Author Topic: Chapter 4  (Read 6435 times)

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Offline Daen

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Chapter 4
« on: July 29, 2022, 04:32:08 AM »
Tony could only stare, before he realized what he was doing. He'd only seen pictures of the asgard race, who apparently were the very same 'grays' depicted in American SETI lore. As he watched, the asgard stepped slightly further away from the others and stood there, looking bored as far as Tony could tell.

Stokes stepped out of the lab, and saw the alien. He covered his surprise well, and walked purposefully up to Rowe. "Report."

"After initial contact on Cimmeria and a minor misunderstanding," Rowe glanced at Ahardt, "we were escorted to their new city where we met Mimir, over there." He looked briefly at the asgard. "He says he has news about Earth."

Ahardt turned to face the rest, grimacing, and in the dim light from the lab's lamp Tony could see that his left eye was black and blue. When Tony caught his eye, Ahardt shook his head, mouthing the word 'later'.

Upon hearing its name, the asgard stepped towards them quietly. It, or he, Tony couldn't be sure, seemed to be completely comfortable despite the rain and the mud still covering the area. Somewhere, he'd gotten the impression the asgard people were neat freaks. To his left, he noticed Temens smile nervously at it. She seemed determined not to stare.

{I have information from the High Council concerning Earth.} Mimir stated without preamble. His voice had a noticeably higher timbre, and resonated in a decidedly alien way, despite speaking English. {Ever since Earth's inclusion in the Asgard Protected Planets Treaty, the High Council has monitored all hyperspace travel near your planet for any signs of Goa'uld activity. One of the monitoring devices transmitted the following data to them yesterday.} He held up the white stone in his hand, and a miniature image of the solar system sprang up into the air above it.

Everyone, even Desousa, seemed impressed. The edges of the image faded into the rainy dark, and Tony shook his head in wonder. He'd once seen a 3D display on Earth that used a pair of mirrors rotating to project an image, but it was like a stone club compared to a P90 when it came to this. As they watched, a shimmering, spherical field of something appeared on Earth and rapidly expanded, covering the solar system and extending out about twice that far before stopping.

Before any of them could ask, Mimir continued. {The sphere is approximately 2.4 light-days in diameter, and is completely occluding all other sensor readings, even visual sensors. It required a complete recalibration of my sensors just to detect it at all. It also appears to be centered on your Stargate Command, though that cannot be confirmed with the information we have. Further readings on the area suggest that the planets and star are still there, but have been somehow isolated from the rest of space-time by this effect. The sphere is moving along with the solar system's galactic revolution, which suggests that it permeates subspace as well as normal space.} A tinge of embarrassment entered his voice. {To our knowledge, such an effect has never occurred before, and we are at a loss as to how it happened.}

There was a stunned silence as everyone seemed to digest all of that.

Eventually, Temens found her voice, though it was still shaky. "Could a ship get through it?"

{It is unlikely.} Mimir faced her, and she seemed to flinch under his stare. {On orders from the High Council, I launched a hyperspace-capable probe from Cimmeria to investigate that possibility. I was able to learn very little from its readings, and instructed it to enter the field. There has been no contact with it since. I believe it was destroyed by the barrier itself.}

Tony studied the image. "Could the Goa'uld have done this? Triggered our Stargate to create this, somehow?"

{It is a possibility.} Mimir stated carefully. {As you know, the Goa'uld base their technology on that of the Ancients, who have long since moved on from this galaxy. Our own technology is also mostly based on Ancient designs, recovered from a database they left behind in our home galaxy. The Stargates are their creation, too. If a Goa'uld found some way to manipulate the Stargates: some device of the Ancients, this could be their doing.}

"What about the other planets nearby?" Stokes asked. "Do they have these… barriers, too?"

{Our monitoring devices were placed to scan the space around Earth only, but preliminary readings suggest a similar effect on nearby solar systems, yes.} Mimir said. The image faded, and Mimir lowered the white stone. {If there is nothing further, I will return to Cimmeria now.}

"Wait a minute!" Ahardt interjected. "That's it?"

Mimir looked at him blankly. {You expected more?}

"Well, yeah!" Ahardt stated indignantly. Tony called his name, but he continued. "You guys are supposed to be the galaxy's top scientists, right? Are you really just gonna let this go? Aren't you the least bit curious how this thing works?"

"That's enough, Major!" Tony didn't bother to conceal his anger.

Mimir held up his other hand. {No, Colonel. Major Ahardt’s anger is to be expected.} The little alien took a deep breath and continued. {This effect is remarkable, and possibly unique. I am certain the High Council will want to study it further, and find a way to penetrate or deactivate the barrier. However, as you know, the asgard have other… priorities at this time.} Mimir paused for a moment. {I will request any further information to be sent to me on Cimmeria. I will also monitor your radio frequencies, should you wish to contact me.}

Mimir raised the white stone again, and disappeared in a flash of light.

"The hell was that?" Stokes demanded, into the stunned silence.

"Asgard technology, sir." Temens responded softly. Her voice seemed deadened by the news. "They use matter-energy conversion to get-" She was cut off as Rowe's radio crackled and a voice came through.

"Colonel, the 'gate just turned on, and then shut off again. It only lasted about a second!"

"It's all right, Captain." Rowe responded. "Just our alien friend going home. Rowe out."

Tony looked from Temens to Rowe in confusion. "So he just… beamed himself up?"

"That's right. He activated the 'gate, and beamed himself through it." Rowe quirked a smile. "If you had legs that short, you'd probably do the same thing."

Desousa spoke up. "What did he mean by the asgards having other priorities?"

"They've got their own bad guys to worry about." Stokes responded. "They're at war in their home galaxy, and apparently they're not winning."

There was a long silence, and Stokes sighed. "Doc Matthews says the rain should be done by morning. Get some sleep, and be up around daybreak. Make sure everyone else is, too. We've all got a big decision to make."

-.-

It was a gloomy gathering in the half-light mist, the next morning. Conversations were quiet, and seemed dulled. Even Major Ahardt's occasional jokes seemed tame compared to his usual joviality.

Major Lucius Hargrove didn't mind. He'd never had a problem keeping his mind on the job, after all. His instructors had been surprised at his way of compartmentalizing his feelings, and priorities. Then, as time passed, they'd been impressed and finally unnerved. At his last psych eval, Sollinger had likened his ability to a switch in his brain that he could flip at will. Hargrove didn't see it that way. To him, it was how it had always been. There was a time for aggression and a time for calm, and he used them whenever they were useful.

The muted conversations hushed even further, and Hargrove looked up. Colonel Stokes had stepped forward and cleared his throat. He turned on his radio and left it that way. It took Hargrove a moment to remember why. They'd left a guard at the 'gate on shifts day and night, in case of any uninvited guests.

"All right, people." Stokes began. "By now you're all up to speed on Earth's situation, and ours, too. We're the only ones out here, and we can't expect help." He looked over at the lab. "We do have another option, though. The Tollans have offered all of us sanctuary on their homeworld until Earth is back on the grid. They'll take us in, if we follow their rules of conduct."

Hargrove felt a sudden chill. He hadn't anticipated this.

Stokes beckoned, and a smiling man Hargrove didn't know stepped out of the lab and approached. "This is Narim. He's come to explain those rules to us, and answer any questions we have about his world."

Narim bowed his head slightly. "Tollanna is a peaceful world. By your standards, we have virtually no crime, no wars, no political unrest. I've reviewed Earth's laws, and they are quite similar to our own. The only major difference is our current technological superiority. It is one of our highest laws to never allow our technology to fall into the hands of those less advanced, so if any of you choose to remain on Tollanna, a few security precautions will be necessary." He held up his right palm, and people had to get closer to see what he was showing them. It looked like a computer chip to Hargrove.

"This is a biometric health implant. All Tollans are given one of these in childhood. They record electrochemical actions in the brain and allow us to treat almost any disorder before it is even evident otherwise.

"If you choose to stay with us, you will each be given a modified version of this. In addition to its primary function, it will transmit a warning to our security forces if you should go anywhere you could learn how our technology functions. There are seven such places on the entire planet. You will also be restricted from accessing that information from our computer database. Other than that," Narim shrugged, "you will be treated as any other Tollan would be."

There was a resounding silence from the group, followed by disgruntled muttering. Hargrove was about to speak, when someone he didn't know beat him to it. "So all we have to do to be accepted there is get a brain implant?"

Narim shook his head. "The implant is placed in the wrist. In addition, our phase-shifting tools allow us to perform such a procedure with virtually no risk. There hasn't been a complication, even when performed on adults, in at least two hundred years. The devices can be removed just as easily, if you are able to return to your planet."

"What about the request we put into the Curia yesterday?" That was Colonel Marcus, from the back of the group. "Did they hear back from the Tok'ra?"

Narim sighed. "The Curia never sent a message to the Tok'ra." At Marcus' dismayed look, Narim quickly continued. "As you know, last year we were forced to destroy three Goa'uld motherships in less than a week's time. Those actions, however necessary at the time, gained the immediate and undivided attention of the Goa’uld System Lords. Shortly afterwards, a representative from the System Lords met with the Curia. I don't know what was said, but I assume he was sent to remind us of our neutrality." Narim looked around the group, slowly. "We cannot get involved in your fight with the Goa'uld, and that includes contacting your allies for you."

The murmuring continued, but Hargrove could tell the tone had changed. People were actually considering it. Time to do something about that. "What about 'gate travel?" He asked. "If we go to your planet, can we leave?"

Narim looked at him. "Anyone who stays with us will be allowed to leave whenever they wish, of course. If you leave, though, you leave for good. Tollanna will not be used as a base in your fight."

There's a time to show calm, and this definitely isn't it. "I don't believe this!" Hargrove bit out. "You've got weapons that can blow up Goa'uld ships. You've got technology that can make a difference for the whole galaxy, and you won't use any of it! You just sit back and watch while everyone else fights to the death, or slaves away under Goa'uld oppression." He threw up his hands. "I don't know about the rest of you, but I'd rather take my chances out here than sit back and drink a cold one with them while they watch the galaxy burn!"

Everyone looked at him, some with admiration, others with shock or admonition on their faces. Narim's face flitted between both and settled on anger. "There are very good reasons for our laws, Major. The last time we used our technology to 'make a difference', two planets were destroyed, including my own. Eight hundred million people died! We have paid for our mistakes in blood, Major, and learned our lessons well." Narim visibly controlled himself, and turned away from the group.

There was a tense moment of silence.

"And if we stay out here, what then?" That was Andrea Coffey, a Captain in SG-8. She looked at Hargrove challengingly. "Do we go after the Goa'ulds? We don't stand a chance against them, and you know it."

"Perhaps we can help." A female voice called out from behind the group.

Two people, dressed in mud-stained green and brown robes, were standing there.

-.-

There was a flurry of activity, despite the surprise. In moments, over a dozen weapons were aimed at the pair of them. Colonel Rowe grabbed the radio and tersely ordered a 'gate check. He got a negative response before he took a second look at Suna's face. She smiled at his startled expression. She and Cayo were careful to stand very still, hands open, and to their sides. The tau'ri were a distrustful group, by nature. Suna had seen less activity poking a nest of casi-beetles and watching them swarm.

The big man who'd started the gathering ordered two people to do a perimeter check, then focused on them. "Who are you?" He demanded.

Suna glanced at Cayo, and they both lifted their hoods. "I am Suna, and this is Cayo."

"They're from Zau, sir." Rowe breathed. He sounded stunned. "How did you get past the guard at the 'gate?"

"We've been here for some time, Colonel." Cayo responded serenely. "We arrived shortly after you did, using a distraction to avoid notice."

Rowe and the big man exchanged glances. "What distraction?" The big man asked, his tone less angry and more curious now.

"You heard a loud noise, correct?" Suna asked. "We triggered it, and were able to slip in while you were trying to turn it off. We've been watching, and listening, ever since." She nodded to Cayo again, and he slowly removed a radio from his long pocket.

Rowe looked at Captain Wu, who shook his head, looking similarly stunned. "I don't know where they got that, sir. We're not missing any radios."

The perimeter group returned, and reported no one else. Suna and Cayo submitted to a search for weapons, knowing they had none, and then were forcibly sat down on a large rock in front of the metal house. Some of the tau'ri seemed offended at being so easily fooled. All of them were in hearing range, except for the one still at the chappa'ai.

The big man, whom Suna had heard called Stokes, stood in front of them. "Where did you get this?" He held up their radio.

Suna shrugged. "On Zau. Last winter your SG-11, and others, helped us free our people from the Jaffa. We stole it after the battle." She added casually. "It was assumed lost."

"But why?"

"To see how they worked, of course." She smiled at the device in his hand. "To you, those are ordinary. To us, they are amazing. To be able to speak into one, and be heard from far, far away, instantly… that is remarkable."

"You stole more than one, I take it." Stokes glared at her. "Where are the others?"

"There would have to be a radio on in the camp for you to hear us," Rowe put in, "and if you stole those radios four months ago, like you said, the batteries would have died by now."

Suna pointed at Captain Newsom, who looked surprised. "What?" He asked.

At her urging, they searched his pack, and found a radio cleverly hidden inside, held in the on position by a tightly wrapped vine. "I placed it there while you were dialing the chapp- the Stargate." She corrected herself quickly. "On Zau, a few days ago. And as to the… batteries," she continued past the unfamiliar word, "I took them from you, Camden, during the same trip." She looked apologetically at Captain Wu.

"So you're the reason both my main and backup batteries died!" He exclaimed.

"And you figured out how to trigger that feedback signal?" An attractive blue-eyed man from the crowd asked.

Suna only nodded.

There was a murmur from the group.

"But why did you come here in the first place?" Stokes asked, a hint of grudging admiration now in his voice.

"As I first said, we're here to help you fight the gods."

Suna had thought Rowe couldn't sound more surprised. She was wrong.

"You want to fight the Goa'uld with us?"

"Of course." Suna raised her voice to address the entire group. "Your people are strong, and skilled. You've fought them and won, and in doing so freed my people from slavery and death. When we heard you speak of giving up, of leaving," she glanced at the other outsider, Narim, "we had to speak. Teach us, and let us fight alongside you."

The tau'ri began speaking again, more loudly.

"Colonel, if there are more like them-" The attractive one began, over the noise.

"You've made your point, Major. Leave it alone." There was no mistaking the seriousness in Stokes' voice.

"Enough, everyone!" Stokes spoke loudly and raised his hands for attention. "Everyone quiet down! It's obvious there are a lot of issues to work through here. Technically, I'm in command, if only by a few weeks." He glanced at Rowe. "I could order you to go to Tollanna, or to stay and figure out another plan, but I won't. Think about it. Talk to each other. I expect a decision from each of you in an hour.

"As for you two," he glared at Suna and Cayo, "you'll keep your mouths shut and hands to yourselves until we sort this all out. Got it?"

They bowed in unison, sharing a smile without needing to look at each other.
« Last Edit: July 29, 2022, 05:28:37 AM by Daen »