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XSGCOM: Terra from the Deep

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This story is No. 2 in the series "XSGCOM Series: SG-1 meets X-COM". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: SG-1/X-COM Crossover - As old enemies fall by the wayside new ones appear to challenge the Tau'ri and their allies.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Stargate > Non-BtVS/AtS Stories(Current Donor)HotpointFR1819149,39738294119,8163 Jan 103 May 11No

Chapter Sixteen

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.

Planet Dagan – Pegasus Galaxy – April 2005

'Okay, I can see how the god-like technology, not to mention creating the human race in the first place, might lead to your race being worshipped but I'm not seeing nearly enough evidence of you trying to discourage it' Major Sheppard told Janus disparagingly as the local woman continued to prostrate herself before the Ancient who had just arrived. McKay had returned to Atlantis to fetch him after being told the Daganian legend of how at the end of the Wraith war a Lantean had come to this world with the "Potentia", a ZPM, and had asked the people there to hide it and keep it safe until the Ancients returned.

'It wasn't anyway near this bad in my day' Janus protested, some human worlds had been more than a little sycophantic though he had to admit. 'Its Allina isn't it?' he asked the woman rhetorically. 'Could you please stop this, you're embarrassing me' he pleaded. Even the Athosians hadn't been this bad he thought ruefully.

'You know my name' Allina said in wonder. 'Truly the Ancestors can see into the hearts and souls of men' she continued in an awestruck tone, nervously raising her head to look upon the Lantean.

'Actually Doctor McKay told me what your name was when we were walking here from the Astrea Porta' Janus explained. Some Lanteans did possess great powers of telepathy, telekinesis and other psionic abilities as their race neared ascension but he wasn't actually one of them. This was probably the reason he devoted his life towards science not philosophy and "self improvement" like so many of his contemporaries. 'Really, please get up' he requested.

'As you wish' Allina complied, slowly getting up off the stone floor of the old library. 'My people have dreamed of your return for so long' she told Janus, still unable to look him in the eyes. When McKay and the others in the first group of Terrans to come to Dagan had told her that there was an Ancestor back on Atlantis she had not truly believed them but now here he was in the flesh having proved his identity to her by demonstrating his mastery of several devices which Major Sheppard could only just barely switch on.

'I get that a lot' Janus replied awkwardly, as well as the Athosians he had also recently met a delegation from the Genii plus representatives from several worlds allied or associated with them including the Latirans and the Manarians. 'I'd better tell you that it's just me' he admitted. 'The rest of my people are long gone' he informed her apologetically. 'I'm only here because the Terrans thought it might help them locate the potentia here if I explained to you personally that it was me that told them there might still be one here on Sudaria.'

'They call it Dagan now' Sheppard reminded him.

'Yes, Dagan' Janus corrected himself. Sometime in the last few thousand years the world and its population had changed names, another reminder to Janus of just how out of his own era he was.

'You truly wish us to aid these Terrans?' Allina queried. 'To help them locate the Potentia and then just let them take it?' she asked.

'Well it's not like you're using it' Sheppard observed. Even if they found it, and it had been lost for a very long time, they still couldn't use it for anything because Dagan society was now at a basically Renaissance-era technological level after ten millennia of cullings and deliberate suppression of technology by the Wraith.

Allina frowned. 'My people were instructed to keep it safe until the Ancestors returned' she noted. 'It has been our sacred duty for hundreds of generations' she added. 'It has only been very recently that we began to search through the remaining archives to look for it ourselves.'

Sheppard made a coughing noise to attract the attention of Janus and pointed to himself meaningfully, the Ancient nodding his understanding. 'The Lanteans as a people are long gone as I said' Janus told Allina again. 'The most that is left of them besides me runs through the veins of the Terrans now' he continued, trying to hit the right note of persuasion. 'When we left Atlantis to escape the Wraith we went to Major Sheppard's world, some of us mixing our bloodlines with the humans there which is why he and a few others from his planet can use the Lantean technology which the humans of this galaxy cannot' he explained. 'My people, your "Ancestors", are about as returned as they're ever likely to be' he said.

The Daganian woman thought about that. 'So you are saying that we were not worthy to bear your children but they were?' she asked, feeling shame.

Janus sighed. 'No it wasn't anything like that' he replied. 'It was a crime to interbreed with humans here' he explained. 'The Lantean High Council wanted to make sure through genetic locks that you couldn't use devices we didn't want you to, including our weapons' he said. 'After the evacuation to Terra, with the High Council soon disbanded and the old rules fell by the wayside.'

'And much screwing of human chicks and building of prohibited time-travel machines began' Sheppard interjected, smirking slightly. He himself was a direct result of Ancients getting busy with humans on Earth back before the Bronze Age.

'There probably are a few humans in this galaxy who carry Ancient DNA' Janus said. 'Not everyone obeyed the law' he told Sheppard. The reason the gene was stronger and far more prevalent amongst Terran stock was simply a result of there being only a few million humans alive on Earth when the Lanteans arrived fleeing the Wraith so even a few thousand of the refugees could have a moderate effect on the gene-pool. In Pegasus conversely the handful of Lanteans who broke the rules and did mate with the billions of humans living there before the cullings began had barely caused a ripple.

Allina considered the situation. 'If the Terrans are the true Children of the Ancestors then they have a valid claim on the Potentia, especially when it is your wish that they should' she decided. 'I will talk it over with the others' she said.

'You might want to add that if they want to make sure that the City of the Ancestors isn't destroyed by the Wraith then another Zero Point Module would go a long way towards ensuring that' Sheppard advised.

As Allina left them to go see the other Daganians Janus looked around the room. It was in a better state than much of the ruined complex of buildings they were in but he had visited Sudaria a few times before the fall of Atlantis and remembered how it had once been. It saddened him to see how another world had fallen so far, if not perhaps as far as the Athosians who had once lived in an advanced industrialised society but had ended up not much more than a primitive semi-nomadic culture. 'We should have done a better job fighting the Wraith' he said regretfully.

'Not your fault your species just didn't have it in them' Sheppard replied with a shrug, some of the less diplomatic X-COM element would have made a comment about the Ancients being all brains and no balls. 'So, still trying to decide what you're going to do with yourself?' he asked.

Janus smiled. 'Elizabeth keeps asking me to stay and help you out' he responded.

'Which one?' Sheppard asked.

'Both of them' Janus replied, his smile turning into a grin. 'It must be about the only thing they don't argue about' he added.

Sheppard grinned himself. 'I think it was when the one you and SG-1 rescued from the past told our Elizabeth she was gradually turning into Commander Sharp that the real venom started' he said. 'I've got to say that listening to the boss trying to justify taking the ZPM from the kids on M7G-677, and mass-nuking the Wraith, to herself was just gold' he said. Watching had been hilarious. It almost verged on schizophrenia made flesh he decided.

'My Elizabeth, I mean the one we went back to get, never had to make those decisions' Janus replied. 'I don't think she thought she was someone that could' he theorised.

'Drop someone into the right, or rather the wrong circumstances, and you'll see a new side to them' Sheppard replied before a quizzical expression crossed his face. 'Okay, one question' he said. 'If you didn't want your people to interbreed with humans then why make it even possible?' he asked. 'Surely you could have fixed our DNA so it wasn't compatible?'

Janus nodded. 'We could have but the decision was taken early on that we wanted humans to see us more like parents creating children than mad scientists creating a lab experiment' he replied. 'It was also thought it would help keep our own future behaviour ethical if you were more like a sub-species than an entirely new race' he continued. 'One of the more important dividing lines between species is the ability to mate and produce viable offspring after all' he said. 'We made you look like us, you can interbreed with us so you practically are us.'

'But you didn't trust the children to play with your best toys' Sheppard observed sardonically.

'Would you give someone from the Terran Stone Age one of your Coherent Light Weapons?' Janus responded knowingly. 'The Tollan are the most technologically advanced human society I've seen, the humans of Langara the most mentally developed, but even they have a very long way to go before they're at our level.'

'We're not exactly cavemen you know' Sheppard replied, more than a little indignant at the implication.

'I admit you've come a very long way in a very short space of time' Janus conceded, 'but you just don't understand how dangerous our technology can be' he said. 'A misused potentia could practically destroy an entire stellar system and when we attempted to make an even more powerful energy source for our weapons we almost did by complete accident' he continued. 'You know I once nearly blew up every astrea porta in the galaxy myself' he admitted, 'and the less said about our forays into weaponised nanotechnology the better' he added, rolling his eyes. 'We were smarter than you, more cautious, and we still made hideous mistakes.'

A wry smile formed on Sheppard's face. 'You know if you gave that speech to the humans in this galaxy it might solve the problem of them worshipping you' he suggested.

'I'll give it a try the next time one of them asks me to bless their child' Janus replied, sighing.

'Okay, I've got to ask' Sheppard addressed him. 'How did you manage to nearly blow up all the stargates in Pegasus?' he queried, intrigued.

Janus groaned. 'I had an idea for an interference signal in subspace that would make Wraith Hyperdrives explode when they tried to open a hyperspace window' he replied. 'Our own ships engines run on a completely different frequency so they would still work and we could have just hunted down any remaining Wraith Hives which had stayed put.'

'Didn't work?' Sheppard guessed.

'Oh it worked alright' Janus replied, 'as soon as I turned it on we started getting reports of Wraith Hives and Cruisers blowing up right across the galaxy' he said. 'The problem was that they arrived at the same time as reports that astrea porta were exploding too.'

'Ouch' Sheppard commented with a grimace. From what he knew a stargate exploding would yield a larger explosion than a Mark VIII warhead.

'We turned the device off and scrapped the project immediately' Janus replied. 'It was an entirely unexpected side-effect and it actually proved there was a slight error in our understanding of subspace physics.'

'Killed a few Wraith at least' Sheppard noted.

'Along with the tens of thousands of humans who were killed by the exploding stargates before we could shut down the Attero Device' Janus responded sadly. 'I'm an accidental mass-murderer' he added quietly. 'I spent years trying to figure out a solution once we knew exactly what the problem was but I couldn't' he said.

Sheppard nodded. 'Pity you didn't still use the old-style stargates here in Pegasus that you did in the Milky Way I guess' he said.

'No, it wouldn't have helped they would have exploded too' Janus replied. 'The ones here are more advanced in some ways but the basic operating principle is exactly the same regarding the wormholes' he explained.

'No I meant the way the Milky Way stargates can be turned off, or at least they could until we re-wrote their code anyway' Sheppard replied.

Janus looked confused. 'I'm sorry?' he queried.

'Oh, one of our scientists once infected a stargate DHD with a computer virus' Sheppard explained. 'We wanted the ability to turn off the gates on goa'uld planets' he explained. 'The problem was that one of the goa'uld managed to alter the virus so it began spreading from gate to gate turning them all off until we managed to fix it and do something to stop it ever happening again' he said. 'I remember it because for a while I thought I was going to be spending the rest of my life flying SG Teams around the galaxy in an Avenger.'

The Lantean blinked. 'You turned off the stargates...' he said slowly. The virus must have spread via the correlative update system he realised as the implications sunk in.

'Are you okay?' Sheppard asked Janus, the scientist had just gone very pale.

Janus sank to his knees. 'We were looking at completely the wrong end of the problem' he said, voice trailing off. 'Just turn off the astrea porta and then turn on the Attero Device.'

Major John Sheppard looked down at the Lantean. 'You never thought of that did you?' he asked rhetorically. 'It would have worked with the Pegasus stargates too wouldn't it?' he added.

'Yes' Janus practically whispered back, staring blankly into nothingness for what seemed like an eternity before he threw his head back and screamed in anguish.

'Oh yeah, and we're supposed to be the dumb ones you couldn't trust with the super-weapons' Sheppard observed, rolling his eyes.

United Worlds Building – Heliopolis (P3X-972) – April 2005

Sometimes when he ventured outside the great dome which housed the UW Building Ernest Littlefield still wondered why the hell he had ever agreed to come back to this desolate storm-ridden planet but for the most part he actually enjoyed being the de-facto governor of Heliopolis. He certainly liked it here more than he had being on Earth after half a century of involuntary exile and loneliness, it had simply been too hard to adjust to living among so many people in a society which had changed so much since the 1940's despite Catherine doing her best to help.

Sometimes the small number of archaeologists still based on P3X-972 found something worth investigating, some remnant of the age when the planet had been the diplomatic hub of the old "Alliance of Four Great Races", but mostly Ernest just found himself greeting important dignitaries rather than digging through the ruins outside. For her part Catherine desperately wanted to get back to the real action, maybe join a team working on Vis Uban but Ernest hadn't made up his mind yet and there was no way she would go without him.

Walking along a corridor towards the gate-room Ernest stopped by a mirror fixed to the wall and took a brief look at himself, a habit he had gotten into that he couldn't shake. 'Well I look a lot better than my grandfather did at my age' he observed, smiling at the thought that he was at least twenty-five years older than anyone would ever think by looking at him. Several months of weekly spells in a back-engineered goa'uld sarcophagus had given him back some of the life he had lost when first trapped here and the same treatment meant that Catherine meant that at nearly eighty-two herself she could easily pass for her late fifties. 'Damn hair didn't grow back though' he complained, wondering if they might find a cure for male-pattern baldness in the Atlantis database after the military stopped trawling through it for weapon designs.

There were less than two hundred people based on Heliopolis, half of them diplomatic or support staff for the United Worlds and the rest being maintenance crews, the small military garrison and the handful of resident archaeologists. Situated well within the area of space generally referred to as the "Tauri Protectorate" P3X-972 was nonetheless considered neutral territory which was why civilian scientist Ernest rather than a military officer had found himself "Governor" as the Earth's diplomatic corps tried desperately to make their homeworld appear less like a breeding ground for psychotic militaristic adventurers and more like the kind of planet even the pacifistic Nox and Gadmeer could have meaningful civilised relations with.

'Mister Littlefield' a voice broke Ernest out of his thoughts and he turned to see Joseph Faxon the Tau'ri representative to the United Worlds approaching. 'Have you seen the seating plan for the function tomorrow?' he asked rhetorically. 'We can't put the Tagreans next to the Tegalans, it would be too confusing' he stated, only half in jest.

Ernest laughed. 'Maybe we shouldn't have invited the Tegalans to join and saved ourselves the problem' he joked.

Faxon smiled. 'Once the Caledonian Federation and the Rand Protectorate signed a treaty of cooperation we ran out of excuses not to' he replied. 'It's easily solved, we just order everyone according to when they joined the United Worlds instead of alphabetically.'

'It's a pity we translate all the languages phonetically or we could have ordered them according to a different alphabet' Ernest responded. 'I noticed that we've started changing the signs so they're in Ancient with English translations underneath' he said.

'You know we received a few comments to the effect that the United Worlds possibly needed to look a little less like a club for the Tau'ri and their associates' Faxon explained. 'Ancient just seemed like the best choice given that nobody still uses it as an everyday language' he said. 'At least not outside the Pegasus galaxy anyway' he added, a few of the cultures there still used that script apparently. 'I assume you're going to meet the Tok'ra delegation?' he queried.

'It seemed like the thing to do in the circumstances' Ernest confirmed. 'Thought we should play extra nice even if it wasn't us that did it' he said. 'It wasn't was it?' he asked seriously.

Joe Faxon shook his head. 'From what I've heard through official and unofficial channels the Tok'ra now accept it was a rogue operation but that opened up almost as many new questions as it answered' he responded. 'The Tok'ra wanted to meet here not at the SGC because they're still extremely angry' the diplomat continued, 'not without good cause either.'

'It's up to us to keep our own house in order' Ernest agreed. 'I never trusted the cloak-and-dagger boys back in my day' he said. 'There was always something off about everyone I ever met who was with the OSS.'

'You know it's been called the CIA for nearly sixty years now' Faxon replied, smiling.

'Names change, faces change, but the same kind of people are still going to be attracted into that kind of work' Ernest stated. 'Trust me if you'd met the OSS guys involved with the original stargate program back in the 1940's you'd see they'd fit right in with the CIA, NID or any other bunch of spooks today' he continued. 'Not everything changed while I was away, technology advances but human nature is a constant.'

'I should probably get back to briefing Lieutenant-General Hammond, we only took a short recess while Richard Woolsey used our subspace transmitter to call Earth and ask for an update from the IOA in New York' Faxon said, checking his watch. 'Brigadier-General O'Neill should have been here half an hour ago.'

'I'll send him your way when he arrives' Ernest offered, it wasn't like he had much to do until he met Catherine for Lunch. Despite a lot of reading and several computer courses his skill set was still generally more than little out-of-date even if he did have a résumé which included working on the Manhattan Project and a stint as one of Albert Einstein's assistants.

When Jack O'Neill did arrive from the SGC he was quickly hurried to where the meeting was taking place and ushered inside. 'Been busy saving the galaxy Jack?' Hammond asked sardonically as his replacement as commander of Stargate Command took his seat. As well as the two generals, Woolsey for the IOA and Ambassador Faxon of course O'Neill was mildly surprised to find Commander Sharp was there for X-COM and the Tok'ra were represented by Per'sus who ranked only behind Egeria herself in the Tok'ra ranks, Malek their highest ranking military officer plus the scientist Ren'al and Selmak, AKA Jacob Carter.

'Something like that Sir' O'Neill replied, he was still trying to catch up with what he had missed during his brief stint as a Time-Jumper pilot and then in Pegasus. It was amazing how much could happen in a couple of weeks and he had been delayed whilst attempting to get a grip on the current galactic situation by speed-reading reports, though given the seniority of the people here he was now starting to regret not being early.

Richard Woolsey gave O'Neill a look of reproach for his tardiness. 'And now since the Brigadier has graced us with his presence we might want to quickly go over the situation again' he suggested to the Tok'ra delegation.

'I'll run him through it if that's okay?' Jacob offered, looking to Per'sus for approval getting a nod in response. 'Look story short Jack it looks like the goddamn NID is trying to beat Baal by committing genocide on his Jaffa.'

'What?' O'Neill exclaimed.

'You should count yourselves lucky we now believe that it was a rogue element of your security apparatus which was responsible or else the Tok'ra and Free Jaffa would have broken off all relations with the Tau'ri' Per'sus stated flatly.

'Not that big a loss in my opinion but politics is outside my sphere' Sharp commented quietly, if not quietly enough. The look he earned from Woolsey for muttering that being far more venomous than the one O'Neill had received beforehand.

'I spend a few days travelling through time and visiting friends a couple of galaxies over and everything goes to hell' O'Neill commented. 'What happened?' he queried.

Jacob's voice changed as Selmak, the symbiote he carried, took over. 'As you are aware Brigadier-General O'Neill the Tok'ra developed a toxin some time ago which was lethal in the extreme for our kind' he said. 'Not even your VX nerve agent comes close to being so deadly in small amounts, only a minute quantity breathed in as an aerosol would kill a goa'uld, tok'ra or a Jaffa carrying a prim'ta in seconds.'

'Which is why we never gave the Tau'ri the formula' Malek interjected. 'Certain senior elements in your military were not deemed safe with such knowledge' he said, looking directly at Sharp.

'I prefer my WMD to come with great big mushroom clouds thanks, it's a matter of aesthetics' Sharp responded to the obvious slight. 'Anyway, we know the goa'uld can produce chemical and biological weapons like the plague Nirrti used on Hanka and I'm not stupid enough to provoke retaliation in kind' he continued. 'Even if we could produce the stuff in sufficient quantities to hit every goa'uld planet at once we'd still miss all the enemy forces in space and then they'd make us pay' he said. That kind of escalation was in nobody's interest, even when they employed nuclear weaponry X-COM was careful to limit their use to either purely military targets or ones where civilian casualties would be minimal.

'Unfortunately it appears that not everyone from your world appears to reason the same way as you Commander' Selmak responded.

'And you'll never hear a Tok'ra say that again' O'Neill couldn't resist commenting. 'So why are we talking deadly poison?' he asked, intrigued.

'Because while you were in Pegasus a Tok'ra facility was raided and much of our own stockpile was stolen' Selmak replied.

'By who?' O'Neill asked.

'By the Tau'ri' Per'sus answered. 'Although their means of transportation confused us for a while since the ship they used was a type we had not encountered before.'

'It was a large ship bigger than an Al'kesh and with cloaking capabilities' Jacob told O'Neill, taking over from Selmak. 'Damn thing just appeared hovering right over our base, knocked out the defence batteries and landed troops.'

'They recorded images' Hammond told O'Neill. 'It was a Spirit Class Freighter.'

'You mean like Loki uses?' O'Neill responded, more than a little surprised. 'The NID stole one of the ones we captured?'

'No, all the Spirit Class ships we've ever taken are accounted for, only one of them is even operational anymore because they burn as much elerium to run as a fighter wing so we mothballed the rest on Mars' Sharp chipped in. 'We've got no idea where the hell the NID got the thing from.'

'And we're sure it's the NID?' O'Neill queried.

'One of the Tok'ra guards who tried to stop them got a good look at the guys attacking the base before he took a three-round burst from an M16 in the chest' Jacob replied. 'He survived and once we stabilised him we were able to pull an image from his mind.'

'They gave us a copy to check against our records' Sharp informed O'Neill. 'Well they did after they first insisted that I submit to a lie-detector test to prove I had nothing to do with it myself' he complained bitterly.

Ren'al rolled her eyes. 'Commander, according to the results of the investigation you agreed to while under the za'tarc detector you were more annoyed at the implication that if you had been responsible there would have been any live witnesses left behind than you were the accusation you were guilty of carrying out the attack' she reminded him.

'I objected to the implication I'm some kind of blundering amateur' Sharp replied curtly, them thinking he was a ruthless amoral bastard was perfectly fine by him. 'The image they took from the Tok'ra matched an NID agent named Hoskins who went AWOL a couple of years back' he told O'Neill.

O'Neill frowned. 'How the hell did the freaking NID get offworld and lay their hands on one of Loki's spaceships?' he asked reasonably.

'We have absolutely no idea' Hammond replied honestly. 'What we do know is that based on both this incident and their prior record of what they did when they operated away from Earth before they have no problem in attacking our allies as well as our enemies' he said. 'As well as the toxin they stole the contents of the base armoury.'

'Plus a large quantity of naquadah' Per'sus admitted for the first time, causing the Tau'ri to look surprised.

General Hammond frowned. 'What grade?' he asked.

'Weapons grade' Per'sus replied. 'Part of the regular shipments the Tau'ri have been providing us with for some time now.'

'How much exactly are we talking about?' Sharp wanted to know.

'Just over a hundred bars' Per'sus told him.

'How much naquadah is a bar?' Joseph Faxon asked curiously.

'They're fifteen kilo's apiece because of the density of the damn stuff' Sharp told him. 'That's over thirty pounds in your terms' he explained to the American.

'Is that enough to build a naquadah bomb from?' Faxon queried.

'Let me put it this way' General Hammond replied this time. 'There's a lot less than that in one of our Mark VIII warheads and one of those would give you third degree burns in Philadelphia if it went off over Washington DC' he said. 'Might have been nice to have been told about this earlier Jacob' he told his old friend, the former USAF General adopting an awkward expression in response.

'If they've got one of Loki's ships and that much naquadah even if they can't figure out how to make more of that snake poison then they'll still be able to cause us some serious grief' Sharp growled.

'Calling our friends "snakes" as a racial epithet is no better than them calling us "monkeys" Commander' Woolsey reproached Sharp, 'worse even given that the Goa'uld and Tok'ra are not in fact snakes whereas we are very closely related to monkeys' he noted.

'My apologies, I'll try to come up with a less racially-charged term of abuse in future' Sharp responded with a smirk, enjoying the expression of near-hatred Malek was directing his way. While Jack O'Neill had carefully cultivated the impression that he was stupider than he was, so that people underestimated him, Russell Sharp deliberately went out of his way to project the persona of the man no alien ever wanted the Tau'ri politicians to let off the leash. Never push Earth too far or they might let X-COM push back the way they always wanted to.

'Copy me in on the memo when you've got one' O'Neill requested. 'So do we have any idea what we're going to do?' he asked.

'We've got no way of tracking a vessel that's using Loki's cloaking technology, not even Asgard sensors or the Ancient tech Anubis put on his ships to detect Goa'uld cloaks can do that' Hammond replied. 'We'll probably have to approach the problem from the other direction and try to capture any rogue NID personnel we can find on Earth hoping they'll have information we can use.'

'Hell for all we know they might be operating the ship from Earth' O'Neill remarked.

Sharp shook his head. 'Too much chance of us picking up their hyperspace wake' he said. 'We might not be able to see them in normal space but any ship that size would run the risk of being picked up by our detection grid if they were spending much time flying around the Protectorate' he pointed out. 'Why would they take the risk?' he asked rhetorically. 'So you also mentioned they cleared out your armoury, what did they get?'

'A small number of Tau'ri supplied Plasma Pistols and Laser Rifles' Malek answered, 'two crates of zat'nik'tels, four of Staff-Rifles, a case of Shock Grenades a shoulder-fired Light Staff-Cannon and a number of Transphase Eradication Rods.'

'If they were using projectile weapons before I can see why they'd want them' Sharp observed, at least the Laser Rifles would be of the older less-powerful type, Earth hadn't provided the Tok'ra with L2-A3's.

'I hate to say it but you know if this involves the NID, and we're going to try and get this situation cleared up quickly, I can make a suggestion on who we should try and bring in' O'Neill said. 'Assuming we can get him' he added.

'I have the IOA's authority to recruit anyone we need' Woolsey stated. 'This is extremely high priority.'

'If you're thinking who I'm thinking his price might be high and it won't just be money it'll be official diplomatic recognition' Hammond told O'Neill.

O'Neill sighed. 'Okay, you want this sorted you need to bring in Harry Maybourne, you need to give him a free hand and you need the United Worlds to formally accept that he's the sovereign ruler of the planet that made him king' he declared, visibly pained by saying it.

'That's a big ask diplomatically' Faxon responded, the man was basically a con-artist as far as he knew.

'Wait until you see the development aid package he'll somehow talk you into afterwards' O'Neill replied.

Santhal – Pegasus Galaxy – April 2005

An extremely predatory species the Wraith had the instinctual habit of snarling and baring their teeth when unexpectedly confronted by an enemy. This was something they could get away with when facing humans armed with pointy sticks but in this situation it merely gave the particular human stood in front of armed with an L2-A3 Laser Rifle the opportunity to get over his own shock at practically running straight into the alien as they both made their way through the dense woodland. While the wraith menaced with his teeth, forgetting the stun-pistol in his hand, the human pulled his own weapon's trigger, burning an instant hole in the alien and pretty much proving that army training trumps instinct as the wraith fell backwards with a smoking hole in his chest.

They had told him before he arrived at Atlantis that these things were surprisingly resilient so as Tomis Crake looked down at the fallen wraith he had just shot he wasn't surprised it was still twitching and moaning. What did surprise him however was that the expression on the damn alien's face was almost human, a mixture of pain, perhaps some fear and maybe even a little embarrassment. 'Well you know what they say about hunting in the woods' Crake remarked to the dying wraith. 'Some days you get the human, some days the human gets you' he observed sagely before shooting it again, this time in the head.

'Well that's the last time I rely on a motion-scanner to tell me if it's safe to wander off and take a leak' Crake said to himself, theorising that the wraith had simply been stationary when he scanned for movement nearby.

Another soldier wearing the same uniform as Crake but with different insignia sewed to it came running over and joined him. 'First time you tagged a Space Vamp I guess?' he asked, looking at the corpse.

'Yeah' Crake confirmed, bending down to examine its right hand with interest. Supposedly they could suck the life right out of you with those hands he recalled, sort of like a sarcophagus in reverse.

'Don't worry, there's still fucking millions of the things left, we won't have the WWF complaining about driving them to extinction for at least a few more years yet' the soldier who had joined him joked.

'What's the WWF?' Crake asked, confused.

'The World Wildlife Fund... oh right sorry Sergeant, shouldn't use Earth cultural references' the other soldier apologised.

'Don't worry, I'm used to it' Crake replied, getting back up after pocketing the wraith's stun-pistol.

'The Captain wants you to return to the village, we took a couple of live ones and he wants you to take a look in their heads, get an idea how many more of the bastards are out here' the other soldier told him.

'That's why I'm here' the Langaran Sergeant responded. 'Have Psi-Amp, will travel' he said with a smile as they headed back towards the village where they had first encountered the wraith raiding party.

Tomis Crake had been a soldier in the Kelownan Army when Loki invaded his homeworld of Langara. To his own surprise he had survived that conflict and in an act of what he later decided was temporary insanity he had subsequently volunteered to join the Langaran version of X-COM, serving alongside other soldiers from not only Kelowna but also Tirania and the Andari Federation. From then he had found himself deployed to Optrica to help them put down the Bedrosian insurgents and had since then ended up on Tegalus helping the government of the Rand Protectorate stamp out the religious fanatics following that nut Soren.

The Langarans didn't have the advanced weapons of the Earthers or the Optricans, they weren't even as technologically sophisticated as the Orbanians or Galarans let alone the Tollan, Aschen or Hebridans, but they nonetheless had a resource that the other human worlds didn't have and could only envy. Unusually intelligent, with an average IQ that measured out twenty-five to thirty points higher than the Milky Way norm, the Langarans were also quick learners with freakishly good memories and they had by far the highest psionic strength and skill scores of any known human population beyond the practically extinct Hankans.

It was the common view on Langara that since other worlds had come to her aid during Loki's invasion that it was their duty to step up and follow that example, pay something back especially after all the aid they had received to help them rebuild. The best way they could do that was by supporting her allies in the way only they uniquely could, by offering the services of her specialist soldiers trained in the use of Earther-supplied Psionic-Amplifiers. The ability to see into the very minds of the enemy, and sometimes even control them to a limited degree, was an inordinately powerful weapon, one which was deemed likely to be particularly useful against the wraith who often had psionic abilities themselves which needed to be countered.

Lacking the defences of Earth or Tollana the three nations of Crake's homeworld were justifiably wary of provoking the Goa'uld back home but the wraith conversely were a very long way away with very slow hyperdrives and helping their Earther friends fight aliens that actually used humans as food was something that the people could certainly get behind. Now that there was regular two-way stargate travel from the Milky Way to Pegasus the Langaran government had been more than willing to allow "heroic volunteers" to "help our valiant allies defeat this new group of alien monsters that are preying on humanity" whereupon Sergeant Tomis Crake had found himself stationed in a multi-million –year-old floating city in another galaxy and was now seeing action before he had even finished unpacking his things.

The planet Santhal where Crake had found himself on his first mission in Pegasus was inhabited by a loose confederation of tribes who kept themselves scattered in small villages so as to not bring down the wraith upon themselves. Even so the wraith still came from time to time and a community or two would be lost, the victims then mourned by the other villagers and tribes as they waited their own turn to be culled. On this occasion however when the wraith had arrived by foot through the ring of the ancestors the leaders of the Tribes of Santhal had taken the advice of their friends and trading partners on Latira and had sent volunteers back to the unguarded ring to call for help from the people who called themselves Terrans.

They had not really expected these "Terrans" to come and if they actually did come then the people of Santhal did not expect them to actually be able to fight off the wraith. In reality however the call for help had resulted in something nearly inconceivable the Terran soldiers had swiftly arrived in small flying craft of Ancestor manufacture and after a brief and extremely one-sided fire-fight the wraith... had panicked and fled.

To be fair to the "Space Vamps", as they had been nicknamed, this had been their first encounter with one of the Mark II Powered Armour suits which only just arrived from the Milky Way themselves and although the Terrans had only come to Santhal with one trooper wearing it the sight of the armoured behemoth jumping from the back of a puddle-jumper then marching towards the traumatised wraith firing its rotary-plasma-repeater and gatling-shotgun had been more than a little unnerving. This was especially the case when the energy bolts of their return fire visibly splashed across the forcefield the suit was generating around itself as it stomped into the village they had been in the process of culling.

With the wraith's attention nicely focused elsewhere the rest the other two puddle-jumpers had landed nearby and the X-COM light infantry they carried had disembarked and entered the fray. A dozen grunts wearing basic body-armour and carrying L2-A3's weren't quite as terrifying as a Mark II on the rampage but they were certainly more than a score or so of wraith could handle and their appearance had been the last straw, causing the culling party to break and run before they could be outflanked.

Sergeant Tomis Crake had then learned that the wraith were faster than they looked, especially when running for their lives. Even with the "performance enhancing" drugs the Earthers had been giving him he didn't have a chance of keeping up though he tried.

Before the wraith came the village population had been around fifty or so, only eight had been fed upon but this was merely because the wraith had previously dined on the inhabitants of a smaller settlement nearer the stargate and they hadn't yet worked up an appetite. As Tomis returned as ordered the sound of some of the villagers wailing over their lost relatives was mixed with the excited babble of others who were practically worshipping their perceived saviours though obviously wary of the Mark II that was stood in the centre of the village, looking around for signs of enemy activity and likely scanning for them as well.

'Over here Sergeant' Captain Gaston called out, beckoning the Langaran to join him.

'I took out a wraith by a thicket about a hundred metres in that direction Sir' the Langaran reported, pointing with his rifle. 'My guess would be they still had enough sense to head for somewhere the Mark II wouldn't be able to easily follow' he suggested.

'Next time we'll surround them before they can run away' Gaston responded. 'Tracking them all down could be a pain in the ass and it's not like we can leave them loose out here' he said. At least they had lifesign detectors from the puddle-jumpers plus their motion-scanners so it wasn't like they were totally unequipped for the job. 'The locals are giving us different counts on wraith numbers, so I want the real count straight from the horses mouth' he continued. 'Or the wraith's mind anyway.'

'No problem Sir' Crake replied, shouldering his L2-A3 by its strap and unhooking his Psi-Amp from his equipment harness. Tomis Crake had actually met the Earther Captain before on Langara nearly two years ago, the young officer had been part of the X-COM forces sent to help fight Loki's invasion, and that made it a little easier to accept his authority even if he was an alien from Crake's perspective. 'Where are the wraith prisoners?' he asked.

'We've got them hog-tied in that hut over there Sergeant' Gaston replied, indicating one of the buildings "hut" being perhaps a little unfair in its description because the Santhal people weren't quite that primitive. 'Wraith recover pretty fast after you zat them' he observed. 'Faster than we do at least, even after zat-week' he said, grinning.

Crake grimaced, recalling the training course he went through on Terra Nova, the Earther's "Omega Site" headquarters for X-COM. Much of it had involved familiarisation with new weapons and equipment but there was also the "immunization" against zat'nik'tel discharges which involved being shot with the things every evening for a week. Oddly it seemed to work, you actually did get better at recovering quickly from being zatted the more it happened to you but it still hurt like hell every time and the sadistic bastards doing it to the trainees seemed to enjoy it far too much in Crake's opinion. There was also an element of it being an initiation of course, Tomis had heard that before they had even heard of zat'nik'tels X-COM often used to shock new recruits with stun-rods.

Before they could get to the hut they were intercepted by a local, a woman wearing more expensive looking clothing than most. 'You are the leader?' she asked Gaston.

'Yes Ma'am' Gaston confirmed. 'Captain Jake Gaston' he introduced himself.

'I am Shiana' the woman replied. 'The Tribes of Santhal thank you for coming to our aid' she told him.

'I'll pass on your thanks to my superiors' Gaston responded. 'Is there anything else?' he asked. 'We still need to deal with the ones that got away.'

Shiana looked awkward. 'We don't have much to offer in return' she said apologetically.

'We're not asking for anything' Gaston replied, smiling.

Crake had a better understanding of the woman's position. The people here wouldn't want to be seen, or to see themselves as being a charity case he knew, they would want to be able to do something to help the "Terrans" as they called Earthers here in return for their intervention against the wraith. 'Sir, now that we're bringing more personnel to Atlantis we'll probably need additional food supplies' the Langaran suggested. 'If the people here have any surplus at all we could likely use it' he said, giving Gaston a look he hoped would be interpreted as "I'll explain later".

'Oh, yes we can share our harvest with you' Shiana responded.

Gaston was smart enough to correctly interpret Sergeant Crake's expression. 'When we return to base I'll mention that to my superiors as well as passing on your thanks' he told the local. 'Now we really need to interrogate the wraith prisoners' he added.

'I do not think you will be able to get anything from them' Shiana replied doubtfully, the Wraith were legendarily stubborn.

'Ve haf vays of making zem tock' Gaston told her in a very poor German accent before realising that the humour would fly right over the head not only the Santhal woman but also the Langaran. Although an extra-terrestrial human herself at least his girlfriend Cassie had lived on Earth long enough to have embraced the culture he thought, already missing her since she returned to Earth after an unexpectedly long stay on Atlantis.

Tomis Crake appraised his new commanding officer. There was no getting around it, he thought, Earthers were just fucking weird and they acted like the entire universe revolved around their planet just because of a few lucky breaks and a lot of advanced technology practically dropping into their laps.

Dragging the number of wraith they had to track down from the minds of the prisoners was easy enough for Tomis and his Psionic Amplifier, though their minds were very disturbing to telepathically link with. Far more disquieting for the Langaran than Wraith thought-processes however was learning that the reason they had come to Santhal on foot for their hunt was because at their Queen's order all the Darts from their hive and its escort cruisers were currently being serviced and inspected in preparation for them joining the great armada about to descend on Atlantis.

Another cultural reference Tomis didn't get was why after Colonel Vaselov explained how they would coordinate the defence of the city against the armada practically everyone back at Atlantis laughed and cheered when Major Sheppard pretended to cackle maniacally and said something about how the wraith would "now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational planetary defence system".

Note from the Author:

Janus gives Weir a list of possible ZPM locations in SGA episode 1:15 Before I Sleep one of which is the planet Dagan, formerly Sudaria. The SGA team do in fact find the hidden ZPM there in episode 1:16 The Brotherhood but The Daganians including Allina take it from them because they believed it was their duty to keep it until the Ancestors returned. With Janus along, plus the SGA people pushing the line that they are the Ancestors returning (sort-of) there is no such problem. Elizabeth Weir changed quite a lot during her tenure as leader of the Atlantis Expedition, circumstances forced her to let a few of her principles go in response to situations where her preference for negotiation over military action wasn't rational. I couldn't imagine the Weir who didn't go through that process wholely approving of the new model Elizabeth somehow!The Attero Device was an invention of Janus seen in SGA episodes 5:10 First Contact and 5:11 The Lost Tribe. It made Wraith hyperdrives explode when they turned them on but it also made stargates detonate hence the project was scrapped. However we know from SG-1 episode 7:09 Avenger 2.0 that the exploding stargate problem is hardly insurmountable given that you can just turn the things off (or rather scramble them so they don't work). The Ancients were very smart but often showed themselves to lack a little creativity!

Just as a reminder because he hasn't been mentioned in the story for a while Ernest Littlefield was part of the original Stargate Program in the 1940's. He was stranded on Heliopolis (P3X-972) in 1945 and was eventually rescued five decades later (SG-1 episode 1:11 The Torment of Tantalus). Ambassador Joseph Faxon is the Tau'ri representative to the United Worlds which meets at Heliopolis as the Alliance of Four Great Races used to. Rogue NID agents including Hoskins attacked goa'uld planets with Tok'ra Symbiote Poison in SG-1 episode 8:10 Endgame. Here instead of an Al'kesh formerly belonging to Osiris they are using the Spirit Class Freighter which Osiris (working for Loki) provided to Frank Simmons in return for his cooperation back in chapter 39 of the first XSGCOM story (over two years ago in Fic terms, they've been planning this a while). Per'sus was the Supreme High Chancellor of the Tok'ra (very much the undisputed boss before Egeria retured). Malek a Tok'ra military commander and Ren'al a scientist. Given that the NID has attacked an offworld ally (as they also did in SG-1 episode 3:18 Shades of Grey stealing Asgard and Tollan technology) I imagined that a very senior Tok'ra delegation would be sent to talk to Earth (on neutral ground) and not only the SGC would be there (represented by O'Neill) but also the US Government would be represented by General Hammond (given the NID are from the United States), the IOA would send Richard Woolsey and Commander Sharp is there for X-COM (once the Tok'ra accepted he wasn't to blame himself

We last saw Sergeant Tomis Crake of the Langaran (formerly Kelownan) Army in chapter 48 of the first XSGCOM story. It's been mentioned since that Langaran troops (with Psi Amps) had been deployed to help put down the Bedrosian resistance to Optrican annexation and on Tegalus, Tomis was one of those. Shiana of the Tribes of Santhal appears in SGA episode 5:13 Inquisition (she was a great deal less fond of the Atlantis crew in that).SG-1 got hit with zat'nik'tels a lot over the years and they did seem to develop a resistance to them over time (I'd put that down to their nervous-systems getting progressively fried to the point of insensibility myself). Not exactly being the most "touchy-feely" bunch having X-COM deliberately and repeatedly zatting new recruits to induce the same resistance (and to harden them up) seems not unreasonable (to them).Couldn't resist the Star Wars bit at the end, John Sheppard did nickname Ronon "Chewie" after all
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