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Atlantis – Pegasus Galaxy – July 2004
‘Not exactly an Avenger but it’ll have to do I guess’ Sheppard commented, familiarising himself with the controls of “Gateship” as McKay called it. Like the hybridised Sectoid/Goa’uld flight controls of modern Earth-built craft the small vessel utilised an element of pilot mind-control, albeit in what appeared a far more sophisticated fashion, and it was far easier to get the thing working than either man had dared to hope for. Radek Zelenka was watching from near the access port which led down into the room where the stargate was located.
‘As soon as we saw these things we guessed they were the local equivalent of goa’uld gate-fighters’ McKay told the pilot as Sheppard slowly lifted off and manoeuvred the craft around the hanger. He was getting used to how it handled, it was very smooth.
‘Think it’s armed?’ Sheppard queried.
‘Yes, it was the first thing we checked for’ McKay replied. Definitely been working for X-COM too long he realised. ‘Just don’t think about opening fire unless you really mean it’ he advised Sheppard. ‘You’re carrying a small number of the Drone Weapons, there’s a launcher on each side of the ship which open out when required’ he said. ‘The sub-light drive pods do the same.’
Sheppard nodded, he’d have to see what speed he could get it up to. ‘Hyperdrive?’ he asked.
‘No and no shield either’ McKay told him.
‘You’re kidding?’ Sheppard responded in surprise.
‘It runs on power-cells that recharge when it’s docked as far as we can tell’ McKay replied, ‘a shield would deplete those fast’ he continued, ‘it’s clearly not
made for serious combat’ he stated.
‘Then why arm it?’ Sheppard wondered, ‘oh wait I’ve got an idea’ he continued, ‘Go invisible’ he said to the ship.
Zelenka watched as the ship disappeared. ‘Cloaking Device’ he noted, not too surprising he thought reaching for his radio headset. ‘I do not know if it was deliberate Major Sheppard’ he said, ‘but you just vanished’ he continued. ‘I apologise we do not have time to upgrade the craft before the mission’ he added, a couple of naquadah generators, an Electro-Plasmic Shield and some laser cannon and it might pass muster he decided, pity about the pilot’s narrow field of view though, as a dogfighter it was inherently poor on that basis alone.
Using the gate coordinates Lieutenant Ford had memorised they had determined where the alien fighter had taken both the Colonel and the Athosians it had abducted but it turned out to be a stargate floating in orbit above a terraformed world. Fortunately they had sent a MALP not a person ahead to scout but regardless it had initially appeared that the rescue mission was scrubbed until McKay advised them of what they had found in the hanger above.
Weir wasn’t completely convinced this was a wise course of action but Sheppard had persuaded her to approve the rescue attempt eventually. He had helped by the firm belief of the Athosians expressed forcefully by Teyla that seeking a peaceful resolution as Weir suggested simply wasn’t an option. Humans were nothing but a prey animal in this galaxy, the Wraith being at the top of the food-chain and not likely to negotiate in good faith with their lunch.
This was not to say that the Athosians considered trying to get those taken back from the Wraith any more sane than seeking dialogue with them and Teyla Emmagan their apparent leader was still trying to convince Weir of this in the control room when a number of the children who had been exploring what little of the submerged city was still protected by the shield came running back screaming.
Teyla spun around to face what she assumed was an oncoming threat, incredibly heavy footsteps echoing off the metal deck and walls, when two metal figures each a third again as tall as a man pounded into sight only to be ignored by the Terrans. ‘Machines?’ she asked Weir in shock.
‘Powered Armour’ Weir replied. ‘You climb into them’ she explained as Captain Gaston arrived, still wearing his normal body-armour. ‘Not going along Captain?’ Weir asked him.
‘Not wearing one of those I’m not’ Gaston replied, ‘great for shooting your way out of a situation but not so good for getting in quietly’ he noted. ‘You asked for another tactical edge?’ he asked her rhetorically. ‘How does this do?’ he asked. ‘Show them’ he addressed thin air.
Teyla almost jumped out of her skin when a figure suddenly appeared from nowhere next to her, the female soldier who had been with the ones that went to Athos pressing a control on a device clipped to her belt. ‘Personal Cloaking device, sorry if I scared you’ the woman said.
‘They’re only good for a little over two hours between recharging’ Gaston told Weir, ‘and we’ve only got four of them unfortunately but I’d say this qualifies as a nice edge wouldn’t you?’ he asked. ‘Only enough room on one of those dinky ships for two PA suits though if we want to leave space for the Colonel and the other abductees on the way home.’
Teyla was still staring at the device the female soldier had used to vanish from sight. ‘Is this Ancestor Technology?’ she asked in wonder.
‘No, this is Earth Tech, based on Goa’uld Tech which was based on a phase-shifted species called the Reetou’ Gaston told her. ‘Sergeant Nash and Corporal Hafner are in the suits Ma’am, they’re my most experienced Troopers’ he said. ‘Eitam here is a sneaky bitch even without the cloak so she’ll lead us in.’
‘It’s true, I am’ Nava agreed, grinning. She had been originally taught her trade by Sayeret Matkal, the elite Israeli Special Forces unit who hadn’t exactly lacked for practical experience over the years.
‘What’s the plan?’ Weir asked Gaston.
‘Get in there, get our people and bring them home’ Gaston replied. ‘Kill, maim and otherwise do considerable harm to anything that tries to stop us’ he continued. ‘Ideally I’d have liked to capture more prisoners too, maybe grab some more Wraith tech to analyse’ he said, ‘but we can always do that another time and we’re short on cargo space this time out.’
‘You’re very confident Captain’ Teyla told him.
‘This is what we do’ Gaston replied. ‘With permission Ma’am if we have a definite go now we should make final preparations’ he addressed Weir.
‘Go to it’ Weir replied and the two X-COM soldiers saluted, turned and headed off to collect the rest of their gear and join the others.
The Wraith had beaten the Ancients because the latter were overconfident in their abilities, secure in the knowledge that they were too powerful to defeat. Fortunately for the Atlantis Expedition it seemed that the Wraith were just as arrogant, if not more so because not only was it ridiculously easy to get to the planet and land the cloaked gateship, or “Puddle Jumper” as Sheppard preferred to call it, but getting into what they assumed was a large Wraith facility would have been a breeze for Sheppard, Ford, Gaston and Eitam even if they hadn’t
Most of the alien technology seemed organic in base, even more so than that of the Nox perhaps Gaston considered as they searched through the structure. There were hardly any Wraith to be found wandering the corridors and avoiding them was easy as they picked up the pace, realising that time was ticking down for their personal cloaks.
The gateship had provided some kind of portable life-sign detector which helped matters considerably although only Sheppard could use it. Between that device and their own motion-trackers they had little trouble locating the Athosian prisoners whilst keep a good distance from the opposition.
Dispatching the single guard near the cell where the abductees were being held was as simple as Eitam walking up to him and shooting him twice in the back with the zat’nik’tel discharger fitted to her P3-A1. As he slumped to the ground dead she turned off her cloak as did the others for now and greeting the three astonished Athosians in the cell they determined what had happened to the Colonel who wasn’t with them.
Some distance away Colonel Vaselov was proving a surprise to the Wraith Queen, not reacting as any human she had encountered before did. For a start he was stronger willed than most and resisted her attempts to get into his mind for a while before she finally managed to break through his mental barriers.
‘What do you call your world?’ she asked him, Vaselov forced to his knees before her by psionic influence.
‘Earth’ Vaselov replied eventually, still trying to resist her.
‘It is not among our stars’ the Wraith Queen stated.
‘No’ Vaselov confirmed through gritted teeth.
‘Tell me of Earth. How many more are there of your kind?’ the queen asked. ‘Thousands?’ she queried. ‘Millions?’
Vaselov tried to think of something else, anything else but in vain.
‘More’ the Wraith Queen read from his mind in triumph. ‘Our feeding ground has not been so rich in ten thousand years’ she said.
‘Feeding ground?’ Vaselov repeated, he had already witnessed what that meant. One of the Athosians had been consumed by this alien, it had sucked the life right out of him somehow. ‘You’re telling me you would travel to my world to feed upon my people?’
‘Of course’ the Wraith Queen replied.
Once again the human she now knew was from another galaxy surprised her. Instead of looking distraught he started laughing. ‘We might have just gone home’ he said, ‘but now we’ll have to do something about you’ he told her. ‘You just signed the death-warrant for your entire race’ he declared.
There was a certainty in his mind that concerned the Wraith Queen for a brief moment but she soon dismissed it, the Lanteans had believed they would defeat the Wraith too at first but look at what happened to them. ‘You will tell me the location of your world’ she told him.
‘Don’t worry about looking for Earth’ Vaselov replied. ‘You should
be worrying about Earth coming to look for you
’ he told the alien.
Already stripped of his body armour the Wraith Queen had no problem feeding from him and knowing the process was indescribably painful she slammed her palm against his chest and began to do so. ‘Tell me’ she insisted as he seemed to be visibly aging, screaming as he did.
The Wraith paused for a moment to give him a chance to reply. Vaselov had always wondered if he would break under torture and he was pleased to discover that the answer so far was no. ‘Eat me’ he responded with a snarl although he doubted the American phrase he had learned from the movies would be as insulting to one of these monsters.
‘With pleasure’ the queen replied with a sneer and began again.
Such was the agony it took Vaselov a moment to realise that after another two seconds the screaming was no longer his own, he forced his eyes back into focus and saw the alien writhing on the floor with an X-COM stun-baton pressed against her. Adding the guts of a goa’uld torture rod into the thing looked like it was paying off as the creature howled in pain, light seeming to be spewing from her mouth and eye sockets.
Vaselov looked around and saw that the Wraith guards who had been nearby were now lying dead or unconscious where they had been previously standing, Captain Gaston kneeling covering the exits with his P3-A1. ‘No offence Colonel but you look like shit’ Sheppard told Vaselov, removing the rod from the queen. ‘You’ve got a date with a sarcophagus Sir’ he said, the Colonel looked like he was forty or fifty years older now and frail for even that age.
‘She read my mind’ Vaselov gasped.
‘So we guessed’ Sheppard replied, moving to help him up. They had left Ford and Eitam with the Athosians, getting from there to here had been simple with the cloaks.
‘You need to get out of here’ Vaselov told them. ‘You can’t move fast with me in this condition’ he said, barely able to stand, grimacing against the pain in his chest.
‘Give him a couple of shots of stimulants and a dose of painkiller from your medikit’ Gaston advised, ‘it’ll either kill him or get him mobile.’
‘Do it’ Vaselov ordered as Sheppard looked at the medikit doubtfully.
The Wraith Queen was starting to recover as Sheppard obeyed orders, injecting the Russian Colonel with enough drugs to make a crippled narcoleptic sloth run a marathon. ‘We can’t carry this bitch with us and I don’t think she’ll come quietly’ Gaston observed, indicating the wraith queen who was now trying to get up again.
‘Shoot her’ Vaselov ordered sounding less strained. Sheppard had given him the painkiller first which had helped considerably.
‘You don't know what you have done. We are merely the caretakers for those that sleep. When I die, the others will awaken’ the wraith hissed at them. ‘All of them’ she added.
‘Great’ Gaston replied, ‘Can’t make Commander one day without plenty of kills’ he said blowing a hole through her chest the size of a football with his plasma-rifle. ‘What?’ he asked the other two now looking at him. ‘I’m thinking long-term career prospects’ he said before Vaselov took a few tentative steps and decided he was now able to move under his own steam.
Sheppard’s life-sign detector started to go nuts, he stared at it for a moment. ‘I think about a million Wraith just woke up’ he said with concern.
‘We’ll need a distraction to get out of here’ the Colonel replied, taking a plasma-pistol he was offered. His heart was pounding in his chest and he hoped he wasn’t about to go into cardiac arrest.
‘We planted charges Sir’ Gaston responded, gunning down a pair of Wraith in bone-like face-masks that came charging into the queen’s chamber. ‘We really don’t want to still be inside this place when we trigger the big ones though’ he added, getting ready to move.
‘What yield?’ Vaselov asked.
‘Naquadah/Pottassium Heavy Demolition Charges, two kilotons apiece’ Sheppard replied, reaching for his radio headset. ‘Ford blow the C4 in thirty seconds, Nash we’re still probably going to need some help getting out of here’ he said.
‘Good, I was getting really bored waiting out here
’ the sergeant replied just before Lieutenant Ford remote triggered the charges of plastic explosives they had placed in a few spots as they went.
The Wraith were terrible soldiers, their strength, resilience to physical damage and the lack of decent opposition had led to too much headlong charging in and not enough tactics. The sheer stupidity of their average grunt didn’t help much either and as they went through the ship P3-A1 fire slaughtered every hostile alien in their path. The detonation of the C4 had caused added confusion so that even the brighter ones couldn’t get organised and when something resembling resistance to the escape was put together the Wraith were horrified by the arrival of two metal clad titans in their midst coming from the other direction. The Powered Armour suits smashed them aside through brute force as much as they mowed them down with obscenely powerful energy weapons. Wraith were strong, far more so than humans, but they weren’t remotely strong enough to go hand-to-hand with something like that.
Wraith hand-weapons were designed to stun, not kill or cause much material damage. X-COM Powered Armour was conversely designed to provide protection against weaponry that could destroy heavily armoured vehicles. Soon dozens then hundreds of dead Wraith littered the ground wherever Nash and Hafner strode providing fire-support to the others, an L2-A3 Laser Rifle running straight off the suits naquadah generator in one hand and a P3-A1 Heavy Plasma Rifle in the other as they ruthlessly cleared the exit route. In different circumstances the Wraith would have resorted to using grenades but this was not an option given where they were. After enough of their ranks had fallen a decision was taken to let the humans leave and just let the Darts deal with them, there was only one way they could be headed after all. As the fire-fight ended Eitam took the opportunity to utilise her available source of labour and the Athosians found themselves being handed as many Wraith weapons to carry as they could manage as they were led to safety.
Reaching the Puddle-Jumper unmolested Sheppard and the others headed skywards, Ford remote-triggering the next set of charges. These ones were rather more impressive than C4 as an enormous fireball brighter than a thousand suns lit up the surrounding area. ‘Serious secondary explosion Sir’ Sheppard declared as a blast wave rocked the jumper.
‘Bring us around’ Vaselov ordered and as the jumper circled miles off a massive mushroom cloud reached for the sky, it was much larger than the demolition charges could have managed. ‘I feel better already’ he declared, ‘nice ship’ he added appreciatively as Sheppard pulled up the nose and headed for orbit.
They found numerous Wraith Darts waiting around the orbiting stargate. The Wraith couldn’t see the cloaked puddle jumper but as soon as the escapees remote dialled the gate the fighters would know where they were going and could lay down fire along its approach route. ‘Dumbshits’ Sheppard said, laughing as manoeuvred close enough to dial the gate from above and behind and sent a signal once the wormhole was established. The Darts were firing where they assume he would be but he had no intention of trying to go through the stargate yet, he needed to thin out the opposition first and they watched the firework display for a while. ‘We need to capture one of those fighters’ Sheppard observed, ‘remind me to put in a request to get a Zat-Cannon shipped from home’ he said.
Five minutes after the outgoing wormhole closed again the tell-tale splash of an incoming one preceded something emerging from it. Sheppard had requested some assistance from the other side and had been waiting patiently at a safe distance for it to arrive. If in doubt resort to the nuclear option, it was the X-COM way.
It took a multi-megaton thermonuclear detonation to destroy a stargate but Wraith Darts were far more fragile and when the naquadah reactor set to overload which Atlantis had thrown through from their side exploded with a mere twenty kiloton yield the gate was undamaged although the unshielded Darts and Wraith pilots nearby did not fare very well. Nuclear explosions in the vacuum of space are not really very impressive to see, there’s no long-lasting fireball or much real blast to speak of but the hard radiation they put out still makes it inadvisable to be anywhere near them.
Sheppard dispatched most of the few remaining Darts with Ancient Drones, the firing controls being as simple as thinking “kill that” he was glad to find out as the cloaked puddle-jumper took out the enemy fighters. ‘Anyone that wouldn’t want to do this job is insane’ he declared as they made another high-speed run at the stargate, dialling Atlantis and sending the GDO code to tell the city to drop the gate shield on their side before going through at an inadvisably fast velocity. A couple of Darts tried to pursue but splashed against the re-established shield on arrival. “Like bugs on a windshield” as Sheppard put it.
The Terrans had come to the Pegasus Galaxy and so far the Wraith were not happy about it.Cheyenne Mountain – Earth – July 2004
Brigadier-General Jack O’Neill was re-reading the equipment request that the Atlantis Expedition had radioed over after confirming that the second batch of personnel and supplies should be sent through. It was a pain in the ass that they could only send things through one way for now, and then only once a week because of how long it took the Tollan Stargate Capacitor to charge, but at least the people in Pegasus weren’t completely cut-off.
‘Three F-302X Fighters with full weapons load-out’ O’Neill read aloud for the benefit of Lieutenant-Colonel Carter sat across his desk. ‘One Avenger Assault Transport with same’ he continued. ‘Twelve Heavy-Weapon MALPs, Twenty-Five P3-A1 Heavy Plasma Rifles with thirty clips each, Twenty-Five L2-A3 Laser Rifles with five liquid-naquadah power-cells each, Twenty-Five Stinger Missiles with nuclear warheads, ten crates Staff-Rifles, ten crates concussion grenades, ten crates fragmentation grenades’ he said, pausing to sigh. ‘One-hundred and twenty Goa’uld Shock-Grenades’ he resumed, ‘forty Naquadah/Potassium Demolition Charges and twelve Mark VIII high-yield naquadah-enhanced thermonuclear warheads.’
Carter laughed. ‘On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...’ she started to sing then stopped as he directed a look her way that said making the jokes was his
‘That’s just the weaponry they requested for delivery next week
’ O’Neill told her incredulously once she stopped kidding around. ‘Long-term they want another five Grim Reapers, two more Avengers, Laser Cannon and Staff-Gatlings on Air-Defence mounts’ he said. ‘And
if we can manage it they’ve asked for a complete AEGIS System, assuming the Navy will give it up and we can fit it all through the stargate for assembly like the aircraft.’
‘Looking at the diagram they sent back the central tower would be a good place to mount the radar arrays at least’ Carter observed. The Atlantis Team had managed to figure out how to return the city to the surface before the power for the shield ran out, it was the obvious solution given that the Ancients had submerged the thing to start with but that wasn’t going to stop McKay crowing about it she knew.
‘I don’t like the sound of these Wraith’ O’Neill said, putting down the list. ‘If these guys beat the Ancients then we’ve got to assume they’re a lot more dangerous than our initial encounter with them indicates’ he said.
‘If they haven’t fought a proper war against decent opposition in ten-thousand years it’s not surprising our people caught them off-guard’ Carter responded, ‘but unless we’ve been drastically overrating how smart the Ancients were then I agree the Wraith represent a serious threat Sir’ she concurred.
‘I’ve got to sign off on this request’ O’Neill complained, at least it wouldn’t be coming totally out of his budget though, X-COM and others would have to share the financial burden. ‘They asked for fifty more naquadah generators and two more sarcophagi as well’ he muttered, ‘those things don’t come cheap you know’ he added more loudly.
‘We only sent them out with one Sir and according to the medical report from Doctor Beckett it’s likely that Colonel Vaselov will be enjoying several hours a week in the thing for the next two or three months’ she noted. ‘The Wraith feeding process caused severe damage to his physiology.’
‘Space Vampires’ O’Neill said, rolling his eyes at the cliché. Unfortunately for Vaselov you had to minimise exposure to a sarcophagus and ideally space out your time spent in one as long as possible because it would screw up your mind as it repaired your body. The Russian would spend the next eight to twelve weeks getting progressively younger until he was back to his correct physical age, or maybe a little younger if he was lucky. For now he apparently looked a well-worn eighty-five, was walking with the assistance of a cane and some strong pharmaceuticals and it was theorised that the Russian he kept spouting in an angry tone were vows that when he was better and sitting in the cockpit of an F-302 then a large number of Wraith were going to be made to pay for the fact he currently had to get up three times a night to take a leak.
The situation in the Milky Way Galaxy itself was less of an unknown although it was extremely fluid with several competing factions vying for supremacy. Only the day before news had come of a three-way battle being fought on P2X-887 between the forces of Baal, Camulus and the Free Jaffa as they each tried to seize control of an underground facility that had once belonged to Anubis. In the end the Free Jaffa had won the day, though only because they had the advantage of orbital superiority, bringing up the Ha’tak they had seized on Erebus and blasting the opposition into oblivion from above.
Camulus had come off worst. He only had a few remaining Jaffa and those not killed by Kull Warriors serving Baal had been blown to hell by capital staff-cannon hurtling down from the sky. Trying to take the base had been a desperate move which had ended badly, he was now down to a single Ha’tak carrying less than half a full inventory of deathgliders, three Al’kesh and less than five hundred troops.
As for Baal, although this was another tactical defeat he could absorb the losses far more easily thanks to greater strategic depth and a still recovering and expanding military. Being largely pragmatic he was now not only fielding greater and greater numbers of Kull Warriors as shock-troops his second-line Jaffa soldiers were also starting to wield increasing numbers of Staff-Rifles too, greatly increasing their own combat effectiveness. Moreover he had both Thoth and Nerus reluctantly cooperating in a project to back-engineer a chappa’nok’kek gate-fighter captured from Lord Yu in preparation for making an improved model and he was hoping eventually to equip all his non-Kull forces with the zat’nik’tel proof and plasma resistant body armour originally developed by Sokar. The Tau’ri had repeatedly demonstrated the advantages of equipping their forces with the full panoply of the best available weaponry and Baal was resolved to field an army that could finally take those upstarts on and beat them.
The Free Jaffa had technically won the battle but to their annoyance found the base had been stripped out already, making it a waste of what resources they had devoted towards the fight. With most of the available Free Jaffa and their Tok’ra allies and advisors fighting what had become a battle of attrition with Moloc and his fanatically loyal armies they couldn’t afford to waste their efforts winning victories that meant nothing and as they left the planet they vowed to be more careful in picking their targets next time.
After O’Neill signed off the supply request from Atlantis he and Carter headed for the gate room where he wanted to have a final word with SG-2 before they headed out to P8F-809. It was only supposed to be a routine exploration mission but these days those frequently turned into firefights, even if it was only with the armed Reconnaissance Drones doing the same thing for the opposition. Although technically they were only at war with Baal, Bastet, Kali and Amaterasu not the other System Lords at the moment skirmishes with supposedly allied Jaffa loyal to Lord Yu and the rest were still taken place sporadically too although the Tau’ri tried not to start them.
‘Just remember, if they look like they’re going to shoot, shoot them first’ O’Neill advised Ferretti who had just finished checking over his team. ‘I don’t care what mark is on their forehead’ he said then paused. ‘For the sake of diplomacy you could try and just zat them unless they’re with Baal or one of his chicks’ he added after thinking about it.
‘Yes Sir’ Ferretti responded. ‘Any other final orders Sir?’ he asked.
‘Try to get back well before the President is due to arrive for his tour’ O’Neill replied. ‘Judging from the pictures the MALP sent back P8F-809 is swampy and you might need more than one shower before putting on your dress uniform’ he said.
Ferretti sighed, never should have called tails when he and Reynolds flipped to see whether SG-2 or SG-3 would get this mission he thought regretfully. While he and his USAF team got to wallow in the mud those damn lucky jarheads were right now escorting a team to the near-paradise world of Argos. The goa’uld Pelops had been inducing rapid aging with nanotechnology there until SG-1 ended the experiment a few years back and it was wondered if a detailed cellular analysis of the people there might show a resemblance to what had been done to Colonel Vaselov.
‘Watch out for mosquitoes’ Carter told Ferretti. ‘I thought the camera on the MALP was zoomed in for a second until I realised the one that flew past it was really that big’ she said, holding her hands apart like she was a fisherman describing the one that got away.
‘You might want to zat those things too’ O’Neill advised SG-2 who were collectively looking less and less enthused about the mission every second.
‘Okay I’ve done my job, got them raring to go, so now I’m thinking a nice brunch’ O’Neill told Carter, rubbing his hands together in anticipation. ‘Carry on Lieutenant-Colonel’ he told Ferretti before heading off with Carter in tow.
The rest of SG-2 were directing accusing looks at their CO as the gate dialled up. ‘Alright, alright’ he conceded, ‘I’ll pick up the tab at the bar for the next month’ he offered by way of apology.
‘I hear that all the women on Argos wear skimpy outfits and put out’ one of his team complained to another. ‘Even the General got laid when he was there and he’s old
‘He got a lot
older and nearly died
the way I heard it’ another replied as the wormhole engaged and they dejectedly stomped up the ramp. Those safe-sex lectures about using precautions should include warnings about nanotech STD’s when you joined the SGC he thought.
‘Yeah but he didn’t and the chick was supposed to be really
hot though’ the first pointed out. ‘Marines like
to wallow in mud, they
should be there dealing with mosquitoes the size of vampire bats’ he added.
‘Mud is good for the complexion they say’ the other one said more brightly.
‘Getting laid cleared up my acne when I was sixteen too and I know which treatment I’d prefer’ the first stated as they stepped through the gate.Atlantis – Pegasus Galaxy – July 2004
‘For the last time I am not a ghost’ Tesserarius Travoc insisted as the Athosian children, a boy and a girl both under ten cowered behind Elizabeth Weir having run to tell the person in charge what they had found. He had only recently arrived in Atlantis with the second batch of personnel and hadn’t dealt with the Athosians yet having been running from place to place trying to help out the Earth scientists who were in over their heads given the sophistication of much of the technology here.
‘He walked through a wall, he’s one of the spirits of the ancestors that haunt this place’ the little girl insisted, tugging on Weir’s jacket.
Weir was trying her best not to laugh at the expression on the Tollan Officers face. ‘Did you walk through a wall?’ she asked him.
Travoc sighed. ‘Doctor Grodin reported they had found a room with a broken door mechanism’ he replied, ‘he asked if I could see what was in there before they bothered to try and force the door open’ he explained. ‘I checked it out and when I came back out these children were there and then they started screaming about the Ancestors.’
‘So you did
walk through a wall and then chased them trying to explain you’re not
actually a disembodied spirit that has dwelt in Atlantis for the last ten-thousand years’ Weir checked.
‘They wouldn’t listen’ Travoc replied, starting to feel extremely embarrassed by the situation. Children on Tollana were used to seeing people phase-shift through solid matter and they didn’t believe in the supernatural either.
‘Don’t look in his eyes, he’ll take your soul’ the little boy informed Weir, trying to pull her away from the apparition.
‘He’s not a ghost he’s another person from my galaxy who came here in the stargate like I did’ Weir told the children.
‘But he’s not dressed like you, he’s shiny’ the little girl pointed out.
‘It’s a Tollan Hazardous Environment Suit’ Travoc responded indicating his silver one-piece outfit. ‘I had no idea what was in the room’ he explained. ‘It’s just special clothing honestly’ he told the children.
‘But he walked through a wall’ the girl pointed out again, that was a slam-dunk argument for him being a ghost as far as she was concerned.
Travoc looked around and picked up a pen that was lying on Weirs desk. ‘See’ he said ‘not a ghost’ he told the children.
‘Spirits can move things with strange powers like Wraith can’ the boy declared.
‘I’m not telekinetic’ Travoc responded in exasperation, the Tollan were still trying to figure out how both that and telepathy even worked
, they didn’t think it was a real phenomena at all until the Tau’ri demonstrated Psi-Amps to them causing Tollan physicists to go back and take another long hard look at their equations.
Weir realised that this could go on for a while if she didn’t try something more dramatic. ‘Travoc there isn’t from Terra like I am’ she said. ‘He comes from another world in my galaxy that is very advanced called Tollana’ she told the children. ‘They invented machines which mean they can walk through walls’ she explained, ‘that’s all he did, he used a machine to do what you saw.’
‘Really?’ the boy asked doubtfully. He had seen the Terrans use some amazing machines but this was something else entirely.
‘Yes, and if someone holds his hand when he uses the machine they can walk through a wall with him’ Weir said patiently. ‘He’s going to walk me through a wall to show you and then if you feel brave you can try it too’ she promised.
‘I’m not a children’s entertainer’ Travoc responded quickly, if these two got to try out phase-shifting then every damn kid in the city would want a go he knew.
‘No but you are
a soldier and the Curia placed you under my command for the duration of your assignment here so you can consider it an order if you like’ Weir told him.
‘I doubt the High Chancellor saw my role here as being other than providing technical assistance’ Travoc replied evenly.
‘Do you like
the idea of children running away screaming from you?’ Weir inquired, pulling away from the children and holding out her hand.
‘No’ Travoc replied reluctantly, before taking it and using his free hand to touch the controls on the device on his arm. ‘We’ll start out by shifting through your desk’ he told her, better to just get this over and done with he realised.
As it turned out Trevoc wasn’t the only person providing great entertainment that day. After volunteering to try out Doctor Beckett’s ATA gene-therapy Rodney McKay found he was now able to activate Ancient Devices and he promptly tried out a prototype Lantean Personal Forcefield he had discovered in a laboratory. After testing the thing in a number of other ways, including getting shot by projectile weapons and an L2-A3, McKay started delighting the crowd by throwing himself off balconies, the forcefield cushioning against inertia too.
Not much more than a locket-sized green crystal the personal forcefield was far more effective than the goa’uld ones they had encountered before. Nothing could penetrate the shield but air regardless of velocity and although this proved to be an issue because he couldn’t eat or drink either Zelenka was confident that once McKay died of thirst they should be able to retrieve the device for analysis because it would drop off his corpse.
Knowing that they could readily bring him back in a sarcophagus was not however improving McKay’s mood at the prospect of a drawn-out painful death. A suggestion by Sheppard that they speed up the process by putting him in a sealed chamber and pumping all the air out was not greeted any more favourably however and after a few hours he was really starting to get on everyone’s nerves.
Now resting on the surface after a careful voyage from the bottom of the ocean Atlantis was truly a wonder to behold. It had taken over an hour to gradually raise the city because McKay wanted to avoid causing structural damage to the areas not protected by the shield, but when the towers slowly pierced the surface water gushing from them it was still an amazing sight if not as dramatic as it could have been at a faster pace of ascent.
Atlantis wasn’t all that large, smaller than the flagships of Apophis or Anubis had been and the population couldn’t have ever been more than a large town but what it lacked in volume it was already making up for in discoveries. Small rooms first believed to be mere elevators were soon found to be transporter booths similar in principle to Aschen designs indicating that after millions of years the Ancients had finally done better than the Rings. There were several laboratories full of fascinating though so-far utterly unknown technologies, Beckett had a large infirmary and had recruited a small team of scientists to try and figure out how most of the equipment there worked and Colonel Vaselov was pleased to find that the city had a nice secure holding cell which was currently the dwelling place of the Wraith prisoner who had been shot down on Athos.
The Wraith had been extremely uncooperative and had done little more than sneer when asked questions. This attitude had changed more than slightly when he was forced into a chair by two Troopers in Powered Armour, strapped down and then subjected to the painful but highly effective X-COM interrogation technique generally described as “Mind Rape”. Weir wasn’t too happy but it was standard operating procedure and she did spend an hour before extreme measures were employed trying to persuade the Dart Pilot to be more forthcoming because it really was in his best interests not to be stubborn.
Unfortunately they soon learned that the Wraith had a caste system and although not one of the lowest caste the pilot was nowhere near as intelligent or well-informed as a Wraith Queen or one of the senior military or scientific ranks in the aliens hierarchy would have been. He had moderate psionic power, this being neutralised for safeties sake after a brain-scan by the simple application of some electrodes into his skull, and a reasonably high IQ but if they wanted to find out more about the enemy they were going to need to capture someone higher up the chain of command.
Vaselov was surprised to discover that the large facility he had been held at was in fact a grounded Wraith starship. These ranged in scale from what the pilot described as “Scout Ships” through “Cruisers” which were over two and a half kilometres in length to the largest “Hive Ships” that measured in at an astonishing eleven kilometres end-to-end dwarfing even the flagship of Anubis. The only saving grace was that the Wraith didn’t use protective shields on their vessels so destroying the things with the relatively diminutive Earth warships might still be possible, just throw enough gigaton-plus warheads at the big bastards until they come apart seemed the best solution if it came to a fight.
The Ancients, Ancestors, Lanteans or whatever you wanted to call them had primarily relied on their shield-penetrating Drone Weapons for anti-ship weaponry which was why the Wraith had adopted armour not shields as capital-ship protection. Why waste reactor output keeping a barrier charged which the enemy could shoot through easily anyway? Far better, the Wraith had realised, to use what power generation you had to increase your own offensive capabilities or when not in combat use it to drive the ludicrously sized engines you needed to push heavily armoured ships the size of a large asteroid through space.
The Wraith were not interestingly a completely united group however which surprised the Athosians who had considered them as being less divided than they actually were. In reality the Wraith were divided into several clans, each having several lower-level queens ruled over by a dominant one and each clan controlling a certain territory. A shortage of available food meant that the vast majority of Wraith from each group hibernated for centuries between periods of mass culling, the human population being allowed to recover in number afterwards. The survivors would be watched over by a small number of caretakers than would make sure that no human world ever advanced enough to become a military threat whilst the majority of Wraith slumbered. The next mass cull was not due for several more decades although it was possible the destruction of a Hive might mean cranky Wraith waking up early wondering what the hell was going on and who was making all the noise outside.
Leaning on his walking stick Colonel Vaselov turned from the Wraith towards Major Sheppard stood beside him. ‘What do you think?’ he asked.
‘I think we should find out where as many of the Hives and Cruisers are as we can, sneak up on them in cloaked Puddle-Jumpers and nuke the ever-loving shit out them with the biggest warheads we can get hold of before they realise there’s a new sheriff in town Sir’ Sheppard replied. ‘Once we’ve knocked them down to size then we deal with what’s left.’
Vaselov smiled viciously. ‘I told the bitch we would be coming for them’ he replied nodding his agreement with the plan.
Sheppard smiled back. ‘You know at first this guy thought we were the Ancients returning’ he told Vaselov. ‘The Wraith have always expected it one day he said.
The Russian Colonel laughed and turned back towards the prisoner. ‘You wish’ he told the alien.
Note from the Author:In the canon SGA episode 1:02 Rising Sheppard and the rescue part had little trouble getting aboard what they didn't know was a grounded Wraith ship. Add in the X-COM copy of Nirrti's Personal Cloak and some Motion Scanners to help avoid Wraith anyway and they could make their way around easily. The Lantean Gateship or "Puddle Jumper" is a useful little craft but the lack of a shield, proper power-plant or weapons beyond a few drones limits its combat usefulness. It has a sophisticated cloaking device of its own that appears harder to detect than the Goa'uld version however. The XSGCOM version of the Side-Handle Baton (AKA the "Hockey Stick") contains both the electrodes of a Stun Rod and a Goa'uld Pain Stick. Having the latter function applied to the Wraith Queen (Keeper) while she was torturing/feeding from Colonel Vaselov seemed a suitable outcome! Wraith personal weaponry such as the Stunner Rifle is designed to take their prey alive, it causes neural disruption that stuns and paralyses but it doesn't cause much physical damage making it less than ideal for use against X-COM Powered Arnour. They do have powerful Grenades but they wouldn't be likely to be setting them off on their own ship. An overloaded naquadah-generator produces an explosion slightly greater than the Nagasaki Bomb. Not enough to destroy a stargate but it wouldn't be something you'd want to be a few yards from in an unarmoured, unshielded, Wraith Dart.P8F-809 was a world that was mentioned as being a mission destinsation for SG-3 in SG-1 episode 8:04 Zero Hour. Here it's SG-2 that are heading there instead whilst SG-3 gets another destination. P2X-887 was a world which once belonged to Anubis. In the show Jaffa who had previously served him told the SGC about a base there and SG-1 was dispatched to check it out but here the more powerful Free-Jaffa/Tok'ra Alliance decided to investigate themselves. Camulus is still stronger than he was in canon at this point (no asking the Tau'ri for asylum) but he's slipping fast. The rapid aging of the people on Argos was featured in SG-1 episode 1:09 Brief Candle. The goa'uld Pelops had used nanites to speed up the aging of the people there as an experiment. O'Neill picked up a few of these after an "encounter" with Kynthia. Now that the nanites aren't a problem I could see the planet being a popular destination for SG Teams (certainly more so than a swamp).It's mentioned in SGA episode 1:03 Hide and Seek that some of the Athosians think that the ghosts of the Ancestors remain in Atlantis. Given that, I can't imagine two of their children reacting well to watching a Tollan wearing one of the silver protective suits we saw them wearing in SG-1 episode 1:17 Enigma phase-shifting through a wall very well! Travoc is the sole representative of Tollana on the expedition, he's a military engineer with far more off-world experience than most of his people, he's also more used to dealing with Earth people than most and being in the Tollan military the Curia can just order him to go! The Lantean Personal Shield McKay found is something that X-COM would kill for (a lot). It was far in advance of its goa'uld equivalent installed in the Kara Kesh (hand device). The Transporters used in Atlantis are a step up from the Rings but the Aschen had something at least as good so they wouldn't have anyone drooling. Doctor Beckett developed a gene-therapy that enabled people not carrying the ATA gene to activate Ancient technology, if not as well as natural carriers of the gene like the Doctor himself or especially Sheppard or O'Neill. Wraith are not equal, either in intellect or station in life. The warrior caste is more muscular but not as bright as the officers and the Queen appears to possess greater mental abilities. As a society they are not unified and later in the series a shortage of humans to feed off bought them into a state of civil-war as different Wraith collective squabbled over their food resource.