I own neither Stargate nor the X-COM franchise. No infringement is intended, no profit is to be made and I'm just not worth the hassle of suing anyway unless you want a share of the wages of an underpaid Civil Servant.
United Nations Building – New York – January 2005
Major Paul Davis noted that Vice-President Kinsey was again conspicuous by his absence. Although still officially the most important American affiliated to the International Oversight Advisory it was hardly surprising that the US was instead represented by bureaucrat Richard Woolsey given that the other powers were still wary of Robert Kinsey still being under alien influence of some kind.
Although this was not the first time Davis had been drafted in to make a report to the IOA on behalf of Stargate Command he hadn't before been accompanied by Daniel Jackson but he was very grateful the good doctor was along for this one. There were aspects of this situation which the Major felt unqualified in the extreme to talk about, military or even political matters Davis could handle, history on this kind of scale was simply outside his field of expertise.
Russell Chapman the UK Representative checked the notes he had been scribbling down on the jotter in front of him. 'And you say by the time our soldiers arrived on the scene these aliens had already withdrawn?' he checked.
'Yes Sir' Davis confirmed. 'We believe they returned to their submersible craft and dived before either our Troopers or an F-302 Interceptor could get there' he said.
'Taking thirteen prisoners with them?' Shen Xiaoyi, the IOA member for the Peoples Republic of China queried.
'Yes Ma'am' Davis replied. 'Two Athosian civilians and eleven of the children we relocated from M7G-677' he told her.
'Why so many children?' Chapman asked. 'Were they singled out?'
'We don't think so' Davis responded. 'The Athosians lived their entire lives in fear of the Wraith and became very well adapted to survive sudden hostile attacks' he continued. 'In short they were more likely to run and hide immediately whereas the children of 677 were not so well conditioned' he said. 'A number of the Athosians did however try and fight in order to save the kids once they realised they were being abducted.'
'With what result?' Woolsey queried.
Major Davis adopted a grave expression. 'Those who tried to resist were slaughtered' he replied flatly.
'I see' Woolsey replied. 'Did examination of the bodies reveal anything of the nature of the weapons of our latest alien foe?' he asked.
'Their internal organs were in some cases practically liquefied by what we believe to be sonic devices' Davis told him. 'The injuries were such that in the majority of cases the Atlantis medical staff were unable to resurrect the fatalities in a sarcophagus' he said. 'There is no actual penetration as such but, to quote the report from Pegasus, a headshot "instantly turns your brains to mush".'
'Charming' Chapman responded sardonically before frowning. 'And we haven't heard anything from the things since?' he asked.
'No Sir' Davis replied. 'It's possible that the aliens are interrogating the prisoners for information as to Atlantis and the galactic situation generally' he theorised. 'They have been out of the loop for a very long time' he noted.
Jean LaPierre leaned forward in his chair. 'I find it hard to believe that we have never before heard of these "Aquatoid" creatures if they were considered such a threat by the Ancients' he remarked. 'There have not even been any rumours of them as far as I know' he said.
Davis smiled, that wasn't actually true but Doctor Jackson could field this one he decided. 'Do you want to cover this?' he asked the archaeologist.
'Yes' Daniel replied. 'As for why we've never heard of the Aquatoids before that's simply a result of just how long ago the war between them and the Ancients took place' he said. 'We're talking about tens of millions of years ago' he continued, 'long before Atlantis was constructed or even we think the stargate network existed in its modern form' he said then pursed his lips. 'Perhaps I can give you all an idea of just how far back we're talking' he suggested. 'Now I'm sure you are all aware that the Himalayan Mountains are the result of two tectonic plates colliding and rock been gradually pushed up between them' he said, pushing his hands together to mimic the action. 'Now the process of the range being formed is extremely gradual, we're talking less than half an inch of uplift a year at most, but given enough time you end up with mountains that are miles high.'
'I'm sorry to interrupt Doctor Jackson but I'm not certain where you're going with this' Woolsey told him.
Jackson smiled. 'Where I'm going with this is that when the war between the Aquatoids and the Alterans took place Mount Everest was something you might trip
over' he told them. 'It's not just a long time ago historically, it's a long time ago geologically' he said. 'The Ancients leaving this galaxy to colonise Pegasus is practically current affairs by comparison, the Aquatoids may have even been contemporaries of the dinosaurs, they were certainly on Earth before the Ancients and they
were established here over fifty-million years ago.'
Chapman blinked. 'My God it staggers the mind' he admitted.
'And the Aquatoids are originally a terrestrial species?' Shen Xiaoyi asked, intrigued.
'Yes according to what we've managed to glean from the Atlantis database but I doubt they would appreciate the use of that term' Daniel replied. 'Terra, or Earth is the name the Alterans gave this world when they conquered it' he explained. 'Before that it was called Water by its prior owners, that being "Aqua" in Alteran.'
'One way to mark a victory' Woolsey observed.
'Yes and of course the Ancients also changed their capital world from Dakara to Terra' Jackson pointed out. 'That may have also been a form of counting coup.'
'Do we know the reasons for the war and perhaps more importantly how the Ancients won it given that these Aquatoids have already provoked hostilities against us?' Shen Xiaoyi asked Daniel.
'We haven't got a complete understanding but from what we've been able to gather the Aquatoids were already starting to spread through the Milky Way and had established colonies in a large number of star-systems when the Alterans began to expand out from Dakara themselves, planting the first generation of stargates to tie together a growing domain' Daniel replied. 'Unfortunately neither power seemingly had yet developed the kind of advanced terraforming technologies the Ancients used later to create so many Earth-like planets so they were competing for a limited number of inhabitable worlds.'
'I'm going to assume that one day they both wanted the same planet and neither one would back down?' Chapman reasoned.
Daniel nodded. 'To some extent that does seem to be exactly what happened but at least according to the Alteran records the Aquatoids didn't even try
to negotiate' he said. 'They found a recently established Alteran colony on a world they intended to claim for themselves and simply destroyed it.'
'So not a race of pacifists then' Chapman wryly commented.
'Not really' Daniel agreed. 'The Alterans were not as aggressive militarily but eventually began to fight back' he said. 'Initially we're just talking an occasional border clash as the two galactic powers felt each other out but after a few years it escalated to full-scale war' he told them. 'The conflict lasted centuries and became increasingly bitter as a result, both having plenty of resources to devote to the war' he continued, 'eventually however the Alterans gained the upper hand and began to take one Aquatoid world after another.'
'More advanced weapons?' Woolsey suggested.
'That was one reason for the final Alteran victory' Daniel confirmed. 'The Aquatoids were a semi-aquatic, amphibious species, most of their cities, factories and defence-installations were underwater making them tricky to attack with the directed-energy weapons the Alterans utilised but eventually the Ancients developed a highly advanced guided missile which worked just as well underwater as it did in the atmosphere and they produced them in vast numbers.'
'The drones' Shen Xiaoyi realised, they even looked a lot like a sea-creature she decided.
'First Generation Drones we think' Davis interjected. 'They continued to improve the design later so they could operate in space and penetrate shields too but they kept the original shape which was clearly optimised for aquatic use' he said. 'It probably says how much the war impacted on the Ancients that even millions of years later they still stuck to using weapons that could be used against the Aquatoids if they ever turned up again.'
'The Alterans had other advantages too' Daniel noted. 'Their colonies were connected by the new stargate network and they developed the first hyperdrive sometime during the war.'
Chapman looked puzzled. 'I'm sorry but if the hyperdrive was invented during the war then how exactly were they getting around before that?' he asked reasonably.
'Prior to the hyperdrive both the Alterans and the Aquatoids used a different means of faster-than-light travel which was considerably slower as far as we can determine' Daniel explained. 'We've no idea how it worked as yet, and to be honest practically all we do
know is that it wasn't as fast as hyperdrive' he admitted, 'although it was supposedly more efficient' he said.
'More efficient you say?' Chapman queried.
'Measured in terms of how much energy you had to put in to travel a given distance' Daniel explained. 'In fact it seems that the Alterans continued to use that type of stardrive for extremely long-range missions where speed wasn't as important as how far you could get between refuelling' he said.
'Their new hyperdrive meant that the Ancients had a massive strategic advantage over their enemy' Davis told the IOA members. 'We've witnessed a similar situation recently ourselves during the war between Apophis and the other System Lords' he reminded them. 'The Aquatoids were pushed firmly on the defensive and stayed that way right up until their final defeat.'
'They never managed to copy the hyperdrive themselves?' Shen Xiaoyi asked curiously.
'I'm sure they tried but Sam Carter suggested to me they may have been at an inherent disadvantage because their culture was seemingly more based around organically-based technology rather than the hard physics of the Alterans' Daniel told her. 'We know that the Wraith have slower ships with less endurance than ours because the radiation a vessel is bombarded with while travelling in subspace slowly kills their ships and they have to break up long journeys with pauses to let their vessels recover from the damage' he said. 'If the Aquatoids suffered even more from that problem then that might have meant they couldn't just slap a back-engineered copy of a hyperdrive on one of their existing warships, they would need to establish an entirely new industrial base.'
'Not easy to do when you're losing a war and you're on a downward spiral towards defeat' Major Davis noted. 'The Aquatoids were also at a serious disadvantage when it came to intelligence gathering which made their situation even worse.'
Woolsey was making notes. 'How so?' he asked, looking up from his notebook.
'Even at that stage in their history the Alterans were starting to show signs of psionic potential' Daniel replied. 'It was only present in a very tiny minority, and even the strongest of that tiny minority might have been at the level of the modern Langarans but if you have telepaths you can use to interrogate prisoners, or even deploy in a combat situation when required by circumstance, and the other side doesn't then you're not likely to get caught by surprise very often.'
'With that advantage in itself I am surprised that the war lasted centuries' LaPierre interjected.
Major Davis shrugged. 'The Aquatoids were far better soldiers than the Ancients' he said. 'In ground combat, and in particular any fighting that took place underwater, in a fair fight they were still regularly defeating Alteran forces several times their number right up until they lost the war' he told them. 'Whenever possible the Ancients would just salvo vast numbers of drones at them from a distance, they hated
fighting close-in because according to the files we've studied the Aquatoids quite frankly scared the shit out of them.'
'That was likely due in large part to what the Aquatoids did to any Alterans they captured alive' Daniel commented, trying not to grimace too much.
'Which was?' Chapman inquired.
'In some cases they brainwashed them, grafted on their biotechnology and used them as cannon-fodder and in others they removed the brain completely and inserted it into a war-machine to act as the control computer' Daniel told him. 'The Aquatoids saw other races, even other sapient
races as just another resource' he said. 'In fact we now suspect that several of the species that exist in the Milky Way today, including the Ohnes and the Gadmeer are descended from races which the Aquatoids encountered and controlled.'
'So should we assume that the Ancients, Alterans or whatever it is we're going to call them wiped out the Aquatoids themselves entirely?' Russell Chapman asked. 'Or at least they thought they had.'
Daniel and Davis looked at each other. 'No and that may prove to be an issue with another ally' Daniel replied carefully. 'You see after winning the war the Alterans decided that they couldn't bring themselves to commit outright genocide so instead they took steps to ensure that their most dangerous former enemies were... fixed' he said.
'Fixed?' LaPierre repeated quizzically.
'Yes, to give one example the most aggressive of the subject races of the Aquatoids were the reptilian Tasoth' Daniel told him. 'We think they eventually became the Gadmeer.'
'But the Gadmeer are arch pacifists' Shen Xiaoyi pointed out.
'They likely are now
because the Ancients used genetic engineering to remove their hyper-aggressive traits' Daniel explained. 'These revelations may conceivably cause the Gadmeer to look on themselves in a new light but not perhaps as much as another species we're well acquainted with' he added cryptically.
'Go on Doctor Jackson' Woolsey requested.
'The Aquatoids experimented on themselves as well as other races' Daniel told them. 'During the last throes of the fighting the Alterans discovered a new sub-species of Aquatoid which had been created to operate more efficiently on land, capturing a large number aboard a transport vessel which was transporting an army of them in stasis' he said. 'The Alterans considered simply dumping them out of an airlock I'm sure but in the end they opted instead to mindwipe them and strand them on a distant planet where they couldn't cause any trouble' he continued. 'A few survived, despite being basically abandoned without resources and with complete amnesia eventually they evolved into a much nicer race than their forebears.'
'It's the Asgard' Major Davis told the IOA representatives. 'Our most important ally is descended from the mortal enemy of our own progenitor species' he said resulting in several sets of raised eyebrows.
'You've got to appreciate the irony at least' Daniel observed. 'Our problem right now however is that Thor's extremely crotchety Great, Great ad infinitum Grandparents are back and they probably want the damn kids from next door to get the hell off their lawn.'Atlantis – Pegasus Galaxy – January 2005
'It was my fault' Weir stated again, sitting on the edge of her bed with Colonel Vaselov sat on a chair facing her. 'I know that logically there's no way I could have known what was going to happen but those children wouldn't have been there if it wasn't for me' she said sorrowfully.
'The relocation of the population of M7G-677 to the Lantea was a military recommendation' Vaselov replied. 'As you say you could not have known what would happen and in any case it was ultimately my responsibility since I advocated the removal of the children to a new home and the requisitioning of the ZPM which had been protecting them' he said.
'I'm in charge' Weir told him. 'The final decision was mine and the Buck Stops Here' she said. 'They must hate me' she decided.
'Perhaps' Vaselov conceded, 'though they are starting to be less trouble than they were when we first returned them to Atlantis for protection so in a few more weeks you might be able to try apologising to them once more without getting more things thrown at you' he suggested. 'Major Sheppard continues to be impressed at your reflexes.'
'I may have dodged the dinner tray that was hurled at me but I still had to clean the tuttle-root soup off my uniform' Weir replied, forcing a smile. 'I guess it's not very nice for the Troopers we have keeping the children confined in the section we put them in?'
'Once I had the guards put in Powered Armour the increased intimidation factor helped but the soldiers assigned to that duty do not enjoy it' Vaselov told her. 'Doctor Heightmeyer has been able to calm them down and has started counselling of those most traumatised by the Aquatoid attack and the abduction of their friends.'
'I should talk to her' Weir decided, how come I don't know that, she wondered? Have I really become that detached?
'Yes you should' Vaselov agreed. 'Hiding in this room feeling guilty is not productive and it is not making you feel better either' he informed her bluntly.
Weir glared at him. 'I'm not hiding' she replied sternly. 'I'm still doing my job' she continued defensively knowing that she was protesting a little too much.
'As a leader you are duty bound to do far more than merely go through the motions' Vaselov told her. 'You are as much a figurehead as you are a manager and administrator and people are starting to complain about it' he continued. 'I have tried my best to take some of the weight off your shoulders, transferring some of my own duties to Major Sheppard in the interim but you need to woman up' he declared.
'I wouldn't have let you in if I'd known I was going to be lectured' Weir responded with a scowl. 'And where the hell did you get the phrase "Woman Up" from?' she couldn't help but ask.
Vaselov frowned. 'I heard Captain Gaston tell a nervous scientist due to go through the stargate on a mission to man-up' he explained. 'It is not used for women too?' he queried.
'No' Weir replied.
'English may be the only language that suffers from multiple personality disorder' Vaselov decided. 'It is an unholy mixture of German, French and seemingly everything else all jumbled up and it frequently makes no sense at all' he declared, throwing up his hands.
'You wouldn't be the first person to think so' Weir replied, she spoke five Earth languages herself and since getting involved in the Stargate program had picked up Goa'uld and Ancient. 'We can switch to Russian if you like' she offered.
'No, I've heard your accent' Vaselov replied deadpan, trying not to laugh at the indignant expression that crossed her face for an instant.
'Are you here to try and make me feel worse than I already do?' Weir asked him.
'No I'm here because I want you to realise that shit happens and you need to get over it' Vaselov told her. 'I got that one right did I not?' he asked. 'Shit happens?'
'Yes that one was right' Weir replied with a sigh. 'I guess you've got a few things on your conscience that nag at you right?' she asked.
'During the fighting in Chechnya in 1999 I bombed several targets which most likely contained civilians as well as the rebels, it's also possible that there were no rebels there at all because our intelligence was not so great' Vaselov told her. 'They died and I was promoted to Colonel and transferred to the Space Program and then onto X-COM' he said. 'That bothers me sometimes' he admitted.
Weir looked away. 'All just Collateral Damage' she said quietly.
'Life is not fair, it is not just' Vaselov told her. 'Not everything is within your control and you should only dwell on the past in order to make sure you do not repeat the same mistakes, not to wallow in self pity' he said.
'I've got to ask' Weir replied. 'Did you draw the short straw when it came to trying this amateur psychology on me?' she asked.
'No, our professional Doctor Heightmeyer was of course too busy with the children and in terms of seniority it would fall to myself or Doctor McKay' Vaselov replied. 'I did not think McKay was well suited to the task' he added, greatly understating his feelings on the matter.
'Yes, I don't think it would have been Rodney's forte' Weir agreed.
'However that which he is good at he is very good at I will have to admit' Vaselov noted. 'I was asked to mention that he and Travoc have finally managed to fully get through the encryption on the files we obtained from the Drilling Platform and reintegrate them with the Atlantis Database where they had been deleted from' he said. 'What they have learned is very interesting.'
'And you won't tell me so I'll have to get out of here right now and ask right?' Weir asked.
'Right' Vaselov confirmed.
'Not the most subtle tactics' Weir told him.
'I am X-COM Doctor Weir' Vaselov told her, getting up off his chair. 'Subtle is not kicking in your door and having a squad of troopers dragging you out of here' he said, politely holding out his hand to help her up which she took.
'So how long would it have been before you decided to take over?' Weir asked, standing up herself.
'I have no desire to deal with all those civilians' Vaselov told her honestly. 'I would have submitted a report requesting a replacement from Earth if I thought you were going to continue to go about your duties like a robot then return to your quarters every day' he said. 'As a favour could you please reply to the emails from Commander Sharp's wife' he requested. 'Because you have not as yet she is on his back and he has been on mine.'
'The Tollan deciding not to send the ship carrying the Stargate Capacitor until they had a better idea of what was going on with the Aquatoids and were certain Atlantis was secure isn't my fault either' Weir pointed out. 'Cassandra being stranded here in Pegasus longer than expected is completely outside my control.'
'I agree but I believe the Commander is suffering the brunt of her mother's concern' Vaselov replied.
Weir smiled evilly. 'Nothing like schadenfreude to improve your mood' she said.
Colonel Vaselov frowned and shook his head. 'That is another example of what I was saying earlier' he responded. 'English does not merely borrow words from other languages' he said. 'It follows them into dark alleys and mugs them for vocabulary' he complained.
McKay was in his lab with Travoc and Major Sheppard when Weir and Vaselov got there. 'You're going to love this' Sheppard told them wryly as they arrived.
'Something in your tone tells me that's not true' Weir replied.
'That would be the sarcasm Ma'am' Sheppard told her. 'Rodney would you care to tell Doctor Weir and the Colonel your findings?' he requested.
Rodney groaned. 'Yes but you're really not going to be impressed at just how arrogant our ancestors were' he said.
'And that's coming from a man who knows his arrogance' Sheppard quipped, earning a look of annoyance from McKay in response.
'So what more have we learned?' Weir asked.
McKay rolled his eyes. 'As we suspected, shortly before the War with the Wraith the Ancient's new Drilling Platform was happily rolling along the seabed drilling for test samples when it discovered something very unexpected under millions of years worth of sedimentary rock' he said. 'Upon investigation the Lanteans were more than a little shocked to find an active time-dilation field down there which upon further study turned out to be surrounding a colony belonging to a species their own distant ancestors had dealt with back when stargates were the latest thing.'
'So what did they do?' Weir asked.
'Think overly curious children, a stick and a hornets nest' Sheppard told her. 'They kinda poked it' he said.
'Poked it?' Weir queried.
'You've got to remember it had been tens of millions of years since they had last encountered the Aquatoids' McKay reminded her. 'To them it was like us finding Carthaginians left over from the Punic Wars with Rome so instead of just blasting the thing they wanted to study it, thinking that with all their advanced technology it wouldn't be dangerous' he continued. 'So for a few months they devoted time and effort into researching what they'd found and they did learn a few interesting things I've got to admit' he said.
'Such as?' Weir asked.
'Well for a start just by dating the rocks around the colony they managed to get a decent theory on what had happened' McKay told her. 'Travoc, you read all this stuff want to continue?' he asked.
'Why not' the Tollan replied, crossing his arms. 'It's likely that the Aquatoids here in Pegasus were aboard a Aquatoid City-Ship the Alterans knew of from captured enemy prisoners but never managed to locate' he said.
'It was called T'leth' Sheppard interjected.
'Correct' Travoc confirmed. 'The Lantean scientists concluded that when the Aquatoids knew they were going to lose the war they sent T'leth to Pegasus to establish a new set of colonies, either as a survival strategy or perhaps intending to carry on the war after they had built up sufficient infrastructure' he said.
'So what happened?' Weir asked.
'Ah well you see after dating the rocks the Lanteans realised that the Aquatoids went to ground here in Pegasus right about the time that an automated vessel belonging to the Ancients arrived in this galaxy to seed stargates' Travoc replied. 'Although the Ancients didn't colonise Pegasus themselves until much later on they did set up stargates here to facilitate future expansion.'
'First generation stargates' McKay told Weir. 'The current ones in the Milky Way are Second Generation and those here in Pegasus are Third Generation ones which the Lanteans replaced the originals with when they relocated from Earth.'
'Is that really relevant Rodney?' Sheppard asked him.
'Details are important' McKay defended himself.
'Not always Doctor McKay' Colonel Vaselov told him. 'So the Lanteans reasoned that the Aquatoids hid because they presumably feared an Ancient Fleet arriving and finishing them off?' he checked.
'Yes' Travoc replied. 'They actually went so far as to send a remote probe through the time-dilation field to take readings which was probably a very big mistake.'
'That would be the poking I talked about' Sheppard noted.
'The Aquatoids woke up?' Weir asked.
'No' Travoc told her, 'or at least the Lanteans didn't think so which made them a little over-confident because they then decided they could get away with trying to access the colony database in order to determine the location of T'leth itself and any other Aquatoid outposts in Pegasus.'
'Coincidentally, or likely not, it was while they were trying to do this that the Wraith appeared and priorities shifted away from investigating an apparently inert colony towards fighting a war' McKay added.
'You believe the Wraith were created by the Aquatoids?' Vaselov checked.
'Biotechnology was their forte from what we know about them' Travoc replied.
'Yes but the Aquatoids didn't have Psionics and the Wraith...' Weir began then paused. 'Were designed to not have that weakness' she realised.
McKay nodded. 'We think the Wraith are a very large biological weapon which the Aquatoids released on the galaxy when the Lanteans woke them up' he said then looked awkward. 'It's possible that they've been monitoring their progress ever since and re-appeared now wondering what happened to all those hiveships we blew up.'
'But the Ancients lost the war ten-thousand years ago, why didn't the Aquatoids re-emerge then?' Weir queried.
'Maybe because Atlantis was still powered all that time and the Aquatoids didn't want to stick their heads up above the parapet until they were sure they weren't going to get them shot off by millions of drones' Sheppard suggested.
'We found a file in which one Lantean scientist named Janus did argue during the war that the Aquatoids were responsible for the Wraith, and that strange energy readings they were occasionally picking up in subspace weren't due to the space-vampires but were Aquatoid communications instead but he was ignored' Travoc told them.
Sheppard pursed his lips. 'Why dismiss the idea?' he asked.
'Because the Aquatoids didn't use subspace' McKay replied, 'or at least they didn't during their war with the Alterans' he continued. 'Janus counter-argued that the Aquatoids most likely developed subspace communications here in Pegasus after the war and said they would have probably been trying to develop their own equivalent of the drones and build hyperdrive starships too.'
'Because they didn't want to lose the rematch' Sheppard added in agreement himself.
'I'm afraid to say that the Ancients underestimated their enemy and overestimated themselves' Travoc observed. 'Their technology made them arrogant' he said.
'Sounds like another people I could mention' Sheppard replied with a smirk.
'Smartass' the Tollan responded, he knew very well his people were seen that way by others.
'So we don't think T'leth itself is here on Lantea?' Weir asked McKay, ignoring the exchange.
'No the Ancients confirmed that' McKay told her. 'They were planning to carry out detailed surveys of every planet in Pegasus, starting with the ones with large oceans of course, but the Wraith turning up prevented them before they could start.'
Sheppard 'So what now?' he wanted to know. 'I mean we haven't heard anything from the Aquatoids in weeks, do you think they've gone back to sleep?' he wondered.
'They wouldn't have learned much from the prisoners they took at least' Travoc noted. 'Do you think it might be worth trying to get the Asgard to attempt communication?'
'That would be the IOA's call but I've already suggested it' Weir replied. 'How are we set to defend Atlantis if they attack now?' she asked Vaselov.
'We're expecting the first ASROC missiles for our VLS batteries in the next supply shipment' the Colonel told her. 'I'm happy to say that my own country is also sending Shkval rocket torpedoes which will certainly be useful.'
'Didn't one of those things explode in the tube and sink one of your submarines?' Sheppard queried.
'A freak accident' Vaselov replied dismissively. 'In any case they are the fastest torpedoes made by any nation on Earth and coupled to nuclear warheads will provide us with a very useful capability' he said.
Weir gave Rodney a look which told him to make sure the damn things weren't going to blow up part of the city. 'We're not exactly well prepared to fight an enemy coming from below not above are we?' she asked.
'No we are not' Vaselov admitted. 'The drones represent our best weapon but we have very few' he said. 'We are certainly not equipped to fight actions underwater if it ever comes to that' he continued, 'the plasma weapons do not work at all in that environment, lasers are severely limited in capability even if we can modify our L2A3 rifles to fire underwater at the required frequency of light and we can't even use the cydonium that we make our armour from because salt water corrodes it very quickly.'
'We might be able to design some gear based loosely upon the Lantean deep-sea diving suits we found on the Drilling Platform if we need something like that' McKay suggested. 'If we used trinium instead of cydonium that would work but I'm still not sure how much conventional armour will help against sonic weaponry' he admitted. 'As for fighting underwater we could make you some spearguns I guess?'
'That's quite a step-down from a Heavy Plasma Rifle Rodney' Sheppard wryly observed.
McKay looked angry. 'What do you expect us to do?' he asked irately, taking that as a personal slight. 'We're not miracle workers that can turn weapons designed to be fired through the air into something that would work in...' he continued then trailed off. 'Okay I can get you something better than a speargun in a few days' he announced.
'That was fast even for you' Sheppard told him, amazed.
'I just realised we've already got everything we need to produce a gauss rifle' McKay explained. 'We never put much effort into developing mass-driver weapons because we already had plasma based ones but the more I think about it now the easier I think it'll be.'
'What's a gauss rifle?' Weir asked in confusion.
'A coilgun' McKay explained. 'You use electrical current to accelerate a projectile instead of a chemical reaction' he explained. 'If we use the battery packs from laser rifles, superconducting coils made from naquadah and I'm thinking silicon steel for projectiles I can get you a gun that would have a hypersonic muzzle velocity out of the water and still be going at a hell of a rate under it' he said confidently. 'We can probably make gauss-cannon too, arm the city and maybe some jumpers with them.'
'You know if we keep you under constant threat of alien attack the rest of your life you'll end up a nervous wreck but you'll have invented a hell of a lot of stuff Rodney' Sheppard told him appreciatively.Desert of Cethlenn – Magtireth (P9K-429) – January 2005
Morrigans forces defending the planet were breaking. She had deployed her elite Raven Guard into the fight to stiffen the ranks of her regular Jaffa and almost all of her reserves were now thrown into the fight too but against the forces Baal had sent to Magtireth they were simply outgunned and outclassed.
Thanks to his fleet of advanced Ha'taks Baal had brushed aside an armada consisting of the fleets of Morrigan herself, Olokun and Camulus and he was now blitzkrieging his way through Morrigan's territory, intending to knock her out of the war once and for all, securing his flank before dealing with Lord Yu.
Baal's motherships designed by Nerus were hybrids of those used by Apophis and Anubis, with Thoth further upgrading them since by adding scores of Plasma-Repeater-Cannon to their close-in arsenal as a defence against massed Deathgliders and Al'kesh. They were faster, more heavily armed and more heavily shielded than any Ha'tak seen before and despite the best efforts of the Tau'ri to disrupt Baal's logistics and destroy his shipyards there were now far, far too many of them in service for comfort.
It wasn't just in space that Baal now had a massive technological edge on the System Lords in opposition to him. When the first Troopships landed on Magtireth it wasn't Jaffa in chain mail armour carrying Staff-Weapons that poured out, instead the first wave consisted of hundreds of Kull Warriors who secured a landing zone for the bulk of the ground forces that followed in their wake. Next thousands of Jaffa landed, wearing the zat-proof and plasma-resistant body-armour developed by Sokar and bearing new Staff-Rifles like the Rebel Free Jaffa used, only these were also fitted with zat'nik'tel dischargers like the Tau'ri's own weapons.
If Baal's New Model Jaffa Army had only been supported by the Heavy Staff-Cannon and Plasma-Repeater-Cannon mounted on carriages they had with them it would have been bad enough for Morrigan's forces but when the invaders started bombarding entrenched positions and bunkers with massed Plasma Mortars even her vaunted Raven Guards soon began to waver. Overhead dozens of Baal's chappa'nok'kek ground-attack aircraft prevented Morrigan's Jaffa from pulling back to the next line of prepared defences once the first began to buckle, bombing them with Plasma-Charges and strafing them with Plasma-Repeater-Cannon when they tried.
If Magtireth fell Morrigan intended to surrender to Baal before he could devastate her capital world which lay in a system less than two hours away at the speed his ships could travel. She had already told her allies of this, thinking that although they would damn her as a coward and a traitor they would also send everything they could to her aid in order to keep her in the fight. Unfortunately although they had indeed rallied as a response, and their combined fleets were even now attempting to break through Baal's own to relieve Magtireth, by the time they could get here it would be too late.
The Raven Guards of Morrigan had long believed that their god loved them more than the gods of other Jaffa loved them. She was never needlessly cruel to her own followers, preferring to reward them for good service rather than punish them severely for failure and due to this they were ever loyal, knowing that life under almost any other goa'uld would be worse both for them and their families.
Baal himself had a reputation for being fair by the standards of the System Lords, but he was also ruthless to the point at which he would destroy worlds containing millions of his own subjects rather than let them fall into the hands of his enemy. It would certainly be better to be ruled by Baal than by a psychopath like Moloc for example but Morrigan's investment of instilled loyalty meant that her Raven Guards were still willing to fight on when the armies of Camulus or Olokun would have long since surrendered. Quite simply Morrigan's Jaffa and their families would likely live better more secure lives under their current ruler they thought and thus it a mixture of faith and perceived self-interest which stopped them giving up even after defeat looked inevitable.
Mek'nar, First Prime of Morrigan was leading the battle to defend Magtireth himself taking overall command of all forces whilst ceding direct control of the Raven Guard to his father Relnar who had preceded him as First Prime. Although approaching a hundred and twenty-five years and now retired from active service Relnar was considered by some a Jaffa Master to rival the once famed, and now infamous, Bra'tac and his reputation alone was likely doing more to help hold the line than another company of Jaffa would have managed.
Lacking any kind of sophisticated command and control apparatus Mek'nar was forced to rely upon message runners, and those few that managed to make it to and from the various units engaged without getting shot on the way delivered nothing but bad news. To be honest with himself Mek'nar knew that only the fact they still outnumbered Baal's forces by a considerable margin, and that they had dug in rather than try to fight the invader in the open, had prevented a total defeat within hours. Baal's forces were fighting almost like the cursed Tau'ri, Mek'nar thought bitterly. They would use artillery to soften up their objective and then using air-support to protect their flanks from counter-attacks they would concentrate their Kull Warriors and their disturbing well-equipped infantry in force to storm the position taking but few losses in the process. Free to manoeuvre, screened by their deadly artillery support and with total air-superiority the enemy could dictate the terms of the battle and they were conducting what Mek'nar had to admit was a very professional campaign that mixed overwhelming firepower with good tactical sense.
Expecting his command bunker to be quickly located and bombed Mek'nar had left it hours ago and was now leading his men as best he could from a trench not too far behind what was now the front line. Looking over the rim of the trench he could see a hill a league distant being pounded from a distance by Heavy Staff Cannon and Plasma Mortars while other gun-crews moved up the shorter-ranged but much faster-firing Plasma-Repeater-Cannon into range ready to support an assault. 'My father is there' Mek'nar said softly to himself, hoping that the old man would die bravely with honour when the Kull attacked and had not been blown into fragments already. Periodically a lone Staff-Cannon dug-in up on the hill would fire back, signalling defiance and proving that the Raven Guards holding the hill were not beaten yet but it seemed almost a futile gesture.
'Where are our deathgliders?' a young Jaffa warrior asked bitterly, Mek'nar turning to face him and now realising on looking more carefully that under the dirt on his face the boy serving as a runner could be no older than fourteen.
'They were all shot down after trying and failing to match the new deathgliders of Baal flown by his Aereon pilots' Mek'nar told him. 'Our warriors fought bravely, do not think otherwise' he said.
'Baal has no honour to use the orak Kull and Aereon monsters against true warriors' the boy declared. 'But our faith and bravery will win the battle' he added confidently.
Very young and definitely not very wise Mek'nar decided sadly. 'Just keep your head down' he advised. 'You would not serve your goddess well by getting it shot off when I will likely need you to carry a message inside it for me soon' he told him. 'We should only be grateful that we are not being bombarded from orbit' he said, knowing that this was most likely because Baals fleet was currently too busy doing to those of Morrigan, Camulus and Olokun what his ground forces were doing to the defending army here, in short beating the crap out of them.
'Morrigan will not abandon us' the young Jaffa said with certainty. 'I am certain that she is right now preparing to lead a new army here to drive off the invader' he said.
Mek'nar couldn't help but laugh at the naivety. 'How many Jaffa Warriors do you think Morrigan has that were not lost in previous battles with Apophis or Baal or are not already here?' he asked rhetorically. 'This is our last stand, Morrigan has no more warriors to send into the fight, our only hope for assistance is if Baal's fleet is defeated allowing what is left of the armies of our allies to get here' he said.
'They will come and if they do not we will just have to kill all the enemy ourselves' the boy said, demonstrating a lack of comprehension of the situation which Mek'nor decided was was almost awe-inspiring in scale. On the plus side however the First Prime no longer considered that the boy's brains being blown out was going to be any great loss to their goddess or the universe in general.
When Morrigan had told her allies that if Magtireth fell she would leave the alliance the System Lords had reluctantly dispatched what ships they could to try and beat back the enemy but the Tau'ri with so few capital vessels, and now a mini-empire of sorts to protect too, had been unwilling to send their own into the fray, not that a single Ha'tak and a pair of BC-303's could have achieved much anyway.
One advantage that the Tau'ri did have was that with their upgraded hyperdrives their Avenger Transports were considerably faster than even the ships used by Baal. The Ancient modifications severely reduced how long the drives would last but as long as you were prepared to completely overhaul the engines after running them flat-out for any length of time the overclocked hyperdrives on the Avengers gave Earth a considerable edge in capability over any of the Goa'uld. Currently five of the ships modified as bombers were being kept in constant readiness as a strategic deterrent, what had been their cargo bays now filled with Mark VIII naquadah-enhanced nuclear devices until their intended replacements the mighty Mark IX's with their even more fearsome naquadria boosted warheads could be put in service. This time however it wasn't those particular Avengers that were about to arrive at Magtireth, the ones now dropping out of hyperdrive at the edge of the atmosphere were carrying something as a payload that wasn't so indiscriminately destructive although it was nevertheless designed as a weapon of terror and intimidation.
The Jaffa said that only the desperate, the deranged and the Tau'ri would ever choose to emerge from hyperspace at full speed so close to a planet. There was always the problematic issue of decelerating and pulling up before you smashed into the ground and that was only if your shields hadn't failed and you weren't already incinerated by entering the atmosphere too fast at a highly ill-advised angle. If you were however intent on trusting your life to the pilots sat in front and the engineers who had put the thing together for the X-COM Troopers sat in the back of the four Avengers which were now ploughing their way through the stratosphere of P9K-429 there was no better way to drop headlong into a warzone.
Falling like meteors, shields engulfed in flame the four Avenger Transports hurtled from the sky about thirty miles from the battlefield, pulling up barely two thousand feet above the ground and then turning in formation they tore through the sky towards the scene of the fighting. Although taken by surprise Baal's deathgliders which had been patrolling high above protecting their ground troops from air attack began to vector towards the interlopers their Aereon pilots not merely ready for combat but created for it.
The Avengers slowed as they neared what was obviously the front line and the rear ramps began to lower, they wouldn't be landing but they didn't have to assuming the gear the Poor Bloody Infantry in the back actually worked as intended.
Mek'nar and thousands of others watched in amazement as the Tau'ri machines he recognised from images all Jaffa were now shown as part of their training suddenly turned ninety degrees and now flying parallel to the front lines a few miles back things began to tumble from the back, plummeting to the ground. 'If those are bombs then the Tau'ri have even worse aim than our pilots' he observed sagely.
As he fell through the sky Colonel Gomez Rodrigues hoped to hell that the technicians were right about the damn elerium powerplant built into the suit. They had nicknamed it "The Cat" saying that the gyroscope and electronics would automatically ensure that the anti-gravity unit would both slow his descent and ensure the suit would always land on its feet with no input from the wearer and to their credit it seemed they were right as the Mark II correctly orientated itself and Rodrigues landed upright and without to much of a jarring impact when his feet hit the ground.
Unfortunately he was facing the wrong way and as the rest of the troopers landing in a long string alongside him he turned towards where the fighting was. 'This is the Colonel' he said into the microphone fitted inside his helmet. 'Keep at least a hundred metres apart' he told his troopers as the line sorted itself out into a semblance of order. 'Raise shields and prepare to advance' he instructed them as he activated his suits own shield and made sure that all his weaponry was showing as operational. 'Up and at 'em X-COM' he bellowed. 'On the bounce!' he said activating the anti-gravity unit again in a pulse, putting a lot more spring in his step as he and another forty-seven X-COM Troopers in Mark II Powered Armour began bounding like demented kangaroos towards the enemy, each great leap into the air by the bulky suits covering a distance that an Olympic long-jumper could only dream of.
After unloading their cargo the Avengers had closed their ramps and accelerated away, their elerium powered gravity/induction sublight drives giving them performance that the deathgliders in pursuit could also only dream of. Keeping just out of effective weapons range the Avengers now had the task of drawing off as many of the enemy aircraft as they could so instead of going to afterburners and leaving the deathgliders trailing in their wake they let the opposition keep close enough on their tails to keep them interested as they now headed towards the north pole, dropping down to five hundred feet and ramping up to hypersonic velocity.
'What in the name of Morrigan is that?' Mek'nar asked incredulously as a line of what looked like gigantic fleas in the distance seemed to be jumping in his direction. As they neared he was able to get a better idea of their shape and realised they had arms and legs though the proportions were all wrong to be a man. 'Only the Tau'ri would possibly come up with something like that' he decided, realising that it must be some new type of the mechanical suits they used.
Some of the Troopers were making sounds that could only be described as squeals of delight as they advanced but Rodrigues forgave them because he himself was grinning like a lunatic behind his armoured faceplate. 'We're coming into range now boys and girls' he told them. 'Use your grenade launchers to take out the field guns first, then target any Kull you see before shooting up the regular infantry' he ordered, spotting a Staff-Cannon in the distance.
One of the Tau'ri suits jumped right over the top of the trench Mek'nar was in and he would later swear on his mother's life that he heard the human inside make a whooping sound as they sailed overhead, landing a half dozen paces ahead jumping again, doing so once more before they stopped and raised their left arm to take aim.
The targeting computer built into his helmet projected a firing solution onto the inside of his visor and Rodrigues took aim with the automatic grenade-launcher fitted to his suit. Because of variations in gravity and air-pressure as well as local wind conditions the suit's designers doubted that you could usually manage a first-round hit at long range but then again the launcher could cycle so fast you could always correct for the second shot or even walk the explosions onto your target if you had to.
With a loud "ka-pung" noise the grenade-launcher fired a high-explosive round towards the Staff-Cannon Rodrigues had spotted, the explosion kicking up a spray of arid soil just short of the target when it arrived shortly after. Demonstrating why he was rated the best soldier in X-COM the Colonels second round landed right on top on the field-piece destroying it and killing its gun-crew. 'Oh this is fun' Rodrigues said gleefully as he redirected his fire on a pair of Plasma-Repeater-Cannon that were quite obviously now being re-aimed in his direction.
Having soon attracted the attention of every field-gun the enemy had the troopers were not stupid enough to stay in one place so they could be shot at and they began moving again in chaotic fashion, pausing to fire their grenade launchers at targets of opportunity. As they closed with Baal's army they also started firing the Heavy Plasma Rifles they were carrying to deal with the Kull Warriors who were now spraying plasma bolts in their direction, the energy bursts splashing ineffectually against the shields of the Mark II's.
Not all of the troopers were carrying grenade launchers and as a chappa'nok'kek came in on a strafing run it ran headlong into a naquadah-enhanced blaster-bomb which was fired at it by a Tau'ri soldier assigned to air-defence. The explosion was only in the low-kilotons but the gate-fighters own shield was not strong enough to survive that treatment and what was left of the craft after most of it was turned to vapour rained down over the desert.
Now already far to the north the Avengers suddenly went to afterburner and began to climb towards high altitude, the deathgliders trying and failing to keep up with the rate of climb and acceleration of the Tau'ri machines, once they were at the edge of space and going nearly full speed the Avengers pulled as sharp a turn as they could and began heading back towards the battlefield baffling the skilled but unimaginative Aereons following them.
Soon out of grenades because of the sheer number of worthwhile targets Rodrigues and the others had begun to engage the enemy infantry in earnest. Their job now was to slaughter as many as possible, as much for the psychological impact on the rest as it was to kill those who were unfortunately enough to be gunned down.
On many occasions the suits were hit by heavy weapons but their sheer mobility meant that it was hard to hit them again before they made a hasty jump away. The shield could survive several hits from a Staff-Cannon and would recharge from the suits naquadah-reactor if given some respite so none of the Mark II's and the troopers inside had been lost to enemy fire, a result better than Rodrigues had dared hope for. The element of surprise and the sheer shock of being attacked by the Tau'ri in this unorthodox manner had sent Baal's forces reeling, confusion reigned as the casualties soared.
The rate-of-fire of the three-barrelled plasma-repeater on his right arm was such that Rodrigues found he could practically cut Jaffa Infantry in half, their own armour unable to withstand the onslaught. The Kull were more resilient but his P3-A1 dealt with them handily enough and their own Plasma-Repeaters acted more like tracer-fire telling him where they were rather than as a serious threat to his suit as long as he kept a careful eye on the shield level and made sure to pull back from the fighting and let it recharge when necessary.
'Okay we've made our point and I think we've helped out here enough troopers' the Colonel signalled to his men. 'Time to get the hell out of dodge' he ordered, he and the others starting to bound back in the direction they had come from.
'They are fleeing?' the young Jaffa sharing a trench with Mek'nar asked in bewilderment. 'But they are surely not defeated?' he asked.
'The Tau'ri make war in strange ways' Mek'nar replied with a shrug. 'Perhaps they are re-grouping for another attack?' he theorised.
Two more chappa'nok'kek came screaming in, firing their plasma-repeater-cannon at the fleeing Tau'ri. They might have killed several if not for the blindingly bright beams of green light which speared one then the other heralding the return of the Avengers as they once again hurtled from the sky only this time slowing down to land it seemed.
The First Prime of Morrigan watched as the Tau'ri craft began to set down so their soldiers could climb aboard. 'They're leaving' he said in surprise, wondering if their intervention had been more aimed at telling both their enemies and allies what they could do rather than as an attempt to actually prevent the fall of Magtireth.
'Yes and their ships are playing music, can you hear it?' the young Jaffa added.
Mek'nar realised the boy was right and tried to pick out what it was."Oh, they've got no time for glory in the Infantry.
Oh, they've got no use for praises loudly sung.
But in every soldier's heart in all the Infantry
Shines the name, shines the name of Rodger Young."
By the time the deathgliders made it to the scene the Avengers were on their way to orbit and getting ready to hyperspace home, they had sent the message they intended.
Note from the Author:In X-COM: Terror from the Deep it's learned that the Sectoid foe from X-COM: UFO Defence are perhaps descended from the Aquatoids so here I'm following that canon in making them the progenitors of the Asgard. The Aquatoids were an extremely nasty opponent in terms of the methods they employed which included turning human prisoners into Deep Ones or Bio-Drones. They employed powerful sonic-based weaponry (not a nice effect on your internal organs!) and a large proportion of their entire tech-base was organic. Regarding the subject races of the Aquatoids I think the Ohnes of P3X-866 are the best match for the Gillmen and the Gadmeer being reptilian with a tail make a good Tasoth descendant. The Ancients made the Gadmeer extremely docile compared to their ancestors and also gene-tweaked them so they wouldn't be interested in Earth-like worlds anyway. The extremely old Alteran ship Destiny from Stargate Universe uses a different form of FTL travel than the hyperdrive which seems to have replaced it later (likely because it's not very fast). If both the Ancients and Aquatoids were using this slower FTL then when the former invented hyperdrive it would be a serious military advantage, one that the latter might well have trouble copying because we know from the organic Wraith Ships that subspace travel is bad for them. To me the Drone Weapons have always looked like something that was intended for underwater use. Having them originally designed to fight the Aquatoids fits nicely I think, as does a fear of the old enemy returning being why the Ancients placed Defence Platforms armed with Drones on their colonies.We know from Stargate Universe that the Stargate Seeding Ships (with Destiny following) left Earth millions of years ago and headed out into the wider cosmos after planting stargates in closer galaxies like Pegasus. Here it was the arrival of these automated ships which caused the Aquatoids of T'leth and the colonies they had established to go to ground (fits the canon timeline quite nicely I thought!).I couldn't imagine Weir not feeling more than a little guilty and remorseful for what happened to the children relocated from M7G-677 to the Lantean mainland so she's been moping around ever since a number of them were abducted by the Aquatoids (who are being quiet again, planning deep dark plots in the deep dark ocean...). Atlantis has already been equipped with an Aegis System for air-defence and has VLS missile batteries for Standard Missiles which can also fire ASROC anti-submarine rockets (which have torpedoes as a payload). The Russian military is providing the VA-111 Shkval, a supercavitating torpedo (or rather an underwater rocket) which can go over 200 knots). Gauss weaponry is a feature of X-COM: Terror from the Deep although not in the form of the coilguns I've described here which seem more in keeping with the technology and equipment they already have availableMagtireth was a world belonging to Morrigan and seemed as good a place for a battle as any. Mek'nar was her First-Prime having taken over from his father Relnar. The Raven Guards are the elite Jaffa of Morrigan and I thought it likely that they would be deployed in dire circumstances like this. With his new weapons Baal is winning the war and the occasional bloody nose at the hands of the Tau'ri is not going to alter that fact. I couldn't imagine an Avenger pilot not playing that song on his loud-speakers in the circumstances by the way