Pendragon's Day - Part 1
Author notes: I have to thank the Dark Energy and the Higgs Boson for allowing me to go around a block that consisted in a lack of satisfying explanation for a piece of Muvian technology. On the matter of the Muvian flag, I based myself on Churchward’s writings on the matter, as seen here The Franklin class ships look like this The character list and links can be found here
Willow was looking at the hangar bay of her ship and at the neatly arranged VF-22s of her embarked squadron. As with most squadrons in the Muvian Spacy, these Sturmvögels had their own livery. ECS, also known as cloaking field, was standard equipment for this generation of Valkyries, a fact that had encouraged her pilots to go for… striking colors. The variable fighters were mostly orange, with black stripes and a white belly. On their fins stood proudly the crest of the squadron, a winged, pouncing tiger. The squadron members had finally renounced to have the ‘traditional’ shark mouths painted on the nose, not managing to find a satisfactory way for those to show when the Valkyrie shifted to battroid mode.
Like Captain Higano, Willow’s CAG was an old-timer who had been spending his last days in Sunnydale’s nursing home. He often played shoji or chess with the Japanese captain, as a matter of fact. When the admiral had called for all men and women of good will to join the Spacy, the retired Air Force Major Christopher Summerfield, former member of the 1st American Volunteer Group, had taken the way of the regeneration tanks and signed up with a 28 years old body.
She remembered how Summerfield had drilled them. At first, he hadn’t told them that he gained his ace qualifications downing Japanese aircrafts in China. It was only later, after most of the young pilots understood what decades of experience in a rejuvenated body could do, that he told them what his first combat assignment was. At this point, they respected him enough for his abilities to allow for that. The men had then quickly decided. The Flying Tigers would fly and fight again.
“Captain, sorry to disturb you, but…”
“That’s all right, Mister von Schlesien,” she replied while turning to face her first officer. “The inconvenient of rapid promotion is that it leaves you little time to get used to it…”
Commander Markus von Schlesien was the heir of a long line of Prussian officers who immigrated in the US after World War Two as their lands had been set in East Germany. They had continued their traditions by joining the American military, the Navy in the case of Markus. She had been a little wary at first, with her being Jewish but… a discussion on what her first officer’s family thought of the ‘Little Corporal’ had set things for good.
“Ma’am,” he said, knowing that his captain preferred people to speak their mind, “you have far more experience of space combat than I and you proved on the Arcadia that you were a good first officer.” Yes… but this is different. The whole Master and Commander thing…
“We’ll go through the fire soon enough,” she said.
“You and I have soldier blood going up many generations, Captain. When I was deployed in the Gulf, I had the occasion to meet a Major Rebecca Rosenberg.”
“You met auntie Becka? Well she’s more an infantry girl but I guess she’s a fair example of Rosenberg women… I can only wonder what they would think, seeing me here.”
“They would probably be proud of you. Think about it, we are going to fight Pharaoh’s troops.”
She had a giggle.
“Hem… I suppose you have reports I must sign?”
She took the datapad he handed her and went quickly through the reports, pressing her thumb to sign them.
“We’re all set. Communicator on internal circuit,” she said while tapping her left bracer. “Attention to all crew, this is the Captain. I’m proud of you. We finished ten hours ahead of schedule. Shore leave for all on the condition you keep your communicator on and take some sober pills with you. Enjoy the festival.” Sober pills,
thought Markus… I don’t know who had that idea but that’s one all sailors saluted.
“So, what did you find, Rodney?” asked Jack.
To the colonel, the physicist currently looked like a squirrel on speed. He still couldn’t decide if it was panic, excitation or both at the same time. Rodney McKay took a deep breath and sat in the chair in front of Jack’s desk while fiddling nervously with his mechanical pencil.
“Two things about our recent visitors. Let’s start with Nike Astrea, the one you nicknamed the Vulcan Ambassador.”
“She’s a cartoon character?”
“She appears in a manga, a Japanese comic, called Appleseed. She’s not human.”
“A robot? Thermal imagery didn’t show anything out of the ordinary.”
“I know, contrarily to Saito who is clearly a cyborg. Nike is a bioroid.”
“Bioroid is short for bio-android.”
“No,” replied the visibly irked scientist. “A clone is made by taking the genetic material from an existing being and use it to create an ‘identical’ copy. A bioroid is a chimera, with DNA built piece by piece, either by taking desired sequences from multiple donors or from scratch by assembling nucleotides. You realize the degree of mastery this supposes in fields like genetics and biochemistry?”
“Not really. It just tells me she’s… an artificial person.”
“Of course… to put things back in perspective, Zentraedi are also bioroids but if things evolved like in the Macross anime, then they don’t know how they are created. They just know how to use and maintain machines created by the Protoculture to make more of them. The bioroids scientists from Appleseed have that missing knowledge and the Zentraedi cloning tanks will allow them to create adults instead of infants. In short, forget the sixty thousands number. The Muvians can increase their population very quickly if they wish.”
“Why the Vulcan mindset?”
“In Appleseed, Earth was recovering from a nuclear war. I’m simplifying a lot, but bioroids were created to bring back some order. They’re not without emotions but… to us humans theirs would appear at best muted.”
“And the other thing?”
“Mihoshi Kuramitsu is also a cartoon character, from a show called Tenchi Muyo. This version seems a lot less clumsy than the one in the cartoon but that’s not what’s bothering me. What’s bothering me is if there are other people from the same show in our universe.”
“There are some beings in that show that play in the same league as Galactus.”
Jack O’Neill exited the Stargate and took in the Muvian base. Their embarking room was a sterile white hall with smooth walls and no visible opening. It somehow reminded him of Krypton in the old Superman movie with Christopher Reeves. He felt the others exit behind him: Daniel, Teal’c and McKay. He looked at the few people that were waiting in front of the gate and smiled.
His gaze was all on Samantha. Her hair was now a shiny Venetian blonde that looked like silky fire and cascaded freely on her shoulders. Her eyes were still the same crimson as when she left the SGC but she looked a lot healthier than then. Among other things, the sickly pallor she owed to her possession by Echidna was now gone, replaced by a nice tan. She was out of uniform but that was to be expected. Her clothing was all in different shades of red and gold and constituted of a tunic and knee-high boots over a skintight jumpsuit. He had somehow the impression that the latter garment could be made airtight. Probably what they consider ‘sensible casual’ for people living in starships…
Near her was a man he recognized from his dossier: Pierre Laval. Physically, Laval was unremarkable. Average size, average tan and mixed enough ancestry to be able to fake being native on both sides of the Mediterranean and in most places of America. Nobody outside of very restricted circle in the French military had any clue on his true identity, the one he had before the Legion made him Pierre Laval, French citizen. No wonder the unofficial codename the CIA has for him is Fantômas…
“Colonel,” said Sam, saluting. “It’s nice to see you all.”
“So, how are they treating you? It’s been a month,” asked Jack.
“Very well, sir. I’m spending most of my time in university classes when I’m not helping Admiral Carrington to understand the Goa’uld.”
“University?” asked McKay. “But…”
“Rodney,” said Sam, “do you remember what we discussed about Tollan technology?”
“Yes and… understood, they’re even more advanced.”
“You have no idea…”
O’Neill turned towards Laval as Carter switched to full technobabble mode, explaining some things about what he thought was particle physics, often pointing the hazy white force field covering the Muvian Stargate while saying things like ‘non-baryonic dark matter decay’ and ‘manipulate Einstein’s cosmological constant’.
“Doctor Carter is detailing how our entropic shields work. As I suppose we’re both more interested in the practical applications of technology than on how it works,” said the Frenchman, “The gist of it is that any matter that comes in contact with that disintegrates in sub-atomic particles. This is one of the applications of a technology related to a concept called dark energy… On less technical matters, I still have that bottle of rum, but I’m afraid they’re waiting for you in Caerleon.”
“When we set up that visit, Miss Collins said something about transit.”
“For security reasons, the Astria Porta is not in our main base but here in Hadrian’s Gate… the same reason why I suppose you put yours in Cheyenne Mountain instead of the middle of New York. Before you ask, she didn’t tell. This information came from the interrogation of the NID agents.”
“I find your choice of names interesting,” said Daniel.
“The team who found Caerleon thought mainly about the name’s meaning: fortress of the Legion. We chose to use an Arthurian theme for the alert dispositive we built around it. But please, follow me.”
“How far is Caerleon?”
“Only a light-year. Roughly half an hour of travel with the ship you will be using.”
“This is slower than Goa’uld ships,” said Teal’c.
“Only for security reasons. Sokar’s scouts are dangerously near so you will have to do some sublight travel at both ends.”
“How near?” asked Jack.
“With their current search pattern, we have a maximum of two weeks. But…”
“But they can change their mind or get lucky.”
Willow lay on the grass of Tannhaüser Park, looking at the holographic sky above. It was nice to just rest, to enjoy the animation of the festival around her. It had been organized after a poll launched on the Agora. The first of December was now a holiday in their calendar.
While Halloween had become, for the Muvians, a day of mourning, Pendragon’s Day was an occasion to rejoice. Stalls offering many goods and games had been assembled in several parts of town. Tannhaüser Park itself was going through a heavy schedule of performances and the Fire Bombers would play at the Colosseum during the evening, involving the Camelot Philharmonic Orchestra for some pieces.
“Mia!” said a tiny voice as a small shape thumped on her belly.
“Hello, Ryo-chan,” said Willow, stroking the cabbit’s head.
She sat, seeing the people she had been waiting for arrive. Buffy of course, holding a picnic basket and discussing something with the now clearly showing Drusilla. Spike and Jonathan followed behind, lost in their own discussion, while Dawn, Joyce and Merlin closed the march.
“Hello,” she said to the arriving party. “Any news from the Giles?”
“They should arrive soon,” said Buffy. “A pity that Xander and Mihoshi are stuck at their respective posting.”
“The joys of military life… Same time next year, I will probably be in some distant part of the galaxy with the Whitestar.”
They started to set up the blankets and pass around the sushi plates.
“You named your ship Whitestar?” asked Jonathan.
“Of course, and my first officer is called Markus and the ship’s infomorph Susan…”
Jonathan Levinson grinned. For a geek like him, the Babylon 5 references were impossible to miss.
“Just warn us if you decide to change your name to Sheridan,” said Joyce with a smirk.
Willow was about to object that John Sheridan was male when she had a stray thought of her making out with Delenn, Sheridan’s romantic interest in the show. Like often in her recent musings, the thought of dating another woman was… not despicable to her. She took quickly the longneck beer Buffy handed her and hid her blush with a sip of blue, sparkly beer.
“Spice beer?” she asked.
“Not as good as a Black Cat in my opinion,” said Spike, “but it’s already a nice one. Now if we could only find a way to make soccer work here…”
“I can already imagine clubs luring Asg-Ushir to become goalkeepers…” said Dawn.
“The physical differences will become a moot point for most people with the… how does the Spacy call it?” asked Merlin.
“The Erskine package,” said Joyce. “It’s a reference to a story character called Captain America, Erskine being the name of the scientist that devised the augmentation process he went through.”
“Twenty-two captain America playing soccer… that could be interesting,” said Jonathan.
“Didn’t you do something like that?” asked Buffy.
“Rugball is… a lot less civilized than soccer. Take baseball and include rules like the fact you’re out only if you fail to trash the player holding the next base… It had its fun moments but I wasn’t there for that.”
Buffy snuggled against him. One of the reasons they fit so well together was that they understood evil and darkness, having too often partaken in it, thanks to their respective personas.
“Here come Rupert and Motoko,” said Joyce.
Dawn immediately went through the reserves, preparing two more sushi dishes. As their two friends joined the discussion, Willow wondered about what the first of December 1998 would have looked like, without Halloween. I would be in my senior year in Sunnydale High… Spike and Dru would probably be our enemies. I would maybe be studying witchcraft… a thing I left completely aside since I became partly Kei Yuki and had to develop my military talent. Would we have even survived? Somehow, even with the Goa’uld menace hovering around… I think I prefer this life. Here, I have the impression to have a future and not only a struggle for survival.
“Nice ship,” said Jack to Gwen Ditchik. “What’s her mission?”
The ship he was looking at was roughly thirty meters long and half as wide, all in soft curves that made him look like a kind of partially flattened egg. It was painted in the usual sandy brown of the Muvian Recon Force, with the winged grenade that was the symbol of their unit near the eight-rayed golden sun of the Muvian flag.
“Like a lot of our ships, the Damselfly is highly modular. You see these lines on the hull? They are trapdoors for replaceable modules. Depending on their nature, sensors, armament, etc., the mission can vary a lot. The Libellule here is configured for a long-range recon mission which means a balanced array of stealth, detection and defense capabilities.”
Jack nodded. This was a conundrum faced by all armies: specialized vehicles against multirole ones, or, in other words, peak efficiency against overall performance. Modular crafts like this one were theoretically a solution to have the best of both worlds but it came with the price of heightened maintenance costs.
They got inside, using a ventral ramp and he noticed well-furnished crew quarters with things that looked like personal touches.
“Our missions are often several weeks long, colonel… and we’re leaving for the next one after our stop in Caerleon, so we make ourselves comfortable,” said Gwen.
They got on the bridge and seats rose from the ground to offer enough space to them while the Cassiopeian joined Wesley and Metro on the main controls.
“Libellule to control, ready for launch,” said Wesley.
“Acknowledged,” replied a voice with a French accent. “Godspeed, Libellule.”
The walls seemed to rush around the small ship and suddenly the white of the Muvian base became the black of space.
“What was that acceleration worth?” asked McKay.
“73.2 times Earth’s standard,” replied Metro.
“And we felt nothing… I think I will ask this a lot, but how?”
“Goa’uld technology mostly relies on gravity manipulation,” replied the infomorph. “While this can be used to offset the effects of acceleration, the delays between the different parts of the system mean that the effects are lessened rather than negated. Our propulsion relies on different principles that we call inertial state manipulation. To keep things simple, the engines accelerates uniformly all the particles onboard while negating any external acceleration. As your body is in rest state compared to the ship…”
“Absolutely nothing is felt… that’s… Sam do you remember our suppositions on Tollan phasing technology?”
“The best answer I have for now is probably similar, Rodney,” said Carter. “From a practical standpoint, this ship doesn’t care about how it’s turned unless in an atmosphere or underwater.”
“Colonel, this may interest you more,” said Gwen as the stars rotated around them and the front of the Libellule looked towards Hadrian’s gate.
“You bet,” said Jack as he came to look through the forward bay.
Just as he had thought, Hadrian’s Gate was an asteroid, but the scenery beyond it was far more impressive, particularly for an amateur astronomer like him. Filling the sky, the accretion disk of a solar system in formation told the story of a young star and planets slowly birthing from the dust. We need our own ships… so that we can explore and see things like this.
Amy pinched the bridge of her nose as she came out of her meditation.
“There are too many possibilities. My vision is not clear enough,” said the young mage.
“I hope you’re not thinking about…” started her gerbil familiar. “Yes, you are…”
She had got up and approached a safe in the wall, putting her hand on the identification scanner.
“You… your father is going to kill you… assuming you survive.”
“I will survive and even more,” said Amy, considering a small vial she had retrieved from the safe. “I must do it. I don’t like these movements I guess in the shadows.”
She sat in an armchair, uncorking the vial and feeling its rich cinnamon scent. Taking a deep breath, she swallowed a few drops of the liquid. Immediately, she felt the pain as the poison burned through her body, shutting down her metabolism. Just as expected… the instant of truth…
As death crept through her very self, she retreated in meditation, delving deep in her observations of the ‘Dune’ timeline. She did not have the many years of prana/bindu training that prospective Bene Gesserit Reverend Mothers had, but she was a mage. Imposing her will on reality, to her own body, was a second nature to her.
She called on her magic, summoning the familiar mindscape of the arrakeen desert. She took the strand of dark water that seeped through the sand, twisting it, changing it until it reached a familiar blue glow. She felt the reaction spread, her body reacting to the change as the poison became the Water of Life.
As a mage, she also knew something that had eluded the Bene Gesserit and the Tleilaxu that had analyzed DNA, looking for the Other Memory. The blood of a living creature had intrinsic magical qualities and it was those qualities that resonated with the Water, unlocking the Other Memory. And I know why I despise the Goa’uld so much… Abominations! All of them! Only the Tok’ra managed to beat the possession.
One by one, the ego-memories of her female ancestors were awakening. She winced as the mindscape warped; becoming the gym of Sunnydale High as she faced someone she would have preferred to forget.
“Catherine…” she said, scowling at a twisted reflection of herself dressed in a cheerleader uniform.
“Is that a way to greet your mother, Amy?”
“You lost the right to that name when you considered me as a tool, Catherine.”
“And so you are content to call that jinni slut mother?”
“You have no right to insult her! Your blood may flow in my veins, but it was her love that held me warm when I struggled against your corruption.”
“You’re more like me than you imagine, daughter,” scoffed Catherine. “You’re after power…”
“To be a better seer and protect my people… not for a futile reason like cheerleading!”
Catherine screeched as she unleashed her magic on her daughter. A wall of sand rose to intercept the attack. Amy. Normally, the mage was confident that she would have been able to reign in her witch mother but she had already spent far too much of her reserves by changing the Water. If she wins… I’ll become an Abomination… I cannot let her command my power!
She attacked in turn, the sand rising, coalescing in blades of glass that flew against her biological mother.
“Enough,” said a voice as the mindscape of the Sunnydale High gym shattered, replaced by a palace on a hill.
The style wasn’t familiar to Amy but it had some common features with reconstitutions of old Babylon.
A woman dressed like an antique princess appeared, radiating white magic to a degree… A degree that reminds me of Samantha’s black magic aura… a demigoddess.
“Who, who are you?” asked Catherine, blinded by the woman’s aura.
“Amy, you have to affirm yourself. Do not fail your people like I failed mine,” said the princess, her gaze visibly haunted by what she had seen. “Apollo’s curse was only part of the reason…”
“Cassandra… our line starts with Cassandra of Troy,” said Amy as she put the pieces together, remembering that her father had once said that he adhered to the theory considering Troy a Hittite city.
“But not only,” said the Trojan princess as a red hawk materialized on her arm. “Clytemnestra killed my sons, but one of Agamemnon’s lieutenants defied Apollo’s curse, believing me and taking my daughter to safety in Egypt.”
“I am an… Atreides,” said Amy, crying as the red hawk flew on her extended arm.
“The gods always loved irony,” said Cassandra, as the palace and herself faded back in the Other Memory.
Amy turned to face her mother, gathering her will. The gym faded as a sandstorm ripped its walls apart. She reveled on the cinnamon scent of the hot, dry sand as two moons shone above the desert.
“Farewell, Catherine,” said Amy on a glacial tone as her foot stomped the sand.
The dark witch screamed as the desert shook. The sand disappeared from under her feet, revealing a cavern of cinnamon-scented flesh and crystalline teeth.
“Bless the Maker and His Water,” said Amy as the giant sandworm rose from the desert’s soil. “May His passage cleanse the world…”
Amy called on her temporal senses. She had many near futures to explore.
It was not without some apprehension that Kaname sat in her control chair, feeling the cables deploy and search for the interface ports in her neck. What she had to do needed her to dive completely in the network, to enter once again in that state where she had a tendency to consider her own body like a limited secondary processor.
She felt her awareness expand as she started to receive information from the familiar shipyard where she had been busy creating the numerous ships of the fleet. But there was little to do on that front now. She still passed in revue the twelve Danann-class battleships. Musashi… everything’s spotless, Higano-taichou’s taking tea on the deck… Excelsior… paint job will be finished in two hours, Captain John T. Kirk saying something about ‘take that Trekkies’… Whitestar… most of crew on shore leave. Jurai’s Dream… checked… Lyonesse… checked… Francis Drake… checked… Peter the Great… checked… Jacques Cartier… checked… Marie Curie… scientific equipment being calibrated… Magellan… checked… Resolute… checked… Zheng He… checked
Her mind wandered on the restricted drydock where Joyce had been working on a secret project. Some people would have made fun of the idea of building a starship out of carved wood. Kaname knew better, as any people familiar with the most powerful planet in the Tenchi Universe. Akisawa-chan’s superstructures are finished. She’s ready to fly too. Mazone officers had been ready to kill to serve on that ship.
As the refitted Queen Emeraldas had left the dock the day before to join the Arcadia on patrol, the last ships she had to verify before starting were the five Franklin-class ones. Paul Revere… checked… La Fayette… checked… Daniel Morgan… checked…. Friedrich von Steuben… checked… Louis Duportail… checked
The Benjamin Franklin had been the first ship she had refitted, most of all because Ben himself had devoted a lot of computing time to the matter. Originally, the six hundred meters ship had been sorted as a frigate due to having been whisked away from the Omega timeline as the fleet it was a part of was busy melting in an unexpected supernova. The fact it was still partially functioning was a true testament to its shield technology.
Thanks to this damage though, the AI that would become the popular Infomorph councilor could not escape a chat with the Tachikomas that forced him to evolve. The ship was now fully refitted and had found back its role as a light battlestar. Battlestar… different from space battleships like the Danann for the heavier emphasis on embarked crafts, though not to the point of making it its sole objective as a pure carrier would. Light, because the Gawain is the heavy end of that class and the old SDF-1 in the middle.
Kaname sifted quickly through the dozens of small crafts being loaded on the different ships: Orca Corvettes, Damselfly Recon ships, Beetle shuttles, Ghost drones and variable fighters and bombers. Once we’ve left, I will finally have time to resume my work on the YF-23 Seraph. I could maybe interest Sam about it.
Her mind expanded once again as she interfaced with Hestia, Caerleon City’s management AI. She was now ready and sent the confirmation signal to the Aegis Council, waiting for the ‘go’ signal.
“Why the scenic route, Carter?” asked O’Neill.
The colonel could understand the ‘no weapon’ policy the Muvian officers had asked of them when they arrived in Caerleon. What he didn’t understand was why the Muvians were making them go through their city by foot when he knew they used transport rings as a rapid transit system.
“It’s Kaname’s big show today, Sir. It… it will interest you and it’s also a very important thing for the people here.”
“There is this,” said a middle-aged man as he walked towards them, “but also the fact we wanted you to see our fair city before the official talks begun.”
They had indeed seen the city and preventing Daniel from engaging conversation with the various alien species they had seen, among which a kind of floating, bioluminescent squid that had reminded Jack of the Abyss movie, had been a challenge.
“Colonel, please meet Councilor Richard Wilkins, member of the Aegis Council. Councilor, this is Colonel Jack O’Neill, Doctor Daniel Jackson, Teal’c and Doctor Rodney McKay.”
“I’m pleased to meet the famous SG-1 at last,” said the Councilor. “And I guess that the Agora will be interested in speaking with all of you.”
Sam easily interpreted Jack’s annoyed glance. He had the same every time he thought about politicians or worse, Congressional hearings.
“Sir… speaking to the Agora is… different from any hearing you could have been in… Imagine a Congress made of Vulcans.”
“A rather rough picture but nonetheless accurate for Terrans I suppose,” said Wilkins. “Our infomorph and bioroid citizens have little patience for politics as they are conceived in Washington.”
Suddenly, holograms started to dance on the Councilor’s left forearm. He tapped one of them and they disappeared while, around them, people started to look expectantly.
“What?” asked O’Neill.
“It’s starting,” said Sam.
Black and yellow striped bands appeared on the ground in several places while the 1812 Overture poured out of loudspeakers. Sam ushered everyone to make sure they all stood in the same area. The ground shook as deep mechanical noises could be heard coming from below.
Suddenly, a nearby building started to sink, and another, and another as they also seemed to drift slightly apart. The Parthenon-like building they were standing near started to sink in turn. Around them, the walls of Caerleon City’s cave seemed to expand and they could see the numerous floating buildings drifting slowly towards a ground far below.
“How deep is it?” asked Daniel, looking over the edge.
“Almost six miles,” replied Sam.
“I had wondered…” said McKay, “Why construct such a city if it’s to abandon it? And now you’re treating skyscrapers like mere furniture and putting them in a trailer the size of… difficult to say with the encumbrance and the fog.”
“The fog is caused by the purging of Caerleon’s water system. It will clear in a few minutes,” said Wilkins. “And our ‘trailer’ is… wide enough.”
The fog suddenly got denser as the building reached it and quickly went through. They could now feel a wind that made Jack estimate they were moving at maybe ten or fifteen miles per hour. He tried not to gape as they finally saw below.
Sure, some buildings on old Earth were bigger, things like China’s Great Wall, but none gave the same impression of… Below was something that looked more like jewelry than a ship. Angular vines of dark red metal twisted to form a tormented V-shaped structure, capturing several golden, ovoid pearls in their grasp, one big in the center of the jewel and ten smaller ones in a symmetrical array.
He blinked, trying to put things back in perspective. He took his binocular in his harness, trying to discern details on the huge surface. The ‘vines’ weren’t flat or even some kind of demented crystal or plant. The binoculars revealed decidedly artificial details… like a hangar bay wide enough to let pass two Nimitz-class carriers at the same time if he got the proportions right. What’s that empty space in the structure near the bow… it’s like… it’s a berth, a mile and a half long berth.
“Sam… you realize the power needed to propel that monster?” asked McKay.
“Yes, Kaname even built it to be able to take off from a planetary surface… the power cores generate enough energy to power the Earth.”
“Which technology do they use?”
“Nuclear fusion for all ‘small’ requirements going from powering an android to most vehicles… Antimatter fuel cells based on proton-antiproton generation and annihilation are used for peak power… For capital ships, a mix of those two technologies and another based on dark energy is used.”
Jack was still looking at the colossal ship beneath them. The pearls were… melting, their golden nacre flowing like like liquid honey to reveal the habitats they protected. The main pearl, the one towards which most of the buildings were moving clearly showed that it hosted a lake and forests.
It wasn’t a simple ship. It was a miniature world whose main habitat was, if his estimations were correct, more than fifteen miles long and the whole structure maybe twice as long. Of all the things I’ve seen…
“How… how long to build all of this?” asked McKay. “You had less than a year.”
“Four months,” said Wilkins. “The wonders of nanotechnology. When Samantha discussed this with Councilor Franklin, she cited the names of Drexler and Kurzweil.”
“The technological singularity?” asked Daniel to Sam. While he was not too informed about the exact technical aspects, he had read about Kurzweil’s theories from a sociological standpoint.
“It has happened so fast that many elements of Muvian society are still recognizable… but it’s changing,” said Sam. “The American model… it just doesn’t work when energy is so cheap you could call it free and most goods’ price only depends on the rarity of the atoms constituting them. To take a simple example: you see those windows? They’re made of diamond instead of glass.”
Jack was still observing, looking as a series of flat-roofed houses nested along the bank of the lake, the environing terrain shimmering with a white haze for an instant… and then it was as if they had been constructed there for years and not moved in a few seconds ago.
The Parthenon, the building on whose chunk of land they were, was slowly lowering itself in a hole surrounded by other buildings of Greek or Roman inspiration. Again, an instant of shimmering light and it had become a natural part of the complex sit at the top of that hill. It was even perfectly linked to its new annexes.
He looked up, as the honey-like nacre was flowing up, reforming the pearl. Soon, a holographic sky covered it.
“Are those clouds real?” asked Daniel.
“They are. The weather is artificial but the habitat has a complete Mediterranean climate,” said Sam.
“My friends,” said Wilkins as a robot tray started to distribute glasses of blue sparkling liquid, “welcome to New Camelot.”
Amy woke up and fumbled for her communicator.
“Emergency call: Spacy Headquarters,” she said, sweating heavily.
“Amy?” asked Lou as her face appeared on the communicator’s screen. “You look…”
“There is no time, Lou. The Goa’uld have found us. I saw a man giving information to Sokar. He had the number 666 tattooed on his brow.”
“Understood, I’ll relay to the admiral. Now, please rest.”
“No time, I must…”
“No, Miss Madison, Miss Collins is right,” said the Admiral as the communicator’s screen split to reveal his face. “Your gifts will become useless if you exhaust yourself. We will take over and your parents will make sure that you rest. Thank you for the warning.”
“Do you think she will comply, Sir?” asked Lou.
“Her father will make her,” replied the Admiral, “and scold her for taking such risks. However, her vision confirmed why we suddenly had those changes in the search pattern. The mark of the Beast is probably a symbolic way to design an agent of Ahriman… and I wouldn’t be surprised if there were others, sowing chaos and offering Faustian pacts left and right. We will have to see with the Mages’ Guild to improve our protection against scrying. Open comm channel to Hadrian’s Gate. Pierre?”
“We have two Ha’taks coming straight on us, Ben.”
“Pierre… this isn’t Camaron.”
“I was rather thinking of Morgarten,” replied the Legionnaire with a smirk. “Hadrian’s Gate over.”
The channel closed.
“Miss Collins, please give full mobilization order. Phase 2 of operation Red Sea is starting now.
“By your orders, Sir.”
Neith was a minor System Lord in the service of Sokar. For too long the mysterious Travelers had eluded them. Soon, they would bow before their gods or die a slow, painful death. Their technology, who they thought to be a legacy of the hated Furlings, would be theirs, granting Sokar the victory against Heru’ur.
“We see the Travelers’ base, Mistress.”
She eyed the asteroid. It was maybe six kilometers wide. Her ships had more than enough power to reduce it into stellar dust if necessary but her Lord’s orders were crystal clear.
“Prepare the troops for landing.”
“Mistress… I cannot reach the Starspinner
She looked at the control. They are jamming our communications? Why?
“Use the heliocommunicator.”
Pierre Laval was looking at the holographic representation of the nearby space in Hadrian’s Gate CIC.
“Now it’s time to see if those hypermines work. On my mark… go!”
The Ha’tak shook, their trajectory becoming wobbly for an instant.
“Intense gravitational pulse…”
She suddenly thought about an animal from her host’s home planet, insects that dug cones in the sand and lured prey that could only fall towards their mandibles.
“No communications… that pulse will make all attempts to reach hyperspace fail… it’s a trap! All weapons, fire on that rock!”
Hundreds of heavy plasma bolts flew towards Hadrian’s Gate, tearing through the ancient rock. Suddenly, the asteroid exploded, sending dozens of meteors that crashed on the Ha’taks shields.
Neith looked with… awe – she had to admit it was awe – at the sandy brown, Ha’tak-sized ship that still stood in the middle of the chaos, haloed in a kind of white luminescent fog, completely unscathed. On its hull stood the eight-rayed sun blazon, the winged grenade and a name in Tau’ri characters: MSS La Fayette.
“You know, Psi, it’s good to be on the good side of those shields for once,” said Laval. “Fire at will, Gilbert.”
Mercedes rolled her eyes while concentrating on the battlestar’s sensors.
“With pleasure,” replied a holographic Marquis de La Fayette.
Neith continued to feel awe as a white ray cut the Starspinner in two, its matter turning to dust as the white haze progressed through the two halves. Everything had been calculated. The meteor shower had weakened their shields just enough to be vulnerable to the Traveler weapons.
“Disintegrators… they’re not the Furlings. They’re the Ancients,” she said, remembering Ptah talking about that lost technology.
She gave the orders to launch the Death Gliders while they would try to evade with the Ha’tak in sublight speed. Suddenly, the sensors reported another gravitational anomaly, this time very similar to a Stargate wormhole.
Another ship had appeared on the sensors and was powering dozens of firing ports. She recognized it from the Intelligence reports she had received. It was the ship Ares had been looking for, the one that had wiped out whole squadrons of Death Gliders from the sky in mere seconds.
“Fire,” said Cordelia on an icy tone.
Laval looked as the second Ha’tak was destroyed by the barrage fire coming from the Queen Emeraldas, antiprotons beams hammering the Goa’uld ship while the La Fayette’s heavy disintegrators tore through its dying shields from the other side. Finally, something reached the Ha’tak’s generators and it exploded in a gigantic fireball.
“Thanks for the assist, Captain Chase,” he said while cutting the jamming.
“I suppose Red Sea is the plan finally adopted? Caerleon dropped from the comm network.”
“I’ll see you at the gathering point. Chase, over.”
“Give destruction order to Hadrian’s Wall and prepare to fold in. Destination: System Lux,” said the Recon Force commander.