Author Topic: Part 2: Rising, Chapter 6  (Read 6440 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Daen

  • Administrator
  • We Don't Care
  • *****
  • Posts: 525
  • Karma: +1/-0
Part 2: Rising, Chapter 6
« on: July 29, 2022, 04:31:59 AM »
Tony turned to the rest of the group as the drizzle continued. "All right, first thing we need is a new planet." He looked at the Matthews. "I want the two of you to work with Desousa, and go over our list of addresses. We need an uninhabited planet with a stable environment. It wouldn't hurt if there was edible plant life and fresh water near the 'gate, either. As for you two," he faced Cayo and Suna, "I need to know more. You said you wanted to fight the Goa'uld with us, and you demonstrated how you can be sneaky and effective, I'm guessing to show us you're worth it. You know what you're getting into here, though, right?"

They glanced at each other, and Cayo responded, slowly at first. "Fourteen years ago, our mother was taken by the Jaffa, no doubt chosen as a host. When our father objected, he was shot in the head, in front of us. You've seen how staff weapons work. There were… parts of his head found ten feet away from his body." Suna closed her eyes and turned away, but Cayo continued, his voice gaining intensity. "At the time, this was the way our world worked. There was no fighting them, no questioning their judgement. The Zau saw what happened, and unanimously decided that he had earned his fate. After all, who opposed the gods, even in the slightest way?

"Then, years later, people from Earth arrived on Zau. Their first reaction to the Jaffa wasn't like anything we had seen before. Subservience was the last thing your people thought about. Suna and I both jumped at the chance your people gave us: to fight back. And we weren't alone, either. Now, Zau is free, and most people there are happier than they have ever remembered being, ever heard of being. But not the two of us. We will never return to the lives we knew; they are gone forever. The Goa'uld took them away from us, and we wish to respond in kind."

Tony covered his surprise. He'd never heard Cayo speak more than a few words at once, before now. "You know about the other planets out there? That the Goa'uld are everywhere?"

They both nodded.

"Well, you'll get your chance to fight them, I'm sure, but you need to understand something. Our first priority is to find a way home. I know we could use your help until that happens, and probably after, too."

Hargrove stepped in. "Actually, sir, I've been thinking about that. If I may?"

Tony nodded at him. "Go ahead, Major."

"I think the answer to all of this is Goa'uld technology. I think that the Goa'uld did this to us, actually. And I'm pretty sure I know which one, too."

Tony was peripherally aware of the others listening in. He considered telling them to get back to work, but couldn't deny he was curious, too. "All right, explain."

Hargrove began pacing back and forth, slowly. "The Stargate network has been in place for thousands of years, and nothing like this has ever happened before, as far as we know. It's more than a coincidence that this barrier thing hits our world, and the worlds near it first, and no one else. When you think about it, the Goa'uld have the most to gain by isolating Earth behind… whatever that is. We're part of the Protected Planets Treaty, remember. The Goa'uld can't attack Earth directly without pissing off the asgard and getting into serious trouble over it. So they do the next best thing. They put us on ice so we can't mess with them anymore!"

"And the reason the Alpha Site was hit too…"

"Was because it happened to be close to Earth, yes. Remember, when the Alpha Site was first chosen, the higher-ups were planning on colonizing space, and they wanted to start with areas near Earth, naturally. The Goa'uld who set up… whatever that is, probably thought the same."

Ahardt groaned. "Who would have thought being close to home would be a bad thing?"

Tony thought about it. It made a certain degree of sense, but… "The Goa'uld have never considered us to be a threat to them, though. Our actions have never been anything more than a minor inconvenience to them. If they had a weapon that could do this, wouldn't they use it on each other? We know the System Lords are constantly at each others' throats unless faced with something they can't handle alone."

"True, but there's one Goa'uld who would see us as a threat, because we've taken him down before. Apophis. I guess he plans on wiping out the other major players, before removing the barrier and taking out Earth."

As Tony considered that, he heard Suna's voice, trembling.

"Apophis is alive?"

Tony looked at her in surprise. As he thought about it, it made sense that she'd be afraid. The Goa'uld had visited Earth thousands of years ago, taking humans away as slaves. They'd even taken the names of the ancient human gods, forcing their new slaves to worship them. Suna's people had been under the thumb of one of those aliens, named for the Egyptian god of the night, for generations.

Hargrove snapped his fingers. "That's right, you wouldn't know that. Yeah, he's up and kicking."

The two Zau shared an unreadable glance. "Colonel Rowe said that the false god died in the skies above your world."

Ahardt winced. "Yeah, we thought that, too. Later, we discovered he'd escaped. He's actually 'died' twice more since then. He must be part cat."

Suna looked at him, confused, and Tony continued for him. "The last we heard, he took over the armies and planets of a very powerful Goa'uld named Sokar. He's a major player in the galaxy again, I guess."

"The Jaffa on Zau served him. Will he strike Zau for our defiance?"

Tony hadn't thought of that. He looked up at Desousa, who responded after a moment. "I doubt it, sir. His old territories were all divided among his rivals over a year ago, and if the System Lords didn't send someone to take over Zau, Suna's people are probably safe. Chances are the Goa'uld simply don't think there's anything important there."

"We have to take him down." Hargrove stated determinedly. "Apophis, I mean. It could be the only way to remove that barrier."

"And if you're wrong?'

"If I'm wrong, we end up freeing millions of people from his rule. Sounds like a win-win to me."

Everyone thought about that for a moment.

"Ok, so we're gonna take out the most powerful person in the galaxy." Ahardt mumbled. "You do know I was joking when I said I wanted a shot at the big boys, right?"

Hargrove gave him an amused look, and continued. "Obviously we don't start with him. He'd squash us like bugs. No, we should start with a minor Goa'uld. If we can kill one of them, we free some people, and get a shot at some of their tech." He looked over at the Matthews. "If we get our hands on some Goa'uld tech, d'you think you could work it?"

Haley Matthews looked up from the computer. "Some of it, sure. But some of their technology uses naquadah as an access key, and other kinds have mental components." At their blank stares, she continued. "I mean to use their most powerful gear, you need to have naquadah in your bloodstream, and you need to control it with your mind. I worked on an adaptor for a while back at the SGC, but we never had enough data on the interaction between the technology and the Goa'uld brain to make it work."

"Well, if we go ahead with this plan, you'll get another chance at it, certainly." Tony interjected. "Do you have an address for us, yet?"

She nodded. "PXT-621. I was part of a survey team there last year. There's plenty of edible plant and animal life, a freshwater spring half a mile from the 'gate, and a large series of canyons and gullies nearby that would make good cover if we get attacked from the air." When Tony gave her a startled look, she explained. "That was David's idea. Captain Desousa, I mean."

"Ah. Well, dial it up." He pointed to the storm clouds approaching from the planet's west. "We're outta here."

-.-

Tony considered their options as they moved the boxes and lab components through the 'gate to their new planet. A sense of despair at their true situation threatened to choke him up, but he moved past it. The Goa'uld controlled the entire galaxy, as far as he knew. What few allies his people had were either unable or unwilling to oppose the Goa'uld, and any locals they could find weren't likely to be any more useful.

Somehow, though, he found it easy to ignore the enormity of the task. God had put them in this situation for a reason, which was why Tony hadn't gone to Tollanna with the others. After all, the people from Stargate Command had been doing the impossible ever since they'd first opened the 'gate five years ago. They'd learned massive amounts through the use of the 'gate itself, they'd successfully opposed the Goa'uld more than once, and they'd done all of this with only the tiniest fraction of Earth's resources. After all, most of humanity had no idea what was really going on in Cheyenne Mountain.

They'd have to be careful, and they'd have to be smart, but he couldn't help but feel an unfamiliar sense of optimism about the whole ordeal. He wondered if any of his new 'team' felt the same.

The entire team, with the exception of Hargrove, had taken only about ten minutes to get everything moved. Hargrove had insisted on looking up 'gate addresses on the Matthews' computer, claiming he'd had an idea. As Tony finished up with the last of the gear, he passed it through the event horizon of the 'gate with Ahardt. Behind him, he saw Blake Matthews carrying a component he hadn't seen before, about the size of a football.

"What's that one, Doctor Matthews?"

"Please, call me Blake. We get enough confusion over that in the SGC." The thin man's smile could be seen in his green eyes, too. "And this, in case you haven't seen one, is a naquadah generator."

Tony whistled quietly. He'd heard of those. Using the alien mineral, along with some technology they'd learned to duplicate from one of their offworld contacts, the scientists at the SGC had been able to build a few miniature reactors capable of some pretty serious energy output. Because of the mineral's unique and dangerous explosive properties… "The SGC keeps a pretty tight grip on those," Tony mentioned casually. "How did you manage to get one?"

"Oh, it's necessary for our work on this planet. The geothermal energy is vented to the surface in forty locations over this continent, and each vent is at varying elevation, with different output levels, so each one has to be monitored. The only portable power source with enough juice to keep track of everything simultaneously was this. The hard part was balancing the-"

"Yeah, yeah, we know all that." Ahardt cut him off sarcastically. "He meant why the SGC gave you one."

"Oh." Blake looked confused and abashed at the same time. "In a nutshell, we needed the generator to check just how much energy we can tap on this planet, to see if we can eventually generate shields like the Goa'uld do."

Tony shared a glance with Ahardt.

"Yeah, that was my next guess." Ahardt said, grinning. "Come on, doc- I mean Blake. Everyone's waiting."

Blake held back. "Actually, this is just part of the whole thing. There are a few larger components back there I still have to move. If you would, Major?" He offered the generator to Ahardt, who shrugged and carried it through the ‘gate.

As Tony helped him with the last bits, he caught Blake staring at him for a second.

"What’s on your mind, Blake?"

"It’s… it’s nothing." He stuttered out briefly. "It’s just… you and your people. You’re not like most military types I’ve met."

"In what way?"

"Well, before the SGC, I was doing contract work for the military. I spent a lot of time at a base outside of Denver, and, well, your people are a lot less… foul-mouthed than they were."

Tony chuckled. "SG teams are the best of the best, Blake. Each of us was put through extensive screening and training before we even joined up. Being polite is just part of that." He patted Blake’s shoulder. "Thanks though. By the same coin, you and your wife aren’t really what I expected, either." He hefted a large bit of framework up onto his shoulder.

"Oh? What did you expect?"

Tony turned to face him, at the top of the ramp. "Well, you’re civilians. Honestly, I expected a lot more whining."

Smiling at Blake’s sudden glower, he stepped backwards through the ‘gate.

It was nearing sunset on the other end; a beautiful mesh of orange and red seemed to light up the sky. Almost as soon as Tony arrived on the stone steps leading up to the Stargate, Hargrove approached him.

"Sir, I think I found something that could be a big help to us. I need to visit P3C-481 to be sure, though. I remembered something about the planet, but I couldn't remember the address until I had a chance to look at our 'gate list. I've already got Doctor Matthews, Haley, I mean, to set up the MALP for a basic scan, but the planet's abandoned, so it shouldn't be a problem."

Tony raised his hand to stem the flow of words. "Hold on, Major. What's so important about this planet?"

"I'd rather not say until I'm sure it's there, sir." Hargrove's tone was confident, despite his words. "Permission to recon the planet? It shouldn't take more than an hour there and back."

Tony considered ordering him to explain, but decided against it. The whole team was within earshot, and he couldn't ask why without seeming overbearing, petty, or both. He sure as hell wasn't going to let him go alone, though.

Tony looked over at the others. "Doctor Matthews?" They both looked up. "Haley, I mean. You've been here before. How long before it's dark?"

"At least an hour, Colonel." She looked at the horizon. "The day-night cycle lasts a lot longer here."

Tony considered a moment longer, and then nodded at Hargrove. "If the MALP returns a positive result, we will both go to P3C…."

"481, sir. Thank you." Hargrove saluted and scurried back down the ramp.

-.-

They'd been silently hiking over the rough terrain on 481 for about twenty minutes, in the early morning, when Hargrove suddenly spoke up. "Sir, I've been thinking about our possible targets, and I think our best bet would be to go after Nereus first."

Tony skipped over the obvious question, and instead asked, "You do that a lot, don't you?"

"Because he's- what? Sir?" Hargrove's voice faltered at the unexpected question. Tony hid a smile, not that it'd be easy to see in the pre-dawn dimness.

"You think a lot."

"Uh, yes, sir." If anything, the confusion in his voice increased.

"That's understandable, especially for an intel officer." Tony continued smoothly. "I won't lie, I need someone like you if we're gonna make a dent out here. But I need more than just a thinker."

"I- I don't know what you mean, sir."

Tony slowed the pace slightly, to get a good look at his face. "Don't you? I know your type, Major. When you fight, you analyze; you calculate; you consider. You fight with your head, not your heart. That's fine on Earth, but it isn't out here."

He stepped on ahead, giving Hargrove time to think about that. After a few moments, he responded.

"You need people who are reckless and headstrong?"

Tony chuckled. "I need people who can balance the details with the emotions, in a fight. The emotional decision isn't necessarily the wrong one, remember."

"With respect, sir, you're wrong." Hargrove's voice hardened. "Our goals can be emotional: ours sure are, right now. But in combat, the analysis and calculation are more important. If you fight with your heart instead of your head, you might save some lives, but you lose the fight much more easily."

Tony held back a sigh. It was obvious this would take more than one conversation. "How about you tell me why we're out here, Hargrove."

"Well, I guess it has to do with your plans, sir." Hargrove regained some of his conversational fervor. "If you really want to take on a Goa'uld, you'll need more than a half dozen people. You'll need to recruit, and if I'm right, you'll want to train recruits for long-term missions."

"And you're going to tell me I don't have any of the materials to do that. No barracks, only a dozen or so P90s and handguns, limited rations and medical supplies, right?"

"Well… yes sir." Hargrove moved up a steep hill, with Tony a few feet behind. The dawn was breaking, and the half-light was becoming brighter by the second as they topped the hill and came to a stop. Hargrove grinned; the first one Tony had seen from him. "Not until now, at least."

Tony whistled as he looked on.

-.-

The team, including Suna and Cayo, wandered throughout the compound, curiosity mixed with awe on their faces. gray prefabricated structures and green tents, some collapsed with age, surrounded a small exercise yard complete with a track, target dummies, punching bags, and climbing poles strung together with nets. There was even a flagpole inside the track.

"Hello, chocolate factory." Ahardt breathed. "My name is Charlie."

"How did you find this place?" Desousa exclaimed, before looking inside one of the tents.

Hargrove exited one of the tents on the far side, carrying a P90, or something close, anyway. At the bottom of the magazine clip, a red crystal glowed slightly.

"A few years back, SG teams stumbled on this place. There were a bunch of humans here, training for Apophis. They were supposed to eventually infiltrate Earth. SG-1 convinced them that he was dead, and they all went home."

"And they just left this stuff here for anyone to find?" Haley asked.

"Well, yeah. They're not soldiers, Doctor- uh, ma'am." Hargrove faltered slightly. "When they found out that their god had died, they didn't need to fight anymore. They had no reason to take any of this with them. SG-1 took a dozen or so of these home for study, but that's about it." He presented the strange gun.

She smiled. "Call me Haley. And I think I've seen one of those before. Goa'uld training weapon, right?"

"That's right. They're called intars, and there are plenty left in the armory tent." Hargrove hesitated. "I knew this place was out here, but I needed to look at the 'gate list to be sure exactly where. I only remembered a few of the 'gate symbols at first."

"Well done, Major." Tony said. "This could be exactly what we need. But I'm concerned about long-term use. If Apophis knows about this planet, won't he eventually send someone here to collect his infiltrators?"

"I doubt it, sir. They trained here for years without any word from him. I think it's safe to say he won't be back here. And even if he does come back, we might be able to use that against him." Hargove gave him a sly look. "He'd expect to find humans here, right?"

Desousa came out of one of the tents. "We've got packaged meals in here, uniforms, basic medical supplies. Basically all the beans and bullets."

"There's a freshwater stream nearby, and from the report I read, there should also be live weapons in the fields around the camp." Hargrove continued. "I'll start rounding those up."

Ahardt shook his head. "What's next? A jeep?"

Tony considered. "Well, if push comes to shove, we can move most of this to another planet, but you're right. We should be able to use this as a base camp for now."

-.-

The Colonel had assigned everyone what Nelson called 'busy work' for the afternoon. It took Nelson several hours to get through his assignment, and when he walked out of one of the camp's tents, he saw the others spread around the camp, including Desousa and the alien girl Suna chatting on the edge of the track. As he watched, she laughed loudly at something he said, before heading off to where the lab was being reconstructed. She waved farewell, and Desousa smiled after her, before he caught Nelson watching and walked over to him.

"Go ahead and say it." Desousa seemed to brace himself.

"I wasn't going to say anything." Nelson joked, trying to hide his surprise. "In fact, I'm thrilled you're getting along so well with our new teammates. Well, one of them, at least."

"It's not what you think." Desousa protested.

"Oh? You didn't make a pass at her, then?"

"Ok, I did." He admitted.

"That was quick work." Nelson slapped him on the back. "Obviously it went well. Congratulations."

"She turned me down."

"She did? But then what was all of that back there?"

Desousa shrugged. "They play by different rules on her world. Over there, the end of a relationship, even before it starts, doesn't hurt a friendship at all."

"Hey, whatever works for them, I guess." Nelson chuckled. "Besides, I think she’s got her eye on someone else."

"Really? Who?"

Nelson bit his tongue. He hadn’t meant to say that out loud. "Well, I don’t know," he said, thinking quickly. "Why else would she turn you down?"

"True. I am irresistible, after all." Desousa sounded a little mollified.

Nelson let out a quiet breath of relief. Even if his suspicions were right, it was Suna’s business and no one else’s. "Anyway. I'm sorry, man."

"I'm not." Desousa smiled wanly. "Better that I know now, right? Besides, there are always other fish in the sea, and the Stargates make a pretty freakin' huge sea, don't they?"

Nelson eyed him warily, but he seemed genuine. They'd known each other for years, having joined the SGC within a few weeks of each other, and Desousa had had a reputation as a ladies' man back on Earth. It wasn't a big stretch for him to be on the lookout even out here.

Colonel Marcus spoke up from a nearby tent, and everyone in the area looked his way.

"Desousa, how are the food stores looking?"

"Pretty good, sir." Desousa pulled a small plastic package from his backpack and tossed it over. "That's their version of an MRE, that's 'Meal Ready-to-Eat', for anyone who doesn't know. Obviously the Goa'uld who built this place didn't have corn, potatoes or beef, so there are a bunch of alien meats and vegetables in there, but it seems to have all the nutrition ours do. Who knows, maybe it'll even taste better." There were a few laughs. "As for supply, we've got enough for several months at least."

The Colonel tossed it back. "That's good to hear. How about our water supply?" He looked at Suna, who'd been talking with Haley Matthews.

"There is a stream to the west, as Hargrove said. I took a sample to Haley, and there are no harmful… micro-organisms?" She looked at Haley, who nodded. "In the water."

"Good. Weapons?"

"We're in good shape, sir." Hargrove stepped forward. "Apophis armed these people to the teeth. Cayo and I gathered handguns and semi-automatics in the tent, as well as short and medium-range grenade launchers, TOW launchers, and two mortars." He shook his head. "Ammo will be a problem, though, so I suggest we stick to the Goa'uld staff weapons and Zat guns when we can get our hands on some." He looked at Cayo. "The intars are the same deal. Like the Goa'uld weapons, they basically have infinite ammo."

The Colonel frowned. "We'll have to train with their weapons as well as our own, then." He looked like he was about to go on, then did a double-take. "They had hand-to-hand weapons, too?"

Nelson craned his neck following the Colonel’s gaze, and could make out a metallic glint from Cayo’s back.

With a ringing noise, the young man unsheathed a wicked-looking short sword and held it out so everyone could see it. "No, sir."

Suna hurriedly stepped up next to him. "It’s an heirloom, Colonel. Cayo hid it away before we first spoke to you, for fear your people would take it away. But it is more than just a piece of history. It’s well-tempered and strong. Our ancestors used many like it, while fighting over Old Zau."

At her urging, Cayo slowly sheathed it again.

The Colonel nodded, but he didn’t look entirely reassured, before turning his attention to Nelson. "How about the medical supplies?"

"I went through the med tent and it looks like we're pretty well stocked. We've got antibiotics, disinfectants, bandages, basic surgical tools, painkillers and more; enough for some pretty heavy triage. They even left an oxygen tank."

"Good. That'll be handy when we take the fight to them. Suna, Cayo, could you join me in the command tent? I need to know more about your home planet." Colonel Marcus gave one of his rare smiles. "Well done, everyone."
« Last Edit: July 29, 2022, 05:26:53 AM by Daen »