Author Topic: Chapter 18  (Read 5203 times)

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Offline Daen

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Chapter 18
« on: July 29, 2022, 04:30:58 AM »
There was an air of palpable tension running through the group, as they gathered outside the 'gate a few hours later. Nearly fifty combat-rated Survivors were prepping for the mission, checking weapons and gear, talking in low tones. Some seemed nervous, others eager. Only the Earthlings and a few of the SR team leaders kept their expressions placid. Given the importance of the mission, the Colonel had authorized using up the last of their ammunition, and each one had a zat gun at their waist in case they did. Several had heavier ordnance in the form of a mortar or TOW launcher, which Ahardt had carefully trained them in using. In fact, the only people staying behind were one of the Deuca assistants, a trio of injured Survivors, and the two 'gate guards.

Hargrove had seen large-scale operations before, on Earth, but even so it was an impressive sight. He felt a little trepidation himself. If this mission failed, it could mean the end of everything they'd worked for. If it succeeded… well, the Colonel had estimated a population of about four thousand human slaves on Hovak.

The Colonel caught his eye, and nodded. It was time.

Hargrove stepped up to the DHD and began dialing Palchan. On his instructions, someone had been doing the same every half hour for the past eight hours, just to reduce any suspicion an incoming wormhole would cause on the other end. Hopefully, it would give them another needed edge. He pressed the central button and it lit up, opening the 'gate.

Steadily, almost casually, Desousa walked up to the event horizon of the wormhole and pulled out a grenade. He pulled the pin, gave it five seconds, and hurled it through the 'gate. It would take a few seconds for it to reach the other side, but the grenade itself was just data until it did. Also, the explosion wouldn't risk them here, as matter could only travel one way through a wormhole.

Everyone nearby looked at Blake, who was holding the laptop. After a few seconds he gave a thumbs-up, and Hargrove headed through with his teams.

Smoke was still clearing when he arrived, and he could see the mostly-shredded bodies of two Jaffa who'd been apparently standing right next to the 'gate. One of Palchan's moons was rising, and there was plenty of starlight, so he didn't bother with his flashlight as he hurried to do his job. The DHD was probably all right, being Ancient technology, but he checked it anyway as his people continued to arrive. He also checked the MALP's camera, which had been hidden weeks ago in a nearby bush and just used by Blake to see when to come through. It appeared to be intact, battery pack and all, so he covered all of it but the lens with leaves again. Argyros stepped through, and pulled up his wrist scanner. When he nodded, Hargrove reached for his radio. "We're in the green here, sir."

"Understood." There was a pause, and then the Colonel's voice continued. "Good luck."

"To us all, sir." He responded, as the last of his team stepped through and the 'gate shut off. At this moment, the Colonel would be dialing Hovak.

-.-

It took them nearly twenty minutes, moving through thick forest in the failing light, to reach the city's wall. A small door was set into the worked stone, probably used for maintenance work. Hargrove peered up at the wall. If their spy was on schedule, the door should be unlocked from the inside any moment now…

"Kree! Kel shak!" A voice called from above. It was followed by the distinctive sound of a staff weapon opening to fire.

Hargrove fought the impulse to freeze. Instead, he stood casually. "Kel shal ka na!" He responded, crossing his fingers. His Goa'uld wasn't great, but the only person here better at speaking their language was Haley, and none of their recons had ever seen any female Jaffa on any critical duties, even something as simple as patrolling. In the darkness, they might be mistaken for a Jaffa patrol. He could barely see the outline of the Jaffa at the top of the wall.

"Hagga sha-" the voice cut off abruptly with a gurgling noise. A few seconds later, a solid thump accompanied the Jaffa's body hitting the ground next to them. A crude-looking dagger protruded from the side of his neck.

Thinking quickly, Hargrove dragged the body next to wall, and covered it with leaves. There was a faint jingle of keys behind the door, and suddenly they could see a short figure silhouetted by the torchlight beyond.

"Suna!" Cayo exclaimed, mercifully quietly, as he moved towards her and gathered her up in a bear hug. He lifted her off the ground, turning slightly to glare at Hargrove. "I knew you were the one he'd sent here!"

Ignoring him, Hargrove moved towards the door. Pretending to check inside, he surreptitiously glanced at her neck from different angles. Good, no entry marks. He felt a little guilty checking, but if a Goa'uld had infested her, this would be the perfect opportunity to infiltrate them. Now that he could see her, though, she looked a little pale.

Cayo saw it too. He set her down. "Are you all right? Were you hurt?"

"I'm fine." She smiled a little shakily. "It's just, I… I've never…" she glanced at the pile of leaves covering the Jaffa.

"We understand." Hargrove finished for her. "You did well."

"I am sorry I couldn't tell you they had changed the patrol times for the wall." She apologized. "By the time I found out, the guard was too close for me to use the radio. I didn't know what to do, so I hid and waited for him to see you, and then… I…"

"And then you saved our asses, is what you did." Desousa clapped her on the shoulder, and she looked relieved as Haley gave her a hug, too. Hargrove was relieved as well. The sound of a single staff blast could have derailed the entire mission. Not to mention the fact that the staff had been pointed at him.

"You should have more than an hour before the next watch arrives at the 'gate." She added, still pale but looking determined to not throw up or anything. "But the patrol change happened throughout the whole city. Where do you need to go?"

"The pyramid." Cayo responded immediately.

"Then we need to leave right now. The patrols will see us otherwise."

Hargrove signaled the group to move ahead, and then stepped to the side, waiting for Cayo and his team. "We've got a royal appointment to keep, Cayo. Come on."

Cayo hugged her again, briefly. "I'll see you soon."

"You'd better." She threatened, only partially in jest as far as Hargrove could tell, before following Desousa's group into the city.

-.-

As they stepped into the shade of the abandoned mine tunnel, Tony could hear exhalations of relief from Jahu's team. He felt it himself; it was well over a hundred degrees outside. The lightly forested area surrounding the mountain provided good shade and cover on their approach, but did little to help them endure the heat of the twin suns above. During their approach to the side of the mining facility, they'd seen a few rooms built into the side of one of the slopes. Probably guard posts, Tony had decided, but they appeared abandoned. Just above them had been a much larger room, possibly the foreman's office, or whatever the Goa'uld equivalent would be.

"You're sure this shaft is never in use?" He questioned their informant, a Byrsa who'd been quietly gathering intel on this planet for the past few weeks.

Vanago nodded emphatically. "Yes, sir. It connects to the main tunnels, but only in one location, and we are the only ones to come here recently." He pointed at their tracks in the dust on the ground.

"Good. Are we still ok, Blake?"

"Yup, the only radiation I'm picking up is the UV outside." He held up a makeshift scanner he and the Pyrta had been able to rig together from parts in the lab. While the Pyrta had given it his approval, it was much less powerful than his own wrist scanner, and looked like it belonged at a SETI conference or something. "I am getting faint energy readings from inside, though." Tony had insisted that everyone on this mission be armed, and Blake had agreed to wear a 9 mil handgun at his waist, but he didn't look happy about it.

Tony glanced over Blake's shoulder. Based on the heading, the readings were deep inside the mining complex. After a moment's consideration, he decided to investigate. "All right. Blake and I will take SR-5 inside and check it out. Vanago, you show the rest to the main mine entrance and get in position to take it. Jahu will be in charge until we meet up again." Tony caught sight of the Deuca Healer in the back. "Tolos, right?"

The pale, freckled young man stepped forward and bowed. Tony gave a slight smile. As usual, the only vocal Deuca was the Pyrta. "You go with Jahu and the others." Tolos nodded in response.

Jahu cut in, worried. "Sir, are you sure that's wise? That passage may be guarded, and I'm not sure-"

"That energy reading could just be a glitch, but it might be some kind of weapon, too." Tony cut him off. "Or a secondary transmitter, for all we know. We can't risk any signals getting offplanet." He clapped Jahu on the shoulder. "You'll do fine, I know it. We'll see you soon."

Jahu nodded, looking only a little reassured, and led the rest of them after Vanago.

-.-

Sure enough, as Vanago had said, they encountered no one on their way down towards the energy signature. There was a thin layer of dust that lay undisturbed on the tunnel floors, and the air was dead still. A few tunnels had branched off here and there, but Blake had been able to direct the group with near-certainty. Abruptly, the tunnel walls stopped being hewn rock and became straight, gold-colored walls.

Tony gave it a sweep with the flashlight attached to his P90. While dusty, the walls, floor and ceiling could have been taken straight from any modern Goa'uld building. He gave a questioning look at Blake, as he gestured down the corridor, and Blake nodded grimly. They followed the corridor for only a moment before it widened into a room with two more openings on either end, and a door on the far wall. They moved in, and Zo'hait ordered the rest of SR-5 to spread out and check the other corridors. It only took a few moments for them to respond that they became cut-stone passages, just like the first one.

Pointing at the control panel next to the door, Tony looked at Blake. "Do you know how to open this thing?"

Lowering his makeshift scanner, Blake stepped up to the panel. Six square buttons were inlaid on it. "Probably. Most Goa'uld doors open just by pressing a single five-key combination." At Tony's nod, he entered the combination, and took a step back. The rest of SR-5 stayed at the corridor entrances, watching with raised guns.

Nothing happened.

Looking puzzled, Blake entered the combination again, before shrugging. "Maybe we're waiting for their version of an elevator."

Tony put his ear to the wall. He could hear a faint whirring noise, but it led off to the right. As he followed it, he could hear the hiss of a door opening, but it wasn't the one they'd thought. About ten feet away, a section of the wall had slid open and a Jaffa stepped out, staff aimed and ready to fire.

Time seemed to slow as Tony acted. He knew he'd never get his gun in line in time, but he had to try. As he moved away from the wall, trying to get out of the Jaffa's line of fire, a burst of energy burned past him, heating the air to blistering levels. At the same time, a pair of shots rang out from behind him, hitting the Jaffa's shoulder armor and head, in quick succession. From the way he fell, Tony could tell he'd died instantly.

Stupid, stupid! Tony berated himself as he moved towards the new door to check for other Jaffa. Fake a door on a wall, and have the handle set off an alarm! It was an old trick on Earth, but he hadn't been expecting it here. Thankfully, he'd had someone covering him. The shots could only have come from Blake. Over his shoulder, he called out, "Thanks, Blake! And nice shooting."

His only answer was a soft thump on the ground behind him.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2022, 05:09:59 AM by Daen »