred personnel, including pilots for your deployment craft. The Alliance likes very much the idea of small strike teams, and so we are going full ahead with construction of more Saber-class vessels, and with the carrier vessel you recommended. Please meet with Dr. Mitchell Guerra of the IDB to finalize the plans for the carrier vessel.”
“Thank you sirs.”
“Is there anything else, General?”
“Not at this time.”
Later that day
Office of the President
“Come in Sheridan, come in. Congratulations on your first two operations. They were resounding successes or so I’m told.”
“It helps to have good people on the teams.”
“I would imagine so. So, how can I be of assistance?”
“As I said on the link earlier, I’m trying to get some background on one of my troopers. Her abilities in the field left me speechless. She moves with an uncommon grace and speed, her sight and hearing are beyond anything I have ever seen. Yet all I can find on her is her prison record. Everything else is classified. I thought that perhaps…”
“You thought perhaps I might have access?”
“I’m hoping you do, sir.”
“Let’s take a look then. Her name?”
“Give me a second or two. Hmm, very odd. Apparently I don’t have access either. Let’s try this another way then.”
Marius started ‘dialing’ a number of buttons on the video phone link in front of him. A few moments later a woman answered.
“May I help you sir?”
“President Ramos for Director Foley.”
“One moment sir. Yes sir, let me connect your call.”
“How may I be of assistance, Mr. President?”
“I’m sitting here with General Jacob Sheridan, commander of our Ranger Strike Teams. He attempted to get access to some records and has been told these records are classified. So I tried the same thing and got the same result. I wonder, if you could access those records for us?”
“What sort of records?”
“We’d like to see the personnel file for a young woman that is a member of a team. Faith Lehayne.”
“Lehayne? Sure, let me see what I can find. Hmm, that’s odd. I don’t have access? What the hell? Subject is a ‘Slayer’. Approach with extreme caution? Let me get back to you, Mr. President.”
“Mr. Secretary, Director Foley. I need some information.”
“Sure. What do you need?”
“Access to something called the ‘Initiative’ and their files on something called the ‘Slayer’.”
“Let me see if I can get that on my terminal. Huh? I think this thing has blown a fuse. It says I have no access?”
“Same thing I got over here. Can you check into that for me?”
“I’ll get someone on it right now.”
“You asked to see me, Mr. Secretary?”
“General Moore, Director Foley at CIA asked me to help him access a file. I tried, but apparently I don’t have access. Perhaps as Chairman of the JCS, you do have access?”
“Let me borrow your terminal for a bit. Which file do you need, sir?”
“The file on something Director Foley called the ‘Initiative’ and their records on the ‘Slayer’.”
“No need to access that one sir. I was fully briefed in when I got bumped to Chairman. Back then, I thought it was a joke, at least until I learned about the SGC, then, well, I guess it isn’t a joke.”
“Why don’t I have access?”
“I’m sure it’s just an oversight, sir. But the project was cancelled some years ago. The stated goal of the Initiative was to create weapons for dealing with demonic life forms, including, vampires, werewolves, various demons, ghosts, and generally the things that go bump in the night. But the project head decided to stray from that to create a super soldier made from human and non human parts. Needless to say, the project was terminated.”
“You have got to be shitting me. No wonder it’s classified. If the public ever found out we were doing stupid shit like that, we’d all be out of a job.”
“Stupid or not, it is the complete truth. The Slayer is a person, always a young woman, who has some genetic gifts. The legend, as I understand it, states ‘In every generation, there is a Chosen One. She alone will stand against the vampires, the demons, and the forces of darkness. She is the Slayer.’”
“It gets better sir. As I said, the Slayer is born with genetic gifts. Extreme levels of strength, stamina, speed, enhanced senses, rapid healing, and supposedly the gift of prophecy. Except for the prophecy part, I dare say that a Slayer sounds very much like an Immortal.”
“Is it alright to pass this information along to them? The Immortals, I mean. They’re the ones who initiated this request. Apparently, they have a Slayer on one of the new Ranger teams.”
“If half of what I’ve read about Slayers is true, then the Goa’uld are toast.”
“Let’s hope so, General Moore. Next topic. What did General Diggs have to say about the equipment the Alliance loaned him for the assault on Aaru?”
“He wanted to know if those vehicles were going to be made available to the US military any time soon. In his words, ‘I’ve got to get me one of these!’”
“What’s your take on those new vehicles?”
“The phaser tank has a top speed right around one-twenty kph. The artillery is a little slower at ninety-five kph, and the APCs are faster at one-forty, but that’s a similar enough problem to what we have now. The APCs can defend themselves pretty darn well with the rail gun turret. One round can penetrate the heaviest armor on most modern battle tanks. With a few armored divisions, the US will be the defacto world leader in military power. Add in the fact, that the phaser weapons can also be set to stun infantry targets, and you have one hell of a force deterrent.”
“And the new helicopter?”
“Actually sir, it’s just an updated helicopter. Would you believe the original prototype was built in the 1980s here in the US? It was. And it was used by one of our intelligence agencies for close on twenty years before they accidentally met one of the Immortals who introduced them to President Augustus. The IDB got together with that agency and the result is the helicopter that’s now fielded with all Alliance ground forces. I had to see it to believe it, but the damned bird has a top speed of just over Mach two point five.”
“No helo can fly that fast!”
“This one does. And General Diggs wants to replace all of the equipment in 1st Armored with the units he had on Aaru. He’s asked to stay on for the next campaign.”
“I’ll get together with the President. Maybe he can ask the IDB to cut us a good discount.”
“They’re worth the price sir.”
Faith had been back on Luna just a few days. Her last mission with her team mates to Aaru had been a long one and her deepest desire as she walked into her one bedroom apartment on Luna was to either soak for hours in a tub, or sleep for a week. One sniff of her pits, and she decided on the long soak. Now, a couple of days later, she was getting bored with the life of leisure. She wanted action. That’s what Slayers were born for. She decided to check her mail and was pleasantly surprised to find a note from B. She wrote back pretty quickly.
“B. I’m doing pretty good, thanks for asking. Say Hi to everyone for me. Life here is a lot better than that prison cell I was in. Here, I’m part of a team. I volunteered for service with the Alliance Rangers. I’ve gotten to know my team mates pretty well over the last few missions. Three weeks on Duat and two weeks on Aaru. I always wanted to see the world, and now I’m getting to see the galaxy.
My CO (that’s Commanding Officer, B) is pretty cool. He doesn’t stand on ceremony or rank when we’re in the field. He’s a General, by the way. General Jake Sheridan. He’s also an Immortal. A young one, or so I’ve been told. He’s only one-seventy-four! He said he’d been in every war and police action the US took part in, starting with the, as he calls it, the war for Southern Independence.
I hope all is well with you.
A few hours later, her console chirped with a reply.
“Faith. I’m glad you’re doing well. Dawnie says Hello. We’re all hanging in there. After the collapse of the Sunnydale Hellmouth, well, it’s been a hell of a year. Rebuilding the Watcher’s Council, training the potentials. Xander is in Cleveland, with a few Slayers, watching over that Hellmouth. As much as my life has changed, it seems it’s always the same. I’m glad to hear that you feel like you belong somewhere. Just remember, fucking your boss isn’t a good thing. It can be, but well, never mind. Gotta run now. Write back soon.
Luv Ya. B.”
Just as she finished reading that short note from Buffy, her console chirped again.
“Lehayne. My quarters are on Sub-level 5, East corridor, number thirty-six. Dinner is at eight. Sheridan.”
So he hadn’t forgotten after all, thought Faith. The appointed time was still several hours away and suddenly Faith felt the need to buy something slinky and sexy.
Office of the President
“So, Jake. She’s a Slayer. Sounds like you’ve got a real winner on your hands.”
“I knew there was something different about her sir. Damn, but she’s a good fighter. Can we recruit more like her?”
“Your best bet is to ask her, I’d guess.”
“I think I’ll do that, sir. Thanks for the info, sir.”
“You’re welcome. I expect to see a plan for the attack on Tartarus in a couple days time.”
“It’ll be ready sir.”
Residence of Jake Sheridan
To say that Jake’s taste in décor was eclectic was to say that the moon was gray. But the same could be said of any Immortal, with at least a century of life. He had a room where his history came alive, from the Confederate uniform he once wore, to the crossed sabres on display. From the Confederate era Enfield muskets, to the WWII Enfield carbines, his was a history of warfare. And it was into this room that Sheridan led Faith on a quick tour of his quarters.
“Damn! You’ve got a lot of stuff in here! My quarters aren’t even a tenth as large!”
“Rank hath it’s privileges, or so I’m told.”
“So, what’s for dinner?”
“Slow roasted cabrito, with rice and a side of salad.”
“Not sure what ‘cabrito’ is, but it sounds good.”
“I’ll tell you afterwards what you ate, ok?”
“Why do I have the feeling I’m going to regret dinner?”
“Nonsense. It’s a rare occasion that I get to cook for so lovely a dinner companion.”
What Jake was thinking however was that her barely there dress was made for her alone. A dress like that could make him want her, and he did want her, but doing so would break so many rules and regulations that he quickly chased the thought away with designs and plans for Tartarus.
In Greek mythology, Tartarus was a place lower than Hades. The planet itself was not as bad as the name implied, but a direct assault through its Stargate would send a lot of good men and women to their deaths prematurely. The Stargate was on a heavily guarded platform directly in front of the Palace of Anubis, guarded by Kulls. Removing the planet from the domain of Anubis would mean crippling his ability to produce Kull warriors. So it became a prime target for the Alliance.
Anubis, on the other hand, was growing tired of the victories claimed by the Alliance. First, his shipyards at Erebus and Duat had fallen, reducing his ability to create more ships by ninety percent. Then they had captured Osiris and taken Aaru, the world that supplied food to his growing empire, and uniforms for his Kull Warriors. It was time to put an end to the threat of the Alliance.
At the same time that the Alliance was launching a mission to capture Tartarus, Anubis was launching a massive force to destroy the Alliance in the Sol system. He had erred before, in sending only six of the Cylon Basestars to that system. Now, that the Cylon reinforcements had arrived from the Cylon home world, he could launch a massive attack that would bring the Alliance to its knees, and seal his fate as conqueror of the universe.
The fleet that launched from Tartarus to Sol was massive. Four hundred Cylon Basestars, four hundred Ha’taks, and several hundred more Al’kesh, all of them commanded by his flagship. Anubis had spent centuries searching for the Imperial Eyes, the key to his new super weapon. The Eye of Ra had been among the last, found on a desolate, empty world that had once been a part of Ra’s domain. The weapon fired a beam, that upon striking a target, would ricochet off to another target, bouncing around again and again until it was at last depleted of strength. But each time it hit a ship or fighter, the result was pure devastation.
The few fleet vessels that launched from Sol for the attack on Tartarus would make little or no difference in the coming battle for Sol. Two Saber-class frigates and a Jeep-class escort carrier were sent to Tartarus; the Yuri Gagarin, the Vladimir Komarov, and the Langley. The vessels were in orbit and cloaked over the planet of Tartarus and minutes away from starting their mission, when the emergency fleet channel beeped for attention.
All was quiet for the moment. Three ships had departed some hours ago on a new mission, and of course, there were ships in the system, but it was all normal and routine, until the deep space tracking array began picking up the first incoming ships. Sensor Chief Smythson felt like it was déjà vu. The sense that he’d been through this before. One look at the readings was all it took for him to press the panic button.
“What have you got Chief?”
“A whole damned pisspot full of ships! Deep space array is showing at least six hundred ships on an incoming vector. Database reads them as Cylon Basestars and Goa’uld Ha’taks. No IFF detected.”
The duty officer wasted no time in forwarding the sensor data to the appropriate commands. From a dozen openings on the station, defense platforms spilled out into the inky blackness of space. Every ship in the system was instructed to activate their IFF transponders or risk being shot down. The two Battle Groups in system jumped into hyperspace, along with all of the Allied Ha’taks, to await targeting data from the fighters in the system. So many ships incoming. They had to use every trick they knew to even the odds. Earth governments were quickly notified, and at dozens of air fields around the planet, newly produced SA-43 Hammerhead fighters began warming up. The entire planet went to Condition Red.
“General Sheridan to the bridge!”
Sheridan heard the call as he and his teams were loading up into the Danube IIs that would take them down to the planet. Two Sabers had been dispatched to Tartarus, each with four strike teams. Eighty people to take over a planet. Sheridan turned for the nearest comms panel and contacted the bridge.
“Sheridan here. Something wrong Captain?”
“We’ve just received flash traffic from Alliance HQ. We’re here preparing to attack Anubis, and Anubis is on his way to Sol. At top speed, it would still take us the better part of six hours to reach Earth. As mission commander, the decision rests with you, sir.”
“How many ships attacking Sol?”
“The message indicated well over six hundred.”
“Holy shit! That must be his entire fleet!”
“Probably close to it.”
“Well, we did wonder why there weren’t more ships here. I guess that answers that question.”
“What do you want to do, sir?”
“Deploy the Danube IIs as planned. As soon as we get to the surface, you and the Komarov and the Langley are to proceed at best possible speed back to Earth. God speed, Captain Scully.”
“Understood, General Sheridan. Luck.”
“I have a feeling we’re all gonna need it.”
“Q. My children did as you asked. Now I require your assistance.”
“Ask away. I could always say no.”
“I would have contacted the Vorlons directly, but they seem to have passed beyond.”
“It was their time. It happens even to the most primitive.”
“So, can you help?”
“I’ll do better than that. As a favor. Though I might eventually have to ask for one in return.”
“From a Q, I would expect no less.”
“I think that was an insult, but never mind. What you require will be there when needed.”
“Thank you, Q.”
The enemy fleet was still a few light minutes out. Less than two hundred fighters, mostly Mustangs and Thunderbolts, were arrayed in the inner system. The asteroid field had been heavily mined with Narn designed energy mines, and Klingon designed gravity mines. The former to drain a target of its energy and the latter to disrupt its own gravitational field, making it gain in mass and making the engines work harder to overcome the added mass.
Over Luna, Mars, and Earth, the Defense Satellite network activated, sensors were constantly sending out targeting sweeps, allowing the fighters to remain blind to enemy sensor nets. Marius was not in his office. He was not on the Halsey, as that ship now belonged to Robert de Valicourt. He was not in a fighter or aboard any of the ships of the fleet. He was in the command center on Indy, helping to direct the fight. He stood next to General Hammond, following Hammond’s lead for this, hopefully, final fight.
There was a flash of intense white light, much like an Asgard transporter beam, but instead of an Asgard, there was this strange man in what looked like a red with black trim jumpsuit. Hammond looked at Marius for a moment, before Marius spoke.
“Greetings, young Ancient.”
“Well, there goes the neighborhood.”
“I’ve come with some assistance. Yes, I can see the enemy force closing on Earth. Arrogant little shit, that Anubis. I think it’s high time a being like myself taught him a lesson.”
“What are you going on about Q?”
“Anubis is half ascended. Apparently he was too evil to remain as an ascended being. He is one of my type of species. Omnipotent and all powerful. You helped my favorite pet humans in my neck of the woods, so I’m here to return the favor.”
Q snapped his fingers and several people appeared on the deck, along with several ships in the space near the station.
“Q! What is the meaning of this!”
“Picard! Still the overbearing human I like. And Kathy. So lovely. Always a pleasure to see you two.”
“Captain Picard. Admiral Janeway. I had not thought I’d ever see you two again.”
“Admiral Ramos? Where are we?”
“You are onboard Independence Station, in Earth Orbit. As Q so nicely put it only a moment ago, we helped you out, now it’s your turn to help us out.”
“Help you out how?”
“Well, from the looks of the monitors, Q has brought along a few ships for that purpose.”
“Q? You might want to get the commanders of the Romulan, Klingon, Borg, and Cardassian vessels over here as well. Just so I don’t have to repeat myself too many times.”
“Ah, but I’m not done just yet.”
There was another burst of light, and three more ships appeared in orbit near the station. Another snap of the fingers and four more people appeared on the command deck.
“Now that we are all assembled here, you may begin, mon Admiral.”
“Uhm, thanks. I think. Well, you all know who I am, as I was only recently in your universes. Apparently, the powers that be have decided that since we helped you with a particular situation, that it is time you repaid the favor. Most of your ships I am familiar with, some I am not. Rather than spend the next few precious minutes learning that, let me tell you what we are facing. Ten light minutes out is a formidable array of enemy vessels. Our current estimate is six hundred battleships, with an as yet undetermined amount of lesser support vessels.
“From the current distance, we can clearly see two vessel types, the Ha’tak, and the Basestar. The Goa’uld Ha’tak class is a generic name given to a wide range of vessels. Typically, the vessels have several anti-ship weapons that fire a mass of high energy plasma. This same weapon is also used for planetary bombardment. The vessel also carries some three hundred fighters, and a few dozen Al’kesh class mid range bombers. It is home to several thousand Jaffa warriors.
“The Cylon Basestar also carries three hundred fighters, along with several hundred anti-fighter turrets, and two Mega-pulsar cannons, one at the top-most point on the dorsal side, one at the lowest point on the ventral side. Don’t be fooled by the fact that the Cylon vessels have little or no shielding. These ships have several meters of laser ablative armor and their two primary weapons can cut through several meters of hull in one go. An unshielded ship meeting such a beam is in extreme danger, while a shielded ship will fare somewhat better. I see three distinct Federation vessel types out there; Sovereign, Intrepid, and Steam Runner. Knowing the capabilities of those vessels, my recommendation would be to leave the Steam Runners here with the station to provide long range fire, and allow the Sovereign and the three Intrepids to move in and about the enemy fleet as a unit.
“Admiral Sela, Gul Tinkar, and Chancellor Martok. Your vessels are designed for ship to ship fighting. My suggestion would be to do the same as the Federation ships. I’ll leave you alone to figure out your tactics. Borg. What is your designation?”
“Tactical Commander Katal of the Borg Confederacy. You are the Ancient.”
“Well, one of the Ancients, in any case. How are your ships configured, Katal?”
“Long range Klingon type disruptors and long range tri-cobalt torpedo launchers.”
“Excellent. Would you stay with the station as part of our defense fleet?”
“We will do as is required.”
“Now, Captain Sheridan. It is good to see you again. Though I wish the circumstances were different.”
“They are what they are. And it’s President, now, not Captain.”
“Well, congratulations. I see two Minbari Sharlin-class War Cruisers, and…what is that thing?”
“That is an Earth Force Warlock-class Heavy Destroyer. Susan Ivanova is her Captain. Marcus Cole is her XO.”
“Looks formidable. Have you managed to integrate the shield tech we left you?”
“The Warlock has only deflector shielding for space debris, but the Sharlins have full shields now. We will work together as a team unit. The line is here and the enemy will not cross it.”
“Thanks, Mr. President.”
“Strike lead, Five actual.”
“Go ahead, Five.”
“Target in sight. Team hunkered down for the fireworks. Ready to go.”
“Roger that. Break. All teams, stand by for fireworks.”
Fireworks. Now there was a term that could have pleasant connotations. The Danube II vessels had deposited the strike teams on the surface of Tartarus. Sixteen strike vehicles had moved out. These units were fast, but had almost no armor, and only minimal shielding. But they were armed, and they did have the new Kull warrior killer weapons aboard. The units were arranged in groupings of two, one strike team per pair of vehicles, and the plan was to hit the Command Palace from as may directions as possible, so as to try and overwhelm the defenders.
“Strike lead, Support actual.”
“Standing by for words to commence run.”
“Alpha Strike is a go. Repeat, Go.”
“Confirmed. Better get undercover, Strike leader.”
For the few Jaffa that had remained behind on Tartarus, the far off whine in the night sky meant nothing to them. A ship that had encountered difficulties and was coming in for emergency repairs, perhaps. No one was fool enough to attack Anubis on his home world. No one was fool enough to attack a God.
As the whine in the sky grew closer, some of the Jaffa looked up. As the small ships grew close enough to identify with the unaided eye, a single Jaffa turned to press a button on a nearby alarm panel. A beam lanced out and struck him, vaporizing him instantly, but missing his weapon. Said weapon landed squarely on the alarm panel. Fortunately, the next phaser blast cut through the hardened communications lines, and preventing the triggered alarm from being heard in other parts of the Palace. Not that the Jaffa there didn’t already know something bad was happening. It would be pretty hard to miss, especially with the sudden appearance of a few dozen photon torpedoes overhead.
New reports filtered in sporadically and slowly to the few Jaffa trusted with command in the pel’tac. Anubis had left behind as local defense only two hundred Jaffa, mostly the youngest recruits, and those with very little training, along with two Kull Warriors. One of the exploding photon warheads had been of the Kull-killer variety, and the two Kulls were effectively removed from the battle before the ground forces could engage them. The remaining Jaffa fought hard, but not for very long. The Zat blasts and phasers fired on stun, knocked out the vast majority of them leaving only a token resistance for the strike teams to fight off. In less than an hour, Tartarus was under Alliance control. Sheridan would report it if he could, but at the moment, the fate of the Alliance in general and of Earth in particular was in the hands of someone else.
ETA Enemy fleet
3 Light minutes
The forces in Earth space were as ready as they could be. On Earth, fighters were in the air, and civilian aircraft around the world had been given orders to proceed to the nearest airfield and land as soon as possible. For the most part, that order worked well enough, except for the unfortunate few who happened to be on trans-oceanic flights. There were only so many airports in the middle of nowhere that could take the bigger airliners.
EAS Titans had eighty thousand ground pounders aboard, a full compliment for the ship. Earth had called into duty every available military unit already on active status, just in case the enemy managed to land troops someplace, but a company here or there to protect a city was asking just too much. President Sheridan offered the use of the Gropos wherever they were needed the most. Fifteen thousand men, women, and their equipment found themselves being whisked away in beams of white light to major national capitols on Earth. Washington, DC., Moscow, Paris, London, Beijing. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council. Five thousand Gropos were kept in reserve aboard the Titans, to supplement the forces on the ground wherever they were needed.
One Light Minute
The Goa’uld under Lord Yu had brought with them a fleet of six hundred ships and had arrived at the end of the first battle for Sol. There weren’t that many available now. Ships were on patrol between Earth and Langara, and Earth and Tollana. Ships were in orbit over Duat and Aaru, supplementing the fire power available to the Support Groups. Ships were on their way to Tartarus to support the planned invasion there and were unreachable. And some ships, had been lost in skirmishes with the Cylons. The force that remained in Sol space numbered less than a hundred Ha’taks. Though it pained Hammond to do so, he requested those vessels divide equally over Earth and Mars to lend their support to the defenses there. Luna would only have the three dozen remaining Al’kesh to help defend her.
There were enemy ships in the system. Lots of them. Lots and lots and lots of them. It wasn’t six hundred combined ships. Targeting sensors were still trying to catch up to what the sensors were indicating, but for the moment, they showed four hundred Ha’taks, and four hundred Basestars, along with at least five hundred Al’kesh. The only thing the Alliance had in its favor was that all orders seemed to be coming from one massive command ship at the back of the formation. No doubt in anyone’s mind that this particular ship belonged to Anubis.
Anubis had the arrogant gall to send a message on all known frequencies to Earth. It was picked up by the fleet first, but it did end up being seen on Earth.
“People of the Tau’ri. The Goa’uld gave you civilization. We gave you science, mathematics, writing, and law. Had we not, you would still serve us rightfully as our slaves. Now, we will take these things from you. You will be destroyed. Jaffa! Kree! Destroy the Tau’ri!”
It happened slowly at first, but pretty much everyone on the planet had seen the yards tall apparition appear all over the world, in thousands of cities and small hamlets.
“You see that, Misha? I will not go quietly in my bed. I will fight! Join me Misha. Let us save our homes from this devil!”
“I will join you Sasha.”
“What do you think, Chu?”
“I think that I will fight with whatever I am able to fight with, be it my hands or a club.”
“Then I will do so as well.”
“Whatcha gonna do Jonnie?”
“I’m gonna grab my hunting rifle and head down to city hall. I’ve a mind to keep what’s mine. And I aim to protect it, even if I have to die trying. Better to die free than be a slave.”
“I’m wit ya Jonnie!”
And the scene repeated itself in every city and country. The common folk, moving out from what they believed to be safe homes to take to the streets to fight for what they all believed in; freedom. The freedom to chose how to live their lives as they saw fit to live them.
“All ships, this is Independence Station. Weapons are free. Repeat. Weapons are free.”
The first ships to fire were those that had the range to target the enemy at this distance. And the first of these long range ships was the Appalachia, firing four bursts of four torpedoes each, with each weapon targeted on a different Cylon vessel. The fire rate was one torpedo per second. The range was still too great for those ships to fire their Mega-pulsar cannons with any sort of effectiveness.
Anubis watched with little concern as the pulsating beacons covered the short distance between fleets. Sensors aboard his ship indicated the weapons were traveling at just under the speed of light. Surely such small devices could not harm one of the ships of his fleet? And then they impacted on the Cylon vessels.
Using targeting data borrowed from the Colonials, the Appalachia had pinpointed the exact detonation point for maximum effectiveness. Vent portals, where excess heat was drained into space from the very powerful and very large reactors aboard the ships. It was a design flaw that even the Cylons knew about and so they were protected with multiple banks of anti-fighter turrets, but the weapons were traveling to fast for the turrets to obtain a lock and all the fired pulses flew to points far behind the weapons. The other thing that neither the Cylons nor Anubis was aware of was the fact that the torpedoes had built in guidance units, that were able to twist and turn through the superstructures of the Cylon vessels to impact squarely on the vent portals and travel a few meters into the vessel before detonating.
In a space of less than a minute, sixteen Cylon Basestars had been rendered into just so much space dust and expanding gas. Anubis was enraged by the event.
“Jaffa! Open fire with all weapons!”
“But my Lord, at this distance we will be lucky to hit anything!”
“Then close the distance to the Tau’ri! This slaughter of our fleet must not go unanswered!”
“Yes, my Lord!”
Anubis looked out onto the field of battle once again. He was safe in the knowledge that his command ship was far enough behind the vanguard of the fleet so as to be untouchable. The small vessel above the large station continued to spit out the pulsating globs of death at his fleet, and he knew now that more of his fleet would die, but there would be more than enough ships to overwhelm the Tau’ri. Surely the small vessel would not have an endless supply of such weapons?
Anubis was right in that point. The Appalachia only had forty-eight of the tri-cobalt torpedoes, and those had been destined for decommissioning, as they had been outlawed by the Khitomer Accords. The tri-cobalt warheads were classed under the treaty as subspace weapons, though a few ships still carried them, mostly because they had been long forgotten in the ships’ stores. Three more waves of the weapons came in and then the vessel was strangely silent for a moment. It was enough to close the distance by half and allow the various vessels of Anubis’ fleet to open fire.
The Appalachia had run through its stock of tri-cobalt torpedoes and was in the process of loading the remaining quantum and photon torpedoes left aboard; only forty such rounds left. Still they would continue to pump out the rounds at one per second into the oncoming fleet until they were completely dry of the torpedoes and had to rely solely on their phasers.
But at the point in time where that vessel began pumping out standard quantum and photon torpedoes, they were joined by the other vessels from their universe. Enterprise was, however, reserving their small stock of transphasic torpedoes for a closer shot at the very massive command ship at the rear of the fleet. The Federation ships were joined by Klingon, Cardassian, and Romulan ships, all firing their own version of the venerable photon torpedo at the enemy fleet. The three Borg Spheres had yet to take a shot. They had jumped to high warp for a long slingshot manoeuvre around the enemy fleet to come in from behind. They dropped from warp at something close to point blank range and unloaded all of the torpedoes in their stocks, before jumping back to high warp to rejoin the station defense fleet.
Anubis fumed that these primitive Tau’ri could score so many hits unanswered in so short a time. But something that was as yet unnoticed by him was the fact that the ships in the defending fleet were not Tau’ri in origin, and the Alliance vessels were nowhere to be seen as yet. But the Cylons were aware of this fact, if only because they had no Battlestars on their sensors.
As the fleet closed the distance even more, a Jaffa shouted for his master’s attention.
“My Lord! Unidentified anomalies forming throughout the fleet!”
Anubis had ordered the fleet to close distance with one another so as to maximize their effective killing power against the waves of fighters the Tau’ri were sure to send. It might have been an effective counter to the fighters, but it proved a costly mistake as hyperspace jump portals opened up throughout his fleet and ships came out, firing as they went. The massive energies released by the forced opening of a portal from normal space to hyperspace incinerated everything in their path. If a ship happened to be in that path, well, so much for that ship. Where the energies touched hull armor, said armor simply disappeared. Such were the intense energies of the hyperspace portals. Anubis had never seen such portals, even when he had been among the Ancients.
These portals, to what his sensors indicated was a lower level of hyperspace, were tearing into the fleet with alarming accuracy. The fleet was disappearing in ever increasing numbers and it was all he could do to order the fleet to disperse to prevent multiple ships from meeting this new fate.
The Palace was in the hands of the Alliance, and there were some sixty-odd Jaffa prisoners, all in chains, awaiting a representative from the Jaffa Rebel Command to come down with the first occupation ground force. Sheridan had placed a strike team at the Stargate to watch over it and to defend against an off-world incursion. One of the teams, on a search of the Palace had found tanks for Goa’uld symbiotes and a Goa’uld Queen heavy with more symbiotes. They’d placed the queen in a stasis chamber so that the Tok’ra could produce more of the vital tretonin that took the place of infant Goa’uld larvae in the pouches of Jaffa warriors. Until such time as the medical research teams on Luna could synthesize the process, the tretonin would have to come from the symbiotes.
“Strike Lead, Four lead.”
“Go ahead Four.”
“Gate’s activating. Something is coming through.”
“Prepare to repel invaders!”
But what came through the active gate wasn’t invaders. It was a missile. A cruise missile. According to one of the Danube II pilots, it was a Tomahawk cruise missile. Everyone dove for cover, praying that their own personal shields would save their butts. But they needn’t have worried. The missile didn’t have an explosive payload. It had a nerve agent aboard. A gaseous mass descended over the Palace, coming in through open windows and doors. It spread quickly, and the members of the strike teams said quick mental goodbyes at the inevitable.
But it was the Jaffa that died, not them. The strike team members were all unharmed, yet every last one of the Jaffa were dead. They just dropped where they stood, or fell over where they were seated. All but the Queen, who was safely tucked into a stasis chamber awaiting transport.
“Baker Actual, Baker Actual, strike lead.”
“Problem, strike leader?”
“A missile just came through the gate. It dispersed a toxin. All of the Jaffa prisoners we had in chains are now dead. We need a HazMat team down here, pronto!”
“Ah, roger that. Sending one now.”
The decontamination team arrived within ten minutes, and within thirty minutes had determined two things. One, that none of the members of the strike teams were infected with anything at all, and two, that the symbiotes in the Jaffa had died first. A quick blood test indicated the presence of the Tok’ra developed symbiote poison. Sheridan doubted that the Tok’ra would launch such a thing as they knew full well that a strike team had been deployed to this world.
“Lehayne, you got your GDO with you?”
“Yup. Right here. You want me to dial the SGC?”
“Unscheduled incoming wormhole!”
“Security teams to the Gate room!”
“Who is it Sergeant?”
“Receiving Alliance IDC.”
“SGC actual, Alliance strike actual.”
“Alliance unit. Identify yourself.”
“General Jake Sheridan. Ranger unit One.”
“General Sheridan. All of the ranking officers are involved with the defense of Earth at the moment. This is Major Davis. Something I can do for you?”
“I need to come through, with my team. We have a body that we need examined on the double. Standby to receive infectious corpse.”
“HazMat team to the Gate room! Medical team to the Gate room!”
“Door’s open, General. Come on through.”
“Roger. Coming through.”
All of the members of Sheridan’s team were experience soldiers. All had been off-world on at least three occasions, but this was a first for all of them. Gate travel. What a rush!
“Major Davis, I presume?”
“General Sheridan. What happened?”
“We took Tartarus. It’s under Alliance control now. But after we’d secured the objective, the Gate opened and a missile came through. A Tomahawk missile. It dispersed some kind of airborne toxin that the medical crew from the Thomas Baker identified as Tok’ra symbiote poison.”
“That’s not possible. There are only two samples of that particular poison. One is in Tok’ra hands. The other is at Area 51. We sure as hell wouldn’t launch a missile to a world where an Alliance team was fighting. I’m fairly certain the Tok’ra wouldn’t either.”
“Well, that missile came from somewhere.”
“Excuse me a moment, sir. I’m needed in the control room.”
“Davis, how goes the battle?”
“It’s bad, Sheridan. Anubis showed up on our doorstep with eight hundred ships.”
“Fuck me in the heart!”
“Surprisingly light, actually. Are you rated on any fighters?”
“Barely. I mean, I can fly one, but I’m not so sure about fighting in one.”
“Did any of the pilots assigned to your unit come back with you?”
“We’ve got a single Peregrine class fighter on the deck at Petersen. It a prototype; a test-bed for new technologies. But all of our pilots are already committed in battle.”
“Lehayne, you up for a quick flight?”
“How do we get to Petersen?”
“I have a helo up top. Anything you need, just ask.”
“How about a quick lesson on the way to Petersen? For my gunner, that is.”
“I think we can do that. Luck, Sheridan.”
“I’m gonna need it. Hell, we’re all gonna need it.”
The Peregrine in question was a prototype. A test-bed craft for new weapons technologies. It sported a single turret at the rear of the craft, just above the impulse drives, of the rail gun variety. Gone were the micro-photon torpedo launchers in the wings. Instead, the designers had placed two different beam weapons in the wing roots to determine which one the test pilots preferred more. Pulse disruptors were matched against pulse phasers. In the nose, the designers had placed one small Shadow Slicer beam. Though it didn’t have the power of its larger version, it still had more power than either of the two in the wings. It also sported a retractable pair of rotary launchers, which could carry any missile in the current US inventory, but these launchers were getting a new missile at the moment. The last thing that had been placed into the fighter was the Colonial QSG, or Quantum Shift Generator.
“That’s me. You got some flight suits for us?”
“Right this way.”
“Are you one of the engineers on this project?”
“I am. You want a run down of the new systems?”
“That’d be nice.”
“We took out the micro photon launchers in the wing roots and replaced them with pairs of pulse disruptor cannons and pulse phaser cannons. Outer pair on each wing is disruptor, inner pair is phaser. We added an auto-track, auto-engage turret above the rear impulse drives. Rail gun. Projectiles are armor piercing, and about one inch long. It’s got a full load at the moment of six thousand rounds. The turret is set to fire in short bursts about fifty rounds to the burst.”
“Sounds good so far. Anything else?”
“A few more things on it. The nose has been rebuilt to house a miniaturized version of the Shadow Slicer. Not as much power as the larger version, but significantly more power than the wing root weapons. But because of the power drain, we had to add in a couple extra generators just for the nose cannon. You’ll be able to fire one full power shot every minute, or half power shots every thirty seconds. On either side of the Shadow beam emplacement, are single emitters for the Breen energy dampener. One shot should drain a target of shield energy long enough to allow a missile to get in. The fuselage was big enough that we were able to add two rotary launchers, that can be stowed inside the vessel and deployed whenever needed. Because of the placement, one in front of the other, obviously you would only deploy one or the other at any given time. In addition to the standard Ramos triple layer force shields, the Colonials let us borrow a QSG for this vessel.”
“Quantum Shift Generator. It will enable you to shift the fighter slightly out of phase with normal space. Because of the drain on the batteries, we designed the system to automatically phase shift, whenever shield power was at ten percent or less, or the weapons systems were either overheating or needed time to fully recharge. So watch the gauges on all of those systems and you should be alright. Last thing. The missiles that are being loaded are modified anti-fighter Venoms. The high explosive warhead has been replaced with a matter-anti matter shell surrounding a ball of compressed weapons grade naquadah, which in turn is surrounding an even smaller ball of plutonium.”
“Ok, well, I don’t know a lot about that, but I’m guessing it should make one hell of a bang?”
“Plutonium we have plenty of. Anti-matter we now have plenty of courtesy of your folks on Luna. The weapons grade naquadah is a bit harder to come by, but we had enough to build enough missiles to fully load both launchers. You have thirty-six of them, eighteen per launcher.”
“That’s all well and good, but how much of a bang are we talking here?”
“Best guess, cause we haven’t dared test them on Earth, is just under a gigaton.”
“Fuck me in the heart!”
“So, do be careful in watching how close you are to a target before you launch one. I’d suggest using them on the capital ships, and not on fighters.”
“Sounds like a plan. Well Hell, I guess we’re about as ready as we’re gonna get. I’ll pilot, you be my gunner, Lehayne.”
“Got your back, sir.”
“Good luck Sheridan.”
“Hell man, if you’ve got me, an infantry General, flying a fighter, I’d say we all need a bit of luck today.”
“I looked up your record when we were on Luna.”
“And it said you are a ‘Slayer’ but it didn’t say what all that means.”
“Why did you look up my record?”
“I’ve seen you in the field and I’ve seen you in the gym. You’re fast, strong, and you have exceptional senses. I wanted to know more about you.”
“You could have asked me.”
“I’m asking now.”
“The Goa’uld are parasites that pretend to be Gods. But there are other things out there. Vampires. Werewolves. Demons. A Slayer hunts those things and keeps them under control, keeps them from spreading too far and too fast.”
“That’s what I was told. But what I don’t understand is why only women can be Slayers?”
“I have no idea. Maybe it’s because women are more maternal? Because we have a higher sense of protectiveness?”
“Hey, don’t look at me. I’m the one asking you.”
“I never thought about it. Maybe the Watchers would know.”
“Watchers? My assigned Watcher didn’t know about Slayers. I know cause I asked if they had ever come across anything like Slayers.”
“Your assigned Watcher?”
“All Immortals have a Watcher assigned to them. To record their history. Their mandate is to watch and record but never to interfere, though they sometimes do.”
“Huh. Well, Slayers have a Watcher assigned to them as well. But the Watcher is also the trainer for all fighting techniques and also an advisor on all things supernatural.”
“Well. Two different Watcher organizations. I wonder if one knows about the other?”
“Might be something to ask, if we get out of this alive.”
“Speaking of which, you’d better have your game face on. That’s an awful lot of enemy ships and fighters out there.”
“Like I said, Boss, I’ve got your back. You do the flying, I’ll do the fighting.”
The vessel was small and sleek. It radiated neither heat nor any sort of electrical emission. The system was new to them, but they had been picking up old style radio signals for days now. Always monitoring the signals, trying to discover remotely who it was that called this system, home. The vessel moved in sunward, toward the inner system, for some minutes, they’d been picking up increased chatter on the bands they’d identified as military in nature. Something big was happening. Something very big. They moved in closer until their sensor sweeps showed them exactly what was happening, real time. A very large Goa’uld fleet had come to this system and it was presently engaged in battle with what they supposed were forces from this system. They had no way of knowing who the defenders were, but they were powerful. The Aschen Confederation needed this intelligence. Obviously, there was a new player on the galactic block, and they seemed to be a powerful one.
“Indy Control, this is Peregrine November X-Ray Queen Sierra Golf, standing by for tasking orders.”
“Peregrine November X-Ray, authenticate Lima Hotel.”
“November X-Ray authenticates Alpha Sierra.”
“Confirmed November X-Ray. Say state.”
“Full load, guns and missiles.”
“Roger that. Take up cover position on Federation vessel Appalachia. Vessel assigned as command and control for all Federation universe attack squadrons.”
“Understood. Moving to comply.”
The Appalachia had expended all of her long range ordinance and so had effectively become a mobile control platform for the few Federation Peregrine fighters that had come aboard some of the vessels. The other Federation Peregrines looked at the Tau’ri Peregrine and wondered if it were the same as theirs. Knowing the Tau’ri penchant for making changes to perfectly good machines, odds were it wasn’t.
“Appalachia, Peregrine November X-Ray.”
“We’re loaded for bear. We want targets.”
“Explain ‘loaded for bear’.”
“Never mind. Be advised, we’re moving out to hunt. Luck to you, Appalachia.”
“Indy Control, Appalachia. Be advised, one of your Tau’ri Peregrines is working for themselves.”
“Understood. We’ll deal with them. Indy Control, out.”
The Peregrine phased into QSG and made a quick hyperspace jump to the far side of the system, well behind the enemy fleet. It stayed in QSG as it approached to within five thousand kilometers of Anubis’ ship and its escorting Ha’taks.
“Ok, Lehayne. Lock up two of those Ha’taks, and make sure you use the Breen guns too.”
“Targets locked. Missiles set to auto-fire once target shields are down.”
“Ok. Phasing out of QSG. Shields at full strength, and rear turret on auto-track and auto-engage.”
The Peregrine flew towards the nearer of the Ha’taks engaging them at short range with the Breen weapon which drained their shield energy completely before rippling off two missiles, one per target. The heavy fighter then peeled away out of weapons range and watched from a distance as the heavy missiles closed in for the kill. One was prematurely detonated a mere thousand feet from the hull of a Ha’tak by a very lucky shot of plasma fire. But a thousand feet in this case was the same as a hit. The gigaton of explosive force lit up space all around them and incinerated the vessel, leaving nothing behind. The other targeted vessel shared the same fate within seconds of the first.
For the Alliance fighter squadrons, the first news that something was up came when the rear of the enemy formation lit up like a pair of small suns. No one knew exactly what had happened, except that something had gone bang in a big way. When it happened again and again and again, they felt joy, as it meant that many enemy fighters no longer had a mothership to call home. Hopefully, the fighter pilots thought, it meant that no new reinforcements would be coming from those big bangs out there. The escort Ha’taks surrounding Anubis’ ship had not launched any of their fighters at all, and now all were dead. Yet there was still a small ship out there, flitting to and from among the packed ranks of Anubis’ vessels, taking shots at them, and making them wish they were elsewhere. Anubis screamed with outrage. A ship so small so as to be a mere insect to be swatted in annoyance, and yet it was causing him so much trouble!
“Jaffa, Kree! Send the Rel’tac’s into hyperspace to the far side of the accursed Tau’ri world. Order them to land and take as many cities as possible! We will force them to surrender to us!”
Skies over Washington, DC
121st Fighter Squadron, F-16
“Bandits! Coming in hot! Angels sixteen!”
“I see them. Go tactical. Lock’em up!”
“Damn! My missile had no effect! They must have shields!”
“Better warn the ground that a lot of troop transports are coming their way.”
“Shit Hot, Bossman! We got fighters inbound!”
“Time to turn and burn, boys.”
Four Rel’tacs had made it through the orbital defenses above this city. Four had landed and begun to disgorge the compliment of troops they had aboard. Six thousand Jaffa per transport, along with an assortment of heavy ground cannon for support to the advancing Jaffa cohorts. If all went according to their plan, they would have the President of the United States in their custody by day’s end.
It was the sheer stupidity of the thing that startled the farmer the most. He’d heard the planes go racing overhead, and a few explosions what sounded like miles and miles away. He’d grabbed his gun, a surplus BAR his father had brought back from Korea. His father had taught him how to shoot it and how to care for it and feed it properly. There was a bag full of magazines hanging from a coat hook near the door, just like his daddy had drilled into him to do. This he grabbed as he walked slowly out to the deer blind he had along his fence line. From the higher vantage point of the blind, he could use the spotting scope to see the main road into town. But what he saw through the scope left him little room for doubt about the sheer stupidity of the thing.
There were men in armor. Marching in neat little columns and boxes, by foot, and with some pulling what looked like cannons, and headed towards the capitol city. He pulled out his trusty cell phone and quickly spread the word, to all farms near to this road. Then he waited, and when he thought he’d waited enough, he began to make his shots, setting the weapon on semi-auto, taking great pride in seeing single armored aliens drop by the side of the marching column as they were hit by his big 30-06.
Strike Fighter Squadron 82 - Marauders
They were aloft, all of them, at last. The Enterprise happened to be in her home port at Norfolk when word of the attack had come. The pilots of the Marauders had wanted to go up with the other units of their wing when the attack had started, but the CAG had held them back. Now, however, it was their turn to inflict some damage on the enemy. And some payback. A lot of their fellow pilots had been shot down, some literally blown up in their airplanes, by the enemy alien fighters, but still they had managed to trade one friendly pilot and plane for several of the enemy.
“Tallyho! I’ve got…what the hell! They’re marching in a friggin’ column? What kinda stupid alien fucks are they, anyways?”
“Hey, if they’re that stupid, Chief, then maybe we should make it easier for them to meet one of their Gods?”
“I say we make it hard for them. Use the Mk. 82s. Ripple them off and lay ‘em down in sticks. Let ‘em meet their Gods in tiny little pieces!”
“Right behind ya, Chief!”
The battlecruiser Prometheus was a wreck, adrift in space. If she could be salvaged, her parts could be used for other less damaged ships, but she’d never be a part of the fleet again. She wasn’t even in one piece. More like four or five pieces, floating loosely together. Raleigh was cut in two. Seattle was gone. The only thing left of the Houston was a long strip of scorched metal that had once proudly been the name tag for the vessel. The four battlecruisers had been struck by Cylon Mega-pulsar fire intended for the Halsey. But as her four escorts fell, the four Shark-class missile escorts moved to the fore, pumping out weapons at the enemy fleet, and allowing their own shields to absorb hits meant for the large Immortal-class vessel.
Peregrine November X-Ray
It was all that Sheridan and Lehayne could do to fight the enemy in front of them. They’d already gone through eighteen missiles, accounting for eighteen Ha’taks. The fleet assets protecting Anubis had fallen in the first few strikes and now the fighters assigned to his flagship were trying to kill this most pesky of Tau’ri vessels. The Jaffa pilots were finding, however, that being ordered to kill the vessel and killing it were two entirely different things. It had more power in the nose gun than most Ha’taks, and the side cannons were just as powerful. The fighter even had a cannon covering its six o’clock position, something that no Udajeet had. What was worse was that the small fighter seemed to phase in and out of space, allowing some shots to hit the fighter’s shields, and others to pass through without hitting anything. It was a frustrating time to be a Jaffa pilot.
“Lehayne, start finding Cylon ships. Use what few missiles we have left on those.”
“Then fly us towards the left. There’s a big mess of them there.”
“Your wish is my command, Lehayne.”
“Hah! A girl could get used to that, sir!”
The small fighter made its way towards a large grouping of Cylon vessels. These Cylons might have been advanced as far as the average Tau’ri were concerned, but they didn’t have shield technologies. As quickly as Lehayne could get a target lock, she fired missiles from her one remaining launcher. They were out in no time, but they had made a damned good accounting for themselves as the enemy fleet had been depleted of a total of thirty-six mother ships. Lehayne changed her tactics just a bit now that they were ‘Winchester’ missiles. With the Shadow Slicer on full power, she aimed for the central column that made up a Cylon Basestar. The Slicer beam tore at the column, separating it. She then took aim with the Breen weapons, draining each half of its power and leaving it a lifeless hulk.
After taking out eight vessels in this fashion, the Cylons figured out the ploy of the small fighter and began targeting it in earnest. Space suddenly lit up in front of them as hundreds of anti-fighter turrets began targeting them. It was inevitable that one would hit. In the instant of time it took for the QSG to phase them back into normal space and their shields to rise, a number of pulses hit them. The damage was apparent fairly quickly. Life support was failing, and the inertial compensators had taken a hit. Now they were feeling fifty percent of the motion of the fighter and suddenly they both knew their time in the universe was limited.
“Damn! Main guns are down. I’m showing a feed fault on the rear cannon.”
“That’s the least of our problems, Lehayne. Life support is failing. Inertial compensators at fifty percent efficiency. Targeting scanners are down. We gotta get out of this fight and quick.”
“Luna is closest. I’ll try and keep ‘em off us.”
“You do that.”
With a minimum of fuss, the Peregrine came down on final. To add insult to injury, the landing gear failed to deploy, and so the stricken fighter came to a skid across the runway. Since neither pilot nor gunner were wearing any sort of pressure suit, they had to wait for a unit to come and get them. It was a short wait.
Most of the Alliance fighters were out of the fight now, having been brutally outnumbered at the onset by better than fifteen to one odds. The fight had fallen to the larger capital ships to duke it out. The Halsey and the Kennedy were pouring massive amounts of fire at the enemy, rippling off salvoes of torpedoes in an effort to whittle down the opposition, but they were both running dry of the weapons. Indy had already gone through its own stocks of torpedoes and was now dependent solely on its beam weapons to hold the tide against the endless waves of enemy fighters that seemed to appear from the enemy vector. Enemy fleet strength wasn’t quite where it was only an hour ago. Four hundred Ha’taks had been cut to three-twenty-five, and found hundred Basestars had been halved to two hundred. Still, considering each vessel had brought three hundred fighters to the table, it was a lot of firepower they had at their disposal.
The two Alliance battle groups in system were already at half strength, with one group missing four battlecruisers, and the other lacking all four missile destroyers and both flak frigates. This battle would be decided on how much help arrived to stave off the enemy tide.
“Independence Station. Our forces are ready to assist.”
“Thanks, Lord Yu. We could use your fighters to supplement our own forces. The enemy are hurting us and badly.”
“We are honor bound by treaty to defend your world. We will do so.”
An hour later, there were few vessels on the Alliance side that could still fight. Almost all had run through their stocks of torpedoes, and only a very few had any left. And still, the enemy fleet had more than two hundred Ha’taks, and a little less than one hundred and fifty Basestars left at its disposal.
SG-1 had done the impossible. They had gone by ship to Praclarush Taonas and retrieved the Ancient’s power module, then returned to Earth and gone to Antarctica to use the systems there to help defend Earth. They had been pursued by a few Kull warriors who had fallen quickly to the weapons in SG-1’s possession. O’Neill had then taken a seat on the chair, that was the central control for the defense systems of the Antarctic base. From an opening in the surface behind where O’Neill sat, hundreds of drones rose up into the air, streaking into space, and heading for Anubis’ mothership.
It was time.
“Tok’Ra. I believe it is time.”
“I believe so, John. Q?”
“I must concur. The Continuum has already chosen a nice little prison for Anubis and for Iblis. They will never escape from it.”
“Then it is up to me, for the moment.”
If there had been any mortal witnesses in this little pocket of dimensional space, they would have seen three men flex their muscles and then ripple out of existence. But there weren’t any witnesses.
Anubis’ Command Ship
“Jaffa, Kree! Send in the next wave of fighters!”
Anubis sat on his throne, watching the progress of the battle. He had come here with a vastly superior force, and even then he had been hard pressed to keep his forces in good spirits, as there weren’t enough of the enemy for everyone to kill and be happy. But they were winning, and such was never in doubt, and the insolent Tau’ri would fall before him, and when they fell, their Alliance would fall as well. Then nothing would prevent him from taking his rightful place as Lord and Master of the Universe. It was his destiny. It was his right.
“Who calls my name?”
“I am Tok’Ra. It is time for you to answer for your sins.”
“You have no dominion over me!”
“Wrong! The others may choose not to interfere, but it is not a rule. I choose to interfere.”
“I will stand by you, Brother. This petty creature that calls itself an Ancient will not move you from this place!”
“In that respect, Iblis, you too are wrong. The Others have come for you. The Ship of Lights waits for you.”
“No! No one has dominion over me!”
“For your crimes, you Anubis, and you Iblis, have been sentenced to eternal damnation. The Q Continuum will serve as your keepers for the rest of eternity. We banish you, to live out eternity, in a pair of stars that even now struggle to survive against the might of the black hole that is at the center of the galaxy. To be torn apart, molecule by molecule, for all eternity. Such is the judgment of the Continuum.”
Q snapped his fingers and the two semi ascended creatures in question, Anubis and Iblis, disappeared from sight. They reappeared seconds later, each powerless and trapped in a star at the center of the Milky Way galaxy. Stars that were being pulled apart by the intense tidal forces of a nearby black hole.
Q now adopted the persona, temporarily, of Iblis, to issue new orders to the Cylon fleets outside. Then he adopted the personage of Anubis for the same task. It happened quickly outside. So quickly that the Alliance didn’t notice at first, that their enemies had stopped firing, had stopped moving. The Cylon Basestars fell silent, followed shortly by the Ha’taks. The Jaffa on those ships surrendered to the Alliance. The Cylons could not. They were dead. Inert. Lifeless. Hunks of junk.
On Independence Station, on Luna, on Mars, on Earth, and on every still functioning ship, the news of surrender was met with something akin to shock. Anubis had been winning. Why would he surrender? Why would the Cylons stop fighting?
From Earth, hundreds of small balls of energy flew up from the South Polar Region, straight into space, and straight at the remaining Goa’uld vessels. They flew unerringly at their targets, destroying each one easily until only the dead Cylon Basestars remained.
The cloud coalesced in the command center. Golden and shiny and transparent. Some knew who it was, and some didn’t, but all felt nothing but calm emanating from the cloud.
“My son. Methos. Anubis and Iblis will trouble you no more. They have been permanently dealt with by the Ancients.”
“So now what happens?”
“Now, you build up your Alliance and you prepare for the challenges to come. This is your time, my son. Use it well.”
“Are you leaving?”
“I promised you once before that I will always be by your side, my Son. I will always be there to watch over you. I must go now, to rest. This fight against Anubis and Iblis has drained much of me. I will return. When the time is right. Until then, you and your compatriots will have much to do.”
It was over. The war against Anubis was over, but the death toll had been great. Prometheus, Seattle, Raleigh, and Houston. Angel Shark, Horn Shark, Reef Shark, and Tiger Shark. Pavises and Testudo. Midway and Kursk. Zeus, Hera, and Athena. Forrestal and Ranger. Space borne vessels that would never exist again. Nimitz and her strike group. Illustrious and her strike group. Hundreds of terrestrial fighters downed. Hundreds of escape pods adrift in space. A few dozen cities on Earth in flame. A heavy toll indeed.
But from this attack came a renewed sense of vigor. Ships would be rebuilt, cities extinguished and repopulated. Life would move on. The United Nations was the first to decide a particular issue, but many countries soon followed their lead. To prevent such an event from ever occurring again, colonies would be seeded among the stars. And for all those worlds where the Goa’uld had taken the peoples of Earth, a new agency was established to contact them and to help them where necessary. To bring about a new age of peace and exploration. A new Golden Age of mankind.
The Support Groups had done wonders for Aaru, Duat, and Tartarus, and all three worlds were now protectorates of the Alliance. A few Goa’uld had tested the Alliance’s resolve for warfare and had come away much wiser from the battle. Q had sent the Federation forces home along with those from the Interstellar Alliance, to their respective universes, but Sheridan and Delenn had returned almost immediately for treaty negotiations. Both Alliances were of a kind, as it were, though in different universes. One could no longer come to the aid of the other, at least militarily, but intellectual trade could still be accomplished via the mirror. The strike teams under General Sheridan had performed well enough so that they were now a permanent part of the Alliance military, with new units being actively recruited.
With so much metal now in the hands of the Alliance shipyards, from all the lifeless hulks of Cylon ships, a new construction spree went on unabated for several months. The immediate effect was the replacement of all fighters lost in the attack on Earth, along with new ships for the fleet. The secondary effect was a severe glut on the world markets as billions of tons of steel and aluminum and other metals suddenly entered the market. Those companies that weren’t prepared for the deluge, failed. Those that were, those that had listened to their governments before the war, they succeeded.
General George Hammond of the SGC was promoted, again, and urged to take on the post of Homeworld Security, by President Ryan. Colonel Jack O’Neill was promoted to Brigadier General and given command of the SGC. His team second, Major Samantha Carter, was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, and given command of SG-1, which once again became a four man unit with Teal’c, Captain Pierson, and Dr. Jackson.
An expedition was put together to the Ancient city of Atlantis, now discovered to be in the Pegasus Galaxy. The President, with General Hammond’s blessing, appointed Dr. Elizabeth Weir to head the expedition. A small military contingent would be sent along, just in case. It would be followed up by a space going mission, that would arrive in Pegasus, at the co-ordinates of Atlantis, within six months. It would be based around one of three Explorer-class vessels that would seed the route with ship type jump gates for further exploration. A second Explorer-class vessel, with an escort of two Battlestars and one full battle group, would head for the area of space where the Colonial Twelve Worlds were located, to reclaim them now that the Cylon threat had ended.
It was about this time that Sheridan and Lehayne found themselves in England, at a very nice manor home, that the Watcher’s Council had taken as their own many centuries ago. Sheridan was there to meet her ‘family’.
“Relax, Boss, they’ll love ya.”
“Uh huh. I’ve heard that one before. Usually right before the groom gets put on a spit and roasted.”
“Not gonna happen. Not on my watch. Didn’t I say I’d watch your back?”
“Hell, I thought you said ‘wash’ my back!”
“That too. Maybe later.”
It turned out that they were expected. But where the people of the manor home had expected the rough and tumble Faith, Vampire Slayer, what they got was Lieutenant Faith Lehayne, well decorated member of Sheridan’s Rangers. It was the uniform that they didn’t expect. The swagger, the strut, all that was the same, but now it came from a different reason. Faith Lehayne was a tried and true member of Sheridan’s Rangers, battle tested on three different worlds and in space. Between the two of them, in a small Peregrine fighter during the battle for Earth, they had killed thirty six enemy vessels and dozens of enemy fighters, before they had taken too much battle damage to continue and had been forced into an emergency landing on Luna. They had been pulled from the wreckage of their fighter and taken to the infirmary for a check-up. Sheridan’s Immortal healing ability, and Lehayne’s Slayer healing factor had already taken care of the worst of the damage. By the time a medical orderly came in a few hours later with the news of the victory, both were very much naked and in the midst of some very loud sex.
“Faith. Never thought I would see the day, you in uniform and all.”
“Giles. People change. If it hadn’t been for the Alliance, I’d still be rotting away in a prison cell. They gave me a second chance.”
“Your eyes are different. The person I knew then, when you went to prison, is not the same person standing before me now.”
“War does that to a person, or so I’m told.”
“War? I see the pretty baubles on your chest. What are they for?”
“Bravery. Courage. Duty. Saving the life of one’s commanding officer.”
“I see. And this gentleman with you, he is not military police then?”
“I beg your pardon! An MP I ain’t. General Jake Sheridan, at your service.”
“A General too. My, my, Faith. You have come up in the world. Well, I expect you’ll be wanting to see Buffy. She is out in the back with the new trainees.”
“I’ll find her.”
“So, ah, Giles was it?”
“Doctor Rupert Giles. General Sheridan, yes?”
“Yes. Ya know, you were being kinda hard on her. She’s not the same person she was when she joined the Alliance.”
“Yes, ‘war does that to a person’. Tell me, General Sheridan, about the war?”
“Warfare is not for the faint of heart. I could tell you stories, sir, and you could live vicariously through them, but it wouldn’t be the same. But Faith tells me you are what is termed, a ‘watcher’. Is this correct?”
“What do you know of this?”
“Only what she told me of the Slayer and the fight against evil. I’m not here to judge you, sir, or your organization. What I want to know is, what do you know of the Immortals and their Watchers?”
“We have been aware of Immortals for less than a century. One of our members was also a member of their organization. A Watcher, that is.”
Behind the house
“Faith. Wow. You in a uniform. I’d never have guessed you’d clean up so good.”
“Yeah, well, getting a second chance in life does wonders.”
“So, have you met any of those Immortals on Luna?”
“Yep. I have one as a commanding officer, and one as a lover.”
“A lover. Really?”
“Are Immortals better than mortal men?”
“In my opinion? Hell yeah! But I’m a little biased at the moment.”
“So, did you bring him down to meet us?”
“Yeah. We’re getting kinda close and the subject of marriage has come up once or twice.”
“Did you just say the ‘M’ word?”
“Strange isn’t it? But we’re pretty serious, and he really rocks my world. Anyways, I thought I’d come back here for a bit. He and I, we’re getting shipped out for awhile. Our unit has been attached to a deep space recon mission. We ship out on the twenty-fifth.”
“That’s in a week! How long will you be gone?”
“Six months. Maybe twice that. Depends on what we find out in space.”
“Well, let’s go meet him. I’m curious to know what kinda man could win your heart.”
Office of the President
Things had gone quickly after Anubis had surrendered. All of the worlds in his empire were contacted by the Tok’ra and all were now protectorates under the Alliance. Sure enough, after Anubis had been defeated, the temporary alliance with the Goa’uld Hegemony had fallen apart, and the other system lords had gone back to squabbling over their domains. All but Lord Yu, who had agreed to a more formal treaty with the Alliance and who even now was encouraging his ‘captive’ populations to begin learning all that was necessary to become productive members of the Alliance. For the moment, Lord Yu’s domain became a protectorate under the banner of the Alliance. Strange times were ahead for all. This was but one of them.
So much damage in the battle. So many lives lost. Ships had been rebuilt, but there would never be another Prometheus. That ship had been a test bed, a prototype for all the ships that had followed. Prometheus was assured a place in history, as the first interstellar craft of truly human origins. Maybe Prometheus-A would live up to its namesake. The incessant buzzing of his pager made him look up from his paperwork. A glance at the small screen told him all he needed to know. Code 7-R.
“I know Doc, I know you’re gonna get unstable, but hell, I can’t begin to explain what we need, and they helped us once before so maybe they will again.”
“Ok, Kawalsky. I know why I’m here, but I just don’t know how long I’m gonna have this time. I’ve been here before. I don’t know if the effect is cumulative or not.”
“Ya know Doc, this don’t look like the SGC to me. Or that Area-51 we went to the last time.”
“You are correct, Colonel. This is not the SGC. Doctor Carter and company, I presume. Here, take this. Wear it always while you are here. It will stabilize your presence in this universe. A little toy that we picked up from the Ancients.”
“Who are you?”
“That’s rather complicated folks. You’ve been here before, and that was a few years ago. At that time, the SGC helped you to contact the Asgard, and you became a part of the Protected Planets Treaty.”
“That’s correct. Still doesn’t tell me who you are.”
“As I said, it’s rather complicated. My name is Marco Ramos. I was formerly a Major in the US Air Force. Now I serve as President of the Immortal Council. And you guessed correctly, this isn’t the SGC. Would you believe you are on a base on the Moon?”
“Oh boy. I think I need a drink.”
“Let’s go into my office. You can have your drink while I contact the SGC.”
“After you, Mr. President.”
“This is all rather strange. When last we saw you, our two worlds were on pretty much the same technological level. What changed?”
“I guess we had to change. The Goa’uld were becoming too much of a threat. Ra, Hathor, Heru’ur, Apophis, Anubis.”
“Haven’t met the last one yet.”
“Oh, he’s a hell of a Goa’uld, believe me. We just got done defeating him. He came to Earth with an armada. Eight hundred ships.”
“Holy cow! And you defeated him?”
“Yep. But I think our major turning point as far as parallel development goes, was the Ancient. Or meeting him, that is.”
“Yeah. First the Ancient, then the discovery of Immortals, then the meeting with the Colonials, then the birth of the Alliance. Followed shortly thereafter by some dimensional journeys during which we brought back a whole lot of technology.”
“You’ve been busy.”
“Jack. Marius here. Some friends of yours came through the mirror. Doctor Samantha Carter and Colonel Charles Kawalsky.”
“Really. Have they given a reason yet?”
“Nope. I’m going to put this on the screen. You can ask them yourself.”
“Actually, it’s General O’Neill, now Charlie.”
“Well, looks like life has been good to you then.”
“Ya save the world a few times, and the Brass can be thankful.”
“I hope you have better Brass than us.”
“Better. We have a President with a clue.”
“You mean this guy here?”
“Nah. Marco is President of Luna. I’m talking about Jack Ryan.”
“Never heard of him. We have a guy named Kinsey. A real horse’s ass.”
“Yeah, I know the rat fink. May he rest in pieces.”
“He’s dead here?”
“Uhm, killed in prison, actually.”
“I can’t imagine it happening to a better person.”
“So, Kawalsky. Tell me why you’re back.”
“You helped us once before, to contact the Asgard. And they helped us, put us on the Protected Planets Treaty. But that was after Apophis attacked Earth. A lot of cities got bombarded from orbit. The US lost two carrier strike groups. Kinsey became President because the former President, Henry Hayes, and his VP Elizabeth Weir got killed when Apophis attacked. Kinsey was Energy Secretary. Now he’s President.”
“Nope. We got rid of him here. And we probably would have had Hayes as President had not Roger Durling named a VP just before his death. Hayes was the front runner before the attack.”
“Apophis attacked here also?”
“He did, but that’s not the attack I meant. While we were fighting in deep space, war broke out on Earth. Japan attacked the US. Took our holdings in the Pacific, and threatened to launch a nuclear strike against us. Needless to say, Japan lost the war. But an airline pilot, crazed by the loss of his brother and his son during the war, took his 747, and crashed it into the Capitol building during a joint session. Ironically, it was the session where Jack Ryan was to have been sworn in as VP.”
“So, Hayes was killed here?”
“He was at the joint session. A VIP. He died with the rest. But we’ve been lucky I guess. Jack Ryan is a man who knows what’s good for the country, what’s good for the people.”
“Sounds a hell of a lot better than Kinsey.”
“Trust me on this. He is much better than Kinsey. So, back to why you’re here?”
“Well, like I said, you helped us out before. We wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for your help. We lost a lot of good people, but we’ve managed to find others. We figured out the Quantum Mirror and how to control it. We went to one reality where Earth had been bombarded from orbit. There were three survivors in the base, waiting to die. Since they were dead in our reality, we offered them sanctuary. We now have a Dr. Jackson, who’s probably just as much a geek as the one you have here. And we have a Jack O’Neill again. In the reality where we found Jack and Daniel, we found a Jaffa. A First Prime. Calls himself Bra’tac.”
“You’ve been busy. Glad to see that some good has come from the mirror.”
“It’s one of the ways in which we explore. Trying to learn what other realities did, and how different some of them are from ours. This reality here is only a few degrees off on the controller from ours. It is the closest in terms of events, or at least it was.”
“Sir, sorry to disturb you, but you asked to be notified when the Vespucci came out of space dock.”
“I did. Thanks.”
“Well, like I told you two, you are on Luna. Home of the Immortal Nation, and present home of Alliance headquarters. We have a major ship building facility here; the low gravity, you see. I asked to be notified when the first Explorer-class ship came out of space dock. Jack, I think you’re gonna like this one.
“Introducing the Amerigo Vespucci, the first Explorer-class vessel. She’s sixty-one hundred meters in length, and will be home to about three hundred and fifty crew, along with two squadrons of Thunderbolt fighters, and a dozen or so Danube-I scout ships. As soon as she has taken on supplies, she’ll be paired with elements from Support Group Bravo, and Battle Group Five for the journey to Pegasus. Along the way, she’ll periodically drop out of hyperspace to setup Jump Gates so we can begin to explore in earnest.”
“She’s big, Marius.”
“Well, since she’s also designed to set up Jump gates, she has to carry the darn things. In sections, mind you. But since Atlantis has been identified as an oceanic world, the Vespucci will also be carrying some water borne assets for the mission, along with an assortment of defense hardware.”
“Ya know Doc, I think coming back here was a good thing. Obviously, they’ve advanced a whole heck of a lot since we were last here.”
“I think you’re right, Colonel. So, ah, General O’Neill? Whom do we speak to about technology trade?”
“You could start with Marius there. If ya need to, I’ll give you an intro to President Ryan, but Marius can give you the intros to the Colonial government just as easily as I can.”
“Another long story. It makes for interesting lunch conversation. Jack? I’ll get back to you.”
“Ya. I got way too much paperwork to do. And I gotta keep Daniel on Earth. He desperately wants to go to Atlantis.”
“Oh yeah, we gotta keep him here. I’ll do what I can on my end. Later, Jack.”
“So, tell me of your world? What’s it like in the aftermath of the attacks?”
“Kinsey laid full blame on that attack by Apophis on the SGA. Then he took the program public. We responded by forming a corporation, privately held of course, and we explore and obtain patents on what we find. The company is very rich at the moment, and we’re using some of our products to help rebuild all that’s been lost. The Goa’uld destroyed several dozen cities from orbit. Some of those cities had nuclear power plants nearby and those were destroyed. There’s a fair amount of radioactive particulate matter in the atmosphere of our world.”
“I think we can help with that. So, you’re here to negotiate?”
“Yes. The mandate of our company is to explore the universe, through the mirror and through the Gate, trading for those items we think will be of use in our world.”
“But no space fairing tech, yet?”
“Oddly enough, we haven’t come across any cultures that have made it into space. We’ve found a few that are close to us technologically, but they are all behind us. We have Shuttles, and we have some stolen Goa’uld cargo ships, but that’s it.”
“I see. Give me an example of something you’ve found through your travels?”
“We went to one world through the mirror. Everything had been destroyed. We’re guessing, though we were unable to determine with any certainty, that this particular world was several decades ahead of us chronologically speaking. Perhaps as much as a century. But the entire planet was silent. No radio transmissions. Nothing. The mirror put us in a secure underground facility, and we sent a probe to the surface. It ranged out close to a thousand kilometers, but it saw no movement. Detailed examinations of the probe’s recordings showed no heat, no life, not a damn thing.”
“But obviously you found something there?”
“Oh yeah. The facility we were in was their equivalent of the SGA. We found a non-functional gate. We sent a research team to that world, through the mirror. It took them less than a week to find the archives in that facility. What we brought back, well, it changed the way we do things at the SGA. We haven’t even patented this product. We decided to keep it all to ourselves for the moment. This is what it is.”
“Looks like a six-volt lantern battery.”
“It does, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s a small fusion-powered battery. There’s enough juice in there to run the Gate for a week.”
“A week? But it’s no bigger than a lantern battery!”
“Did I mention that the civilization we found was decades ahead of us?”
“Yeah, I think you did say that. Ok, it’s official, I’m interested. What are you looking for?”
“What kind of ships do you have?”
“Small, medium, large, and friggin’ huge.”
“You’re a funny man.”
“Seriously though, pretty much anything you might want from a light scout to a dreadnought. Included in there are the fighters and shuttle craft.”
“So, recommend something?”
“What are you manufacturing capabilities?”
“Well, we don’t have any space docks.”
“So, something small that can initially be built on Earth?”
“At least until we can build facilities in orbit, but yes.”
Marius pressed a few buttons on his desktop keyboard and a holographic projector sprang to life. As he selected ships, small representations of them appeared in the projector, allowing the visitors to view the vessel from all angles.
“Hmm. Maybe an Olympus-class corvette? Standard armament includes laser pulse cannons, particle beams, heavy rail guns, and missile launchers. Four each on the lasers and launchers, two each on the particle beams and rail guns. Just over four hundred meters in length.
“Or maybe a Whitestar-class frigate? Two pulsed neutron cannons, four pulsed fusion cannons, and one heavy quantum disruptor, along with room for four fighters at just under five hundred meters.
“Of course, if you want something even smaller, we also have the Danube-class of heavy scouts at just under thirty meters, with room for up to twelve commandoes including flight team of one or two. Twin pulse phase cannons, anti-fighter phase cannon strips, and a torpedo launcher.”
““I think those will cover our needs fairly well. Ideally, we’d like a carrier vessel, so we could carry a lot of fighters into battle against the Goa’uld, but I guess we can’t have everything.”
“Well, we do have a vessel we call the Jeep-class, which holds one squadron of fighters. For this vessel, we recommend using the Aurora class Starfury as it fits the design the best. The access hatch for the fighter mates up to one of eighteen access hatches on the vessel. From a front view, the vessel could be seen as triangular, with access hatches and fighters docked at forty-five, one-thirty-five, and two-seventy. There are a number of rail gun flak turrets, and the vessel has extra storage capacity at the rear for missile reloads, and Maintenance drones. The living conditions aboard the vessel are rather spare however.”
“How big of a vessel is it? Does it have any offensive weapons, or purely defensive?”
“It measures in at just shy of three hundred meters in length. The weapons aboard are primarily defensive in nature, but it can be fitted with two laser cannons, which are fairly decent against non-shielded and lightly armored vessels, but next to worthless against anything with a shield. If the shielded vessel never fires back, I suppose you could eventually wear down the shields, but going into battle with only a couple of light laser cannons is not my idea of a good time. We could supplement that and add in a single torpedo launcher under the nose area, but then you have to make the vessel a bit longer to compensate.”
“It’s one thing for you to show us how to build the vessels, and quite another to understand the science behind those vessels. I could stay here for years and still not know what I need to know.”
“Ok. How about this? How about we send a full technical team to your side, with all the specs and a few resources to get you started?”
“How many people are we talking about here?”
“Call it eighteen to twenty, and that includes a small defense team for the tech team. All my team would need would be an enclosed hangar to build the first vessel in, the materials to build said vessel, and plenty of security outside the hangar. The last thing you’d want is another nation finding out you’re building an armed space-going vessel.”
“Ok, so your team shows us how to build the craft. Then what?”
“Then we do for you, what we did. We take that first vessel and make a quick trip into the system. Build a small space dock facility in the asteroid field. Use the raw materiel in the field to build more ships. The problem is getting the first one built. Thereafter, it’s a cakewalk for your world.”
“Sounds like we have a deal.”
“Excellent! You will join me for dinner of course, and we’ll make the final arrangements then.”
Private Diary Entry
Just when I thought things couldn’t get any stranger in my life, in walks the alternate Carter and alternate Kawalsky. It seems they use their mirror almost as much as they use their Stargate, which is a whole order of magnitude more than we do. But I guess they’d have to, considering Apophis actually attacked their Earth and laid ruin to a good chunk of it.
The technical team departed yesterday. Part of the exchange program we worked out with that reality. They’re all wearing the dimensional stabilizers, just in case. My instructions to the team were to set up as a privately financed corporation on their Earth, in much the same way that their SGC is run. I find it amazing that a program like the Stargate could be run as a for-profit corporation, but it seems to work for them. Xerxes volunteered to lead the defense team that went there. The team will stay there for one standard year, then return. By then, they should have the industrial base to manufacture pretty much any space craft.
The Explorer vessel Vespucci left yesterday, headed for Pegasus and Atlantis with a full battle and support group arrayed around it. There’s been no word from Atlantis, but it might be that they don’t have the energy reserves to contact us, rather than something more nefarious. At least I hope so.
A second Explorer, the Coronado, will be teamed up with a Colonial taskforce to return to the Colonial worlds, and try to salvage what’s left. Their first mission, however, is the return trip and establishment of a military outpost in Colonial space to serve as a staging point for exploration into the Cylon controlled areas.
A third vessel, the Cordoba, will set out for deep space, to map the systems in close proximity to ours, and to search for habitable planets.
All in all, I believe this is a Hell of a time to be alive.”
Private Diary Entry
Got my orders today. I’m shipping out on the newest vessel to join the fleet. They’re calling it the Cordoba. They’re sending eight full Ranger teams on her. Each team will be working with a dedicated Saber-class ship.
I had a lot of fun visiting England and Faith’s ‘family’ there. I can’t believe it’s been sixty-odd years since I’d been in England. Took a side trip to Scotland while I was there to introduce Faith to Connor. He seemed to like her and approve of her. She got her Captain’s bars, and has taken over command of a Ranger unit. I have overall command of the Ranger force, and she has command of one of the teams. At least we don’t have those Draconian relationship rules like the US military. I’m thinking about asking her to marry me. Maybe when we get back from the mission. I think it’s an awesome time to be alive.”
Private Diary Entry
I’m glad I was able to talk Mom into moving up here. It’s a lot easier visiting with her now. She has a nice little apartment on the opposite side of the circle from me, but it’s a pretty fair sized one at that. A lot bigger than what Mulder and I each had on Earth. The Asgard finally came through in their promise to Mulder. It seems that the rogue Asgard elements used the humans they abducted for experimentation and cloning, trying to create a Human-Asgard hybrid. Apparently, the Asgard were once a lot more like us Humans, centuries ago. Their idea might have been noble, trying to reverse the damage done by generations of cloning, but they went about it the wrong way. In a lot of ways, they were no better than the Goa’uld.
Their experiments failed though. The few living Samantha clones that were on that colony world all had the mental capabilities of children, yet they were physically fully grown women. I find it a sad case. Mulder is disappointed, but at least he has closure now.”
Private Diary Entry
“I thought I had missed the Gathering, when it turns out instead, that my fellow Immortals had formed a new nation. For the moment, my classes on modern military tactics are proceeding apace. I’ve also had a Watcher assigned to me who is busily interviewing me and recording my history. Apparently, they were unaware of my existence. I have a few more months of learning to do, but I’ve already been assured of a command level position with the Alliance. It seems the Alliance wants to utilize the talents of we Immortals. Something about having the benefit of long life and experience. These are interesting times B. Just dropping a quick note to let you know I’m shipping out tomorrow. Deep space recon mission. Got a promotion to Captain, and command of a Ranger unit. He hasn’t asked me yet, but I have a feeling he will soon. But not to worry, I wouldn’t dream of getting married without you as my maid of honor. I’ll see you when I get back. F.
Private Diary Entry
It is indeed a wonderful time to be alive! Not only have I know seen space firsthand, but I’m actually writing this while in a parallel dimension! The ground work has been done. Tomorrow marks the first operational day of Xerxes Industries. The technical staff tell me the native scientists are taking the new information in like a sponge. I hope everything goes well. On a different note, time seems to move a little quicker here. I’m not sure of the reason. Not even the scientists on my staff can tell me the reason. But suffice to say, that every second that passes at home, five seconds pass here. Must be a quirk of this quantum reality. For the moment, I’m glad I decided to get a business degree the last time I went to a university. I’m sure it will come in handy here.
Private Diary Entry
I still can’t believe I’m living on the Moon! But the Immortals and the Alliance are being really good me and my wife. I have been given command of a bomber squadron assigned to the Cordoba. Terry will be joining me as part of the science staff on the ship. We ship out tomorrow, but I think it will be a mostly uneventful mission. The war is over, and the Goa’uld have been defeated. A lot of good people died, but I think for the most part, Earth learned one Hell of a valuable lesson.
For the longest time, we squabbled amongst ourselves, never fully realizing the implications of the bigger universal picture. Now that we’ve had that image thrown in our faces, I think Earth will learn from it. I certainly have.
Private Diary Entry
President Ramos is as good as his word. The telepaths that have managed to come to this place have been welcomed with open arms. A great many of us have opted to remain on Luna, to work with them as equals. As long as Byron is here on Luna, I will remain as well. I, for one, believe that there are a lot of pilots out there who owe their lives to his teachings. A few of us have even gone to work for Alliance Intelligence! On my Earth, Psi Corps is going mad, trying to figure out where we’ve gone to. I think it’s a fitting end.”
Private Diary Entry
Cmdr. Annika Hansen
Admiral Janeway informed me recently that she had traveled to the universe where Marco Ramos and the Halsey were from. That she and Picard and several others took part in a battle to defend Earth from an all-out attack by the creature called Anubis. And she said that they were successful. I’m glad that they were. There are a lot of former Drones who are very interested in going there. I think that I would like to see this place for myself. Janeway and Picard call them primitives, but I think, that they are far more advanced psychologically than the humans of the Federation. Perhaps a little conflict is a good thing for a species. Certainly the Federation is seemingly stagnating. I think that I will go there, and soon.
Private Diary Entry
These Humans of this place, they are a most unique species. We treated the Humans of the Earth Alliance as little better than Centauri children, but these here of this Alliance, they are different. If I didn’t know better, I’d say they were something of a cross between the Centauri and the Minbari. They are at a stage of joining the universe at large, and they have a noble quality about them. They know when to ask for help. I think that, though I will miss my Uncle Londo, that I am much better off here. Our colony is established, and it seems to be flourishing. Already our birth to death ratio is well above ten to one. In a few decades, we will begin exporting our male citizens as well trained star ship personnel. I see great things ahead for our colony. I think that my Uncle would approve.
Alliance Council Chambers
“Narim. Good to see you again! All is well on Tollana?”
“All is well, Marius. I must ask you something. Before you left on the Halsey, you claimed you were hok’tar. That you had the power to change the universe. Do you still believe this to be true?”
“Well, I don’t know about changing the universe. But as for the powers granted to me by Tok’Ra, hell, I don’t want those powers. Too much power can create a monster. I’m not mature enough to handle all of that responsibly.”
“That, is the correct answer. You have done well, Marius.”