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.
Hills of Per-Bast – Bubastis – November 2004
This mission has been developing into a total cluster-fuck since five minutes after we arrived, Commander Russell Sharp thought bitterly, watching through binoculars as yet another attempt to force the enemy defence lines stalled amidst a hail of incoming plasma. He was currently about a mile back from the front and could see and hear the ferocity of the fighting as a mix of X-COM light and heavy infantry supported by their remaining HWP's and a pair of hovertanks continued to probe forward, trying, and so far failing, to find a weak point.
They had known that the Jaffa of Bastet would fight hard, likely to the death to defend her capital world, but the skill with which they were doing it and the unexpected new weaponry the defenders were employing to hold back the Tau'ri invaders had caught Sharp and his troops more than slightly unawares. After successfully managing to secure a beachhead around the stargate and dealing with the planetary deathglider squadrons with naquadah-enhanced MANPADS Sharp had expected to be able to smash or push aside Bastet's army and launch a thunder-run spearheaded by his hovertanks all the way to the largest city on the planet but the Jaffa were not cooperating whatsoever.
‘The prim'ta incubating bastards just won't fucking quit' Sharp observed in annoyance to his new aide, a Major originally from the 1st Airborne Brigade of the Japanese Self Defence Forces.
‘Would we in their place Sir?' Major Tanikawa replied.
‘No' Sharp conceded. ‘Have we got final word on how many PA Troopers we lost in that ambush?' he asked.
‘Nine fatalities, six of them permanent' Tanikawa replied. ‘Thirteen other troopers out of action due to either wounds or severe Power-Armour damage.'
‘Shit' Sharp responded quiety, looking at the ground for a moment before raising his head again. ‘I got suckered good there' he admitted. ‘Oldest trick in the book' he said, thinking back to the fighting which had occurred an hour before, about halfway between the stargate and these damn hills.
The X-COM forces had been advancing in column, following the course of the cobblestone roadway which led from the stargate to their objective and screened by hovertanks protecting their flanks. Roughly three miles into their march they had come under attack by two or three companies worth of Jaffa and as usual had shot them to pieces with full-auto fire, Bastet's warriors continuing to throw themselves at the Tau'ri foe long after it had proven to be an utter waste of lives and effort. With perhaps a third at most of the Jaffa remaining a horn had blown in the distance, apparently ordering them to retreat while there were still enough of them left to continue as a fighting force and they had complied, falling back in relatively good order.
Sharp didn't want a still unbroken enemy formation ending up behind his advance and as the Jaffa retreated towards a forest he ordered two platoons of Powered Armour Infantry to run them down and render them totally combat-ineffective. Seeing the PA Troopers chasing the Jaffa abandoned all pretence at order and began to flee as fast as they could run towards the safety of the trees, green bolts of Tau'ri plasma whistling past their ears.
The troopers realised it was a feigned retreat intended to draw them onto several batteries of hidden guns when a ripple of Heavy Staff-Cannon bolts shot out from the tree-line, the first volley wreaking horrific damage amongst the lead platoon. The Jaffa gunners got off a second volley, and some even managed a third shot before a storm of incoming full-auto fire from Heavy Plasma Rifles began to tear the tree-line apart, the forest already becoming a nightmare even before a pair of HWP's moved in and started ripping it up with their staff-gatlings.
As the dead and wounded troopers were retrieved and started to be transported back to the gate in four-wheel-drive vehicles Sharp ordered the advance to continue, more cautiously this time with replaceable machines sent ahead to scout instead of irreplaceable human beings. They got as far as a small village by a bridge which spanned a fast-flowing stream when Bastet's warriors scored another success. Once again the defenders of Bubastis proved their willingness to sacrifice themselves for their god as a Jaffa suicide-bomber with a naquadah device strapped to his chest appeared from nowhere and threw himself under the lead hovertank, blowing it, the bridge and the village to tiny pieces.
From that point on the resistance had become steadily more determined, and as Sharp and his troops reached the hills which represented the last geographical obstacle between them and the city they were greeted by so much raw firepower they had to pull back, regroup and drastically re-evaluate their opinion of the enemy.
Major Tanikawa saw something and pointed. 'They've got another gun battery up there on the hill with the two peaks' he said, Sharp looking where directed and frowning as he watched a flurry of bright lights climb into the sky then begin to arc down towards where the front line lay. 'I agree with your earlier assessment Sir they do seem to be much like the Plasma Charges dropped by Al'kesh' he said as the unguided energy bombs rained down in a random pattern.
want to get my hands on whatever they're using as a launcher' Sharp responded as he watched a second salvo being fired.
‘I would imagine it is a linear accelerator of some kind fired like a mortar' Tanikawa reasoned. 'At least it lacks accuracy' he added as a positive.
‘The opposition having indirect-fire artillery of any
kind is bad enough' Sharp responded. ‘They're launching those things from the reverse slope, keeping out of our line-of-sight because they know if we could see them we could flash-fry them with laser cannon even at this range' he said then raised his binoculars to his eyes again looking around. ‘Yup, just like I thought' he said. ‘They've got artillery spotters and if you can believe this one they're communicating to their gun batteries via some kind of semaphore' he told his aide, watching a Jaffa on another hilltop waving flags.
‘What should we do?' Tanikawa replied.
‘Have a hovertank flash-fry the guys with the flags instead, that'll help' Sharp replied, ‘it'll be quick at least for the poor bastards' he reasoned. The main gun on a hovertank could go through a reasonable thickness of armour-plate at four times the distance the Jaffa spotters were place, it would turn them to vapour in an instant.
While Tanikawa relayed the order to start zapping the Jaffa spotting teams via his radio headset Sharp looked around again. A couple of hundred yards off the remains of what had been a small bunker half concealed by a number of now charred trees was still smouldering from earlier. Inside there were likely a few equally charred Jaffa and some distance directly in front of the bunker sat a testimony of their stubborn defence in the form of a pair of knocked-out HWP's.
If the "Energy Mortars" or whatever they ended up calling them had been a serious annoyance then running into a number of camouflaged gun-pits holding the Plasma Repeater Cannon usually carried by the latest model deathgliders had been a very nasty shock. Firing a higher-velocity bolt with superior armour-piercing ability to a regular Staff-Cannon the Repeater Cannon would have already represented an increased threat to the Tau'ri soldiers even without its drastically superior rate-of-fire, but its ability to fire a rapid salvo that would take out a HWP or a Trooper in Powered-Armour in mere seconds had allowed the new type of Jaffa field artillery to stop the human advance dead in its tracks.
X-COM forces fighting the goa'uld were not well suited to this kind of attritional warfare. Even though this operation was much larger than most they typically relied on a massive firepower advantage to overcome the numerically superior enemy and with that narrowed it wasn't the walkover they typically enjoyed. Moreover the Jaffa defences were properly dug-in using the terrain to their advantage and apparently Bastet had learned how to effectively use her heavy guns, with the Staff-Cannon and Repeater-Cannon having overlapping fields of fire and protecting each other.
Kali had been the first goa'uld to demonstrate it was possible to at least hold-up a Tau'ri ground assault if you only used your field-artillery properly and given that she was a long-time ally of Bastet it was possible, indeed plausible, that she had passed on the benefits of her wisdom. Even a relatively simple tactical doctrine that attempted to utilise what they had available more effectively was better than nothing and added to the new weapons the defenders of Bubastis were finally managing to achieve what many Jaffa had considered impossible, the Tau'ri were being made to bleed for every inch of ground they took.
Casualty rates still favoured the human soldiers by a huge margin of course, mortar fire and rocket-propelled-grenades were smashing bunker after bunker and any Jaffa infantry that showed themselves were ruthlessly cut down, but it was a hard grind and they needed to start making headway soon or else elements of Bastet's fleet were going to arrive back in orbit long before they got through these hills and then likely bombardment from space would force an X-COM withdrawal.
All in all it was a hell of a good showing and in some ways Sharp was sorry he had to do this to them but he wasn't going to be leaving this planet with his tail between his legs. The Jaffa had proven they were starting to get to grips with how to use artillery but they still had a great deal to learn from the masters.
‘Sir, the artillery support we requested has arrived through the stargate and the first battery is ready to commence bombardment of the enemy positions' Tanikawa reported. ‘They have adjusted their ballistic computers to allow for the local gravity and air pressure and will be using a UAV as a spotter.'
‘Order our lead formations to pull back from the enemy and keep their heads down' Sharp ordered, ‘we don't want to lose anyone to shells dropping short.'
The Jaffa had begun cheering when they first saw the Tau'ri seemingly start to retreat but their joy was short lived when the tiny drone aircraft started circling above heralding the first explosion of a high-explosive shell falling from the sky. More followed in quick succession as a second battery of 105mm guns added its weight of fire to the first, a total of twelve M119A1 Howitzers having been manhandled through the gate along with a large supply of ammunition.
Each gun firing a steady three rounds a minute the projectiles continued to crash in relentlessly for the next quarter of an hour whilst Sharp and the other X-COM soldiers watched with satisfaction. ‘Remind me to push the IOA for approval for a few of those new 155mm guns the US Marines suggested we added to the inventory' Sharp requested of his aide.
‘The M777?' Tanikawa asked.
‘That's the one' sharp confirmed. ‘If we're going to be dealing with this kind of crap on a regular basis I want heavier artillery I can call on in the interim until I can finally persuade someone to mount an MLRS Launcher on a hovertank chassis' he said. ‘Next time the Jaffa are going to dig in deeper.'
‘The IOA might baulk at the additional equipment cost Sir' Tanikawa suggested.
‘Considering the value of the hardware we've already lost today half a dozen more howitzers and a few thousand shells are a drop in the ocean Major' Sharp replied then paused. ‘Looks like we might have to take the opposition more seriously in future' he observed thoughtfully as the guns gradually blasted a way clear through the hills. ‘They've been learning and they're starting to get a lot more creative with their tactics too' he continued, ‘good thing we've still got a lot more practice at conducting modern warfare.'
Tanikawa watched the continuing bombardment. ‘Bludgeoning them into submission with artillery does lack finesse if you don't mind me saying so Commander' he commented.
‘I just wish I had decided to call up the guns a few hours earlier' Sharp replied then frowned. ‘You know they were just a little bit too prepared for us' he stated. ‘Like they got tipped off we would be dropping by.'
‘If that were the case it seems doubtful that the diversionary attack Lord Yu and his fleet launched into Kali's territory designed to draw off the ships guarding Bubastis when Bastet came to her allies aid would have worked' Tanikawa responded.
‘Maybe' Sharp replied, ‘or else someone is being very clever' he said, hoping it was just paranoia. ‘Okay, we'll soften them up for another five minutes and then start a fresh advance behind a creeping barrage' he ordered. ‘And find out why the additional RPG-29's and the thermobaric rounds for them haven't turned up yet' he continued. ‘I want everything in front of us that looks like it might be a bunker blown all to hell and any hole big enough to fit a Jaffa in gets a flamethrower turned on it.'
Sharp looked up into the sky where it looked like carrion birds were circling. ‘Well I guess someone
is having a good day' he decided.High Orbit – M6R-214 – November 2004
Rodney was not comfortable in his EVA suit but realised that with the rear compartment of the puddle-jumper open to space he would have been far more uncomfortable not wearing it right now, for a start his blood would be boiling.
Maintaining complete radio silence just in case the Wraith might pick up a stray transmission and be alerted to the presence of the small cloaked vessel parked right next to them McKay methodically went though his mental checklist as he armed the twelve-hundred megaton nuclear warhead in front of him as Lieutenant Ford watched placidly through the visor of his own suit.
The warhead, basically an inert space-mine, had been designed to be as undetectable as it could be for this mission, covered in radar-absorbent material and with also no EM signature of its own. However as the physicist finished the task of making it live he then completed the process by switching on the personal cloaking device he had added to all of them as an added feature. The things were expensive but they might only get one chance at doing this so it was considered worth using up a few of them just in case the Wraith were more alert than they thought they were.
Ford watched the warhead vanish and gave McKay a thumbs-up as he reached down to where he could get hold of the thing and with Rodney's assistance they together placed the device as gently as they could against the outer hull of the Hiveship Sheppard had backed them up against.
McKay beckoned Ford closer and touched helmets so they could hear each other. 'I told you duct tape would work in a vacuum, they used it on the moon' he told him.
‘That stuff is like the Force from Star Wars' Ford replied.
‘It's got a light side, a dark side and it holds the universe together' McKay finished for him. ‘Well in this case it's going to help us atomise a chunk of it' he said.
Stepping away from McKay Ford picked up a spanner he had left nearby for the purpose and hit it against the still sealed pressure door leading to the front cabin. The sound travelled through the metal and hearing the signal John Sheppard began flying them clear while Rodney closed the ramp and began to re-pressurise the rear compartment.
Heading towards the spacegate Sheppard waited until the pressure was equalised and then opened the internal door so he could talk to Ford and McKay. 'I hope you didn't forget to arm it before sticking it to the hive' he said.
‘I won't dignify that with a response' McKay responded irately, struggling to take off his helmet. ‘I hope you're getting us a good long way from that hive' he added.
‘Going to be a hell of a big bang Sir' Ford added, having more success at liberating himself from his own EVA helmet.
‘Except for the complete lack of sound you mean' McKay interjected, rolling his eyes.
‘I'm going to pull us out half way to the space-gate' Sheppard told them, ‘after the hiveship goes boom we should be able to make a high-speed run and get through the gate to our next target before the Wraith get their shit together.'
‘Why not leave now?' Rodney asked. ‘It's due to go off in five minutes anyway whether you use the remote detonator or not.'
‘I want to watch' Sheppard replied with an evil chuckle, ‘besides which we need to confirm the kill before we head for P3X-447 and nuke the hive on the ground there with number two' he added, indicating the second warhead that lay waiting to be deployed.
Ford laughed. ‘Think the Wraith know what's about to happen to them?' he asked.
‘In some ways I wish they did but no' Sheppard replied, ‘want to press the button?' he asked Ford who had unlatched pulled off one of his suits gloves already.
‘Cool' the lieutenant replied with a cheesy grin on his face as Sheppard passed him the detonator.
‘Okay we're there, bringing her about' Sheppard announced, stopping the jumper and turning it around to face the now distant hiveship. ‘Thought I'd bring some appropriate music' he said, reaching over and pressing play on the CD player he had placed in the co-pilot's chair, the voice of Johnny Cash starting to sound out."And I heard, as it were, the noise of thunder: One of the four beasts saying: "Come and see." And I saw. And behold, a white horse."
Sheppard grinned as the Man in Black started to sing."There's a man goin' 'round takin' names.
An' he decides who to free and who to blame.
Everybody won't be treated all the same.
There'll be a golden ladder reaching down.
When the man comes around."
Ford flipped off the safety and pushed the red button, as he did so the naquadah-enhanced nuclear warhead detonated with a yield equivalent to eighty-thousand Hiroshima bombs. The liberated energy instantly turned a huge volume of the hive to plasma and although built tough the wraith vessel was not really designed to absorb that kind of instant damage.
Lieutenant Ford whooped as the hiveship exploded in a flash of light, the warhead having triggered just about everything that could explode on the vessel to do so in a titanic series of practically simultaneous secondary-explosions, eleven kilometres worth of ship blown to fragments."Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers.
One hundred million angels singin'.
Multitudes are marching to the big kettle drum.
Voices callin', voices cryin'.
Some are born an' some are dyin'.
It's Alpha's and Omega's Kingdom come."
‘Okay let's get going' Sheppard said happily, turning the puddle-jumper around once more. ‘Another hiveship is just begging for the same treatment' he declared enthusiastically, putting the jumper to full speed. ‘Dial P3X-447 could you lieutenant?' he requested as they approached the orbiting stargate."Till Armageddon, no Shalam, no Shalom.
Then the father hen will call his chickens home.
The wise men will bow down before the throne.
And at his feet they'll cast their golden crown.
When the man comes around."
‘I'm surprised we don't have darts or even a cruiser heading for the gate already' Ford commented as he started pressing the symbols that would dial their next destination.
‘The wraith don't know why their hive exploded yet, they're probably just as freaked and confused as we would be' Sheppard replied. ‘I don't think the Ancients ever used their cloaking tech for this kind of thing' he speculated as Ford finished keying in the address and the wormhole burst into life.
The stargate on P3X-447 was on the surface of the planet in a forest clearing and Sheppard steered them straight towards their second target, a grounded hive half buried under millions of tons of earth and vegetation. The song had finished to be replaced by another Johnny Cash hit, the lyrics of "A Boy named Sue" for some reason causing McKay to grimace.
‘Okay I'm going to loop around the hive and make a run right across her back towards the stargate' Sheppard told the others. ‘Are you sure
the drop won't trigger the bomb Rodney?' he asked as McKay worked on the second device.
‘No they're designed to take a lot more shock than that' McKay replied.
Sheppard frowned. ‘Because you know I could just land and...'
‘It'll be fine just bring us in low' McKay cut him off. ‘The wraith could realise any second that hives all over this quadrant of the galaxy are blowing up and we want to be out of here before they do.'
‘The man wants low, he gets low' Sheppard said to himself as he piloted the puddle jumper towards the artificial line of overgrown hills in the distance which were in fact the buried hiveship.
‘Slow is good too' McKay said loudly as he realised they were now tearing along just above the treetops.
‘You mean for the drop right?' Sheppard checked.
‘Well accuracy doesn't really matter too much because of the size of the target but we should try not to accidentally slam this device headlong into a tree trunk or a big rock' McKay advised.
‘So it could
accidentally go off?' Sheppard responded.
‘No because it might accidentally not go off when we want it to' McKay explained. ‘Okay I'm ready here' he announced.
‘Okay I'm bringing her around so we've got a straight run to the gate after we drop' Sheppard replied.
‘No waiting around for the explosion this time' McKay replied, moving to open the rear hatch. ‘On the surface in an atmosphere we might lose access to the gate even if we clear the blast radius' he said. ‘It could be buried or just thrown somewhere.'
‘Will the explosion be that big?' Ford asked. The hive rested a good few miles from the stargate.
‘We're going to level an area of forest maybe a hundred and fifty kilometres across' McKay replied evenly.
Ford blinked. ‘Okay, I can stand to miss explosion number two' he said slowly.
‘We're on the bomb run and I've found a nice clearing you can drop into' Sheppard told them. ‘It's not really in the centre of the hive though' he noted.
‘Anywhere near the damn thing will be fine' McKay replied. ‘Give me a hand with this' he requested of Ford indicating the nuclear device. ‘It's as heavy as the last one.'
‘Coming in low and slow' Sheppard told them as the puddle-jumper approached the target.
‘As soon as we do this gun it' McKay told him.
‘Just don't fall out the back' Sheppard replied, 'on my mark' he said. ‘Three - Two - One – MARK.'
McKay and Ford heaved the bomb out of the back of the puddle-jumper. ‘Bombs away' Ford yelled out as it fell a short distance and landed in some soft soil.
‘Closing the ramp, get moving' McKay called out as Sheppard increased speed and altitude.
Sheppard smiled. ‘Home in time for dinner after a good day's work' he said then he laughed as something occurred to him. ‘I think we maybe just did the first drive-by nuking in the history of the universe' he joked.
‘Just don't start playing gangsta rap' McKay requested seriously. ‘Once we get to Atlantis they can raise the shield and then we can remote-detonate the bomb without doing very bad things to the control room' he said.
‘Do you think the other jumpers are good too?' Ford asked. ‘Getting the job done without taking casualties?'
‘No reason to suppose not' Sheppard replied, concentrating as he prepared to thread the needle. ‘Dial Atlantis' he told Ford.
‘Yes Sir' Ford replied, pressing the familiar sequence. ‘So what are we going to do tomorrow?' he asked as they saw the kawoosh from the stargate up ahead and sent their IDC code through.
‘Sleep off the hangover from the big party tonight' Sheppard told him as they went on through the wormhole.
‘There's going to be a party?' Ford queried as they arrived back in Atlantis and everyone present in the control room started cheering as the pilot gave them a thumbs-up.
‘Oh yeah, beer, wine, Athosian girls you'll love it' Sheppard told him, switching on his radio. ‘Raise the shield please' he requested.
‘Shield is raised
' came the reply.
‘My turn' Sheppard said, turning the jumper around and taking the remote detonator Ford was now holding out to him.
‘This is so unfair' McKay protested. ‘I get to push the button on the next one' he insisted.
‘I'll consider it' Sheppard replied. ‘And for my next trick I'm going to make tens of millions of tons of starship vanish into thin air' he said, triggering the remote detonator.
Back on P3X-447 a wraith pilot who had been flying his dart around the planet on a test flight realised there was something wrong when his telepathic link to his queen and all the rest of his people was suddenly severed. He headed back to base at high speed and decided it wasn't exactly the best day of his extremely long life when he found a mushroom cloud twenty kilometres high and growing right on top of where his home used to be.
At least he wasn't alone in his misery. The scattered survivors of thirteen other hiveships were having an equally crappy time of it as the Children of the Ancients inflicted more losses on the Wraith in less than two hours than their creators had managed in their most successful campaign of the last war.
By the time Sheppard recovered from his hangover the entire Wraith species had collectively panicked and the remaining hiveships and cruisers all over the galaxy were heading for the safety of interstellar space as they tried to figure out what the hell had just happened and who did it.
Meanwhile deep in a trench at the bottom of the Lantean ocean something else stirred. Automated monitoring equipment far older than the city floating on the surface detected that something was very wrong with the weapon its creators had unleashed on the hated Alterans. In response it began to both power down the time-dilation field, which had preserved the complex it warded over for countless eons, and instruct stasis pods to begin to thaw out their occupants for the first time in over ten thousand years.
The Wraith were just unwitting pawns in the game, by taking them the Terrans had unfortunately just attracted the attention of the player.Ha'tak Admiral Kuznetsov – Earth Orbit – December 2004
‘It's a fascinating idea Sir' Samantha Carter enthused, although Brigadier O'Neill looked rather less interested as she explained, this possibly being because he didn't understand the implications. He was mainly becoming bored waiting for the Kuznetsov
to move into the right position to teleport up their target, unfortunately they still lacked Asgard beaming technology and were forced to utilise the less capable and shorter-ranged device copied from the one on Redemption
‘I'm sure it is Carter' O'Neill replied, checking his watch and then idly tapping his other hand against the pistol holstered at his side. This ship had more character before they stripped out all the goa'uld bling, he decided looking over the utilitarian plain metal walls that had replaced all the hieroglyphs in gold relief.
‘No really Sir, although it's really only a thought experiment so far we know all the technology required is possible' Carter told him. ‘Using the AI design Loki installed on Mars as a basic template we should be able to develop a fully self-aware supercomputer and then it's simply a matter of placing it inside a field generated by a modified time-dilation device' she said.
‘Time-dilation?' Daniel queried, he was typically a lot more interested in such things than Jack.
Carter nodded. ‘The Replicators showed it was possible to reverse the normal effect so that time progressed far faster inside the field than in the rest of the universe' she said. ‘To the outside observer the AI would appear to be working ten-thousand times faster than normal' she continued, ‘it's basically a cheat that even gets around normal limitations such as the speed of light.'
‘Pity the President only wanted US Citizens in on this' O'Neill said regretfully, ‘I know Teal'c would have loved to be here and Andianov might have enjoyed manhandling the slimy bastard if it proved necessary' he added.
‘To be honest they wouldn't have been much help Sir' Carter responded, ‘I don't need any assistance with the za'tarc detector and Daniel or yourself are both familiar with the Mind Probe' she noted.
‘I just hope the son-of-a-bitch doesn't cooperate' O'Neill said, rubbing his hands with obvious glee.
‘I'm still not sure the President will agree to handing him over to X-COM to be Mind-Raped Jack' Daniel commented.
‘Not at first but we might be able to get some nice invasive psionic screening authorised' O'Neill said hopefully. ‘Dig up enough juicy wrongdoing to persuade the man in the Oval Office to take the next step.'
‘I thought you'd enjoy this assignment too much to be safely left in charge' a familiar voice interrupted causing the Commanding Officer of the SGC and the two members of SG-1 present to turn to the doorway in surprise.
‘Lieutenant-General Hammond' O'Neill greeted him, ‘I wasn't told you were onboard' he said.
‘Just ringed up from the Pentagon' Hammond replied. ‘The President decided that he wanted another senior officer present' he said, 'plus a member of the NID' he added, another man this one wearing a civilian suit appearing beside him. ‘I don't know if you've all met agent Barrett?'
‘He's poked his nose into the SGC a couple of times' O'Neill replied, directing a suspicious look at Barrett. Anyone involved in the NID was automatically to be treated with distrust according to his book, they were supposed to have cleaned up their act but even if they had they could still be pretty damn dirty.
‘Colonel Chekov welcomed us aboard' Hammond told them. ‘He didn't look happy with us being here' he observed.
‘Don't take it personally Sir he keeps to Moscow time so he's probably just cranky at still being awake at this hour because we're here' O'Neill replied. ‘And talking of time we should be expecting our guest right about...'
A human figure shimmered into existence on the transporter platform in the centre of the converted room. As it solidified it became clear that it was a man in pyjamas with a toothbrush in his mouth.
‘Good evening Mr Vice-President' Hammond greeted Kinsey who stared at them dumbfounded. A second ago he had been in his bathroom at home getting ready for bed. ‘I hope this isn't too inconvenient but I'm afraid we need to have a word' he told him apologetically.
Kinsey pulled the toothbrush out of his mouth, he looked around for a receptacle and failing to spot one eventually spat his toothpaste out on the floor. ‘What is the meaning of this?' he demanded to know. ‘Where am I?' he asked, looking around.
‘You're aboard the Ha'tak Admiral Kuznetsov
in orbit above the East Coast of the United States' Hammond told him. ‘As to why
you're here we have reason to believe that either wittingly or unwittingly you have been passing information onto the enemy.'
‘It's the sort of thing you can get shot for you know' O'Neill interjected. This could easily rank as one of the greatest days of his military career, he decided.
‘Nonsense' Vice-President Kinsey responded. ‘You have no authority to question me like this, let alone abduct me from my home in the middle of the night' he declared.
Agent Barrett coughed. ‘I'm afraid to say Sir that in fact we do' he said. ‘Although in normal circumstances you would be correct' he concurred, ‘President Hayes signed a special order permitting us to carry out this operation' he told him.
Hammond nodded. ‘In fact it was his suggestion to do it this way in the middle of the night so that it wouldn't interfere with your day-to-day duties' he added. ‘Your Secret Service detail are aware.'
‘And what about my wife?' Kinsey retorted. ‘You don't think she might wonder why I vanished?'
‘She'll be told you decided to go for a walk I believe' Hammond replied.
‘There's no way that Henry would have approved this farce' Kinsey stated angrily, he had too much pull with the Senate to provoke like this even if he had never managed to dig up any decent dirt on Hayes.
‘This will all go far smoother and be over sooner if you simply choose to cooperate Sir' Hammond told Kinsey. ‘I think Lieutenant-Colonel Carter wants you to sit in that chair in front of that device' he said, pointing at it.
‘What is that thing?' Kinsey demanded to know.
‘It's a Tok'ra za'tarc detector' Carter explained. ‘It functions as both a means of verifying possible Goa'uld brainwashing and as an effective lie-detector' she told him. ‘We just need you to answer a few questions while you are being monitored by both it and a Sectoid Mind Probe that will scan your surface thoughts.'
‘Not a chance' Kinsey told them firmly.
‘If that's your final word I'll let the President know you refused to cooperate and he can make the call as to whether we should subject you to a deep-scan with a Psionic Amplifier against your will instead' Hammond responded.
Kinsey's eyes widened. ‘You wouldn't' he exclaimed. 'He
‘Actually he might if he believes there's any possibility that the man who is one heartbeat away from the Presidency is working for a hostile extraterrestrial power' Daniel suggested. ‘Moreover I think it's fair to say that the leaders of the other nations represented on the IOA are going to put a lot of pressure on him to either have you either guaranteed loyal or else fired.'
Kinsey thought about that and then rounded on O'Neill, pointing his toothbrush at him accusingly. ‘I'd bet my bottom dollar you're
responsible for this' he snarled. The damn archaeologist was right, it wouldn't just be the Russians and the Chinese either, Britain and France would also demand that the US Vice President was screened if there was a reasonable suspicion of alien influence.
‘No I just got roped in because Sharp is a Canuck and the President didn't want anyone that wasn't an American involved after he was briefed by X-COM' O'Neill denied the accusation. That doesn't mean I'm not enjoying myself though, he thought to himself.
‘Before I agree to this charade I want to hear why you jokers think I'm working for the enemy' Kinsey told them forcefully, still using his toothbrush as a prop.
‘Want to field this one Sir or should I?' O'Neill asked Hammond.
‘Go right ahead' Hammond replied, giving O'Neill the floor.
O'Neill smiled. ‘Well you see it all started when X-COM off-world missions kept getting ambushed' he began, ‘and we're talking Sharp and his people running into prepared defences and a hell of a lot more Jaffa than you would normally expect' he said.
‘According to all the IOA intelligence reports that have crossed my desk in the last few months Baal and his allies have been raising their game consistently' Kinsey replied. 'What's this got to do with me anyway?' he asked.
‘It's those intelligence reports actually' O'Neill replied, trying not to smirk too much, ‘the International Oversight Advisory approves all major operations in advance and because all the X-COM personal are already screened regularly for signs of infiltration they decided that if there was a leak it might be coming from the IOA end' he said. ‘That's why everyone in the IOA was sent a slightly different set of mission briefings with a different set of planets that were going to be the subject of an X-COM raid.'
‘And this is where you tell me that the planets mentioned in the file I was sent all had an ambush laid out ready for us and the planets in the documents given to the other people attached to the IOA didn't' Kinsey finished for him. ‘This is obviously just someone trying to set me up' he stated.
‘That is of course a possibility' Hammond told him, ‘but we've got to be sure.'
Kinsey smirked. ‘This is nothing but a vain attempt to discover something you or someone else can use against me' he said. ‘All you've got to go on is coincidence and conjecture' he continued. ‘In America a man is innocent until he's proven guilty and we have a right to privacy.'
‘I seem to remember a certain Senator once saying regarding the subject of the phonetapping of terrorist suspects that; "If you've got nothing to hide you've got nothing to fear" did I get that right?' O'Neill asked sweetly.
‘I am very sorry to put you in this situation Mr Vice President' Barrett said. ‘But if you agree to answering a few questions while being monitored we can end this unpleasantness very quickly' the NID agent promised.
‘Will these questions relate solely to the nonsense that I might be a spy for the goa'uld or some other extraterrestial foe?' Kinsey asked.
‘Of course' Hammond told him.
O'Neill sighed, if Hammond hadn't turned up he was planning to slip one in about campaign contributions and maybe another passing question about tax evasion.
‘Let's get this over with' Kinsey declared.
‘Carter, help the Vice President into the Za'tarc detector could you' O'Neill requested. Please let this all finish with Kinsey facing treason charges, he prayed to himself.
Five minutes later Kinsey was looking smug as he waited for Lieutenant-Colonel Carter to confirm his innocence. Heads were going to roll for this, he vowed.
‘Daniel?' O'Neill asked the archaeologist who had been holding a Mind Probe during the interrogation.
‘No signs of deceit as far as I could tell with this' Daniel replied, holding up the metallic sphere and offering the instantly desolated O'Neill an apologetic look as he did so.
‘The Mind Probe is only a surface scan, it can't tell if someone is lying if they think they're telling the truth' Carter spoke up.
‘What are you saying Colonel?' Hammond asked her.
‘The detector is showing some indications of goa'uld brainwashing, or at least some kind of interference with the Vice President's mind' Carter announced. ‘It's strange though, we'll need to dig deeper to find out' she said. ‘I suggest a psionic amplifier.'
‘I am not a goa'uld spy!' Kinsey exclaimed.
‘Don't get your PJ's in a twist' O'Neill told him, ‘sounds like you didn't even know' he said regretfully, they probably couldn't shoot him now.
‘How could anyone get to the Vice President?' Barrett asked in confusion. ‘When is he even alone for long enough?'
‘Just as a suggestion how about at night when we decided to get him' Daniel suggested. ‘Could goa'uld mind-control be used when he was asleep?' he asked Carter.
Kinsey suddenly went extremely pale. ‘The dreams' he said, 'the woman in my dreams.'
‘I guess he's not talking about his wife' O'Neill said. Now it was his turn to look smug, the psi-amp was bound to learn something that would get Kinsey out of their hair forever.
Note from the Author:Bubastis is the the capital planet of Bastet, long-time ally of Kali and in XSGCOM also in alliance with Amaterasu and of course Baal against the other System Lords and the Tau'ri. Feigned retreats designed to draw tanks (or in this case Powered Armour) onto hidden gun batteries was a favourite tactic of Rommel. The Jaffa re-invented the wheel here but because they aren't usually so tricky Sharp fell for it. The bomb-like Plasma Charges dropped by Al'kesh seem, to offer the best chance for the goa'uld to develop an existing weapon into a form of indirect-fire artillery. The Plasma Repeater Cannon is simply a scaled-up version of the Plasma Repeater used by the Kull (much as the Staff-Cannon is basically a scaled-up Staff-Weapon) and is being used in a role equivalent perhaps to an automatic grenade launcher or a late 19th Century pom pom gun. The M119 Howitzer is the US version of the British L118 Light Gun. It's a relatively lightweight artillery piece used to support Marines, Paratroopers and other light infantry and should be too difficult to haul through a stargate even by hand. It has a range of over 17km so you wouldn't need to locate it anywhere near the enemy. The M777 is a larger calibre howitzer but is of a more modern design and considerably lighter than other 155mm artillery pieces.M6R-214 was the site of a space battle between the Wraith and Asurans hunting them mentioned in ATL episode 4.06 Tabula Rasa. P3X-447 was a planet where a hiveship was present on the surface mentioned in ATL episode 2.03 Runner.Sort of a merge here between elements taken from SG-1 episodes 7.15 Chimera and 8.14 Full Alert. As both US Vice President and IOA member (as well as being affiliated with the NID) Kinsey has a lot of valuable information in his head people would like to get hold of. Agent Barrett cropped up in a few episodes as the good guy of the NID.