Pendragon's Day - Part 3
Author notes: I was dissatisfied with the Chapter 29 written and posted on December 8. I therefore rewrote and expanded it, giving birth to the current chapter 29 and 30. I hope they are better and that you will enjoy them. Despite my efforts, I wasn’t able to find any other indication about Sokar’s fleet else than ‘ten times larger than estimated’. So I chose arbitrarily to give it around 300 Ha’tak ships. If anyone has solid numbers to point me on this matter… Mikagami, the ship after which Akisawa is built look like this The Tortuga (or Turtle, depends on the version/translation) I chose for Jon Levinson is the one of the TV series The character list and links can be found here
It’s better than an office… but not the CIC of a battleship.
At one point, he had hesitated to take command of the Gawain himself but had finally decided against it. Misa had been due for a promotion for a long time. She would do a good job there. So he was here, in his new ‘realm’.
Contrarily to a standard New Macross ship, the Gawain was only part of the military installations on New Camelot. Aft from the berthing of the battlestar in the colony ship sat the Spacy Headquarters which were in fact a full military base extending far on the underside of the main habitat. It included various shipyard facilities and the hangars for the Orca corvettes whose mission would be to create a detection and interception envelope around the colony once they would be moving.
He was himself standing on a platform of the upper level of the Command Center of the Spacy Headquarters. Its multi-leveled structure with platforms that could be linked with temporary bridges made of force fields would have seemed impractical at first glance. It was in fact a compromise to take into account the varied body types of the Spacy members, like the ten meters tall green-skinned giant standing near his platform and looking like him at the tactical holograms projected in the empty space at the center of the CC. Except that with Hadrian’s Wall out, our capabilities are limited. The nebula is doing too much interference… but that’s also the reason we chose it.
One sensor they had and that was, to their knowledge, unknown to the Goa’uld, was the grafnar, an acronym that stood for Gravity Field Navigation and Ranging. In passive mode, it detected alterations in the gravity fields and this included ships when they moved in hyperspace. The big advantage was that gravity was not limited by the speed of light.
During the last year, the former Navy sonar operators had worked hard to adapt their know-how to that new sensor and could now distinguish between hyperdrive signatures. Depending on their ‘noise’, their range was measured in dozens of light-years, in open deep space. Here, the nebula made things more difficult. Thankfully, Sokar thought like the Soviets when they developed the Alfa. His ‘turbo’ hyperdrive is a lot faster but terribly noisy.
They had a whole group that had moved to the system where Hadrian’s Gate was set. From what they knew, it was probably all of Sokar’s Ha’tak force in the area, which made 22 ships. Al’Kesh ships were also showing, scouting the vicinity. From the analysis of their search pattern and intel on Al’Kesh sensory capabilities, they had forty minutes before they detected Caerleon. A number which leads to a tactical decision: lessen that margin by activating our own forces in full or extending it a little by staying silent… in fact this one is easy. Time you cannot use to prepare is useless.
“What is your opinion, Advisor Exedor?” asked the admiral.
“Probably the same as yours, Admiral. By making ‘noise’ we will make them jump on us. They will rather rush rather than risk having us folding out of here.”
Carrington tapped one of the golden interactive holograms floating around him, opening a communication channel.
“Miss Collins, what is the status of the fleet?”
The face of the recently promoted Lt Cmdr Collins appeared above the holographic console. During the last year, Carrington had appreciated the mix of sense of organization and cheerful nature she had demonstrated. She also had something very important for him. He knew that she would not follow orders blindly and would not hesitate to confront him if he lost his moral compass. Making her the chief of the CC operators was another well-earned promotion.
“All ships loaded and clearing moorings, Sir. The fleet will be ready to breach Caerleon’s surface in 2.3 minutes. The Arcadia just sent a FLASH message. They are engaging Bastet’s scouts and have sent their telemetry feed.”
“Actualize the tactical overview and send the order to the fleet: we’re moving.”
Xander Harlock was looking at the hologram of the enemy movement in his sector. The Admiral had sent them to the sector nicknamed the ‘Southern Border’. Their goal was to intercept Bastet’s group following the information sent by the Danann. And now they’re here.
He took the wheel of his ship.
“Space Wolves have launched,” said his new yeoman, a blue haired bioroid woman called Marina Ohki.
Officially, Marina was one of the first first-generation bioroids created by the Muvians, merging the best qualities of Zentraedi and Olympus bioroids. They were already six hundreds like her, with barely two weeks of ‘real life’ though most of them had memories of a virtual life spanning years, including classes in military academy in Marina’s case. Hundreds more were quietly growing in New Camelot’s cloning facilities and from Hades’ reports, the production would be of roughly 2400 ‘units’ per year.
But this bioroid was special. He had volunteered to have her, following a certain trial that happened on the sixth of November. People familiar with American procedures would have been surprised as it had taken less than ten hours to conclude the case and send a certain demon in a tank for remodeling. The thing had been done without publicity and only a few people had effectively followed the trial. For a lot of Muvians, the threat to public safety was neutralized and that was all what counted. And so died Anyanka, demon borne out of the spite of the human Aud, alone and forgotten. May Marina Ohki have a better life… I will certainly give her the chance.
“Enemy formation targeted, Captain.”
“Then let’s greet them properly.”
Willow felt a little like in an episode of the old UFO Robot Grendizer anime, when the robot of the hero took one of the several underground passages leading out of his base. Each of the twelve Danann-class had its own exit tunnel roughly cut in Caerleon’s rock. The little difference with Grendizer though was the end of the tunnel. As they were only supposed to serve once, it was still blocked by a few meters of stone. The method Kaname had imagined they would use to go out had… generated many comments.
“Entropic shields at full power, Ma’am,” said her tactical officer.
She could feel the nervousness of her crew, particularly for the ones that had been in the Navy. Ramming was a maneuver with a rather bad reputation after all. A white haze covered the Whitestar as it neared the end of the tunnel at forty meters per second.
“Collision in three, two, one, contact!”
The rock wall shattered as the haze of the entropic shields negated the forces holding its atoms together, sending its quarks flying in all directions. The five-hundred meters battleship had barely shaken and was now accelerating as it rose from the surface of the dwarf planet. Willow smiled as she heard some sighs of relief on her bridge.
“Like a hot knife through butter… Shift to storm-attack mode and begin charge of Macross cannon. Report of the debris projected by our exit on my screen.”
As the crew carried her orders, the white and navy blue segments of the H-shaped hull of the Whitestar started to move. Its two main thrusters elongated, becoming legs, while the main gun and the flight deck forming the two forward branches of the H lowered while their junction to the central hull adapted, becoming shoulders.
While this was the first time her ship was transforming for real, Willow had little time to wonder about it. She was concerned about the high-velocity debris that could prevent them from launching their Valkyries safely.
“It’s clear enough. Shift the shields to launch mode and give the go to the Flying Tigers.”
“Captain,” said the disembodied voice of the ship’s AI, “HQ gives an ETA of 3.5 minutes to enemy ships. Orders are to fire at will once they are here.”
“Plot enemy trajectories in the tactical holograms and let’s choose us one exit point.”
On the hologram before her, projected enemy courses were adjusting in real time, relayed from the HQ. The Whitestar was now sharing sensor data with all ships in the fleet, the AIs in HQ integrating and correcting it in matter of nanoseconds to give to every element of the fleet a comprehensive way of the battle.
The 12 Danann-class were taking position between Caerleon and the exit point of the Goa’uld fleet, composed of 22 Ha’tak ships and 82 Al’Kesh bombers. Behind them, huge chunks of Caerleon’s crust exploded in a white haze as the four Franklin-class ships that had still been in Caerleon made their way out. They immediately started to clutter the sky with Ghost Drones. This time it’s all of us. Xander is busy making sure the other Goa’uld won’t interfere by leading them in a merry chase, Cordy is with the La Fayette and the Benjamin Franklin making sure our fold destination is secure in case we need to jump the hell out of here. The only missing piece is…
Caerleon split in two as another white haze broke through its surface. The colossal shape of New Camelot rose through the debris cloud while the Gawain detached from it and started to transform in turn.
Dawn was standing on the bridge of Akisawa, trying her to remember the lessons Seto Kamiki Jurai gave gave to her granddaughter Sasami regarding warfare. This weren’t exactly the lessons someone as pure as Sasami liked, but she understood her duty as a princess of Jurai. And you don’t say no to Seto-sama… I remember how she told ‘me’ that standing against barbarity was my duty as a princess of Jurai, that sooner or later I would have to dirty my hands for the people under our protection… I guess it’s today.
Akisawa was following New Camelot, her own entropic shields switched on against the numerous debris flying in the wake of the giant colony ship. The orders from the admiral were clear. Akisawa was part of the Special Forces and would be considered as a special reserve alongside the two other ships possessed by the unit: Ryo-Ohki and the Tortuga.
She concentrated her energy, calling on the weapon her mother had designed for her, as a variation of the aura-sword of her sister. The staff of green light shimmered into existence in her right hand. It was not only a hand-to-hand weapon. It was a tool to her, a way to better focus her powers, powers that owed nothing to Sasami. The powers Tsunami knew I possessed… the powers that make me feel like Sailor Pluto. Should maybe see with Mom if I can manage a ‘Dead Scream’ attack…
Akisawa rose on the upper side of New Camelot, making herself ready to intervene. In the tree ship hangar, she could see Buffy and Jonathan hugging one last time as Ryo-Ohki jumped outside and transformed, soon followed by her sister.
She had another look for the boxy shape of the thirty meters long Tortuga. She remembered having once compared it to Han Solo’s Millennium Falcon which had led Jonathan and his co-pilot Lady Armaroid to make her visit the ship thoroughly, to make her understand some things. While the Tortuga could compare to the Falcon in matters of performances, it wasn’t an old, tuned to death smuggler transport but the custom yacht of a galactic class thief.
“Wow…” said Jack while trying not to gape too much.
A few minutes ago, when computer bracers left and right had started to light with red holograms, they had joined Councilors Wilkins and Clare in a kind of amphitheater that served for the reunions of the Aegis Council and were soon rejoined by Teal’c and Councilor Ishta. The ‘pit’ at the center of the room now displayed the general tactical hologram and Clare had shown him how to use his desk’s console to obtain more information on one topic or another.
It was not only the ships. It was the ease with which information was pooled and shared among all the elements of the fleet. He had followed similar developments, like the IVIS system the Army was deploying for its armored divisions or what the Air Force did with the AWACS but seeing that kind of thing work in a real battle was different. Not only did all the ships in the Muvian fleet pool their data, but the computers in the Muvian Spacy HQ used the multiple sources to build one, unique, coherent image of the battlefield and offering projections of the enemy’s intentions. Currently, it was probable exit points of the Goa’uld ships, determined from minor variations in their hyperdrives’ signatures.
Near him, Teal’c was more interested by the Valkyries. Samantha Carter had told him that they were a more advanced model than the VF-1 in Robotech, a model called VF-22 Sturmvögel. The group of ‘Stormbirds’ he was observing was painted in the colors of tigers. The hologram identified them as the ‘Flying Tigers’. It reminded him of something.
“O’Neill… didn’t you tell me about a group of warriors called the Flying Tigers?”
“Yes, my father was a pilot in… Oh.”
Looking at Teal’c’s screen, he had seen the familiar symbol on the Valkyrie’s fins: a winged, pouncing tiger.
“Colonel,” said Sam, “the commanding officer of this unit was a member of the original Flying Tigers… Summerfield if I recall correctly.”
O’Neill raised an eyebrow in a very Teal’c-like manner. He knew that name, but… he was supposed to be around ninety. This is true,
thought Clare at his attention, but remember that old age is something that can be cured in this city. Many of our elders chose to gain a new youth and become active again.
“The Goa’uld are exiting hyperspace,” said Wilkins.
“Emergency break, now!” yelled the Jaffa Commander.
Since the beginning of this mission, Ala’c had been plagued with bad feelings. He had the impression that their every movements had been monitored, calculated. It was like if they were moving in the web of a spider. The destruction of Neith’s ships had confirmed that hunch. Now his intuition was screaming to him like if he was wandering in the den of a large predator.
Explosion of blue radiations lighted the sky as numerous hyperspace windows opened, letting the Goa’uld ships regain normal space. Immediately, thirteen lances of searing white light flew from the Muvian fleet. Twelve of them were relatively small, impaling a Goa’uld ship and destroying it. The thirteenth was huge, broadening quickly after leaving the Gawain’s main gun mouth until it became a kilometer-wide comet. Even being brushed by it was more than sufficient to warrant total destruction.
Ala’c shook his head, knowing he had lost half of his attack force in a few seconds. He had lost those who had been too slow to execute his order of emergency break.
“To all ships, adopt wide pattern and go to contact at full speed while holding barrage fire. Our shields are useless against this monstrosity. Our only hope is to be too near for them to shoot again!”
The Goa’uld ships gained speed as they started to fire relentlessly.
“Look like it’s up to us, gentlebeings,” said Captain Kirk. “Activate graser web.”
Hundreds of firing ports opened on the surface of the Excelsior while the computers determined precisely the trajectory of the enemy plasma bolts. Plasma was, after all, ionized gas and therefore susceptible to influence by electromagnetic fields like the ones of the Excelsior’s grasers.
The Excelsior lighted up as if hundreds of circular halogen lamps had been lit on its surface. Elsewhere in space, normally elongated plasma bolts suddenly lost their cohesion, the gas dispersing in a chaotic flower before it could reach anything.
“To all Ha’taks, concentrate fire on this one!” ordered Ala’c.
His ship’s detectors had traced back the invisible rays that were destroying his attack. We have to take down that shield ship.
“Negative energy used as a weapon… fascinating,” said Ptah as he replayed the sensor feed of the thirteen white lances.
Negative energy… this was how he called the energy found in the very fabric of space that was essential to the formation of a wormhole in a Stargate, this force that opposed the different attractions like gravity or electromagnetism in a delicate balance and guaranteed the universe’s continuous expansions. From the information he had, the Ancients had toyed with the idea of such weapons, but had in the end been too timorous to develop them. This new power didn’t have such scruples.
His cloaked ship had arrived at the same time as Sokar’s Ha’tak squadron approach, but on a slightly different vector. Many times, he had wondered if he should warn his old friend about the prey he decided to chase and until now decided against it. The traces he had discovered along the path of the Travelers had piqued his interest, allowing him to understand two things. The first was that the Travelers didn’t need a planet with a breathable atmosphere for their industry to function. The second was that the scope of their operations had been growing as they journeyed. A stop in a region rich in raw materials like this nebula could therefore only mean one thing: extensive refit and building operations.
He smiled, admiring the workmanship of the Traveler ships as one of those… yes it was named Excelsior
according to the painting on its hull… used gamma ray lasers to intercept the incoming plasma bolts.
Look like they changed tactics…
While the Ha’tak’s concentrating their fire on the Excelsior was worrying, Summerfield had more immediate concern, like the eleven Al’Kesh and thirty-two Death Gliders coming his way, and the Whitestar behind him.
He knew that the entropic shields could be a near perfect defense barrier but this supposed one thing the battleship could not afford: not firing back. You had to open a window in the shield to fire through it and when you were under sustained fire, one hit or another was bound to go through. Well… not the first time the Flying Tigers are outnumbered. Just have to think they are Nates and Sallys.
“Okay guys, I guess it’s the moment of truth.”
The 24 Tigers broke formation, staying in pairs while they selected a part of the enemy wave.
“They want to come to contact,” said Willow. “Okay, let’s do that. Susan?”
“Fold engines charged to 30%, Captain.”
“More than enough… on my mark… flash step!” she said while tapping a point of the tactical hologram.
The idea of this maneuver had come to her after seeing Buffy spar Ryoko-style. It needed extremely precise calculations but the effect was… impressive.
Summerfield saw vaguely his sensors go wonky as space folded, the Whitestar folding on a mere hundred kilometers, appearing only three hundred meters from a Ha’tak. Then, the white haze of entropic shields became a bright radiance as it concentrated on the gun arm of the ship, an arm that went backwards like if a titanic Spartan was readying his spear.
The arm flew forward, piercing the Goa’uld ship’s shield like a soap bubble and crashed in a swift motion through its hull, stabbing it completely. The white radiance of the dark energy started to flow back on the Whitestar, protecting it from the numerous debris that were flowing from the wounded monster it had just speared. The Ha’tak died, bleeding orange plasma as the Muvian hoplite stood atop the fallen beast. Though I admit that was very Hollywood-worthy, not a good idea to lose your concentration, folks…
The Flying Tigers pounced on slightly distracted Jaffa pilots, strafing the Al’Kesh with their lasers. Summerfield saw one of his men shift to battroid mode to better clutter the space with mini-missiles.
The Excelsior was between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, it couldn’t raise its shields while the graser web was working and on the other hand the system was so occupied neutralizing incoming fire that stopping fire would result in severe damage, at least.
Suddenly, what Kirk had feared happened. The gamma-ray lasers had fired without interruption for more than ten minutes to block hundreds of plasma bolts. An overheated unit shut down to prevent damage to the whole sector, opening a tiny window in the defense of his ship. Had the shots been distributed among the other ships the system would have compensated by prioritizing. Since the last three minutes, it had been totally unable to do that, as all incoming fire targeted the Excelsior.
The first shot went through, taking out a whole bank of grasers and opening more holes in the defense.
“Finally,” said Ala’c as the Excelsior ceased to fire, raising hastily its white, hazy shields to protect what was left of its structure.
“We need to continue to overpower them and take them down one by one. They are strong, but not invincible.” And we have to do it fast before they…
He shook his head as he saw that the man-shaped ship called Whitestar had once again made its micro jump trick and prepared to spear another ship. He ordered the nearby Al’Kesh to shoot it in the back while its shield was concentrated forward.
Summerfield thanked the fact the VF-22 fusion reactors had enough energy to sustain it through weeks of continuous combat operations. His Captain’s ‘ninja tricks’ needed them to burn a lot of delta-v if they were to cover her.
He shifted his Valkyrie to battroid mode, taking his gauss rifle while suddenly the whole enemy Al’Kesh flight exploded. He gave a thumb up to the flight of red Sturmvögels that strafed through, thinking that Milia Fallyna Jenius and her girls had earned every bit of their reputation.
He turned back to the enemy, his rifle shooting iron darts at several kilometers per second on the arriving Death Gliders.
Dawn moved Akisawa forward, gripping her light staff. Maybe I can… Yes, Tenchi managed to use the Wings offensively when we faced Kagato. I have to…
She concentrated, accessing the Jurai power flowing in both her and Akisawa. She didn’t like it but she understood the need. The Goa’uld wouldn’t stop. If they could they would kill or enslave everyone in New Camelot.
She went deeper, feeling that power that was hers, and breached the barrier. Suddenly… she knew. She felt something that she thought was like what Buffy had told her she felt when she accessed the gems. It was ancient and it knew many things. Her concentration faltered for an instant as it went back to a certain green-haired magical girl. What? She… different timeline but she’s real.
Knowledge was pouring through her mind and she knew what to do. She pointed her staff toward a Ha’tak that Kamidake had indicated as the probable flagship.
Ala’c was feeling slightly better. They had managed to damage two other of the Traveler ships but he was down to seven Ha’taks on the twenty-two he initially had. Three quarters of the Al’Kesh were destroyed and he knew that they needed something to replace the Death Glider. Sending it against the Travelers’ fighter crafts was suicide. The only ones they had managed to destroy were by swarming isolated ones and they had suffered tremendous losses doing so.
While the giant human-shaped ship did not move that much, using most of its firepower to interdict the space around what he guessed to be the Travelers’ colony ship, he had other problems. Four other white ships had left their cover position to join the fight, cluttering the space with unmanned fighter crafts.
He looked at the relatively small ship that had joined the battle, the strange ship made of wood. Three wings of green light, each at 120 degrees from the other were rising, sending aberrant signals to his Ha’tak’s sensors.
Around Akisawa, the modified Wings of the Light Hawk folded in a sphere in front of the ship, shifting into an emerald orb with disturbing depths which was darkening as seconds flew. The orb darted forward, hitting the Ha’tak.
To the external observer, the now fully black orb swallowed the Ha’tak in mere seconds, crushing its structure as the gravity rose to uncanny heights during an instant. Dawn knew that it felt a lot longer for the people inside the ship, as time distorted inside the singularity she had created.
She let the power go, leaving only a compacted mass of metal smaller than a football where once a ship had stood. Have to be strong… will cry later, will freak later.
She concentrated back on the battle, not wanting to think that she, who was still in many ways a thirteen year old, had just killed thousands of Jaffa.
“Jack, you remember what I told you about Galactus-class beings from that Tenchi Muyo cartoon… here is one,” said McKay.
On the other side of the room, Teal’c felt awe. Black holes were the most destructive force in the universe and the Muvians had weapons that… Not a weapon. From what Councilor Wilkins said, this is someone. A living being has this power.
He felt Ishta’s hand on his shoulder.
“Dawn Hakubi has powers that are beyond our comprehension, Teal’c,” said the Councilor, “but contrarily to the Goa’uld she doesn’t wish to be worshipped. For many things, she is only a young girl.”
“If our brethren were to know it… how many would swear allegiance to her who has real powers?”
“I don’t know.”
“Looks like they have gotten sloppier since Dawn-chan took their command out,” said Misa.
“Seems so,” replied Claudia. “Ready.”
The Gawain lowered its shields to allow for a full barrage fire. Even if the Macross cannon hadn’t recharge yet, conventional weapons were enough to cripple one of the remaining enemy capital ships.
“Enemy ships are breaking contact,” said the sensor operator. “Hyperspace windows are opening.”
“Admiral?” asked the Gawain’s Captain.
“Destroy all what you can while they’re here but do not pursue. Part of the plan is to have survivors.”
“What’s this?” asked Summerfield.
“Looks like a cloaked ship to me. Do you think?”
“Maybe a Tok’ra observer and we all had more important things to attend to. Let’s apply the procedure. Flying Tigers, interception pattern. Cloaked ship here is Commander Summerfield from the Muvian Spacy. Depower your cloak and follow the vector we indicate you. If you fail to comply you will be considered hostile and shot down.”
“Looks like he’s trying to evade.”
“Iro, you still have one EMP missile?”
“Yes, sir… firing solution computed.”
The missile leaped forward, reaching the cloaked ship as it opened a hyperspace window. As the cloak went down, it revealed a ship that had little in common with the Tel’tak transport they had expected to see.
“Blast… too late. At least, we fried part of his systems.”
“Here… all set,” said Ptah while replacing a last crystal in a batch of circuits. Thankfully my yacht has a lot of redundancies… this electromagnetic missile destroyed most of the active circuits. An Al’Kesh would have been left adrift with no working system.
He ran another diagnostic program and nodded. Things would hold until he reached his destination. He went back to the ship’s living room and indulged into one of his small pleasures by lighting himself a cigar. I’ll finish my repairs using Yu’s facilities. So many wonderful things have been witnessed today. The power of that wooden ship alone… I wonder what my brethren will learn about today. Probably not enough and it may well doom the System Lords. I also don’t like the informants who told Sokar and Bastet where to find the Travelers. The stench of the Dark Ones is near.
Xander repeated himself that his job here had been important, even if it had made him miss the big battle. Bastet’s scouting party had been completely destroyed and her other ships were too far away to reach Caerleon in time. Which means that only Sokar has an idea about our real capabilities…
“Very well, get the Space Wolves back onboard and let’s fold out of here.”
The transport rings rose out of the ground on the black stone platform circled by hexagonal columns. As they retreated, revealing the members of SG-1 and Samantha Carter, the formers took in the scenery. The first thing was the wrack of the waves coming from the sea below, at the bottom of the steep columnar basalt cliffs. The second was the network of platforms, buildings and stairs hanging at various heights on the cliff. Near the ring platform was a signpost.
“Welcome to Dragon’s Aerie,” read Jack.
“A joke from Kaname… but I have to admit that I like it. It’s only a hamlet of twelve habitations, but that gave us more liberty with the design than if we stayed in the city.”
“Us?” asked Daniel.
“My house is here. Please follow me,” she said as she led them to steel stairs
“You really had to make it look… like this?” asked Jack.
With a wide gesture, he pointed the style of the place that had something of a Jules Verne vibe. In fact, it was the style he would have expected in Captain Nemo’s base, with steel stairs and platforms that looked taken from the Eiffel Tower, glass-screened verandas merging elements of Art Nouveau and Gothic Revival and, more than all, the numerous brass, clockwork, Saint-Bernard sized dragons that… he was quite certain that they were looking at him and would soon have that sniggering cough like Muttley in Wacky Races.
“Kaname had made some drawings in that style during what she called her ‘depressed Goth’ period. Henri – the architect we hired – loved them and designed this. I just jumped on the wagon, adding my touch for my house. One of the important points is that we also have space for our respective labs.”
Jack suddenly had a vision of Sam in a white lab coat, cackling madly while lightning fell on her latest creation.
“Sam,” asked McKay. “Was this in Caerleon?”
“No. Robots moved our things in right after the Transfer. It takes some preparation in simulation but it’s otherwise physically… resting. Here we are,” she said as they reached a brass door.
“Almost expects to see Lurch come to open,” grumbled O’Neill.
“Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!” said Sam, smiling as the door opened at her approach.
McKay and Daniel exchanged a glance, having caught the quote. The physicist started to rub his neck.
“Sam,” asked Jackson as they entered. “There is a question you never answered: what happened to Jolinar?”
“It will be easier to believe if I show you, Daniel,” she replied, scratching the back of her head.
Jack, remembering his own moves had some difficulties to believe Sam when she said that everything had been sorted out by robots. The place was on two levels, the entrance being on the upper one. A circular gallery surrounded a great living space below. There were some doors on the upper level, including one that looked seriously armored, but he couldn’t guess where they led, except maybe for the one that was probably some kind of elevator. The whole style was always in that gothic/art nouveau mix, with great crystal, or more probably diamond, chandeliers shedding light on the ensemble.
She led them in the living space that separated into a living room, a dining room and a kitchen, plus a large covered terrace. Models of Da Vinci’s inventions stood around the room, each of them floating and rotating atop their individual display column.
Sam opened a door and red light flooded from the room. The members of SG-1 approached, looking at the tank occupying the room and the treasure that was floating in it, bathed in flames: a two feet tall egg.
It didn’t have the shape of typical shape of a chicken egg but was rounder, its shell giving a metallic shine, maybe golden though it was difficult to see with the flames. This was, however, not what had ticked Jack off. It was that the room was, flame incubator excepted, furnished for a little girl.
“Is that… the Tok’ra?” asked Teal’c while pointing the egg.
“Yes,” replied Sam, while eying the egg with a tender gaze. “We had to improvise given that… Normally I should use my breath to keep it warm or lair in a volcano.”
“What… what did happen?” asked Daniel.
“Soon after I left the SGC, the symbiont died in me. It was then that I realized I was pregnant and that Jolinar had been… transferred in the baby. Before you ask, the egg was smaller when… I laid it four days ago.”
“It’s Echidna’s fault, right?” asked Jack.
“One could say that. She promised Lamasthu she would save her bloodline from the fate of the Goa’uld. That’s how she did it. Once she hatches, Jolinar will be an independent being, with no need for a host.”
“And a dragon?”
“Her base shape will be almost human, but, like me, she will have the potential to become a full dragon. She will also be… a real child without any genetic memory.”
“You intend to raise her…” said Jack.
“Genetically speaking, she’s my daughter and… well we were starting to become friends when her former life ended.”
Jack frowned. He was in fact trying very hard to wrap his mind around some things. He knew well how a baby could change people but… like many things with the Republic of Mu, there was a problem with the speed factor and the way they took decisions. It wasn’t cold calculation like the one he was used to from people like Kinsey. It was… unnaturally wise.
Sam was now in the kitchen part of the room and was taking snacks and drinks out of a large fridge. Jack moved to rejoin the rest of SG-1 as they helped her and quickly settled on the terrace, whose walls folded automatically to let in the evening breeze.
“Samantha,” asked McKay. “How smart is that house?”
“It’s controlled by what we call a Semi-Cognitive AI. It’s not sentient, but it adapts to my habits. Here, it decided opening the terrace would be more agreeable given the time of the day, the current weather and its default programming. As the house is new, I still have to teach it how I like things.”
Daniel had to admit it was nice. They were sitting in armchairs that looked like typical art nouveau steel and stained glass frames. All in shades of blue and white, they evoked dolphins swimming in the sea. The armchairs were strangely comfortable, as if the material was not steel and colored glass but something mutable, reacting to their shape and moves.
“You have robots for the housekeeping?” continued Rodney.
“Yes. They’re controlled by the AI. House: send a maintenance drone to the terrace.”
A small shape soon floated near them. It looked like a mouse-sized brass clockwork octopus which swam through the air just as gracefully as its organic counterpart did in the sea.
“Alone,” said Sam, “such a unit does not have much strength. In swarms, they can move objects the size of a car. They’re also equipped for repairs. You will find those swarms everywhere in our installations, generally in a style adapted to their surroundings. Is something annoying you, colonel?”
“You tend to say ‘us’, ‘we’ and ‘ours’ a lot… but not when speaking about Earth, Carter. Was it so easy?”
“I would like to say no, sir,” she said, taking a deep breath, “but… it was once I stopped to consider my options.”
She took a fruit knife and pricked her finger. A drop of blood that looked like crude oil ran on her index, casting black fumes as it reacted with the air. She sucked her finger letting see a tongue that seemed blacker than normal.
“The only human thing left in me is my shape. I have pigments in my skin that hide my blood color, the downside being that I cannot blush anymore. Speaking of my blood, it’s as poisonous as the one of the Lernaean Hydra. I could continue but the rest of my biology is just as alien. On Earth… you know very well how they would treat me. Here, on the contrary, I’m just… the representative of another species in a melting pot counting already more than twenty of them. Here, Jolinar will grow up among children who won’t mind what she is, with teachers that will help her… and me to understand our abilities.”
Jack lowered his head. He would have liked to be able to tell her she was wrong but he had been ready to smuggle her out of reach of the American military. He had hoped she would stay loyal to Earth but… her decision was backed by strong logic and careful, long-term planning. It’s… a Muvian decision.
“Sam… what do you think the Muvian government will offer to help us on Earth?” asked Daniel.
“The problem of reverse engineering is even worse than with Goa’uld technology,” replied Carter, “so don’t expect anything nanotech-related in the immediate, but from what I know, you will go back to the SGC with a gift package, knowledge you can actually use with current Earth technology.”
“Like?” asked Jack.
“I know for sure about some things that will make Janet happy, like working vaccines and treatments for diseases like AIDS… the people in the biotechnology institute of the University have made it a challenge to design the cheapest possible manufacturing procedures using only Terran technology. As you can probably guess, this will also serve as a morality test.”
“You want to see how we use it…” said McKay.
“Yes. The interrogation of the NID agents had revealed they had backers who expected to market the alien technologies they pilfered. Giving you technologies that will serve for humanitarian purposes is a good way for this.”
“How will they verify?”
“For now… by asking for unlimited Internet access during a wormhole opening.”
“This is all well and good, Carter, but it will not help us against the Goa’uld,” said Jack.
“I wasn’t informed about the content of the military part of the gift, sir. All I know is that there will be one and it will be things you can produce now on Earth with a little tinkering.”
“Some cold fusion generators would be nice,” said Rodney.
“That’s possible. The pieces for a first-generation fusion reactor already exist on Earth. All what’s missing is the idea to put them together… the Z-Machine in Sandia, Rodney. It can be tweaked to produce temperatures of billions of degrees. I can’t tell you more as I didn’t have time to delve in the matter. Professor Higurashi and I just discussed it during a lunch break two weeks ago.”
“Higurashi is a MHD specialist, right?” asked McKay, remembering their discussion on the Acropolis plaza.
“What will the Muvians do against the Goa’uld?” asked Teal’c.
“This battle proved that we cannot get overconfident. We have a distinct technological advantage but they can swarm us. If we let them corner us into an attrition war, we will lose. Knowing the Ecclesia, the logical conclusion will impose itself instantly: we need allies. While the Nox are out of question for reasons you can guess, that still leaves many powers: Earth, the Tollans, the Asgard, the Tok’ra and some others the Macross met on the way to Caerleon.”
“Like?” asked Jack.
“A species called the Shandakr-Yotthat. They have a ‘small’ confederacy of four stellar systems. The Goa’uld never bothered them because their worlds are off the Stargate grid. They are silicon and sulfuric acid-based aliens living on worlds with near Venusian conditions. There are certainly a lot of civilizations that think the Goa’uld have reigned for too long. We intend to find them and unite them.”
“And after that?”
“Maybe a kind of galactic UN or a Confederacy that would hold the links between us if new dangers arise. That’s still too far away to plan safely.”
“Sam… about the relations of the Republic with the Earth,” said Daniel. “I understand why they took such choices… but we both know some people that will try to use them to turn the opinion on you. For example, your take on cybernetics…”
“I understand how it may annoy the American public but, Daniel, you have to understand one thing: I know the Ecclesia and while they are willing to give their first try with the USA because you control the Stargate and for ‘nostalgia’ reasons, one of the concessions that will be asked will be to have Earth Defense and technology transfers handled through the United Nations. In other words, the Ecclesia will sooner or later say to you: if you want our help, compromise.”
“This time you say they,” said Jack.
“It’s just because I’m not a citizen yet. I still have to take the exams.”
“That’s another point that will be used against the Muvians,” said Daniel.
“Because we think being a citizen is a duty and not a right? If you think about it, people like Kinsey would fail the psych evaluation as integrity is one of the main factors tested.”
“I have another question,” said McKay. “Where does New Camelot heads to?”
“Ultimately… to a nice planet where we can settle. Currently, the Ecclesia inclines toward finding a viable planet in the vicinity of the Sol System. There are several candidates in a twenty light-years radius that are all off the Stargate grid. Epsilon Eridani is the most probable one.”
“I didn’t notice the Macross in all the ships that were used,” said Teal’c.
“She is decommissioned and mothballed in New Camelot’s bowels. I think the intent is to make it a museum on our new planet, like the Intrepid in New York.”
Author note: the Z-Machine exists. It effectively generated a 2 billion Kelvin temperature in 2006 and plans to make a fusion power plant with the things learned in that experiment exist.