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.
Atlantis – Pegasus Galaxy – August 2004
Travoc leaned back in his chair reached back and rubbed his stiff neck before turning towards Elizabeth Weir stood behind him to his left. In front of him a small grey box with no apparent surface features was projecting a holographic image of page after page of Ancient Script and apparently translating it into the Tollan language, Travoc had been sitting there reading for some time and was increasingly weary. ‘Worst file system design and implementation ever’ he opined disparagingly. ‘At least it would be for us’ he added with a sigh.
‘I’m sorry I don’t understand’ Weir replied, looking to McKay and Zelenka also stood nearby for an explanation. McKay had asked her to join them in his laboratory where the Tollan had established himself first thing in the morning and had been working for the last ten hours straight occasionally giving the Earthers an update on his progress.
Zelenka shrugged. ‘The Ancients were smarter than us’ he said.
‘Way smarter’ Travoc agreed, before McKay could issue a denial. ‘It’s like when I was on Gaia trying to use a Nox computer’ he said, shaking his head and sighing.
‘The Ancients were like the Nox’ McKay explained to Weir who was still none the wiser, ‘they had perfect recall and were simply far better than us at working out things in their heads’ he continued. ‘As a consequence the Atlantis database has about the least user-friendly way of storing data we’ve ever encountered’ he told her. ‘In some ways it’s amazingly intuitive to use normally but other times when you’re trying to search through it it’s fiendishly over-complicated’ he said.
Weir pursed her lips. ‘Are you trying to tell me that it’s not dumbed-down enough for us to use?’ she asked.
‘Not how I would have phrased it but essentially yes’ McKay confirmed. ‘I encountered a similar problem on a smaller scale on Langara when dealing with my former research assistant Kianna and a few other locals’ he told Weir. ‘They were just too good at remembering things to bother to take notes all the time, or always write out detailed reports like we would, so an awful lot of the documentation on their Deep Underground Excavation Vehicle only existed in the heads of their engineers’ he continued. ‘Same thing here basically, it’s not that helpful or user-friendly because it was designed for people who wouldn’t need
the help’ he said glumly.
‘From what we can tell the Ancients were inordinately smarter than any Langaran and as a consequence the database is a nightmare to try and use’ Travoc stated, joining in. ‘Tollan systems, or even yours, are much more helpful and logically organised for the simple reason we can’t simply just remembe
r where everything is filed so we put them in a simple logical structure and have ways to quickly and easily search through them’ he said.
‘Trying to trawl up a specific piece of information can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack’ McKay told Weir. ‘Although with a powerful enough magnet that’s pretty simple as it happens’ he added as a point of trivia.
‘At the moment we’re often just digging into it and discovering random pieces of useful, or not so useful information’ Zelenka told weir. ‘Although Mr Travoc is having more success it seems’ he noted.
‘It’s Tesserarius Travoc or just Travoc’ the Tollan told him, not for the first time ‘and the only reason I’m doing better is that I gave up trying to use the lantean database completely after a futile week spent trying to find an easier way to access it’ he said.
‘I’m sorry but I’m confused’ Weir told him, ‘how are you having more success with the Ancient database if you’re not using it?’ she asked in confusion.
‘He’s copying it over to a Tollan system a section at a time, then reordering the files and adding a proper search system’ McKay explained.
‘Technically I’ve got the computer here doing that for me’ Travoc corrected him. ‘That’s what it’s doing right now’ he explained. ‘It’s going to take quite some time to complete the process though I’m afraid’ he added apologetically.
‘Despite the fact that little box he’s got there supposedly measures its processing power in exaFLOPS and can hold a hundred times as much data as every other hard-drive we bought with us to Atlantis combined’ McKay said enviously.
‘Even for my people it’s state-of-the-art as you’d say’ Travoc told Weir with a smile. ‘The problem is that the Lantean database is so vast copying it over, reordering it and then putting it back together is an epic task’ he said. ‘I prioritised the copying and searching of files that seemed to relate to weapon systems and power sources and I’ve got a couple of interesting possibilities we might want to look into’ he said.
‘You’ve found out how to make ZPM’s?’ Weir asked hopefully.
‘No, but I have found out they called them Potentia and that they weren’t manufactured here on Atlantis unfortunately’ Travoc replied. ‘The alternate power-source I’ve discovered is an unmanned deep-ocean mining rig that can drill down and exploit geothermal energy’ he said. ‘If we can locate it, and it’s still operational, we could move it closer to the city and add its output to the naquadah generators we’re already running.’
‘Locate it?’ Weir queried, ‘Move it?’
‘Oh it crawls along the bottom looking for mineral deposits’ McKay explained, ‘or at least it did, the Lanteans shut the project down.’
‘Why?’ Weir asked, didn’t it work?’
‘It definitely worked’ Travoc told her, ‘the reason why the project was shut down isn’t in the set of files I’ve already recovered but looking at the dates on the original design documents it might have been abandoned because of the war with the Wraith’ he said.
‘Perhaps the engineers and scientists were diverted to the war effort’ Zelenka suggested.
‘How deep is it?’ Weir asked.
‘We won’t know for certain until we find it but it should be reachable in puddle-jumpers because that’s how the Ancients did it’ McKay replied. ‘They’re designed to work as submersibles too we’ve discovered’ he continued. ‘As a matter of fact there's a second underwater jumper bay for just that purpose we think’ he added.
‘We've also learned that the jumper’s cloaking field can be converted into a shield and this was intended not only to offer some protection against weapons fire or collisions, it could allow the jumpers to dive deeper’ Zelenka told Weir. ‘The rechargeable power-cell would be quickly depleted but we've already managed to successfully integrate a pair of naquadah generators into our prototype upgraded jumper which will greatly increase endurance’ he said proudly, that was his project and it was going very well so far.
‘Pity the weapons you were supposed to be adding too haven't appeared too’ McKay muttered.
Zelenka rounded on McKay. ‘You know full well that is because we decided to halt the development of a compact laser cannon and instead switch to a less powerful directed-energy armament with a higher rate-of-fire because of the fragility and manoeuvrability of Wraith fighters’ he said in annoyance. ‘I promise that within the week we will have added the Kull Plasma Repeaters Earth sent us to the jumper weapon pods’ he vowed to Weir. The repeaters were so compact that you could easily fit one into the fold-out drone launchers without interfering with the existing mechanism. They could only fire in short bursts unfortunately but that should still be more than enough to tear a Dart to pieces.
‘You mentioned finding information about Ancient weaponry as well as power-sources’ Weir asked Travoc, hoping to end another argument between Zelenka and McKay before it got going.
Travoc nodded. ‘During the war with the Wraith the Lanteans deployed a large number of weapon satellites in this system’ he told her. ‘They all seem to have been destroyed during the fighting, except for one that was only disabled’ he continued. ‘The Lanteans believed it was still intact enough to repair but they never did because with the satellites knocked out the Wraith were able to reach Lantea and they put the city under continual bombardment.’
‘Did these satellites fire drones?’ Weir asked.
‘No, they were beam weapons, perhaps not too dissimilar from ours just on a much larger scale’ McKay told her.
‘How large?’ Weir queried.
‘The satellites were each roughly the size of a goa’uld Ha'tak’ McKay replied. ‘Of course given that a Wraith Hive measures eleven kilometres from end-to-end you can see why they thought they needed very big guns’ he added.
‘So we think we can get this satellite running again?’ Weir asked.
‘Hopefully, but if not it's still well-worth checking out’ Travoc observed, ‘I doubt the Ancients had directed-energy-weapons that were inferior to ours’ he reasoned. ‘The satellite is perhaps fifteen hours away by puddle-jumper but if you want to wait until Kavanagh and his team have finished assembling your Avenger Transport it's only seconds away using hyperdrive’ he noted.
‘Considering how long it took him to finish assembling the F-302’s don't expect to get a team there in the Avenger any time soon’ McKay observed disparagingly.
‘Please feel free to do what you can to speed up the process Rodney?’ Weir replied. ‘This does not
include having him dangled from the top of the central tower of Atlantis by his ankles before you suggest it again’ she added sternly.
‘I only meant it as a joke, it’s not my fault those X-COM Troopers thought I was being serious’ McKay defended himself. ‘I stopped them before they could go through with it anyway’ he noted.
‘By which time Doctor Kavanagh had already been dragged out of his laboratory’ Weir reminded him.
‘It was funny to watch’ Zelenka remarked with a chuckle, looking suitably chastened when Weir threw him a look of displeasure.
‘He got the third F-302 completed faster too’ McKay added, ‘well he did’ he told Weir who had re-directed her glare in his direction.
Travoc pushed back his chair and stood up. ‘I need to stretch my legs and get something to eat’ he said. ‘I'll try and find out more about the mining platform before tomorrow, assuming you want to investigate that as soon as possible?’ he checked with Weir.
‘Additional power from the platform would help us a lot’ Weir agreed. ‘Keep looking for information about ZPM’s too though’ she added.
‘Yes’ McKay agreed. ‘And anything you can find out about drones as well’ he said.
‘And their shield designs’ Zelenka added, ‘they are the best we have ever seen.’
The Tollan sighed again. ‘If you prioritise everything then you prioritise nothing’ he observed. ‘Colonel Vaselov wanted me to determine the viability of placing Heavy Ion Cannon defences in Atlantis’ he said.
‘Would your government supply them?’ Weir asked.
‘After I send them what little I've already gleaned from the Atlantis database I'd say yes’ Travoc replied. One of the Curia’s strategic priorities was to keep a technological lead on the Aschen and this data was the means to that end. Unfortunately with their far larger population the Aschen were expected to close the scientific gap and edge ahead of Tollana in less than a century based on current trends, this was something that needed to be avoided at all costs.
‘Well that might prove a surprise to any Wraith that come here’ Zelenka said brightly. ‘They will be expecting a city and will find a heavily armed fortress.’
‘They've still got numbers on their side’ Weir cautioned. ‘The Ancients won battle after battle but they still lost the war’ she pointed out.
‘From what I can tell from the history files I've read so far the Ancients fought a largely defensive campaign’ Travoc said, ‘they ceded the initiative to the Wraith and never really got it back.’
‘I guess we'd better not make the same mistake then’ Weir responded.
‘Yes because without a ZPM we're in no position to sink the city and hope someone else can succeed in another ten thousand years’ McKay agreed.
‘Before I go eat I have come across a couple of references to super-weapons the Lanteans were trying to develop to fight the Wraith with’ Travoc announced, ‘most seem to have been abject failures but there is a reference to a program to develop miniature drones which looks intriguing and a few vague comments about a project they were developing in secret back in our galaxy’ he said. ‘It may have been a type of biological warfare because it mentions genetic engineering.’
‘Wraith tech is biological so it would be an avenue to consider’ McKay responded. ‘Also Wraith hyperdrives are slow so the Milky Way is out of their reach’ he said. ‘We’re not aware of the Ancients remaining in numbers in our galaxy after they left for Pegasus though.’
‘Maybe, maybe not’ Travoc told him. ‘In the history files it mentions that before they called themselves Lanteans, or others called them Ancients, they called themselves Alterans originally’ he said.
‘Alterans?’ Zelenka repeated. ‘My God!’ he exclaimed. ‘Altair’ he said, ‘the world where the androids lived.’
McKay snapped his fingers. ‘If I remember right that android SG-1 met said he was over eleven thousand years old which puts them well within the right timescale’ he said. ‘It would also explain why they were so advanced so many years ago.’
‘So Altair was an Ancient Colony still running in the Milky Way while the majority of their people lived in Pegasus?’ Weir asked.
‘Maybe it was a research station’ McKay suggested. ‘The majority of people there might not have even been Ancients, they could have been humans taken from Earth or even somewhere in Pegasus’ he said. ‘That would explain why the remaining android SG-1 found doesn't know how so many of the systems work’ he continued, ‘he was just a copy of one of the human residents.’
‘We should relay this information back home, have someone look into it’ Weir said. ‘I wonder what this biological weapon they were developing back in the Milky Way actually was?’ she asked rhetorically, blissfully unaware that a large number of Ascended Ancients were currently watching her from the higher planes and laughing their non-corporeal arses off.Great Temple of Moloc – Goranak – August 2004
Even with the great temple which dominated the area ablaze, and the bulk of the remaining loyalist forces broken and retreating west towards the mountains in the distance, the elite of Moloc’s Imperial Guard were still fighting. At least a thousand of them refused to abandon their positions, steadfastly doing their duty to their god against the shol’va so-called “Free Jaffa” army and their equally vile Tok’ra allies, trying to their last breath to prevent the sacrilege of the traitorous enemy taking the largest and most important temple to Moloc.
As Bra’tac watched from the vantage point of a hill overlooking the battle his forces were continuing to advance, mostly not needing his advice although he carried a Tau’ri communication device with which he could give new orders if needed. Lead elements on the verge of entering the lush gardens surrounding the temple grounds. The deathgliders which would normally have helped protect the temple had been dealt with by sabotage before the attack began, sympathisers to the Free-Jaffa cause had used explosives to destroy the aircraft on the ground, and Moloc himself had been tricked by false intelligence planted by Tok’ra infiltrators into sending his fleet to the far side of his domain to fight a supposed offensive being launched by Kali.
Without air-cover or orbital support Moloc's garrison on Goranak was no match for the Free-Jaffa, particularly when thousands of the goa’uld’s own Jaffa had already been deserting him in droves. They had put up a fight however, a force more than three times the number of the invader had met Bra’tac’s army in the meadows south of the Temple, but the loyalists had been shot to pieces only the feared Imperial Guard remaining steadfast as they maintained a surprisingly skilful fighting retreat towards the complex of building and gardens that surrounded the spiritual capital of Moloc’s domain.
‘They fight in the old way’ Bra’tac observed sadly to the Hac’tyl leader Ishta now stood beside him as the best part of a hundred of Moloc’s Imperial Guard launched a counter-attack from their position, charging at the Free Jaffa across open ground, yelling out battle cries as they went. As a High-Priestess she knew the temple and the area around it as well as anyone and had been a useful advisor to Bra’tac as he planned this assault.
‘Courageous but foolish’ Ishta agreed as a pair of hand cranked Staff-Gatlings mounted on horse-drawn gun-carriages opened up, cutting down the charge as the Free-Jaffa gunners swept their fire across the loyalists. ‘They have learned little from earlier battles’ she said as a battery of Heavy Staff-Cannon on similar carriages joined in, temporarily re-directing their fire away from the temple.
The Tau’ri had supplied the gun-carriages and the metal shield that protected the crew from return fire and once again the weapons had proved their worth. Teams of fast horses could bring the Heavy Staff-Cannon into action quickly and in conjunction with the smaller number of Staff-Gatlings, the lighter cannons from deathgliders some of the Free-Jaffa infantry carried on their shoulders and the ubiquitous Staff-Rifles they provided an edge in firepower which all the bravery and fanaticism in the galaxy couldn’t overcome.
‘What a waste of brave warriors in so poor a cause’ Bra’tac commented as he turned away from the slaughter and towards the woman. ‘It bothers you not to see the temple where you once served burning to ruins?’ he asked.
‘So many of my sisters died there I feel only relief as the flame which consumed them razes it instead’ Ishta replied. ‘I trust my warriors have proven themselves?’ she asked.
‘Yes, although many in the Free Jaffa ranks are likely to never fully embrace the idea of female warriors fighting alongside male’ Bra’tac replied.
‘I have already clashed more than once with Gerak and the other hidebound traditionalists’ Ishta replied. ‘They cling to customs which the False Gods fostered among our people to hold us back’ she said. ‘It annoys me greatly but things will change in time’ she added confidently. Fortunately the Jaffa were long-lived.
Bra’tac turned back towards the battle. ‘M’zel is about to turn the enemies left flank’ he said, pointing towards where a large force of Free Jaffa were re-deploying. ‘Not yet sixty-five he is very wise for his years and is well-respected as both a warrior and a leader’ he added. ‘Strangely however he is not yet wed’ he added with a half-smile.
‘Did he ask you to talk to me about that?’ Ishta replied indignantly.
‘It may have come up in conversation’ Bra’tac replied. ‘You could do far worse than to marry M’zel’ he suggested. ‘For one thing his youth means that he is less set in his ways than most others of his status within the Free Jaffa’ he continued, ‘perhaps still young enough for you to persuade him to abandon those old traditions of the wife’s submission to her husband that you so object to.’
‘I don’t need a husband’ Ishta declared.
‘That does not mean you would not benefit from one’ Bra’tac replied. ‘You could not find any braver or more loyal to the cause of his peoples freedom’ he stated. ‘See as I said, M’zel will soon be in a position to lead his warriors against the weakened left of their line and will then shatter their entire defence’ he said.
‘Why does he not attack now?’ Ishta asked.
‘Because he is waiting for fire-support from the new battery of staff-cannon that is being moved to assist his advance’ Bra’tac explained, pointing to where warriors were man-handling the cannon into position, it was too close to the fighting to risk the horses. ‘I told you he is wise as well as brave, he does not throw away the lives of those he commands’ he said. ‘As the ancient saying goes, no First Prime ever won a war by dying for his god, you make your foe die for his.’
‘False Gods’ Ishta replied.
‘It remains a truism nonetheless’ Bra’tac replied with a shrug as the new battery of staff-cannon now in place opened up and M’zel started to lead his troops against the increasingly shaky Imperial Guard of Moloc, the Free Jaffa using the infantry tactics taught to them by the Tau’ri.
Ishta looked around. ‘We have lost many of our own today already and will lose more before the day is ours’ she noted regretfully.
‘They die free’ Bra’tac replied. ‘Also through their sacrifice we will deal a great blow to the myth that Moloc is a god after tricking him away, defeating his strongest garrison and then razing his most holy site’ he said.
‘The temple has always been a symbol of his power’ Ishta agreed.
‘And now as ruins it will be a symbol of ours’ Bra’tac responded. ‘See the Imperial Guard breaks’ he said with a smile as M’zel and his warriors succeeded in outflanking the defenders.
‘It may be necessary to kill them all, I doubt they will surrender’ Ishta told him.
‘I confess that though they are my brothers like all Jaffa that thought does not bother me as it would for most loyalists with whom we have done battle’ Bra’tac replied honestly. Moloc’s elite troops had been the ones that enforced the ruling that all female children born should be burned alive at their god’s command and as a consequence the rebel Jaffa had rarely bothered to even try
and get them to lay down their arms in past engagements, it felt far more righteous just to shoot them.
Ishta decided that it might be a good time to broach a request. ‘Those I lead amongst the Hak’tyl have suggested that if some amongst the Free-Jaffa are resistant to fighting alongside women perhaps they might be happier if we were behind
them instead’ she said.
‘Meaning?’ Bra’tac asked.
‘The Hak’tyl have long kept horses’ Ishta noted, ‘we could crew some of your horse-drawn staff-cannon in place of the men currently doing so’ she suggested. ‘That way we are still fighting our enemies but can argue to Gerak and the others that they remain between us and the foe as tradition insists.’
‘That may be within the letter of the law but hardly the spirit as the Tau’ri would say’ Bra’tac replied. ‘However I would be willing to offer my support to the idea’ he told her. ‘I would suggest you train your best warriors in the techniques and tactics we use with the cannon so that if challenged to demonstrate you can do it you actually can’ he added.
‘Give us a month to practice and any warrior that sees us move and crew the guns will wish for the battery of staff-cannon supporting him in battle to be Hak’tyl’ Ishta declared. ‘Once we have proved our skill and courage all but the most wilfully blind to our abilities will come to accept that we can contribute more than children to the cause.’
‘I will have a team of horses and a staff-cannon provided to you, as well as an advisor’ Bra’tac agreed. ‘Rya’c the son of Teal’c has recently made some study of the use of fire-support in battle and is not as set in his ways as many of the older more experienced warriors’ he said.
‘I thought the son of Teal’c of Chulak was training to become a deathglider pilot?’ Ishta responded quizzically.
‘He was doing so aboard the Ha’tak we and the Tok’ra captured from Baal but thanks to an increase in Jaffa joining our ranks we have far more trained pilots right now than deathgliders to put them in’ Bra’tac explained. ‘He is likely with a staff-cannon crew somewhere out there amidst the fighting this very moment’ he said.
The Imperial Guard buckled then broke as the pressure upon them grew too great. With M’zel leading the Free-Jaffa chased them down, a retreat becoming a rout as Moloc’s most loyal warriors began to flee in increasing numbers.
A final stand was made in the temple itself which ended badly for the defenders because Bra’tac had no interest in taking the place in any way intact and therefore whilst the remnants of the Imperial Guard prepared for one last courageous stand the Free Jaffa brought up their Staff-Cannon and simply pounded the building from long-range until it completely collapsed.
As expected the news that Goranak had fallen to the Free-Jaffa spread like wildfire through Moloc’s domain, triggering uprisings on almost all of his worlds. By the time his fleet arrived overhead the rebels were long-gone through the stargate leaving only the smouldering ruins behind as testimony to their prowess in battle and as a demonstration of the obvious fallibility of the planet’s ruler.
His armies over-stretched and garrisons already sorely depleted from earlier battles with the Free-Jaffa Moloc was forced to abandon several worlds to the rebels entirely as he sought to hold onto as much territory as he could. Fortunately for Moloc the Imperial Guard themselves stayed loyal crushing the insurrections on several planets and preventing a wholesale collapse of his realm but any pretence of him being all-powerful was gone forever.
It had already been a bloody, costly campaign for the Free Jaffa, and it hadn’t finished yet, but Bra’tac and the other rebel leaders were more than pleased that their outwardly merely symbolic victory had paid such dividends. As they considered the lesson learned voices started to whisper of a another symbol, one that if it fell into their hands would not merely break the aura of invincibility and myth of godhood of one goa’uld but all of them at once.
It was a dream, nothing more, but what if they could take Dakara?M7G-677 – Pegasus Galaxy – August 2004
‘I swear, the next one of you little bastards that fires an arrow at me is going over my knee’ Sergeant Nash declared as he confronted another dozen or so of the locals, mostly now young teens at most after the “Elders” had already been rounded up.
The children looked terrified as well they might being faced by three sets of Powered-Armour. McKay had already deactivated the Electromagnetic Field Generator which had kept the Wraith away from here for centuries so at least the Terrans didn’t have to attempt this task without the benefit of advanced technology.
‘We’re safe here from the Wraith’ one of the older kids said, they had already established that there were people inside the great metal suits not monsters so although her voice was trembling she wasn’t too scared to speak up.
‘No you're not’ Nash replied, ‘not any more’ he continued, ‘we're going to take you somewhere where you will be and you won't have to kill yourself before you're twenty-five either’ he told them.
‘Our rituals have protected us from being culled for centuries’ another of the children declared.
‘No, the gadget that stopped us using these suits and our guns until we turned it off kept the wraith away’ Nash responded. ‘The only reason why your ancestors began killing themselves is because the electromagnetic field it generated wasn’t large enough to cover enough area to allow population growth’ he said. ‘It’s nearly out of power anyway so even if we hadn’t come along it would have still failed soon and then you’d have all been eaten’ he said.
‘The Wraith only eat those over twenty-four’ the girl who had spoken first insisted.
‘That’s not true’ Nash replied. ‘If you come with us we can protect you from the Wraith.’
‘Not even the Ancestors could do that’ the girl retorted.
‘That says more about the Ancestors than it does about the Wraith’ Nash told her. After looking through a few of their combat reports on the Atlantis database it was starting to become apparent that they made the goa’uld look militarily competent. ‘Okay, here’s the plain truth’ he said. ‘We can’t let you stay here so you either come along peacefully or we’ll do this the way that will hurt’ he said.
‘Sarge are we sure zats are safe to use on kids?’ one of the other troopers asked.
‘Yes’ Nash replied, that wasn't to say he was all that keen on stunning all these children though.
‘We won’t go’ a boy of about twelve practically screamed at the intruders.
‘This will not go down in the annals as one of the more glorious actions undertaken by X-COM’ Nash said with a groan before he shot the kid with the zat’nik’tel fitted to his rifle.
The other children started screaming, some running away those being unceremoniously shot in the back as the rest continued to wail. ‘You killed them’ the girl who had been talking the most yelled at him.
‘No I didn’t, they’re just asleep’ Nash replied. ‘Now the rest of you stop making that noise’ he bellowed which then had them crying. ‘Bloody hell, you can stop that malarkey too’ he told them. ‘How many villages of these little sods are there again?’ he asked the other troopers.
‘Twelve’ came the reply.
‘We’re going to be doing this for days’ Nash said with a sigh before addressing the children again ‘Alright all of you drop any weapons you’re carrying, pick up your friends and come with us’ he ordered. ‘You’re all going on a great adventure and we’re going to feed you cake and fizzy drinks and all that other bollocks’ he said, wondering how the others were getting on.
Back on Atlantis Elizabeth Weir was still far from sure that they had made the right decision. In normal circumstances the idea of forcibly relocating hundreds of children from their home would have been an anathema to her but with some difficulty Colonel Vaselov had talked her around. He had argued a purely utilitarian case of the greater good for the greater number pointing out that they could save more lives with the ZPM which had been powering the Electromagnetic Field Generator than it was protecting where it was.
Although the ZPM they had found was nearly depleted, it held enough remaining energy to power the Atlantis shield at full strength for a few hours at most, it might make all the difference when the wraith came and Weir had reluctantly accepted that argument. From everything they had learned so far if humanity in the Pegasus galaxy was ever going to be free from the threat of being culled it was going to be Atlantis in Terran hands that did it and Vaselov had hammered home the argument that squeamishness about moving the few hundred inhabitants of M7G-677 was no good cause for risking the lives of millions.
Initially when they arrived on M7G-677 via jumper and the field had disabled the craft and all their equipment McKay had hoped it would be possible to back-engineer the device responsible and deploy similar units elsewhere but unfortunately it had proven to be reliant on the planets own unusual magnetic field properties to work. Nonetheless the fact that whoever had built the thing had utilised a ZPM as the power-source had been a very welcome revelation since even though it was nearing maximum entropy the zero point module finally gave Atlantis the means to protect itself, if only for a limited time.
Dealing with all the children and young adults was going to be a problem although re-settling them on Lantea’s sole large continent was the obvious choice. Small numbers of Wraith darts or even a couple of cruisers would stand little chance against the F-302X interceptors which now guarded Lantea and if the wraith came in force those on the mainland could be quickly returned to Atlantis for protection. In order to make movement between the city and the continent easy two Aschen Transporter Platforms had already been imported from Earth with one in Atlantis and the other placed on the mainland within a farming village the Athosians had recently established having realised that they could make more of a contribution that way and some preferring a more rural lifestyle in any case.
Watching another batch of children reluctantly arriving through the stargate from her office overlooking the scene Weir was once again struck by pangs of guilt. It just seemed so heartless in a way, not to mention the nagging thoughts that it was arrogant to force a cultural change on another people even if their society was deeply wrong on so many levels, and she resolved to make amends. It was well within her means to ensure that the youngsters she was forcing from their home would have as good a life as could be provided for them here, well fed, well housed, properly educated and naturally provided with the best medical care. In time maybe they wouldn’t hate the people who had done this to them she hoped, certainly it was hard to argue that they were really better off on M7G-677 at least.
‘So how are they accepting their new imperial overlords so far?’ John Sheppard asked, entering Weir’s office.
‘Please don’t make jokes like that Major, I don’t think it's funny’ Weir replied.
‘Liberal guilt got to you?’ Sheppard suggested with a smile.
‘That's one way of putting it’ Weir responded. ‘Please tell me it went smoothly with that boy Keras and the other so-called Elders?’ she asked.
‘We showed them our wraith prisoners and that room we’ve got packed out with all the weapons we’ve taken from others and I think that might have persuaded a few that we really can protect them from being culled here’ Sheppard confirmed. ‘There are still a few doubters, and they’re all still pissed at what we’ve done to them, but with your permission Colonel Vaselov is going to give a little demonstration of what a Grim Reaper can do once they’re all on the mainland which might sway a few more of the nay-sayers.’
‘Demonstration?’ Weir queried.
‘A few supersonic runs at low altitude, show off our birds and some strafing runs to show off our firepower’ Sheppard explained. ‘If you’ve never seen what our cannon will do to trees you’d be impressed’ he said. ‘For that matter it might be a good way to clear some of the forest for agriculture’ he added.
‘I’ve requested a number of pre-fabricated buildings to be added to the next supply shipment from Earth along with new clothes for them all’ Weir told Sheppard. ‘I also expect a very nasty note from the UNHCR to arrive.’
‘I think you can count on getting support from X-COM at least for the call you made’ Sheppard told her.
Weir frowned. ‘I wish that made me feel better not worse’ she said. ‘What do the Athosians think about this all?’ she asked. ‘I know that you’ve developed some rapport with Teyla.’
‘They don’t like the idea that we’re basically manhandling minors but generally they agree that we couldn’t let the kids continue killing themselves at least’ Sheppard replied. ‘They’re hoping to try and help them adjust to their new home.’
‘Tell Teyla that anything we can do to assist with that we will’ Weir told him.
‘I’ll let her know’ Sheppard replied. ‘Might be for the best if we try and keep a low profile ourselves on the mainland for a while though’ he said.
‘You’re probably right, I doubt they’ll see us as particularly nice or friendly’ Weir agreed.
‘If it helps McKay thinks the Field protecting them would have only lasted another generation at best’ Sheppard told her. ‘If we hadn’t ever come here they’d have all been some wraith’s lunch eventually’ he said.
‘I just hope they come to accept that’ Weir replied. ‘So did the Avenger pass its flight tests with flying colours?’ she asked.
Sheppard nodded. ‘We’ll be ready to go take a look at the Ancient Satellite Weapon tomorrow with your permission’ he replied. ‘McKay is already putting together the team he wants to take.’
‘Do you really believe we’ll still be able to get it operational after ten thousand years?’ Weir asked then chuckled. ‘What am I saying, that makes it practically brand new compared with most Ancient technology we’ve encountered’ she said.
‘Just getting a look at the biggest cannon in the known universe is worth the trip in my book’ Sheppard remarked. ‘Should be a step up from our AG-3X platforms at least’ he continued. ‘On that subject now we’ve got the Avenger to get them into orbit we should really request a few.’
‘I already have on Colonel Vaselov’s recommendation but we’re still much lower priority than Earth as regards orbital defences’ Weir replied. ‘We might be able to obtain a handful of the new model Zapsats sooner though I was told’ she said, using the common nickname for the large laser cannon which had proven their worth during the attack by Anubis on Earth.
‘The elerium crystal used for focusing the beam only increases firepower by fifty percent, they’re still not much good against a Hive’ Sheppard responded. ‘They might be enough to deal with cruisers I suppose’ he added more optimistically, ‘but we do need liquid-naquadria powered beams if we want a chance at stopping enemy ships that make Atlantis look kinda unimpressive in scale’ he pointed out seriously. Even an AG-3X which could carve up a shielded Ha’tak with relative ease wasn’t really the ideal weapon for use against the largest wraith vessels, the damn things were gigantic.
‘I’m sure if it was just a matter of money we could get what we needed faster but the bottleneck is production of liquid-naquadria I’m told’ Weir told him. ‘According to what I’ve read it makes juggling vials of nitroglycerine look perfectly safe.’
‘Slightly bigger explosion if it goes up’ Sheppard joked. It wouldn’t actually take very much of the “liquid” allotrope of the heavier isotope of naquadah to blow the entire city they were in to tiny debris. If it wasn’t so good for powering sub-atomic particle beams nobody would even dream of manufacturing the stuff, it made regular naquadria look stable by comparison. ‘I should really get back to McKay, try to persuade him not to pack too much equipment and people into the back of the Avenger.’
Weir smiled then remembered something. ‘Oh I meant to tell him before, maybe you could pass it on’ she said. ‘The robot submersible he wanted should be coming with the next shipment from Earth.’
‘Great, that’ll give a chance to take a look at that Mining Rig down there’ Sheppard enthused. ‘I really don’t want to risk taking a jumper down that deep only to find the thing’s a wreck’ he said. ‘Zelenka is confident the jumper shield would stop us getting crushed but it’s still a spaceship not a submarine’ he observed.
‘Well at least that’ll be one
place we can go without too much angst resulting from our sticking our noses into someone else’s business’ Weir replied, ‘Not much chance of the fish protesting about us drilling in their neighbourhood.’
Sheppard grinned. ‘McKay told me that according to the Lantean database there’s a lobster down there the size of a buick’ he said. ‘Better requisition more butter’ he joked.
Weir laughed. ‘I’ll see to it’ she said. ‘It’ll make a change to prioritise resources with butter ahead of guns for once’ she joked.
Note from the Author:The Lantean Mobile Drilling Platform was featured in SGA episode 3.18 Submersion. Thanks to access to Tollan technology they are now discovering information from the Lantean Database earlier than in the show timeline. The drilling platform project was stopped for an unknown reason by the Ancients... maybe they found something down there? The Ancient Defence Satellite was discovered in SGA episode 1.12 The The Defiant One. It was fifteen hours away from Lantea by puddle-jumper but that would only be a very short trip for an Avenger.There isn't a lot of spare room inside the weapon pod of a Puddle Jumper but Kull Plasma Repeaters are not only nice and compact they're powerful enough to destroy darts. Add a couple of naquadah generators to bolster the ships energy reserves and it's a much nastier vessel for combat. Zelenka works out how to turn the cloaking field into a shield in SGA episode 2.14 Grace Under Pressure. Harlan on Altair had been on his own for eleven thousand years when SG-1 met him in episode 1.19 Tin Man and had enjoyed the company of other android copies of the original inhabitants for some time before that. Altair as a society therefore likely well predated the goa'uld coming to Earth and so I don't think it's too much of a stretch to say that it was a remaining Ancient Outpost especially given that the real name for the Ancients is the Alterans anyway. Harlan said that only Hubbald the builder of the facility he lived in knew how everything worked, my view is that Hubbald was Lantean and Altair was a Lantean colony re-established in the Milky Way long before the Wraith War from where the Ancients meddled with ourselves (there's no way we ended up looking so much like them by accident)The Temple of Moloc on Goranak is mentioned in SG-1 episode 8.09 Sacrifices. The Imperial Guard of Moloc seem to be his feared elite who enforce his laws.Now using large numbers of field-guns (staff-cannon on decent gun-carriages) as well as Staff-Gatlings (classically hand-cranked) the Free-Jaffa are a much more formidable force than in canon (and in canon they would have taken the temple if not for the fact Moloc ordered his fleet to Goronak anyway). With his wife Drey'auc still alive Teal'c is not in a relationship with Ishta which is why M'zel has been making (clumsy) moves on her. Dakara is the name of the planet where the goa'uld first put the Jaffa into servitude, implanting them with the first prim'ta. It therefore holds considerable symbolic power as a location, at this time it belongs to Baal and is heavily guardedM7G-677 was a world featured in SGA episode 1.06 Childhood's End. The people there had been protected from being culled by the wraith by a ZPM powered Electromagnetic Field Generator that stopped all advanced technology working but because it could only generate a field covering a small area centuries ago they had adopted a fairly extreme method of population control, everyone commited suicide before their 25th birthday. It's mentioned in SGA episode 3.12 Echoes that one of the creatures inhabiting Lantea's ocean is a "lobster-like crustacean down there the size of a Buick". If you know your aliens from X-COM: Terror from the Deep you know what that means...