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Whom the Gods Created
The woman with the odd violet eyes stared at the young man. "You will tell me where the others are!"
"Palmer, Barry. Lieutenant. Gamma Military Force. 7-12-394," the young man replied. Winced as he was struck again.
"Tell me of those who are with you!"
"Palmer, Barry. Lieutenant. Gamma Military Force. 7-12-394."
The android shook her head. "Your resistance means nothing to me. I can kill you. Perhaps I should, let your…friends…see that their lives me nothing to me. I will allow you to live if you simply answer my questions."
Palmer spat blood onto the floor at the woman…no, the robot's…feet.
R98971 was perplexed. When she and her brothers had been…awakened…by the Great Mind, they had been informed that the inferior species known as humans could not withstand pain. It had certainly been true when the androids had been caught injecting the virus into the environment of the cryogenic tubes which protected the Travelers. The small group of humans had capitulated quickly when subjected to less…stimulus…than this particular group of humans…no, Tau'ri. Perhaps there was a difference? She sent an inquiry to the Great Mind. Waited patiently for a reply.
When the robot seemed to be - distracted, Palmer tugged against the ropes that held his hands. It seemed that tying knots wasn't something that these things could do well. He glanced over his shoulder at his teammates. Raised an eyebrow. Received nods from each of them.
Jones was sitting closest to the table where their P90's had been carelessly tossed. His eyes trained on the four male robots, he began to inch his way closer. A sideways glance told him that Peterson and Mills were ready.
All they needed were a few seconds, Palmer thought, trying to remain calm. Concentrating on keeping his body from giving him away. Cool. I'm cool and calm, lying beside the pool at the Hilton in Jamaica. Drinking a nice cold beer, he thought.
Jones eased his hand out of the rope, grabbed it with the other to keep it from falling to the floor. All of the robots were staring, as if they'd been shut down or something. He grabbed a P90, began to fire, reaching for the others and tossing them blindly toward his teammates with the other hand.
The male robots rushed forward, two protecting their leader, the other two trying to subdue the now free prisoners, wrenching the weapons from the hands of the young men. Only to find that they had been filled with multiple projectiles that interfered with their function. The struggle lasted for mere seconds, during which time the Tau'ri made their way toward the door, leaving their P90's in the hands of the malfunctioning robots. The four young men ran out of the room, headed down the corridor toward the elevator. They leaned against the wall, gasping for breath.
R98971 was still receiving instructions when the prisoners began their escape attempt. The Great Mind instructed her to let them go. To call for the others, and simply follow them to where the remainder of the humans were hiding…for Tau'ri were humans, she had been told.
A A A A A A
"Too easy," Palmer panted.
"That's 'cause we're good," Jones grinned, high-fiving with Mills and Peterson.
"That's because the bitch let us go," Palmer replied. "Don't you remember any of your training?"
"Yeah, well, now what, boss?" Mills asked. "We don't have our radios."
"We head back to the command center. And hope like hell Mrs. Jackson is there to know it's us," Palmer replied.
When the elevator stopped suddenly, the young men exchanged worried glances. "Shit, that can't be good," Mills hissed.
"I think we're close to the next level," Jones said, running a hand through his black hair.
"So?" Palmer asked.
"Climb. Before this damned thing drops to the bottom," the dark haired young man answered.
"And when it starts up again, and moves up?" Palmer raised an eyebrow.
Jones shrugged. "We take a chance standing here."
Glances were exchanged. Mills, being the most slender of the group, was pushed up to the ceiling of the lift. The maintenance hatch opened easily. Not only was the elevator close to the next level, they would be able to stand on the top of the car to open the doors. He relayed the good news, helped his teammates crawl through the hatch. It took nearly a dozen attempts before the doors finally slid open.
"Son of a bitch!" Jones muttered.
None of the members of SG-4 had ever seen Replicators except in training videos and pictures. Now they were unarmed, and face to face with hundreds of the metal monsters. When the elevator began to move, heading up, more quickly than it should have been going, they scrambled to dive back through the maintenance hatch, landing in a heap, on top of one another on the floor.
"Get the feeling they're trying to kill us?" Palmer growled.
"They didn't want us on that level, that's for damned sure," Peterson gasped. He was still trying to catch his breath after having Mills land directly on top of him.
"They want us to lead them back to SG-1 and SG-5," Palmer said softly.
"We can't do that," Mills protested.
"I know that. So, we have to lead them in the opposite direction."
"Which means there will be a shit load of those things between us and…help," Jones said quietly.
"I know," Palmer replied. "But if this damned thing has been taken over by Replicators, we can't let it land on Gamma. Sure as shit the Prometheus and the Phoenix will blow it out of the sky."
Several seconds ticked by as the young men acknowledged the fact that they would most probably die within the next few hours.
"Let's do it," Peterson said. He slammed his fist against the side of the car.
With a brusque nod, Palmer slapped the button for three levels below the command center. They would move toward the center of the ship. The engine and life support were in the center of the ship, according to Mrs. Jackson. And that would be the first place that the Replicators would try to take control. They had to make sure that life support was maintained until everyone who needed to get off of this damned thing had done so. Or die trying.
A A A A A A
"Can Thor fire that Ancient weapon from his ship and take out just the Replicators?" Casey asked, tugging at her lip.
"I suppose it's possible," Jack conceded.
"Would be nice if it took out those damned androids, too," the young blonde groused.
The gray haired general grinned. "Yeah, but then that wouldn't hold true to our famous SG-1 luck."
She couldn't help but grin in return.
"We need to find the…creatures," Daniel said softly. "Before the androids or the Replicators take them out."
"I agree," Jack replied quietly. He grimaced. "We also have to find SG-4. We don't leave our people behind."
"Casey, can you find them?" Sam asked.
"I can try." With a nod, she reached for Daniel's hand. Met him in that sunny meadow.
"This mission is sucking, so far," she grumbled.
Daniel smiled. "Situation normal, remember?"
"Doesn't mean I have to like it," she replied.
"Let's take a look, Angel. See if we can't find our lost kids."
With a nod and a smile that didn't light her eyes, Casey wrapped her arms around his neck. "Hold me tight," she whispered.
His arms wrapped around her, pulled her close. "Always," he whispered in return.
She closed her eyes, reached out. The ship was so big! She went 'back' to the hydroponics pod where she'd nearly been killed. Moved from there, watching, listening…the hum created by the Replicators made it difficult to 'hear' anything. She moved carefully from deck to deck, trying to search each room, terrified to discover that the Replicators seemed to be in control of a large portion of the ship. She frowned. Why hadn't they taken control of the command center? Or were the androids supposed to run things from there? She could…sense…the link between the artificial life forms and the metal alien bugs. Was it possible to disrupt it…perhaps disable the androids? She examined the link carefully, not certain that the Replicator Queen was able to sense her. If she did take out the androids, how would the Replicators react? She took a deep breath.
"What is it, Case?" Daniel asked softly.
"There's a link between the androids and the Replicators," she replied.
"So the Replicators are controlling the androids," Daniel said.
"Seems that way." She opened her eyes, looked into his blue ones, shivered from the sheer joy of it. Those beautiful eyes held her very universe. She forced her wandering thoughts back to the problems at hand. "I don't know what would happen if I…broke…that link."
"Then hold off for now," he told her. He'd felt her shiver, was unsure what had caused it. He tightened his arms around her. "Any sign of SG-4?"
"Not yet. I haven't found the…creatures…yet, either."
"Keep looking, babe. We need to find them. All of them."
A A A A A A
Palmer wiped the sweat from his face with the back of his arm. The four men had stumbled into what appeared to be a maze of rooms, all of which held cryogenic chambers. And the rooms were all extremely warm…hot even. Which worried him. Had the Replicators turned up the heat in an attempt to destroy the sleep chambers, or the people who were awake on the ship?
"Damned hot," Mills muttered. He hailed from northern Idaho. Temperatures that ranged in the upper 90's were a rarity for that area of the country.
"Yeah," Jones said. "I don't think it's supposed to be this hot."
"It's getting hotter," Peterson added.
"How can you tell?" Palmer asked.
The young man ran a hand through sweaty brown hair, making the short locks stand straight up. "I grew up in Tampa, Florida," he replied in way of explanation.
"And?" Palmer looked at his teammate.
"It's getting hotter."
Palmer shook his head. "We need to find the center of this…mess. When we do, we'll find the engines, and life support. Maybe we can do something about the temperature then."
"Sure would be nice to find a freaking map with a 'you are here' mark on it," Mills said.
"Dream on," Palmer grinned. "Let's go."
When the elevator had stopped the second time, they had again climbed to the top, forced open the door that was just two feet above them, and crawled through. They'd seen several Replicators, but the mechanical monsters hadn't seemed at all interested in them. Fingers itched, hearts yearned for the P90's that had been wrenched from their hands during their escape. Without a word of protest the men stood from where they had collapsed after running pell-mell through the corridors, toward the center of the ship.
A A A A A A
There was an armory near the first of the doors that opened to the honeycomb of rooms that housed the cryogenic pods. Casey smiled. "I found our stuff," she reported.
"That's good," Daniel smiled in return.
"Found 'em!" she cried out excitedly. "They're okay, but unarmed. They're…they're moving deeper into the center of the ship…I think they're trying to get to the engine room."
"That would be where the Queen is," Daniel frowned.
"I know. We need to catch up to them…stop them before they get there."
"What about the…um…"
There were so damned many rooms! So many levels! "I can't search fast enough this way," she told him.
"What do you suggest?"
"Give me some heat, baby, let's fly," she grinned.
Daniel chuckled. Opened himself slowly, felt her gently take what she needed from him. Tightened his grip on her yet again as he felt himself being pulled up. Whoa! 'Standing' on the outside of the ship, it was impossible to see either end!
"Wait here," she whispered.
His little Tinkerbelle, he thought, as he 'felt' her flitter from place to place. He glanced around. The Prometheus, the Phoenix and Thor's ship hovered nearby. Movement near the corner of his eye caught his attention, and he turned his head toward it. And moaned.
"Daniel?" Casey asked immediately.
"Look up, babe," he instructed. Heard as well as felt her sharp intake of breath.
"Yeah. We have to warn Jack, I don't think our ships have picked it up yet."
"Well, I can't find them. They have to be somewhere, I just don't know where."
"Casey, finding nearly eight hundred people shouldn't be that difficult."
"It shouldn't be. But I can't see them."
Daniel sucked in a breath. "Check those sleep pods!"
She could sense his panic. If the androids, with the aid of the Replicators, had forced the…those people…back into cryogenic chambers…and then altered the environments…She flew back to the center of the ship, located the Queen Replicator. Began to systematically check each room where the cryogenic pods were located. There…two rooms…completely full. Alive, they were all alive…wait…who was that? Two women, one man…they looked…terrified, and exhausted. She reached toward them. Yep. Travelers. She hesitated. Then soothed them as much as she could. Pulled away gently, and rushed back into Daniel's arms.
"Gotta go, Angel," he whispered. He kissed her, then pulled away gently, but quickly.
Jack frowned as soon as Daniel's eyes opened. "What?"
"Another ship, looks as big as this one. I'm not sure how close it is…I'm not good with distances yet," he admitted.
"Sonofabitch!" the general swore. "Sam, alert the others. Did you find SG-4?"
"They're heading toward the engine room," Casey replied. "I don't think they understand that the Replicator Queen is there. The…those…the people are all back in pods. They're alive, and I think three Travelers put them back into the pods. I get the sense that they were trying to…help. But they're exhausted. They've been running, hiding."
"Okay, so there are three that we can call good guys…for now," Jack nodded.
"I'm not sure, but I think there are still Travelers who are alive," the young woman said. She cocked her head sideways. Walked to the corner of the room where the man with the black aura and his friends were sitting, their hands and feet bound. "When the Replicators found this ship, all of you were in cryogenic sleep. When the Caretakers were…altered, and poisoned the environments of five of the six levels, it set off alarms. Woke you and your friends."
The man said nothing, but continued to watch her, his eyes wide with disbelief. How could this woman know what had happened? They hadn't been able to stop the Caretakers from…altering…the ships logs, and destroying connections to the library that held the sum of the knowledge of his people.
"You were treated as you treat those who are discovered on any planet that you wish to take," Casey said softly. "And you didn't like it. You woke the survivors, explained what had happened. And when that lavender-eyed bitch laughed at you when you ordered her and the others back into their…resting places, she pointed that fact out, didn't she? And for the first time, the people around you, those not…in charge…realized what had been happening, what was going on. It caused a split, didn't it? So it was two factions of Travelers fighting one another and the Caretakers and Replicators."
Jack whistled softly as he listened. "Freaking war zone!"
She tossed a smile over her shoulder. "Yes it was. The group of Travelers who were… appalled…at the methods their leaders were using to procure new homes for the people protected the…creatures. Moved them so that this man and his group couldn't find them…kill them."
"How many are left…of the good guys?" Jack asked.
"I only saw the three, but then, I wasn't looking for others," Casey admitted. "So far I haven’t been able to sense more than a few...half a dozen maybe. I have no idea how many on which side."
"Okay, give me a rundown," Jack said. "Tell me what we know."
Casey took a deep breath, frowned as she worked out the images and details in her head before speaking. Never noticed that her teammates stood patiently, trusting her…trusting her gift…to help them. "Okay, this ship was full of Travelers. Automatic sensors scanned each planet it passed, looking for certain criteria. We know that from when Daniel went Dell. Somewhere along the line the Replicators came on board. Found the androids and recognized them as machines…and basically reprogrammed them. The Caretakers then poisoned the Travelers, all but a handful. I'm thinking ships crew," she said nodding toward the man and his four companions. "And not all of the crew were…privy…to the knowledge of what happened when a suitable planet was located. The handful that survived manage to start fighting between themselves when the Caretaker spills the beans about how each planet is…taken over. The ship finds a planet and lands. Sends out the virus. I have no idea why the Replicators didn't stop the process, unless they…it…whatever… thought it was to their advantage not to. Anyway, when the ship's sensors indicate that all's well, all of the pods are opened. Except there aren't any living Travelers to come out of them."
Daniel turned to the man. "Truce. You and the others had formed a truce to fight against the Replicators. You thought that you could get off the ship, let the machines have it, and they would just…leave."
"We could have started a new colony," the man rasped. "The machines would have...left. We would have been safe. They should have been dead!"
"But they weren't," Casey said. "'They' being our friends with the skin condition. Which totally freaks out Black man here."
"Black man?" Jack asked.
"I never see auras, Jack. Never. His is so black I can't miss it," Casey replied softly.
"I take it that black is bad?"
"The worst," the young woman replied.
"Okay, go on," Jack said, frowning at the man who now cringed from their stares.
"Well, the…creatures…believe this is a ship delivered to them from god. For awhile they even think that Black man and his friends are angels of god. But when the Travelers make it clear that they don't want to leave, and that the ship is…dangerous…well, the folks were desperate. This was their chance to find the Healer. So with a bit of…convincing…and not the gentle way, either…the…creatures are put into cryogenic sleep. Black man and his friends found a way to seal off one of the rooms, and they all went back into the sleep chambers, because none of the Travelers expected to survive."
"I don't understand," Sam said, shaking her head. "If the Replicators have been on this ship all this time…didn't you say that they've been en route for several hundred years?…then why isn't there more damage? Why haven't they taken control here?"
Casey shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe the androids are supposed to be controlling the command center. Maybe the Replicators don't think it's important right now."
Jack shook his head. "This ship should be completely bug city by now. All life forms should be dead. Something has held them back."
Frowns creased every face, as the puzzle lay before them.
"On the upside, I did find our gear and weapons," Casey said quietly.
"Good. We're gonna need them. We can't reach SG-4 since they don't have their radios, and we have got to stop them before they get to that engine room," Jack said. "Let's get that gear and head out. Sampson, you keep this room under your control. If you can't, let the other ships know, get off and have this thing destroyed."
"Yes, sir," replied the commander of SGI-8.
"Let's go kids."
"What about our…uh…lizard friends?" Daniel asked.
"We'll get SG-4. Then we'll find them."
"Just how are we supposed to get everyone off of this ship?" Casey asked.
Jack grinned. "Thor's sitting over there," he said, pointing over his shoulder randomly. "He'll be able to do it."
"Any word from him on whether or not he'll be able to help them?" Daniel asked.
Sam shook her head. "He seemed to think it could be done, especially since the changes are age related, like Casey suggested. He didn't know how long it would take."
"One step at a time, campers," Jack said quietly.
The two teams ran down the corridor. When the elevator doors refused to open, they knew that the Replicators were aware of their movements. There were access shafts, long narrow openings with rungs welded to the sides of the walls that allowed a crewmember to climb from one level to the next. Crawling into those spaces was not what Jack wanted his team to do! Those access shafts would become death traps if the Replicators so desired.
"Now what?" Sam asked, staring into the darkness of the first access shaft they had located.
Casey smacked her forehead with her hand. "We're wearing our locater sensors! Can't we just have Colonel Bradshaw beam us from one spot to another?"
"Depends on whether or not the Replicators have changed the shields around the ship since our arrival," Sam replied.
"I'm betting they've done that," Daniel said.
"Yep," Jack agreed.
"Like I said, now what?" Sam asked.
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