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 The Colonel's New Toys

 

"...And all this science I don't understand
It's just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man..."
"Rocket Man"
Music by Elton John
Lyrics by Bernie Taupin

 

Chapter 1

Sam read the report carefully. As the head of the astrophysics department, coupled with her high security clearance, reports from Area 51 usually arrived on her desk before General Hammond saw them. Except for this particular project. This was the first she'd heard of it.

Project Prometheus.

Reverse engineered from the remains of the Asgard ship that had crashed near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, and using the Goa'uld technology that the SGC teams had been bringing back to Earth with regularity for going on seven years, the first ever human space craft had been built. Space craft as in capable of moving into hyperspace. This wasn't just another space shuttle! Along with this large, heavily armed ship, several smaller fighters, designated as F-302s, had also been built, and were currently waiting for test flights. According to the report, those fighters were armed to the teeth with every new type of weapon capable of combating Goa'uld gliders. These ships hadn't been built for 'what if', or 'if the need arises'. Even if all but a handful of its inhabitants were unaware of the situation, Earth was embroiled in a war against the Goa'uld, and these ships were the first of a fleet that would be the first line of defense against an attack from the enemy.

The schematics for the ships were impressive. The fighters were sleek in design, and what they were capable of took her breath away. She could feel her palms begin to itch. Happened every time she thought about flying a fighter jet. It was what she'd been trained to do by the Air Force. She'd spent six months flying over Iraq during the Gulf War. As loathe as she was to admit it, since becoming a part of the Stargate Program, flying hadn't even crossed her mind.

She perused each page of the report, then as the attached note had requested, she called the General's office. Her heart was pounding with excitement at the thought of piloting one of these experimental jets.

 

 

 

Casey was in the elevator, on her way to the General Hammond's office. That little voice had told her that...something...was about to happen, and that she needed to warn the base commanding officer. It would help, she sighed mentally, if she had a clue as to what the hell was going on. "So not amused," she grumped to the universe in general, and to whomever was in charge of her 'information dumps' in particular.

She tapped on the door, unaware that she was tugging on her lip with her teeth, a tell-tale sign that something was bothering her. Nor was she aware of the frown that creased her brow. All she knew was that the poking was becoming insistent.

General Hammond called a gruff, "Enter," without looking up from the report he was reading.

Just a hint? she thought, as the poking became almost unbearable. She remained silent, hoping that while she waited for the general's attention, something would come through.

"So, what can I do for you?" General Hammond asked, closing the folder in front of him. He immediately took note of the 'signals' that the young seer seemed to be giving, although he seriously doubted that she knew she was doing so.

"I'm not sure," she admitted with a sigh. A flash of light. Finally! She closed her eyes, waited until the images stopped twirling. Quickly sorted through them. Her frown deepened. There wasn't much to see, and what she did find was...confusing. Just what in the hell did an old sailing ship, and a trader, have to do with the SGC? And just who was the bearded guy tied to the mast, facing the bow of the ship? She watched as an eagle swooped down, listened as the man screamed in agony as his gut was ripped open, and the eagle pecked and pulled. There was something so damned familiar about that...

This was the first time she'd experienced such...vague...images. She knew immediately that they weren't to be taken literally. But she couldn't 'interpret' what she was seeing, and that was cause for frustration, and worry. When she opened her eyes, Sam was standing beside her. "Something is up, but to be perfectly honest, I don't have a clue what it is I'm seeing," Casey admitted.

"Can you describe it?" Sam asked.

"Don't laugh."

"I promise," the major vowed. Wondered just what the seer could be 'seeing' that would evoke such a request.

"I see an old sailing ship. So I'm left to assume that there's a ship...of some sort...involved. Then there's a guy with a beard, tied to the mast, and an eagle is attacking him. Well, sort of attacking him. It ripped open his stomach, looked like it was eating something, then flew away," Casey said.

Sam grinned. "Prometheus."

What? Who? Prometheus? Of course! From Greek mythology! "Okay, so we have what, a Greek ship?"

The general chuckled. "Not exactly. What we have is a ship designated the X-303. The project name it was constructed under is 'Prometheus'."

"I take it this isn't a sailing ship," Casey said.

"Not exactly. Although I suppose if you want to be poetic, you can say that it will sail among the stars," Sam giggled.

"We have a space ship? Of our very own? Too cool!" The excitement faded slightly as she examined the final 'images'. "Tell me we're not going to trade it for something."

"Trade?" General Hammond asked, frowning slightly.

"I see a trader, too. Kind of a sneaky sort...like a smarmy used car salesman," Casey replied.

"No, we won't be trading the X-303," the general assured her.

"Good. So when do we get to go up?"

"That's what I'd like to know, too, sir," Sam said, turning her attention to the general. "Your note said to report to you as soon as I'd been over the project file."

Casey turned sideways, pointed toward the door with her thumb. "Should I leave?"

Hammond smiled. "No, Casey, there isn't any need for you to leave. In fact, if you wouldn't mind taking a look at this, perhaps you can 'pick up' on the reason why the project is behind schedule."

"Tell me it didn't go to the lowest bidder," Casey responded dryly.

"Hardly," the general replied, chuckling again. "No one manufacturer built more than small segments of the ship, and all those segments were taken to Area 51 to be assembled. The hull and framework of the ship were actually constructed on-sight, as we aren't particularly ready to explain where we discovered trinium. The project is behind schedule, although we can't seem to pin down any one particular vendor who is behind in shipments. The Prometheus was to have been ready for her shake-down cruise a month ago. The ship's commander and crew are ready and waiting."

With a nod, Casey took the file, settled into the chair in the corner of the room and began to read. Ah, so one of the old hangers that sat alone in the desert had been converted to a manufacturing site. That explained the ability to create the no doubt impressively large pieces of trinium frame and plating. Did the people hired to work at this newly opened plant have any idea what they were working with, or on? Probably not. Although she'd be willing to bet each and every one of them had signed non-disclosure agreements. She also sensed that each 'department' within the site was kept from knowing what the others were working on. The less a person knew, the less he or she could discuss, or surmise.

"What are your observations, Major?" Hammond asked Sam.

"I think it will be worth every penny spent on it, sir. When the Tegerian designed satellites are finally finished, the X-303 will be able to help carry and launch them with less expense or hassle than the space shuttles," Sam replied. "In fact, I think the X-303 will be able to carry them all in one trip, which will also save a great deal of time in getting the grid of satellites deployed."

The general nodded, then handed a disk case to the blonde major. "These are the updated schematics for the X-303. There are a few things here that weren't in the 'official' report. We received a few 'thank you' gifts from the Asgard, and they were added within the past forty-eight hours. I want you to go over every inch of this ship. Especially the engines. Tell me if we're going to have any problems that we can fix now, before the first launch."

"Yes, sir."

"Um, general?" Casey's voice came softly from the corner. "You might want to talk to the group of scientists working on the hyperdrive systems. I sense NID. I'm not sure if one or all of them are working for that group, and I'm not sure if it's willingly or coerced, but I think that might be the problem."

"I see. Well then, I'm going to send SG-1 to Nevada. I'll alert the president, and the commander of the Prometheus," General Hammond said. "Briefing in-" he glanced at his watch. "An hour. I'll leave it to you to alert your teammates."

"Yes, sir," Sam nodded.

Casey nodded her understanding as well.

"Very good. Dismissed."

The two blondes left the office. Sam watched her best friend for a few minutes. "What's wrong?" she asked softly.

"Hmm?"

"Your tugging at your lip," Sam clarified. "What's wrong?"

Casey shook her head, swiped her ID tag in the reader beside the elevator. "There's something about that trader. I just can't put my finger on it."

Sam put her arm around slender shoulders and gave Casey a quick, one-armed hug. "You'll figure it out. You always do."

She couldn't help but smile. How many times had she or Jack said the very same thing to Sam or Daniel, knowing that their brilliant minds would decipher whatever riddle the team was facing. "I just hope I do it before we need the intel. I hate the 'after-the-fact' enlightenment."

"I have faith," Sam smiled, sounding suspiciously like Jack. "You tell Daniel, I'll tell Jack."

"Right. Teal'c is working with the cadets over in the warehouse. I'll call over there from Daniel's office and leave a message for him."

"See you in an hour," Sam said, getting off on level nineteen.

"We'll be there," Casey replied.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Daniel looked up when Casey sauntered into the room. She'd been unusually quiet on the drive to work that morning, and he'd been wracking his brain to try and figure out just what was wrong. He hadn't noticed any of the 'signs' that she'd experienced an 'information dump'. But then, he didn't always notice them. Unless it was a substantial amount of intel, usually it was over in just a few seconds. Very easily missed if one wasn't looking directly at Casey when it happened. "Hey, gorgeous," he said, hoping that whatever was wrong, wasn't serious.

"Hey, handsome," she replied, flashing a smile at him. She hopped up onto the table where he sat working, planting her derriere beside the tablet he was examining.

When she was determined to get his attention, she knew exactly how to do it, he thought, chuckling mentally. She scooted a bit, pressing her hip against his hand as he tried to write. He couldn't help but grin. Apparently she wanted his attention. "So what's up?"

"Besides you?"

"Smartass. And I'm not up, thank you very much." Yet, his brain added. As if on its own accord, the back of his hand was caressing that warm, slender hip, her thigh relaxed against his arm. He frowned when he realized she hadn't responded. She was staring off into space, her teeth worrying that full lower lip. "Case?"

"Hmm?"

"What's going on? Are you mad at me or something?"

She started, looked at him, her eyes holding his gaze. She could see the worry in those beautiful blue depths. "Of course not! What makes you ask that?"

"You were quiet on the ride here. You're distracted now..." He let the comment fade, shrugged his shoulders.

Casey reached out and caressed his cheek. "I'm not angry, Stud Muffin. Just a bit preoccupied, I guess."

"About what?"

She glanced around. "This isn't the time, or the place, to get into it."

Okay, so whatever was bothering her was of a personal nature. "There's nobody around. Talk to me, Angel."

Revelations from one of the SF's the day before had meant that she'd spent the night dealing with the issue in her dreams. She'd been struggling with her feelings on the matter as soon as she'd figured out just exactly what she'd been thinking, even though it had been on a subconscious level. She had no clue how to tell him; worried that if she told him, he'd be terribly disappointed. She'd seen the way he watched families, especially those with small children.

"Casey?" he asked softly.

Tears filled her eyes. How could she tell him what felt like a deep, dark secret? How could she hurt him, and she just knew that her decision would hurt him. "I'm so sorry," she whispered.

"For what?"

"I-" She shook her head. Took a deep breath. Okay, maybe she'd just rethink the entire thing. After all, it wasn't like she didn't want to. Just not...now. Not even in the foreseeable future. And knowing that they literally had eternity, she felt no pressure to beat some unseen, ticking biological clock.

"Honey, whatever it is, it can't be half as bad as you're imagining," he murmured. He rose to his feet, stood between her thighs, locked his arms around her. "Now, what's wrong?"

"I...uh...well, I sort of came to a decision. And I'm afraid it's going to hurt you," she said slowly.

Well, hell! That doesn't sound good! For one brief moment the fear that she was going to leave him flashed through his mind. He forcefully pushed that disturbing thought aside. "Maybe. Maybe it won't. Would help to know what 'it' is," he replied.

Her hands had reached for him, were moving over his shoulders, down to the pockets on his BDU shirt, and back up again. She finally looked up into the blue eyes she'd felt studying her. She took a deep breath. "I'm not ready to start a family. Not yet."

Huh? Family? When had they last had a discussion about kids? He hurriedly sorted through every conversation he could recall. Nope, not remembering a damned thing! "Okay."

"And I know that you...well, I've seen the way you watch little ones, and...I'm sorry!"

His frown deepened. He'd noticed her watching babies and toddlers, and had assumed that she'd been longing for one of her own. It seemed, however, that those lingering glances had been weighing her options, her obligations more than likely, and she hadn't been wishing for a baby after all.

The frown on his handsome face made her breath catch in her throat. Even if she didn't feel ready, if Daniel wanted to start a family now, then she would do so. Anything he wanted, she'd give him. "If you want kids now, then I'll stop taking the shots."

"What? No...no, Case, I don't want kids now. I'm not...I'm not ready for a family. Not ready to share you. Not yet."

"You're sure?"

He smiled. Dropped a kiss on the tip of her nose. "Positive. What brought all this up, anyway?"

"Cathy Masterson is pregnant. She just found out. And Colonel Anderson's wife is pregnant, too. And then there's Willie Lopez, from SG-3...he and his wife have a new baby..."

"Feeling a little...overwhelmed?" he asked intuitively.

"Gracie asked me when I was going to be making 'the announcement', and I just...I froze. I told her it would be awhile, that I wasn't ready. She just laughed, and told me that you were...ready that is."

"Well, she's wrong. I have no idea where she got that idea. Babe, I'd never ask you to take such a monumental step if you weren't ready."

"But it's not fair of me to deny you something if you want it!"

He shook his head. Typical of her. Putting his wants, his desires, ahead of her own needs. How many men could truthfully say that their wife, or lover, was as generous? "Having children has to be a joint venture, Casey. When we're ready, both of us, then it will happen. Not until."

She wrapped her arms around his neck, hugged him tightly. "I love you," she sighed.

"Love you, too, Angel."

"We have a briefing in about an hour. We have a ship!"

Daniel grinned. Casey could move from one subject to the next with lightening speed. Jack often complained that keeping up with the slender blonde was an exercise in mental gymnastics. "A ship?"

"X-303. We're going to Area 51 because the NID is screwing around with production. It's someone working with the hyperdrive system, that's all I could see. Anyway, General Hammond wants that ship finished, and to be honest, I think Sam should take a look at those engines. It wouldn't be a good thing if some spook puke had sabotaged them or something."

His grin widened. 'Spook puke' was the latest autonym that Casey used for NID agents. It seemed that Jack had explained to her that before the Stargate Program had become the focus of their attention, they had used spies to infiltrate various organizations, looking for legitimate threats to the nation. The older man had told her that among the intelligence community, spies were known as 'spooks'. There was no need to interpret the 'puke' aspect of the description. "So when do we leave?"

"I don't know. I rather imagine we'll find out in the briefing," she replied.

"Probably. Let's go get a cup of coffee." He caught her chin with one hand, held her gaze with his own. "Thanks for being honest with me."

"Thanks for not being disappointed," she smiled.

His response was a quick kiss. Well, as quick as he was ever able to kiss her sweet lips. Casey left a message for Teal'c, was assured that he'd receive it immediately, then allowed her Husband to lead her to the commissary. She could use a cup of coffee.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

The team settled around the conference table. General Hammond paused when he reached the door that allowed access to the room from his office. Major Carter was excitedly describing the X-303 to her teammates. Who listened with varying degrees of enthusiasm and indulgence, all of which was reflected on the faces around her. He smiled to himself. Perhaps it was because they were the first SG team created. Perhaps because of the people on the team. Perhaps because of what they had faced, had endured, as a team. Whatever the reason, SG-1 was closer emotionally than any other team on the base. Five individuals. One entity. A thing of beauty, Colonel O'Neill liked to brag. He'd witnessed that SG-1 'magic' a time or two. And agreed wholeheartedly with the colonel. He shook his head. Hopefully that 'magic' would continue to follow SG-1. This mission was one of the most important they'd ever undertaken.

Just as the general entered the room and sat down, a flash of light, and a name danced across her brain. Oh, Daniel was not going to be amused! Casey wasn't even aware that she'd groaned out loud, and was slowly shaking her head.

"Radar?" Jack asked immediately. He didn't like the look in those big green eyes.

"Tieel Mogba," she said quietly. "Sleazy used car salesman."

Daniel stiffened at the name. He'd almost killed the man when the two had crossed paths, while he and his teammates had been looking for Casey after that damned bastard bounty hunter had stolen her from him. He wasn't certain he'd forgiven Jack for stopping him. "What about him?"

Oh, lots of ice in his voice...and his eyes. Definitely pissed off, Casey thought, shivering slightly. "I saw a trader associated with our ship." She frowned as several of the blurry images she had struggled to interpret finally became clear. "Um...Tieel Mogba. Ugly guy with a patch over one eye, badly burned arm. Big yellow teeth..."

"That's him," Jack nodded. He watched Daniel carefully. Could sense the barely contained rage. "Not this time, Danny," he said softly.

Daniel looked at his friend. Nodded his understanding. If the slave trader was involved, Casey was in danger...again. His best friend wouldn't prevent him from killing that son-of-a-bitch this time.

General Hammond cleared his throat. The Tok'ra had already reported that Ba'al had hired the bounty hunter to find, and capture SG-1. That he was looking for the team wasn't anything they didn't already know. Whatever Casey had 'seen' indicated there was more to the situation than they'd first believed. "What about Mogba?"

She closed her eyes. Concentrated, examined every bit of information that she had. "He's running out of time. He's desperate to capture us...to save his own life."

"Let the bastard die," Daniel growled softly. When soft fingers closed over his, he took comfort from them, allowed her gentle touch to calm his raging emotions.

"Any idea where he's going to attempt to take us?" Jack asked.

Casey shook her head. "Sorry. I just see him, and that old sailing ship, and that bearded guy."

"Huh?" Jack's expression of confusion sent the two women in the room into giggles.

"I guess whoever sends the messages is in a weird mood today," Casey replied. "We've already determined that I was getting a hint about the Prometheus Project, and the X-303."

Ah, yes. He'd actually read that report. Mostly because Sam had sat in his office until he finished it. He was giddy with delight, knowing that the SGC now had its own ship. No need to call on the Tok'ra when they needed a lift somewhere. Or as was usually the case, getting away from somewhere. "What kind of a hint?"

"Old sailing ship. A guy tied to the mast having his liver eaten out," Casey said.

"Thus, the name of the project," Daniel grinned.

"Huh? Name of the project?"

"Prometheus, Jack. The name of the guy tied to the mast having his liver eaten out. Although in Greek mythology, Prometheus was chained to a stone, and an eagle ate his liver every day. The Prometheus myth first appears in the Greek epic poet Hesiod's 'Theogony' around the late 8th to early 7th centuries BCE...there's a bit of debate on the actual date. Prometheus was a son of Iapetus by Clymene, she was one of the Oceanids. He was also a brother of Atlas, Menoetius, and Epimetheus. In the 'Theogony', Hesiod introduces Prometheus as a lowly challenger to Zeus' omniscience and omnipotence. At a meal marking the 'settling of accounts' between mortals and immortals, Prometheus played a trick on...or against, if you prefer...Zeus. He placed two sacrificial offerings before the Olympian - one was a selection of ox meat hidden inside its stomach, which symbolized nourishment hidden inside a displeasing exterior, the second being ox bones wrapped in "glistening fat" which symbolized something inedible hidden inside a pleasing exterior. Zeus chose the latter, setting a precedent for future sacrifices; henceforth, mortals would keep the meat for themselves and burn the bones wrapped in fat as an offering to the gods. This angered Zeus, who hid fire from the mortals in retaliation...he threw a temper tantrum if you will. Prometheus, however, stole fire from Zeus' own hearth, and gave it back to mortals for their use. This further enraged Zeus, who sent mortal man the first woman, presumably Pandora, and he gave her that little box of goodies to share. Prometheus, meanwhile, was chained to a rock where his regenerating liver was eaten daily by an eagle. The Greek hero Heracles eventually shot the eagle and freed Prometheus from his chains. Actually, Prometheus and Pandora are the Greek equivalent of the Jewish Adam and Eve, responsible for 'cursing' mankind-"

Jack was holding up both hands in obvious surrender as the words poured from Daniel's mouth. He looked over at Sam, then at Teal'c. "Then next time I ask a question like that, shoot me. Just shoot me."

Casey giggled; Daniel, Sam, and Teal'c were grinning from ear to ear, and even the general was chuckling.

The colonel looked back at Daniel. "How do you remember all of that stuff?"

Daniel frowned slightly, then shrugged. "I have no idea. I just...do," he replied.

Daniel's mind had to be like a sponge, he thought. Jack frowned mentally. No, sponges dripped. He'd bet a full month's pay that the archaeologist hadn't forgotten one single word of anything he'd ever learned. Steel trap. Yep, that was it. What went in, never came out. Well, except when he was spouting off all that mythology stuff. Or talking about some forgotten civilization...forgotten by everyone but archaeologists. Or languages. How many could Danny speak now? Twenty-five, twenty-six? Maybe more. Did a brain that full weigh more? Did he have a 'system' for remembering everything? Sort of like a card catalogue-

"Sir?"

Jack looked at Sam. Realized that someone had said something, apparently to him. "What?"

"Have you had a chance to look at the file for the Prometheus Project?"

She knew he had. She'd been sitting there while he read it. Made sure he wasn't reading the latest edition of Mad Magazine. He cleared his throat. "Yeah, I went over it."

"Colonel, I'd like for your team to make a visit to Area 51," Hammond said. "I want to know who the NID operative is, the one who may or may not be sabotaging the hyperdrive systems. As soon as the Prometheus is ready, I want SG-1 on board for her shake-down cruise." If what he suspected was true, the ship was ready, someone just didn't want that known, for whatever reason. Possibly to give the NID director time to put more of his spies in place among the crew. The general had more than enough experience with the mindset of the intelligence community to be able to predict, with a great deal of accuracy, what moves the groups would make in a given situation.

"Yes, sir," Jack replied.

"Catch a flight from Peterson," the general continued. "I want reports every six hours. If you miss one check-in, I'll assume that the team has been kidnapped by the NID."

"And you'll send in the Calvary," Jack replied. It seemed that SG-1's penchant for getting themselves into trouble...and any number, or all of them captured, had finally caught up with them. It was a bit humiliating to think that their CO would assume the worst if they missed a check-in. It was also comforting to know that they had the back-up, and that it was always available to them.

"I'd prefer to keep this as quiet as possible for the time being. So do your best to stay out of trouble," Hammond said.

"Us, sir? Trouble?" Jack feigned innocence.

"Our middle name, boss. SG-Trouble-1," Casey intoned. Her teammates laughed.

General Hammond smiled. "The president wants the X-303 launched immediately. See to it that happens."

"Yes, sir," Jack nodded. "Time to go to work, campers."

When they'd been dismissed, the teammates hurried to the elevator. "What can you tell me, Radar?" Jack asked quietly, swiping his ID card.

"Not much, boss," Casey admitted. "I can sense the NID around the group that's working on the hyperdrives. I don't know if they want to sabotage the drives, or if they're after something bigger."

"Like what?" Daniel asked. He followed his Wife and teammates onto the elevator.

Slender shoulders moved up and down. "Taking the X-303 for themselves."

"Bastards," Jack grumped. "And it's the Enterprise."

Four faces looked at him quizzically.

"We can't keep calling it the X-303. So we'll call it the Enterprise," Jack explained.

"Actually, sir, we can't. That name's been used for one of the shuttles."

"But...ours is bigger," Jack objected. As if that alone made all the difference in the naming of the ship.

Sam bit back her grin. "Sorry, sir. It's not going to be the 'Enterprise'."

"How about 'Prometheus'?" Daniel suggested. "I'm assuming that's what the name was intended to be."

"Not as good as 'Enterprise'," Jack grumbled.

"I agree with Daniel. No doubt that was the intention," Sam nodded.

"We'll have a naming ceremony when we get there," Casey added.

Jack looked at the young seer. "Naming ceremony?"

"Names are very important. Having the right name will bring good luck to the ship," she replied.

The colonel looked at Teal'c. "You're teaching her this stuff, aren't you?"

"Indeed."

Jack rolled his eyes. "Civilian clothes and topside, twenty minutes. We'll take my truck."

With nods of acknowledgment, the team went their separate ways in order to wrap up work interrupted by the unscheduled briefing. There was no telling how long they'd be in Nevada. Duffels were filled with the 'emergency' clothing that each team member kept in his or her locker. Thirty minutes later, SG-1 was heading to Peterson, and the flight that awaited them.

 

A  A  A  A  A  A

 

Tieel Mogba stared at the darkness of space that filled the view port. He was hours from the deadline given to him by Lord Ba'al. No doubt the Goa'uld had ships looking for him even now. The First World, home of the Tau'ri, lay beyond the planet that turned slowly above him, a gas giant of white, brown and red.

Tau'ri. He'd never heard of them until Ba'al had hired him to capture one named Casey Jackson. Her husband had damned near killed him. Not, he thought, that he could blame the man. The slender blonde was beautiful. If she'd bewitched a Goa'uld, could a mere mortal man resist her charms?

Now it seemed that they would be the death of him, directly or indirectly, for he had no doubt that the next time one Daniel Jackson laid eyes on him, the blue-eyed man would finish what he'd started in that tavern.

Mogba heaved a sigh. If only he could talk to these people. The more he'd learned about them, the more he grudgingly respected them. It seemed that the group known as SG-1 had saved many people, helped several villages gain their freedom from the Goa'uld. Had killed numerous System Lords in their war against the parasitical creatures. Surely they'd understand his situation. And with their reputation for escaping death time and again, surely they could do so once more. He could hand them over to Ba'al, they would escape, and he'd bring them home. Such a simple plan, really. If he could just find them and speak with them.

"Another ship has entered the system," the weapons officer reported. The man had several scars on his face and neck, reminders of the many battles he had survived.

"One of Ba'al's ships?" Mogba asked immediately.

"Unconfirmed. It is of Goa'uld design," was the reply.

"Move us between those moons. We'll wait until it passes," Mogba ordered. Then, he thought, he'd destroy the damned thing. Attacking even a Goa'uld al'kesh was suicide for a ship as small as his own. However, he had impressive weapons, and if he was able to surprise those on board the other vessel, his attack would be successful.

"Aye, sir," the helmsman acknowledged. The surface of one of the moons grew, swelled, until it filled the view port completely.

"The ship is sending out long range communications. To the First World," the young communications officer told her employer. Serving on the bridge was more dangerous than working below; the way to move up in the ranks was to defeat in hand to hand combat the one who sat in the post desired. Mogba encouraged the ruthless behavior, although the few who'd tried to take his seat had died horribly. But it was better than serving as the bounty hunter's whore, or worse, being forced to service his crew of ruffians.

"What is the message?" Mogba demanded.

With a frown, the young woman listened carefully. "I do not understand all of what is being said. It is an alien tongue. The name Tem has been mentioned twice. He is a newly returned-"

"I know who he is," Mogba growled. It was his business to know which Goa'uld were where, and who wielded the most power.

"I believe he is announcing his arrival to take over the First World," the communications officer said. She was guessing at best, grasping at anything to mollify her violent commander. But she knew the Goa'uld almost as well as Mogba. It was a common practice for Goa'uld to begin broadcasting their arrival as soon as they were close enough to the planet they intended to take.

Well, this was certainly interesting! He, along with his bridge crew, watched as the Goa'uld mothership moved past the moons where they remained hidden. "Engage the cloak, and follow the ha'tak."

"Aye, sir."

If Tem had plans to attack the First World, he'd watch and see who the winner would be. And he'd ally himself with whichever side proved to be the strongest. Then he'd seek out the group of Tau'ri known as SG-1. They would come with him; as temporary...partners; or as his prisoners. He didn't care which.

 

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Tem paced the pel'tak. So far his demands for a response from Taylor had gone unheeded. There'd been delighted chatter from the man when he'd made contact just three days earlier. Now...nothing. Had the fool done something to expose himself, and Pyxis Enterprises, to the authorities? Had Taylor gotten himself arrested?

He had no gliders. The hybrid ships so clandestinely constructed in his secret manufacturing plants were gone, whether destroyed, or in the custody of the Americans, he had no idea. He would assume they'd been destroyed; those chosen to pilot the craft had been trained to do one specific task, or die trying. His frown deepened. Perhaps he'd relied too heavily on ker'nish'ta in the training of his various slaves. There had been no free will, no survival instincts, left intact.

He sighed heavily. While it would have been more convenient to have the assistance of the 'pets' he'd left behind, their presence wasn't necessary for his success in taking over the First World.

The young Jaffa who stood nearby watched as their god continued to pace. They were young, but they weren't fools. Each of them were well aware of the fact that their 'god' was insane. They'd heard the whispers among Ares' Jaffa. How the dark haired warrior god detested the weakling known as Tem. They'd endured the taunts of those Jaffa, knowing all too well that the insults of their lack of ability were sadly true.

Kebu, the oldest of the Jaffa at age twenty-one, and the First Prime, narrowed his eyes slightly as he listened to Tem mutter to himself in a language he didn't understand. All but three of those who'd accompanied him had died in the first raid on what was supposed to have been an unprotected planet; a village of farmers, he had been told. He had no doubt that those on this ship would die if Tem was not removed from his throne. He had no awe of the Goa'uld. He'd grown up hearing only stories of Tem. As had his father and grandfather. Nor had he or any of the Jaffa been present during the Taking, when Mehen had taken over Kinsey's body. No, there was no fear of this Goa'uld. Only loathing.

Jaffa were warriors. It was their duty to serve their god. It was not, however, required that they follow one such as Tem. Anger burned in the young man's heart. He didn't want to die in service to a fool. And Tem was most certainly a fool. The Jaffa around him would follow him, even if he moved against their 'god'. For not one of their number believed Tem to be anything other than a weak, despicable leader. One not worthy to be called a System Lord. Certainly not one worth dying for.

Tem continued to mutter. He would see Taylor punished for this! Probably off fucking some little girl, rather than monitoring the communication orb for word from his god. He threw himself onto his throne, his hands clenched tightly into fists. One ha'tak against the First World. With a skeleton crew, comprised of mere boys. He roared his displeasure, noting with some satisfaction that every Jaffa in the room had jumped slightly. Earth had no defenses against Goa'uld weapons. All he had to do was attack quickly, and without mercy. He would take out each capitol city. And then he would demand the full surrender of all survivors. There would be threats and demands, he was certain. But that was of no consequence. For each demand, each hour that passed without submission, another city would be annihilated. It wouldn't take long to have the First World completely under his control.


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