Part 2 - Family matters
The Battle of Tollana, Part 2
Nopporn Wongrassamee aka The Evil Author
30 May 2015
Ship’s Log: We had a First Contact today of sorts. We encountered a small ovoid starship roughly a third the size of the Arcadia named the
Jupiter 2. Given that the Goa’uld who have impersonated gods for several thousand years, the name itself wasn’t all that unusual. What was strange was that the people on board, a nuclear family named the Robinsons an two unrelated crew, claimed to be from approximately two hundred years in the future, only not our future since Earth isn’t supposed to have starships already.
Imagine my surprise when our records indicated that we’ve had previous run-ins with time travel and alternate universes.
In any case, the Robinsons have agreed to return to Earth. We’ll be towing the
Jupiter 2 home before continuing our survey. The delay shouldn’t be longer than a week. I’ve attached the science detachment’s preliminary analysis of the Robinson’s 23rd century technology. It seems the eggheads were impressed with some of the equipment the Robinsons have.
In the meantime, I’ve been getting reports that Dr. Smith - one of the
Jupiter 2’s passengers – has been bugging the engineering department. It’s all they can do to keep him from taking apart the ZPM to see how it works. Hopefully, this doesn’t become a problem.
23 February 2015
Edwards Air Force Base, CA
“Commander Ford, what seems to be the problem?”
“Lieutenant Colonel Rove,” Commander Ford greeted. He nodded to the small gaggle of people with him. Since they were all in civilian dress, Joan deduced that this must be the Arcadia’s
science contingent. “There’s been a last minute change in the personnel roster.”
By unspoken agreement, Joan and Commander Jonathan Ford never called each other “sir” or “ma’am”. When speaking to each other, they called each other by their last names or when being formal, used their ranks. Even then, Ford always used Joan’s full rank of Lieutenant Colonel instead of simply abbreviating it to Colonel as most subordinates do. They were both very, very careful never to do anything that might be implied as a snub or gloat.
This was because the two of them were technically the same rank despite Joan having the coveted CO position. As Joan understood it, interservice politicking had designated the Arcadia
as an Air Force commanded. However, since starships became public knowledge, the Navy had been providing a large number of trained personnel and a number of Navy officers had since graduated to starship command. Being the senior service in space, the Air Force viewed the Navy as interlopers on their domain and only tolerated it because they needed the crews for Earth’s rapidly expanding space fleet. This dual service command tended to confuse outsiders. A good example was that a Naval Captain outranked an Air Force Captain by three grades.
There was some talk of merging the Air Force and Navy, but so far both services were completely opposed to the idea. Meanwhile, the Air Force/Navy rank confusion had become something of a running joke among American civilians and foreign allies alike.
Still, Joan and Ford had a reasonably friendly working relationship. Ford was a competent officer who knew his business. He certainly wasn’t a bumbling political appointee. And Joan liked to think he thought the same about her. He certainly gave no indication that he thought she was an idiot.
“Ah, Captain. Good. Perhaps you can help clear up this little bit of red tape,” said a handsome, red haired woman with a British accent. Joan recognized her as Doctor Kristin Westphalen, biologist and Arcadia’s
“Lieutenant Colonel,” Joan corrected. “I’m a Lieutenant Colonel, Doctor, or just ‘Colonel’ if that’s too much of a mouthful.”
“But isn’t a ship commander supposed to be called a ‘Captain’?” Doctor Westphalen asked.
“You’ll have to ask the Pentagon that one,” Joan answered. “But I think they’re still arguing about it. What seems to be the problem here?”
,” Westphalen said the word in a tone that equated the word with ‘vermin’ – “has decided to muck up with my perfectly good working team by replacing one of my people with some random political hack.” She glared at Joan as if somehow this was her fault.
Joan turned to Ford.
“He’s on the personnel roster,” Ford said defensively, holding up said roster.
“I don’t care,” Westphalen argued. “I want my physicist back, Captain, and I demand you do something about it.”
“Look, Doctor,” Joan said as diplomatically as she could. “I don’t control who the U.N. assigns to my ship. Heck, the Pentagon doesn’t control that except insofar that certain regulations and requirements be met.”
“Yes,” Westphalen said scathingly. “I’m sure you don’t, Captain.”
“Look, are you sure he’s such a bad guy?” Joan asked. In the back of her mind, Joan wondered what Westphalen’s problem was. The Doctor had seemed like a calm and level headed person the few previous times they had met. The way she was acting now seemed to imply that Westphalen thought Joan
had engineered this last minute replacement. “Who is he anyway?”
“Actually,” a familiar voice called out from the back of the small crowd of scientists and lab techs, “I would be the random political hack in question.” Joan’s head whipped around and she watched in shock as her brother and his wife made their way to the front.
“Luke?! Grace?! What in God’s name are you two doing here?”
“I’m your new exotic physics expert, Joan,” Luke explained self consciously.
“The hell you are!” Joan replied. All thought of calm, military decorum evacuated from her mind.
“I take it you didn’t know about this, Captain?” Westphalen asked. Before, Westphalen had been livid; now, the good doctor now seemed amused by Joan’s reaction. Not that Joan noticed. She had more important things to worry about.
“No I didn’t,” Joan snapped. She turned back to Luke. “Look, you are not coming with us. The Arcadia
has been assigned a survey mission. You know what that means? We’re going to be away for months on end poking around the back end of beyond and God only knows what we’re going to run into. I am NOT telling Mom and Dad that I got you killed out there.”
“Which is exactly why you need me out there,” Luke argued back. “Despite what Doctor Westphalen may think, I do know my physics, especially the kind usually used by alien technology.”
“You’re an engineer,” Westphalen said, as if being one were only a few degrees higher than being a politician on the ick meter.
“Yeah, I’m an engineer,” Luke agreed. He pointed to a refrigerator sized crate nearby. “But I also designed the MiniGate you’ll be field testing. I brought it with me.”
“You have a working MiniGate?” Westphalen asked, surprised. Her eyes lit up, impressed.
“MiniGate? What’s a MiniGate?” Joan asked, thrown off by the sudden change of topic. “I don’t recall that on my inventory list.”
“It’s a last minute addition too,” Luke answered. “A MiniGate is a Stargate about the size of a dinner plate. It creates a wormhole connection to a dedicated counterpart MiniGate here on Earth. With a MiniGate, you’ll have a completely secure broadband net connection with Earth no matter where in the galaxy you go. Best of all, it uses a completely different class of wormhole than the regular Stargate, so using the MiniGate won’t interrupt normal SGC operations.”
“We can build Stargates now?” Joan asked. “Then why not build a full sized gate?”
“Ah, well, we haven’t quite licked the part about sending matter through yet,” Luke admitted.
“According to the literature,” Westphalen added thoughtfully, “if you tried to send a material object through a MiniGate, it will come out the other side as a shower of hard gamma radiation. It’s a rather, ah, energetic example of E equaling Em Cee Square.”
Joan winced at the thought of such an accident happening aboard her ship.
“But don’t worry,” Luke said quickly. “The MiniGate’s kept in a sealed vacuum chamber at all times.”
“Captain, I’ve changed my mind,” Westphalen said. “This man is welcome on my team. I withdraw my protest.”
“Wait a minute, I haven’t withdrawn mine!” Joan objected. “The MiniGate can come. Luke, you’re staying on Earth.”
“Hey! We’re like a package deal,” Luke objected. “If I don’t come, neither does the MiniGate.”
“Okay, I can live without it,” Joan snapped back.
“Captain…” Westphalen began.
“Look,” Joan said, thinking furiously. “The military has very definite regs about family serving together on the same ship. We don’t do it, period. And there’s very good reasons why we don’t. Ford, back me up here.”
“Well, they are on the list,” Ford said slowly, clearly unsure that he wanted to get in the middle of this. “On the other hand, Rove, you are right about the regulations. To get on board, your brother has to have special dispensation, and those are next to impossible to get.”
“Oh yeah,” Grace said, speaking for the first time. “You wouldn’t believe the paperwork I had to wade through after I asked my boss for this gig.”
“Say what?” Joan was feeling punchy, like she had gone one too many rounds of hand to hand training. Dammit, Joan was supposed to be better at handling surprises than this. It was how she got this command. “Grace? You got Luke onboard my ship?”
“Yep,” Grace said smugly.
“Grace, you run errands for a bunch of ivory tower scholars,” Joan said slowly. “What are they called again, how do they have enough pull to get Luke on my ship, and why are you so blasé about sending your husband so far away from home for months on end?”
“In order, Watchers,” Grace began, ticking off her fingers one by one. “You’d be surprised. And I’m coming with you guys.”
“You’re coming with us?” Why was Joan so surprised at this bit of news?
“Yeah,” Grace said. She was, in Joan’s opinion, being way too cheerful about this. “I’m your new security consultant.”
“I have two platoons of trained Marines. What do I need a security consultant for?”
“Well, I’ll bet you none of those Marines can detect an alien disguised as a human just by looking,” Grace told her. At Joan’s incredulous stare, Grace grinned and tapped the side of her head. “Little talent I have. If it’s anything other than a bog standard human, I can sense it right away.”
“Well there you go with the labels…” Grace began, pretending to be offended.
“Wait, wait, never mind that,” Joan said quickly. “If you can sense nonhumans, what about this Airman?”
Joan looked around. Like any lower enlisted who could help it, the Airman who had brought Joan over here had managed to disappear from the company of irate flag officers. The fact that the “Airman” in question had been God apparently didn’t change this particular fact of military life. He was nowhere to be seen on the flat, wide open tarmac.
That was so typical of Him.
“Gloval, how did the raid go?”
“We lost most Fokker’s team,” Gloval reported sadly. “They were detected before they could get into position.”
“Damn those Jaffa,” Narim muttered. He was so very tired. Fourteen years, Narim thought. They had been at this for fourteen years, fighting and hiding from their alien conquerors. What did the humans of Earth call it again? Gorilla warfare? “Fokker?”
“He made it back, injured but alive,” Gloval said. “He’s being treated now.”
“That’s something at least. What about your team?”
“No casualties. We got lucky there.” Gloval looked regretful. “Fokker’s early attack drew off most of the guards. It’s also why he had so many losses. We got the Tel’tak. I hope it was worth it.”
“It will be,” Narim replied. “With the Tel’tak, we now have everything to strike a major blow against the Goa’uld here.”