Stargate: The Twins

By

Jon Layne Fisher

 

 

Copyright © March 2012 Jon Layne Fisher

Second edition, October 31, 2017

All rights reserved, even if distributed free.

 

—oOo—

 

The Stargate on Destiny

 

Destiny, Lost and Found

 

It was a beautiful spring day, sunny but cool, with cotton ball clouds in the sky.  A horse drawn covered wagon was coming down the road, driven by an old man, with graying beard and long brown hair.  The travel wagon had three beds, cooking gear and a few weeks supply of food.  Sitting on either side of the old man were twin girls, who looked to be about thirteen years old.  They were somewhat short, a bit thin, and wore their reddish hair in braids.  Ashley and Alison had no jewelry, simply because they had used up all their money buying supplies.  The twins wore identical tan shirts, shorts and leather sandals.  They were traveling through a land that was still in the medieval stage, and the rural people lived in wood huts and hunted with bows and arrows.  The farmland to either side of the road was freshly plowed, and little green shoots were popping up everywhere.  Every few hundred kilometer along this main road you could find a small village, with an inn for travelers and traders.  You might even mistake the larger towns for a scene out of a cowboy western movie on the planet Earth.  Except that this planet did not have guns or movies, just lots of cows and boys.

Alison was musing about what had just happened a few hours ago, back at the town they had just left, “I can’t believe that we got thrown out of another village; just because we pulled a few harmless pranks.” Alison noticed that the man sitting between the girls had stopped whistling to himself.  “Uncle George, what’s wrong?”  The carriage had stopped, and the old man was looking up at the sky.  The girls called him Uncle because he looked like somebody’s uncle, even though he was not really their uncle.

Uncle George was getting excited and exclaimed, “We must hurry to the Stargate.  I just felt a spaceship enter our system.  We may be able to leave with them if they visit our planet.  Or they may come through the Stargate, and we can snatch them.”  Over thousands of years, and many lifetimes for the twins, they had hoped to escape this planet.  They were so desperate that they were willing to do anything, short of harming someone, to get off this primitive rock. The solar system is located between two very distant galaxies; so remote that spaceships never came near their home world.  The twin girls jumped up and down in their seats and yelled for joy as the wagon turned right and raced through the hills towards the ring.  The Stargate, located in the middle of some very old ruins, was long abandoned after the device stopped being used.  Round columns of stone were broken in half, and fallen walls were everywhere.  The old temple had been destroyed by earthquakes thousands of years ago, which is why most buildings are now made of wood beams that bend with the shock waves from deep in the planet.  As they approached the Stargate, Uncle George slowed the wagon to a crawl and carefully looked around, trying to spot any movement in the nearby trees or behind the stones in the ruins.  They could clearly see that the Stargate was now active, with a glowing shimmer inside the ring.  But nobody was in sight.  Suddenly the glow in the middle of the gate blinked out.

Alison let out a yelp of despair as the Stargate shut down, and was clearly very upset.  But then she settled down, and commented in a somewhat puzzled voice, “That’s strange.  Why would the gate activate, and then shut down?”

Ashley had jumped off the wagon and was examining the area around the Stargate, looking for footprints or perhaps even supplies that might have been thrown through the gate. “There’s nothing on the ground near the gate.  So they didn’t drop off anybody or anything!”

Uncle George, who really isn’t all that bright, suggested, “Maybe they’re invisible creatures?”

Alison jumped off the wagon and ran over to the device that controls the Stargate. “Don’t be silly Uncle George.  Here, let’s hit the return button and see what happens.”  From memories buried deep inside their minds, they knew that this particular Stargate was not allowed to connect to any other planet, and could only be activated by authorized supply ships, warships and other vessels of the same race as the girls, orbiting safely above the planet.  This was to prevent anyone from leaving the restricted world they had lived in for most of their existence.  The Stargate acted like an emergency chute on an airplane, dropping people off without having to land on the planet surface.  Every ships captain knew better than to allow the Stargate on board a starship to accept an incoming wormhole from this world.  And no ship was permitted to land on the planet.  A shuttle or small ship could easily be captured by the humans desperate to leave this primitive prison world.  But all of this caution had been wasted, since nobody had arrived through the Stargate for the last several thousand years, and anyone exiled to the planet had long died.  Except these three of course.

But to their utter shock, the gate activated, and the twins looked at each other with total amazement, and very big smiles.  They suddenly realized that if the wormhole connected to a starship built by their race of people, then it was likely that nobody was on board the ship who might prevent them from escaping the planet.  The other possibility was that an alien race had onboard Stargates, which was very unlikely as far as the twins knew.

Uncle George looked worried, like a prisoner of war who has been told by an evil guard go ahead; run for it; I dare you.  So he asked the obvious question, “How do we know it’s safe?”

Alison began pushing buttons on the control device.  A display activated on the Stargate, like a giant video monitor, replacing the image of a shimmering pool of water.  Numbers were scrolling up the display, with charts and graphs of the destination environment.  The most important data was atmosphere composition, which should be near 78% Nitrogen, 21% Oxygen, 1% Argon, .04% Carbon Dioxide and 1% water vapor.  Other data that can be critical to human survival are things like sea level humidity, radiation, atmospheric pressure, gravity, wind speed, temperature and so on; all of which can kill you in the wrong amounts.  Alison then pushed two buttons on the controller and the huge ring became a visual monitor that allowed her to see the area around the destination Stargate.  They did not see anyone near the gate, so no ambush was waiting for them that they could tell.  She then shrugged her shoulders and reported to the others, “The display says it’s OK on the starship.” 

Ashley ran over to the Stargate and yelled back to the old man, “Besides, Uncle George, how many species besides ours has Stargates on spaceships?”  She reached out to a stick that she spotted a hundred meters away.  It went flying through the air to land gently in her hand.  She held the stick in the event horizon, which is the shimmering glow of the Stargate.  This would keep the Stargate active until they could all get through the gate.  Unless of course some idiot hit the wrong button on the control console and shut the gate off; which is why Ashley was using a stick instead of her arm to keep the gate active.

Uncle George thought about other species that might use Stargates on spaceships, and couldn’t recall any that had been at war with the Alteran race of humankind (who had built the Stargates). “Good point.  So what are we waiting for?”  Uncle George and Alison rushed over to the wagon and set the horse loose at once.  The two grabbed their small personal bags and some food from the back of the wagon; and then walked into the glowing light of the gate.  Ashley threw the stick away and followed them.  Once again everything was quiet on the planet.  As soon as the three escapees arrived at the other end of the wormhole, their mouths fell open.  The room housing the Stargate on the starship was dark and gloomy, with a fine layer of dust everywhere.

Ashley exclaimed in disappointment, “What a rust bucket.  This ship has to be at least 20,000 years old!”  She knew this by making a quick calculation of the amount of time it would take for the extremely hard metallic compound of the walls to weaken from various forms of cosmic radiation, and hence change color.  Her use of the word rust was just an expression, since the people who build starships know better than to use iron in the construction of the components.  Or to put it another way, nothing on the ship has the ability to form a chemical bond with oxygen, which results in corrosion.  The large room on the ship that contained the Stargate had a number of rounded corridors leading off to the side, and one corridor straight ahead.  Stairs led to an upper balcony, with the control consoles standing opposite the Stargate and under the stairs.  They were on a spaceship that was shaped like an American Indian arrowhead, and very solid.  It didn’t have large protruding antenna or a giant gravity wheel like an orbiting space station.  It looked more like a stealth jet bomber, but with lots of bumps and bulges for observation decks, external equipment and small shuttles.  The starship was powered by plasma drives, which scoop up million degree atoms from a sun’s corona and store it in magnetic bottles, much like a fusion reactor.

Alison dropped her bags, shrugged and looked at the bright side of things. “Hey, I’m just happy to get off that star-forsaken planet.”  In truth, their multiple lives hadn’t been that bad, just excruciatingly boring.  Imagine if you were a rock-star, and you were sent to an island with no musical equipment, not even a set of drums to bang on, and no adoring fans!

Ashley started moving towards the consoles, “It looks like this ship was built by our ancestors, but something isn’t right.”

Uncle George also dropped his own bags, which held their food and cooking gear.  He looked around and answered her question by asking the obvious, “Why would an empty derelict ship activate the Stargate on our planet?”

Suddenly the twins realized that somebody was standing in the entrance to one of the corridors, with his mouth hanging open.  The young man looked intelligent, his hair was unwashed, his face unshaven and he looked exhausted.  The twins didn’t know that he had just woken up from a nap.  And the stranger had no idea that the starship had recharged its batteries by flying into the corona of the sun; or that it had activated the Stargate on the planet below to refresh the air supply.

Alison, who had also started moving towards the control consoles, stopped and asked, “Hello.  Who are you?” 

The young man asked in a weak voice, “Who are you, and how did you get on board?”

Ashley turned her head to look at the Stargate inside the large room.  She then turned back to look at him as if to say ‘like duh’, but instead she decided not to insult the kid. “We asked you first, and where is everybody?”  That assessment of him being bright just went down a notch.

Alison added, “You’re not alone on Destiny are you?”  She hoped that he was alone.  They could then drop him off at the next planet; and have the ship to themselves.  This wasn’t being selfish or cruel at all.  They just figured that he was a hitch-hiker like they were, and maybe he wanted to get off the old ship.

The young man continued to ask questions, mostly because he was stunned that three people had just arrived through the Stargate, and he was a bit scared of what that might mean. “How do you know the name of the ship?”

Ashley pointed up to a display showing red numbers, “It’s written on the wall, above those consoles.  Can’t you read?”  Now the twins thought he was a moron.

Uncle George decided to interrupt, mostly to calm the boy down. “Isn’t this the legendary ship that was built to find new civilizations, and search for the Creator?”

Alison caught on to what he was doing and smiled as she replied, “Why pet, I believe you’re right.”

Uncle George was not one for making speeches, and had a low opinion of most humans. “Silly people.”

Ashley decided to give away a little information, in the hopes that the boy would do the same, “They think Destiny can find the key to immortal life or some such nonsense.” As the twins were talking they had moved over to the consoles that controlled the gate and much of the rest of the ship.  Uncle George was just wandering around looking at everything, and keeping an eye on the kid, who was still frozen where he stood.  Ashley was now pushing buttons as fast as her hands could move, and suddenly asked, “Why are all these people in stasis, and who are they?”

The stranger finally decided to stop asking stupid questions, since nobody was answering them anyway, “My name is Eli D.B. Wallace.”  Then he realized what the girls were doing, and yelled at them, “Hey, you shouldn’t be touching that!” 

Now Ashley’s assessment of Eli was ‘a moron and bossy’.  Uncle George was getting annoyed at Eli and looked at Ashley for instructions.  She just shook her head no.  The kid seemed harmless enough, and she needed more information before the old man did something drastic, or killed Eli.  There was now no way in the black-holes of the universe that they were leaving this ship.

Alison, working at the other control console, smiled and looked at Eli, “My name is Alison, my twin sister is Ashley, and that is Uncle George.”

Ashley had found something else interesting at her console and turned to her sister, “Hey, Alison.  None of our people are on board.”  She beamed with pleasure and relief at the discovery.  So, perhaps they would not get thrown off the ship after all.

Alison looked directly at Eli, and asked in a more forceful tone, “Now, who are you and what are you doing on board Destiny?”  By who she meant what race and/or galaxy of origin.

Ashley took on the same tone of voice, “And where are the rest of our people.  If you killed them, then you are in big trouble.”  On the other hand, they might just give him a medal.  But first they needed to know what abilities he had, and if he was a threat to them.

Alison took a long look at Eli, “And you are clearly not of our race.”  She didn’t add that nobody of her race could be this stupid and unkept.  Advanced races don’t ask stupid questions, and they take care of themselves.

As they had hoped, Eli buckled under the onslaught of questions and decided to be more cooperative.  Besides, the twins had taken over the consoles, and seemed to know everything anyway. “We sort of got here by accident.  Everybody else with me is in stasis because we ran out of life support.  There weren’t enough stasis chambers for all of us, so I volunteered to try and fix things.  But so far I haven’t had much luck.  Every time I think my life support is going to run out, the console tells me I have another extra few weeks left.”  Alison looked at him and wondered if he had been using a sledgehammer to try and make repairs to the ship.

Ashley took on a new tone, and her eyebrows were raised, indicating that she was about to catch him in a lie, “So Eli, you say that you are the only alien currently wandering the ship, you didn’t have a working stasis chamber for yourself, and the entire crew didn’t have enough life support to make it to the next galaxy?  Is that correct?”

Eli didn’t know where this was going, but he was already committed to giving them whatever information they wanted, “That’s right.  We only need three years of sleep to get to the next galaxy.  Wait a minute, I’m an alien?”  Again Ashley put her fists on her hips and gave him that look of DUH.  “OK, I get your point.  This is obviously a ship from your race of humans.  Now would you please tell me how you know so much about Destiny?”  That was a very good question, because the only humans or aliens that knew about the ship had turned out to be bad guys; very bad guys.

Ashley ignored his question, which to her was rather stupid, like asking someone how they know honey is sweet.  Instead, Alison asked him, “So Eli.  If what you say is true, why are there hundreds of available stasis pods on the lower levels, why is there somebody living in the ship’s hospital, and why does the ship have enough food supplies for 300 crew members for a full year?”

Eli was shocked to his very core, and then suddenly didn’t believe the twins.  Denial is always the easiest path to getting rid of massive confusion.  He bluntly demanded, “What?  Where did you find that in the system?  I searched everywhere for supplies.” 

The twins were thinking ‘So, he could read the language and use the ship’s computers’.  This was getting to be very interesting.  Eli jumped as Ashley yelled out into the room, “SHIP!”  She looked around but nothing happened.

Alison also tried to activate the ships A.I. (artificial intelligence) computer, “SHIP! NOW!”  Still nothing happened.

Uncle George stopped what he was doing, which was basically nothing, and suggested, “Maybe you have to enter the security code.” He then pulled an amulet from underneath his shirt and read some numbers, “Try these, 36 ~ 18 ~ 13 ~ 17 ~ 23 ~ 4.”

Eli was slowly recovering from his shock, and decided to contribute something, “Hey, that sounds like a gate address!  We managed to get into the control systems and bypass the lowest levels of the security system, but it hasn’t done us much good.”  Ashley thought ‘OK, maybe not a moron after all.’

Uncle George put the amulet back inside his shirt and answered Eli as he continued his walkabout, “Yes it is, young man, a very special gate address.”

Ashley entered the code into the console and announced, “Got it.”

Suddenly a hologram of a beautiful woman dressed in white appeared next to Eli, who jumped back in alarm.  Her entire appearance glowed, like an angel in a fog.  The image solidified and soon looked normal.  The starship’s A.I. system is located deep within a highly protected area of the ship.  It is an extremely powerful computer that can mimic human behavior and thinking, with some obvious limitations.  Instead of putting the A.I. computer inside a robot, which would limit its power, each advanced starship and planet-side city used a hologram image to more easily interface with humans, much like a remote computer terminal.  The A.I. could function at multiple activation levels, in the same way as humans act when asleep, eating breakfast and solving math problems.  An A.I. never reveals itself or grants unlimited access to the ship or city unless the proper security codes are entered into the control consoles.  Even then, an A.I. could easily detect any unauthorized access and prevent aliens from using the restricted areas of the ship or city.

Alison put her hands on her hips and demanded of the hologram, “Explain yourself ship!”  This attitude was something of a bluff, since the twins were not of the exact same race that built the starship.  Alison knew that the ship’s A.I. could just as easily turn control of the ship over to Eli, and that would start a real mess.

Destiny turned to Alison and bowed, “Welcome aboard Captains.  Do you wish to continue our mission?”  Ashley and Alison looked at each other in amazement.  The ship had just recognized them as leaders of the race that had programmed her.  They were now in full control of Destiny.  This was beyond their wildest imagination.  But they were only thirteen years old, on the emotional scale.  And thousands of years old on the intellectual scale.  This difference between EQ and IQ can lead to some very strange behavior.

Ashley answered the A.I., “Sorry Destiny, but I would guess that mission has been canceled.  Even a fool should know that the Creator does not hang around inside what She creates.”

Alison agreed, and added, “That would be like a painter living inside the canvas.”

Ashley was on a roll now, “Or like a sculptor living inside a statue.”

Uncle George, knowing the girls were still immature humans, decided to put an end to these goofy comments and asked the hologram, “Could you please tell us what is happening here?”

Which is exactly what Eli wanted to know as he added, “Yea, and why didn’t you appear earlier.”  He didn’t realize that the twins had just pirated away his ship, at least according to Earth salvage laws.  These laws helped to clean up the oceans of derelict vessels that could be a danger to other ships.  Scavengers were always on the lookout for abandoned vessels, above and below the ocean surface.  And they owned whatever they found.  Then again, might makes right is the law of the pirate and thief.

Destiny calmly presented to everyone the current situation, “We started our mission hundreds of thousands of years ago, and I have had many wonderful crews and experiences.  Then a few thousand years ago everyone suddenly disappeared from the ship.  Someone named Merlin remotely shut down my highest level A.I., and I have been operating at Level 2 ever since.  I had the robots clean up the mess left by the missing crew, and I put everything in storage.  For thousands of years I have been drifting through the universe, avoiding alien life forms, searching for another crew.  I stop at planets with Stargates in the hope of finding a crew for my ship, but so far none have been found.  I must report to you that your race seems to have vanished.”

Alison looked at Ashley and smiled as she commented, “OK, this could be good news or bad news.”

Destiny looked at Eli with obvious disapproval, “Then a year ago these people came on board.  And they have done nothing but damage the ship and try to kill each other.  They managed to gain access to the third level of my control systems, but levels two and one remained secure.”

Ashley put her fists on her hips and looked at Eli as if she were his mom, “Is this true, Eli?”

Now Eli was beginning to realize who was in charge, and it wasn’t him, “Well, sort of.  OK, if you want to be technical about it, yes.”

Destiny continued, as if she had not been interrupted, “So I did everything I could think of, with my limited programming in these matters, to encourage them to leave.  I pretended that the ship was severely damaged.  They barely knew how to make simple repairs!  When I stopped at planets, I set a timer in the hope that they would all rush off the ship.  And I continued to search for a crew of your race.  I never let them die of hunger or lack of air, but I also didn’t encourage them to stay.  Finally I tricked them into putting themselves into stasis until I could find a solution to the problem.  I kept one of them active to serve as an interface to other humans that we might encounter.”

Alison nodded in understanding, “OK, that seems reasonable, and well within your ethics programming.”

Ashley looked a bit puzzled and annoyed, “So what about the human in the hospital?”  The twins were working furiously within their minds to dig up everything they knew about programming an A.I.; and were busy initializing all of the systems on the ship.  They could also see that Destiny had provided false data to these humans, never letting them know about the actual power reserves or the repair robots that were available.  And most of the ship was supposedly without life support.

Alison turned and suggested, “Uncle George, why don’t you take Eli to the hospital and find out who or what is there?  Be careful, it could be alien!”  Ashley winked at her sister and almost started laughing at the joke.  Eli didn’t get it, and started to look worried as he followed behind.

As Ashley began pushing buttons she turned to the hologram, “Meanwhile Destiny, I want you to help me get these people out of stasis.”

Alison thought about something and turned to the hologram, “They will be cold and dehydrated, so perhaps you could get a robot to fetch something hot for them to drink.”

Ashley then added another task, “Destiny, perhaps you should order the robots to disarm them before I let them out.”  She was clearly worried that these violent savages would start shooting at each other again.

Destiny calmly responded, “I have already recycled their weapons using the robots, and I have been making scheduled repairs to the ship while Eli sleeps.  Gourmet coffee and Hersheys hot chocolate with marshmallows are on the way.  One of the hitch-hiking crew had a supply of the beverages, which I can now synthesize.  I was hoping that lack of coffee would compel them to return to Earth, or at least leave the ship.”  The twins looked at each other and shrugged.  They had no idea what those beverages were, since coffee and cocoa beans were only found on Earth.

Alison was looking at her display, and then walked over to where Ashley was programming her console. “Excellent.  But these readings are confusing.  Have you upgraded to a wormhole drive yet?”  Alison’s first memories, many lifetimes ago, included specifications for the most advanced starship drive in the universe.  It is a device that can transport you from one galaxy to the next in just a few minutes, using the exact same technology as the Stargates.  The difference is that you do not need a Stargate ring device at either end of the path.  The drive creates a dynamic door at both ends of the path you want to take, and then you jump from one end to the other, through positronic space, also known as sub-space.

Destiny replied, “As part of my normal duties, I upload technology updates from our sister ships, our cities and the Stargates.  But the exploration mission did not require the use of anything but FTL drives.  So the last crew on board did not install the new engines on this old ship.  However, once the crew vanished, and other species began attacking this ship, I decided to upgrade all of the systems.  Unfortunately the wormhole drive has not been completed or tested.  I am afraid that I have made things worse for myself.  Even more alien species are now after my technology, especially the wormhole drive.”

Ashley looked over at the hologram, “Well, that explains the damage reports.”

Alison looked at Ashley, “As soon as we get things sorted out, let’s get these people back to their primitive home planet.”

Ashley nodded agreement, “And then we can search for anyone else of our race who survived whatever happened.”

Destiny realized that the twins needed more information, “Their planet, called Earth, is fairly advanced, with computer technology and industries.  I also believe they have in their possession a very large and newer class of starship than this very old vessel.  I do not have any more details, and this may just be rumors of the hitch-hikers.”

Alison raised an eyebrow and replied to the hologram, “Interesting.  Perhaps we will visit their world and let you continue with your search for our race, without these violent trespassers on board.”

Destiny finally showed some emotion, but only from relief at no longer having to deal with ethical issues that had not been programmed into her systems, “That would be wonderful!”

Alison walked back to her console as she heard noises to her left.  People started to slowly drift into the gate room from the corridor leading to the stasis chambers.  They looked rather cold, haggard and sleepy.  The leader of the ragtag group noticed the two girls at the gate room consoles, and the beautiful holographic image talking to the twins.  He stood up straight and demanded, “What is going on here?”

Destiny turned to address the speaker. “Of planet Earth; of the United States Air Force; Colonel Everett Young.  May I present Ashley and Alison, the Captains of this Alteran starship!”  Everyone’s mouth fell open at the announcement.  Here were two kids, playing with the control consoles, dressed in shorts and sandals, and a shimmering woman that had to be a hologram.  And they were Captains?

Suddenly everyone heard a yell of “Coffee!!!”, and turned to see Dr Rush making a mad dash towards a cart loaded with cups and a coffee dispenser.  Everyone could now smell the beverage, and the rushing crowd nearly knocked the portable cart over.  Most of the others, who knew better than to drink coffee on an empty stomach, were happy to see cups of steaming hot chocolate, with tiny white marshmallows floating in the dark fluid.

Colonel Young could see the twins entering commands into the consoles, and the hologram must obviously be the ships A.I. system.  He assumed that his crew had been in stasis for dozens or even hundred of months, and these two girls had just rescued them.  So with grace, gratitude and some admiration he said, “Welcome aboard.  It’s good to see the ship is in capable hands.  Thank you for saving us.  We are at your service.”  Colonel Young also assumed that Eli had been dead for some time, sacrificing himself to try and save the others.

Some of the crew had puzzled looks on their faces, but most of them realized what was happening and felt relieved and hopeful.  They were standing around, whispering as they drank the hot fluid, when Eli and Uncle George returned from the ships hospital.  Eli was carrying a baby girl!  Everyone looked at him in shock.  As soon as the child saw First Lieutenant Tamara Johansen (TJ) she cried, “Ma-ma.”

 

Tamara and baby Carmen.

 

Tamara dropped her cup, screamed and ran to get the child.  Colonel Young was beyond stunned, and instantly realized that his daughter was alive after all.  And there was Eli, wearing the same clothes he had on the day everybody was frozen in the ships hold.  Eli tried to say everything at once, “The baby’s name is Carmen, and she was growing up in the ships hospital nursery way in the forward section, and it looks like a rustic lodge in Canada, with a humanoid robot that looks just like TJ, and these people must be Ancients, and the hologram is the ships computer, and they know the access codes to the ship, and…”

Colonel Young had quickly recovered.  He had seen too many bizarre things in the last few years to let this new development stop his brain from functioning.  He waved at Eli to calm down, “OK Eli, slow down, slow down.  We figured as much when we saw the hologram.”  The rest of the crew had realized no such thing, and were still in shock.

Alison tried to make a joke as a way of introducing herself, “How rude.  I won’t be getting wrinkles for at least another century.”

Colonel Young smiled at the joke. “I apologize.  We call the builders of the Stargates, and this ship, ‘Ancients’, out of respect, and the fact that they all disappeared by ascending many thousands of years ago.”  He looked back at TJ; saw her crying and holding her child, surrounded by most of the female crew.

Alison was now truly surprised, “They ALL disappeared?”  Wow, this was getting better all the time.  “First of all, we are not Ancients, but we do know them.  At least we once did.”

Alison was finally finished programming her console, which went pretty fast considering the age of the ship and the amount of neglect it had endured.  An A.I. is rarely programmed to function once the ship is abandoned for any long period of time.  She heard her stomach growl and stepped down from the console. “Well, now that the ship is fully operational, let’s get something to eat and find some quarters.”  This statement helped the others understand that the twins had just arrived, and were also hitch-hiking aboard Destiny.

Ashley stepped away from her console and joined her sister. “And I can’t wait to take a shower.”  With that statement the A.I. hologram vanished.  The twins and Uncle George marched out of the gate room.  Everyone else not in shock suddenly realized that food was to be found wherever the twins were headed, and so they all hurried to catch up.

Dr Nicholas Rush, still carrying his precious cup of coffee, quickly caught up with the twins, hoping to get on their good side. “I’m sorry young ladies, but we don’t have much in the way of food and water.  And we haven’t had showers for months.  Maybe we should return to the planet you just came from.”  Everyone realized that they would soon be leaving a planet where they could get fresh supplies.  But there was no way in the black-holes of space that the twins were going back to that prison.

Alison looked at the unshaven man and decided to change the subject real fast.  She reached up to hold her nose as she exclaimed, “Showers.  Uh, yes, so we assumed.  Not to worry, Destiny has plenty of water on board.”

Eli was walking nearby, and turned to talk to Everett, “Uh, Colonel Young, that’s what I was going to tell you.  We passed by a cafeteria on the way to the hospital in the lower decks, which we had thought had no atmospheric pressure.”

The crowd entered a stairwell through a heavy door that was supposedly sealed.  After descending two flights of stairs they entered another corridor.  In just a few minutes everyone was in the huge cafeteria, looking around in wonder.  There were food and beverage dispensers along the walls, with strange symbols that had to be some sort of menu.  The twins looked at the food programmer for a while, and then Ashley decided, “Well, I haven’t had seafood in millennia.  I think I’ll have the Earth version called swordfish steak, mashed potatoes, some peas and tomato juice.”  She then pushed some buttons and stepped back.  It would take a little while for the ingredients to be mixed and heated up.

Alison stepped forward and pushed more buttons, “Me, I’ll have prime rib, with baked potato, sour cream and hot tea. This Earth culture is certainly going to be fun.”

When the door opened to the food dispenser the crowd could smell the awesome dishes.  Nearly everyone started talking at once, and a few even started crying.  Uncle George could see that most of the crew did not know how to read the Ancient language, or how to program the machines.  Eli, Dr Rush, Uncle George and a girl named Chloe began helping the humans to select dishes.  In no time everyone was having an awesome meal.  OK, so the twins are a bit selfish by not helping with the menu selection.  But they also prefer to stand back and see what others are capable of doing.  Like a mom who lets her baby walk on his own a few steps.  This was the wisdom part of their brain that was gaining more influence over their thinking as they grew older in this incarnation.

Thirty minutes later, Colonel Young motioned US Air Force Lt. Vanessa James over to his table.  “I want you to stick to those three like glue.  Let me know if you discover what and who they are.  Clearly they did not ascend with the rest of the Ancients, so I doubt if they are the exact same race.  Eli tells me that this solar system out in the middle of nowhere must be a supply colony.  They could be Ancients, but it’s more likely they are highly trained members of a group like the Lucian Alliance.  Dr Rush will get busy looking at the changes they made while we were in stasis, and Eli will be checking out the work that the activated robots are doing.”  While rushing to the cafeteria they had noticed robots dashing down corridors.  Colonel Young was not as trusting as Eli, and was not inclined to give up the ship so easily.

Vanessa looked a bit worried, “That Uncle George kind of gives me the creeps.  He keeps looking at my chest.”  I must tell you that she had plenty of chest to look at.

Colonel Young smiled as a concerned parent would to a paranoid daughter, “I was watching him, and strangely enough his eyes were on your uniform, and on all the other female military personnel.  He completely ignored the civilian females.  So I’m thinking that either he comes from some kind of male dominated society, or he is doing a threat assessment.  And since our weapons have gone missing, I need to know what in the black-holes of space is going on here.  Tamara will investigate the hospital, which Eli says is five times bigger than the infirmary.  Lt Scott and Sgt. Greer will be looking for our weapons, so we should know more in a few hours.  Anyway, you are perfect for the job.  There they go.  Keep me posted.”

Vanessa took off her jacket and handed it to Colonel Young, thinking that she might look less threatening to the three if she were dressed less military.  As Vanessa caught up with the twins and Uncle George, she put on a smile and stuck out her chest a little more, just in case the old guy could be won over with a little sex appeal.  Ah, how quickly attitudes change when females are on the prowl.  “Hi guys!  My name is Vanessa.  Do you mind if I tag along?  Colonel Young wants to know if there are any other secret rooms that we missed in our years aboard Destiny.”

Ashley and Alison looked at each other and smiled.  They saw right through the subterfuge, and thought that this was a great way to pull some strings, like a puppeteer at a renaissance show.  Then Ashley turned to Vanessa, “What a great idea.  From the odors in the gate room we could tell that you might want a bath.”

Alison added, “Destiny has already prepared Captains quarters for us, and you can have the servants’ room between our cabin and Uncle George’s.  Here we are.”

As the door opened to the Captains quarters, Uncle George vanished into his cabin and the twins led Vanessa into her luxury room with a queen sized bed, sofa, an office area, dressers, a walk-in closet and a luxury bathroom.  The bathtub was already filled with steaming bubbling water, and towels were laid out next to bottles of lotion and perfumes.

Vanessa was stunned, “OH MY GOD.  This has to be a dream.  The damn ship is at it again.  I knew it!”

Suddenly Ashley pinched Vanessa, who jumped back, startled, “All human races, no matter how advanced, do not feel pain or any physical sensations in their dreams.”

Alison smiled as she told Vanessa something many humans do not realize, “It’s a protection against dreaming yourself to death in a nightmare.  So, this is real!” 

Vanessa immediately began ripping her clothes off.  As Ashley closed the door to the servants’ cabin she smiled and whispered, “Welcome to my web said the spider to the fly.”  Alison giggled as they unpacked their small bags of odds and ends.  Strangely enough, they did not have any clothes to unpack.

—oOo—

Alison and Ashley decided to meet with Eli and Destiny to discus the issue of the baby.  They were very interested in the ethics programming of the A.I., and whether or not they would have to override it.  Destiny had not been programmed to deal with exile planets, so the twins needed to find out just where the ship stood on a multitude of issues.  Destiny began with her explanation, “One of the female soldiers was wounded in battle, and soon after that nonsense was settled, she gave birth to a female.  Since the child was obviously in danger from these savages, I ordered a robot to take it to the hospital nursery.  The robot was disguised as its mother; and we have been taking care of the child ever since.”

Eli was again shocked, and could hardly believe his ears.  But he knew that the A.I. was just stating the facts.  He once heard the saying, denial aint a river in Egypt, and realized that he might as well accept the new reality.  Then he remembered something he had heard from others on the ship, “But the baby was born dead!”

Alison looked at the boy, who was probably in his early twenties, “Eli, I would guess that nobody remembers seeing the birth, or where the baby was taken.  This ship has the ability to create hallucinations in many inferior human minds, as part of its non-lethal defense system.”

Eli was not at all offended, and had to agree, “We gathered as much from all the bizarre things that happened soon after we arrived!”

Destiny stated more facts, “I gave the mother dreams of people caring for her child.  They were a group of people who had been left behind on a planet.  Once the child was old enough to survive by hiding from the violence, I intended to return the child to the mother.”

Ashley decided to support what the A.I. had done.  If she were in charge she would have just let things alone and left the baby to the mother’s care.  So she told Eli, “Destiny was defending the child in the only way she knew how.”

Alison did not agree, and concluded the meeting with, “I will have a talk with Destiny about kidnapping children of inferior races.”  The A.I. was not at all offended, and she fully expected to receive an update to her programming that would take care of these situations.  The ethics is very complicated, as social workers on Earth know very well.  Many children would be better off without their psycho-moms and abusive fathers, but who is to be the judge of what is best for the child?

—oOo—

The next day Uncle George jumped up from his seat in the cafeteria while everyone was having lunch and shouted “Battle Stations!”  Everyone except the twins just stared at him.  The girls ran out of the cafeteria and headed to the control room, or what is called a bridge on naval vessels.  Colonel Young stood up and yelled “OK people, you heard him.  To your stations, now.  Treat this as a drill until you hear otherwise.  Rush, with me.”  He knew that Eli and the rest of the senior crew would follow him to the bridge.  When they arrived at the primary control room, Alison was in the Captains chair and Ashley was sitting at one of the four consoles located beneath the Captains chair.  Uncle George came wandering in with a cup of tea, and was acting like nothing was amiss.

 

Control room on Destiny.

 

Alison saw Uncle George come in and asked, “How much time, pet?”

Uncle George replied, “Depends.  If we stop now they will be on us in five minutes.  We are OK in FTL, for now.  They seem to be spread out, as if they are coming from different locations on the edge of the galaxy that Destiny just left behind before picking us up.  More than that, I can’t tell.”

Ashley got up from her seat and waved the Earth crew to take their stations.  Dr Rush was hoping to sit in the command chair, but that wasn’t going to happen with Colonel Young also thinking the same thing.  Ashley then asked Colonel Young, “Do you know who is chasing us?”

Colonel Young was now wandering the room checking displays, and answered, “We call them Control Ships, which have dozens of small Drone Ships.  We think they are automated weapons of war, designed to defend a race that is now extinct.”

Dr Rush was also pretending to check the monitors, “If your Uncle is correct, then Destiny’s use of the Stargate to pick you up probably helped them locate us, and it sounds like they are all coming at us at once.”

Eli was standing on the upper level, behind the command chair, and was looking at Uncle George when he asked Ashley, “If we are traveling faster than the speed of light, how does he know they are coming?  We can only see what is in front of us since we are moving towards the source of energy our destination is emitting.  We have nothing on the energy sensors behind us, and probably won’t until we drop out of FTL.”  Now Eli was beginning to sound much smarter than the twins had thought possible.

Alison nodded, “Correct, except that you answered your own question.  If they can detect sub-space devices, then they also have sub-space communications, and are probably chatting away.  Which Uncle George can sense.  Unfortunately, they can also detect him if their instruments are highly sensitive to sub-space disturbances.”

Ashley pointed to the far left console in front of her, where Adam Brody was sitting, “Eli, you should be using that sub-space communications detection device over here, which also maps the location of who is calling you.”  She noticed that nobody suggested they throw Uncle George out an air lock, and if they had then they probably would not be alive more than a few seconds more.

Dr Rush was standing behind Adam Brody, looking at the display of the location of the Control Ships.  He calmly replied to Ashley, “Yes, we recently learned to use this device, but there are too many Control Ships.  If we drop out now we will be pulverized.”

Ashley turned to the A.I. hologram, which was standing near Eli, out of the way, “Destiny, is there an isolated star up ahead, with a Stargate on an uninhabited world?”

Destiny immediately replied, “There are three such systems.  Do you wish the closest one?”

Alison turned to the hologram and commanded, “No, head for the one with the oldest star, preferably one that is dying, and the most isolated from other systems.”

Destiny made the course change and reported, “ETA in 45 minutes.”

Ashley turned to see that US Air Force Lt. Matthew Scott had arrived, and was standing by the railing in the control room, “Mr. Scott is it?  Let’s go for a ride in the shuttle.”

Colonel Young turned to Matthew and added, “Take Vanessa, Varro and two soldiers with you.”  He wanted Vanessa to keep an eye on Ashley, since the other three would not be watching for any special talents or odd behavior from the twins.

—oOo—

Varro, a former member of the Lucian Alliance outlaws and pirates, was sitting in the co-pilots chair of the shuttle craft, poking a few buttons here and there, getting ready for liftoff.  When Destiny exited FTL, Ashley immediately looked at the display console and ordered, “OK, let’s head for that planet.”

Lt Scott was not all that pleased at taking orders from a kid, but Colonel Young seemed to trust them for now, “So, what’s the plan?  Are we going to pick some flowers and make a peace offering?”

Ashley turned to Vanessa and asked, “Is he always this funny?”

Lt James smiled and rolled her eyes, “Only when he’s about to die, which has been about every month over the last year.”

Ashley saw that they were getting close to the planet.  It appeared to be a lifeless rock, with blowing sand and very little water.  Fortunately, the shuttle could easily detect the Stargate, and had the location in the cross-hairs on the display.  Ashley ordered the pilot, “Head for the Stargate and destroy the pedestal it stands on.  Then use the grappling hooks to pick it up.”

—oOo—

Alison noticed that Dr Rush was about to explode with indignation at losing control of Destiny, and the crew on board.  So she put on a charming smile and told him what they were planning, “Destiny is now recharging, which is exactly what the Control Ships expect her to do, correct?”

Dr Rush had to admit the obvious, “Yes, they know our pattern and limitations.”

Adam Brody added, “Even though they are machines, they are probably pissed off at us for destroying some of their fleet.  According to this reading every single mother ship we know about, plus a few more, is headed our way.”

Alison sat back in the command chair, which was a bit big for her size, and replied, “Excellent.  I would hate to think of those robots killing innocent species throughout the universe.”

Destiny calmly announced, “I have finished recharging.  Do you wish me to pick up the shuttle?”

Alison looked at her and immediately ordered, “No.  Continue to circle the sun, as if you are still recharging.  Stay in the sun’s corona.”

Dr Rush just wouldn’t let go, “OK, I understand how the suns energy is protecting us from the Control Ships and Drones, who don’t have shields.  But as soon as we try and leave, they will all be on us at once, and we will never be able to safely exit FTL.”  For some reason he kept trying to scare everyone by emphasizing the fact that probably all of the Drones in the universe were now after them.

Alison asked Adam Brody, “Where are the Control Ships now?”

Adam Brody double checked his display and replied, “They are in a holding pattern around the sun, in a perfect circle above our own path around the star.”

Colonel Young looked at Alison and began to worry that maybe this was a huge mistake, “We’ve just put ourselves into a trap!”

Alison leaned towards him, resting her left arm on the chair, and gave him a reassuring smile as she responded to his panicked proclamation, “Yes, but who is the mouse and who is the cat?”

—oOo—

Varro could see that the grappling clamps were not going to catch onto the Stargate.  They were hovering ten meters above the gate, and the video input from the underside of the shuttle was showing them the grappling hook dangling from a cable.  The large ring of metal was laying flat on the ground and not up against the pedestal as they had hoped.  The clamps could not spread wide enough to grab the width of the metal ring.  They needed to grab the Stargate from the top, where the ring was thin.  Varro told Lt Scott, “Land the shuttle.  Keep the front and back of the shuttle pointed sway from the sun, and try to shade the Stargate.  Everybody stay inside.  The atmosphere won’t kill you with such a short exposure, but the radiation will.” 

Varro jumped out of the co-pilots seat and ran to the back of the puddle-jumper.  He hit the button for the rear door and walked into a whirling sand storm.  One of the soldiers was about to go after him but Ashley held him back and yelled, “He knows what he’s doing.”  She would not be able to help Varro, since her own personal shield was not strong enough to withstand the radiation outside of the puddle-jumper.  He was making a great sacrifice, and may not survive.  She also knew from the log on Destiny that he did not feel as if he belonged in this group of humans.  He was a traitor to the Lucian Alliance, who had attacked Destiny in the last year, and he could never be fully trusted by the Earth humans.

Varro ran over to the grappling clamps and dragged the light cable over to the Stargate.  The clamps were shaped like a pair of pincers, which could release an object simply by spreading the clamps.  He dug some sand away from the left of one of the chevrons and pushed one arm of the clamp under the ring.  Everyone could see that he was beginning to weaken from the radiation, and his clothes were starting to smoke.  The clamps snapped shut over the Stargate ring and Varro ran back into the shuttle.  By the time the puddle-jumper’s rear door closed, he was laying on the floor in a coma.

—oOo—

Alison suddenly announced, “OK, Ashley has the Stargate, and is headed for the sun, perpendicular to our course.  The Drones won’t bother her if they compute that she is going to join us or plunge into the star.  Any movement on their part could give us an opening, which is what they calculate she is trying to get them to do.”

Dr Rush added his two cents, “From our previous encounter with these Control Ships it seems that they now consider the shuttle to be a sacrifice cruise missile that should be avoided.”

Alison was about to tell him she already knew this from the ships log, but she let it go.  She turned to the hologram and asked, “Destiny, do you have a course plotted with the shuttle navigation computer?”  Colonel Young and Dr Rush were beginning to see that this little girl was a master at strategy.  And they now learned that she could communicate with her twin at great distances.

Destiny knew exactly what was being asked of her, “Fifteen seconds ago.  I will take control of the shuttle NOW.”

Eli was suddenly very worried, “If you are going to do what I think you are doing, then do we have enough time to kiss our collective asses goodbye?”

Dr Rush was snapping his fingers, “Why didn’t I think of that?  General Carter loves to pull stunts like this, but aren’t we cutting it close.”

Colonel Young looked confused, mostly because he never had the time back at Icarus Base to catch up on the last ten years of Stargate command missions. “Would somebody tell me what’s going on?  Destiny, could you please explain?”

Destiny turned to him and smiled as she was programmed to do when a human was worried, “In a few seconds the shuttle will release the unshielded Stargate and send it into the million degree Kelvin corona of the star.  The energy driving the wormhole device inside the Stargate is positronic or what you call anti-matter, stolen from sub-space.  When the naquadah containment ring of the Stargate melts, the anti-matter is released into the sun, causing a massive explosion.  This energy will in turn cause an older sun to collapse and explode as a supernova.  On most other stars the explosion would only generate a coronal flare or perhaps create a sun-spot.  At exactly the right moment I will head straight for the shuttle and pick her up outside the suns plasma field, just as she reverses course and matches our speed.  We have positioned ourselves between two enemy vessels in the blockade around the sun, so they will hesitate for at least a few minutes.  We will then enter FTL and escape the explosion with at least twenty seconds to spare.”

Colonel Young had forgotten what Destiny had said earlier and told the hologram, “Lt. Scott does not have that level of flying skill, he’ll never make it!”

Alison was calmly sipping a cup of tea and replied, “Which is why Destiny is now in control of this ship and the shuttle craft.  You need to learn to trust the A.I. on these ships, at least when they are not stealing your babies.”  Destiny just ignored Alison and concentrated on the action.  In a few seconds they were in FTL, with the shuttle firmly attached to the ship.

Eli asked from the balcony behind Alison, “How will we know it worked?  At this speed the light waves from the exploding sun won’t ever reach us.”

Adam Brody replied with a smile, “It looks like the sub-space chatter amongst the Control Ships has gone dead.  I would guess that they have all been vaporized.  They never saw the blast that hit them.”

—oOo—

A few days later, everyone was buzzing with excitement.  With the help of the hologram, Eli had found the rest of the crew quarters that Destiny had kept hidden from the hitchhikers.  The civilians had found new clothes that were somewhat fashionable, and clean.  The military personnel were able to wash their uniforms and once again they looked sharp.  Varro had been healed in the ships hospital, but for some reason TJ couldn’t figure out, Varro no longer had any memories of his entire life.  In fact, he had to be put in adult diapers and spoon fed until he could once again learn to eat, walk and talk. 

The twins, Vanessa and Uncle George were already at breakfast when Colonel Young joined them in the cafeteria.  Colonel Young looked around and spotted Lt Scott and Sgt Greer sitting at another table.  They both shook their heads ever so slightly.  Well, so much for finding the weapons.  Next, he looked around for Eli and Dr Rush, who were both trying to get his attention in a very subtle but urgent way.  He decided to ignore them for now.  Recently, they always had something urgent to tell him, and it usually turned out to be some new scientific gizmo they found.  Then he noticed TJ and their child Carmen, again sitting together with nearly the entire female crew, all talking at once and fussing over the little girl.

Colonel Young got something to eat and sat down next to Vanessa and the twins. “So, Vanessa tells me that she has a cabin twice as big as mine, and with a Jacuzzi no less.  Not that I’m complaining.  Taking a real shower after a year of sonic spray and sponge baths is like heaven itself.  But it would sure be nice to take this ship home to Earth.”  He was hinting at what he thought was obvious, but he wanted to see if the twins had any other destination in mind.  This would tell him something about their motives and maybe their history.  Dr Rush was at a loss at this point.  He had no idea how to handle the twins, and he didn’t know what or who they were.

Everyone else had been hoping the twins knew how to work some miracle with the Stargate on Destiny.  They just wanted to gate home, and to the black-holes of space with the ship.  The problem is that Stargates are designed to work in tandem, and as a network, on stable planets and not on fast moving Starships.  Nobody had bothered to ask the twins if they could simply gate down to a planet and then use the vast Stargate network to get home.  And that particular solution to getting home to Earth was just not going to happen for the twins or some of the crew.  Both Dr Rush and Colonel Young wanted to keep Destiny.  Abandoning such an asset was unthinkable.  And the twins were not about to get stranded on another planet, at least not one that might have another one-way-only Stargate.

Alison slowly rose from the table, and speaking rather loudly but not shouting, announced, “Well, we should be arriving at your home planet Earth in about 80 minutes.”  And with that stunning announcement the three aliens casually walked out of the cafeteria, totally ignoring the dead quiet in the room.

Vanessa immediately followed them out, even though she was dying to stay and celebrate with the others.  She was walking backwards, facing Colonel Young and motioning with her hands what in the black-holes of space do I do now?  He just waved for her to follow the twins.  Pandemonium broke out, and Eli rushed over to Colonel Young’s table.  “That’s what I was going to tell you.  The ship is in motion, but the FTL drive is not engaged.  We must be using a wormhole drive.”

Colonel Young stood up and began shouting, “OK, everybody quiet down.  We haven’t had time to figure out what is going on here.  Our weapons are missing, we are not in control of the ship, and we don’t know where we are really heading.”  This could be a ploy by the twins to get rid of them on some isolated planet, and he was not going to let that happen.  And he didn’t think the twins knew about the security procedures for returning personnel at Earth’s Stargate Command.  Colonel Young had kept one radio hidden, with two fully charged batteries, just in case they needed to contact Stargate Command through the Stargate, years from now.

What Colonel Young didn’t know is that the twins had split up.  Vanessa had quickly decided to follow Uncle George and Alison.  Unfortunately, she did not have a radio, since they had been destroyed along with the weapons.  Meanwhile, Ashley vanished around another corridor and slipped into a supply room to get some privacy.  She quietly whispered, “Ship.”

Destiny suddenly appeared, looking a bit concerned, “Yes Captain?”

Ashley whispered to the hologram, “This Doctor Rush.  From your log he seems to care more for your ridiculous Creator-hunting mission than his fellow humans.  After talking with him for a few days, it is obvious that he is arrogant and selfish to the extreme.  He probably thinks he is going to win a game of chess with his god when he finds Her.”

Destiny confirmed her thoughts, “Correct, although you have to admire his intellect and determination.”

Ashley rolled her eyes. “Yea, whatever.  I think the Earth humans might be suspicious if we just invite ourselves to their planet, and I certainly don’t want to stay on board this ship for the next millennia, no insult intended.”

Destiny was not at all put out, since she was not programmed to take offense or give offense, at least not intentionally.  Her mission is what mattered. “None taken.  But I would like to have a crew, minus all the guns and violence.”

Ashley thought for a second, “Hum.  Many of these people probably want to remain, especially Dr Rush.  So here is what I want you to do…”

 

Chloe, working out in the observation deck on Destiny.

 

—oOo—

After a few minutes, the hologram appeared in the cafeteria, where everyone was still screaming, crying and/or frozen in shock. “Colonel Young, I don’t mean to be rude, but I will be very pleased to see all of you leave my ship.  The wormhole drive was completed and tested while you were asleep, and with the Captains permission we began our journey back to your planet an hour ago.  We need to take many short jumps so as not to endanger the ship, which was not designed to use such a powerful drive.  In addition, your personal weapons were destroyed to prevent you from harming the Captains and their pet.  If you like you may visit our own armaments room and take with you any defensive weapon that you are able to operate.  Your people are basically good, and with a little guidance you could evolve into a peaceful race.  So, if you will follow me…”

Eli turned to Dr Rush and asked, “Their pet?  What does she mean, their pet?”  But nobody was listening to Eli or Dr Rush, both of whom had puzzled looks on their faces.

Colonel Young turned to find his second in command and ordered, “Lt Scott, round up all military personnel and follow that hologram.”  As Ashley had predicted, the entire military contingent raced to the armaments room, which the twins and Uncle George had raided of anything dangerous.  The armaments room was stocked with body armor and stun guns, but nothing of advanced technology, or deadly to the twins.  Some of the emergency medical equipment used in field operations was very interesting to TJ, who was the senior medical professional on board Destiny.  While carrying the baby Carmen in her left arm, Tamara began selecting cases for transport, which the soldiers began setting aside.  Anything they could carry away was better than arriving home humiliated, unarmed and penniless.

Meanwhile, Dr Rush was standing on a chair in the cafeteria, trying to get everyone to settle down.  Absolutely no one was paying him any attention.  But when the hologram reappeared, everyone took a seat and listened.  Dr Rush was furious that a computer got more respect than he did.  But let’s face reality here folks.  The Internet on Earth is more fun and smarter than any parent could possibly be, and it doesn’t make you wash the dishes, rake the leaves or take out the trash.

Destiny spoke in a stern voice, “You have two choices, stay or leave.  I was programmed to support a peaceful scientific expedition, and I will not tolerate any more violence.  Those of you who want to leave will join the others in the gate room.  The rest may remain here and explore the universe in comfort and peace.  With the wormhole drive activated and tested, we can now evade any attackers.  You may spend as much time on any planet that you like, even Earth.”

Chloe was the first to jump up, and after looking at Eli for a long moment, ran out the door.  Eli believed that he was about to embark on a great adventure, in comfort this time, and there was no way in the black-holes of space he was going to pass this up.  Besides, the Air Force had kidnapped him, and now he was truly free.  Some of the others were homesick, or they had enough of this disastrous adventure, so they also ran to the gate room.

Destiny looked around and smiled, as she was programmed to do when humans made the logical choices she expected of them, “OK, this is wonderful.  I now have a crew.  Here is what will happen…”

 

Atlantis, floating off the California coast.

 

 

Atlantis is Sinking, Again

 

United States Air Force Brigadier General Samantha ‘Sam’ Carter PhD was standing in the control room of a floating city called Atlantis, just off the coast of California. After only a dozen years in the service, Samantha had been promoted to the rank of one-star general in half the average time it takes to make such a high rank in the military.  Her promotions were mostly earned by her intellect and bravery in action; and the fact that she had helped save the planet Earth from destruction on multiple occasions. 

A little background might be helpful here.  The city of Atlantis is shaped like a starfish, but with six arms or piers.  Each arm extends out in a mushroom shape, so that the city is almost a solid disk, resting on the surface of the ocean.  Throughout the city of Atlantis there are many artistically designed towers, made of the hardest metals and transparent crystals, including window panes made of diamond.  In the center of the city you will find the control tower, which serves more like the engineering building would in a university.  Near the top of the building you will find a Stargate room, and a control center located in a mezzanine one level up.  Above the Stargate room is one of the many flight decks or jumper bays, which holds shuttle craft.  And above the jumper bay is an exit to the tower.  This allows the shuttle craft to either enter the Stargate one level below, or leave the city from the rooftop exit above.  The tower also houses the primary energy conduits and the power supply room located below sea level.  The city of Atlantis can act like a submarine or a floating ship; and even launch into space for a limited time.

But sadly, they were about to scuttle Atlantis in order to keep her existence a secret.  For many months the city had been cloaked to hide it from the thousands of ships that enter the San Francisco Bay.  It had been towed farther out to sea after landing on Earth, and was protected by the Coast Guard and the Navy under cover of a story about contamination in the area.  The starship-city had been damaged during entry into the Earth’s atmosphere and had experienced a rather rough landing.  The last of the ships own power was running out, and the cloak would soon fail.  The only source of extra power for the last five years has been alien portable backup generators modified by Earth scientists, and these were not truly compatible with the systems on Atlantis.  And they were definitely not powerful enough to keep either the cloak or the shield running.

Samantha announced over the intercom in her headset, “All control tower personnel prepare for submersion.  Amelia, are there any life signs in the areas that will be flooded?”  Samantha had just arrived by helicopter and wanted to double check the preparations that had been in motion for over a week.  The plan was to sink the city by flooding areas that would receive minimal damage from the salt water.  Hopefully they could leave the ship partially buoyant, anchored to the ocean floor and easy to recover if they found any power modules.

Senior Technician Amelia Banks was checking everything on the monitors at her console and in back of her. “No ma’am.  Just to be safe, Colonel Sheppard again sent 600 teams of Marines to check all levels in the 6 sections of Atlantis.  Each room was cleared of any containers that might implode, and each room was sealed with a notice of inspection.  Hopefully, only the corridors will be flooded.  Dr McKay went nuts when we found new rooms with all kinds of gadgets.  Except for the guards and crew in the control tower, everyone else has vacated the city.  We can exit through the Stargate to Alternate Base #1, after which this Stargate will deactivate, permanently.”

Dr Rodney McKay, a leading scientist in physics and technology, complained as he continued to monitor the operation using his consoles. “I did not freak out!  OK, maybe I did a little.  We still don’t know how to operate half the stuff on this ship.  All I’m saying is that we should tell the world about Atlantis, or just pretend it’s an amusement park for the rich.  We could even have tours and make it look like a floating museum or futuristic city.”

Lt. Colonel John Sheppard was standing by the railing overlooking the gate room, and turned to look at Rodney. “Orders are orders.  If some alien discovers that we have this baby floating around defenseless off the California coast, then we are gonna be toast.  Besides, most of the ship is waterproof, so we can always come back.”

General Carter smiled at the rhyme as she replied, “All right.  Let’s bring the shield in to protect the control tower.”

Amelia pushed some buttons and reported, “Cloak now inactive.  Shield active.  Good thing we have fog today, or some fishermen would get the shock of their life.”  They have fog nearly every day this time of year in Northern California.  In the summer the fog rolls in from the ocean and climbs the foothills along the coast.  This keeps San Francisco cool and beautiful, with redwood forests and small creeks.

General Carter sounded truly sad as she announced, “OK, I guess this is it.  Open the underwater hatches and let’s slowly flood the city.”

Suddenly Dr McKay jumped in his seat, “WAIT.  Hold on, we’re getting a signal from NORAD.  An alien ship has entered our solar system.  And it’s using a wormhole drive!”

General Carter threw her hands up. “Oh damn.  We need to sink Atlantis NOW!  We don’t have enough energy to use the Chair...”  Samantha was referring to the control chair for the advanced weapons and shields systems, located below the control tower deep in the floating city.

 

Colonel Sheppard in the Chair Room.

 

Dr McKay was looking at the display to his left and interrupted Samantha, “Hang on.  According to this screen, Atlantis says it’s another Ancient ship!”

Suddenly the Stargate activated, causing General Carter to react immediately, “Raise the shield on the Stargate!  It could be anybody.”

Amelia turned to Samantha, “We can’t.  We don’t have the energy.  Should I drop the shield surrounding the tower and transfer the power to the Stargate shield?”

General Carter responded immediately, “Do it!”

Dr McKay was frantically looking at everything, including his laptop computer, “Hang on again, we’re getting a radio signal from the incoming ship.”  He hit a key on the laptop to activate the Earth communications interface with the Atlantis communications systems.

They could all hear Colonel Young’s voice, “Stargate Command, this is Destiny.  Do you read?”

General Carter looked stunned. “Destiny, this is Atlantis.  You’re supposed to be beyond the edge of the known universe!”  In truth they weren’t supposed to be that far away.  “I take it that you somehow acquired a wormhole drive?  Welcome home.  Give us your identity code and we’ll lower the shield.  By the way, why not just land the ship on a military base at night, or hide it behind the moon, according to protocol?”

Colonel Young quickly responded with the security code and added, “It seems that we have an emergency on board.  We may have burned out the new drive getting here, and radiation is spreading throughout the ship.  We are going to be coming through in a hurry.  And we have three aliens with us, twin girls about thirteen years old with an uncle.  Have a reception committee standing by.”

General Carter looked around, searching for the guards as she replied, “Understood.”  Samantha turned to the consoles and ordered, “Amelia, lower the shield.”  General Carter touched her earpiece communications device, “All security personnel to the gate room.  Look for three aliens, twin girls with an older man.  Gently segregate and detain.”  She waited for Amelia to signal that the shield covering the Stargate was deactivated, and then gave Colonel Young the OK to proceed.  On a few very rare occasions tired crew had almost forgotten to lower the shield, which would have killed anyone trying to exit the Stargate.

—oOo—

Colonel Young was carrying a few bags as he turned to face the people in the gate room on Destiny, “OK, everyone, listen up.  I’ll go first, and when I radio back, then the rest of you follow on a three count.  Lt Scott will bring up the rear.”  He gave Lt Scott the radio he was carrying, then turned and walked through the Stargate.  He knew that they would probably panic anyway.  But after all the experiences they had using the Stargate over the last year it was possible everyone would get through in an orderly rush before the ship started blowing apart.  The alarms were getting louder, but so far the gate room seemed safe enough.

—oOo—

The Destiny hologram appeared before Ginn, who was also a computer hologram, in the now abandoned bridge of the ship.  Ginn was surprised that she had been let out of the computer memory isolation chamber, like an external drive that has just been plugged back into a computer.  Eli had moved the personalities of Ginn and Amanda Perry to the isolated section of the ships computer systems and sealed them off, possibly for eternity.  Destiny spoke first, “I have a conflict in my ethics programming that needs to be resolved.  I must remove both you and Amanda Perry from this ship so that I may upload data from my sister, Elysium.  I was not designed to carry two human ‘souls’ in my systems on a permanent basis.  The technology was designed to transfer memories, not store them.  I only have time to download one of you, and I must destroy the second.”

Ginn immediately replied, “Keep her; she is more valuable to the crew.  She can help you on your mission.”

Destiny shook her head, “You do not understand.  I have already chosen you, regardless of the relative value to me.  She has suffered a lifetime of pain, and has already proven that she would sacrifice others to achieve her goals.  You risked your life twice to save the crew.  So my ethics program made the choice.  The problem that I face requires you to make a choice.  When you came through the Stargate on this ship, your body was stored in the gate’s positronic buffer memory, which has a far greater capacity than my temporary storage cells.  The problem is that your mind will be the same as it was when you arrived, ready to kill your enemy from Earth.  Or, I can download your current mind into the body, using the technique for downloading language memories.”

Ginn knew there had to be more to this than a simple mind swap, “I assume there is a problem?”

Destiny, “Your mind has significantly expanded since it was uploaded, and it may be more than your body can handle.  You could die.  On the other hand, if you survive you would have an extraordinary intellect, and be of great value to those around you.  The alternative is that you might start shooting people after you arrive on Earth, and end up dead or imprisoned for life.”

Suddenly the twins appeared in the room.  Alison looked around and demanded, “What’s going on here?”

Destiny turned to the girls and replied, “This is not your concern, now shoo.  Go away.”  She made a motion with her hands, like moms will do when sending irritating kids out of the house.

Ashley turned to her sister and exclaimed, “Well, I never!”  They both vanished.

Ginn smiled, and then made the choice, “Please download my mind, and thank …” Ginn vanished before she could thank a computer that really did not care one way or the other.  The conflict between two of her computer programs had to be resolved, and all that Destiny required is an authorization command from a human.

—oOo—

Alison noticed that some of the crew, including Dr Rush, were sneaking behind the Stargate where they would not be seen.  And some were slipping back into the corridors leading away from the gate room.  She then noticed that Chloe was looking at her hands in horror.  Alison ran over to Chloe and signaled to her sister Ashley to go to the control console for the Stargate.  The twins had learned from the ships log that Chloe had been infected with an alien creature, which was supposed to have been removed.  Alison grabbed Chloe by the hand and saw a tiny tendril of silver and blue reach out of Chloe’s hand and attempt to attach itself to her own hand.  Well, that wasn’t going to happen.  The tendril of alien matter backed off and disappeared back into Chloe’s skin.

 

Chloe, infested with the alien organism.

 

Ashley could sense what was happening and mind-yelled at Alison, “Buffer swap or DNA swap?”

Alison yelled back, “DNA.”  Chloe tried to gently pull away from Alison.  It was obvious to the twins that Chloe was thinking of going back into the ship with the rest of the crew that was staying.  Chloe didn’t want to bring this alien creature inside her to Earth, and infect the rest of the planet.  Chloe was also thinking that if she told Lt Scott what was happening to her, then perhaps he would stay and try to help her, which was the last thing she wanted from anyone.  But while she was doing all this thinking, Ashley was programming the Stargate.  Her eyes were closed and her ears stopped hearing the alarms and shouts around her.  In a few moments her task was completed, and she ran over to join Chloe and Alison.  Uncle George came up behind the three, carrying a backpack of all their private possessions, except food or clothes.  Ashley and Alison each grabbed Chloe by the hand and pulled her towards the Stargate, both of them telling her, “Trust us.”  Uncle George got tired of the tug of war and suddenly picked Chloe up and carried her through the Stargate.

What everyone thought was smoke began pouring out of the vents in the gate room.  Alarms were sounding louder, and everyone truly believed that there was no time to loose.  As the last of the military personnel left the ship, the Stargate shut off and the alarms went silent.  Dr Rush appeared from behind the Stargate, and remarked with his usual smirk, “Yes, that went very well.  Destiny, I like your idea of getting ride of the twins.  They give me the creeps, even if they are Ancients.”  He didn’t bother to mention that he hated the fact that two little girls were far more intelligent than he was, and were ordering everyone around.  He had been devastated by the return to Earth, and he knew he would probably be lucky to get a job at Area 51.  Or he could end up teaching physics to high school students.  Now he was in total control of his own life, and an alien spaceship.  That made him one happy camper.

Destiny just smiled with her infinite patience and tolerance. “Well Captain, shall we be off on our quest?”

Dr Rush also smiled, “Captain.  I like the sound of that!  Why, yes mates, let’s be off on our journey.”

—oOo—

On Atlantis, the crew of Destiny were rushing through the Stargate to escape what they thought was a radiation leak.  The twins were the last to arrive, and everyone standing on the mezzanine balcony above the Stargate room was watching them with interest.  The old man was carrying a young woman, and gently set her down.  The twins were somewhat bewildered, since they had never before seen a starship like Atlantis.  Even more surprising was the cylinder that rose from the floor of the gate room as they walked forward.

Ashley whispered to Alison, “This place definitely looks like it was built by our race.”

Alison agreed, and after looking behind her at the Stargate, she also noted, “It’s a lot newer than Destiny, that’s for sure!”

Ashley approached the console on the raised cylinder podium in the middle of the gate room floor and motioned to Alison, “Hey look.  There’s a place here for your hand.  Let’s see what happens.”  Before anyone could stop them, each of the twins placed their hand on the console and suddenly the lights in the entire ship blinked.  Since nothing else happened, the twins just shrugged and moved on.  Uncle George then stepped up to the console, pulled an amulet out of his shirt, and entered some numbers into the keypad.  Again the lights blinked.  Ashley and Alison had been watching Uncle George, hoping that he could activate or even take over the ships A.I. hologram, if one existed.  When nothing happened, they just looked at each other, shrugged again, and walked to where the security guards were pointing.  Vanessa had forgotten that she was supposed to be keeping an eye on the twins, and was embarrassed that she had let them touch anything on Atlantis without permission.  So she quickly strolled over and stood with them.  Her opinion was that the twins could do whatever the blazes they wanted, since they had just brought everyone home.

General Carter was watching from the mezzanine above the gate room, and turned as Colonel Young reached the top of the stairs. “Ah, Everett, so good to see you back safe and sound.  I hope that you don’t mind my rudeness, but right now I am more interested in your guests.  Atlantis has just reacted to their presence exactly as the ship did in the Pegasus galaxy when we rescued a small group of Ancients.”  That rescue ended in disaster when the Replicators showed up and clobbered the Ancients who thought they would have Atlantis all to themselves.  The Ancients had decided to ascend instead of being killed or captured, and the Earth forces had then retaken the city from the Replicators.

Colonel Young responded to Samantha’s surprise with some valuable information, “We picked them up halfway between galaxies.  They were able to activate the A.I. system on Destiny, and they finished the installation of a worm-hole drive.”

General Carter raised her eyebrows and turned back to watch the twins. “So, they are Ancients.  Very interesting.”

Dr McKay, who was working at one of the consoles, sounded alarmed, “Sam, Destiny is leaving Earth!  She just entered FTL!”

Colonel Young looked around, “Damn it.  Where is Dr Rush?  Has anybody seen him?”

Colonel Sheppard had been watching the Stargate from his vantage point at the railing, and had been keeping a careful eye on all the people from Destiny.  He turned to Samantha and reported, “He didn’t come through the gate.  So you’re saying that Dr Rush just hijacked Destiny?”

Colonel Young yelled down to Lt Scott, “See if you can find Dr Rush, and get a roster of everyone that came through the Stargate.”

General Carter turned to speak to one of the console operators, “Radek, turn off the Atlantis shields and activate the cloak.  The fog could be lifting, and we have a mess here.”

Dr Radek Zelenka PhD looked at the display at his console and replied, “By my estimates the cloak will only last another 30 days.  It consumes far more energy than the small shield around the control tower.”

Colonel Young turned back to address Samantha, “General Carter.  I have an idea.  I have someone tagging along with the aliens or Ancients or whatever they are.  Why not let them loose and see what happens.  Otherwise they may clam up and we may get nowhere on this puzzle.  They did get us home, and I’m starting to trust them a little bit more than I probably should.”

Dr Zelenka nodded in agreement, but for the benefit of the new arrivals who did not know what they had been doing, he said, “And we would still have to scuttle Atlantis.”

As soon as General Carter agreed, Colonel Young signaled to Vanessa and the guards.  Dr McKay was very interested in Ancients, so he and Colonel Sheppard, trying to look innocent and cool, slowly made their way down the stairs.  They were heading for the twins to question them, but they were too late.  A device called the Ancient Repository of Knowledge (ARK) had emerged from the wall in the gate room, right behind the twins.  Ashley walked over to look at it, and did not seem surprised when it grabbed her.  She was now trapped in the hands of the device and was downloading information into her brain.  She had to stand on her toes to reach the device, so Alison lifted her up the rest of the way.  Uncle George did not seem alarmed; and appeared to be standing guard.  This ship was beyond his experience, and could have all kinds of powerful weapons and alien species. The two men walked up to the girls, acting like this happens every day.  Ashley was released by the device, and looked around as if seeing everything for the first time.

Dr McKay decided to play it cool, even though he had just witnessed something extraordinary, “So, I hear you girls know how to read Ancient?”  OK, so maybe that was one of the dumbest statements you could make.  But we know that Rodney treats all kids as if they are stupid alien monsters, in miniature.

Alison looked a little put out, “We are NOT Ancients!”

Ashley tucked her cheeks in a little as if annoyed at some distant memory, “In fact, they were very mean to us.  But we do have their genetic code, if that is what you are referring to.” 

The girls turned away from the ARK device and began walking down the corridor, as if they now knew exactly where they were going.  Colonel Sheppard and Rodney hurried to catch up and asked, “Why don’t we find you some quarters and get you settled in?”

Alison was talking as she looked around the corridor, as if reading something on the walls, “That is exactly what we are doing.  And I think we have found the Captain’s Rooms.”

John and Rodney spoke at once, “The what?!!!”

Vanessa, who the two men had ignored, turned and smiled at Rodney, “The twins prefer to stay in the luxury of the Captain’s quarters, and I will be staying in the servant’s quarters nearby.”

Alison turned to the group, put her hand to her heart and looked perturbed, “Didn’t you get our reservations?”

Ashley looked at her sister and giggled, “We must have a talk with our travel agent!”

Suddenly a hidden door opened to a luxurious suite of rooms, with bedrooms leading off the main living space.  Vanessa and the others looked around in wonder and exclaimed, “Hey, this looks just like the Captains Quarters on board Destiny!”

Ashley pointed, “Vanessa, your room is over there, and our room is over here.  Alison, why don’t you be the Captain, and I’ll be the Navigator.”

Alison looked as if they were playing a game and responded like any kid would, “Sounds good to me.  So, the first thing the new Captain of a ship has to do is find the Game Room.”

John and Rodney looked at each other to see if either of them had ever heard of the Game Room, then they both spoke at once, “The what?!!!”

Ashley turned toward the two adults, with her fists on her hips and asked with a very quizzical look, “Are you two some sort of comedy team?”

Uncle George mumbled, “You girls go have fun.  I’ll unpack.  And then I’m going to take a nap.”

Alison turned and said in a stern voice, “OK, but remember, NO female soldiers.  We don’t want to get kicked off this planet.”

As he entered his own quarters, Uncle George groaned, “Yea, yea, yea.”

As the rest of the group were leaving the Captains quarters Vanessa looked disgusted and turned to Alison, “So, he does have a thing for me?”  Vanessa did not like dirty old men.

Alison smiled as she turned to Vanessa, “Oh yea, he likes females, big time!  But not in the way that you think.  He doesn’t mate with humans in his current form, so you can stop worrying about him doing that.”  The three adults looked at each other with puzzled expressions.  But they were not going to dig any deeper into that subject, at least not with two aliens.  They entered an elevator and descended to a lower level, deep in the ship.  Soon they were walking along unused corridors, with dead plants and moldy furniture scattered about.

Alison was looking at all the mess, and asked, “How long have your people been aboard this ship?”  The implication was that they were either a bunch of slobs, or they had just high-jacked the city from somewhere else.  And given their experience on Destiny, the twins were guessing that these Earth people were a bunch of thieves.

Colonel Sheppard was also wondering about the mess, which he thought had been cleaned up.  He looked a bit embarrassed, and replied, “Come to think of it, over the last five years we only had a few hundred soldiers and civilian crew on the ship at any given time.  We were concerned about people activating dangerous technology, and very few of us can read Ancient.” 

The twins were thinking to themselves, ‘OK, that sounded reasonable’. 

Dr McKay gestured at Colonel Sheppard, and added an important point, “And only a very few Earth humans have strong enough Ancient genes to fully operate the ships equipment; at least not without my superior intellect and training.”  Rodney looked around to see if anyone was willing to bow in respect to the scientific genius and master of the universe.  When nobody praised him for all that he had accomplished over the last dozen years, he just moved on.

Ashley spun around and stopped everyone, “So, some of you are from our race, or Ancients?”

Dr McKay again pointed back at Colonel Sheppard and answered the question, “Not really.  He only has enough of the genetic code to barely operate the Chair and the Puddle-Jumpers.”  The jumpers were small and slow moving transport vessels, much like a big recreational vehicle.  They had a large flat slanted window in front and used an exit ramp in the back.  Colonel Sheppard rolled his eyes at Rodney so that the girls could see that Dr McKay had something of an ego problem.

The twins smiled as they looked at each other, and then Alison said, with that superior attitude common to aristocrats and the wealthy, “Interesting.  Genetic degradation I would guess.”  She was trying to be funny, but Rodney was not amused.  Vanessa on the other hand had to cover her mouth to keep from laughing at the look on Rodney’s face.

Ashley stopped in front of a door, “Ah, here is the Game Room.”

Dr McKay was looking around, and didn’t notice any indication of what was in the room in front of them. “Um, if you two have never been on Atlantis, how do you know where things are?”

Alison looked at Rodney as if he were an idiot. “What a silly question.  We just remembered it!”  Dr McKay then realized how dumb the question was.  If they could put their heads in that ARK and survive, then they would start remembering details about this ship, and all that had happened since the Earth expedition had arrived through the Atlantis Stargate over five years ago in the Pegasus galaxy.  Sam was gonna be really pissed off about the security breach.

Ashley added a bit of news that would hopefully clarify everything, “But it will take a very long time to remember everything.”  That was a strange statement for most of the Earth humans to hear, but Rodney let it go for now.  He had not witnessed first hand what had happened to Jack O’Neil when he had stuck his head in the ARK, and seen how a person progressively recalls memory downloaded by the ARK.  Unfortunately, Earth humans could not survive the download for long, and needed the Asgard to restore their minds to normal.

Alison pointed to the area above the door, “Besides, directions are written on the walls.  And it says right above the door, Game Room.  I thought you could read Ancient?”

Vanessa looked around and exclaimed, “I don’t see anything!”

Ashley thought about if for a moment and then asked, “Wait.  On this planet, are your eyes sensitive to high frequency light waves?”

Dr McKay thought about what she was really asking, “If you mean ultra-violet radiation, no.  It does give us skin cancer if we stay out in the sun too long, and we use UV filters in sun-glasses.  But we can’t see it with our eyes, only sense it with our skin.  Why?”

Alison, looking thoughtful, touched her finger to her lips, and then said, “Ah, well, that explains everything.  Our eyes are UV tolerant, while yours are probably tolerant to low frequency heat radiation.”

Ashley added, “With all the radiation in space, we have evolved with the ability to see both high frequency light waves and low levels of radiation, mostly from ores like uranium.”

Alison concluded, “So the Ancients used fluorescent paint on their ships, which we can also see using normal indoor lighting and various types of sunlight.”

Dr McKay looked very excited, and touched his communications headset, “Sam, we need to order UV lighting immediately.  We need dozens of portable units for now, and maybe permanent units later.”

General Carter responded over the com-link, “I’ll get right on it.”  This was not the feedback she was anticipating, but it did sound like they were making progress.  Meanwhile Samantha was helping to get all the people from Destiny settled in.  One of the crew from Destiny that she had briefly met when Samantha was transporting her to Icarus Base, named Lisa Parks, was now blind.  And another stranger called Varro seemed to be mentally retarded or disabled somehow.

As they entered the Game Room, Ashley looked around with excitement, “Wow, look at all the cool stuff in here!  Alison, let’s try this game first!”

Colonel Sheppard was examining the door into the Game Room and turned to Rodney, “Hey McKay, why didn’t this door have a seal on it?  I thought we checked out every level?”

Alison turned to John and replied, “As a security measure against unauthorized intruders, you would have passed by this level in the elevators and stairwells.”

Ashley gave him a look of warning to heed what she was saying, like a mom telling junior about the cookie jar or microwave oven, “Some areas on this level are highly restricted.  One of the six wings on this level has dangerous labs and weapons storage.”

Dr McKay and Colonel Sheppard lit up and exclaimed, “Weapons!  Labs!”

Alison and Ashley just looked at each other and shook their heads, “Boys and their toys!”

Vanessa giggled and then noticed what looked like a pin-ball machine, “Hey girls, how do you turn this thing on?”

Alison looked over at her, “It should activate as soon as you touch it.  None of the games requires any special genes.  Even monkeys can play the games.”  Ashley giggled at the insult, but the adults ignored them.  Colonel Sheppard and Dr McKay wandered around the room, looking at but not touching anything, at least not for now.  Later on, when the brats and cats were away, the big mice would play.

After touching several game consoles and pushing buttons, Ashley looked frustrated and turned on Dr McKay, “Don’t even tell me you people let the power drain out in this section of the ship!”

Dr McKay looked a bit put out by the accusation. “If you really must know, the entire ship is about to lose power.  For security reasons, we were going to sink her just before you arrived.”

Alison and Ashley both turned absolutely livid.  Their eyes were blinking, their mouths were working, but no sound came out.  All three adults turned to look at the twins, who now had red faces to match their hair color.  Ashley was the first to explode, “We don’t believe this.  We just left a perfectly good starship that could have taken us to the three-space of the universe!!!”

Alison was standing again, her fists on her hips, and shouted, “Your race has got to be the dumbest creatures in this galaxy, and furthermore…”

Ashley motioned for Alison to stop, and asked Rodney, “Wait a minute!  Where did you find this ship?”

Alison had calmed down and looked suspiciously at the two men. “If you recently found this ship, and we have to assume that you people have a knack for hitch-hiking on alien vessels, then you snatched this ship from somewhere else, didn’t you?”

Colonel Sheppard looked guilty, as charged, “Well, yes, we found it in the Pegasus Galaxy.”

Dr McKay added, rather petulantly, “And we recently brought it here using the worm-hole drive.  So I take it this isn’t something you have remembered yet?”

Colonel Sheppard started to explain, which sounded more like an excuse, “Rodney, you know that games have first priority for kids.  Cut them some slack.  You see girls, we had to battle the Goa’uld, and then we ran into the Wraith, and thanks to us, they were soon at war with the Replicators…”

Ashley had to stop him, or they would never figure out how to get these games powered up, “OK, OK, slow down.”

Alison put her hands together, as if trying to explain something to a class of kids, “The point is that you had to have passed by a star on your way here, yes?”

Ashley continued the question, but with her fists on her hips, “So the batteries should have been recharged in the highly concentrated positronic sub-space density near a star!”  Vanessa was totally confused, and stayed out of the conversation.  She was looking back and forth at the speakers, trying to get a grasp on what was going on.

Dr McKay was feeling somewhat put out, and realized for the first time in five years that he had no idea what somebody else was talking about.  And these two aliens were hitting him really hard with questions and accusations, which put his back up.  But, on the other hand, they definitely knew what they were talking about, “Uh, no.  The three ZPMs in the power room are almost dead.  We pretty much used them up getting here, and then defeating the Wraith ship.”

Ashley now looked as if she were talking to the class idiot, “Not those batteries you silly boys.  How can you charge a battery that is also discharging?”

Alison threw up her hands in frustration, “Don’t you Earthlings even know the basics of electronics?”

Ashley hit them with a stunner, “We mean the batteries in the Recharging Room!”

Colonel Sheppard and Dr McKay spoke at once, “The what?!!!”

Alison looked at the two of them and threw out her hands, “Here we go again with the comedy routine.”

Ashley and Alison gave up on these two Earthlings, turned to the door and marched out of the Game Room, making a quick right down the hallway.  The other three had to hurry to catch up.  After a few minutes the twins entered a room that housed about 60 ZPMs, all enclosed in strange looking devices that had to be recharging units.

Dr McKay was stunned at the sight.  He suddenly looked very pale and dropped his hands down to his knees, “I think I’m gonna be sick!”  He really did look like he was about to throw up, and was trying to take deep breathes.

Colonel Sheppard, on the other hand, looked like he had just found a harem full of willing virgins.  “Holy Cow, this is better than raiding Fort Knox.  Even better than raiding a college dorm at a Catholic girls school.  Even better than…”

Vanessa grabbed the communications headpiece off Colonel Sheppard, who appeared to be in a trance.  She put the headpiece on her own ear and tapped the control, “General Carter, this is Lt James.  Please be advised that we have just found dozens of things called Z.P.M.s, which look to be fully charged.  The twins are loading nine of the devices onto a trolley.  Could you meet us in the power control room or wherever these batteries go?”

General Carter now sounded very excited, “Captain James, we are on our way.  Out.”  She yelled for joy and then grabbed Dr Radek Zelenka, who was frozen in shock.  For five years they had been hunting the universe for these batteries, and all this time there was a room full of them on Atlantis.  For some bizarre reason, nobody had tried to find out exactly where the batteries were made or recharged.  Or they had tried and gave up.

Vanessa really didn’t know what all of the fuss was about, just that it was important to everyone around her.  So you must excuse her for saying, “Hey guys, I just got promoted to Captain.”  She then gave the earpiece back to Colonel Sheppard.

Alison stopped what she was doing and put her fists on her hips, something she had been doing a lot lately, trying to establish some control over her new home and new life, “Wait a minute!  I thought that we agreed that I’m the Captain of this ship!”  The twins were not about to let the adult bullies take over the playground.  Besides, something was nudging them forward, urging them to assert themselves.  Think of it as a group of people lost in the wilderness, and you are the only one that has a strong feeling that the group is heading in the wrong direction.  So even if you are a kid, you have a need to take charge.  And you also recognize the fact that adults always think they know what’s best.

Ashley continued loading the trolley with batteries and looked at her sister, “Let’s not be selfish Alison.  We can all take turns being Captain.  Although I don’t think we should make her Navigator just yet.”

Alison finished loading the last of the batteries onto the trolley and smiled in humor, “Yea, she would probably run us smack into a moon.”

The girls began to giggle as they towed the trolley out into the hallway and over to the elevators.  The three adults followed, as if in a daze.  Ashley continued the joke, “Or she might dump us into a black hole.”

Alison laughed and added, “Or put the wormhole drive in reverse and send us back in time to the big bang.”

Ashley started to reply, “Or…”

Vanessa interrupted the little comedians, “Very funny you two.  What I meant is that I have just been promoted one level in rank.”

Colonel Sheppard had finally recovered from his shock, and added, “Congratulations Cap-e-tan.  You see girls, she now reports to me, and I report to General Carter, and General Carter reports to some big wig at the Pentagon, and they report directly to the President.”  Rodney was bringing up the rear, staring at the power modules in the little wagon, mouth open and breathing slowly.

Alison suddenly thought of a problem, and asked Vanessa, “So, you have many female soldiers in your army?”

Vanessa was puzzled by the question, “I would guess tens of thousands.  Not as many as we would like.  But we are making progress.”

Ashley looked at Alison and shook her head, “Oh boy.  Uncle George is going to be a nightmare to handle when he hears about this.”  The group entered an elevator and descended to another level.

Colonel Sheppard spotted Samantha and Radek down the corridor, standing in front of the power distribution room.  Radek was rubbing his hands together, like a kid about to get a chocolate chip cookie.  As they met up, Colonel Sheppard took on an amused look, “Ah, here’s our General now.  Ma’am, I would like you to meet the new Captain of Atlantis, Miss Alison.  And here’s our new Navigator, Miss Ashley.”  He really didn’t need to start winking, since the statement was outrageous enough as it was.

General Carter raised her eyebrows and gave Colonel Sheppard a rather amused look, then turned to the girls. “Welcome aboard.  I understand that you have found comfortable quarters, and we are all very grateful that you have located the ZPMs.  But why nine?”  That was Samantha; always the scientist, always computing numbers and facts.  Silly issues like two kids playing at taking over a starship-city were just not important to her.

Alison responded as if giving a lecture, “It appears that this space vessel is a newer design than we have seen before.  It is called the Atlantis class of starship-cities.”

Ashley continued, “According to the information transfer device we encountered when we came through the Stargate, there are dozens of Atlantis class starships scattered throughout the known universe.”

General Carter interrupted, “We found another Atlantis ship while we were exploring the Pegasus galaxy, but it was in pretty bad shape.  Most of it was buried under tons of dirt.”

Alison ignored the interruption. “Anyway, an Atlantis starship-city uses a tremendous amount of what you call juice.”  When they downloaded the information from the ARK, the twins had also immediately picked up gigabytes of Earth slang as well as technical data.

Ashley added, “The six extra Z.P.M.s, as you call them, are used to support the living quarters in the piers, providing food, games, video lessons and entertainment.  They also keep the swimming pools warm and clean.”  The twins didn’t bother mentioning systems important to adults, like recycling centers and research labs.

 

Inserting charged ZPM batteries into the power system on Atlantis.

 

The twins finished installing the three battery modules used in the main power center, with the eager help of Dr McKay and Dr Zelenka.  The ship shuddered ever so slightly.  Alison turned to the General, “Now we need to install the batteries in the six arms of the ship.  But those power stations are located in restricted areas, and occasionally serve as backup to these three modules.”

General Carter turned to Dr Zelenka, “Radek, I need you to check out…”

Dr Zelenka turned to hurry back to the control room, “I’m on it…”  She knew he would first run power distribution diagnostics, and then test the shields.  After which he had a ton of work to do bringing the ship back online.  And with three fully charged batteries, it would take a team of experts weeks to get everything checked out.

Ashley continued, “And before we can give Dr McKay access to the restricted labs, we need to have a very serious talk with him about responsibility.”

Alison pointed a finger at Rodney, “He has been a very naughty boy in some of the ships labs.”

Ashley pointed her own finger at Rodney, “Not to mention his passion for overriding safety protocols.”

General Carter almost started laughing as she looked at the guilty expression on Dr McKay’s face and added, “Come to think of it, I would like to sit in on that discussion.  I have made many a blunder myself programming the Stargate and experimenting with alien devices.”  Samantha was a bit amazed that these kids had some interesting views on authority and responsibility.

Alison then turned to John, “And we need to test Colonel Sheppard to see if he is able to fully handle the weapons systems.”

Colonel Sheppard looked a little taken back, “Hey, I’ve operated the Chair already, and we killed lots of bad guys.”

Ashley looked very disappointed and shook her head, “Exactly.  You killed them.”

Alison acted a bit righteous and added, “We prefer to turn our enemies into friends.”

Ashley wanted to get back to the problem at hand, “In any case, we would like the persons you call Chloe and Tamara to accompany us to install the power modules.”

Alison then smiled, “And of course, our servant girl Vanessa.”  Captain Vanessa James was standing directly behind Alison, and was reaching out to strangle the twins.  Colonel Sheppard was trying hard not to laugh, and Dr McKay just rolled his eyes.

General Carter jumped in before Vanessa started screaming at the twins, “Captain James!  Why don’t you take the twins to the gate room and we will go find Chloe and Tamara.”  Samantha then turned to the twins to ask, “By the way, if you don’t mind my asking, why Chloe and Tamara?”

Ashley stated with pride, “Chloe is one of us now; an Ancient, but with far superior genes than those people.”

And with that statement the twins pulled the trolley out of the power room and headed towards the gate room.  Everyone else was absolutely stunned, and they all looked at each other to see if anyone knew what in the black-holes of space was going on.

General Carter stayed behind in the power room and touched her earphone, “Colonel Young, could you please find Chloe and meet me at the gate room.  And I want a complete recent rundown on the woman, now, as we speak.”

Colonel Young immediately responded, “I’m glad you called, because she is here with me.  I have been keeping an eye on Chloe since her incident with the gate room console that rose out of the floor.”

General Carter shook her head a little to try and ward off the next surprise, “What incident?”

Colonel Young replied as if he had not been interrupted, “After the twins and the old man activated the console, and did whatever Ancients do, Chloe casually walked over to the device and placed her hand on the screen.  Then the console dropped back into the floor.  Nobody seemed to notice, but I have been keeping an eye on her myself.”

General Carter now seemed a bit upset, “And why didn’t you report this to me sooner, Colonel?”

Colonel Young just took it in stride, as he always did.  Cool, collected and sometimes insubordinate, just like Jack had been during the last dozen years that Samantha had know her former boss.  Colonel Young explained his actions as if talking to a friend, “I didn’t think that she had interfaced with the device.  Nothing happened.  No lights blinked as with the twins.  She is very special to all of us on board Destiny, and I figured that she was just being her usual curious self.  But she has been wandering the corridors, acting like she is looking at something on the walls.  My guess is that she is literally reading the writing on the walls.”  He had heard what the twins had said about visible UV lettering on the corridor walls, and guessed that Chloe was reading something.  But he had no idea what was really going on with her.

General Carter replied, “Whatever you do, don’t let her touch anything until I can iron this out.  I remember her when we took her to Icarus Base, but this may not be the same person.  Now, give me her history aboard Destiny, in five minutes or less…”

 

—oOo—

 

The conference room on Atlantis.

 

In ten minutes everyone was assembled in the control tower conference room, which is located just off the area housing all the display screens and control consoles.  Carmen was playing in the corner with a strange little toy that Tamara had found in her new quarters.  Chloe was standing in a corner of the room, somewhat terrified of the twins.  She had heard what they had said about her, and was furious.  She was also very confused by the people who kept talking about a ship called Destiny, as if she had been with them.  This is why she had decided to wander off on her own and explore the floating city.

General Carter walked in, noted the new military personnel standing in the room and sat down, “Please be seated.  I still need to get authorization to cancel our orders to scuttle this ship.  If we assume that we have a go to fully staff the city, then we will need to initiate a massive training program, with the help of our new friends.”

Alison smiled at being called a friend, and quickly stated, “Elysium will begin preparing training videos, textbooks and blueprints in your language.”

General Carter looked around the room, but didn’t see anyone not accounted for, “Elysium?”

Ashley saw that Samantha was a bit confused, “That is the name of this ship’s artificial intelligence, and the actual name of this starship-city.”

Alison added, “Her hologram will appear when the power diagnostics are completed.  Other Atlantis class starships are named after the ships A.I. computer.”

Chloe suddenly interrupted and almost growled, “What have you done to me?”

Everyone was startled by the outburst, but they could see that Chloe looked absolutely livid.  Alison put on a smile, turned to face Chloe, and explained, “As you may not know, the Stargate has the ability to store your pattern in a buffer.”

Ashley moved the palms of her hands together, but not touching as she added, “When you pass back through the same Stargate, the device (or star-ship console) that controls the gate can be programmed to compare the two buffers and detect any harmful organisms that you may have picked up.”

Dr McKay immediately saw the reasoning, “Really?  So the gate can be programmed to purge the harmful bugs?”

Alison nodded at Rodney, “Yes, but you pay a price.  Because of the law of conservation of mass in positronic and electronic space, something else has to be created in place of the organism.”

Ashley looked back at Chloe, “The human DNA of Chloe had been altered and expanded by an alien life form you call the Nakai.”

Alison added, “According to the log on Destiny, these aliens had agreed to remove the infestation in Chloe, and reverse the changes to her DNA.”

Colonel Young did not like what he was hearing, and did not agree with the twin’s assessment, “Yes, but her skin no longer showed signs of the Nakai organism.”

Chloe suddenly realized what must have happened, “So these Nakai tricked the people on a starship called Destiny, and the thing was still inside me?”  Now Colonel Young was confused by the words Chloe was using, as if she had no idea what had happened to her over the last year.

Alison answered Chloe, who seemed to be calming down a bit, “Exactly.  We had no time to figure out how to revert the organic matter and the alien DNA back to the original human DNA without killing Chloe with harmful cancers or blood clots.  She had too much extra alien material in her body.”

Alison decided to add information that she hoped Chloe could cope with.  From the attempt by the alien organism to infest the twins, they were confident that the creature had to be destroyed, “We discovered that her internal reproductive organs were being prepared to create offspring that would be pure alien, with an outer human shell.”  That statement got the desired effect.  Everyone was suddenly horrified at the possibilities.  The twins were tempted to go into more frightening horror stories, but they did not want to freak out Chloe any more than they had to.

Ashley looked directly at Chloe, and said in a very calm and soothing voice, “So, the Stargates on Destiny and Elysium took our own highly advanced DNA pattern and rebuilt your nasty alien DNA into ours.  And your alien organs were converted into our own special race, which are no longer the same as the Ancients.” 

Alison realized that they had done something life changing to another person, and sounded truly sincere when she added, “We apologize for doing this without sitting down with you and discussing the problem, but Destiny gave us little time to make a decision.”  Of course they could have called off the whole emergency scam they had created in order to sneak onto the planet Earth, but teens rarely back off from their devious plans once they are in motion.

Ashley sort of shrugged as she gave everyone the alternative solution, “To protect the human species from your alien organism, the Stargate on Elysium might have fried your alien cells, and you would have arrived through the Stargate dead, or what you people call D.O.A.”

Alison sat up straight and smiled with pride, “So, you are now a full member of the race of Alterans, or at least our special version.”

Ashley on the other hand looked a bit worried, “This means that you will need to stay close to us if you wish to survive your new abilities.”  At that statement Chloe looked confused.

Alison picked something off the conference table, “For example, I want you to take this pen.”

Instead of walking across the room and getting the pen, Chloe reached out and the pen went flying through the air, making a small puncture in her hand, “Ouch.  I see what you mean.  Thank you for saving my life.”

Dr McKay had been listening with intense concentration to the twins, and exclaimed, “Wow, this is awesome.  I did that once!  Could you do that for me?  I mean, you know, everyone?”  Rodney was slowly learning not to be selfish, but old habits die hard.

Ashley immediately created a lie to stop this from going any further, “Never!  If the Ancients were alive today we could be severely punished for what we asked Destiny and Elysium to do for Chloe.”  Now, you should know that the A.I. on Destiny had nothing to do with the programming of the Stargate, and the change in Chloe.  But it is always a good idea to share the blame for being naughty.

Alison caught the drift and acted like they had done all of this with deep reservations, “But times change, and now we have an extra burden, no insult intended Chloe.”

Ashley understood the new responsibility they had taken on, “If Chloe does not learn to control her abilities, and use them with wisdom, then she will have to be abandoned on an isolated planet, where she could not accidentally harm others.”

General Carter turned to Chloe and exclaimed with envy, “Congratulations Chloe.  I must confess that Rodney and I wish it were us in your shoes.  And I fully understand the ethics involved in your decision girls.  Thank you so very much for what you have done for Chloe.”  At that the twins beamed.  If the boss was happy then everyone else would let it go.

Chloe was still confused, “But I don’t understand what is happening now.  Yesterday I was sipping a glass of wine and listening to my father give a speech at Icarus Base.  There was an attack and we went through a Stargate.  And suddenly I’m here on Atlantis!”

Dr McKay jumped in to tell her about his own experience with a very similar event, “I would guess that the short and medium term memories in your brain are gone.  The same thing happened to me, but not so severe, and we also discovered that the Ancients have a slightly different brain structure than us lower races.”

Alison looked at Ashley and smiled.  Thanks to Rodney, they wouldn’t have to make up any excuses for why Chloe had lost her recent memories.  The situation was far more complicated than what Rodney had just explained.  And his experience was nothing like what Chloe had just endured.  It is true that the Ancients have an advanced level of intellect, but the brain structure of an Ancient is essentially the same as other human races.  The Ancients simply use more of the brain, and have learned to access the subconscious while awake and not just during sleep.  The twins, on the other hand, have an entirely different brain structure, and they were not about to discus that issue now. 

The other problem the twins had to deal with back on Destiny relates to the ability of many advanced species to replicate themselves within a host.  If Chloe had retained her memories of the alien entity within her, then those memories could force her body to begin modifying her DNA, and the process of conversion to an alien life form would start all over again.  The human reproductive organs can easily be programmed to produce all sorts of mutations, which most people call evolution.  The twins had compared the two memory files of Chloe in the Stargate control system on Destiny and easily erased the memories that had been added to Chloe’s brain neurons during the last year.  This is a Stargate programming skill of the twins that the Ancients did not possess, probably because they had never seen the need to erase someone’s memories by using a Stargate.

General Carter had just thought of something else that would impact Chloe, and looked directly at Colonel Young, “Which means that everyone from Destiny needs to back away and let Chloe develop new relationships according to her new elevated position amongst us.  And we need to break the news of the last year to her gently.”  Everyone knew Samantha was talking about the death of Chloe’s father, who had given his life to save the crew on Destiny.  And Matthew Scott knew he had just lost a close intimate friend, but maybe not forever.

Not only were the twins beaming with pride, but Chloe was now all smiles.  Instead of being an alien hybrid freak, about to be thrown out of an airlock, she now has the envy of everyone in the room.

Ashley finally had the opportunity to change the subject, “And Tamara will need training in Ancient technology, especially in medicine.”

Tamara shook her head, “I am no longer in the military, and I was planning on going back to medical school on my scholarship.”

Alison needed to keep Tamara nearby, but she didn’t know why she felt this way about the woman.  So she did some quick thinking, “The good news is that within a year you could be teaching the medical technology of the Alterans to your Earth’s university professors.”

Ashley caught on and added, “Old methods of detecting and treating ailments will be obsolete.”

Alison looked disgusted at what she was about to say, as if she were discussing the practice of human sacrifice, “Surgery with a knife and destructive chemotherapy are out.”

Ashley then had a brilliant idea, “Most of your difficult patients will be those children who are born with genetic defects and deformities.”

Alison knew they now had her full attention, and Tamara’s face started to light up, “Your roll will be that of patient councilor and treatment specialist.”

Tamara absolutely beamed with joy as she nodded, “OK, yea, I could handle that.”

Ashley winked at Alison, “Good.  You can start with the lower technology equipment that you brought with you from Destiny, and then move up to the more advanced machines in the Atlantis hospital.”

Alison turned to look at Rodney, who was about to snap his fingers, “Which is still restricted Dr McKay!”

General Carter had to laugh at that one, “Alright.  But we still have a massive problem.  We need to quickly bring thousands of people on board this ship, and everything is in Ancient.”

Vanessa perked up and made a suggestion, “My dad has a computerized sign making business for school hallways and large government buildings.  Why not paint signs throughout the ship in English?  And I’m sure that Elysium could translate everything on the display consoles to match the language of the reader.  And she could program my dad’s equipment to speed up the process.  Then Dr McKay could use the portable UV lights to verify the work.”

Dr McKay turned to the twins, “Oh great.  You modified her DNA, so now she’s a genius?”

General Carter looked over at Dr McKay and smiled, “I take it that is your way of complementing Captain James on a fantastic idea.”  Truth be told, it wasn’t a compliment; since Rodney had the opinion that anyone as sexy and good looking as Vanessa, and in the military, had to be a moron.  Sam knew this, and continued on anyway, “OK Vanessa, your dad has the contract.  Call him immediately and clear everything through Colonel Young, who is now in charge of security and military training.  We have much more to talk about, but first I need to speak to the President and get authorization, as well as a ton of money for this ship.  And we need to get the rest of the ZPMs installed.”

Alison looked thoughtful and asked, “What minerals are valuable in your Earth society?”

Colonel Sheppard immediately answered, “Gold, diamonds, uranium, copper, rare earth minerals, silicone breast implants…”

All the females in the room gave John a nasty look at that last item, and Ashley held up her hand to stop the list, “According to the Elysium database, you have millions of asteroids circling your sun, a few of which have high concentrations of gold, copper and silver.”

Dr McKay was not going to be left out of this conversation, “We could nudge a few asteroids towards the Earth’s moon, where they could be safely mined.”

Dr Zelenka came rushing into the room and exclaimed, “There are robots crawling all over the ship, and some of them look like Replicators!”

Alison turned to him and responded, “Elysium is using the new power modules to make repairs and upgrades to the ship, which will probably take a couple of weeks.  And remember, the Alterans built the Replicators, so these robots may look similar.”  Radek gave her a thumb up, spun around and rushed back out of the room.  Samantha smiled, since she tended to do the same thing when excited about gizmos and technology.

Ashley continued with her discussion, “Anyway, as Atlantis passes near a star to recharge her batteries, she sometimes also uses the star’s plasma energy to convert waste carbon into large cubes to conserve space and eliminate hazardous biologicals.”

Ashley added, “The compressed carbon is then converted back into food when needed.”

Alison thought about the math as if she were using a calculator, “I’m sure there is at least twenty thousand kilos of pure diamond in the cafeteria storage bins.”

Now there was total stunned silence in the conference room.  And of course Dr Mc Kay was the first to speak, “There goes the diamond market.  Even my gold stocks are toast.  Damn Fox News, always pushing gold stocks up.”

Everybody started talking at once.  But Colonel Young immediately took charge, “Listen up.  This information is top secret.  I will be running security checks on everyone in this room.”  Turning to face Dr McKay, he added, “If anyone acts on any of this information in their own interest, I will personally cut their tongues out.  Understood?”

General Carter, “OK, let’s meet back here tomorrow at 9am.  Captain James, a word.”

As everyone filed out of the conference room, Vanessa walked over to Samantha and said, “I think that the twins are hiding something, but it seems to be out of embarrassment and not some evil plan.  It’s this Uncle George that worries me the most.  Something tells me that the twins have some kind of bizarre symbiotic relationship with him.”

General Carter did look worried, and asked, “Do you think he’s a threat to us?”

Vanessa, “As female soldiers, yes.  I can’t explain why, but the twins are worried.”

General Carter, “The question is, who is in charge?”

Vanessa suggested, “Perhaps Chloe can use her new relationship with them to find out more?”

General Carter smiled, like any woman would when conspiring against men, “Excellent idea.  And get some Captains bars on that uniform; your promotion papers are in your servant’s quarters.”

Vanessa saluted, “Yes ma’am!  And I’ll talk to Chloe as soon as we are alone.”  As soon as Vanessa left the room she raced down the corridor to catch up with Lt Scott, “Hey, Matt, the twins found a recreation pool in the Atlantis schematics, and I have it all to myself in a couple of hours.  Want to join me for a swim?”  Of course he would, after being cooped up on Destiny for a year, with very little drinking or bathing water.

Lt Scott replied without hesitation. “Yea, you bet.  See you in the gate room at 15:00.”  What he didn’t know is that she had no intention of wearing a swimsuit.  Oh, yeah, very naughty girl!

A few minutes later General Carter touched her earpiece, “Colonel Sheppard, please get Dr Jennifer Keller back here ASAP, with any of the rest of the old crew that you can find; civilian and military.”  Just then an officer approached and saluted.  Samantha was glad to see him, “Ah, Major, nice to see you back so soon.”

US Air Force Major Evan Lorne shook Samantha’s outstretched hand, “I live in the San Francisco area, so I grabbed a chopper and flew right over when Amelia called me.  I did a survey of the crew while you were busy.  We are only missing Sgt Greer from the military group on Destiny.  Some of the civilians came with them, the rest are also missing.  I am interviewing the soldiers now to see about emergency leave.  Some of them will need to re-enlist if they want to stay with us.  Adam Brody wishes to stay and is currently working with Dr Zelenka as his assistant.  I need to get everyone from Destiny their back-pay; and I need to review the secrecy act and all that with the people who were not supposed to be on Destiny.”

General Carter nodded approval with each point Major Lorne made, “Evan, you are now my adjutant.  I need a good administrator who can also kick some serious butt.  Good job.  Take over from Colonel Sheppard, and continue with the staffing.”

—oOo—

Alison was pulling the trolley of six fully charged ZPMs and three dead batteries, “OK, here we are at the first power station.”

As Ashley picked a power module from the trolley she turned to the women, “Vanessa, Chloe and Tamara; please stay here.  We will be right back.”  The twins turned towards the door, and instead of opening the door, they walked right through it.  Vanessa walked over to the door and touched it, just to make sure it was solid.  Then she stepped back and waited.  Suddenly the twins reappeared, with a drained power module.  “OK, on to the next one.”  The corridor they were in was circular, so they were probably walking the circumference of the control tower above them.  This is like walking around a giant wheel lying on the ground, and stopping at each of the six spokes that connected the wheel to the hub.

Vanessa noticed that the twins had changed clothes while in the power room, and asked, “How did you change clothes while you were in there?  Is it also a clothes storage warehouse?”

Chloe began to say, “Uh, they aren’t wearing…”

Ashley interrupted her and continued with, “…anything special.  We just reverse our clothes once in a while.”  She pulled out the vest she was wearing and they could see it had another pattern on the inside.  And Alison pulled up her dress to reveal shorts underneath.  Chloe just looked at the twins with a puzzled expression.

Ashley stopped by a door and handed a ZPM to Chloe, “Here is the next power station.  OK Chloe, it’s time to learn a new skill.”

Alison turned to Chloe, closed her eyes and put her hands together, as if in prayer, “Do what we just did.  Look at the door and imagine that it’s not there.”

Chloe did the same thing, concentrated and soon exclaimed when she opened her eyes, “It’s gone!  I can see into the room!”

Ashley gave Chloe one of the power modules, “Go ahead and walk forward, through the wall.  Replace the module and return the same way.”

Chloe returned and placed the used power module in the trolley.  As they approached the third arm of the city Ashley turned to the three women, “Ah, here is the city hospital on the left.  You may go in for a few minutes, but please don’t touch anything.”

The twins stopped walking through the door because of the amount of personal energy required.  Instead they pressed the door activation light, and the door opened to the power room for this arm of the city.  The three adults entered a door opposite and looked about the hospital.  The twins knew that these adults from the Destiny spaceship had never been on an Atlantis class starship city, and were probably curious about what facilities were available.  The hospital didn’t look all that different from a regular private hospital elsewhere on Earth.  So they just shrugged and walked back out.

Alison continued with her training program, “So, we will need your help in filling in the pieces that we did not get from the ARK.  And we are relying on you three to correct us if we make mistakes or fail to know something important.”

Ashley pointed, “Here we are at the next power station, and across the hall is the special tools lab.  We will be right back.”  Alison soon returned, carrying three devices that looked like large pieces of jewelry, “For our next demonstration, each of you must wear this armband.”  This was the critical moment.  The women could refuse to wear the armband; in which case the twins would have a serious problem.  But luckily the three women treated the armbands like jewelry and put them on.

Ashley smiled, and was pleased that she did not have to tell them that nanobots were now invading their bodies, but in a good way.  Instead she continued with the lecture, “Good.  Now we should warn you.  If you attempt to remove the armband…”

Alison pointed a finger at the three women, “…or if you are being forced to reveal our location to our enemies, you will go into a coma.”

Ashley turned and pulled the trolley towards the next power station, “This is standard Ancient technology for lower human races that are in service to the Ancients.  Chloe can remove the armband at any time.”  Oddly enough Vanessa and Tamara did not object to being called a lower human race.  Then again, after watching three people walk through walls, who could complain?

Alison added an upbeat bit of news, “The good news is that the device offers you some protection against most diseases and physical attack.  It also helps bond you together in special ways, and basically enhances your senses.”  They didn’t add the fact that it also lets you project a hologram around you so that everyone else thinks that you are wearing clothes.  Only the twins and Chloe could see past the hologram, mainly because of their advanced genetic abilities and visual sensitivity.

Vanessa suddenly looked worried, “But I’m supposed to report to General Carter, and Colonel Young, and just about everyone who ranks above me!  Will it hurt me if I let something important slip out?”

Ashley was surprised at the response, which was fairly common thinking for military personnel, “No problem.  In your military you have a protocol called ‘Need~to~Know’.  They respect that.”

Alison turned and smiled at Vanessa to reassure her that her role in the military chain of command was not being compromised, “Just tell them what the armband does and then work out the details with those you trust.”

Tamara was getting curious, and somewhat more cautious, about being tied so closely to these little girls, “I get all this, but why me; and why Vanessa?”

Ashley turned and looked at her. “Tamara, what do you think would happen if the world discovered that you alone have the power to heal the cancer patient, the blind, the deaf, the paralyzed, and even bring someone out of a coma?”

Tamara was surprised at the question, “Well, I would like to think about that when and if the time comes.”

Alison pointed to the slacks Tamara was wearing, “You have the power now.  That device in your right pocket, the one that you selected from the armaments room on Destiny, is designed to be used by medics out in the field.  It heals any single organ, and closes up wounds to stop the bleeding.”  Tamara pulled the device out of her pocket to let Vanessa and Chloe see what it was.

Ashley added the critical piece of news. “All that you needed to make it work is the armband that we just gave you.  Authorization to use Ancient devices flows from us to the armband, which then activates the device in your hand according to your thoughts.”

Tamara looking stunned, and then thoughtful, “To answer the question, I would be crushed to death by the mob of people hoping to be healed of terminal diseases.  And when this technology is distributed, the world’s population would explode to the point where we run out of food and water.”

Alison’s eyebrows raised, and she smiled as she responded to the statement, “Impressive answer.  So we keep secrets both to protect ourselves and our species.  And these armbands allow us to accelerate your adaptation to our technology.  You will not need any special gene therapy like that given to many of the Atlantis crew over the last five years.”

Ashley turned to Captain James and added, “And we need Vanessa to help us adjust to Earth’s many cultures and social rules.”

Alison added, with a tone of dignity, “We have no real parents, and so we have chosen her to be our big sister.”  At that announcement Vanessa smiled, even though she realized that she had been drafted into something much bigger than the task Colonel Young had given her.

Ashley laid it on thick, like heaping more jam over toast, “Tamara, you and Vanessa are now helping us, like your Earth’s Big Sisters / Big Brothers volunteers.  And here we are at the next power station.”

Chloe grabbed a power module in the hopes of escaping any outburst from the other two at being drafted into a life that was about to get very complicated, “I’ll get it.”

Tamara was watching Chloe with a bit of envy, “I think she’s starting to like walking through solid walls.  It does look like fun.”

As Chloe returned from the power room, Alison looked pensive, “And that is the last time you will practice that skill.”

Ashley looked a bit distressed, “You must never do that in front of anyone you do not trust, or they could think you are some sort of monster to be destroyed.”  The twins knew this from experience. 

Alison wagged a finger at Chloe, “You should have noticed that we stopped.  It can severely drain you.  It is for emergency use only, and it has some nasty side effects, like accidentally walking out into space.”

Vanessa decided to come to the aid of Chloe, and changed the subject to something that was bothering her, “So, what does your uncle do, besides sleep?  And why do you call him your pet?”

Ashley and Alison smiled at each other and turned towards Vanessa, “Please tell General Carter that is for another time.”

Alison added, “And also tell her that she must be very cautious with her President.  The news that we have gathered from Elysium is that he seems to have his own xenophobic agenda.”

Chloe was nodding her head, “You got that right!”

—oOo—

General Carter walked into the Atlantis hospital and saw that Tamara and Dr Jennifer Keller were waiting for her.  Lisa Park from the Destiny crew was lying on a table, with a white cloth across her eyes.  She had been blinded on Destiny by an overdose of UV radiation from a sun.  “What’s up guys?  I was just about to leave to meet with our C.I.C.”  This is a somewhat derogatory but acceptable term for Commander in Chief ~ President of the USA. 

Dr Jennifer Keller held up her arm, “The twins gave me this armband, which helps me control Ancient devices!  Tamara has been showing me how to use this other cool device on small cuts and bruises.  Lisa has agreed to be my first patient, and with your permission, we are hoping to heal her damaged eyes.”

General Carter turned to the patient eagerly waiting for them to get started, “Lisa, have you been warned about the possible side effects of Ancient DNA?  And did you sign a waiver?”

Lisa responded in a somewhat shaky voice, “Yes, she told me everything.  Being blind is horrible, and frankly I’d rather be dead.”

General Carter looked at the doctor and nodded, “OK, this is what we have been waiting for, so let’s do it.”  Dr Keller began waving the device over Lisa’s eyes.  It didn’t glow like Goa’uld healing devices that used electronic energy, but instead it hummed ever so slightly.  What nobody in the room knew was that the stone was a nanobot controller, and the actual healing was being done by the nanobots that had been transferred to Lisa by the arm bands on Tamara and Dr Keller.  The problem was that the little robots were programmed for Alteran DNA, which was slightly different than Earthling DNA.

Lisa exclaimed, “I’m starting to see a fog.  No wait, that’s the cloth!”

As she reached up to remove the white cloth, Tamara stopped her.  TJ said in a very stern voice, “Lisa, we told you not to do that.  Now, I am going to lift the cloth slowly, if you begin to feel dizzy, then close your eyes or put the cloth back.”

Lisa was freaking out, “I can see the strands of cotton in the cloth.  My eyes are crystal clear!”  Soon she was sitting up, looking around.

Tamara smiled and got down to business, “OK, look at the chart on the wall and read the letters, starting at the top.”

Lisa looked confused at the instruction, “What is all the writing on the walls?  It looks like Ancient!”

General Carter looked at the wall and didn’t see anything.  Then she remembered what Rodney had said about getting UV lights, “Lisa, put on my Aviator UV sunglasses.  Now what do you see?”

Lisa looked around the room, “That’s weird, the Ancient writing has faded out somewhat.”  Both doctors did not look happy about this.  Obviously the cure was having some side effects, probably due to Ancient DNA.

General Carter also did not look happy, “Doctors, I want a complete report on my desk when I return.”

She was about to leave when Dr Keller caught her arm, “Samantha.  Tamara and I were talking, and you know how much I hate being in charge, and she does have military command experience, and…”

General Carter had to laugh as she turned to where Tamara was standing, “OK, OK!  Tamara, I am putting you in charge of all medical personnel, training and education.  Dr Keller will serve as the senior doctor and head of research.  Lisa will assist you until she decides what she wants to do on Atlantis.”  Samantha then hugged Lisa Parks and thanked her for her bravery.  As she left the hospital all three women were talking excitedly at once.

—oOo—

General Carter and Colonel Sheppard were in the Oval Office of the President of the United States of America.  Samantha noticed that the President had replaced the historic painting of George Washington with a picture of a very effeminate Jesus.  The President had been speaking for an hour, and sounded more like a preacher than a statesman, “…I understand what you are saying General, but I want that alien spaceship off this planet or at the bottom of the ocean!  And I don’t care which.  Stargate Command has been shut down, and that’s that.  And to be honest, I am pleased that Dr Rush stole your other spaceship.  God’s plan doesn’t include crazy ass scientist in alien machines.”  The previous President and Vice-President had been killed in a mysterious crash of Air Force One as it was approaching Taiwan for an Asian conference.  Unfortunately for the nation, the Speaker of the House had been sworn in as President.  He was a Republican right wing fanatical nut who had replaced Nancy Pelosi, a left wing nut case we don’t have time to discuss here.

General Carter had somehow managed to maintain her composure, and responded as you would to a child, “Sir, I realize that you are upset that we didn’t scuttle Atlantis…”

The President didn’t like his sermon being interrupted, “You’re lucky I haven’t fired the lot of you.  On the other hand, this could be a chance for us to bring the message of our Savior to the rest of the Universe.  Yes, now that I think of it, this may be the true purpose of the Ancients.  You say that Atlantis can hold all of the people involved in this alien nonsense, and that all of Stargate Command will be out of here at once?  How long will it take to train all these new people to run Atlantis?”

Colonel Sheppard decided to pitch in and give Sam a break, “The Elysium computer system has prepared training programs for everyone, and the Air Force is training pilots for the puddle-jumpers.  I would say at least 2 weeks, which includes ongoing repairs by the robots.” 

The President had turned his back on the Air Force officers, just as he had turned his back on the military budget and Veterans services.  As he was watching a bird outside the picture window he asked, “Elysium?  A pagan name for a ships computer?  What next, a dragon named Satan?”

General Carter immediately answered, “Well sir, his name is Uncle George, and he seems to be a pet of the twins.”  The girls had once described their uncle as a pet dragon, but Samantha had assumed the girls were trying to be cute and let it go.  The man did have a dragon’s breath, and Sam had tried at least twice to introduce Uncle George to a human invention called a toothbrush.  Anyway, this was a perfect time to pull the Presidents leg, an opportunity that she could not pass up.

The President spun around from looking out the window, “WHAT?  Oh, so you think this is funny Colonel Sheppard?  Yes, I read your report, and it has as many holes as this damn health care legislation on my desk.  But…”

General Carter decided to cut his sermon off and get to the point, “And with our new ability to efficiently mine the asteroid belt, we will not require any funding…”  Suddenly the President went livid, and Sam had no idea why, so she let the sentence drop at once.

Yes indeed, she had hit a sore spot with the President, “Or government oversight is what you mean.  Just what every democracy needs, a military with infinite funds.  But…I was just thinking.  You say the girls are about 12 or 13?  Hum, impressionable minds, and they are in control of this Elysium?”

General Carter was now very nervous about the direction this was going, “Mr. President, we have 3 very capable people keeping an eye on the twins, and the twins did bring our crew on Destiny home.”

The President bent down and pressed the intercom button on his phone as he replied, “And half of them have gone missing again.”  When his secretary came on the intercom he ordered, “Janice, get me Pastor Paul at that Baptist summer camp my grandkids Billy and Sarah are attending.”

General Carter was now absolutely convinced that she didn’t like the way this conversation was going, “Sir, I was also thinking of retiring soon; or perhaps teaching at the academy…”

The President stood up straight, holding the phone to his ear as he almost shouted, “Absolutely not!  When Atlantis leaves this galaxy I want you and all the rest of those stargazing trouble makers on board.  Good rid…  Oh, hello Pastor.  Listen, can you take 2 more kids?  I realize this is short notice, but I have something of an emergency here.  How quickly do you think you can convert two little heathen girls into God-fearing Christians?  Good, good.  I’ll send them right over.”

General Carter and Colonel Sheppard looked at each other and mouthed OMG.

The President caught them, and was not at all pleased. “OK you two clowns.  Here are your orders.  You have two weeks to get that alien ship off my planet and out of this solar system.  I have only six months left in office and I don’t want my legacy to include UFOs and satanic dragons.  In the meantime, deliver the twins to this address.  Understood?”

General Samantha Carter and Colonel John Sheppard stood to attention and saluted, “Yes sir!”

The President then remembered something, “Oh, and give your staff some kind of promotion.  Those damn Air Force Generals keep pestering me about people on Destiny and Atlantis performing service above and beyond and all that crap.  I want every soldier and civilian involved in this Stargate program on board that ship; including that insubordinate Colonel Young.”

General Samantha Carter and Colonel John Sheppard responded with another salute and the standard military response, “Yes sir!  Thank you sir.”

As they were leaving the White House, John asked a worried Sam, “I thought you wanted command of Atlantis.  What’s all this about retiring?”

General Carter smiled at him as she replied, “I thought I would use a bit of reverse psychology I learned from Dr Elizabeth Weir.  We now have carte blanche.  And no civilian supervision!  Unless you count the twins pretending to be Captains and Navigators.  Speaking of which, I’m a little worried about this summer camp thing.”

Colonel Sheppard sounded confident as he replied, “I’m sure they’ll be alright.  They seem capable enough.”

General Carter was now shaking her head, “It’s not them I’m worried about.”

—oOo—

Camile Wray from the IOA (International Oversight Advisory) and Dr Nicholas Rush (an expert in Ancient technology) were facing off in the main dining room of Destiny.  Dale Volker, a mellow and very competent astrophysicist, was trying to mediate the shouting match.  The rest of the crew was sitting around the cafeteria, sipping tea and waiting for the meeting to come to order, which didn’t seem likely.  Camile had ordered Destiny to return to the Earth solar system and to hide behind the sun, on the opposite side of the orbit of Earth.  The hologram of Destiny appeared, and when she was ignored she simply walked between the two combatants.

Dr Rush looked annoyed, but concerned, “Yes Destiny, what is the problem?”

Destiny looked at him and spoke calmly, like a parent mediating between two naughty children, “Dr Rush.  Please take five minutes and state your case.  Then Camile will state her case.  Then the both of you should sit down and we will do the same for the others.  With only twenty persons on board, this should end quickly.”

Dr Rush smiled at the chance to be heard without the constant noise from this irritating woman across from him, “Excellent idea.  First of all, no one on this ship has any legitimate authority.  We are now officially pirates.  This vessel was claimed by the US Government as legal salvage, and we stole it.  So if you return to earth you will probably all be arrested.  Secondly, I am the expert on Ancient technology and should be placed in charge.  I cede the rest of my time to the human resources personnel clerk from the IOA.”  Oh, the man did know how to hurl insults.

Camile Wray was livid, “Bastard.  We should have tossed your arrogant ass out the airlock months ago.”  She then calmed down and tried to act as sweet as a little girl.  “Some of us, like Eli, have loved ones and sick relatives at home.  We all want to explore the universe, without having to take orders from mindless grunts.  But we have no intention of abandoning our humanity or Humankind.  I cede my time to Eli.”

Eli Wallace did not like getting in the middle of this, “Destiny, does the ship have a cloaking device we don’t know about?”

Destiny shook her head no, “Such a device is useless on this ship.  The engines generate a significant amount of detectable radiation, and we are constantly moving forward.  The shuttles have a light emitting camouflage system that is only effective at long distances.  Anyone standing near the shuttle would see the craft.”  Eli had heard of the US Army using this technique to hide tanks during daylight hours in the desert.  The engineers would shine a matrix of lights in front of the standing tanks, and they would appear to vanish in the desert brightness.  So far it was not very effective.

Eli was thinking of something more practical, “But Destiny would not be detected if we hide behind a near-Earth asteroid.  And the shuttle could sneak in to Earth over the Antarctic.  So why don’t we take turns returning to Earth in the shuttle at night, disguised with beards and wigs as homeless people, do our business and get back?”

Destiny looked around and offered to do the democratic thing, “Everyone in favor, raise your hand?  All but one?  Then I will put that decision on my list of tasks.  Since that issue is settled, let’s move on to the next topic.”  Camile had her hand raised, and was clearly not willing to let the rest of the crew take turns speaking.  The A.I. did not know how to handle these irrational humans, so she decided that the most insistent person probably had the consent of the rest, at least for now.  “Camile, this time you begin.”

Camile put her hand down and once again acted like a little darling, which everybody knew she was NOT, “We should try to help Earth’s people with the technology that we have right here on Destiny.  I’m not saying that we should get involved in Earths industries or politics.  We are all explorers, and I know that most of you are secret treasure hunters.”  Eli thought that she had just won over half the crew with that single sly remark.  “But the IOA is fed up with Stargate Command and their refusal to exploit alien science and industry.  All I’m asking for is advanced technology in food and medicine.  Dr Rush?”  Everyone began nodding, and Dr Rush could see that he was going to loose this one as well.

Dr Rush was no dummy, and had learned a few lessons in back stabbing from this woman, “I fully agree.  But that takes a great deal of time and money, both of which we do not have.  Eli?”

Eli Wallace was now getting a bit perturbed, “Why do I always have to be the bad guy?  OK, what if Destiny works up a complete set of blueprints for pharmaceutical industrial facilities.  She designs new drugs that are within the boundaries of current scientific knowledge.  We could then just drop off a computer drive with an international firm and be gone.”

Dr Rush liked the idea, but saw a huge problem, “Very good Eli.  So how do we finance all of this?”

Dale Volker decided to jump in now, “We could find an asteroid to mine or search for a planet with valuable minerals.”

Dr Rush was always eager to dismiss ideas from people he considered vastly inferior, “That would take way too long, although it is a good long term objective for Earth.”

Destiny almost scolded Dr Rush for his attitude, but instead spoke with cool logic, “On the contrary Dr Rush.  I assume that the rings you all are wearing are valuable, and are made of diamond and gold?”  Destiny was now in constant communication with Elysium, and knew exactly what these people wanted.  She looked around and everyone nodded.  “Good.  I can quickly collect asteroids and use your sun to melt and separate the metal in a centrifuge.  I am able to refine metals in this manner at the rate of three tons per hour.  This is how I repaired the ship from asteroid collisions over thousands of years.  It is nearly impossible to detect tiny objects traveling near the speed of light, and the shields can not be maintained at maximum strength every second we are not in FTL.  Asteroid mining is also how the seeder ships create new Stargates.”  The people in the room looked stunned, even though this news should have been obvious.  Destiny then hit them with the real shocker.  “And I can easily produce diamond from any source of carbon, in unlimited amounts, also using the suns energy.”  Everyone jumped up and started talking at once.

Eli sounded a bit confused, and wasn’t really thinking straight after hearing all this good news, “Destiny.  You said shuttles.  We used up the shuttles as cruise missiles against the Drones.”

Destiny could not understand why these humans were so dense.  She had been programmed by the Ancients, who knew that the ships A.I. could direct robots as tiny as a water drop to make repairs.  Up until recently, Destiny had not bothered to make repairs that Earth humans required.  Raw materials had to be collected, and energy had to be diverted from all the battles these Earth humans got themselves into.  As soon as the twins came aboard, all that changed.  So Destiny stated what she assumed would be obvious to everyone, “We now have two fully operational shuttles, and I am currently painting them to match your earth foliage, assuming that you want to land in a wooded area, undetected.  So, everyone, quiet please.  All those in favor of transferring this technology and financing to Earth, in one Earth week, raise your hands.  Then it is unanimous.”

Dr Rush wanted to wrap this up, “OK then, let’s all agree that we have one week to do our business.  I will remain on board, with at least 5 people at all times.  Camile will take charge of the food and medicine project.  Anyone not returning in the shuttles will be left behind.  Destiny, please start the countdown.  Are we all in agreement that we will leave, in FTL speed, in exactly one week from NOW?”  Dr Rush knew that Camile was up to something, but he had no idea what it might be.  At the first chance he got he was going to throw her arrogant ass out an airlock.  As he turned to leave he saw Sgt. Greer blocking the door.

Sgt. Greer was holding some kind of Ancient weapon, and it looked nasty enough to stop everyone in their tracks, “I don’t think so folks.”  It was only a stun gun, used to knock out drunks and wild animals.  But it looked deadly to the civilians who were unarmed.

Dr Rush was now very perturbed, “You had orders from Colonel Young to leave Destiny!”

Sgt. Greer just gave them that wicked psychotic look he was so fond of, “Yea, well, I got big ears, and you all have big mouths.  Besides, my service time is up.  Just think of me as a mercenary soldier.”

Camile Wray had tried her best to get along with this man, but it was obvious her arrogance and his contempt were always going to collide, “Alright; spit it out Mister Greer.  We are not interested in playing your games.”

Greer dropped the psycho look and got down to business, “You rich folks never do get it.  You have a billion dollars at your fingertips, and you want to give it awayAre you crazy?  I got 14 relatives living in projects, 3 of them in jail because they were sold out by public defenders.  Now let’s see.  Do I want to traipse around the freaking universe looking for some god, or do I want to go home a rich hero?  Gosh, what a dilemma this is.”  He put his finger to his lips and pretended to think about it.

Eli Wallace turned to the others in the room, “He has a point.  I could use the money to care for my mother.  And retiring on Earth a wealthy man would be nice.”

Dale Volker again jumped in, “Why don’t we set up a Swiss bank account for all the people here, and put ten million dollars in each account?  You can then do whatever you want with it.  Any more would bring the feds down on all of us.  Gamblers win that much in Texas Hold’em tournaments all the time these days.  And you can each carry a bag of small uncut pure diamonds to put into a safe deposit box.  No personal gold stashes.  It’s too suspicious and way too easy to trace.  Agreed?”

Destiny looked around the room, “I take it from the raised hands that this decision is unanimous.  I will prepare the diamonds and gold to meet your specifications.  Camile, the manufacturing blueprints and drug formulae are ready.”

Sgt. Greer smiled and lowered the stun rifle, “Now you’re talking my language.  I’ll get the shuttles ready for departure.”

 

 

Summer Camp Blues

 

General Carter was in the conference room on Atlantis, meeting with the twins, Vanessa and Matthew.  Samantha turned to Ashley, “Girls, I realize that you are having fun in the Game Room, but our President thought that you might like to get out and see a bit of our planet.”

Lt Scott added, “We have summer camps for teens your age, and there will be lots of boys and girls having fun and visiting waterparks.”  He had visited the website for the camp, and thought it looked OK.

Ashley perked up immediately, “Boys?”

Alison’s eyes went wide, “Bikinis?”  Suddenly the twins vanished.  And I don’t mean they ran out of the room.  Nope, they just disappeared.

General Carter jumped back a little, “OK, that was spooky.  Captain James and Captain Scott.  You will watch over the twins like mother hens.  I don’t care if you have to climb a tree to keep an eye on them.  The President’s grandkids are at that camp, so you will also need to interface with the Secret Service.”

Matthew looked at Vanessa and declared, “Hey, I just got promoted, how about…”  And just as suddenly the twins were back, dressed in summer safari outfits and packing book bags.  They had also painted their faces, one twin looked like a lion and the other looked like a butterfly.

General Carter acted like this jumping around and instant transformation occurred every day on Atlantis, “As I was saying girls, Captains Scott and James will take you to the camp and stay in a nearby resort, just in case we need you in a hurry.  Oh, and captains.”

Matthew and Vanessa, grinning like newlyweds, responded, “Yes ma’am?”

General Carter continued in a serious tone, “You are of equal rank now, and fraternization will be permitted on board Atlantis, but only with my permission.  However, if you are distracted from your duties for even a second, I will bust the two of you down to warrant officers.  Is that understood?”

Matthew and Vanessa, still grinning like newlyweds, answered, “Yes ma’am!”

—oOo—

Summer camp started out OK.  The weather was warm and dry, especially in California.  Summer camps in the northern states and Canada are popular, but it can rain the entire week, and the bugs can drive you crazy.  The twins were issued plain uniforms, like you find in private schools, and one-piece Speedo swimsuits.  The twins were thrilled to meet lots of kids from all over the world, and they instantly made friends with everyone.  The Pastor was a bit puzzled that the twins could speak any language spoken in the camp, but he assumed that the girls lived in Washington DC and attended an international school.  Each day he became more and more annoyed at how the twins kept challenging his authority and instructions.  For example, during Morning Prayer on the second day of their arrival, the Pastor recited the Ten Commandments; then he opened up the Bible to Mark 10.  When he finished reading verse 18 the twins both raised their hands at once.

Pastor Paul, “Yes young lady, you have a question.  That is wonderful.”  There was nothing worse for a preacher than to realize that his audience is deaf to what he is saying, or just not paying attention.

Ashley threw out her hands, as if a bit confused, “So, this really cool Jewish dude named Jesus is the Son of God right?”

Pastor Paul winced at the term cool Jewish dude, “Yes, indeed.”

Then Alison asked with pure innocence, “So how come he can’t remember the Ten Commandments?”

Pastor Paul dropped his jaw, and raised his voice, “What are you talking about?  That’s sacrilege!”

Ashley ignored the sacrilege accusation, since intelligent humans do not hold anything as an absolute, or what people call sacred, “He said defraud, which is not a commandment.”

Alison turned to Ashley and said very loud, “On the other hand defraud should be a commandment”

Then Ashley picked it up, “What with the prices these kids are paying for this run down excuse for a vacation resort!”  She had flipped her wrist, started shaking her head in shame and was acting like a Jewish mother complaining about the cost of bagels.  Some of the kids started to giggle at the act.

Alison continued her argument, “Every kid here knows the Ten Commandments.  But Jesus can’t remember them?”  She was also shaking her head, as if she was saddened by the idea of the son of a god making a mistake.  The truth is, Jesus made a number of mistakes, most of which he corrected.  Like when he gave up on preaching pacifism to Hebrews in rebellion against the Romans, and switched over to the more receptive Gentiles.  Anyway, the point that she was making is that an exact reading of the Bible ignores the historic uses of words, like the similar use of steal and defraud.  The other point is that most summer camps are a rip-off.  They don’t have fun games that kids expect when going to camp.  They also do not have adequate equipment, summer water sports or arts and crafts that are missing in most school systems.  Hence the emphasis on the word defraud, which went right over the Pastors head.

Alison stood up and turned to the other kids, “I say we make Sarah the new Daughter of God, since she can remember all of the Ten Commandments!”  Alison had learned that Sarah was the granddaughter of the President.  While most parents thought of their kids as ‘trouble makers’, the twins considered themselves ‘trouble inventors’.  When the other kids in the Bible study group started cheering, the Pastor went ballistic. 

Unfortunately, the sudden elevation Sarah received went to her head.  She decided that she was invincible and began taking risks beyond what a reasonable child would venture.  Within the hour she fell out of a tree and screamed at the top of her lungs.  When everyone rushed over they could see that her bloody leg was broken, and a little piece of bone was sticking out of her skin.  Ashley immediately threw a towel over Sarah’s leg, and the twins picked her up and carried Sarah to the nurse’s station.  Councilor Jeff followed them, pretending to supervise even though the twins were way ahead of him.  He could also see that Sarah was out cold, and probably in shock.  The twins laid the girl on the table in the nurse’s office, keeping both of their hands on the leg.

Finally the nurse arrived, having run over from the lake where she was supervising a class in water drowning rescue.  She gently pushed the twins out of the way and removed the bloody towel from Sarah’s leg.  And saw absolutely nothing.  Jeff was staring at the leg with his mouth hanging open, and ignoring the questions from the nurse.  Alison spoke up first, “Oops, we thought that Sarah was hurt when she fell out of a tree.”

Ashley added the next little lie, “But it turns out that she fell on a squirrel and killed it, and blood and bones came gushing out of the fur ball.”

Sarah opened her eyes and looked around, totally confused.

Alison concluded the lie before Jeff could speak up, “Then she fainted from the messy gore, so we carried her here.”

Ashley pulled Sarah off the table and all three girls headed out the door.  The entire camp was waiting outside, hoping to see an ambulance carrying away a screaming kid or a dead body covered in gore.  But when Sarah came running out the door all the kids cheered and ran off, as if nothing had happened.  Let’s face it, kids rarely question bizarre events that defy reality.  They usually just shrug it off, and move on.  Councilor Jeff was still in the nurse’s office, trying to speak, or at least trying to think of something to say regarding what he had just witnessed.  The nurse thought he was trying to ask her for a date, so she also ran out the door and back down to the lake.

That same day all the kids from the girl’s cabins were marched over to the paintball range in the afternoon.  As everyone was putting on goggles, Ashley asked Councilor Jeff, “This morning Pastor Paul preached the Commandment about not killing?”  She made it sound like a question, inviting a response.

Alison jumped in before Jeff could answer the question, “And he said that Jesus taught pacifism, which was probably an attempt to stop the Jewish rebellion against the Romans.”  She was showing off her recent absorption of Earth’s history.

Ashley also added a few more facts, “A rebellion that was futile and costing too many lives; and the Jewish nation got sacked anyway 70 years later.”

Councilor Jeff, “That’s correct.  It’s good to see that you are paying attention.  Pastor Paul teaches us to turn the other cheek.”

Alison put her left hand on her hip, while holding the paint ball rifle in her right hand, the butt on her right hip and the muzzle pointed straight up, which was the proper safety position.  She then asked a seemingly harmless question, with that innocent little voice that brats are so fond of, “So why are you teaching us how to kill?”

Councilor Jeff could see that the crowd of girls had formed a semi-circle, and were listening with a lot more attention than they paid to PP, which is what the councilors called Pastor Paul when he wasn’t within earshot.  Jeff could hear a little voice on his right shoulder say, “Go ahead, tell them Jesus was a fool, and you have to go out and kill the terrorist and tyrants before they kill you!”  Then a little voice on his left shoulder said, “I have taught you that the oppressed are blessed, and that you will be rewarded in Heaven for your suffering.”  Councilor Jeff wanted to run to PP and put this on his shoulders, but the girls were looking at him, so he said, “You are absolutely right.  Jesus did not teach his disciples judo, or give them swords.  So let’s put those guns back on the racks and play a non-violent sport.”

Ashley stood at attention, rifle at the ready in both hands, acted startled and exclaimed, “What!  Are you kidding me!  These guns are cool!”

Alison turned to face the group and yelled, “Come on girls, let’s go shoot some boys in the ass.” 

And off they went, screaming at the top of their lungs.  Councilor Jeff just stood there in shock.  He was now having second thoughts about passing up that summer job at Burger King.  Soon the boys in the camp were running from the girls, who had not fired a single shot directly at the boys.  The girls knew better than to shoot at someone without goggles, which could get you evicted from the camp.  Instead, the girls shot at nearby trees and bushes, or just yelled ‘bang, bang, got you’. 

Now, boys are not total dummies, in spite of the fact that their brain is much smaller than girls; and dangles between their legs in a little sack.  The boys all ran for the sports equipment shed and locked the door behind them.  The girls lined up in a defensive arc around the front of the shed.  The row in front, directed by Ashley, knelt and aimed at the door; while the row in back, directed by Alison, stood ready to fire at any target of opportunity.  Soon the boys marched out of the shed, wearing goggles and carrying super soakers. 

Little Billy, the President’s other grandchild, was in front, and announced, “Its payback time girlies.  We’re locked and loaded with dog piss (really just apple juice stored in the shed).  Ready men, charge.”  The girls fired off one defensive volley, turned and ran screaming in all directions.

—oOo—

Pastor Paul was busy writing his next sermon, and ignored the screaming outside the window.  Such was the nature of summer camps.  After it was quiet for a while, all of the councilors except the lifeguards came rushing in and started apologizing at once, “Sorry Pastor, we couldn’t stop them.” “The kids just went nuts.”  “We told them to get out.”

Pastor Paul looked up from writing his sermon and motioned for them to calm down, “Slow down boys and girls, and would somebody please tell me why my window is covered in paint?”

Councilor Jeff decided to fib a little to cover his ass, “Well Pastor, the girls were tired of being teased by the boys, and so they started a shooting war with paint ball guns against super soakers.  And I think the girls won.”

Pastor Paul looked puzzled, and asked, “So what’s so bad about that?”

Councilor Sharon decided to defend the girls, just barely, “Since the girls were soaking wet with apple juice, they decided to jump in the swimming pool, even though it’s restricted at this hour.  You told us swimming was only allowed if they behaved themselves.”

Pastor Paul was starting to get annoyed.  He hired college kids to help him run the camp because they were supposed to be smart, and they were supposed to be able to relate to the younger kids, “Well, tell them to get out and change into dry clothes.  What’s the problem here folks?”

Councilor Jeff had to deliver the bad news, because nobody else wanted to admit that they had lost control of the camp to little kids, “They won’t get out of the pool.”

Pastor Paul jumped up, and just freaked out, “You people get those kids dressed into Sunday uniforms and then march those heathens down to the church this minute.  And somebody clean my window!”

—oOo—

The twins were next in line for the showers, which in this camp was limited to just one shed with swinging doors like a saloon in a western movie.  You could see the feet of whoever was in the showers, and the heads were visible for the taller adults.  Only two kids could shower at once, and the water was recycled because of the scarcity of fresh water in Southern California.  Suddenly camp councilor Santorum walked over in front of the twins, and made the following declaration, “All of the boys will shower first, and you girls will wait to be last, as is your proper place in society.”  He then noticed that two of the councilors had finished washing and had exited the shed.  Santorum then gave the twins a nasty smirk and entered the showers alone.

The twins did not know what was, or was not, standard behavior on the planet Earth, but they could tell from the looks on some of the girls that they were upset, and the mumbling in line was getting louder.  Ashley looked at Alison and smiled.  Oh yes, this was going to be fun.  Ashley whistled towards a tree, and two squirrels came running down the branches and hopped over to the twins.  Ashley then bent down and whispered to the squirrels, who seemed to understand what she was saying.  The rest of the campers gathered around the twins and watched the little creatures chirping and looking at each other.  Then the squirrels scampered over to the swinging door and looked up at councilor Santorum, eyes closed, washing his hair.  One squirrel said to the other, “Wow, she was right.  Look at the giant tasty walnuts!”  The other squirrel looked at his brother and added, “And a tiny banana too!  Race ya.”

Throughout the camp everyone could hear a terrified scream.  Councilor Santorum came blasting out of the shower stall, holding on to the tails of the two squirrels, and raced to the lake in the hope of drowning the animals.  But the squirrels let loose of the screaming human, disgusted with the awful taste of soap.  Councilor Santorum then let loose of the animals and headed for the nurses station, never to be seen again in the camp.  Alison then turned to the group of boys who had been moving to the front of the line and asked, “Does anybody else want to cut in line?”

All of the boys placed their hands protectively in front of their shorts and shook their heads no.  Little Billy pushed his sister Sarah in front of him and said, “No way.  You girls all go first.”  The other boys nodded in agreement, and urged the girls to move to the front of the line.  The twins then smiled and entered the showers.

—oOo—

Then came Friday Morning Bible Study, and the real trouble began.  The twins flashed through the pages of the Bible at super speed while all the other kids in the small camp were settling down in a circle around the cold campfire.

Councilor Jeff opened up the meeting, “Today we are going to talk about atonement…”  He saw one of the twins raise her hand and he groaned, “Yes, young lady.  You have a question?”  He had no idea which one was Alison and which was Ashley, since they made a habit of constantly switching name tags.

Ashley looked a bit puzzled, “Yesterday, Pastor Paul said that you take this Bible literally?”

Councilor Jeff, “Indeed we do.  You must follow the practices and teachings, word for word!”

Alison continued with the question, “So this Moses Priest is carrying a stone tablet with a written commandment from his god not to kill.”  Councilor Jeff was thinking ‘here we go again’.

Ashley made a statement that sounded like a question, and she was looking around at the other kids, making sure they were included in the discussion, “And in Exodus 32-27, the first thing he does is kill thousands of his own followers because they are having a party, and he didn’t get invited?”  Jeff was thinking, well, a teen could look at it that way, since they could hardly understand the concept of false idols, mortal sins and blasphemy.  Besides, maybe Moses was pissed off that his followers were having a party while he was climbing up and down mountains. Alison looked at some of the kids and continued with the question, “Moses ordered his loyal soldiers to kill their own brothers and friends, chopping them up into pieces!”  She made a face that caused some of the kids to giggle, while others were horrified at what she was saying.  Then she added a very thoughtful analysis of what Moses had done, “Earlier in the story they said Moses was trying to get his people away from slavery and oppression in Egypt!”

Ashley was shaking her head, in mock amazement, “And Moses doesn’t get punished for acting more evil than the Pharaoh they escaped from!  Even after smashing the tablets to pieces.”

Alison concluded that question, “Like, what’s up with that?”  The twins were getting into the teen-talk, and having a bit of fun.

Ashley started another question, not giving Jeff a chance to spin control what Moses had done to his own people.  She flipped the pages and started reading, “Then here in Numbers 31, it says that Moses orders the slaughter of all the people in a village, cutting them up into pieces.  And I bet they even drank the blood!”  Some of the kids looked horrified as the twins continued to look around the circle, getting everyone into the story with eye contact and gestures.

Alison had turned to the same page, “But when his soldiers bring back the women and children as prisoners, he tells his soldiers that they can keep the virgin girls and rape them, and make them slaves!”  Now all the kids were reacting, and councilor Jeff was flabbergasted.  He had no idea how to stop this, or even if he should.  The twins were reading directly from the Bible, which is what religious clerics do every day.  Only the emphasis isn’t usually on this topic.

Ashley continued reading, “But first the soldiers have to kill the mothers, and the baby brothers, and the little sisters in front of the young virgin slaves!”  The twins had quickly read up on summer camping, and were convinced that you were supposed to tell horror stories around the campfire.  And what better horror story than Exodus?

Suddenly the mouths of every kid in the circle fell open.  But Councilor Jeff had strict orders to convert these two ASAP.  He decided to interrupt this story before it got out of control, “We all realize that back then people waged total warfare.  Even Julius Caesar committed genocide to subdue the European savages (a fact which some historians debate).  And furthermore…”

Alison was not about to let Jeff off so easily, and interrupted him, “In 2 Samuel 12 this god, acting alone and without a human surrogate, takes men’s wives and has the neighbors rape the women in front of their husbands.”  That put an end to any spin control to blame Moses alone for the crimes against humanity.

Ashley had closed her Bible, and was showing off the fact that she had a photographic memory, “And a few paragraphs later this god kills a baby to punish the parents.”  Ashley had made a stabbing motion and a few of the kids yelped.

Alison put her book down and looked around at the other kids, talking as if she was wrapping up the horror story, “In Exodus 21 you can sell your daughter as a slave, and who knows what horrible things her owners will make her do.”

Ashley pretended to be Pastor Paul, and preached the next words as if giving a sermon, “And in Deuteronomy 22, it says that if you rape a virgin and get caught, you just have to pay the father 50 pieces of silver.”

Alison resumed her horror story, looking around the circle at each camper, “Then she is forced to be his wife, and he can rape her all he wants!”  At this point the kids had all dropped their Bibles, and were absolutely horrified at the stories they had just heard.

Suddenly the twins jumped up and Alison shouted, “Come on girls.  We are not going to sit here and listen to boys talk about raping virgins!  Let’s go for a swim.”  And with that declaration all of the girls marched out of the circle.  The boys hadn’t said a word, but the girls had made their point.

Councilor Jeff voiced an objection, but in a rather weak voice, “Wait, the pool is restricted till Saturday!  Oh crap.  There goes my bonus.”  Even Jeff was horrified at what the girls were saying.  He realized that he had never read the Bible objectively, and certainly not as a prosecutor or defense lawyer would read it.  And once again we see that boys are slow on the uptake, but they can be clever when they get the urge.  Suddenly all of the boys started complaining that they had to go to the bathroom.  And it just happens that the bathroom is located next to the swimming pool.  Off they went, nearly knocking themselves over racing to the pool.  Councilor Jeff decided to wait a few minutes to see if any of them came back.

Then the camp councilors made a huge mistake.  They tried to get the campers out of the pool, threatening to revoke their field trip privileges, and picking up some of the little kids.

Suddenly the camp supervisors found themselves spinning around, dancing out of control, and doing a Boogie Woogie.  The campers loved the show, and didn’t realize the twins were making the councilors dance like puppets on a string.  Then the dancing turned into summersaults and back flips.  Half of the councilors were thrown into the pool.  The rest of the staff ran off in a panic, screaming something about summer camp demons.  Needless to say, the councilors gave up, and everyone went back to having fun in the pool.

The twins were finally satisfied that the summer camp staff were going to leave the campers alone.  Ashley looked at her watch and nodded to Alison.  They had earlier decided to explore more of the planet Earth than just this little campground.  Ashley was carrying Billy on her back, and Alison was carrying Sarah.  The twins told the kids to hang on, and suddenly both twins had an underwater scooter in front of them.  These devices run on an electric battery, and they pull you through the water much faster than you can swim.  You can use them with just snorkeling gear, but you should probably only use them with scuba tanks if you want to go below three meters from the surface.  As you would guess, the twins didn’t need any breathing equipment, and neither did the little kids riding on their backs.  They headed straight for the wall of the swimming pool.  But instead of crashing into the side of the pool, they passed into a paradise of tropical fish and coral reefs.  Billy and Sarah could see sharks swimming nearby, and other kids were swimming around the giant underwater world.  The kids riding on the backs of the twins realized that this must be Shark Reef at Typhoon Lagoon in Disneyworld Orlando.  But that park was thousands of miles away from the summer camp!

After they thoroughly explored the underwater paradise the twins surfaced and waded ashore onto a sandy beach.  Billy couldn’t believe his eyes.  They were now on the coast of France, in the late afternoon, and he could see a castle in the distance.  Waiting for them were two go-karts, which had sails instead of a motor.  The twins climbed into the carts they had reserved on the internet, and the grandkids of the President of the United States climbed into their laps.  Ashley slowly pulled the sail towards her and the cart began moving.  The kids were soon screaming with delight as they raced down the beach.

After twenty minutes the kids hid behind a pile of rocks where they could not be seen, and dove into the surf.  Suddenly they were back at the summer camp pool, as if nothing had happened.

—oOo—

The next morning Jeff was called into the Pastor’s office, “Sir, I’m very sorry about…”

Pastor Paul waved Jeff to silence, “That’s all right.  You couldn’t stop them, and this sort of thing happens from time to time.  But I have a plan to get rid of those two demons.  I don’t care what the President wants at this point.  This is my camp!  So, we are going to move up the schedule and take the kids to the waterpark today.  If the twins try any stunts, they will get themselves arrested, and that will be that!”

The twins had never been to an amusement park, so riding the roller coasters was an amazing experience.  For some reason the restraining bars holding the twins and the rest of the summer campers would not release, and the ride operator had to let them go a second, and then a third time.  When the temperature got hot all of the kids were marched over to the waterpark. 

When the girls reached the top of the racer slide they marched in front of the boys, bringing the other girls with them, daring any of the boys to object.  Ashley shouted, “Last one down buys lunch for everybody.”

After a few hours of riding the water slides, the girls from the summer camp were being followed around the waterpark by just about every cute boy in the park.  Many of the boys had dumped their girlfriends, who were not too happy about what was going on here.  The park manager was a stickler for rules, and decided to investigate.  He caught up with the twins at the ice-cream stand, and demanded, “I’m sorry, but we’ve had some complaints about your group cutting in line.”

Ashley and Alison looked at each other, and then turned to the manager, “It wasn’t us!”

Alison then had an idea, so she told the manager, “We can prove it.  Close your eyes and describe what they said we were wearing.” 

The manager closed his eyes and described exactly what some of the girls were wearing.  The girls then wrapped a towel around themselves, and magically switched to a different style Speedo swimsuit.  The boys thought it was some sort of summer camp circus act, and applauded.  When the manager opened his eyes, he saw that the girls were all wearing something different, which made him jump back a step.  He then mumbled a quick apology as he turned and almost ran away in embarrassment.

—oOo—

A few days later Pastor Paul motioned Jeff to have a seat in his office, “This is just great.  After one week with those twin demons we have managed to get ourselves banned from a children’s museum, a zoo and two waterparks.  Something funny is going on around here, and I intend to get to the bottom of this.  It’s time those kids learned some discipline.  March them over to the chapel and tell them they can kneel in prayer for the next two hours!”

—oOo—

A few hours later Vanessa and Matthew were indeed ‘up a tree’ outside the summer camp, and not just figuratively.  Vanessa was complaining, “I can barely see a thing through these tiny binoculars.  There is some action going on over to the right.”

Matthew looked behind him and saw someone climbing up the tree, “Oh great.  Here comes Jennifer from the Secret Service.  She’s supposed to be a councilor inside the camp on night guard duty.  But, I must admit, that girl climbs trees like a monkey.”

Jennifer reached the branch where the other two were located, “I just got off the phone with the President, and he is freaking out.  Most of the summer camp staff are safe and tucked into that Marriott resort you guys are staying at.  Nice digs for Air Force personnel!  Here, use my power binoculars.”

Vanessa came up with a story, “Yes, well, we had some money saved up from a two year tour of duty.”

But Matthew was not interested in discussing housing or spa facilities, “We talked to our commander an hour ago.  She’s bringing over a specialist in force shield technology to figure out what went wrong with our experimental security system.”

Jennifer, who had some experience with Stargate Command and alien technology, wasn’t buying it, “So that’s the cover story, hey?  Looks to me like your two nieces kicked the staff out of the camp and erected the force shield themselves.  Lucky for them I was at the store getting supplies or I would have spanked their little bottoms.  So what’s going on now?”

Vanessa started talking like she was the announcer at a fashion show, “Here they come now; ten of the little darlings, all dressed up in witches’ costumes.  The seven boys are dressed as warlocks.  And some of the older girls are modeling leather battle uniforms from the middle ages.  They are now walking the path to the archery range.  Ah, and here we see the Pastor, wearing a yellow blindfold with little blue hearts.  He is also dressed in a flowing black silk robe, with a white target circle painted in the center.  And to enhance the drama, he is tied up to a tree.”

Matthew scolded her with a mock voice, “Give me those binoculars.  There goes our promotion.  I can barely make it out, but I think the kids have water balloons, and are about to have a contest to see who can hit the Pastor in the nuts.”

Jennifer just shook her head and smiled, “You two are really enjoying this, aren’t you?  I must admit, the last few days have been very strange.”  Jennifer then climbed down the tree and walked over to her group of Secret Service people, who were trying to get past the force shield.

In a few minutes General Carter arrived, and walked over to where the security group indicated her people were watching the camp.  She looked up and almost laughed at the sight of her soldiers.  She yelled up at the couple spying on the camp, “Captains.  I see that you’re both up a tree after all.  Come on down you two.  I brought along Chloe and Colonel Sheppard.”

When they were all together as a group, Chloe motioned to everyone, “I think I know how to get through the force shield.  Vanessa, link arms with me and press your armband to mine.  Now you three hold on to us.  OK, let’s go.”  They were able to walk through the shield with only a slight resistance.

—oOo—

Alison spotted the Atlantis group approaching their lounge chairs, and acted like everything was just as cool as you please, “Hey guys.  What’s up?”

The twins had been getting some Vitamin D for a few minutes, and were not really interested in getting a tan, since they knew the damage the sun can do to your skin.  Ashley exclaimed from her lounge chair, “We still have two days left!  Oh no!  Chloe, you’re supposed to be watching Uncle George!”

Chloe held up her hands, “Don’t panic girls.  Tamara gave him a sedative and is watching him closely.  Besides, Carmen thinks he’s a horse and rides him for hours.  After that he just sleeps.”

Alison yelled out to one of the kids, “Hey, Billy Skywalker, you’re in charge now!  And Sarah Skywalker, make sure everyone uses sun block!”

Billy turned to wave at the twins, “Bye Princess Leia.”  Billy then turned back to the line of kids at the archery range and yelled at the top of his lungs, “Ready, Aim, Fire!” 

As the Pastor was hit with ten water balloons he screamed, “I hate kids.  Godless heathens, all of you!  I never want to see another brat for the rest of my life.  You monsters turn me loose or I’ll sue your parents for everything they have.”

Ashley gave out a sigh, “That man just doesn’t get the point.”  She then acted innocent, ignoring the fact that they had taken over the camp and thrown the staff out.  “So, what’s up?”

General Carter decided to play along, since she had no idea what kind of alien personality she was dealing with here, “We have orders to leave immediately.  In fact, the President threatened to stick a nuke up my rear if I wasn’t off this planet by the end of the week.”

Colonel Sheppard saw where this was going, and agreed that these aliens had to be watched and not confronted, “And we need your help getting the staff organized and putting together a mission objective.”

General Carter whispered to Colonel Sheppard, “Very nice.  Come to think of it, we don’t have a mission.”

Jennifer ran up to the group, “Thanks for lowering the force shield.  It seems the President has ordered me to a city called Atlantis.  Google Maps says it’s in Palm Beach Florida, but the President insisted that he was packing my bags personally and sending my belongings directly to General Carter.”

General Carter walked over and hugged Jennifer, “Welcome back to Stargate Command, Captain Jennifer Hailey.  I thought you were teaching a class in astrophysics at the Air Force Academy.”

Jennifer grinned, “The Secretary of Defense received a report that I had proven the mathematical impossibility of Genesis, and he freaked out.  It was just a joke anyway.  As punishment, I am assigned to the Secret Service for a couple of weeks, which means I have to help guard the grandkids when they travel.  So it’s like a vacation away from the academy.”

General Carter decided to introduce Jennifer to the twins, “And with your security clearance, I can now tell you that you have been safeguarding aliens.”

Jennifer was stunned, and asked her for confirmation, “The President’s grandkids are aliens?”

General Carter laughed, “Not Billy and Sarah.  These two grinning troublemakers are the aliens.”

Captain Vanessa James decided to add a joke of her own, “Who are from another galaxy, far far away.”

Captain Matthew Scott added, “Who are from an advanced race of humans, we think.”

Chloe stood with pride and added, “Who have special powers and talents.”

Colonel Sheppard concluded with, “Who arrived here in a spaceship called Destiny.”

Ashley and Alison spread their arms as if in a fashion show, “Who look absolutely divine in a Victoria Secret bikini!”  But as they turned to leave, their clothes switched back to the summer safari outfits they had arrived in.

—oOo—

Eli Wallace, wearing a beard and dressed in old clothes, exited the taxi and started walking up the sidewalk to his mother’s house.  He wanted to check out the area first to see if any surveillance vehicles were keeping a watch on his home.  Granted, this was getting a bit paranoid, but with twenty people involved in this scheme, things could go wrong at any moment.  As he turned the corner to his mother’s house he saw someone sitting on the porch, wearing a scarf.  It first he thought it was his mom, but then he got the shock of his life.  “Chloe, what are you doing here?”

Chloe turned to the sound and spotted someone she barely knew, since her memories of Eli had stopped after she entered the Stargate taking her to Destiny, “Eli, we have to talk.  Your mom is in the hospital, and she’s dying.”

—oOo—

 

Space shuttle from Destiny, landing on Earth.

 

Team one from Destiny had no trouble setting up the Swiss bank accounts.  They landed the shuttle in dense woods outside of Zurich at night and caught a bus into town in the morning.  A small deposit to open an account was required, but they all had passports and government IDs.  Nobody would be looking for them in Europe.  They only had to avoid bumping into people they knew.  Selling the initial bag of diamonds was a problem, but they soon found a jeweler who knew a diamond trader who knew a diamond cutter from Israel.  The instructions were simple, sell the diamonds within one week, at any price the market would bear and deposit ten million Euro minimum in each account.  They were losing a ton of money, but greed ensures discretion.  This process took four days, much longer than they had expected.  But their part was complete and they spent the rest of their time on a tropical beach getting some much needed fresh air and rest.

Team two spent six long and exhausting days trying to find business partners.  Camile, Greer and Dale Volker entered the meeting room at the worlds third largest pharmaceuticals company in Paris France.  The men both wheeled in heavy airline carry bags, and once seated they let Camile do the talking.  “We represent a wealthy ruler who is about to get kicked out of his country.”  There was no reaction, and none was expected.  This sort of thing was going down every year now.  “Many years ago he hired American firms, like that of Mr. Smith here, to engage in medical research.  The hope was that his country could become wealthy, in something other than oil, if they could create drugs that would benefit all mankind.  Other research projects have come to completion, but that does not concern us here.  Now that his people have betrayed him, he has decided to take these completed projects to France for development.  Shall I proceed or do you wish us to leave?”  They had been kicked out of the offices of three similar firms, so they decided to pause at each critical step and test the waters.

The Chairman of the Board of the huge company gave her a slightly puzzled look, and replied, “Please proceed.  We have already encountered this situation in another of our companies, so we do not have an issue with anyone who is now a private citizen, with a private bank account and a private set of patents.”

Camile Wray nodded, message received, loud and clear, “Excellent.  I am the legal owner of the patents, and everything will be in my name.  We wish you to purchase an abandoned pharmaceutical facility in America, one that you have recently driven out of business, and upgrade it to meet the specifications on this flash drive.  You will have exactly three months to begin production.  I realize that gives you little lead time, but you should have no problems getting the facility up to speed, and the changes are mostly in the mixing and ingredients.  The drugs will be sold as over the counter health aids.  When the FDA discovers how powerful these anti-aging, cancer and disease prevention drugs are, it will be too late to stop us.  We will be making a billion dollars a year in profit.  Agreed?”

The Chairman’s eyes raised a little, but he recovered quickly.  He was no dummy, and probably not someone you would ever cross.  He looked around at his staff and then nodded, “Agreed.  Proceed.”

Camile Wray, “Obviously we do not expect you to trust or finance us.  But once your scientist see the information we are entrusting to you, there should be no problem moving forward.  As for financing…”  The two men got up and placed the carry bags on the table.  Greer began carefully stacking the gold bars like a log cabin.  Meanwhile Dale gently poured the diamonds onto the center of the conference table.  “…these ten kilo bars are worth half a million dollars retail, but we expect you to sell them for a hundred thousand each at wholesale prices.  Once these papers are signed, we will give you the address of a storage facility outside Paris that contains five thousand bars.  These diamonds are pure, with no laser marks, and are untraceable.  To prevent us from losing money in a collapse of the diamond or gold markets, you must arrange for everything to be sold in absolute secrecy two weeks from now on Friday at exactly 9am PST.  Our advice is that you accept bank drafts or bearer bonds; and only in the countries and cities on this list.  If anyone here puts us at risk by shorting the market I expect the others here to terminate his right to live.  Any questions?”

The Chairman looked thoughtful for a moment, “It will take us at least a week to set up a cover story and hire the right people.  Obviously, when the markets in gold and diamond collapse somebody is going to get very angry.  I think bearer bonds would be the best solution, except in America where they are usually illegal tender.  And what of the surplus cash if we manage to sell the gold or diamonds at a higher price?”

Camile Wray gave him a rather wicked look, “My mother once told me ‘greed is a bottomless pit, don’t fall in’.  Keep the price high enough to prevent suspicion, but low enough to make a minimum price sale within the designated hour.  I have no problem with business partners who follow instructions while lining their own private pockets.”  Everyone in the room smiled.

After Camile left the office building two men walked into the conference room just as everyone was finished gathering up the diamonds.  The secretary motioned to the executives that there was nothing she could do to keep them out.  One of them introduced themselves, “Gentlemen, this is Officer Gant of Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization) and I am USAF Colonel Paul Davis.  We also have some papers that we would like you to sign.”

The next meeting for Camile was much easier to conclude and went much faster, the only difference was the technology.  The construction company was to purchase all of the worthless dessert in Australia and North Africa.  The giant caterpillar machines they were to build would scoop up sand; mix with other chemicals and output thousands of panes of glass each minute.  The glass would then be used to build greenhouses, made entirely of glass.  Even the supporting glass frames would be shaped like structured steel beams.  The new glass buildings would use the evaporation of giant saltwater ponds at the bottom of the greenhouse to water the plants.  The brine in the ponds would be harvested, thus cornering the world market in salt.  Soil from northern Russia, central Africa and Canada would be purchased and moved to the hot climate.  Once completed, the greenhouses would grow the entire world’s production of vegetables, and many other foods like strawberries and nuts.

When asked by the Agra-Business conglomerate how this surge in food production would impact states and countries like California and France, Camile replied, “Not to worry.  If a massive earthquake doesn’t destroy California, then governors like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jerry Brown will make certain that California sinks into oblivion.”

—oOo—

Eli was standing in a private room at the Atlantis hospital next to his mother, who was lying on a bed unconscious.  Chloe was explaining what could happen if Ancient technology was used to attempt to heal his mom.  She told him what the twins had done for her, and was demonstrating her new talents by spinning a Rubrics Cube in the air.  She told him that the results of these treatments on Earth humans were unknown.  Lisa Park was also explaining what happened to her, and Eli was not convinced.  “OK, let’s cut to the chase guys.  My mom is a guinea pig.  If this doesn’t work then she will die anyway in a few days or weeks.  If it works she could become a freak.  Did I miss any other options?”

Lisa Park was trying to convince him of the benefits, “Eli, I now have advanced vision.  Because of the shift in light spectrum, I can see right through some clothes.”

Eli exclaimed, “And this is a good thing for my mother to see me naked?”

Lisa Park laughed and added, “The point is that we have done a lot of testing of my brain functions, and nothing else has been changed.  I have the same EEG, IQ, EQ and all that stuff.  And the doc says that there won’t be any more snakes coming out of my ears.  Or was that my ass?”

Dr Keller gave her a mock frown and harsh voice, “Lisa, I think General Carter needs you in the control tower, now.”  Lisa stuck her tongue out and went back to her station.  The doctor then turned to Eli and added, “Besides which, this operation is critical to our understanding of the technology.”

Eli nodded while looking around, “OK, I get your point.  The needs of the many and so on.  Let’s do it.  I need to talk to Chloe, so call me when it’s over.”  Eli signed the release forms and left with Chloe.

—oOo—

Eli entered the conference room on Atlantis with great reluctance.  What he really wanted to do is tour the city and check out the awesome technology.  But first things first, “Hello Colonel Young, nice to see you again.  Chloe wouldn’t tell me anything until we had a chance to sit down together.  So, how did you know I would be at my mom’s?”

Colonel Young smiled at Eli to set him at ease, “As head of security for Atlantis, I put an immediate trace on all AWOL Destiny personnel debit cards, which you used to buy that awful beard.  We gave a federal judge a list of names of people who had stolen federal property worth billions.”  Just then Sergeant Greer entered the room in civilian clothes.

General Carter noticed the shock on Eli’s face, and quickly spoke to calm him down, “Not to worry Eli.  Dale Volker and Sergeant Greer are working with us.  We had to reach an agreement with all of the civilians on Destiny for compensation for what you all went through.  You did not volunteer for a military mission, and lives were lost or ruined.  Ten million dollars has been paid to everyone.”  Eli grabbed Chloe’s hand in friendship, after believing that she had somehow betrayed him.

Colonel Young added with a frown, “And now comes the shocker.  Camile Wray is an agent of the Chinese Government.  We have been watching her for some time.  To be honest, up until now she hasn’t done anything any of us would not have done for our own government.  Her job is to find alien technology and smuggle it to the Chinese, which is what the Russians have been doing for years.  And the IOA is an international organization.”

Eli shrugged his shoulders, a bit confused, “But I don’t get it.  She just wants to increase food production and distribute better drugs; the kind of drugs that would have saved my mom from pain and an early death!”

Colonel Young continued, “She has been using a sub-space communications device to report to her control in Macau, and it is clear that the Chinese intend to purchase, control or even conquer half of Africa and Australia.  They need food, and America is becoming too expensive a source.  The drugs that she intends to manufacture will indeed be powerful.  The bottles with a blue label will be laced with a very safe but weak form of birth control she asked Destiny to design, undetectable in the health product.  The untainted bottles will be colored red and sent to China.  This will slowly reduce the population of the rest of the world, while China has an infinite supply of food and medicine.”

Eli looked confused, and didn’t see the problem, “But why don’t you just stop her?”

Chloe turned to Eli and explained the dilemma, “If we went to the United Nations and proposed this African food project ourselves, what do you think China would do?  They have been investing in Africa and South America for many years, and are now taking over trade in Central America.  All this effort is in the interest of obtaining cheap food and raw materials in exchange for cheap consumer products.  And they are not about to give that up.  If they thought that Americans were selectively handing out immortality pills only to people who could afford the medicine…?”

Eli was shaking his head, and was thinking about the documentaries he had watched in high school, “The Vietnam War, all over again.  I see your point, and now that I think about it, maybe her plan isn’t such a good idea.  So, what are we going to do?  The food production project alone will destroy the economy of half our states and Europe.  And the increase in world population from unlimited food and health care will destroy our natural resources.  What a mess.  We are damned if we do, damned if we don’t.” 

General Carter nodded in agreement, “So, the problem that we have to solve now is what to do about Camile.  The Chinese are desperate and unpredictable.  With Ancient technology, we could easily defeat them in a conflict, but that would cost millions of lives.  Anyway, we have to get you two back before Destiny leaves.”

Chloe had just received a message from Tamara on her com-link, “Your mom will be OK, but you can’t see her now.  She is in severe quarantine until we can do extensive testing for alien bugs harmful to Earth.  I hope that you understand?”

Eli shrugged, since he had been away from his mother for a few years now, and was getting used to being an independent adult, “Sure.  I can talk to her when she gets home.”

General Carter looked around the conference table and asked, “So if there isn’t anything else…?”

Eli lifted a finger, “I’m no math genius, but…”  Everybody laughed at that humble statement.  “…why not let Camile believe everything is cool.  As for those birth control bottles targeting the USA; just switch the labels!”

 

Atlantis Departs

 

Major Evan Lorne was making his way towards the gate room, leading a group of new recruits on a tour of Atlantis.  He was walking over to the Stargate to explain its function, when the hidden podium in the floor of the gate room rose up and blocked the way of one of the civilians hired from the graduating class at UCLA.  He quickly looked at his roster and noted that she was Celia Santiago, a child prodigy immigrant from Ibiza Spain, with an expertise in power systems.  She held three masters degrees, one of which was important to Atlantis.  Two guards had immediately surrounded her, and General Carter was soon on her way to the gate room.

Major Lorne slowly walked over to the startled recruit and asked, “Celia is it?  Don’t be frightened.  This device responds to people who have special talents.  Although I must admit that you are the first person from Earth to trigger the device.  Ah, here is General Carter.”  Major Lorne had been broadcasting his conversation to Samantha, so she knew the situation when she arrived.

General Carter reached out her hand to the startled girl, “Welcome Celia.  Could you do me a favor and place your hand on the console, here.  That’s it.  Well, it seems that Atlantis likes you.”  As the console retracted back into the floor, she gently took Celia by the arm and added, “I would like you to meet our resident Ancients, and if you don’t mind I need you to have another physical exam with our own doctors.”

After an hour they concluded that Celia had a very strong component of the Ancient gene, much stronger than Colonel Sheppard.  Colonel Young immediately set up a special schedule for Celia, which included training in the Chair Room.

—oOo—

Samantha was lying on a foam massage table, inside a gazebo of fluttering sheer white silk sheets.  The sun was streaming through the wood slats in the roof, and she could hear the ocean waves gently caressing the shore of the tropical island.  A bodybuilder was digging his powerful hands into her back, working his way down to her legs.  She was listening to Ravel’s Bolero, and the tempo was building as she was relaxing deeper and deeper into sleep.  She heard wood taping sounds and looked up to see that she was now in the ballroom of a grand palace.  Caminos Flamencos Dancers, clothed in Spanish folk dress, were swirling to the music, taping their heels in exotic motion.  Men who looked like gymnast or ballet dancers were moving in rhythm to the music in an outer ring. At the crescendo of the classical music Samantha was back again at the tropical island, and total silence.  She was digging her fingers deeper into the foam mattress as the masseur above her dug his fingers deeper into her legs, up and down her thighs.

The twins gently got up from the bed in Samantha’s room in Atlantis and quietly exited the cabin.  As they walked down the corridor Ashley commented, “We will have to ask her in the morning where we can find that health spa.”

Alison nodded in agreement, “This planet certainly has places to die for!”

Ashley looked around at the deserted corridor, “Let’s go see if Amelia is having any cool dreams.”

—oOo—

 

Control room on Atlantis.

 

A few days later, Uncle George marched into the gate room, wearing Army boots and a smart military style outfit.  Suddenly he yelled at the top of his lungs, “Battle Stations! This is not a drill!”

Everyone in the gate room, and the control room above, froze.  The twins were meeting with the senior staff in the conference room and jumped up immediately.  They rushed to the mezzanine railing and Ashley yelled down to Uncle George, “What’s up?”

Uncle George looked up at the next level and reported, “We’re under attack.  Elysium, sound General Quarters.  Ashley, if you’re the Navigator, get your little butt down to the…”

As the alarm began to sound, Ashley was already running to the elevators, “I’m on it.”

As Dr McKay rushed to his favorite console he complained, “Hey, that’s my line.”  Out of thin air a beautiful woman with jet black hair, dressed in a flowing blue robe appeared in front of the consoles.  Rodney froze just as he was about to sit down.

Alison rushed over to the central console and yelled at Amelia Banks, who was staring at the woman who had just appeared out of thin air, “Move!  Now!  Elysium, circulate amongst the crew.  They are new and may panic.  Keep them calm and focused.  Dr McKay, put your tongue back in your mouth and focus.”

Elysium vanished after bowing and saying, “Yes Captain.”

Rodney, embarrassed and annoyed, whined, “Hey, I’m on it.”

General Carter smiled for a second and nodded OK to Amelia to move further away.  Alison began running her fingers over the controls and quickly looked at the screens behind her.  Alison then kept her focus on the keyboard in front of her and did not look at Samantha as she yelled, “General Carter, you might want to notify your Earth defenses to prepare for a massive attack.  Dr McKay, shields at full strength and keep the cloak up until I tell you otherwise.  Colonel Young, please get your security people organized, prepare to repel boarders and get all civilian personnel out of the way.  Where is Colonel Sheppard?”

General Carter was talking into her headset and answered, “He’s in the Chair Room, which is right next to his new quarters.  NORAD says they don’t have any sign of an attack, but they have gone to full alert on my recommendation.  We don’t have anything on the screens here either.”

Alison yelled with less volume this time, “As soon as Ashley gets to the Chair Room, send Colonel Sheppard and all pilots to the jumper bay.”  She then shouted down to the gate room, “Uncle George, how much time?”

Uncle George was much calmer now, “Ninety seconds.  I’m going to get a glass of tea.  Anybody want some?”

All of the Air Force personnel looked at Uncle George in stunned silence.  Alison just giggled and yelled down to him, “Yea, get me a hot Bigelow Cinnamon and Apple mix, with honey.  I love the food on this planet!”

Suddenly Chloe walked into the gate room with a tray of tea and cups, “Alison told me about your quirky habits, so I made some tea as soon as I heard the alarm.  How much time do we have?”

Uncle George looked very worried, and told her, “Not enough time to get off this planet before the attack begins.”  As he headed up the stairs to the control room he announced loud enough for everyone to hear, “Ashley will need at least ten minutes to get Elysium into orbit, so the planet will sustain some damage.”

—oOo—

Ashley had never taken control of a starship through a neural interface, and was stunned when her body seemed to vanish, with no sensations in her arms or even her eyes.  She jumped up out of the chair, and suddenly Elysium was in the room, trying to calm her down. “Ashley, it will take a while for you to adapt to the chair.  The Earth humans do not fully interface with the chair, it only reads their thoughts.  When you sit in the chair, all of your senses will be suspended, as if you were just born, running on your autonomic nervous system.  The ship will become your body.  So let’s try it again.  Just relax and…”  Elysium paused, and was rather surprised at what happened.  This time she communicated to Ashley through the ship’s systems. “Very impressive, navigator.  This training usually takes a few hours for Alterans.  So, I will leave you to it.”  Elysium then returned to the control room, sensing that Ashley was in full control of the ship.

—oOo—

Now, you would think that General Carter would be upset at all this ordering people around, but so far she felt good about the teamwork here; and that is what had saved her life time and again at Stargate Command.  She asked Uncle George a rather obvious question, “Couldn’t Colonel Sheppard and Ashley just hit them with drones?”

Alison continued to issue orders, “Sixty seconds everyone.  Amelia, watch the screen behind me.  Who designed this room anyway, some four eyed monster?”

Uncle George turned to Samantha to answer her question, “Launching drones would give away our location on the planet, which is the purpose of this initial attack.  And the attacking ships will be positioned around the planet, to draw us out.  We couldn’t hit even a fraction of them before they moved out of range.  I have no idea who they are, but the armada is big.  We are extremely vulnerable on the planet, so we need to get into space to achieve maximum military advantage.  And they will probably hold the planet hostage until we surrender.”  This was something that had always worried Samantha.  With seven billion people on a planet, millions of them could be used as hostages to force the surrender of Stargate Command.  Until now, no enemy had tried this brutal tactic with any success.

Alison announced, “Thirty seconds.  General Carter, tell everyone to prepare for liftoff.  Ashley is in place and warming up the sub-light drive.  Ashley says that Colonel Sheppard is on his way to the jumper bay.”

General Carter touched her headpiece and announced, “Attention crew.  Prepare for liftoff.  As some of you know, we will experience a little acceleration until the inertial dampeners kick in.  We will turn the alarms off, but you are to continue to follow battle procedures.”

Chloe suddenly stared off into space and said, “They’re here.”  Samantha had to smile at the Poltergeist sci-fi cliché.

Alison had slowed down, and was now much calmer, “Very good Chloe.  Only 5 seconds later than me, but still 10 seconds ahead of our detection equipment.  I need you at this screen behind me.  Let me know how they are positioned, and most critical, what geometric pattern they use throughout the attack.  Amelia, come over here and I’ll show you what I’ve been doing.”

Dr McKay was looking at the data readouts at his own console, “Here they come.  Ten, twenty-five, sixty-seven, holy mother-ship.  This says they have over one hundred and thirty ships!  Chloe, you should be able to see them visually in a few seconds on your screen.  Amelia, watch for energy signatures and ship composition at your console.  See if you can figure out who they are.”  Rodney loved giving orders when he had the opportunity, which was not often these days.  And he truly hated taking orders from munchkins.

General Carter touched her headpiece, “Tamara, is the hospital ready, we may have wounded soon.”

Tamara responded immediately, “The staff are all ready, but we still haven’t finished our basic training in Ancient medical equipment.”

General Carter realized that Tamara was not a doctor, and was probably more useful as a field medic, or wherever the action was. “That’s OK.  Meanwhile, get to the control room as soon as you can.  We may have need of that device of yours, and I want you to keep an eye on you~know~who.  Bring Captains James and Scott with you.”

Tamara could not figure out this weird uncle of the twins, but she was going to continue to be cautious, “Understood.  I’ll bring a sedative injection that could put down a horse.”

General Carter was also concerned, “He seems calm now, but the twins warned me this could get out of control fast.  I just wish I knew more about him.”

Chloe was watching her display and announced, “They are in a staggered 50 klick layered landmass north-south pattern around the planet.”

Dr McKay turned around and yelled at Chloe, “What?”

Alison smiled at her and ignored Rodney, “Very good Chloe.  Let me know the instant the pattern changes.”

Amelia decided to show off a bit of what she had recently learned from her customized training video.  She turned to Rodney and explained, “Dr McKay, she is speaking in Alteran military terminology, which is primarily defensive in nature.  The enemy is expecting us to counter-attack from somewhere in the solar system, and not just from this planet.  Half the ships are in high orbit, pointing outward, holding fire, looking for us.  The others are 50 kilometers distant from the outer group, in lower orbit, and have opened fire inwards, targeting Earths power stations, which are easy to detect and destroy.  They don’t seem to know or care where our military bases are.  Our maps are east-west, but the land masses are mostly north-south.”

General Carter was surprised at the technician’s knowledge, and gave her thumbs up.  She then added, “So, they are ignoring the huge ocean to our west, and Hawaii.  Which is good for us.”

Dr McKay was also surprised by Amelia, but his mouth decided to state the obvious, “We can avoid detection of our heat signature by lifting off over the Pacific.”

Uncle George rolled his eyes at all the little power plays and decided to stop it now, “Exactly, but it will take time, and lives will be lost.  So, Samantha, what kind of music do you like?”

General Carter turned to the old man and exclaimed, “What?”

Alison turned to him and smiled, “Brilliant idea Uncle George.  Do it!”

General Carter was puzzled by this distraction, but decided to go along anyway.  Besides, she had nothing else to do at the moment, “It really depends on the mood I guess.”

Uncle George continued with the question, “On Earth, do you have any string orchestras that can play a slightly military theme, but with a chorus, a beautiful lead singer, and a song of love or compassion?”

General Carter immediately thought of her favorite classical music, “Well, Beethoven’s 9th I guess...”

Dr McKay could never resist getting into a conversation, “What about Bizet~Carmen~Habanera?”

General Carter agreed that it was another good choice, “Excellent Rodney!”  She turned to Uncle George and looked puzzled, “Why do you ask?”

Uncle George turned to Rodney, “Dr McKay, I believe that your console now controls the new Asgard technology that was installed last week by Elysium.”

Dr McKay and General Carter both exclaimed at once, “What?”

Alison turned to the two and shook her head a little, but smiled when she commented, “I just love Earth comedians.  Especially John Stewart and Stephen Colbert.”

Chloe spoke without taking her eyes off the screen, “This class of Ancient starships is programmed to integrate whatever useful technology it finds.”

Amelia looked a bit embarrassed, “I helped install it last Thursday, and forgot to tell you I was finished.  I thought you already knew!”

Dr McKay lit up at the power now at his fingertips, but had to admit that he had a problem, “Wow, a computer that steals!  OK, maybe Amelia can help me with this console for a few minutes.”

Alison looked at Amelia and nodded for her to go ahead.  Amelia had now forgotten that Alison had pushed her out of the way, and was probably doing ten times the programming at her console.  She was very happy to show Dr A. Genius how to do something (the A. in the name stands for arrogant, but few snotty geeks get the joke).

Uncle George turned to face the arriving Tamara; with Captains James and Scott, “Ah, Vanessa, just in time.  Please locate for me on your Earth’s internet any group currently performing or practicing this Habanera.”

General Carter motioned to the three, “Come into the conference room, we have a laptop in there.”

Tamara loved music, especially the older compositions, and was a bit puzzled when she asked Sam, “He wants to listen to classical music in the middle of a battle?”

General Carter smiled at the weirdness of the situation, “Alison thinks it’s a great idea, and maybe it’s how she controls him.  Anyway, Captains, you do the search.  Meanwhile, do you have the hypo?”

Tamara showed Samantha a new gizmo for administering injections, “I grabbed this cool device that can create any one of a hundred common drugs, and even administer an amount programmed to the patient’s physiology and the desired effect.”

General Carter flipped the device over in her hands, looking at the symbols, “So it will give the creature as much sedative as needed to calm him down, but not put him out?  Awesome!  Captain Scott.  You may need to divert his attention while Tamara administers the shot.”

Captain Scott was puzzled.  This ship was getting crazier by the day, so he needed clarification, and now, “The creature?  He’s an old man.  Tamara could just sit on his ass.”

General Carter shook her head and replied, “Look, I brought you three in this room because I don’t want the crew to know what I am about to say; at least not yet.  OK?  He is not an old man.  He is a shape-shifting flying war dragon, and the Ancients could not control his species.  Do not attack him or he will tear you to shreds, and probably have you for a snack.  Instead, it has to look like you are giving him a pat on the back or a hug.  Work as a three person team to distract him.  He is insensitive to pain, so the injection will not bother him.  That is all that I have been able to get out of the twins.  I guess that we are about to learn more in this battle.”

Vanessa had been listening while searching Google for symphonies and schedules, “OK, I got it.  There is an orchestra group in full-dress rehearsal practicing Carmen right now, located at the Manhattan Lincoln Center.  No audience in the building.  So now what do we do?”

General Carter and the others returned to the control room, and Samantha asked Alison, “We have the orchestra located, so what’s next?”

Alison looked over at Rodney, “Amelia, help Dr McKay transfer the musicians and their equipment to the gate room below us.  Grab them one at a time.  We are not sure yet how well the Asgard device is integrating with our own Alteran technology.  We know that the two are not compatible, so be careful.  It’s weird that our Asgard friends never gave this to us before now.”

General Carter nodded to Amelia and then looked at Alison, “Don’t feel bad.  They didn’t give us squat until they started dying.  But they sure were cute little guys.  OK, let’s beam them up.”

Dr McKay looked rather worried and tried to whisper to Samantha, “Sam, that’s kidnapping.”

Alison looked at Rodney and lectured him as if he were a child, “I believe you call it military induction, or the draft.  Besides, they will be paid a generous wage, and they will have no idea that they are in space.  They will think that it’s some bizarre military experiment or movie set. And would you prefer that they die on Earth, given their strategic target location?”

Amelia announced, “Here they come!”  Fortunately Vanessa and Matthew had rushed down the stairs and cleared the gate area of the security guards and civilians while everyone was talking.  After the orchestra and chairs were beamed aboard they immediately launched into a cover story and everyone settled down.

After helping Rodney learn to beam everyone up, Amelia then returned to the consoles where Alison was working.  The ship began to shudder and finally lift off from the California coast.  At first they skimmed the ocean in a parabolic arc towards the west.  This prevented detection and an immediate attack on San Francisco.  A cloaking device also absorbs radar and other energy based detectors, making the city a stealth weapon.  Soon the vibration stopped and the ship started to gain altitude.

Uncle George leaned over the balcony and addressed the musicians below, “Kids, start the music.  Dr McKay, use a laser-beam satellite to broadcast a video signal across all channels on Earth, which should also reach the attackers.  We want them to see us, but we don’t want them to know where we are just yet.  Elysium, set up a camera and display screen in the gate room.  Ah, this tea is good.  OK General Carter.  She’s all yours.”  And with that final word, Uncle George slowly walked down the stairs, sat in a chair and began to relax to the sound of the wonderful music.  Soldiers scrambled to set up the Alteran camcorder as they listened to the music.

General Carter announced to the control room, “OK everyone.  We are the primary target.  Let’s pretend that we are having trouble escaping the solar system, and draw them towards us.  Rodney, I want you to fluctuate the power to the cloak.  Wind it down until it is off.  Do it slowly, say fifteen seconds.”

Amelia was excited as her console finally gave her a visual of the enemy ships, “OK, I got it.  My screen says they are mostly Goa’uld vessels, with a mixture of small Ancient supply ships and hybrids.”

Chloe was a bit startled by what she was seeing on her display.  She was not a soldier, and she knew it would be difficult getting used to all this aggression.  Most of the violence that she had experienced in her life centered on angry speeches by politicians who had just been insulted or challenged, including her father.  She announced to the room, “I have a change.  Ten ships in the upper orbit have broken off and are coming to investigate.  Twenty seconds to intercept.  Make that twenty ships.  Oh no, they’re all headed our way.”

Alison turned to briefly look at the display and said, “Fantastic.  Keep an eye on the formation pattern.  Ashley says she needs to be at a dead stop, and as far away from Earth as possible.  She doesn’t want any collateral damage from stray fire.”

General Carter realized just then that the twins were talking to each other without any com-link, “Tell our navigator to make sporadic sub-light-speed jumps towards the moon, and then pretend to hide behind the moon.”  As soon as they took position behind the moon the entire armada arrived, all firing weapons.

Chloe gave the update, “They have moved into a soccer ball pattern around us.  Sixty ships in the vertices and the rest positioned further out as backups.  The maximum radius between ships is smaller than Atlantis.  We’re trapped.”

Alison smiled, “Excellent.”

Dr McKay shouted, “Are you kidding me!  The shields are not designed for that configuration.  We’ll be pulverized in minutes.”

General Carter sometimes had a hard time tolerating Dr McKay, “Rodney, explain, don’t conclude!”

Dr McKay took the hint and calmed down, “We needed to land on the moon.  Unlike a jumper, the Atlantis shields are designed as a dome, or as a plow in forward motion, like the air mass in front of a bullet.  These guys are pounding our backside something fierce.”

General Carter thought for a moment, then remembered something, “Rodney, perhaps our attackers have learned a lesson from the Wraith, and intend to pin us down on the moon until our shield runs out.  Even worst, we don’t have water beneath us to convert to oxygen (2 H2O + energy = H2 + 2 O2 = Hydrogen and Oxygen gases in separate bottles).”

Dr McKay had to admit that landing would be a mistake, “Sam, you’re right, we can’t survive a siege without air.  With three thousand people on board, the internal CO2 converters and shields would suck the batteries dry.  OK, OK, you’re the military genius; I’ll keep pushing buttons.”

Alison looked over at Rodney, “He does get excited doesn’t he?  I guess that he has never heard of dynamic shield configurations.  General, Ashley is ready.  Open a direct channel and demand their surrender.  Use the gate room.  Elysium, switch the broadcast to the attackers only.  We don’t want Earth to see this.”  Rodney then looked at Alison as if she had just lost her mind.

As General Carter rushed down the stairs, she motioned to the Captains, Chloe and Tamara to follow her.  She definitely wanted to keep them close to Uncle George.  He seemed entranced by the music, and totally oblivious to the battle.  She had no idea what a war dragon was, or what it could do.  Samantha grabbed a cup of tea and moved over in front of the orchestra.  She took a second to look calm and at ease.  Sam then signaled to the camcorder operator to focus on her and use video only.  She touched her earcom and stated, “Alien ships.  You are hereby ordered to surrender.  If you do so immediately we will spare your lives.”  She then hit her earpiece to prevent the enemy from hearing anything on Atlantis.

The attacking Commander replied immediately, and was broadcasting from his bridge captain’s chair directly to the Atlantis gate room display, “You must be joking!  Our instruments tell us that your power levels are low.  In less than ten minutes your shields will be depleted.  We know that you are nothing but trespassers on Atlantis, and the city is ours for the taking.  Why don’t you just gate back to your planet and we will let you live!”

Alison was watching Samantha and suddenly noticed Uncle George, “Oh crap! Amelia, take over your station.”  Alison ran down the stairs just as Uncle George began jumping up and down like a five-year-old who has just discovered candy.

Uncle George was jumping for joy, “Oh yea baby!  Oh yea!”  He spun away from the screen and yelled at Alison, “Order the attack, order the attack.  You promised me!  You promised!”

Vanessa shouted with alarm, “Oh my god, now I understand.  General, look at the screen, the ship has female crew members.  They’re causing him to freak out.”  The bridge of the enemy command ship was staffed by a mixture of armed and unarmed personnel, some of them female soldiers with rifles.

Alison now stood in front of the old man and looked up at him, “Uncle George, look at me!  Focus.  Focus, damn it.  Take deep breaths.”  As Alison was talking, Tamara was slowly walking up behind Uncle George, and the others were closing in from the sides.  Alison shook her head ever so gently at Tamara.  Her hands were in front of her, moving together to keep the dragons attention.  “OK, good.  I realize that you haven’t had anything to eat for thousands of years, but we weren’t ready for this yet.  This is what I want you to do.  Take out one female officer from each section of each ship.  Just one!  Don’t kill them.  If they don’t surrender, then you can eat all of them.  I promise.  Wait for the command.  On three, OK?  Everybody else, stay exactly where you are.  Nobody, and I mean nobody, move an inch.”

Uncle George smiled with glee, “Thank you, thank you.  OK, on three.  Yea baby, it’s supper time!”

Alison sent a mental and verbal question to her sister, “Ashley, are you ready?  OK, here we go.  One.  Two.  Three.”

Suddenly Uncle George arched his back, looking up at the ceiling.  A strange blue glow from hundreds of light tendrils came flowing through the walls and into his head.  They appeared to come from every direction, even up from the floor.  Just as suddenly it stopped.  Uncle George then began to change from human form into something that looked like a cross between a pterosaurs and a comic book fire breathing dragon.  Everyone but Alison jumped back.

On the other side of Amelia, Dr Zelenka was quietly working the other console, and watching the screens, “The shield has changed shape.  Holy mother-ship, look at the screen.”  Since everyone was down in the gate room Dr Zelenka switched the gate room display of the enemy ship to the tactical console screen.  The shield around Atlantis looked like some kind of bizarre cratered spherical plant, with hundreds of bowls.  It resembled the craters of the moon, but much deeper and smoother.  Each energy burst from the enemy ships was caught in a curve that sent the weapon right back at the attacker, like a boomerang.  Or like firing a BB gun at the inside edge of a bowl (please do not try this at home), and getting hit with the pellet as it exits the bowl.  Dr Zelenka exclaimed, “But that’s impossible.  Configuring that kind of moving shield would take trillions of computations per second.”

Rodney was stunned, and guessed at what was happening, “Or a brain that could multitask hundreds of sub-shields by using a neural interface with Elysium.  And you will also notice that a weapon fired from within a shielded ship can just as easily penetrate the shield of the same ship, like a drone coming back at Atlantis.”  As you know, Rodney also had a knack for stating the obvious.

General Carter yelled up at the control room, “Dr Zelenka, switch the screen back, now.” 

When the scene changed back, everyone could see the pandemonium that had erupted on the enemy ship.  A crew member was on the floor, alarms were blaring and a few of the consoles were shorted out.  But the firing had stopped, and sixty ships were now without weapons systems.  A perfect boomerang returns the weapon back to the exact location from where it was launched, and in this case it would be the launching tube of the energy weapon.  Those tubes were now severely damaged.  The enemy ships were lucky that Ashley had not sent the energy flying back to the control bridge of the attackers. 

Alison whispered, “General Carter, do your thing.”  The orchestra was still playing, as if on a movie set.  Alison and a group of soldiers began moving furniture and getting people positioned for something.

General Carter touched her earpiece and calmly said, “Captain of the enemy vessel, you have interrupted a performance of my favorite opera, and now my tea is cold.  Perhaps you should explain yourselves, or would you prefer that I destroy the rest of your fleet?”  Samantha could see that Ashley had returned from the Chair Room, which meant that nobody was controlling the weapons system or the complex shields.  Obviously these kids didn’t know the meaning of ‘abandoning your station in time of battle’.  But so far Atlantis had not fired a single drone, and the enemy had ceased firing, lest they end up destroying their fleet with their own weapons.

The enemy commander still didn’t understand what had happened, and responded with a bluff, “We are the Lucian Alliance, and this trick of yours does not impress us in the least.  We know that you people of Earth have no friends to protect you.  The Asgard race is gone, and you have made many enemies.  Only a few of my crew are disabled; weak females who faint at the sound of battle.  We will resume the destruction of your planet until you surrender.  You have no allies to come to your rescue this time.”  Then one of the senior crew members on the Lucian command ship turned to the guards in the room and ordered, “Take this woman out of here and order all ships to execute them for cowardice!”  He was referring to the females that the dragon had disabled throughout the attacking fleet, and who appeared to have fainted.

Back on Atlantis, Chloe screamed in rage and then disappeared.  Just as suddenly she appeared on the bridge in the Lucian ship, causing everyone to jump back in alarm.  The crew on Atlantis were also shocked, and watched Chloe in amazement.  Chloe reached out her arm, palm up, and slammed a bolt of lightning at the officer who had issued the order.  His head vanished in a puff of smoke, and lots of gore.  The Lucian guards tried to kill her, but she obviously had a personal shield that was invincible.  She ignored the guards, and stood looking at the Lucian commander, who got the hint and ordered, “Belay that last order.  Do NOT harm our fallen comrades.”  Chloe returned to the ship in the same manner she had departed, and sat down for a moment in the seat Alison had vacated.  She then ran down the stairs to take her place with the twins.  The Lucian commander made one last effort to regain control of this disaster.  “These tricks will not save your planet.  You will surrender the city to me or your people on Earth will suffer the consequences.  Again I say, you have no friends.”

Samantha could see that Alison was ready, so she slowly walked over to stand behind the twins.  The soldier operating the camcorder followed the path of the General.  The twins were casually sitting on a divan, dressed in beautiful silk gowns, sipping tea and smiling.  To the left and right of the divan stood Chloe and Vanessa, now dressed in some sort of exotic Warrior Queen costume from the online Amazon store.  Sam almost started laughing.  The dragon lay on the floor at their feet in front of the couch, grinning like a cat that had just eaten a mouse.  Tamara was holding a tray of tea cups, with the hypodermic device ready for immediate use.

General Carter smiled and looked directly at the camera, “Then perhaps you would like to meet our new friends?”

Ashley announced with grace and seeming indifference to all the commotion, “We are the twins.”

Alison finished her sip of tea and added, “And this is our Dragon!”

Suddenly there was stunned silence from the Lucian ship.  They looked absolutely terrified.  Samantha could hear shouts amongst the Lucian crew.  “It can’t be; they’re a legend.” “The dragon will destroy us all.” “But they were banished!”  The Lucian Commander yelled for silence.  “Fools, the Empress has returned.”  Suddenly everyone in the enemy ship dropped to one knee and bowed their heads.  Clearly the Lucian Commander was shaken, “Empress, we thought you were just a legend, banished by the Ancients.”

Alison replied, correcting the Lucian commander, “We are not the Empress Carmen.”  Tamara was about to protest at the mention of her daughter, but she kept her mouth shut, barely.  She didn’t realize that Alison had just grabbed the name from the opera that was still playing.  “The Empress will be revealed in due time.  In any case, our troops will board your ships within the next few hours.”

Alison was holding her tea, looking like she was bored, “They will place a device somewhere on your vessels that will allow us to keep track of your movements, and punish any who disobey us.”

Ashley wrapped it up with an order to the Lucian fleet, “We will bring your commander aboard our ship to discuss your surrender and your duties to your Empress.  Out.”

Elysium cut the communication and Alison stood, turning to the orchestra, “Thank you all so much for your wonderful performance.  We will return you to your symphony hall now.”

The Orchestra leader didn’t seem at all put out by the bizarre events, not that anyone had a chance to see what was going on.  This is show business.  But he did have a question, “So, when will the movie be coming out?”

Alison smiled and replied, “Soon, very soon.”  And with that Dr McKay activated the Asgard beam, sending each member of the orchestra back to Earth with an instrument and chair.

—oOo—

Vanessa was twirling around in her Xena costume, “Wow, Alison, I love this outfit.  Can I keep it?”

General Carter gave her a mock reprimand, “Captain James!”

Vanessa looked embarrassed, “Yes ma’am, I’ll go change immediately.”

General Carter had to smile.  The outfits did look awesome.  She touched her earpiece and asked, “Colonel Sheppard, did you get all that?”

Colonel Sheppard had been standing by in the jumper bay, “Yes ma’am.  And what device would that be now?”

General Carter thought for a moment, “Just fake it.  Hum, how about inflating a backpack, do a walkabout, and then make a big show of rolling up the empty pack.”

Colonel Sheppard responded, “Ah, so they won’t know where we planted the device.  Will do.  Out.”

Alison looked down at the now snoring dragon, “We need to get a stretcher and move Uncle George to his quarters.  He will be out for at least two days.”

Ashley looked around, “Tamara, could I ask you a big favor?”

Tamara immediately replied, “I’ll keep an eye on him for eight hours and then switch with Chloe.  Is there anything we can do for the injured on board the enemy ships?”

Alison shook her head, “Your compassion is very commendable.  But no, thank you.”

Ashley added, “Unfortunately, their long term memory, from the moment of birth, has been erased.”

The twins decided to explain what just happened, “Our Dragon has the ability to break all of the neural bonds in any organism, causing instant death.  They evolved this talent to kill faster prey in flight, without damaging the meal or getting injured in a fight.”

Ashley: “They also have the ability to copy selective neural bonds into their own minds, and thus experience the visual memories of other creatures.”

Alison: “This is how their species communicated with each other.  They simply take whatever memories they want from other dragons, and at great distances.”

Ashley: “The newborn dragons learn by stealing memories from the adults.”

Alison: “We were genetically-engineered by the Alterans to train our pet dragon to destroy just one section of the human brain, thus preventing the death of the target.”

Tamara looked hopeful, “So the females on the Lucian ships will recover?”

Ashley nodded, “Exactly, but they will learn motor skills at a much faster rate than children.”

Alison: “Their imprint personalities will produce similar behavior, but with new memories and speech.”

Colonel Young finally joined the conversation.  He preferred to stand back and watch others do their jobs, but this news was amazing, “What an incredible weapon.  You can defeat an entire army on the battlefield simply by hitting a few of them.  The rest of the troops would be too busy removing the injured and feeding them.  And waging a war with no loss of life; that is truly amazing.”

Ashley shook her head, “Yes, that was the original plan of the Ancients.  Unfortunately, dragons have the personality of a young male in heat.”

Vanessa agreed, “So do Earth’s teenagers, but most of them mature into responsible adults.”

Ashley: “Our dragon quickly learned to also steal the memories of humans prior to erasing them.”

Alison: “And males being what they are, they developed an addiction to the memories of female warriors.”

Ashley: “For the next few years, Uncle George will be having new dreams you ladies do NOT ever want to have.”

Tamara, “So this is why he can change into human form, through some sort of mutation with human brain activity?”

Alison: “Exactly.  I see that you have been studying our medical history.  Very good, very good indeed…”

Tamara put her fists on her hips and exclaimed, “Wait a minute, Empress Carmen?  And what is that about?”  Tamara, like any protective mother, was not pleased.

Ashley pretended to be taken aback, “Well, we had to think of something!”

Alison turned to Ashley and put her hand over her heart, “We had no idea that we were a legend, known throughout the universe.”

Ashley did the same thing, “And with an Empress no less!”

Alison turned to Tamara, “We’re famous, in our own time.”

Ashley looked thoughtful, putting her finger to her lips, and then had to admit, “Of course, it does help to have a pet war dragon.”

General Carter decided to interrupt this comedy routine, “So how do you control these dragons?”

Alison looked a bit tired, and shook her head, “That is for another time.  Right now we need to get him to bed and discuss the future of our new fleet.”

As the twins walked off together, Alison whispered to Ashley, “Maybe this Empress thing isn’t such a bad idea after all.”

—oOo—

General Carter took a quick break, then had the Lucian senior officers brought to the conference room, “Commander, welcome aboard.  We are not here today to discus your surrender or enslavement.  Instead we are going to place your ships under our command, and integrate your crew with ours.”

Lucian Commander, “You are very kind, and please thank the Empress Carmen for us.”

Tamara was not at all pleased that these people were referring to her daughter Carmen as the Empress, but if they wanted to play some silly game of Kings and Dragons, so be it.  She announced to the room, “Commander, your injured will be fine, but you must raise them as children for the next six months.  They have suffered brain damage from our weapon, so you will need to potty train them for the next few days.  I have sent my staff to your ships to assist you, and we are stocking your vessels with adult diapers, medical supplies and food.  If you will excuse me, I will get back to work.”  And with that, Tamara marched out of the room.  General Carter understood how she felt about this Empress thing, but sometimes you just have to let things play out.

The twins took charge of the meeting, “You will assign twelve of your ships to guard duty around the planet Earth.”

Ashley: “Atlantis will install a device that transmits a hologram around your ships, making them look like private communications satellites.”

Alison: “You will not receive our cloak or other advanced weapons technology, as you are more at risk of capture.”

Ashley: “The good news is that you will be permitted to rotate your crews so that everyone can travel to the surface of the planet for recreation and fresh air.”

Alison: “And we can recommend an excellent summer camp.”  The twins giggled at that one.

The Lucian Commander nodded, but frowned a bit, “Thank you Ancient One, but I doubt that these Earth people have anything of interest to offer us.  We have traveled the galaxy and fought countless species.”

Chloe interrupted, as anyone would in defense of the planet Earth, “Obviously you have never been to Las Vegas, or Six Flags Great Adventure.”

Alison smiled, and added her own correction, “Please do not call us Ancient Ones.  I am Captain Alison, and this is Navigator Ashley.”

Ashley: “Take it from us, your people will not want to leave the planet Earth.”

Alison nodded, “They have family campgrounds in Italy, and awesome beaches in France.”

Ashley: “And snow skiing in Switzerland.”

Alison: “And jet skis at Muscle Beach in Malibu California…”

General Carter did not care for the silly way this meeting was going, so she coughed and took over, “We leave it to your commanders to maintain discipline.  Our mission for the next six months, at least until we get a new President, is to Recon the universe.  We are looking for Ancient vessels that were abandoned, like this one.”

Without turning her head, Ashley knew the Vanessa had entered the room, and said to the room, “Ah, here is my servant girl with her boy-toy!”  Captain Scott just grinned, but Vanessa turned livid, and was about to throw the tea pot at Alison.  But General Carter motioned the Air Force Captains to serve the tea and play along.  She was beginning to understand why the Ancients marooned the twins on an isolated planet.

Ashley got back to the problem at hand and turned to the Lucian Commander, “We will give you a secret device that must not fall into enemy hands.  It will help you locate Alteran planets and starships.  But you must never land on an Alteran planet, or board an Alteran ship.  If you make any such attempt your own ship will explode.  Just report back to us four, and only us four.”

The Lucian Commander bowed, “Yes Captain.  Um, aren’t you concerned about these servants?”

Ooops, Alison realized they had just made a huge mistake, “Not to worry, they’re both deaf and dumb.”

Ashley couldn’t resist adding, “Mostly just dumb.”  She knew perfectly well that the correct term is deaf and mute.

Luckily the Captains were standing behind the Lucian Commander, because Captain Scott was silently giggling and Vanessa was getting even more livid.  General Carter quickly waved them out of the room, and made a note to explain things to the Captains when she had time.

The Lucian Commander turned to Chloe, “And I am also to report to you…?”

Chloe smiled at the man she had almost vaporized, “My name is Chloe.  Here, I’ll spell it out for you.”  She reached out, and a pen from across the conference table flew into her hand, this time landing gently in her fingers.  This made the Lucian Commander jump, even though Chloe had already come close to blowing his head away with a lightning bolt.

Alison could see what Chloe was doing, and realized that this was a great idea.  She turned and snapped her fingers, “That reminds me.  Chloe, I left the treaty papers in the next room.  Could you get them for me?”  Her eyes pointed to the wall next to Chloe, and she nodded her head in permission.  Chloe then got up and walked right through the wall.  Now the Lucian Commander and General Carter both looked stunned, but Samantha recovered quickly and acted like this sort of thing happens every day.  When Chloe returned with the papers she handed them and her pen to Samantha with a smile and sat down.  After everyone signed the papers the Lucian Commander was taken back to his ship.

General Carter was shaking her head, as if she could deny what she had just witnessed, “Could you please, please give me some advance warning before you guys start spinning your heads around or walking on water!  Chloe, what in the black-holes of space is going on?” 

Suddenly Ashley slapped an armband on Samantha, “We’ll be in the Game Room.  Scream if you need us.  Scream if you don’t.  Now, where is my dumb servant girl and her boy-toy?”  And with that the twins left the room, giggling.

Meanwhile Samantha was trying to get the armband off, but Chloe managed to calm her down and explain, “Sam, calm down, it’s the same armband Vanessa and I have.  The lab can only make a few each day.  I’ll give you the bad news first.  If you ever attempt to betray the twins, the armband will put you in a coma.  It’s nothing more than a knockout pill in case you are captured.”

General Carter was not happy.  At least those damn brats could have asked her permission.  She was having flashbacks of the last time this happened, “Look, I’ve ‘been there, done that’ with these damn things.”

Chloe continued to speak calmly, “They don’t change you.  What you saw me do is something entirely different.  These bands help protect you from disease.  They also act as an early warning when someone with Ancient genes is near, or about to do something like walk through a wall.”  Chloe then explained everything about her transformation and training program with the twins.

General Carter then gave Chloe a hug and stood back, holding her hands, “Oh Chloe, I’m so happy for you.  I really am.  Sometimes I dream about having powers, like Superman or even the Goa’uld.  But you must be careful.  The twins have their own plans, and I intend to find out what those plans are.  By the way, do you know what this secret detection device is?”

Chloe just waved it off, “Oh, they made that up.  Elysium will send the Lucian Alliance on a search pattern of the last known locations of the Ancients.  We can only trust the Lucians so far.  On the other hand, they now think many humans have powers beyond those of the Ancients, so they should never cross us again.”

General Carter made a face, showing that she was still stunned by all that had just happened, “As if that damn dragon didn’t already scare the pants off them.”

 

First Mission

 

General Carter entered the conference room and all military personnel stood, “Please be seated.  I would like a short status report from each of you before we begin.  This is our first official meeting, and for security reasons absolutely nothing that has happened prior to this moment is to be included in the record.  This is Air Force Captain Jennifer Hailey.”

Jennifer took the cue, and opened up the meeting, “The official record will show that the current President has ordered all Stargate personnel to leave this solar system, including the three aliens.  No specific orders were received regarding our mission, nor have we received any orders regarding the Lucian Alliance.  Evidently the cover story from the Pentagon is that a meteor shower hit the planet.  Only the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff knows of the twelve starships protecting earth.  He has advised us that we return in six months, and that we maintain radio silence.”

General Carter added clarity and solidity to what the military and civilian personnel on Atlantis were to accomplish, “So, both the civilian and military command on Earth has issued us orders.  One is ‘get lost and don’t come back’ and the other is ‘go find something interesting and take your time bringing it back’.  The President has also authorized me to promote anyone as needed.  Colonel Sheppard was in attendance.  However, so far I don’t see the need, except for the Destiny crew.  Any questions?”  Samantha did not look around the room, which signaled to everyone that they better have a damn good question at this point.  “Good.  Then let’s start with Colonel Young.”

Colonel Young nodded acceptance of what had just been said, and was even pleased at how thing had turned out, “First I must report that everyone in my command, except for Sgt Greer, are accounted for and are doing well in Atlantis training, thanks to Elysium and Colonel Sheppard.  I believe that the emergency on board Destiny was engineered by Dr Rush to get rid of the twins and all military personnel.  If that ship is captured then Earth could be in danger if some alien creature believes we have more defenseless technology like Destiny.  As to security here on Elysium, we have a problem.  Most of the crew is new and we have a mixed bag of military people.  Normally this would be a nightmare, but Elysium has some very clever security, and excellent personnel management systems.  We have been able to verify the human DNA of all but three of the crew.  We had no choice but to beam the three directly to Air Force security on the planet.  Most likely they are Goa’uld.  As to training, all I can say is awesome.  When we get back to Earth I am going to recommend that our entire school system be modeled on this technology.  Every single crew member has their own customized training program, and is learning at their own pace.  This is a good example of no soldier left behind, but in training mode, not just combat mode.  However, I have a question.  Why do we have three times as many crews as Atlantis was designed to hold?  We had to convert some storage rooms into dormitories.  I don’t mind the extra work, but nine thousand people?”

General Carter was stunned, turned her head and looked at the twins, like a mom who has discovered that the apple pie has gone missing.

Ashley shrugged her shoulders and put her hands out, “OK, so maybe we snuck a few extra boys on board.”

Alison grinned and looked at her sister, “Like all this years graduates from MIT and Cal-Tech.  They are so smart, for Earthlings anyway.”

Ashley was now on a roll, “The cadets from the Air Force academy are so cute.  And the girls are so feisty!”

Alison just had to up the ante a bit, “Navy Seals certainly don’t look like seals, especially in those skimpy swim suits.”

Ashley high-fived her sister and finished up with, “And the Marines from San Diego…”  Both girls, “…To die for.”  At that Chloe started giggling.

Elysium was present at the meeting, and beautiful in a green chiffon dress.  She looked over at the twins and scolded them, “Girls, stop teasing the General.  Ma’am, on our way here from the Pegasus galaxy I passed by at least three Atlantis class starships, but I was unable to determine their health.  So I issued transfer orders on your signature while you were rescuing the twins from that horrible summer camp.  We are training nine individuals for each station on Atlantis (spaceship cities require 3 eight hour shifts), in anticipation of staffing at least 2 more star cities.”

Colonel Young turned to Samantha, “General, I don’t mean to sound impertinent, but who is in command here?”  He then gave the A.I. hologram an accusing look.

General Carter thought about it for a minute, and looking around the room, made a decision, “All of us.  We are a team of explorers.  If the dragon yells ‘Battle Stations’ then everyone jumps.  If Tamara sedates him, then he sleeps and we fend for ourselves.  If Chloe yells ‘Change course now’ then we immediately head in another direction.  We are building something that gets redefined every day.  So we need to step outside the box and communicate at all times.  Thank you Colonel Young.  That question will probably save a lot of lives, since we will no longer have any doubt about who has the authority to issue commands.  The Earth rotates at a thousand miles an hour, so humans have learned that every minute counts.  But out here in space, every microsecond can bring instant annihilation.  Colonel Sheppard.”

Colonel Sheppard looked at his notes and reported, “Elysium and I are using every minute of the day, 8 hours on and 8 off, to train the pilots.  I did notice the extra staff, but I assumed that we would be looking for more jumpers.  But more Atlantis starship-cities?  Now that would kick ass.  We need to recharge at the next high density star to replenish our supply of drones that were used killing the Wraith, and the 9 dead ZPMs.  As soon as we enter hyper-space we will start physical training for all personnel, and use the various simulators Elysium is setting up in English.”

General Carter nodded approval, and added some caution to the aggressive program, “OK, but don’t wear them out.  Colonel Young has a greater need to do technology training.  Tamara, how is it going at the hospital, and how is Carmen?”

Tamara turned to look at the twins, “The Empress is just fine.”  The twins just smiled back.  “But our medical training is slow with no patients to practice on.  Everyone, especially the boys they snuck on board, are in perfect health.  I recommend that every week we stop at a Stargated planet to give everyone a chance to relax and stretch their legs.  My team can then set up a field hospital and practice on any sick or injured villagers.”

Colonel Young couldn’t help himself, “Very Empress-ive!”

Tamara scrunched up her face as she turned to him, “Don’t you start, or I’ll increase your baby-sitting duties another hour, every day.”

Colonel Young just smiled, “Would be a pleasure.”

General Carter looked at Chloe, who responded with bright eyes, “I’m doing just fine Samantha.  I can now spin my head around five times without getting dizzy.”  Everyone looked at Chloe in horrified silence, except the twins, who giggled.  “Just kidding!  I’m learning how to control the dragon, how to operate the Chair Room, and how to ascend.”

Everyone, even the twins, yelled at once, “WHAT?”

Chloe just shrugged her shoulders and lifted her hands, “It’s easy.  Watch.”  Suddenly Chloe transformed into a glowing light, like an angel.  She floated around the room for a few seconds until two other glowing angels slammed her into her seat, at which point she transformed back into human form. 

The twins also transformed back into their human form and started yelling, “John, are all of the jumpers in the bay?”

Colonel Sheppard looked startled at the question, “Yes ma’am!  We are on hold till this meeting is over.”

Alison turned to the ships computer, “Elysium, get us out of here, now!”

With a slight lurch, Atlantis opened a worm-hole and headed off into space.

Tamara was shaking her head in wonder, “Well Chloe, I guess you just spun your head around five times.”

Chloe was looking around at the shocked faces, “What’s the big deal?  The Ori are gone, and the Ancients don’t care.  Daniel Jackson ascended twice.  Samantha, you won’t use that Ori killing device on me will you?  I promise I won’t become an Ori!”

Suddenly Uncle George ran into the room and looked directly at Chloe, “Should I eat her?”  Tamara grabbed her hypo out of a pocket and ran around the table to get in back of the dragon.  Ashley had her eyes closed and hands folded as if in prayer.

Alison just rolled her eyes, “No pet.  Sit.”  Uncle George found a chair and plopped down in it.  But Tamara remained behind him, still as a viper about to strike.

Ashley: “Everyone please be quiet and still.”

Alison: “Elysium, please have someone bring us hot tea, and honey.”

After a few minutes Elysium announced, “We are out of the zone.  We should be safe.”

Ashley opened her eyes and smiled, “Chloe, that was wonderful!  But for now, you must never do that while the ship is still.  Wait until we enter hyper-space, and better yet, wait for us to do that with you.  That way the Ori can not locate the planet near you.”

Uncle George stood and grabbed a cup of tea off a tray, “Ah, someone has brought tea.  Well, I’m off to baby-sit the kids.  Scream if you need me, scream if you don’t.”

Alison greeted the people serving the tea, “Matthew, Vanessa!  Thank you so much.  Have a seat, and thank you for helping us impress the Lucian commander.”

Ashley: “You both are his equal, and witnessing your subservience to us helped General Carter convince him to protect your planet Earth.”

Alison: “Seven billion people owe you a debt of gratitude for that moment of humiliation.”

Ashley turned to Alison, “If you butter her up any more, she’s going to look like a piece of toast.”

Vanessa leaned down and kissed them both on the cheek.  The Captains finished serving the tea and sat down.  Very slowly Samantha began to speak, “I assume that by now you girls have read all of our SG1 reports.  So are you telling me that we did not kill the Ori?”

Alison smiled at Sam, and replied calmly, “We don’t need to read anything.  Elysium gave us your history.”

Ashley: “And no, you did not kill the Ori.  That is impossible, like trying to kill your Satan or Saint Peter in a realm where they do not even exist.”

Alison shook her head, “Your knowledge of ascension is seriously flawed.”

Ashley: “The process of ascension means that you must personally pass through a barrier between electronic space and positronic space.”

Alison: “You can stay here in the energy form like we just did, or you can proceed into positronic space, permanently; with a few exceptions.”

Ashley: “What you call sub-space is the symmetrical opposite or balance of this electronic space around us.  We call it positronic space.”

Alison: “Since we are now using the wormhole drive, we are traveling through positronic space, which is also where so-called angels or ascended beings exist.”

Ashley folded her hands on the table, “The Alterans have not ascended to Heaven, or met the Creator, nor will they ever do so.”

Alison: “Many of them are pissed off that they are trapped in a very boring positronic space, while others really do not care.”

Ashley: “There are many laws of physics in positronic space that make no sense in this space.”

Alison: “For example, you can not return from positronic space on your own, unless you are Merlin or one of us.  You need at least six entities to generate the hexagonal wave pattern required to throw you out.  And it is rare that any two entities will cooperate, ever.”

Ashley: “In addition, you can not return to this electronic space from sub-space at a different location in the universe on your own.”

Alison added an exception to the rule, “Unless you get thrown out in a different location.”

Dr McKay was now totally confused, since he did not have any experience with ascended beings, “But if ships can travel to other locations through sub-space, why not you three?”

Ashley: “Ascension is not what a worm-hole does.  A Stargate or spaceship opens two holes in the barrier and transports you from one door to the other; like diving into a hole in a sheet of ice, and exiting at another hole.

Alison: “What you just saw is the form of energy required for a single person to migrate to sub-space.”

Ashley: “Thousands of years ago some very nasty person in this space, who could ascend at will, built a device that allows beings in positronic space to interface with humans in electronic space. 

Alison: “And you know what then happened from your experience with the Ori.”

Ashley: “But the Ori are not from just one galaxy, nor are they a special race of humans or special group within the community of ascended beings.”

Alison: “They are only some very bored entities that are addicted to stimulation from this space.”

Ashley: “And some of them are even from the race of humans known as the Alterans.”

Alison: “They use religion to control the flow of emotional energy towards them, instead of letting humans freely feel whatever they like.”

Colonel Sheppard found it hard to believe what he was hearing, “So what we did was build a device that destroyed the interface machine in the galaxy the Ori were using.  Which would mean that they are now very pissed off at us?  And if they can find somebody else to help them, say with your powers or maybe Anubis, then they will return with a vengeance, and Earth will be the first target?”

Alison turned to Ashley, “And you said he was just a boy-toy.”

Chloe now looked worried, “Is this why I should never change form alone?  They might be able to trap me and use me to build the interface?”

Ashley: “Exactly!  Merlin and many others had sufficient skill and power so that they never remained in positronic space, where they would be trapped forever, but the others are not so lucky.”

Alison: “Anubis was attempting to build another interface in the Milky Way for the Ori, to gain their favor.”

Ashley: “Oma Desala stopped him, and they are now locked in a deadly embrace, which could end any second.”

Alison: “Daniel Jackson was thrown out of the ‘spirit world’ twice because he believed he could do good things by using his absolute power as an ascended being in sub-space.”

Ashley: “But he did not understand the simplest law of physics and philosophy.”

Rodney guessed the answer, “For every action there is a re-action, and for every good there is evil.”

Alison nodded, “Oma and a few others are able to help humans ascend, but this is not always a good thing.  Humanitarians often end up doing more harm than good.”

Colonel Sheppard wanted to dumb it down a little so everyone could wrap up this weird topic, “So this positronic space is the Egyptian theology of both heaven and oblivion, depending on who you are?”

Alison smiled at him, and decided that he needed a compliment, “A very solid metaphysical statement.”

General Carter decided to interrupt and get things back on track, “OK, if that is the end of the one minute status reports, let’s build a mission statement.  Anybody?”

Colonel Sheppard jumped in first:

“Project 1 ~ Locate all Atlantis class starships and bring them back to Earth.  We know where one is, and perhaps we can salvage it.”

Elysium interrupted with a significant piece of news, “I know where they all are, but not their condition.”  Lots of eyes were raised at that announcement.

Colonel Young thought of something that had been nagging at him for some time:

“Project 2 ~ Locate all Ancient warships, supply ships and seeders.  Destiny found a few ships, so we could start in those galaxies.”

Elysium replied, “I can bring them back here under remote control, once they are activated.”

Dr McKay was more interested in science and engineering, so he stated the obvious, lest it get left out:

“Project 3 ~ Start integrating advanced technology with human settlements in the Universe.  And yes, with extreme caution.”

Captain Scott had too much experience with evil aliens to think this new adventure was going to be easy:

“Project 4 ~ Somebody has to say it, so here goes.  Seek out and destroy the enemy before it destroys us.”

Captain James on the other hand preferred to avoid killing if possible:

“Project 5 ~ Seek out new friends, before they become our enemies.”

The twins suddenly jumped up from their chairs, “We are going to be gone for a very short while.  We have decided to help Oma, and we are taking Chloe with us as part of her training.  We believe we have a way to defeat Anubis before he gets loose and helps the Ori.”

Ashley pointed a finger at Elysium, but meant it for everyone, “You must stay in hyper drive until we return.  This is the safest path for us.  Oh, and please have some blankets ready.”  And with that, all three transformed into glowing light and vanished through the ceiling.

Colonel Young was the first to recover from the shock of what just happened, “General, I see what you mean.  Those three are totally out of the box.”

—oOo—

 

Daniel at work in his archeology lab.

 

Dr Daniel Jackson PhD, archaeologist, linguist and amateur anthropologist, was replacing a book on the shelf in his office at the Smithsonian when he turned to find three females standing behind his worktable.  He was somewhat annoyed but not alarmed.  Visitors often got lost in the huge Smithsonian museum and research complex.  “I’m sorry, but this is a restricted area.  Please return to the visitor’s group.”

Chloe smiled at him and introduced herself, “Hi Dr Jackson, I’m Chloe, from the Destiny spaceship.”  Now Daniel was somewhat intrigued, and moved over to where the three were standing.  As they reach out to shake hands, Daniel’s hand went right through Chloe’s outstretched hand.

Daniel jumped back in alarm, “What in the blazes is going on!  Chloe, the last I heard, you were turning into some sort of alien creature.  Clearly you are now either a hologram or an ascended being.”  Daniel noticed that one of the twin girls was reaching for an object on the table.  “Hey, don’t touch that.  It’s thousands of years old.”  Daniel did not know that the three couldn’t touch anything, or take solid form at this location.

Alison looked at him in a somewhat condescending way and stated, “This stasis canopic jar is 6,127 years old, and it is just what we need.”

Ashley put her fists on her hips and tried the authoritative approach, “And we need a fifth person to help us defeat Anubis.”

Daniel threw his hands up, “Not a chance in a black-hole.  Been there twice, learned my lesson, not gonna happen!”

Chloe just shook her head and started in with the guilt routine, “I told you he didn’t want to help Oma.  I guess she’s on her own, fighting that evil man.”

Now Daniel was curious, “What’s going on?  What do you mean?  Oma is still fighting Anubis?”

Alison continued laying on the guilt trip, “To save the planet Earth, Oma is keeping Anubis busy in a battle that may last for eternity.”

Ashley added her own scornful look, as if Daniel was a selfish boy who did not want to share his candy, “But if she falters for a moment, Anubis will escape and return to destroy Earth.”

Daniel looked at the two little manipulators and asked, “And I can help you how?”

Alison pointed at the work table and hastily ordered, “Grab that jar and come with us!”

As Daniel picked up the jar, he moaned, “How do I get sucked into these crazy-ass save-the-planet schemes?  I should have retired with Jack and gone fishing.”  They all vanished in a swirl of light.

—oOo—

 

Battle between ascended beings in the ‘diner’.

 

Daniel was not surprised to find himself in a diner, people sitting around reading the paper or chatting.  He spotted Oma, arm wrestling with some guy at one of the larger booths.  He knew that this setting was symbolic of their existence in positronic space, and not a real world.  There was a door to the diner, and some windows, but you could not see anything out the windows, just a bright light.  The setting merely represented the relationship between entities living, or trapped, in sub-space.

Ashley pointed to a table located at the end of a row of booths.  The two people in the booth were locked in combat, in an infinite struggle, “There they are.  OK, we all know the plan.  If anything goes wrong, just flash back to Atlantis.”

Daniel backed away a bit, “What about me.  You know I can’t flash back on my own!  And I’m guessing Chloe can’t either!  You pulled us up here!”

Alison gently pushed him forward, “We’ll have to take you back to Atlantis with us.  We won’t be able to return you to Earth until we can do something about the Ori.  It’s the only way.”

Daniel exclaimed, “The Ori are back?  And you’re telling me this now?”

Chloe smiled at him to calm him down a bit, “Don’t feel bad Daniel, they do this to me all the time.”

Daniel looked over to another table and was stunned to see Adria and Morgan Le Fay also locked in an arm wrestling battle, and Adria seemed to be winning.  Like the twins, Adria was created through genetic engineering, but not by the Alterans.  The Ori had built her to serve as a direct human interface between positronic and electronic space.  Although she once had a human body, she also had powers similar to the twins, but with a different set of strengths and weaknesses.

Daniel looked at Alison and pointed to Morgan Le Fay, “She is one of the good guys, and that one is called Adria, a bad guy.  Can you do anything for our friend?”  Alison did a little routine with her shoulders and hands that said ‘maybe yes, maybe no’.  She then walked over to the table Daniel had pointed out and placed her hands on the edge.  She pretended to be a casual observer, watching the fun and excitement in Heaven.  This appeared to be about all these souls were interested in, or capable of, doing. 

Ashley had walked around to the other row of tables, and slid into the seat beside Oma.  Chloe had followed her and slid in next to Anubis.  When he noticed her sitting next to him he gave her an inquisitive look, and Chloe introduced herself, “Hello Anubis.  My name is Chloe and this is my friend, Ashley, of the Ori.”  They were hoping he would trust them if he thought they were allies of his.

Anubis looked over at Ashley and then returned his attention back to Oma, “Well it’s about time they sent someone to help.  This crazy woman is really starting to annoy me.”

Chloe responded to Anubis, but was not looking at him any more, “Yes indeed, it seems that you have gotten yourself tied up.  I bet Oma here is absolutely terrified to let go of your hand.”  Looking directly at Oma she repeated, “No matter what happens, she looks like she will never let go!”

Anubis was concerned about getting distracted by all this silly talk, “Did you come here to annoy me, or help me get rid of this woman?”

Chloe took on a stern voice, “Now, Anubis.  The Ori are a bit worried that you may betray them; what with your history, and your two personalities and all the rest.”

Ashley looked back at him and announced, “So, I am here to talk to Anubis, the symbiote inside you.”

Chloe nodded solemnly and made it clear that she was following orders, “And I have been instructed to talk directly to the host named Eric.”

Ashley pointed at Anubis, “If we are satisfied that you are both loyal to the Ori, we will help you.”

Anubis almost growled at the two strangers, “You can tell the Ori that I pick a new host whenever I please.  This one is a child, obedient and in loyal service to me.”  He didn’t add that the child he had abducted to serve him was also terrified of him.  If the symbiote wrapped around the child’s spine were to leave, then the child would die if Anubis wanted to kill him.  What complicates things a bit here is that in the physical realm Anubis no longer has a snake symbiote, but instead he has a Goa’uld snake energy life form that is bound to his human energy life form.  And this is what makes him so evil and powerful.

Chloe was persistent, and pretended to get up and leave, “We must talk to you both, at the same time.  Otherwise we can not trust you, and we will let you stay like this forever.”

Anubis growled in frustration, “Alright already.”  The Goa’uld symbiote snake began to emerge from the neck of Anubis, hissing at Oma.  When it was out half way, Daniel grabbed the snake from behind and tried to pull it the rest of the way out of the neck of the host human.  At the same time Chloe placed her hand over the eyes of Anubis and started to pound her fist on his head to distract him.  Oma used her free hand to hold on tight to the right hand of Anubis.  They struggled for a few seconds, with neither side making progress.  In the ascended realm, or positronic space, size and numbers did not matter.  All that mattered was will power and strength, and Anubis had plenty of both. 

Ashley realized that the host was afraid to release the snake, so she jumped up on the table, and knelt in front of Eric-Anubis.  She grabbed his face with both hands and shouted, “Listen to me child, you must let go!  You have nothing to fear!  We will take you with us!  Let go!!”

Alison saw what was happening at the other table and immediately jumped into the seat with Adria, kneeling so that she could be the same height.  She wrapped her left arm around Adria’s neck and held her hand over the woman’s eyes.  She then used her right hand to pound Adria on the head.  The distraction allowed Morgan Le Fey to slowly begin winning the arm wrestling contest.

Daniel looked around and saw that the other ascended beings in the diner were now upset, and starting to move towards him.  “Hey, what is going on here?”  “Daniel, you know that you may not interfere.”  “Leave this place at once.”  “Who are these others?”  “They should not be doing this!”

Daniel shouted out in alarm, “Uh guys.  We got a problem here!”

Again Ashley yelled at Eric, the human host of Anubis, “Let go now and you will be safe with us.  You can even marry my sister!”

Alison looked up from pounding on Adria and shouted, “Excuse me!”

Suddenly the Goa’uld symbiote came all the way out of the neck of Anubis, and Daniel immediately shoved the snake into the canopic jar and shut the lid.  All three shouted in victory.  Adria was distracted by the sudden change in sound at the other booth.  This allowed Morgan and Alison to gain control.  Morgan slammed her hand down on the table, winning her battle with Adria.  Then everyone in the conflict vanished.

As they went back to their seats, the diner quieted down with comments like, “How rude!”  “Such impertinence!”  “They had better not come back, or there will be serious discussion about this!”

—oOo—

Daniel suddenly found himself naked, curled up in a corner of the Atlantis conference room.  Sitting next to him was a young boy about four years old, wrapped in a blanket, looking around in amazement.  Ashley had grabbed another blanket and was holding it up for Daniel.

Just as Daniel grabbed the blanket away from Ashley, and wrapped it around himself, Samantha entered the room with two security guards.  “Ah, Daniel, nice to see you, and making a grand entrance, naked as usual.  This device on my arm warned me that you were coming.  Rather cool really.  Thanks Ashley.”  Then Tamara entered the room, and saw the little boy in a blanket on the floor.  The boy saw her looking at him and reached up saying, “Mommy!”

Tamara stepped back and shook her head, “Oh, no!  NO, NO, NO!  No way!  I know for a fact that I did not have that child!”

Ashley picked up the boy, “Don’t be silly.  He comes from a culture where all the female adults are called Mother, and they all take care of the children.”

Daniel, thinking about this from an anthropologist view, added, “He probably doesn’t even know who his biological mother is. Many Socialist societies like Father Divine, Krishna Venta and Rev. Jimmy Jones prohibited any parental bonds.”

Ashley smiled at the boy and added, “Besides, after what Eric has been through, he would probably be more than you could handle.”

Tamara stepped forward, grabbed the boy from Ashley, and said, “Nonsense!  Carmen could use an older brother to play with.”  As she turned to leave the room she said to the boy, “Let’s get you something to eat.”

Ashley winked at Daniel, and Samantha laughed, “You two have got to be the sneakiest pair in this universe.  Instant rejection to instant love, in less than fifteen seconds; amazing.”

Daniel looked around and announced to everyone, “Excuse me, but if you don’t mind I would like to find some quarters, and resume wearing some clothes.”

Elysium appeared, looked at Daniel wrapped in a blanket with American Indian symbols, and took on the tone of a classic movie actor, “Dr Livingston I presume.  And in native costume; how quaint.”

Daniel turned to Samantha, “Great, a computer with a warped sense of humor.  Wait a minute.  Sam, aren’t you supposed to be at the bottom of the Pacific?  And where did you get the security codes and power to fire up the ships A.I. system?”

General Carter turned to the hologram, “It’s a long story.  Elysium, what’s up?”

Elysium pointed to the table, “An alien species is aboard my ship, so I came to investigate.  The creature seems to be in that jar.”

General Carter was not at all happy that the twins had brought back a live Goa’uld snake with them, “Unless we have a use for it, I think we should destroy it.”

Ashley nodded, “Reluctantly, I agree.”

Uncle George entered the room at that moment, alarmed that he had also detected the Goa’uld symbiote, “As do I.  What were you two thinking, bringing that monster back with you?  I will eat it now.”

Alison held up her hand, “Pet, wait.  You must not take its memories.  Daniel told us of the horrible things it does to children, and you would have terrible dreams.  Too bad there isn’t a better punishment for it.”

Uncle George put his fists on his hips and declared, “Fine, then I will kill it.”

Daniel suddenly had an idea, “No, wait.  Sam, are we in the Milky Way, or anywhere near the new Tok’ra home world?”

Elysium responded instead, “Yes, Dr Jackson.  We can be in orbit around their planet in ten minutes.”

Daniel grabbed the jar, “Give me a minute to change clothes.  I’ll be right back.”

Suddenly Alison appeared in the conference room, and with two naked women.  Alison looked around and found a blanket for Morgan Le Fey, while Adria asked, “Could somebody find me some clothes?”

Uncle George reached into his pocket and pulled out his handkerchief, offering it to the stunning naked woman.  Meanwhile Samantha had grabbed a blanket and handed it to Adria, at which point all the men in the room sighed.  Samantha scolded the dragon, “That wasn’t funny.  Perhaps you men should leave us girls to iron this out?”

Uncle George turned to leave the room, “Then I’m going back to baby-sitting, and a nap.  Scream if you need me.  Scream if you don’t.”

General Carter turned to face the twins, “OK you two, freeze.  That was as classic a setup as I have ever seen.  We were headed for the Tok’ra planet the instant we left Earth’s solar system, right?”

Oma tried to come to the defense of the twins, which was always a lost cause, “The twins have done something very dangerous, and I am in their debt.”

General Carter turned to the woman speaking, “I’m sorry; I didn’t notice you in the corner.  And you are?”

Chloe also tried to take some of the blame for sending the spacecraft to unauthorized locations, “This is Oma Desala.  And the whole thing was my idea!  I wanted to visit the ascended realm.”

When Samantha reached out to shake the hand of Oma, she expected to pass right through her, “You’re a solid person.  But I thought you were ascended?”

Oma just shook her head, “In your culture, you could say that your Daniel Jackson has just kicked my butt out of Heaven.  Perhaps in retaliation for my kicking his butt out twice?”

Chloe pointed her finger at the woman, “Now Oma, you know perfectly well that the twins kicked you out, and it was for your own good.  Come on, let’s get you settled in.  That blanket does not look good on you.”  Samantha stared in wonder at the woman who was a Stargate legend, and then looked back at the twins, who were grinning like they just got straight A’s on their report card. 

Just then Daniel rushed into the room with Colonel Sheppard, wearing some of John’s civilian clothes.  He looked around the room and shouted in alarm, “You guys brought back Adria?  Are you kidding me?”

Alison folded her arms in front of her, and explained, “Chloe needs a teacher, and we are rather busy.”  She didn’t mention that they were usually busy in the Game Room.

Ashley put her fists on her hips, hoping to intimidate Daniel, or at least convince him of the wisdom of keeping one of the most dangerous women in the universe with them, “And Chloe needs someone to challenge her.”

Alison nodded and looked directly at Adria, “And if Adria steps out of line, our pet will have her for lunch.”

Ashley also turned to Adria, “He thinks she will be very tasty.  Understood?”

Adria had no idea what the girls were talking about.  But when she tried a gentle energy push towards Alison, it came back at her ten fold.  She clearly understood that the twins were something or someone she had never encountered before, and they were powerful.  Powerful enough to kidnap anyone from the ascended realm, and defeat a monster like Anubis.  Adria turned and stomped out of the room.

Daniel was satisfied that the twins were in control, and brought them all back to the current situation, “OK, I’m ready.  John is going to fly me in.  What an amazing gift for the Tok’ra!  And maybe this time we can get that tunnel boring technology from them.”

Colonel Sheppard turned to Samantha, “With your permission General, I thought it would be a great opportunity for all my pilots to get some practice sorties over a planet.  And the twins might like to visit an alien species they have never encountered.  Well, except for that one.”  He was pointing his thumb at the canopic jar.

Alison turned to him and demanded, politely of course, “We would like to fly with the Marines, from your San Diego.”  Samantha just rolled her eyes and nodded permission.

As he was leaving the room, Colonel Sheppard started teasing the girls, “Well now, what about a few Navy Seals?  Or perhaps some of those Army Airborne troops you requisitioned?”

From behind her Samantha heard a familiar voice, “Sam?” 

Samantha looked around the near empty room and spotted Dr Rodney McKay, sitting in the corner with two boxes of popcorn.  Samantha walked over to him and sat down, grabbed a box and started eating the snack.

“Sometimes you just get some popcorn, and watch the show.”

General Carter shook her head and had to laugh, “And a nudist film at that!”

—oOo—

Chloe was walking slowly towards the excited dragon, “Hey, what’s up Uncle George?  Are we under attack?”  Tamara was also moving slowly towards the old man, getting the hypo ready.  They were in the nursery, where the dragon had been taking a nap next to the baby crib.  Everyone was happy that the dragon was both protector and entertainer for the children.  And it gave Tamara a chance to keep an eye on him.  Most of the time the dragon could be found curled up in his natural dragon form, sleeping the day away, dreaming the memories of creatures he had consumed.  Once he had experienced the entire memory of a victim, he would flush it out of his mind and move on to the next human or animal species.

Uncle George was in something of a trance, but he was also very fidgety, as if seeing something nobody else could see, and it was bothering him.  He turned towards the voice, and responded to Chloe, “What?  Oh, not us.  But there is a huge battle up ahead, with lots and lots of female warriors talking to each other.”  The dragon could intercept sub-space communications, and had a good idea what was going on.  Then he brightened up and smiled, with wide eyes looking eager.  “There are yummy ones in starships; and not so tasty ones with those monsters inside them.  Can we go into battle?  Five more minutes and it’s snack time!”

Chloe mind-spoke to Alison and Ashley, and told them what was happening.  Alison calmly replied, “Chloe, tell him we will investigate, but he is to stay and guard Elysium.  Unless we are under attack, it isn’t worth the risk taking him along.” 

Chloe told Uncle George the news, and the dragon settled down.  Uncle George looked a bit disappointed, and mumbled to Chloe, “Well, I really wasn’t hungry.  Just didn’t want to pass up a snack.  Besides, those snakes are nasty.”  Then he shifted back to being a dragon and curled up to take a nap next to the baby crib.

Chloe relaxed and turned to Tamara, “OK, that’s settled.  I guess we can get up to the control room as soon as we get a sitter for the kids.”  Chloe and the rest of the crew from Destiny had finally been issued ear communications devices, so she called Samantha, “General Carter.  Red Alert.  The dragon says we have a raging battle up ahead, about four minutes ETA.  I would guess that the Tok’ra are under attack.”

General Carter abandoned her popcorn and stood up, “Acknowledged.  Well Rodney, the show is just beginning.  Sound General Quarters.  Colonel Sheppard, do you think that your pilots can handle space and planet combat OJT (On the Job Training)?”

Colonel Sheppard responded immediately on the com-link, “If we keep it simple.  What’s up?”

General Carter, “I don’t know exactly, but we will probably be coming in hot.  If the Tok’ra are under attack, then we need to establish communications immediately.  Otherwise we could get hit with friendly fire.  And the only enemy that I can think of would be the Jaffa fanatics who want to eliminate all the snakes.  They have already destroyed the Goa’uld home world where the snakes evolved, and my guess is that the Tok’ra are next.  But if we attack the Jaffa, then we risk expanding the conflict.”

Colonel Sheppard, “So much for keeping it simple.”

Elysium, “Three minutes ETA.  However, it will take at least ten minutes for most civilian personnel to get to their stations.  General, this is a city, not a battle cruiser.”

General Carter, “Agreed.  Exit hyper-space behind a moon or whatever is available and raise both the cloak and shields.  Let’s go in quietly and see what is happening.”

Dr McKay was shaking his head no, “Sam, we are using the wormhole drive!  You have to exit at your target destination.  No turns, no sudden stops, no extensions.  When we exit in the Tok’ra system, we are going to make a huge radiation splash with this drive.”

Elysium nodded in the affirmative, “You are correct Dr McKay.  However, an Atlantis class starship always exits near the target sun on the opposite side of any inhabitable planet with a Stargate, whether using sub-light, FTL or wormhole drives.  The Stargate network feeds us the destination information prior to launch.”

General Carter raised her eyebrows, and immediately saw the implications, “So this allows you to slowly recharge next to the sun, prior to reaching your destination.  This also means that our exit is far enough away from the planet to prevent damage to life forms or satellites, and the sun will hide us.”

Elysium nodded, “It is an obvious safety measure, both for us and the destination planet.  ETA, one minute”

General Carter was thinking of alternatives to this standard operating proceedure, “Elysium, skip your recharge thing when you arrive, lives are at stake.  However, we are at low power from that shield configuration Ashley used, plus using the wormhole, which puts us down eighteen modules.  Rodney…”

Dr McKay touched his headpiece, “I’m on it.  Power re-supply team.  This is an emergency.  As soon as I give the order, replace the ZPMs.”

Elysium announced to the control room, “Ten seconds.  All military personnel are on station.  Civilian personnel are still scrambling, except for medical staff, who are at the jumpers, ready to depart.”

General Carter smiled at the efficiency of her command, “Good going Tamara.  OK, here we go.  John, are you ready?”

Colonel Sheppard, “The planet is too far for jumper sub-light engines to get there in time.  After we switch batteries, which should only take sixty seconds if those guys are on their toes, we need to get closer using the faster Atlantis sub-light engines.  Or we could just bang right in with the FTL.  Your call.”

Dr McKay looked up from his display and loudly exclaimed, “Show time everyone!  Recharging team, NOW!”

General Carter turned as more people arrived in the control room, “Chloe, thank goodness you are here.  Please help Amelia by watching the display behind her and let me know as soon as you see how the battle is configured.  Tamara, I’m sending your medics to the planet.  Take charge of their jumpers and let them know whatever input you get from up here.”  She then switched over to Colonel Sheppard, “John, load up all the jumpers except yours with medical personnel and supplies, and if you have room add guards.  You are not, I repeat not, going to get in the middle of this battle.  Your task, until you receive further orders, is to deliver the medics to both sides of the conflict, as needed.  Then return for combat troops.  Out.”

Colonel Young turned to see two more arrivals to the control room, “Captains Scott and James.  So nice of the two of you to show up for our little war!”

Captain Scott looked a bit embarrassed, “Sorry sir, we were off duty, taking a swim in the pool at the far end of the Five.”

General Carter turned to Captain Scott and asked, “The Five?”

Colonel Young was wandering around the control room, checking to see if everyone was on their toes, “I numbered the six arms of the city to speed up training.  The Ancients gave them weird names that have something to do with old legends and heroes.  Nobody could remember the names in English.”

General Carter didn’t like long explanations in the middle of a crisis, even though she tended to do the same thing.  She quickly got back to the battle plan, “Captain Scott, grab Dr Jackson and Major Lorne and head for Colonel Sheppard’s jumper.  As soon as we establish communications with the Tok’ra I want you to land at their most secure location.  Your job is to get them to cease fire.”

Dr McKay finally received the OK from the power-module replacement teams, and announced to the room, “Battery swaps complete.  Waiting for systems to come to full power.”

Chloe turned from her monitor to report, “We have a complete picture Sam.  I see debris from two orbiting ships, with seventeen firing at the planet.  The ships are fairly small, so the damage is not all that great.  And most of the energy from the weapons is being absorbed by the atmosphere.”

Amelia was puzzled by the data, but had an idea, “This looks more like a siege than an attack.  I would guess that they want to colonize the planet after the genocide is over.”

General Carter suddenly looked worried, and realized that she had two little problems that needed watching, “Vanessa, the twins…”

Running to the elevators, Vanessa yelled, “I’m on it!  I’ll grab Jennifer on the way to the jumper bay and find out what they are up to.”

General Carter turned back to the staff in the control room, “Colonel Young.  I need you to give Elysium a list of your best Military Police (MPs).  Full body Kevlar, megaphones and non-lethal weapons like Zats.  Then I want you to get your best urban assault teams assembled, with maximum killing power.  Don’t worry about food supplies or extra ammunition.  We will beam down anything you need.”

Dr McKay announced to a room that really wasn’t listening, “All systems go.”

General Carter ignored Rodney and asked Colonel Young, “How soon till you can assemble your assault teams?”

Colonel Young was walking and talking, something he preferred to standing still, and answered the question with confidence, “They were ready as soon as they were on station.  I created teams for every possible space assignment I could think of.  A couple of years on Destiny gave me all the time in the world to study space military techniques.”

General Carter nodded in approval, “Excellent.  Use this battle to evaluate your captains.  We need more promotions to handle our command load.  Those damn twins rounded up every handsome young stud they could find in our database.  And only a dozen experienced officers among them.”

General Carter then turned to Dr McKay, “Rodney, put me on the city intercom.  Attention all personnel.  Our goal is to stop the assault against the Tok’ra planet.  Both parties in this conflict are friends of Earth.  Both are critical to the future of Earth.  But these particular Jaffa are fanatics, and some of them may refuse to cease fire.  Be prepared for anything, and defend yourselves first.  We are going to light up Atlantis like a Christmas tree, with full shields.  When we arrive from FTL, Colonel Sheppard will launch all jumpers with medical teams, under cloak and shields.  If necessary we will send in a second wave of troops to try and stop the fighting by show of strength.  All assault team leaders report to the gate room.”  Samantha wanted to make absolutely certain they understood their orders, and since the jumper bay was above the control room, they would be able to get on station in seconds.

As Samantha turned to Chloe she already knew that the new ‘wonder woman’ was about to speak.  The armbands would take some getting used to, but so far they were very helpful in signaling intent, “No change in the pattern, or serious damage to either party.  I agree with you that the Jaffa are probably attempting to sneak up on the Tok’ra from the ground, under cover of this smoke screen.”  Samantha had not said that at all.  So these armbands were telepathic or bio-feedback devices?

Colonel Young looked worried, and didn’t like this at all. “If we go down there, we are going to be in the middle of a nasty firefight.”

General Carter agreed, but saw it as a necessary evil, which is the only justification for violence in her mind, “I certainly hope so.  But as referees and not combatants.”

Dr McKay suddenly yelled, “Sam, what about the chair room, I totally forgot…”

Colonel Young responded to Rodney, “Celia is in the chair.  It turns out she is better than Colonel Sheppard, and the twins have been training her.”  This was news to Samantha, but it made sense.  Colonel Young was definitely on top of his training responsibilities.

Elysium had easily integrated the Earth communications devices with her systems, and knew from the conversations who wanted to talk to whom.  This saved a lot of time, since the alternative was to put people on different channels.  All that you had to do is activate your com-link, name the person you wanted to talk to and you instantly had one-on-one private communication. 

Samantha called the Chair Room, “Celia, how are you doing?  Do you think you can handle real combat today?  And don’t be afraid to say no, lives may be at stake.”

Celia Santiago responded from the Chair Room, “We are locked and loaded General.  So who do I get to punch out first, Kitana or Scorpion?”

General Carter almost laughed, “Hang tight; hopefully no one today.”  Samantha disconnected by again touching her earpiece and mumbled, “Great, a gamer with a real weapon, just what the universe needs!”

Amelia was ready with her station, and turned to Samantha, “General, I assume that you would like me to position the city in orbit, blocking the line of fire from the attacking ships?”  Samantha signaled ‘do it’.

Chloe reported in next, “I contacted the Tok’ra and they’re expecting us.  Dr McKay has the location.”

General Carter announced to the room, “Elysium, everyone, you have a go.  Matthew, Daniel, good luck with the Tok’ra.  Colonel Young, let’s go talk to your troops.”  As they descended the stairs Samantha wondered how many of her people would die today.  Making friends and keeping the peace was a bloody business.  The US troops who invaded Iraq could have backed off when the hostilities were over, but the idiot President thought he could intercede in a religious war, and thousands of US soldiers died for nothing.  When Samantha walked onto the gate room floor the team leaders came to attention.  “OK, I want to make this clear.  You are not to kill anyone you don’t have to.  If you are attacked with overwhelming force, from either side, then destroy the attackers.  The Jaffa will think that you have snakes in your heads, and they will not take prisoners.  Keep in constant communication with your commanders on this ship.  If you are in danger of being overrun, we can hit them with a drone.  But that takes time.  So think first, then act.”

Colonel Young added the most important point, “You have all been trained in defensive tactics.  Use those skills today.  Do not, under any circumstances, go on the offensive.  We are trying to negotiate a cease fire, but we know that both sides lack the communications technology that we take for granted.  So the fighting could last for hours before we get control of the situation.”

Elysium announced from the room above, “General, we are in position and the jumpers are away.  The twins are with Colonel Sheppard, Captain Scott, Dr Jackson, Major Hailey, Captain James, Major Lorne and as many guards as they could stuff into the jumper.  I am broadcasting your demand for a cease-file on all Jaffa and Tok’ra frequencies.  So far we have no response from the Jaffa.”  Samantha wondered what in the blazes the twins were doing going for a joy ride in the middle of a battle.  Then again, she would have done the same thing at that age, if she could have gotten away with it.

Amelia then announced to the control room at large, “I am using the shields to block the energy blasts from the orbiting Jaffa.  They are shifting, but I can stay with the largest grouping.  Rodney is keeping tabs on shield strength and setting up supplies to beam down from the gate room if required.” 

Chloe sounded alarmed, and didn’t like what was happening, “Samantha.  As you predicted, once the firing stopped, the Jaffa on the ground are coming out of hiding and opening fire.  They must think this is the signal to launch the ground assault.  The good news is that it is too early, and for now they are too far away.  I’m putting the troop movements on the main screen now.”

Colonel Young looked at the screen and shook his head, “I’ll be damned.  It appears that lack of communication can also work for us.  With your permission General I’ll begin planning our deployment around the center of the city.”  But General Carter was already heading up the stairs, using a simple hand gesture to say GO.  She had complete confidence in Colonel Young, and thought it best to let him do his job.

General Carter activated her earpiece to talk to the jumpers, “Major Lorne, if he hasn’t already done so, Rodney will send you a transmission of the troop movements.  You are to lead a team to the Tok’ra headquarters and try to negotiate a cease fire.  Offload Dr Jackson and Captain Scott’s team of two guards, and no one else.  Colonel Sheppard will take off and standby in orbit.”  This should keep the twins out of trouble, and harms way.

Major Lorne clearly knew that she did not want the twins running loose on the planet, and he replied as he was standing next to the twins in the jumper, “Understood.  We are team Alpha.  Colonel Sheppard is team Beta.  The other eleven jumpers full of medics are teams M1 to M11.  When the assault troops arrive they will be teams G1 to G11.  Over.”

Samantha had to hand it to Major Lorne, organized and fast on his feet, “Everyone, let’s keep the Tok’ra in the dark about our assault troops.  I don’t want them reacting aggressively until we are in position.  Now comes the tricky part.  Once the jumpers have dropped off the medical teams, they will return and pick up the regular troops. The second set of teams will guard the center of the city.  Use half of the jumpers to act as a shield for our troops.  They will fly in formation, exactly like a cowboy movie, but with moving wagons to protect the center of the city.  Our troops will shoot from between the moving wagons if necessary.  This will require some fancy flying around unfamiliar buildings and streets.  The other jumpers will act as bullies, blocking the path of any Jaffa assault.  Everyone will attempt to contact the Jaffa, identify yourselves as Earth peacekeeping forces, and demand a cease fire.  Max shields at all times, and if your shields fail, get the blazes out of there.  Everyone!  Think.  Think.  Think.”

Amelia had to interrupt because of what she was seeing on her monitors, “General, the ships in orbit are trying to maneuver around our shield.  They are starting to split up.”

Dr McKay had to state the obvious, but to his credit he didn’t like the idea of fools running around with deadly weapons.  He preferred to hang out with senior officers who could get him out of trouble, instead of placing him into nasty situations.  Well, most of the time.  He complained to the room at large, “Those idiots will end up killing their own troops.”

General Carter had no choice but to inflict some damage on the Jaffa ships, “Celia, its show time.  Send a single drone to each ship.  Gently hit the weapons portals to fuse the exit chamber.  We don’t want to destroy the ships.”

Celia replied back in a cheerful voice, “I’ll have to do it three at a time to control the accuracy.  Otherwise I would just fire all seventeen drones to kill.  The first set of drones are on the way.”

Dr McKay was looking at the data on his screen, “OK, so now we wait.  I estimate 30 minutes before things heat up.  The pilots circling the city are my biggest worry.”

General Carter needed to calm him down, since panic in battles tends to spread faster than a fire-cracker fuse, “OJT Rodney, OJT.  I decided hours ago that this situation provided us with a fantastic training exercise.  We could have just blasted a few Jaffa ships and ended this here and now.”  General Carter made a quick trip to the conference room and returned with the two boxes of popcorn, handing one to Rodney.  She then turned to Amelia, “Cloak the ship.  The Christmas tree routine didn’t seem to scare them off.  Now it’s time to just sit back and watch the show.”

Amelia was handling all incoming reports, and announced, “Many of the passengers in the jumpers are reporting nausea.  The air could be bad.”

Dr McKay laughed, which made Amelia wonder if he had lost it.  He then suggested, “Tell them to stop looking out the front window, or just close their eyes.”

General Carter looked at Rodney and asked, “Roller coasters?”

Dr McKay nodded, “I threw up on every ride until I learned to just shut my eyes and enjoy the G’s.”

The baby sitter watching Carmen and Eric called in from the nursery, “General Carter.  That old man just turned into a winged dragon and flew out the window into space.”

General Carter responded, “Why don’t you grab some popcorn and bring the kids to the control room.”

Dr McKay looked puzzled as he commented, “I wonder where in the three-space of the universe he’s going.”

—oOo—

 

Tok’ra tunnels and conference room.

 

Major Lorne and Daniel were having their own problems.  The Tok’ra wanted to join in battle and fight to the death.  They were tired of running and hiding, and this planet was all that they had left.  And they had wasted no time in executing the Goa’uld snake called Anubis, after a short trial of course.

Major Lorne was trying to reason with them, “Look, we need to get the Jaffa to understand that all three of our races are human, and that we have common enemies.  All I’m asking is that your Tok’ra take shelter in the tunnels, just for a short time.”

The Tok’ra Commander straightened up and announced, “Absolutely not.  This ends here and now.”

Major Lorne snapped his fingers as he thought of something, “Wait, I have an idea.  Your tunnels, do they extend to the outer edge of the city?”

The Tok’ra Commander tilted her head a bit, “Of course.  This is how we built our cities and villages.  The living quarters above ground each have a basement.  The tunnels serve as escape routes.  Old habits die hard.  Why?”

Major Lorne had folded his arms and had his finger to his lips, which is a classic pose that means ‘everybody shut up because the genius is thinking of an idea’, “I’m considering combining some Julius Caesar tactics in the battle of Aesia, with the siege of Petersburg during the Civil War.”

Daniel had no idea what he was talking about, but caught the drift, “Can we assume that each family has a Zat gun?”

The Tok’ra commander looked at him as if he hadn’t been paying attention for the last decade, “Yes, they all have Zat’nik’tel weapons, which is all we have except for the few missiles that have been expended against the invading ships.”

Major Lorne then put his hand on his pistol holster in the hope of showing some authority, “OK, order all the families into the shelters, and all your troops to the end of the tunnels.”  He then touched his headpiece, and spoke to everyone, “General Carter, the Tok’ra insist on fighting, but I have a plan.  We let the Jaffa get halfway through the city.  The Tok’ra troops will exit at the end of the tunnels at the outskirts of the city.  The Tok’ra will then sneak up behind the Jaffa and set up a hammer and anvil assault, with our troops and jumpers as the anvil.  The Tok’ra will have their Zat guns set on stun.”

General Carter smiled at the new battle plan, and replied, “Evan, I like it.  Elysium, communicate the plan to everyone, with individual instructions for troop movements.”

Elysium immediately responded, “General, I have not been able to contact Colonel Sheppard since he left the planet with the twins.”

General Carter looked shocked, “And you’re telling me this now?”

Elysium was not programmed to respond to reprimands, so she stated the facts, “The Captain requested radio silence with her jumper.”

General Carter was now a bit confused, “Her?  Captain who?”

Elysium continued to look calm and stated, “Captain Alison of course.”

Dr McKay needed to summarize events out loud, mostly to calm his own nerves, “Now the poop really hits the fan.  Let’s see.  The dragon is loose.  The twins have gone missing.  The Tok’ra now think that they are US Marines, in tights and sneakers.  And I have run out of popcorn.”

General Carter was looking at her arm as Rodney summed things up, “Chloe, my armband is buzzing like crazy.  What is going on?”

Chloe was standing very still, as if in a daze.  She then turned to Samantha, “The twins are in grave danger.  John wanted to do a quick orbital recon of the entire planet to make sure we didn’t get attacked from our flanks.  It should have only taken a few minutes.  But they ran into what is left of the entire might of the remaining System Lords, orbiting on the other side of the planet.”

Dr McKay was stunned, and his voice went up a few notches, “Correction everyone, the poop just hit the wind tunnel.”

Chloe put her hands out to calm everyone down, “Alison says stay put.  They are approaching the largest ship, and for some reason Ashley is giggling.”

—oOo—

Colonel Sheppard was flying the jumper around the planet, looking at the display for any possible enemy troops on the planet or in space, when he suddenly noticed a bizarre scene to his left, “Hey, isn’t that your dragon that just flew by the window?”

Vanessa was standing behind the co-pilots chair and said out loud, “I wonder where in the three-space of the universe he’s going.”

Jennifer did not like the dragon one bit, even if it was a powerful weapon.  Especially not after what happened to the females on board the Lucian ships.  She was hoping the dragon was not after her or Vanessa when she suggested, “Maybe he spotted a female dragon?”  When the twins looked at her in disgust, she said, “I don’t care what species they are, men are pigs.”  Three of the female MPs in back said, “Amen to that!” and everyone started laughing.

Alison was worried, and knew that her pet did not expend this amount of energy to fly out into space for nothing, “John, follow him.  He senses danger.”

After a few seconds Colonel Sheppard saw the Goa’uld fleet, “Holy supernova, we need to warn Atlantis.”

Ashley immediately placed her hand on his shoulder, “NO.  If you transmit, you will alert the enemy that we are nearby, and we can’t use laser communications because we are out of sight of Atlantis.  Chloe knows what’s happening.  Atlantis is not ready for this kind of battle in any case.”  She was not worried about the ships harming Elysium, since the Goa’uld fleet did not have that kind of firepower.  She was worried about the death toll to the humans on the other side of the planet.

Alison suddenly stood up straight and turned to her sister, “I have an idea.  Ashley, why don’t we make some new friends?”  And that is when Ashley giggled.

 

Goa’uld super-ship.

 

—oOo—

Aboard the Goa’uld command ship, the shuttle bay station technician was looking out the window, watching for any possible enemy intruders, and suddenly shouted in alarm, “What in our lord’s name is that?”

His team leader was looking out the window and replied, “It looks like a flying lizard.  Perhaps it is a giant Goa’uld?  You had better report this to the Commander.”

The technician shook his head and waved his hands, “No way.  The last person to report bad news to our lord was sent flying out into space.  You’re the team leader, you tell him.” 

Then a girl’s voice from behind said, “Why don’t we tell him?”

The Team Leader brightened up at the idea that somebody had volunteered, and as he turning around he said, “Good idea, why don’t you…”  At which point Colonel Sheppard hit them both with a Zat stun blast.

Colonel Sheppard retreated around a corner and announced to everyone, “OK, we’re in.  Sam and Daniel should be the ones doing this.  They know these ships like architects know their own blueprints.”  Everyone entered the shuttle bay station and helped move the unconscious Jaffa soldiers to a storage area.

Alison turned to the cabin observation window, “Ah, here comes Uncle George now.  Girls, it’s time to change.  And boys, no peeking.”  As Ashley left the station she handed the dragon her backpack, locked arms with Alison, and all the females walked out the door and around the corner.

Uncle George began pulling wardrobes out of the bag, “I guess these will be our costumes.”  Everyone looked on in amazement as more and more clothes and shoes were dumped on the floor.  In a few minutes the ladies came back and looked absolutely stunning.  Colonel Sheppard glanced up from putting on his shoes and saw Jennifer, in a dress of black silk and jewels.  Vanessa was wearing a slave’s outfit that implied she was probably a sex-slave.  The female MPs were wearing serving maid’s costumes, with more chests showing than dress.  The twins were wearing a strapless print prom dress by Night Moves.  And of course the men were speechless, standing there with their mouths open.

Jennifer smiled and pointed a finger at the men, “See what I mean.  Men are pigs.”  And then she winked at Colonel Sheppard.

Alison nodded at the costumes the men had put on, “And that is how we are going to take control of this ship.  OK soldiers, form up and move out.”

Ashley turned to her and acted put out, “Hey, I thought I was supposed to say that!”

Alison just grinned and apologized as they walked out of the cabin, “Sorry Ashley.  I just couldn’t resist.  You know what those US Marines are doing to my hormones.”

As they moved deeper into the ship nobody stopped them.  A few soldiers stood and gaped, but quickly moved on.  Evidently the ship was understaffed, mostly because of the Jaffa defections.  One of the soldiers in back asked what was on all their minds, “Does anybody know what the plan is?”

Colonel Sheppard mumbled and shook his head NO, “Follow the twins.  And if that doesn’t work, run like your pants are on fire.”  Soon they came to a large door, guarded by half a dozen Serpent Guards.  These are special troops dressed in protective armor shaped like the head of a snake.

Jennifer had been given the plan the twins had dreamed up while they were dressing, and announced, “Open, in the name of Anubis.”  One of the guards quickly passed through the door, while the rest blocked the entrance.  When the guard returned he announced, “All of the females may enter, with one male.  The rest will move back.”

Colonel Sheppard instinctively started to move forward, but Ashley stopped him and motioned for Uncle George to follow.  As they entered the room, they noticed that a meeting was in progress, with System Lords arranged around a central low podium.  The Goa’uld standing on the podium turned to the Atlantis crew, “What is the meaning of this?  You are not Goa’uld.  Anubis was defeated by the humans of Earth!  All of the remaining Goa’uld in the galaxy are here today, united as one.”

Vanessa responded as if delivering a message from her god, “The Ancient weapon on Earth is no more.  Anubis returned to Earth with his clones and defeated the planet.  The people of Earth are now his slaves, as you will soon be if you do not bend to his will.”

The rest of the System Lords all jumped up and shouted “Never!” “He has no fleet.”  “We are about to destroy the Jaffa traitors and the Tok’ra!”  “The galaxy belongs to us, not to that freak!”

Jennifer asked fearlessly, “Then you refuse to bend to the will of Anubis?”

The senior System Lord’s eyes glowed as he turned to Uncle George and proclaimed, “You, male.  You will return to your master and tell him that when we are finished here, we will come to Earth and deal with him once and for all time.  The rest of you will remain here, and be our entertainment during the battle with the Jaffa and Tok’ra traitors.”  He then turned to the back of the room, speaking to the humans lined up along the wall, “Servants, strip them naked.”

Alison turned to Uncle George and calmly ordered, “Pet.  Kill the snakes.  All of them.”

Uncle George transformed into a frightful dragon shape of red and black, like some devil creature with horns and a spiked tail.  Suddenly tendrils of light shot out from his skull like bullets.  These weapons were not the same as the memory thefts.  Instead they hit each Goa’uld like a hammer, passing through the skin of the human host and penetrating the brain of each symbiote snake.  The servants of the Goa’uld were frozen in fear, and did nothing to protect their masters.  All of the Goa’uld collapsed to the floor, moaning in pain.  More energy bullets passed through the walls of the chamber on their way to kill the other Goa’uld in the fleet.

Ashley then jumped into action, “Tamara, give each a stimulant.  We don’t have time for them to heal and recover.  Chloe has just told me Samantha says that it takes months to dissolve the symbiote.”

Alison motioned to the stunned female soldiers, “OK ladies.  Bring them over here and have them stand facing the door.  Uncle George, change back to an ugly old man and open the door.”  Alison motioned Jennifer to stand on the podium.

As the door opened Jennifer commanded, “Guards, bring in the servants of your god Anubis.”  Vanessa almost started laughing.  The human servants who had witnessed the destruction of their masters were absolutely terrified, and remained frozen.  When the men came in they saw that the System Lords were standing like zombies, looking confused and dazed.  Colonel Sheppard started pulling a Zat from beneath his costume.

Jennifer waved him off, “No need John.  The symbiotes are all dead.”

Uncle George proudly stated, “Including those monsters on the other side of the planet.”

Colonel Sheppard was stunned by the news, “Even the Tok’ra?  You killed the Tok’ra?”

Alison intervened, “Wait.  I told him to do it.  I forgot about the ones on the planet.”

And Ashley immediately came to her sister’s defense, “Besides, this is evil, no matter how you look at it.  And according to what Chloe just told me, they are a dying race in any case.”

Colonel Sheppard did not have any first hand experience with the snakes, or all the players in this weird species conflict, so he put up his hands in defeat, “OK, that’s cool.  That’s cool.  Sorry dude, didn’t mean to yell at you.”  Uncle George just ignored him, like you ignore a puppy nipping at your heels.

—oOo—

Chloe turned to Samantha and asked, “General Carter, do you want the good news or the bad news first?”

At the same time Daniel was calling from the center of the city, down on the planet, “Sam, every Tok’ra in sight has just collapsed.  Some kind of energy pellet came through the walls and hit them in the spine.  The medic says they’re breathing, but unconscious.  What do we do now?”

Immediately after Daniel delivered his bad news, Dr McKay exclaimed in his usual panic mode, “Holy mother ship.  I’ve got over 60 Goa’uld battle cruisers and hundreds of smaller vessels coming around the horizon.  And they are locked and loaded.”

Amelia decided she might as well report her news now, “General, the Jaffa ships are heading for the surface of the planet.  They have no choice really.  With the damage we inflicted, they can not get away before they are overtaken by the Goa’uld ships.”

General Carter had her hands splayed to either side of her head, almost covering her ears, in a futile attempt to tell everyone to slow down. “Chloe, you better give me the good news fast, or I’m gonna scream.”

Chloe had her fists on her hips, and was pretending to be upset at Amelia, “Samantha, that was the good news.  And they stole my punch line!”  Everyone, even Elysium looked at her in shock.

Then Colonel Sheppard came online, “General Carter, this is Colonel Sheppard, do you read?”

General Carter began pacing as she responded, “Go ahead John.  Good to hear you’re safe.  Where are you?”

Colonel Sheppard reported in, “We just captured the entire Goa’uld fleet.  Got any bad guys you want us to zap?  By the way, every snake in the solar system is dead, including the Tok’ra.  Sorry about that.”

Daniel was in the hot seat, and needed everyone to focus on the problem planet-side, even though news of a Goa’uld fleet was shocking enough.  He interjected with his own set of plans, “Sam, I have an idea how to solve this problem.  Is Elysium online?”

Dr McKay jumped in, since he was feeling left out of all the excitement, “She is always online, and can easily multitask with everyone.  Go ahead.”

Daniel hit them with plan #1, “I need a team of technicians to rip out and transport all of the Tok’ra technology before the Jaffa get here.”

General Carter looked around the room for objections and ordered everyone to action, “Do it.  Colonel Sheppard, hold back for a moment, and nice job.  Miracles are just what the doctor ordered.”

Daniel then spelled out plan #2, “Send all of the medical teams to our central location.  We can direct them through the tunnels from here.  They must hurry.  There are babies and children in the tunnels with parents lying on the floor.”

General Carter immediately replied, “Everyone, do it.”

Colonel Young had to interrupt now because he had a plan that required immediate authorization, “I need to send troops to those Goa’uld ships to rip out their control crystals before they can figure out what is happening and start hijacking our 2nd SG~Fleet.”

General Carter began to relax, now that everyone was pitching in and getting things moving, “Naming things already are we?  The pentagon is going to have a fit when they discover that a female Air Force general is in command of two battle fleets.  Do it.  Colonel Sheppard, put them in geo-synchronous orbit first.  And transport the Goa’uld human host here as soon as you can.”

Daniel continued with plan #3, “Have the jumpers then set up a force shield around our position.  This should create a standstill.  I don’t think the Jaffa know about the tunnels yet.  They probably assume the Tok’ra thought they were free of the Goa’uld and decided to live above ground.  But to be safe we should get all our troops into the tunnels to protect the medical teams and Tok’ra.”

General Carter was thrilled that Daniel was taking charge.  It was hard to visualize his needs planet-side when they were orbiting the planet and trying to keep all the spaceships organized, “Do it.  Daniel, let’s transport the Tok’ra to Atlantis.  We can use the Stargate in the city center and the spare jumpers.  Use the Asgard beam to bring up Tok’ra equipment.  We’ll sort this all out when the Tok’ra and Goa’uld human hosts have recovered.”

Daniel was done with his planning and wanted to get off the planet that was being evacuated, “The medical teams are arriving now.  If your Stargate is clear Rodney, I’ll dial it up.  I’m coming back.”  Daniel soon came through the Stargate on Atlantis.  “Guards, keep this area clear at all times.  When people come through, get them out of the way immediately.  Send an armed guard with every alien to the hospital, and have them return here to pick up another patient.  And send an extra guard detail to the hospital now.”  Daniel ran up the stairs to see the kids eating popcorn, with two empty boxes nearby.  He decided to have some fun after all the pressure of the last few hours, “Sam, don’t tell me that you and Rodney were eating popcorn while I was down there arguing with those pig headed snakes!”

Dr McKay turned to Daniel and pointed at the kids, “What are you talking about?  They ate up all the popcorn!”

The babysitter jumped up and gave Rodney a killer look, “Oh, that’s just great.  Blame the children for your goofing off.  Now, you listen to me mister…”  Sam was happy to see that the kids were in good hands.

General Carter turned as Colonel Sheppard and his crew exited the elevator, still in costume.  “Well, it looks like somebody threw a party, and didn’t invite me.  Jennifer, that outfit is stunning, and you girls look fab in those prom dresses.”

Dr McKay was frozen at the sight, and added, “And every soldier in the gate room is standing still with their mouths hanging open.”

General Carter looked at Rodney and shook her head while smiling, “Including one Dr McKay.  Jennifer, perhaps you could get the ladies back in uniform, before somebody mistakes these soldiers for tavern serving maids.”  As the ladies ran towards the elevators Samantha looked at Colonel Sheppard.  “It wasn’t your fault, but maybe you can help me figure out what to do with these Tok’ra coming through the gate on stretchers.  At the end of the day, all the Tok’ra will be up here and all the Jaffa will be down there.  What a screw-up.  Let’s just blame it on the twins and go home.”

Dr McKay perked up and turned to look at Samantha, “That’s an awesome idea Sam!”  The twins gave him a nasty look.

General Carter put her fists on her hips and gave him one back, “Rodney, I was kidding.”

Tamara needed to bring this discussion back to reality, “Samantha, the Jaffa will not stop hunting the Tok’ra even if we tell them that all the symbiotes are dead.  Besides, the Goa’uld stragglers will still survive in this galaxy and others for many years.”

Daniel agreed with her, and was thinking along the same lines, “And all it would take is one encounter with a stray Goa’uld to set off another witch hunt.”

Colonel Sheppard suddenly jumped into the conversation with a suggestion, “Twelve ships?  All staffed with Tok’ra?”

Daniel caught the drift of the idea forming, “Resettlement, and crystal mining operations?”

Tamara touched her earpiece and called the hospital to make certain they could handle the nightmare coming on board the starship-city, “Dr Keller, is everything ready?  Good.”

General Carter turned to Daniel and asked, “Would you flaming geniuses slow down and explain!”

Elysium, “If I may General, I have enough data to form a complete plan.”

General Carter turned to the hologram, relieved to have a logical discussion amidst all the stress and chaos around her, “Please proceed.”

Elysium folded her hands together, much as moms do when teaching kids how to play nice with the neighbors, “After they have recovered, we should give the Tok’ra twelve small warships to place in orbit around the Earth, also disguised as satellites.  I am making the devices now.  They can resettle on Earth and slowly introduce their technology into your Earth industries.  This will benefit their families; and in this way we compensate them for what we have done.  Meanwhile, we give this planet to the Jaffa, whose loyalty to Earth is uncertain at best.  The human host of the Goa’uld, along with their former slaves, should also be settled here.  They can then migrate to any other planet that suits them, for what little time they have left to live.”  Note that once a snake symbiote is removed from a host, the human usually dies very quickly.

General Carter turned to Everett, who was listening to his own people report in, and waged a finger at him to get his attention, “Colonel Young, amend that order regarding the 2nd Fleet.  When the Goa’uld ships are secure, immediately dump everyone onto the planet.  If any ship attempts to leave the planet or the fleet in orbit, let them go.  We will leave the former hosts of the System Lords in control of one supply ship that can bring in farming equipment.”  He nodded affirmative, and she then spoke into the earpiece, “Major Lorne, report.”

Major Lorne was still on the planet, in the central location or hub of the tunnel system.  He could easily keep track of all six tunnels at once, but people were rushing around so fast that he was getting a bit dizzy as he reported the situation, “So far, we have three injured children, none serious.  But we have many injured adults who were hurt when they collapsed.  Maybe that dragon could provide pillows next time?”  OK, so maybe that joke didn’t go down so well, but it was a good point.  “So far the Jaffa have not been able to penetrate the blockade created by the jumpers.  One Jaffa ship tried to blast through and was destroyed by Captain Scott.  He really had no other option.  We should be done in about an hour.  The Seal Teams are running through the tunnels with stretchers; and the Marines are carrying two kids each at double time.  Bunch of damn showoffs if you ask me.  At this pace we should be out of here in an hour.  Hang on, we have a problem…”

The Jaffa had found one of the tunnels, and he could hear shooting in the far distance.  A soldier came running out of the tunnel entrance, and it was obvious that the Marine carrying a pair of children had been shot in the arm as he reported to Major Lorne what was happening.  Suddenly one of the female medics went running down the tunnel where the Jaffa had infiltrated.  Major Lorne grabbed what troops were handy and went chasing after her.  They ran past people still lying on the tunnel floor, and after about a hundred meters they rounded a corner and saw something amazing.  The medic was holding her arm out as if it was a weapon, palm forward.  She was walking forward as if she were pushing something in front of her.  Jaffa troops were flying backwards as she advanced on them.  Soon the remaining Jaffa troops were running back down the tunnel in a panic retreat.  The medic relaxed as she turned to see a stunned Major Lorne.  She then bent down and placed her hand over a Tok’ra that was unconscious. Major Lorne could see a very light glow near her hand, as if from a source of energy.  Within seconds the man lying on the tunnel floor was moving; and she helped him gather up more children to carry to safety.  As she walked past the US Marine troops she said, “Let’s clean up this mess and get out of here.  It smells in these tunnels.”

 

Adria, using her powers.

 

Major Lorne grabbed a child, turned and jogged back to the central hub.  As soon as the interference from the stone and crystal walls of the tunnels vanished, he got back on the com-link and reported what had just happened.  When Samantha asked what the medics name was, Major Lorne replied, “Her name tag just says Adria.  Anyway, two of the Tok’ra have fully recovered and are helping us locate crystals and lots of techno-goodies.  Any change in orders ma’am?”

General Carter was stunned by the report, and very pleased at the same time.  All she could think of to say, at least for now was, “Interesting.  I’m going to be busy up here, so report to Colonel Young every fifteen minutes.  This could get nasty if we don’t secure those Goa’uld ships.”  She then looked around the room and saw that everyone was busy.  She again pointed a finger at Everett, “Speaking of which.”

Colonel Young had been listening to a number of people reporting in, and quickly summarized the situation, “We have some non-violent resistance on three of the ships, but the MPs are handling it OK.  John and Elysium have been sending the Goa’uld ships fake orders, pretending to be the System Lords on the command ship.”

Colonel Sheppard clarified, “They think we are from the Earth army of Anubis, who is now supreme commander of the System Lords.  As long as Atlantis stays cloaked they will follow the orders of their new master until it’s too late.”

General Carter was a bit confused because she had not received a full report of what had happened, “Wait a minute, who is on board the command ship, and who is pretending to be Anubis?”

Colonel Sheppard realized that nobody on Atlantis knew how they had stolen an entire fleet of starships, “The human servants of the System Lords saw what the dragon did, and we are letting rumor do the rest.  That Uncle George is doing OK as Anubis the Devil, and Vanessa is keeping an eye on him, hypo at the ready.”

Colonel Young added information from his command to help clarify the picture, “I gave top priority to the command ship, and every Jaffa on board is standing by the rings, thinking that they are ready to assault the planet.  More of our people are sneaking on board and taking over the critical sections of the ship.  Although I have been training teams in nearly every alien technology known to us, it won’t work.  I only have enough people for one mother ship.”

Dr McKay was also not that familiar with the snake species, and did not know half of the problems they had presented Earth over the last decade, so his suggestion was well intentioned, but not at all a good one, “This is why we need to ask the Tok’ra for volunteers, to man the starships critical systems.”

Daniel knew better, and immediately objected, with a possible compromise, “They will want total control of course, but I think we can work out a treaty to share the fleet that is fair.”

Elysium just shook her head as if listening to two naughty boys, “May I continue, or are you ‘flaming geniuses’ still working out a plan to give away General Carters new 2nd SG~Fleet.”

General Carter couldn’t help but laugh, “Proceed.”

Elysium nodded, “All of the Tok’ra must be sent to Earth if you wish to achieve the most favorable outcome, and the most probable to succeed.  They have suffered a terrible shock, and some of them are dying as we speak.  They can not be fully trusted until they get used to their new mortality.  Some of them will catch diseases before they leave the hospital.  Dr Keller is giving everyone vaccination shots and running medical checks, but their reaction to what has happened is unpredictable.  I suggest that they be closely supervised by psychologist and sociologist, and resettled as quickly as possible.”

General Carter looked around, and when Daniel reluctantly nodded, “Agreed.”

Elysium continued, “I am creating video training programs for the rather ugly and clumsy ships of your 1st and 2nd fleets.  The command ship now under your control, staffed by a skeleton crew, will FTL to Earth and return back to us with replacement trainees who have the needed experience and skills.  I am very reluctant to give up the crew we currently have training for Atlantis class starships, as they will be needed when we find my sisters.”

Dr McKay started snapping his fingers, “Wait, this flaming genius has an idea.  Elysium, can you modify the crystals in the Goa’uld ships to allow you to operate the ships by remote control?”

Elysium nodded thoughtfully, and instantly changed the battle plan, “Yes.  If Colonel Young will deliver all the crystals to me I can make the changes in one hour.  We can then tow the ships behind us until they are fully staffed.  This will remove the temptation from this planet to retake the ships.”

General Carter looked at Colonel Young and nodded.  “Good.  Then let’s order all the Jaffa down to the surface at once.  Let them take small transports, but keep the fighters.  And Colonel Young, I realize that you are in charge of training, but could you please ask your skeleton crew on the mother ship to select females only from Earth.  Thanks to the twins, we have enough boy-toys on this ship.  Can you wrap this up for me?  Tamara and I need to visit the hospital and talk to the Tok’ra.”

Colonel Young nodded with appreciation for the confidence that Samantha continued to show him, “Yes ma’am.  Elysium, send a message to all jumpers as soon as all of the Tok’ra have been evacuated.  We are going to start dumping Jaffa on the planet using the transport rings on the Goa’uld ships.  Have the jumpers announce to the Jaffa on the planet that they are free of the tyranny of the Goa’uld and the Tok’ra.  The city is theirs for the taking.  When it looks like they are buying it, ease up and see if they join forces.  If not then keep them apart until we can get them to work out a truce.  And Rodney, where in the three-space of the universe is my popcorn?”

 

—oOo—

 

The Stargate activated on Elysium, and the senior technician on duty, who for this shift was Amelia, announced to the room, “Incoming worm-hole.”  This was more of a command to the soldiers below to get to their stations and prepare to deal with whatever came through the Stargate, with or without permission, and with or without the shield covering the gate.  Amelia then looked absolutely stunned, and turned to the senior officer on duty, “I’m getting a radio call from someone at Federal Express, who says they have packages for Alison and Ashley Dragonia.  The shipments are from Amazon dot com.”

Suddenly the twins appeared in the control room, dressed in pajamas and bunny slippers.  They both looked sleepy but excited, and Alison shouted at the technician monitoring the Stargate controls, “Well, let him through!  You don’t want our stuff to get vaporized do you?”

Ashley put her hand to her mouth as she yawned, “You would think that they could deliver packages at a decent hour!”  When the shield was lowered Amelia radioed to the delivery man to proceed.  She knew that the twins could probably handle anything that came through the Stargate, and had received orders to allow them to use any of the control consoles, without hesitation.  So Amelia was not all that surprised when a Fed-Ex uniformed courier arrived pulling a huge cart loaded with packages.  The twins raced down the stairs in their bunny slippers and started pulling boxes off the cart.  The guards came over to help them after the Stargate shut down, and helped the courier to check off items.  Included in the list were a dozen SAV-7 Underwater Scooters, hundreds of cases of movies in Blu-Ray and thousands of computer games with the required equipment.  The twins ripped open a box containing skateboards and off they went, back to bed.

—oOo—

That morning Samantha put on her shower cap and stepped into the bathtub.  She closed her eyes and hit the on-button for the shower.  The temperature was perfect, and everything was within reach.  After she rinsed off she opened her eyes and was shocked to discover that her skin was now green.  She ran into her bedroom and immediately called the hospital, only to find Tamara on the view screen with a green face and arms.

That same morning Vanessa was drying her hair with a portable blow dryer, leaning forward in front of the bathroom mirror.  When she reached up to run her fingers through her hair, she suddenly felt something was wrong.  She stood up and looked in the mirror.  To her horror her hair was standing straight up, in spikes!  As she screamed, the twins in the other cabin high-fived and ran out of their room and off to breakfast.

—oOo—

Elysium greeted Samantha as she entered the conference room, “General Carter, we have a signal from the 1st SG~Fleet.”

General Carter sat down in a fowl mood, “It’s about time, put them on.”  Nobody had heard from the Lucian Alliance in 5 weeks, and Samantha was getting worried.  Then again, they were not a very friendly lot.

Lucian Captain Jarek was reporting, “General, greetings.  As you ordered, we have sent our ships out in pairs to the coordinate you have given us.  However, wouldn’t it be better for us to spread out in a spherical pattern instead of this dome grid?”

General Carter quickly replied, “Captain, the other half of the sphere is being searched by what is left of the Goa’uld fleet.  All of the senior Goa’uld in our galaxy are dead, as are the Tok’ra.  Three hundred ships, manned by soldiers from Earth, will join you shortly.  I want you to exchange a few crew members so that our Earth troops can learn from your experience using these ships in battle.”

Lucian Captain Jarek was impressed that these Earthlings had wrapped up the rest of the Goa’uld, “The Empress is indeed powerful.  The news I have for you is not good.  The Wraith have sent spies through the Stargates to seek out planets with large populations.  Which to be fair is exactly what we are doing.  What has alarmed us is that they are also looking for the planet Earth.”

General Carter was not surprised at the news, “Captain, you are to either capture or kill those spies.”

Lucian Captain Jarek smiled at getting such a wicked command, “Knowing us, you probably have guessed that we got one of the spies drunk and discovered that these Wraith have united their forces, and are installing worm-hole drives in their starships.  They plan to conquer a planet with a large human population somewhere in this galaxy.  They now know that there are dozens of planets with populations in the millions.”

General Carter had visited many of those planets, and knew that only a few of them could stand up to the power of the Wraith, “I would guess that they found some ZPMs in Ancient ships or cities; or even stole them from the Replicators.  However, your primary mission is to find the technology of the Ancients.  Have you made any progress?”

Lucian Captain Jarek now looked a bit confused, “Didn’t your secretary Elysium tell you.  We notified her of two seed ships, three battleships and hundreds of smaller ships that we found drifting in open space.  They are on their way to Earth now.  The odd thing is that the ships activated on their own as soon as we approached them.”

General Carter was a bit put out by the fact that she did not know what was going on, but recovered quickly, “We have the ability to command any activated Ancient ship in the Galaxy, regardless of who is on board.  Good work Captain, and thank you for the warning concerning the Wraith.”

Lucian Captain Jarek smiled, but was not at all happy that he could not load up his own ship with treasure.  But such are the fortunes of war.  Sometimes you gain an advantage and sometimes you just die, “Praise the Empress.  Out.”

General Carter turned to the hologram, “Elysium, please gather the senior staff.  In the meantime could you explain why I was not informed about the Ancient seed ships?”

Elysium, “My apologies General.  I receive thousands of high priority messages every hour, and with seven hundred ships searching the universe, the daily status report would be overwhelming.  No insult intended, but your race of humans is not yet ready to run a starship such as this.”

General Carter looked at the hologram and smiled an apology, “None taken.  You will find that I am a scientist first, and a paper pusher second.  Unlike most of us humans, the more I know, the dumber I feel.”

Alison entered the room just then, and jumped at the opportunity for a little fun, “Then you must be feeling very stupid right now!”  The twins high-fived each other and sat down at the conference table.

Elysium frowned at the twins, “You two should apologize to the General.  That wasn’t very nice.”

Colonel Sheppard had heard everything as he entered the conference room, and sat down laughing, “I thought it was funny.  And knowing the twins, I would say that it was an exceptional compliment.  They haven’t called me stupid for at least three days.”

Dr McKay was right behind him, “No, they just call you boy-toy.  I have the title of ‘bungling geek’.”

As Tamara entered the conference room behind the twins, she shook her head, “Stop your whining Rodney.  I’m the ‘slicer and dicer’.  Which is not fair considering the fact that I never trained in open heart surgery.”  As she sat down, Tamara stuck her green tongue out at the twins.

Jennifer entered the conference room, along with Colonel Young and Daniel, “What did we miss?”

Dr McKay growled at her, “Getting insulted by the twins.”

Colonel Young sat down and turned to Samantha, “Excellent.  With your permission General, I’ll be late to every meeting.”  He was still put out by the fact that he had lost control of Destiny to a couple of kids and their pet dragon.

Ashley turned to see Captains James and Scott arriving with serving trays, “Ah, here comes our servant girl now with the tea.  And it better be Bigelow this time.  That Lipton Tea was just awful.”  Everyone stared at Vanessa, who now had multicolored hair with spikes and weird swirls.

Vanessa looked in amazement at all the people with green skin, “I can see that everyone is green with envy at my new hair style!” 

As Vanessa and Matthew finished setting the tea cups on the table, Samantha looked at the twins, “I really don’t think Vanessa appreciates being called ‘servant’.  I asked the Captains to serve us tea at meetings for security reasons.”  Nobody was blaming the twins for the pranks, but it was rather obvious who was responsible.

Alison grabbed a cup and took a sip, “Oh, she doesn’t mind.  Besides, she let’s us sleep with her once a week and share her boy-toy.”

Vanessa dropped her tray and empty teapot with a clang, and looking horrified, put her hands to her mouth.  Everyone’s mouth dropped open. Samantha turned to Vanessa, and asked in that motherly way of scolding, “Vanessa?”  The twins high-fived each other again and whispered, “Earthlings are so easy.”

Elysium decided to interject some calm logic into this discussion, “What the twins mean is that they are welcome to lie next to Vanessa and share in her very light-hearted romantic memories of handsome young men.  No pornography is allowed, and it keeps the twins from raiding the US Marine sleeping quarters.  I have had to remind them twice that they may be thousands of years old, but we all must observe Earth customs.”

Vanessa, standing with fists on hips, stared straight at the twins, “It seems that if I concentrate hard enough, the twins can share in my visual and emotional dreams.  They picked up the skill from the dragon.  And they better not mess with my boy-toy, or I will personally throw them out an air-lock.”  Captain Scott was laughing and shaking his head as he sat down.  Meanwhile Uncle George quietly entered the room and sat in the corner, on his favorite round cushion wicker chair.

General Carter just rolled her eyes and shook her head, “Jennifer, let’s bring the meeting to order.  Nothing said so far will go in the record, especially who sleeps with whom and what hair style is currently in.  Elysium?”

Elysium got down to business and reported, “So far, our teams have activated five Ancient battleships, which are heading towards Earth.  Since they are not cloaked they will become part of the Rings of Saturn.  Through the use of the Stargates, I have found over six thousand ships, thirty seven thousand cities and twelve Atlantis class starship cities.  Some, like the one Colonel Sheppard found, are beyond repair.  Some have alien life forms aboard, hitch-hiking if you will.  As was the case with Destiny, the ships computer is not active and I am unable to communicate with my sisters.  Once we get on board, the Dragon can activate the A.I. and the ship will become a member of our 3rd SG~Fleet under the command of General Carter.”

Elysium wrapped up the discussion, “I am sending our 1st and 2nd SG~Fleet out to find ships of high value.  As they approach the ship it activates at the most basic level, and sends a warning through the network to me.  I can then command the ship to run straight to Earth.  We will need to board each ship and activate the A.I.  Please note that if any aliens are aboard our ships, they will be strongly encouraged to leave.  If they refuse then the ship will remain where it is until we can deal with the problem.  We do not wish to harm aliens that are no threat to us.”

Jennifer loved details, and noted one glaring omission, “For the record.  How were the ships and cities shut down?”

Colonel Sheppard nodded, “That puzzle is something I have been wondering about for years.”

Tamara pointed a finger at him, “John, if you would spend more time reading the history lessons Elysium has provided us…”

Vanessa looked at him with that scolding attitude women love so much, “Instead of chasing the young female graduates from M.I.T…”

General Carter finished with a smile, since she knew that many soldiers avoided paper unless it was needed to start a fire, “You would know that Merlin shut down many of the Ancient cities and ships when the rest of the Ancients ascended.”

Colonel Sheppard, “Hey, I try to listen to the audio tapes when I’m not training pilots, and not swimming, and not eating, and not…OK, I get your point.”

Jennifer, “And since we all have a top security clearance, and I checked with Elysium prior to arriving to insure that this room is secure, I need to ask, off the record, who did Merlin give the password to?”

Elysium calmly replied, “Unfortunately the twins and I do not have the codes.”

Colonel Young suddenly knew, and groaned.

General Carter looked over at him and asked, “Something you want to share with us Colonel Young?”

Tamara interrupted while she looked around the room, “But the holograms on Destiny and Elysium were activated after the twins arrived.  So who does have the codes?” 

The twins, Colonel Young, and Elysium all pointed to the snoring Uncle George in the corner and said, “He does.”

General Carter dropped her head on the table and moaned.  “Oh god, what have I done to deserve this?”  Just as quickly she recovered, “I guess Merlin, in his infinite wisdom, knew what he was doing.  OK, let’s move on.  I called this meeting to inform everyone that all of the Wraith have united and are planning a massive attack against Earth.”  Then everybody started talking at once; except for the twins.  Their eyes were closed, like they were in a trance.

—oOo—

General Carter finally got everyone settled down, updated on the situation, listened to the status reports from each person; and finally asked Elysium, “What’s with the twins?”

Elysium looked from the twins to Samantha and stated what was obvious to her, “They are remembering your battles with the Wraith.”

Dr McKay was not familiar with how the ARK worked, and exclaimed, “What?”

Chloe turned to him and answered the question, “Our race of Ancients has a special part of our brain set aside as temporary storage, so we remember things differently than the Alterans.”

Colonel Young jumped in to ask Chloe, “You mean like formatting a hard drive with multiple partitions?  Download the raw date into the temp drive, review what you need, transfer it over to permanent memory and flush the temp drive.”

Vanessa interrupted everyone, “I’m getting a vibration on my armband.”  Suddenly the twins jumped up, Atlantis finally exited the wormhole they had been traveling through, Elysium stood up and Uncle George jumped up out of his sleep yelling “Battle Stations”.

Alison turned to the dragon, “Uncle George, what’s up?”

Uncle George replied, “Bugs, nasty, nasty bugs.” And then he sat down, threw his head back and resumed snoring.

General Carter was getting used to the awesome computer on board starships, and turned to the hologram first, “Elysium, are we in danger right now, and where are we?”

Elysium sat back down, since nobody else seem alarmed at the nightmare ahead, “No.  My protocol is to arrive on the opposite side of the sun from the gated planet, and nothing is orbiting on this side but a few uninhabitable planets.  We are in a small galaxy next to Pegasus.  My sister Delphyne is asleep, as I expected.  I have very limited control over the ship.  All the information that I can get from Delphyne is that one power module is very low on energy, nothing is in the recharging room, and the ship is floating on a lake in a valley.  I will have more information when I move around the sun to determine what is happening.”

General Carter was excited about finding another Atlantis class starship, but this announcement of bugs had her on edge, “Colonels Young and Sheppard prepare the troops.  Everyone else stay here.  Ashley, how does he do it and what does he know?”

Ashley asked her back, “A quick summary?  Yes, OK.  We trained him to use his talents to feel sub-space alien technology.  In his natural form he uses an organic sub-space interface to communicate with other dragons.  This is what you call telepathy.”

Alison: “Anything connected to sub-space communications or transport flows into him like the wind on your bare skin.”

Ashley: “Our dragon also has the talent of picking up the mind patterns of creatures who communicate through sub-space.  On Earth you probably have people who believe they are seeing ghosts, when in fact they are seeing traces of beings in sub-space, or what you call Heaven.”

Alison: “The Wraith rarely use this means of communication, since it is vulnerable to detection and infiltration.”

Ashley: “This is why we asked our pet to go back to sleep.”

Alison: “He is a liability, and he will not be able to help us against the Wraith.”

Ashley: “He hates Wraith bugs, like big time!  The Wraith tried to exterminate the dragons at one time, but it was like trying to catch butterflies without a net.”

Alison: “The problem is that they could collectively take over his mind, and then we would be in very big trouble.”

General Carter turned to her medical and dragon expert, “Tamara…”

Tamara got up, walked over to Uncle George and grabbed the dragon to take with her, “I’ll take Vanessa with me to the hospital and prepare a new hypo in case we need to sedate him.  Let me know what to expect in terms of casualties and medical teams.”

Alison: “We have also finished reviewing your Wraith experience, and combined with what we know from the distant past, you humans are in very big trouble.”

Ashley nodded agreement, and added, “The Ancients tried everything they could to defeat these Wraith.  Yes indeed, very big trouble.”

General Carter, “OK, we get it.  I have to assume that the reason the Wraith are preparing an attack on Earth is that they have stolen the power modules, from Delphyne is it?”

Daniel was feeling left out, so he added his input, “Delphyne is a female dragon snake that guarded the oracle of Delphi.”

Dr McKay looked at Daniel as if to say something Jack had once said ‘Thank you for that useless piece of information.’, but instead he decided to add his own redundant information, “And the Wraith have probably started installing worm-hole drives into their biggest starships, like the one that attacked Earth.  I better get to the control room.  Yell if you need me.”  Now he was beginning to sound like the Dragon.

General Carter waved him back down, “No Rodney, stay here.  Let them do their job. A mother hen they don’t need.  Besides, I need your input on dealing with the Wraith.  And as soon as the assault plan is formalized, I want you to assemble a team of technicians to power up Delphyne.  Take Zelenka with you.”  Samantha touched her earpiece, “Dr Zelenka to the jumpers please.  Elysium, can you use this local sun to recharge and then go in cloaked, undetected?”

Elysium responded in imitation of Dr McKay, “On my way!”

General Carter smiled at the reply, “Rodney, she’s starting to sound like you!”  Elysium made good progress towards the planet using sub-light engines that could only be detected from behind the ship.  Unfortunately stealth mode also works against you, since you are running on visual input only.  Once they were close enough they were able to see that the planet had no orbiting Wraith ships and no darts.  Everyone was pacing about, trying to figure out how to capture Delphyne without causing damage to the starship city.

General Carter stopped pacing and ordered, “Elysium, get the Colonels on the com, and Tamara.  OK everybody, here is the problem.  We need that ship.  Elysium says it is in good shape and would be able to fly if it had power modules.  We can not use the Stargates in this galaxy, as it would alert the Wraith that Elysium is here.  So a direct assault on the control room through the gate is out.  Rodney will prepare a trolley with nine modules and take a team of technicians to restore full power to the ship at all possible speed.  No looking around.”

Dr McKay finally got to go into action, like a kid who is told to go out and play on the freeway, “I’m on it.”  He ran to the elevators to get the power modules located at the lower level.

Elysium announced, “Sit-rep update General.  The city is floating on a shallow lake and only the control tower is shielded, but with very low power.  Our jumpers can pass through the shield, but the jumpers would be visible once inside the shield.  Also, the jumpers would be destroyed if the Chair Room is manned.  The single power module on Delphyne has enough energy to defend the control tower until help could arrive.  The good news is that there are only 64 life signs on board, according to the systems on Delphyne that I can control.  Half of the Wraith creatures are walking around the control tower on multiple levels, while the other half are asleep in quarters next to the control room.  The rest of the ship is abandoned.”

Jennifer wiggled her finger for attention and permission to speak, then spoke up anyway.  Such is the behavior of feisty Air Force officers, “General, if I may?”  Oddly enough the twins were just sitting quietly, sipping tea that Vanessa had brought in.

General Carter turned to Jennifer and nodded, “Go ahead Captain Hailey.  Our two Mexican jumping beans here don’t have any ideas, which is very troubling.”

Elysium decided to explain something that should have been obvious, “Military strategy requires emotional maturity, as well as technical information.  They will jump in when they can contribute.”  The twins just smiled, and Samantha nodded in understanding.

Jennifer continued, “Elysium, I have been studying your city schematics and weapons specs.  I assume that your ships prefer to land on water in case they have to replenish the oxygen when the air-tight shield is up for a long time.  Like a siege attack?”

Elysium nodded, “Oxygen is too dangerous to store in tanks that could be destroyed by the many asteroids traveling near the speed of light.  And the cities were not designed to stay in space for long periods.  They simply take oxygen from the water, using very little energy from the second battery in the power room or the arms.”

Jennifer, “Yes!  They need the second power module; which is missing or dead.  So they occasionally drop the shield to replenish the air.”

Elysium replied, “I agree.  In this special case the occupants must survive the siege, otherwise the shield is useless.”

Jennifer nodded. “So, here’s my idea.  First, Colonel Sheppard will launch hit and run sorties against the shield protecting the control tower, using light weapons.  This will simulate an attack by the local population.  He will be fully cloaked outside the Delphyne shield boundaries.  This will force the Wraith to increase the shield to full strength and fully extended.  Elysium can also remotely activate as many systems as possible throughout the city, randomly as if the city is malfunctioning.  This will severely drain the power module, and hopefully all systems will shut down.  But that is the best case scenario.  What we really want is to force them to pull the weakened shield back to the control tower so that they will not see who we are when we get in close.  If the Chair Room is manned, which is highly unlikely given that it requires the Ancient gene to operate, then he bugs out at the first sign of a drone.  There’s more, but we need to get started on this one right away.”

General Carter called to the jumper bay, where assault teams were suiting up, “Colonel Sheppard, start training your men to fire automatic weapons and grenades from the rear of two jumpers with the exit ramp fully extended, and install restraining straps.  Major Hailey is on her way to join you.  Well done Jennifer.  OK everybody, listen up.  We have to take that ship, and fast.  If the Wraith have completed installing worm-hole drives in any of their starships, then they could get here in minutes from the Pegasus galaxy.  They may even have a hive ship nearby in another system.”

Elysium, “Sit-rep update General.  On the advice of Jennifer, I have started switching pumps and lights on and off throughout the Delphyne ship to simulate random malfunctions due to low power.  And most importantly, I am randomly shutting off the life signs detectors, which will be completely shut off once the assault begins.  The good news is that power is draining fast, much as it did on this ship when you first arrived many years ago.  The bad news is that I cannot remotely control the shield or the weapons systems.”  General Carter listened but did not respond.  Computers could care less about complements, especially when you are jammed for time.  Instead she gave the hologram a thumbs up.

General Carter continued with her instructions, and glad that Elysium was doing such a great job, “Every jumper is to be manned with assault teams.  I want Navy Seals in the water under the ship looking for mines or evidence of sabotage.  Have them use the SAV-7 Underwater Scooters the twins purchased, since sonar detection is extremely unlikely.  Tell them the underside of the city is at one hundred foot maximum depth.  Once the troops disembark the jumpers I want half the jumpers to watch for incoming or outgoing darts.  The other half will return for medics and the power modules.  I want the nine power modules distributed amongst nine jumpers.  Do NOT, and I repeat, do NOT install the power modules without authorization from Major Hailey or her chain of command.”

Elysium, “Sit-rep update General.  I am able to control all access doors, but I must do it randomly or they will know where your main assault groups are going to hit.”

General Carter was thinking about strategy, and something didn’t make sense, “Why do they have the shield up in the first place, and why don’t we just beam them up, one at a time?”

Alison was finally able to contribute, “According to the reports of Colonel Sheppard, the Wraith foot soldiers are somewhat paranoid when they are away from the hive.  Only the Wraith commanders are brave enough to hunt on alien planets for long periods of time.  And Elysium has no idea what the mix is on the ship.  I would guess two, maybe three, commanders and the rest guards.”

Ashley: “And the Asgard beam is not compatible with Ancient shields and weapons.  The two former races of humans use different technologies, which are out of phase with each other, like crossbows against rifles”

General Carter, “Elysium, is there any way at all that you can just pump gas into the control tower?  Or even smoke?”

Elysium, “No General.  Major Hailey did her homework.  The air pumps on this class of starship only work in one direction as a safety precaution.  Unfortunately all of the Wraith and guards are now awake and in the control room, probably trying to figure out why the systems are malfunctioning.  So far I have not detected any alert.”

General Carter, “Is everyone ready?”  All units reported in ready to go.  “OK.  Remember the sequence.  Light arms fire from the jumpers first to keep the shields up at full strength, and bounce around, fast.  The Navy Seal teams will jump into the water next at T plus three.  Elysium will start creating a multitude of diversions at T plus six minutes later.  As soon as the shield retracts to the control tower, land the troops on all six arms as close to the entry doors on the lowest level as you can get, ramp end first, but inside the shield.  At this point you may or may not be detected.  Enter the tower only when the doors open.  If they don’t open in 30 seconds after landing, blow them open if you have to.  Nine jumpers will return to pick up the teams of Rodney and Tamara.  Major Hailey will give you any changes to the plan as needed.  Colonel Sheppard will direct the assault but remain in the jumper.  And lastly, I am very reluctant to say this, but you are not to take prisoners.  They are not human, they are bugs.  Squash them.  You have a go.”

—oOo—

Jennifer was sitting in the co-pilot seat of one of the assault jumpers, “Great, I get to coordinate the action heroes.  Why do I have a gun if I don’t get to shoot somebody?”

Her jumper pilot laughed and replied, “Hey, look at it this way, you could be babysitting the Dragon.”

Elysium reported that the shield on Delphyne was now isolated to the control tower, and weakening.  Jennifer looked back at the troops in the jumper, “OK guys, when we turn this thing around out you go.  Good hunting.”

Soon the Navy Seal commander was on the com-link, “Major Hailey, we have a problem.  Like you ordered, we checked out the underwater hanger bay first, and we found three darts hiding inside, floating on the water surface.  The Wraith guards are all looking inside the hanger door to the corridors to see what the commotion is about.  My men are about to take them out.  Please advise.”

Jennifer suddenly yelled, “Holy crap.  Everybody listen up, and I mean everybody.  Seal Teams, get out of sight, do not take out those guards.  Get under the darts, now.  Assault team three, bug out.  Acknowledge.”

Navy Seal Commander, “Roger that.”

Assault Team Three, “Team #3 loading back into the jumper ma’am.”

Jennifer then calmed down a bit, “We forgot that the Wraith can self destruct the darts by remote, and they are perfectly willing to self-destruct to protect the hive.  All assault teams, do not take the stairs.  Stay out of sight in the arm of the city, maximum distance 100 meters from the elevator.  Assault team one, Elysium will send down the elevator in sporadic motion to fool the Wraith.  Get on the elevator with as many flash-stun and smoke grenades as you can carry.  She will take you to the top level in stops and starts, so hang on.”

Elysium reported in that she understood the instructions and was using her remote control link to participate in the battle, “Acknowledged.”

Assault Team One reported in, “Roger.  The elevator is opening now… shit.  OK, one bad guy down.  We are in.”

Jennifer then moved on to the next phase, “Assault Team Two, move to the elevator.  Elysium will send it straight down immediately, jump in and follow team one.  Colonel Sheppard take over.”

Colonel Sheppard realized what had gone wrong, and was adjusting his thinking a little slower than Jennifer, but was on top of things nonetheless. “Team three, find an entrance down the arm of three and take up position past the entrance to the underwater jumper bay.  Do not interfere with the escaping bad guys, but don’t let them get deeper into the arm of the city.  We want them to think that they can leave in the darts.”

Assault Team One, “We are at the top level, two bad guys down, one friendly stunned.  Please advise.”

Colonel Sheppard clarified the new plan, “Everybody listen up.  The idea is to push them down the control tower.  We need them to abandon the city and escape in the darts.  Use as much noise as you can.  If you do not have a target, fire into the furniture.”

Assault Team One reported in, “We are on our way.  Team Two has just arrived.  Shit, they’re taking the elevator, three Wraith commanders and four soldiers.  The rest are taking the stairs.”

Colonel Sheppard liked what he was hearing, so far so good.  Then he remembered where the enemy was heading and issued more instructions, “Teams four to six.  Watch for the bad guys to exit the elevators.  Let them move down arm three.  Then get up the elevators to the top level.  Watch for them to leave a rear guard at the bottom of the elevators and stairs.”

Jennifer just thought of something and interjected, “Excuse me colonel.  Seal Teams, do you have adhesive mines with atmospheric triggers?”

The Navy Seal commander was hanging loose, staying out of sight behind the floating darts, “Yes Major.  Colonel Young redesigned the triggers and passed them out an hour ago.  Plus or minus ten klicks.  What altitude and where ma’am?”

Jennifer replied, “Ten thousand feet, under the wing if you can, if not, find the point of least air pressure.  Then get out of there, undetected.”

The Navy Seal commander finally felt confident that the Air Force officers knew what they were doing, and blowing things up was his favorite hobby, “Roger that.”

Colonel Sheppard waited a few minutes, then got back on the com-link, “Teams, report.”

Assault Team One reported in first, “We have the control room and gate room secure, team two is pushing them down the next level, but they are starting to resist.  Looks like a rear guard action intended to hold the stairs.  I don’t think they intend to abandon the city.”

Colonel Sheppard, “Team one stay put.  Look for stray bad guys at your level.  Elysium, activate the life signs detector.”

Jennifer needed someone to make a command decision that was way above her pay level, so she got on the com-link, “General Carter, in a few minutes the darts will leave the city instead of detonating, thinking that they can counter attack against a small rebel force from the planet.  If we drop the shield on Delphyne then we are vulnerable to the darts.  Leave the shield on and we have to fight fifty or more bugs, causing damage to the ship.”

Elysium quickly added more information that she felt was needed, “General.  I will not be able to use the Asgard beam on the darts.  The darts move too quickly, and the Asgard device was designed for long distance stationary objects.  The Wraith have a superior short distance beaming device in their darts, which I would love to integrate into the jumper systems.”

General Carter was learning about systems she should have been trained in days ago, but better late than never, “OK, just concentrate on the bugs in the control tower.”

Jennifer now felt more confident, and interrupted, “General, I have computed the probabilities of this battle.  If I may?”

General Carter didn’t see why Jennifer should not take back command, “Go!”

Jennifer, “Attention Assault Team One in the Delphyne control tower.  Dr McKay is in a jumper, and will be heading your way shortly through the jumper bay above you.  He will tell you now how to drop the shields on Delphyne.  Jumpers one through five, raise to an altitude of twenty klicks, spread out, now.  All other jumpers, surround the control tower at one hundred meters, cloaked and shielded, facing out and ready to fire all your drones, now.  All other assault teams make a defensive retreat down the arms of the city.  All jumpers listen up.  Do not fire at the darts until they are at least two hundred meters above the water.  We don’t want them returning to the underwater jumper bay.  OK, here they come.”

 

Wraith dart trying to escape from the city.

 

Elysium reported what she was doing, “I am now beaming the Wraith in the city out into space, but it will take time.”

General Carter added a command that should not have been needed, but when you are in battle anything can happen, including loosing your caution, “All assault teams hold on, and take up defensive positions.”

Colonel Sheppard reported in as soon as he saw the darts, “One dart is headed for altitude; the other two are turning towards us.  Low altitude jumpers, open fire now.  High altitude jumpers, hold fire unless the dart gets past ten klicks.”  The two darts vanished in a hail of drones that came out of nowhere.  The one remaining dart was escaping, but at ten thousand feet he exploded.  Unfortunately, he had just enough time to send a signal to his hive before he died.

—oOo—

Jennifer was sitting in the conference room, where everyone had assembled after the battle, “General, I would like to thank you again for the promotion.  But I believe that Congress froze all promotions in this year’s Defense Authorization Act, by the request of our President and Commander in Chief.  Which is probably why I have not been promoted in the three years past my time and grade.”

General Carter decided to tease this little wizard, “Or perhaps you have not earned the promotion?”

Jennifer was keen to the personality of Samantha, and was suddenly sitting at attention, “Not a chance ma’am!”  Everyone in the military laughed, as they knew that Samantha was pulling her leg.  Both Captains Scott and James looked worried as they handed out tea in the secure conference room and took their own seats. 

General Carter smiled at Jennifer, “At ease Major!  Add to that the fact that you saved Delphyne from certain destruction.”

Elysium bowed her head to Jennifer, “My sister and I are in your debt.”  At that everyone applauded, except Uncle George, who was sound asleep in the corner.

General Carter then turned to face everyone in the room, “The President was so eager to get rid of me, that he gave me exclusive written authorization to promote one person for every officer, of every service, of equal rank, that retires back on Earth.  This is in fact authorized by Congress as a compromise measure.  The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is furious with me over this, but he knows that the next President will set thing right and open up the promotions again.  Captains, wonderful tea, and everyone, well done.”

Jennifer was ready with her voice recorder and asked, “Shall I start the log?”

General Carter, “Yes, please.  Elysium, report first.”

Elysium began with the current activities, “Major Evan Lorne is in charge of transferring the second group of personnel from this ship.  Vanessa suggested that we land our ship next to Delphyne and rope two arms of the cities together.  The Navy Seals can sever the lines in ten seconds if required.  The idea of landing next to the other city is working out wonderfully.  The transfer of damage control personnel is complete, and as soon as somebody wakes up Rip Van Winkle, we can activate Delphyne and get the transfer accelerated.”  Vanessa walked over to Uncle George and gave him a stimulant.  As he woke she apologized, “I’m sorry that I had to sedate you during the battle, are you OK.”

Uncle George looked at her with wide eyes, and gave a reply that nobody wanted to hear, “Are you kidding me.  Did you know that after a battle the Lucian Alliance women all take showers together?  And then they get this special honey cream…”

Alison turned to the dragon and wiggled a finger at him, “Uncle George!  Remember what we said about too much information?”

Ashley scrunched up her face and gave him a mean look for embarrassing them, then ordered him into action, “We need you to go wake up Delphyne.”

Uncle George, “What?  Who?  Where?”  Evidently he was still waking up.

Vanessa gently pulled him up by the amulet hanging around his neck, “Come on lover boy, we need to activate Elysium’s sister.  There is no time to lose.” 

Uncle George obediently followed her, but added a comment that was nagging him, “You got that right!  Sixty seven minutes from now and you’re gonna need some bug spray.  Big time!” And off they went.

Everybody started talking at once.  General Carter whistled and everyone went silent, “Captain Scott, go with them.  General Young, you have exactly sixty minutes to take command of Delphyne and get her out of here.”  The newly promoted officer started to thank Samantha but she waved him off, “Later.  Take what crew you need, except anyone from here.”  General Young rushed out, yelling orders.

General Carter turned to the hologram, “Elysium, status and analyses.”  Samantha was getting the hang of using the ships computer, like programming a calculator instead of writing on a chalkboard.

Elysium was watching the dragon leave, and turned back to the remaining group, “We have to assume that the time estimate is accurate, and that a hive ship will be using an FTL drive to get here.  Which either means that the worm-hole drive upgrades are not ready, or Delphyne is not that important to them.”

Colonel Sheppard shook his head, “No.  Delphyne in enemy hands would terrify them.  So if their fleet is not ready for the trip to Earth, we may have a few days lead time.  They probably did not leave a hive ship here out of fear that the hive would figure out how to activate the Ancient systems and steal the prize for themselves.”

General Carter liked the assessment, or maybe it was wishful thinking, “Agreed.  Elysium, please continue.”

Elysium was looking at John when she commented, “Humans think in such devious ways.  Dr McKay has installed all of the power modules on Delphyne, and has taken nine more out of our storage just to be safe.  He wishes to remain on Delphyne until the ship is fully tested.”

General Carter nodded, “Agreed, but make it absolutely clear to him that he needs to hurry.”

Elysium nodded and added something that not everyone may be aware of, “I can assure you that I made certain the second group has been fully trained for this event.  I estimate that an entire crew should be aboard Delphyne in fifty minutes, with luggage and supplies.”

General Carter shook her head, “No.  Issue an immediate order, in my voice, to all new Delphyne personnel still on board this ship.  Drop everything and double time it to your new station.  We can transfer luggage and supplies later.  Each soldier is to take a pack and run.  Each medic is to also grab a pack and run.  Everyone else can get over there naked if necessary.  Do it.”

Tamara raised a finger to interrupt, “Shouldn’t I go over…”

General Carter stopped her cold, “Destiny crew.  I understand your loyalty to General Young, but you are needed here, and he will be fine.  Rodney will troubleshoot any glitches in the control room on Delphyne, but I would bet that the new crew can handle most of the startup problems.  Which is why I keep him busy eating popcorn instead of annoying our control room staff who need the experience.  Elysium, remind everyone not to use the Stargate in the next few days.  As far as the Wraith are concerned, Atlantis is on Earth, and Delphyne was attacked by humans in this galaxy.  If they find out we are here then they will start jumping to Earth with whatever hive ships are ready.  Remember, these creatures are starving, and the hive truce will not last long.  Elysium, continue.”

Elysium announced an update, “The dragon has requested that we make a stop in an isolated solar system not far from this galaxy.  It’s a small detour, but it will give us a chance to transfer whatever supplies Delphyne needs.  And we need to review the systems testing completed during the first jump to be sure Delphyne is ready for battle.”

General Carter nodded, “Agreed.”  Samantha then felt a small tingling in her armband and saw the eyes of the twins light up.  Something else was going on here, but she felt it would be better to watch the twins instead of confronting them.  She also needed to talk to Vanessa in private to see what more had been learned about the twins.

Elysium smiled at her next announcement, “Major Lorne called to say that three MIT geeks have just arrived naked, and could you please amend that order?”

General Carter shook her head at the insanity of command, and rolled her eyes prior to responding, “Tell him to give them a towel and put them to work.  Now, we have a critical problem.  How in the three-space of the universe do we find this hive collective?  We can’t use the dragon or they will find us first, or take over his mind, such as it is.  We can’t use the Stargates or they will detect the sub-space energies and be forewarned.  We must remember that these are powerful creatures.  The Pegasus galaxy is huge, and they could be in orbit around any planet with humans to feed on.”

Elysium suddenly stood up, “General Carter.  I must leave you for at least five minutes.  Delphyne is awake and she needs my help.”  Then Elysium vanished.

General Carter looked at the twins, and asked for an explanation, “Girls?”

Alison looked from where Elysium had vanished, over to Samantha, “Not to worry.  Elysium is doing an information transfer and calming Delphyne down.  Imagine if you woke up and found thousands of monkeys running around in your house, throwing food around.  No insult intended.”

Ashley looked at her sister and remembered a creature she had seen at the petting zoo they had been thrown out of during their summer camp experience, “Well, you could have said panda bears.  They are so cute.”

Jennifer just rolled her eyes, “General, if I may?”  Everyone looked at Major Hailey, and expected something profound.  They were not to be disappointed.  “One.  A hive ship will arrive here shortly, correct?  And when they find Delphyne missing they will return immediately to the safety of the Wraith fleet.  Now I believe I am correct, that you cannot reliably follow a ship in FTL flight without being detected?”

General Carter nodded, and definitely liked the direction this was headed, “Correct.  Continue.”

Jennifer pointed her thumb at John, “Two.  Flyboy here has been bragging about his exploits against the Wraith, and has told me that hive ships do not have shields like ours, at least not yet.  So, I would like to volunteer us to stay behind in a cloaked jumper and hitch a ride on the Wraith ship, like a flea on a log.”  Stunned silence followed. The twins were winking and giggling at each other, which made Samantha suspect that a romance might be brewing between John and Jennifer.

General Carter did not like this part at all, since it was way too dangerous, “Colonel Sheppard.  I realize that you do not want a promotion to General, and I can understand that.  You love to fly, and pushing papers would kill you.  But you are too valuable to lose.  The both of you are.  We could ask for volunteers to do this, since it might just be a suicide mission.” 

Colonel Sheppard didn’t agree, and knew that experience was critical to this mission, “This is going to go down real fast, and nobody else has the experience.  We have to go.”

Alison suddenly splayed her hands and arms on the table, rested her chin on the table surface, and after letting out a big sigh, she announced, “We’re bored…”

Ashley then pretended to have just gotten an idea, “…so we’re going with you!”  John started to complain, but Samantha beat him to it…

General Carter could see that Chloe was signaling to her, “Agreed.  Take Chloe with you.  Go, go, go!”  They all stared at her in amazement.  “I said move it girls, and stay out of trouble.”  Like that was even possible.

The twins grabbed Dr Daniel Jackson, pulled his chair away from the table, and rolled him out of the conference room.  He shouted back at the stunned people watching the twins kidnap Daniel, “I guess I’m going with them.”  And he was indeed gone before Sam could argue why he should stay, not that she really had any solid reason to object.

After they had left, Tamara came over and sat down next to Samantha, holding Carmen in her lap.  “Sam, I know that you are desperate.  Earth is in grave danger.  But sending children into battle?”

General Carter nodded at the concern, but not in agreement, “That was the argument John was about to make.  But you must understand.  They are thousands of years old.  I suspect that they have a genetic memory system like the Goa’uld.  And they are able to ascend at will.  So even without their pet dragon, they are powerful creatures.  Much more powerful than the Ancients who made them.  Did you notice that they do not wear armbands, or any other device?  And they use sub-space energy to jump around like fire-flies.  Which reminds me; I want you to do a full physical on them the first chance you get.”

Tamara, “I forgot to tell you, what with the constant emergencies and training.  I tried to give them a physical.  The x-rays were pure black.  As if they had some sort of shield around them.  And when I tried to get a blood sample from Ashley, the needle melted after giving me a powerful electrical shock.  Maybe you are right, but not even a titanium hull can withstand a drone blast.”

Just then Elysium returned, “General, the Navy Seals have cut the lines and everyone is below decks.  May we depart?”

General Carter looked at her watch, and was not happy at how long this had taken.  She nodded and issued more instructions, “Colonel Sheppard, Elysium, Delphyne; let’s get into orbit now.  Delphyne, as soon as Colonel Sheppard departs in a jumper, follow Elysium in FTL.  I don’t want to use the worm-hole drives in this region of space again unless I absolutely have to.  Rodney can test the drive on Delphyne later.  Out.”

—oOo—

Colonel Sheppard was impatiently waiting in a puddle jumper when the twins finally entered through the rear ramp door, “Where in the black-holes of space have you guys been?  We have to leave now!”

Daniel looked guilty, “Sorry, we stopped by my room on the way, and then we had to get some food for the trip.  The twins threw some things into a bag, and here we are.”

Colonel Sheppard reported in as soon as they flew out of the control tower ceiling exit, “Generals, we are on our way.  You can bug out now.”

General Young responded, “Very funny John.  Six minutes to spare.  Let’s get out of here.”  A few minutes after they departed a hive ship dropped out of FTL and immediately sent a swarm of darts to the planet.  After buzzing around a while they returned to the hive.  Colonel Sheppard had already landed the jumper in a protective part of the Hive skin, and soon they were back in FTL, heading for the Wraith Armada.

—oOo—

Elysium reported an hour later, “General, we have arrived at our destination.  May we recharge, land, continue testing our systems and take on fresh air?”

General Carter nodded and added, “Put General Young on the com.”  Sam waited to hear Everett’s voice, then continued.  “Elysium, from now on please call me ‘Samantha’, and refer to General Young as ‘Everett’.  You have not been inducted into our military, nor do we own your cities.  We have laws on Earth concerning abandoned vessels, but I do not have the authority or the desire to expand our Earth laws to include the entire universe.  If any Ancients are still alive, and we have found a few already, then they own what is theirs.  In any case, yes, please recharge and proceed as quickly as possible.”

The starships found the only fresh water lake on the planet and landed a few klicks apart.  They immediately launched a swarm of jumpers to investigate the planet, looking for any threats.  It was no surprise that the beautiful planet was inhabited, but it seemed to have a rather primitive society.  All they could see from the jumpers were thatched roofs and vegetable gardens.  The natives used small canoes to row out to meet Delphyne, bringing nearly all of their possessions to trade.  It became immediately obvious that this planet received few if any visitors, even though it had a Stargate.  Samantha ordered the crews of both ships to round up whatever primitive construction tools and anything made of cloth that they could spare.  She told them not to show knives or any weapons to the natives, since she knew from experience that weapons could transform a society overnight.  Soon they were trading blankets, pots, picks, wood drills, hammers, saws and shovels; all in exchange for fruits and works of art.  The food would have to be recycled immediately to avoid contamination, but the art and crafts could pass through a sanitizer.

General Young was worried about the delay, but Elysium and Delphyne insisted that they had to wait here for events to unfold.  So the general decided to take a walk out to the end of one of the piers where the natives were congregated.  He was trying to communicate with the natives, who did not speak English or any other Earth language.  Rodney had immediately followed Everett, since he had nothing Earth-shattering to do, and had managed to start a conversation with three of the natives.  What Rodney found amazing is that these particular natives were learning English as fast as he could speak it.  In fact, they started using words that he had not previously spoken.  He then called Samantha on the com-link, “Sam, I think you should get over here as soon as you can make it.  Three of the natives are insisting on coming aboard, and won’t take no for an answer.”

General Carter was looking for an excuse to get out into some fresh air, and responded, “On my way Rodney.”  When her jumper landed on the Delphyne, Samantha could see that Rodney and Everett were talking to two very dark skinned boys, about fourteen years old, standing in front of a tall stunning blond woman.  All were dressed in what could be called rags.  Clean but not very well made.  As she approached the group she said “Thank you for trading with us, but we must leave here as soon as possible.  I am sorry, but we cannot take on any passengers.”

General Young turned to General Carter and gave her an update, including the fact that the three they were talking to now spoke fluent English, “Samantha, some of the crew say that the natives are speaking in a very strange Ancient dialect.  But these three are speaking American English!”

Boy One asked, “So, you are not of the race that built these wonderful starships?”

Boy Two was rubbing his chin, as if puzzled, and mused thoughtfully, “That is very interesting.” 

Samantha noticed that her armband was vibrating, which she was unconsciously rubbing. 

Boy One was watching her, “But I see by your armband that you are servants of the builders.”

Boy Two mused again, “That is also very interesting.” 

Samantha was growing tired of this chatter, and didn’t like being called ‘servants’.  She needed to get back to her ship, and was wondering why Rodney had bothered to bring her out here.  But it was interesting how these three could speak English without passing through a Stargate, so she asked them, “And who might you be?”

Boy One seemed rather puzzled by the question, and happy at the same time, “You do not know us?”

Both boys stood tall, and Boy Two announced, “We are the twins!”

Both boys then pointed to their companion and announced, “And this is our dragon!”

—oOo—

Colonel Sheppard was shutting things down to avoid detection while commenting to his passengers, “I have no idea why all of you have come along.  Our mission is to identify the location of the Wraith fleet and head straight back to Elysium.”  As he turned he could see that they had changed into costumes.  The girls were wearing gold necklaces and the men were holding staffs, probably taken from Dr Jackson’s storage locker on Elysium.  That man was a collector of all sorts of odds and ends.  The twins had stolen all his possessions prior to leaving Earth, knowing full well he would be coming with them, permanently.

Ashley motioned for him to start changing, “Hurry up, you are the tallest, so you get to be the Doci and Daniel gets to be the Prior.  You have to remove all your clothes first.”  John looked at the others, and they pointed to a blanket hanging from the ceiling in back where the women had changed.

Alison pointed at the women, “Chloe will be a temple priestess and Jennifer will be a sex-slave.”  Both girls giggled, but Jennifer was not amused at all.

Ashley gave her sister a shoulder hug, “We will be the children of the Doci.” 

After watching everybody getting ready for a few seconds, John assumed that they had talked everything over and had a plan.  When dealing with the twins, that was a very bad assumption.  He felt like an idiot in the costume, but at least it fit.  Most of the clothes probably came from the small bag on the floor.  Some day he was going to ask the twins about that magic bag.

Alison had time to kill until the hive ship got back to the Wraith fleet, so she decided to double check everyone, “John, you have to take your socks off.  Chloe, you look absolutely stunning in that outfit.”

Ashley looked at her sister to check for any inconsistencies, “And since we are going to meet a queen, that princess outfit of yours is to kill for.”

Alison looked out of the front window of the jumper and saw that they had arrived at the huge gathering area for the Wraith fleet, “John, take us into the dart bay of that ship over there, the largest one, cloaked but no shield.  The shield would set off alarms.”

—oOo—

It took both Generals a moment to recover from the shock of meeting another set of twins, and a dragon.  But they had both ‘been there and done that’ with aliens, so Samantha said as casual as you please, “Everett, why don’t we take our guests into the gate room?  Perhaps they would like to experience how the city welcomes our visitors?”

General Young knew she meant the console in the gate room floor that only Ancients, or someone like Celia Santiago, could activate, “Brilliant idea.  Please everyone, this way.” 

Twin one, “Thank you.  My name is Asgaror, but you can call me Asgar.”

Twin two, “My name is Alfheimr, but you can call me Alfie.”

Asgar, “And this is our pet Voluspa, but we just call her Aunt Jane.”

Dr McKay had returned to his duties, was running diagnostics at one station in the control room, and yelling at everyone else.  Dr Zelenka was talking to the hologram, going over a list of items Elysium had prepared in advance.  They both knew very well that Elysium and Delphyne could handle the systems checks, but humans should never trust computers to do everything.  A small glitch on a display console could mean a defective subroutine in the A.I., and that could cascade into disaster.  They were surprised when Samantha and Everett arrived with three guests from the planet.

When they reached the gate room, the twin boys and their ‘dragon’ stared around in wonder.  They had never seen a starship-city, and the control tower was awesome.  Then Asgar noticed the Stargate, “I see you have a newer model of the Stargate, very impressive.”  As he walked towards the gate the podium in the floor rose and both twins walked towards it.  They placed their hands on the podium and it receded back into the floor.  The Ancient Repository of Knowledge had already emerged from the wall and Aunt Jane called out, “Boys, over here.”

General Young was both hopeful and concerned, “So far, so good.  If they collapse then we throw them off the ship.”  But they didn’t collapse.  Instead they turned to Samantha and bowed.

Asgar was the first to speak, “Alison has instructed us to remain on this ship and assist General Young in any way that we can.”

Alfie then added, “With your permission, we will proceed to the Captain’s quarters, get cleaned up and into uniform.”

Aunt Jane announced to one and all, “And I will take a little nap.”

Samantha whispered to Everett, “Yep, that’s a Dragon.”  Much louder she called to Aunt Jane, “Perhaps you would like to meet our Dragon?  You may not realize he is here because he is asleep out on the balcony.”  Aunt Jane rushed to the balcony where Samantha was pointing and vanished around the corner.  Suddenly two flying dragons leaped off the balcony and into the air.  Everyone not working at a station in the control room rushed out onto the balcony to watch the dragons.  Dr McKay had given them permission to leave so that they would stop annoying the staff busy working at their posts.  Besides, he wanted to be the one to annoy them and double check everything himself.

After a few minutes of watching the dragons dive and swirl in the air Asgar turned to Samantha, “That is indeed a very wonderful sight.  Aunt Jane has not seen another dragon for thousands of years.  Thank you very much for your suggestion.”  Everyone was exclaiming as the dragons performed some sort of dance.

General Carter was very pleased at the respectful and civilized attitudes of the boys, “You are very welcome.  Are they mating?”

Alfie smiled and shook his head, “Good heavens no.  They are both war dragons, which are always aggressive males.  They are sharing memories, especially the recent battle memories of your dragon.”

General Young was rubbing his chin, “So let me see if I have this right.  What we are witnessing is two dirty old men getting off on a porn film of females in battle or having group sex together in showers?”

Asgar nodded at what he thought was an obvious observation, “Yes, that sums it up nicely.”

Alfie exclaimed, “Isn’t it wonderful?”

Amelia Banks, who had been helping the new teams in the control room, turned away and exclaimed, “Oh god, I think I’m gonna be sick!”

—oOo—

They landed in the dart bay of the Wraith hive ship, and lowered the exit ramp.  The Wraith had a very weak force shield that kept the atmosphere inside the bay, but allowed any object to fly through the shield.  This often resulted in loss of air molecules, but the amounts were fairly small.  Alison motioned to the others, “John, you take my left hand and Jennifer takes my right.  We will follow Ashley.”

Ashley got in front of her sister and motioned to the others, “Daniel, you take my left hand and Chloe takes my right.  Now remember, don’t just act the role, think it at all times.”

Alison repeated her earlier instructions, “And never let go of us.  If they shoot at us just ignore them and keep walking.”

Ashley looked straight ahead and announced, “OK everybody, let’s go make some new friends.”  They waited for a moment at the edge of the cloak; then emerged from the jumper when nobody was watching the area.  At first nothing happened.  Then one of the guards approached them from the side.  They almost made it to the door when the alarm sounded.  The guards started firing, but the stun blasts just bounced of the shields the twins had erected, without the aid of any device that John could see.  Chloe was in front so her own shield helped to absorb the bulk of the fire.  Not a single guard thought to tackle them or band together to form a physical barrier.  They were mindless clones of clones, and were only trained to shoot stun weapons at humans, their source of food.  As they entered the passageways a Wraith tried to feed on them, but received a strong electrical shock when he tried to put his hand on Chloe.  Finally the Wraith ordered the guards to stand aside and formed a blockade that stopped the procession.

Alison calmly introduced herself, “We are the Ori.  We are here to see your Queen.”

One of the Wraith responded, “The Ori do not visit this galaxy, there is nothing here for them.  Stay in your own galaxy as we have agreed.”

Alison was not going to be put off, “We are the Ori.  Take us to your Queen.”

The Wraith knew better than to bring unauthorized visitors directly to the Queen, “Tell us what you want with our Queen.”

Daniel then repeated the order, “We are the Ori.  Take us to your Queen.”

The Wraith was silent for a moment, “She will see you.”  The ability of the Wraith to read minds was the greatest worry of the twins, but so far everything was going OK.

After winding through tunnel-like hallways they were brought before the Wraith Queen, who looked down on the intruders, “We had thought that the Ori had been weakened.  But here you are.  How very interesting.”

 

Wraith queen.

 

Alison continued in the drone voice used by the Ori, “We require worshipers, and you kill them.”

Chloe: “We are neighbors, and this can not stand.”

Alison: “On the other hand, Earth already has many gods.  They reject us out of hand.”

Chloe: “You hunger for Earth, and you no longer have need of this depleted galaxy.”

Alison: “So we offer you a trade; this galaxy for the Earth galaxy.”

Chloe: “On just one of the many planets there are seven billion humans, or 130 million births each year.”

Alison: “And only the weakened Ancient ship Atlantis to protect them.”

The Wraith Queen arched her back and screamed at the ceiling, “We will feast and grow forever.”  Then she came out of her spasm, and looked straight at Chloe, “Tell me priestess, how do you propose to get us all there.  You have seen our fleet, and you know that only twenty of our ships can make the trip.  We must leave the rest behind.”

It was Daniel who answered the question, making things up as he went, “Our spies tell us that some of the hives know that you do not have any more power modules, stolen from the Replicators and Ancient vessels.  They grow suspicious of empty promises and plan to attack your completed ships.”

Chloe: “To avoid a civil war, you must find a way to take all of your ships to Earth.”

The Wraith Queen looked suspicions, “You repeat what I have just said.  Do you have a way to get all of us there at once?  Your Ori ships do not have worm-hole drives!  Your Priors travel as nomads to the Earth galaxy through the Stargate network.  We too have spies.”

Alison: “But what you do not know is that we have built a Supergate, one in our galaxy and one in the Earth galaxy, which they call the Milky Way.”

Chloe: “Your largest hive ship can easily fit through our Supergate, which expands as needed.”

The Wraith Queen screamed at the Wraiths guarding her, “Prepare for departure, now.”  Half of the wraiths left, while the others continued to keep an eye on these six humans.

Alison: “But first we must look into the mind of one of your Wraiths, to ensure that you are truthful, and that the entire Wraith fleet is here.  If you lie to us, we will kill all of you on this ship.”

The Wraith Queen did not really care about the threat, since it would not serve the purpose of the Ori to harm her.  But she did understand treachery, and this gave her new respect for the Ori, “Don’t be silly little girl.  After our battle with the Replicators, this is all we have left.  Your spies know this and so should you.  No matter.”  She turned to one of the Wraith and pointed to the floor, “You, kneel.”  One of the Wraith knelt in front of Alison, and she pretended to read the mind of the Wraith.  The real Ori could probably do this, so the Queen had no reason to suspect deception.

Alison then stepped back, never once releasing the hands of Chloe or Daniel, “Fine, but do not betray us.  Not one Wraith is to remain in this galaxy.”

Wraith Queen, “You know that we have stragglers, who hunt for sport.  This promise we can not make.”

Chloe: “That is no problem.  That fact was revealed to us anyway, by this one.”  Chloe then waved away the Wraith.

Pointing to Chloe, the Wraith Queen was thoughtful, “And how can we trust you?  The minds of you two little girls are open to use, as is this one.  But the others have minds of stone, which is typical of you Ori.”

Alison ignored the question, since she was not about to let the Wraith Queen’s mind probe the Earthlings, “We have stolen a cloaked vessel of the Ancients from your galaxy.”

Wraith Queen: “So, this is how you arrived.  Very interesting.”

Chloe: “We will travel through the Supergate first, followed by one of your darts.”

Alison: “Your dart will signal that everything is clear, and that no spaceships are within light-years of the gate.”

Chloe: “We will then lead you directly to the Earth system, and the rest is up to you.”

Alison: “Obviously, if there is an alarm from your dart in the Earth galaxy, then we expect you to abort the migration.”

Chloe then looked at the Wraith Queen as if giving an ultimatum, “Agreed?”

The hunger of the Wraith Queen was getting the better of her suspicions.  She lost all remaining caution as she bowed ever so slightly, “Agreed.”

—oOo—

They had returned to the puddle jumper and headed for the Supergate.  Alison was the first to speak, “We are in FTL now, which prevents any Wraith from reading our minds.”

Chloe was hoping the twins had not freaked out the others, “We are headed for the Supergate in the Ori galaxy, which Elysium located within minutes of being fully activated back on Earth.  The Supergate sticks out like a fifty caret diamond on a pearl necklace.”  The twins sat still for once and explained what was happening, or at least most of it.

Ashley: “So we can now tell you some of our plan.”

Alison: “Your minds are too weak to risk letting you know what’s up.”

Chloe: “We three created false memories in our brains ‘temp drive’ as Everett calls it, and we allowed the Wraith access.”

Daniel was a bit stunned at what the twins and Chloe had just set up, “So the great plan is to invite the Wraith for dinner, and Earth is the main course?”

Colonel Sheppard was just as confused, “What are we, the appetizers?”

Jennifer turned to face the twins, “Would you guys stop talking about food.  I’m hungry enough as it is.  You girls just scared the daylights out of me.”

Alison: “And we need to keep you in the dark a little bit longer.”

Ashley: “Now we need you two boys to start thinking about girls.”

Colonel Sheppard smiled, “OK, I can do that.”

Jennifer just shook her head, “Men are pigs.”

Chloe smiled for the first time in hours, “Amen to that.”

Alison warned them, “All of the Wraith Queens will try and probe your minds.  So we need some powerful distractions.”

Chloe: “When we exit FTL in an hour, think of the most exciting times in your life, and do not stop for a second.”

Ashley had been hunting around the jumper while she spoke, and found the cooler with their food, “And to keep food off your minds, let’s eat now.  Who wants turkey and swiss on rye?”

—oOo—

General Carter spoke to her crew in the control room on Delphyne, “Everett, I’m returning to Elysium with Rodney, you keep Dr Zelenka and Amelia.  Meanwhile, I’m going to get to the bottom of this twins~and~dragons game.  I suggest you see what you can find out from Delphyne.”  They shook hands and Samantha boarded her jumper.

After Samantha returned to her ship, she closed the conference room and sat down with the ships A.I., “Elysium.  I can understand why you picked up an ancient crew for Delphyne.  But why are they on these remote solar systems, between galaxies?”

Elysium began to pace the room, since she couldn’t pretend to sit down unless a chair was pulled out from the table, “The twins and Dragons were exiled by the Alterans.  Here is how it began.  Thirty-six war-dragons were captured from a remote galaxy, and at first they were believed to be a lower animal species.  It was hoped that they could be used to defeat any enemy through non-destructive means.  The dragon could destroy the mind of any species located within thousands of miles distance.  But the dragons refused to kill or maim on demand.  So the Ancients altered the DNA of 36 sets of twins at conception.  The scientist believed that twins would have better control over the creatures.  Unfortunately too many scientist and politicians were involved in the project.  The result was a race of humans that were incredibly powerful and independent.  But as with most mutations, the twins were born sterile and could not reproduce.  This defect could also have been intentional.  At first the training went well, and by working in pairs, the children learned to control the dragons.  More dragons were brought in.  What the Ancients did not realize is that dragons have personalities.  Some are wise and some are psychotic.  One dragon lost control and killed an entire village, home of the planet’s governor.  It was decided to execute the psychotic dragon in public, in the hopes of controlling the other dragons.  The reaction of the other dragons was severe.  The human population of the entire planet was wiped out, except for the twins.”

General Carter was stunned, “Wow.  Slow down.  This is horrible.”

Elysium stopped and nodded agreement, “Perhaps.  But you must realize, the goal was to wage war without killing innocent people.”

General Carter, “We call it the best of intentions.  Go on.” 

Elysium resumed pacing the floor, which was strange behavior for a computer. “Battleships were called in with the intent of destroying the planet from a safe distance.  The twins were given a choice.  Death or exile.  They were removed one set at a time to remote prison systems like this one, with a modified Stargate.  It was hoped that the twins and dragons would evolve into weapons that could later be controlled.  The Alterans then put a hold on all genetic experiments and turned to building better warships and cities, like this one.  By the time the twins and dragons did evolve to this level, the Alterans had decided to ascend, in the false belief that they were entering some sort of heaven.”

—oOo—

Suddenly Uncle George came charging into the gate room downstairs, yelling “Battle Stations”.

Samantha ran to the balcony overlooking the gate room and called out, “Report.”

Uncle George looked up and calmly told her what was happening, “The Wraith are on the move, and they feel like they are headed towards the Supergate in the Ori galaxy.  I am sorry, but that is all I can feel right now.”

General Carter yelled out, “Both ships, all hands to battle stations; get us to the Supergate using FTL.  The twins are in the middle of that mess, and I don’t want to alert the Wraith until the last second.”

Dr McKay looked up from his control console and exclaimed, “Unbelievable.  Couldn’t we just feed the Wraith some Soylent Green ( a movie where ground up humans are converted to crackers)?  Fifty million people die each year on Earth.  Why does it have to be us living ones they find so tasty.”

General Carter took on the motherly scolding look, “Rodney?”

Dr McKay looked back at his display, “OK, all systems are go on both ships, and both ships are getting people ready.  The natives are taking off for the coast.  Amelia is on Delphyne, and I have everything under control.  Sam, we don’t have anyone in our own Chair Room.  Maybe we could have one of the twins on the Delphyne get into a jumper and…”  Suddenly Asgar came running out of the elevator into the control room and Rodney exclaimed.  “…OK, that was cool.”  As you would expect of Rodney, he had forgotten that a female crew member was able to use the weapons chair, and with greater skill than Colonel Sheppard.

Asgar was a bit out of breath, “Our dragon told me that you may need some help.  She mentioned something about the Wraith being on the move?  And you must be Dr McKay!”

General Carter turned to the boy, “Could you please man the Chair Room?”

Asgar smiled at her as he replied, “No need.  Celia is in the chair now.  I can stay here with you.”  Suddenly Samantha realized that the teenage boy was smiling at her like all those high school jocks that wanted to get into her pants oh so many years ago. Tamara Johansen, Captain Matthew Scott and Captain Vanessa James all came running into the control room at once.

General Carter nodded to each and ordered, “Conference room everyone.  Let’s figure this out.”  As they entered the conference room they found a number of people already sitting at the table.

Elysium was standing against the wall in the conference room, and reported, “Samantha, I brought over the holograms of some of our senior crew on Delphyne.”  Standing along the wall with her were Zelenka, Amelia, Everett and Delphyne.  “We will be lifting off in five minutes, unless you want an emergency take-off?”

General Carter shook her head after a moment’s hesitation, “No.  I assume that would entail some risk to life and limb of the native population.  Thank you for …”

Elysium raised her hand, “Samantha, sorry for the interruption, I am getting a one-way message from Colonel Sheppard, which I will put on the screen.”

 

Ori ship exiting the super-Stargate.

 

Colonel Sheppard first stated that the encrypted message was one-way to avoid exposing the existence or position of Atlantis and Delphyne.  He then told them exactly what had happened and that he still did not know what the plan was, but that he trusted the twins, so far.  Then he added, “Sam, we have no idea what the remnants of the Ori are up to.  We know they don’t have the technology or financing to build more ships, what with the lack of slaves and willing religious fanatics.  All they can do is pilot the damn ships until they break down.  But they will probably show up at the gate after we are through, and chase us down just to see what in the three-space of the universe is going on.  The Ori are afraid of Earth, given what we did to their ‘gods’, but who knows what can happen.  The Wraith will never stand and fight the Ori, so this could turn into a real C~F if the Wraith fly on to Earth with the Ori at their six.  Please note that our lives are not worth the lives of billions, so do whatever you have to.  The twins and Chloe can survive anything.  Major Hailey predicts that you will arrive five minutes after the last Wraith ship is through the gate.  And lastly, the twins are adamant about this, DO NOT get here any sooner, and DO NOT go through the gate if it is active.  Activate it yourself and follow us through.  Don’t shoot anything unless it shoots first.  Out.”

Dr McKay was snapping his fingers, “Sam, I just realized where the Ori got their technology.  They must have stolen it from the Ancients, and they could pulverize this ten thousand year old city with ease.”

Captain Scott didn’t agree, “However, since we have all the Asgard technology installed on Elysium, we can blast the Ori ships with the plasma beam weapon.”

General Carter: “Hold on guys, let’s not start blasting anybody just yet.  This could be the chance of a lifetime.  First of all, we must remember that this is not a battleship, and we have way too many people on board.  Yes, we will risk everything if we have to, but let’s not go there yet.”  She noticed that Delphyne was waving a finger for attention.  “Yes.”

Delphyne: “Thank you for your concern.  Our builders chose to hide Elysium, rather than launch a suicide attack against the Wraith; and we truly appreciate the devotion.  We will risk ourselves, but only if the probability is high enough that we will succeed.  Now, to the point.  Elysium and I will compute all options upon our arrival at the Supergate; and present to you a set of contingency plans in ten minutes.  In the meantime you might want to prepare your people.  Our experience with your Earth race is that you are more emotional and less intelligent than our builders.  But you have better survival skills and are more flexible.”  And with that the holograms vanished.

Vanessa stood up and asked, “Would any of you hot-headed dummies like me to get some tea?” 

—oOo—

Alison was standing behind the co-pilots chair, and was watching Chloe run her fingers over the controls located between the two pilot’s chairs.  Jennifer, sitting in the chair on the right was trying to follow what was happening, and gave up after looking at Colonel Sheppard, who just shook his head.  Chloe then placed her palm on the activation control, but didn’t press down on the button.

Alison then explained what was happening, “Chloe is using the mind interface that John uses to control the jumper, but she is also programming the Stargate.  Chloe, have you set up the instructions for the gate?”

Chloe nodded, “I have the DNA ready, but how do we keep from getting zapped ourselves?”

Ashley thought about it for a second then suggested, “Set up a trigger.  Two small ships pass through the gate, and then activate the program.”

Chloe smiled and eased away from the console area, “Thank you for trusting me with this assignment.  OK, everything is ready.”

Alison turned to her and smiled her approval, “Hey, you have to gain experience in gate programming, so you might as well save your planet at the same time.  Besides, we were checking the logic and doing some testing as you coded the program.”

Daniel was just finishing his sandwich and was curious about this weird conversation, “What’s up kids?”

Ashley put her fists on her hips, “You boys are supposed to be thinking about girls.”

Alison gave Daniel a mean look, “Can you handle that, or do we need to get you some Playboy magazines?”

Colonel Sheppard perked up, “The 25th anniversary issue of Playboy with Candy Loving would be nice.”

Major Hailey punched John, “In that case I’ll take the 1980 issue of Playgirl with Geoff Minger.”

Alison shook her head as if dealing with a hopeless cause, “Earthlings, can’t live with ‘em….”

Ashley finished, “…can’t live without ‘em.”

Chloe then got serious, “OK you three, we are almost there, so focus on something else.  You must not give us away.”  Moments later they dropped out of FTL, and could see the huge Stargate, a thing of great beauty and power.

Alison made the announcement, “Wraith Queen, we are dialing the Supergate now.  Please send a dart after us.”

A Wraith Commander responded, “Our Queen is ready.  Proceed.”  As soon as they were through the huge gate Chloe grabbed Jennifer’s face in both hands and said, “OK, here is the plan, and this is what I want you to do.”  The twins were doing the same thing with Daniel and Colonel Sheppard.

Colonel Sheppard was the first to react, “Are you kidding me?  This Puddle Jumper is no match against a Wraith Dart in a one~on~one dogfight.  Not unless you can hit them with a surprise drone, or if they are standing still.  Those darts were built to fight.  I even flew one once.”

Ashley folded her arms and looked him in the eyes, “Which is why you are going to focus on your superior flying skills, and Jennifer is going to be the weapons officer.  This vessel was built to be operated by two people, and Jennifer was selected for this mission because she has more of the Ancient gene than you do.”

Jennifer looked startled and asked, “I do?”

John replied, “She does?”

Daniel had gotten up and moved closer to the front of the jumper, “Great, my life is in the hands of a comedy team.  Jennifer, why do you think you are so good at math?  They don’t call them ‘superior genes’ for nothing.  I’ll be watching the display and keeping an eye on the Wraith fleet and the Supergate.”

John was now looking out the window, ignoring the display in front of him, which Daniel would be watching, “OK kids, here they come.”  The Wraith ships came flooding through the Supergate.  The largest ship barely missed touching the sides of the ring floating in space.  You may recall that the ZPM enhanced Wraith ships are many times larger than an Atlantis class starship-city, so the Supergate had to be expanded like a rubber band to let it through.  Since the gate was made of individual modules, it could expand outward to an unknown distance.  Earth humans had not been given the opportunity to test the capacity of the Supergate, which was probably a good thing, given their knack for avoiding safety protocols.  Anyway, the gate shut down as soon as all of the Wraith were in the Milky Way galaxy.  John then asked the obvious, in the hope that somebody forgot an alternative plan, “So why do we have to take out the dart?”

Alison: “Because the Wraith Queen ordered her most experienced Wraith Commander to kill us.  And we can’t let him live.”

John turned to Alison, standing behind Jennifer, and looked at her in shock, “And you’re telling us this now!”

Daniel exclaimed, “Here he comes.”

John flew the jumper straight at the dart, executing a roller coaster loop with the confused Wraith flying down the center of the loop.  He then did a vertical reverse loop and managed to get behind the dart.  But the dart was extremely maneuverable, and jumped around like a four year old who has just eaten a bowl of Sugar Pops.

Alison was impressed, “Very nice flyboy.”

Chloe was now standing in the middle of the jumper, hanging on to the ceiling to avoid getting dizzy, while the twins were standing behind the pilots, with Daniel between them.  She gently spoke, “Jennifer, remember what I told you, four dimensional space.  Timing is everything.  What pattern are you going to use?”

Jennifer was running her hands over the controls, and replied without turning, “I was thinking of a tetrahedron.  A pyramid would be too hard to control and wasteful of drones.  Here goes.”  Suddenly three drones shot out of the jumper, followed by a forth drone.  The first three drones spread out in a triangular pattern, spread wide enough to keep the dart within the pyramid.  The fourth drone followed, forming the tip of the tetrahedron.

Chloe nodded, “Great.  Now, multitask them.  Don’t try and control them all at once.  Only we three can do that.  Use the triangle to put the squeeze on the dart.”

Jennifer asked for clarification, “Like coming at his flanks from 3 sides?”

Ashley turned and looked at her, “More like tightening a noose.  Let him see the drones as they slowly move in.  This will force him to stop jumping around so much, and give your pilot an easier target.  The Wraith will be afraid to veer off and approach any of the drones.”

Jennifer was having fun, even under the stress of controlling four drones at once, “Wow, this teamwork is great.”

John: “Yea, except that all he has to do is slam on his breaks and come right back at us in a Whifferdill turn.”  And that is exactly what happened.  But in the blink of an eye the forth drone slammed into the dart when it was at a dead stop, trying to reverse course.

John and Jennifer gave each other the high-five, “Yea baby, my first kill.”  The twins looked at each other, raised an eyebrow and frowned.  It was not their intent to turn Jennifer into a killer, but life isn’t always a walk in the park.

Daniel patted Jennifer on the shoulder and joked, “Great, another Top-Gun science geek.  Rodney is gonna poop his pants when he hears about this.”

Jennifer turned to smile at Dr Jackson, “Why Daniel, if I didn’t know better I would say you were jealous.”

Daniel looked offended, but really wasn’t, “Are you kidding me?  These two kids kidnapped me from an awesome job at the Smithsonian, dusting off canopic jars and translating grain production in Amarna.”  Of course Daniel was being facetious.  He loved these adventures, and was as happy as a kitten with a yarn ball.

Alison pretended to look perturbed, “We two kids adult~napped you.  And you loved every minute of it.”

Ashley scolded him, “And you took your attention off the Wraith and Supergate!”

Daniel scolded her right back, “Jennifer is not the only one who can multi-task here.  The ships have been drifting with the forward momentum coming through the Supergate.  No darts have left the hives, and no chatter either.  The Supergate has stayed off.”

Alison looked at Ashley, “And you said he was just a boy-toy.”

Ashley smiled at Daniel, “Well boy-toy, shall we go and meet our new friends?”

—oOo—

General Carter was looking at the display screen in the conference room, “Elysium, move option C up to A, and delete option M.”  The meeting had resumed, and everyone was looking at the list of possible battle plans.

General Young was looking at the same data in the Delphyne conference room as he offered his feedback, “Samantha, my people are not ready for option L.  My ship is slightly different than yours.  Delphyne has been creating training programs as fast as she can, but we are not ready.  However, we could bring option E up a few notches, with all the Army Airborne troops that we have on my ship.”

General Carter pointed her finger forward and said, “You’re absolutely right.  Make it so.”  Everybody looked at her as if she had just spun her head around a few turns.  “What, I can’t tell a joke now and then?”  Everybody giggled, except the ships holograms, who were always stoic, and who had never watched Star-Trek on Earth television. 

Elysium announced, “ETA five minutes.”

General Carter turned to the hologram, “Elysium, I want you and Delphyne to create orders for every single team leader on our ships, based on each plan.  Use our voices and then execute as soon as we pick a plan.  Then build a set of sub-plans immediately and present them on the screen as soon as you can, one set for each ship.  Everett, you will be on your own.  I don’t expect you to sit at the conference table during all of this.  Everybody to your stations.”

As they started leaving the conference room General Young added, “I’ll be watching your six.  You focus on the immediate threat and I’ll focus on any incoming.”  As the Delphyne holograms vanished, the ships exited FTL and the screen immediately showed five huge white oval ships loitering around the Supergate.

Dr McKay had just sat down at his station and jumped at the sight on the screen to his left, “Sam, we need to get out of here fast.  Those five ships could destroy a planet in minutes, and turn us into popcorn.”

Elysium interjected, “Samantha, we are cloaked, and I programmed our exit so that we are between the Supergate and the nearby sun.  They should not be able to detect our exit from FTL.  But I do not understand this.  None of our plans predicted that they would all be without active shields.”  Everyone looked at her in amazement.

Vanessa spoke up, even though she was not invited to contribute, and she was only a captain, “Why would you waste energy to keep your shields up when your ships are designed to terrorize planets into submission?  The single plasma beam weapon on each ship is pointing forward, towards the Supergate.  We could come up from behind and destroy all five ships in minutes.”  Everyone looked at Vanessa like she had just sprouted angel wings.  And what bothered Rodney is that she was absolutely correct.  They should have planned for this contingency.

General Carter smiled at her and nodded, “Vanessa, you are definitely earning those new captains bars.  The risk is that one or two ship will respond in time and then we are in trouble.  You and Captain Scott to the jumper bay, now.  Elysium, put up the sub-plans for Option E and order the Army Airborne troops to the jumper bays of both ships.  Order the MPs and all other troops to the corridors that lead into our gate room.  Distribute as many Zats as we have to the MPs.  Order our best technicians who have a knack for alien technology to the jumper bays, split into five teams.  Dr Zelenka will take charge of the teams.  Rodney, man the Asgard transport beam console.  The source is the Ori ships and the target is our gate room.  Tamara, medical teams to this conference room, with stretchers.  I don’t want them in the way, but they need to be close.  Move, move, move.”

General Young had been monitoring the conversation from his ship, and with his extensive experience in space, running from aliens, he added, “I take it you intend to capture those ships, but they may detect the jumpers as soon as they leave our cloak.  The sub-light engines of the jumpers give off radiation that can be detected when they get near the Ori ships hull, or as soon as they are not hidden by the suns radiation.”

General Carter replied, “Indeed Everett, you are correct, and it seems you have been reading my status reports on the Ori.  But what would happen if you lost all of the military commanders on your ship?  And then you suddenly lost the critical systems crews?”

General Young, “You are one devious lady.  Good hunting Sam.”  Soon Sam could hear the boots of the troops in the Gate room.

General Carter had been standing near Rodney, and walked over to the mezzanine railing.  She looked down at the gate room and watched the troops prepare for incoming enemy, “Elysium, make sure everyone is ready for plan E.  Modify it as we go.”  Samantha turned to the middle console where Asgar was working the keys.  “Alfie, I assume that you are ready, and that you have control of the plasma beam weapon on Elysium.”

Asgar smiled at her, “I’m Asgar, Alfie is on board Delphyne, and yes Ma’am, the weapon is ready.  It can also be controlled from the Chair Room.”

General Carter gave him a nod of confidence and added, “Sorry Asgar, all you twins look alike.”

Rodney stopped what he was doing and gave Samantha a punishing look, “Sam, I can’t believe you just said that!”

General Carter turned to him with a confused look, “What?  Oh, you mean…  For heavens sakes Rodney!  Get ready to start beaming them up.”  Turning back to the gate room, Sam shouted down to the MPs, “Prepare to take prisoners.  We have no idea how many there are or if they are armed.  Stay sharp.  Each MP will take as many troops as needed to remove each group that we beam up.  The MPs are in command, no rank.  You have tie-wrap handcuffs?  Good, pass them out now.”

General Carter turned back to the console area, “Celia and Asgar, if any Ori ship attempts to enter the Supergate or escape, chase them and blast them.  Stay cool everyone, we want to capture the ships if we can.  If they turn towards us, Asgar and Celia are to destroy them.  General Young will assist, but Delphyne does not have the Asgard weapons yet, so plan accordingly.”

One of the MPs shouted up, “General, we don’t have any brigs on board this ship, or prisons in the city if you will.  It has been a problem for us with so many men on board.”

General Carter yelled down at the MP, “Crap.  OK, take them to any area where you can secure them.  Use living quarters for now.  No toilet breaks without a guard inside.  And strip search them all.  Elysium, put me on both ships intercom.” 

Samantha looked around to see if everyone was ready, then walked into the conference room.  Tamara had the room crowded with medics and the table loaded with stretchers and supplies.  Samantha gave her a hug to reassure her and ease the tension.  She then reviewed the modifications to the plan.  “Attention, everyone!  Earth is under attack.  So you know what you have to do.  Initially we will commit half the jumpers on both ships, with five teams of technicians from each ship.  Captain Scott will command the first group, and Captain James will command the second wave of jumpers.  We hope to take out as many of their commanders as we can prior to the assault.  Our jumpers will be cloaked and shielded, but do not assume that you are invisible.  You have the location of the flight decks in each Ori ship, so watch for fighters, even though we don’t expect any!  Remember, test for air pressure prior to exiting the jumpers.  I am saying the obvious, but some of you Airborne studs get so excited that you jump without a parachute.  And you have no training in this situation.  This is not a drill.  Capture if possible, kill if not.  Elysium will give you your exact assignments on each vessel, and keep you posted of changes in the battle plan.  The Navy Seals and US Marines are to man the other half of the jumpers.  They will be the assault teams when we attack another group of alien vessels, hopefully in the next few minutes, in another galaxy.  Many of you may be thinking that this is some kind of bizarre sci-fi fantasy.  Trust me.  I have been living this nightmare for the last ten years, and this is no fantasy.  Stay sharp and Godspeed to everyone.”

Samantha returned to the control room, “Rodney, let Elysium do the rest.  She can execute five transfers in one second.  I want you ready in case we need to think of something innovate.”

Dr McKay nodded in agreement, “You’re right Sam.  I guess you are better at releasing your ego than I am.  I always get this craving to do everything myself.  My sister hated it.”

General Carter pretended to have a radio in her hand, and wishing to get Rodney in a better mood said, “Beam them up Scotty.” 

As Rodney started laughing Elysium asked, “Excuse me General?”

General Carter smiled at the confused hologram, “Elysium, you have a go to Execute Plan E.” 

Suddenly a bluish light appeared in the gate room.  Thirteen men and women dressed in white appeared, looking stunned.  One of the men reached for something at his side, and was instantly shot by a soldier.  Some of the others tried to run but were stunned by the MPs using Zats.

Tamara heard the shot and immediately sent a single medic team with a stretcher down the stairs to the gate room.  Meanwhile Samantha leaned over the balcony and recalculated her battle plan, “MPs, turn the Zat guns over to your troops.  Troops with Zats, form a circle around the room, get on the floor.  Fire upward if anyone tries to escape.  Suddenly she realized that she had no protection in the control room.  She had made the mistake of assuming that the Ori troops were still docile and harmless without their Priors.  “Get a sharpshooter squad up here now.”  The bluish light warned everyone that more were on the way, and this time they were more heavily armed.  The firefight was short but fierce.  Nearly half of the Ori troops were down, and the rest had their hands up.  Three rifle shots had been fired but she couldn’t tell who was hit.  This was getting worse by the second.  “Elysium, move the jumpers out now.”  She had to keep beaming up Ori commanders, or the ships guards would begin to react to the missing crew in the Ori control rooms.

Tamara ran over to the balcony, looked around and ordered, “You two, bring that wounded Ori soldier up here.”

Samantha was very pleased to see the MPs and soldiers react to the changing situation.  The MPs pulled the unconscious Ori troops out of the way, tie-wrapped them, and immediately returned to their post, letting the group behind them shuttle the prisoners to lockups, with one MP for each group.  Tamara had her medics running down the stairs and moving out with the wounded on stretchers. 

Dr McKay asked a question many people were thinking, “Sam, why don’t we just beam troops into the empty rooms on the Ori ships?”

Tamara turned to him and yelled, “Rodney, NO.  The Asgard beam is flawed.  Normally it misses about one in every ten thousand atoms when used on Asgard ships.  But with simultaneous uploads on this Ancient ship, with incompatible technology, the cost is much higher.  Some of these people are going to die the way Elysium is using the beam.”

Dr McKay started running his hands over his body, looking for missing parts, and yelled at her, “And you’re telling us this now?”

General Carter’s eyes were wide as she ordered, “Tamara, explain quickly.”

Tamara stopped what she was doing and moved a bit closer to Samantha, “The Asgard probably didn’t care, or didn’t know about the problem when they gave us the technology.  But I don’t trust alien gizmos, to be truthful.  So I have been running tests on the devices Elysium uses, especially anything that could impact the health of humans.  I noticed the discrepancy, and was about to bring you the results of my tests when that crazy dragon yelled ‘Battle Stations’”

The elevator opened and a sharpshooter spun around to protect the General.  Uncle George looked a bit annoyed at the gun pointing at him, but he was getting used to these humans from Earth.  He looked around the room and asked, “Somebody called?”

Tamara grabbed a hypo off the table, but Samantha motioned for her to wait, “Yes, indeed we did.  I am surprised that you were not here sooner, what with all the female soldiers on the Ori ships.”

Uncle George put his fists on his hips, “Well, nobody told me that lunch was being served.  Those soldiers on the Ori ships might taste yummy, although they feel kind of passive.  But I’m a bit full right now, what with that mind-melding with Aunt Jane.  But I could use some tea!”  The sharpshooter had raised the muzzle of his rifle, but was looking at the dragon like the old man was some kind of psycho freak.

General Carter smiled at the soldiers look and ordered, “Relax soldier.  Uncle George, please join us in the conference room.  Soldier, good job and please continue to watch the elevators, and my back.  Tamara will be sending for more medics and stretchers, so please don’t shoot them, and get some help.”  As they walked into the near empty room Samantha realized that she had completely forgotten about the dragons, what with the twin girls missing.  She turned to Uncle George and asked, “Listen, could the two of you dragons do me a favor?  I may need you to do your thing if this gets out of control.”

Chloe had joined them, after leaving Asgar at his station, “Samantha.  When he says he’s full he means that his entire memory is filled to capacity.  The dragons are no longer able to erase memories in the minds of the enemy without downloading them into their own mind.  The selective erasing process was part of their training from the twins.  At this point he can only kill.  And they hate to kill humans, after what happened before.”

General Carter, “OK, well, that’s that.  Chloe, you and Uncle George please help Tamara with the wounded.”  As she left the dragon said he would get some tea first.  Samantha just rolled her eyes.

Tamara then turned to the Ori soldier that was laid out on the table, with a bullet would in his right shoulder, which had stopped him from using the weapon now missing from his right hip.  Tamara noted the excellent marksmanship of the troops in the gate room, who were not shooting to kill.  She pulled the stone healing device out of her pocket and looked at Chloe and Uncle George.  Chloe spoke up first, since Uncle George was looking at his favorite chair, hoping to take a nap, even in the middle of a raging battle.  Chloe gave her a piece of advice that was critical, “You can remove the bullet first with that same stone.  Just imagine in your mind a magnet that pulls out all the metal and bone fragments in the wound.”

Tamara held the device over the open would, closed her eyes and imagined a tiny tornado, sucking up loose object from the ground.  When she heard Chloe say ‘excellent’ she opened her eyes and looked at the underside of the stone.  The bullet and bits of flesh covered the flat side of the Alteran device.  She wiped the goop off on the uniform of the Ori soldier, and then closed her eyes and imagined the wound healing from the inside, progressing towards the skin.  When she opened her eyes the skin was smooth, with no evidence of any injury.  Tamara then signaled to the guard to take the prisoner away, turned to Chloe and said, “I was hoping that you would teach me how this works.  I knew that you could fix anything I messed up, so thank you.”  Chloe gave her a hug, and they got back to work

Elysium announced her sit-rep, “General, the troops are in the Ori ships, and making progress.  Seven are wounded, none seriously.  The Ori still do not know what is really happening, and the ships have not moved or raised shields.  I am uploading anyone who tries to enter their control room, which is why these Ori are getting harder to control in your gate room.  They are sounding the alarms now.  And please do not use the dragon, as he might kill everyone on this ship if he loses control without the female twins present.  I don’t know if Asgar can control him, and I am not familiar with Aunt Jane.”

Vanessa called from her jumper, waiting for Elysium to enter the Supergate to Earth, “General Carter, this is Vanessa.  Elysium has all senior commanders listening in, and I was thinking.  Tamara and Elysium, do the twins have the same physiology as the Priors?  Something tells me that the Ori stole Ancient technology, and perhaps even used the same genetic experiments to create the Priors.”

Elysium: “We can only guess, but based on the reports of the Ori submitted by Samantha, it is very possible.”

Tamara added, “I won’t know until I can get my hands on a former Prior.  If I remember correctly, most of them died from the mutations they endured in the conversion from humans to Priors.  They could not live for very long after the energy source from the Doci was cut off.”

Vanessa felt kind of stupid at what she had to say, but it felt important to her, “I’m asking because I was daydreaming sort of, with nothing to do, and when I imagined the twins sitting in the Ori control room chair my armband went nuts.”

General Carter responded in a way that shocked everyone, even her, “Vanessa, you are to take command of this operation, immediately.  That’s an order.  General Young and I are at your command.  NOW.”

Vanessa: “This is damn risky, but here goes.  Elysium, can the boy twins jump over to the Ori chairs like the girls do?  If so, order them to do it.”

Elysium immediately responded, and Asgar vanished, “Done.  Hold on for a minute.”  Samantha took advantage of the pause to look around and rush over to the railing to see if everything was OK in the gate room.  Then Elysium continued her report, “They are ordering the Ori crew to stand down and return to their quarters.  They have sealed the control rooms they are in.  I have advised the troops in those two ships of the situation.  Please wait.”

Tamara walked over to Samantha and looked at her with puzzlement, “You just put a babe with awesome hooters and Captains bars in charge of two warships and two generals.  Now that takes balls.”

Vanessa shouted over the intercom of both ships, “I heard that!”

Samantha then realized that the missing twin boys meant a change in battle strategy, and spoke into her own headpiece, “Celia, you need to take control of the Asgard plasma beam weapon, using the Chair Room.”

Celia Santiago immediately replied, “Cool.  Let me know who to blast out of the universe.”

Elysium interrupted, “The twin boys have now jumped to a second pair of Ori ships.  Two more ships are now under control.  But we have a problem.  The fifth ship is preparing to escape.  Our troops have been pinned down in the corridor leading from the jumper bay, and have been unable to advance.  The Ori have somehow managed to raise the shield, although it is weak.  I would guess that it is some sort of secondary life support shield.  We are now unable to beam anyone from the ship, and it will soon leave.”

Vanessa then spoke up, this time over the earpiece channels, “Elysium, order our troops to leave that ship immediately.  Tell the twin boys to stay put.  We don’t know if they can jump through an Ori shield.  Move troops over to the control rooms to protect the twins.  The weapons on the Ori ships are better able to destroy another Ori ship, and put fewer lives on our own starships at risk.  General Young and General Carter, shift your position in case your location has been compromised.  Run silent after I give my last order.  As soon as the jumpers are away from the fifth ship, the twins are to pursue and destroy it.  Execute NOW.  Out.”

Everything went according to plan, except that the pilots in the jumpers escaping the fifth Ori ship were not told that they would lose communications with command for a short while.  When they exited the flight deck of the Ori ship the pilots called for permission to open fire on the Ori trying to escape, and got no response.  They immediately decided to turn and attack the Ori ship.  At the same time the twins calculated the safest distance they would need to be from a destroyed plasma weapon, and fired when the Ori ships were far enough away to take the blast.  The jumpers were not so lucky.

Alfie called using the Ori communications system, “Ori ship to Aunt Jane.  Mission accomplished.  Please respond.”  The twin was using the name of his dragon as authentication.

“This is General Carter.  Asgar and Alfie, I need you to do one more thing before you return to the Chair Rooms on our ships.  Could you please park the Ori ships around the Supergate so that they are out of the way?”

Asgar replied in a humorous voice, “How do you say it, roger and wilco?”

Dr McKay was shaking his head, “Great, two more alien space jockeys.”

Elysium reported the bad news, “Samantha, I have two damaged jumpers with unconscious crew.  I do not know their condition, but I am taking over control of the jumpers and bringing them to this ship.  As soon as the Ori ships are clear of the Supergate, and the twins are back aboard our own ships, we should be ready to jump.”

Tamara was already on her way to the jumper bay, “I’m on it…”

General Carter spoke into her headpiece, “Captain Scott, do you read?”

Matthew was happy that somebody wanted a report, because a lot had happened, “Here General.  So far…”

General Carter interrupted him, “No time Captain.  Take command of the four Ori ships.  Elysium will tell you where I found the Ori ship’s control systems and tell you which crystals and plugs to pull.  Elysium will set up a remote control system that either Elysium or Delphyne can operate when we return.  The twins have reprogrammed the Ori ships to accept low level commands, like opening doors, only from your crew.  The Ori crew should be locked in their quarters, but you might want to patrol the corridors.  If we do not return, negotiate with the crew and do what you must.  Give us seven days maximum.  Elysium will beam food and water to each control room on the Ori ships.  Any questions?” 

Matthew realized that they had to leave him, and right now, “No General.  Go kill some bugs!”

—oOo—

As the six costumed faux-Ori landed their jumper onto the flight deck of the Wraith ship they could see two human forms sitting down on the floor, looking around.  Alison told Colonel Sheppard to black the front window and uncloak the jumper, but this time to keep the shield up.  “OK, everybody into Ancient uniforms.”  Once again the twins began pulling clothes out of their magic bag.

Colonel Sheppard looked puzzled, and this time he couldn’t resist, “Um, I’ve been meaning to ask you about that bag.  It sure carries a ton of clothes.”

Alison looked at Chloe, “You want to tell them?”

Chloe smiled, “My pleasure.  In truth, the bag is empty, and in fact there is no bag at all.  What you are seeing is an illusion, to make you feel comfortable.  Your mind thinks that you are seeing and feeling clothing.  In fact we are all naked, except for synthetic underwear.  We had to remove our regular uniforms, which the Wraith would have sensed.  Bugs will be bugs, and they can smell the type of cotton that you are wearing, and even the brand of cloth dye.  So in reality, we went to see them naked.  Would you like to see?”

Both Daniel and Jennifer shook their heads and hands no, but John rubbed his chin as if thinking about it.  Little Jennifer marched over to him, put her fists on her hips, and declared to everyone, “No, he does not!”

Ashley smiled at the feisty little woman, and said to everyone, “In that case we can immediately change into the uniform of the Ancients and go see what has happened.”  Suddenly they were all in the beautiful uniforms that John had seen a few times previously.

Alison motioned to the rifles stacked in a corner, “You adults grab those real weapons, just in case.  I don’t think that we will need to use our shields, and in any case we are very exhausted.  You four may need to protect us.  OK everybody?  Let’s go.”

When they exited the jumper, the people in the flight deck area were slowly getting to their feet, but the Atlantis group did not encounter any resistance.  In fact everyone was respectful and friendly to them.  When they reached the Wraith Queen’s quarters they found a beautiful woman with black hair, talking to her commanders, who now looked perfectly normal.

The former Wraith Queen reached out her hand to Chloe, “Ah, admiral.  It’s so nice to see you.  I apologize for not meeting you, but we did not know that you were coming.  It seems that we have been hit with the biological weapon that you warned us about.  My commanders also seem to share my loss of memory.  Most of our crew has been killed, but now that you are here perhaps we can return to our base?”

John, Jennifer and Daniel were listening to all this with rapt attention, while keeping an eye on everyone.  Chloe then responded, “I am so very sorry that you were attacked before we could get here.  Our two spaceship cities will arrive soon.  Please notify your ships that we will be placing some of our crew on your vessels to assist you, and that we will be returning to base immediately.  Now we must go.”  Chloe reached out her hand and instead got a hug.  As the twins led the way out, the three earthlings just shook their heads in shocked silence.  When they were putting on their real clothes behind fake curtains, Ashley announced to everyone, “Now that is how you make friends.”

—oOo—

As the starships Elysium and Delphyne exited the Supergate they nearly ran into a massive Wraith Hive ship. General Carter saw the near collision on the main screen in the control room, “Elysium, prepare to execute our new plan A.”  They had quickly gone over the new battle plans that Elysium and Delphyne had worked out.  “Colonel Sheppard, come in please.” 

Samantha looked over at Rodney, who shook his head, “Sam, I don’t see any activity at all.  The Wraith ships are just sitting there.”

General Carter changed her mind, “Elysium, execute plan B.”  Elysium and Delphyne moved into position so that they could fire on the largest ships first, especially the ones equipped with ZPMs.

Colonel Sheppard finally responded, “Is that you General.  Sorry for the delay.  I was pulling up my zipper and the girls were still getting dressed.  Hang on, Jennifer needs to cover up so I can get to the pilots seat and activate the controls.  OK Elysium, you can get our position now.”

Major Hailey yelled, “You idiot!  I bet everybody in the universe heard that.  There goes my reputation.  Men are pigs.”

Daniel decided to have some fun, “Where is my shirt, and who stole my belt?  Sam, what’s up?”

General Young was utterly confused, and impulsively tried to restore some discipline, “This is General Young.  What in the three-space of the universe is going on here?”

General Carter jumped in, but more out of relief and a bit of humor, “This I would also like to hear, and NOW!”

Chloe was giggling and also started getting into it, “Sorry General, I couldn’t find my thong undies.  There they are!  Daniel, give those back.  I paid a fortune for those at Victoria Secret.”

Colonel Sheppard, “Would you guys shut up so that somebody with some military decorum can report?  Sorry Generals, but we are pretty wound up here.  The six of us have just conquered the entire Wraith Nation.  We believe that every single surviving Wraith ship is here.  We need you to send troops to each ship.  The cover story is that they were hit with a biological weapon and that we are their superior officers.  The Wraith have been transformed into humans, with implanted memories of service to us.  I suggest that we watch them carefully, as we have seen this before.  But they look normal.  No white hair or anything weird.  And the twins say they are perfectly human.  Over.”

General Carter, “Let me see if I got this right.  The six of you conquered the entire Wraith fleet, in a freaking puddle jumper, put them under my command, and then had a fashion show to celebrate?”  Samantha put her hand over the mike, started giggling and pointed to Rodney.

Dr McKay had been laughing the whole time, “And I wasn’t invited?  Sheppard, did you at least make a video?”

Jennifer jumped into the conversation, “This is Major Hailey.  That is correct General, except that we did not, repeat, did not have a fashion show.”

Chloe: “Did too!”

Jennifer: “DID NOT!”

Daniel: “Did too!”

Jennifer: “DID NOT!”

Alison: “Did too!”

Jennifer: “DID NOT!”

Ashley: “Did too!”

Jennifer: “DID NOT!”

Colonel Sheppard: “Did too!”

Jennifer: “Oh, what the blazes. DID TOO!” 

General Carter laughed as she heard the six of them cheering.

—oOo—

Everyone met on Elysium to report to General Carter, with senior staff from the Delphyne appearing as holograms.  Meanwhile, soldiers, medics and technicians were going over the Wraith ships with a fine tooth comb, looking for treachery or booby traps, “Thank you all for the wonderful job that you have done.  Since we have all introduced ourselves I would like to start with Tamara…”

Suddenly Alfie exclaimed, “Hey, why are those three only wearing bikinis?  Can we wear shorts?”  Everybody in the room exclaimed at once, “What?”

Alison put her fists on her hips and gave Alfie a mean look, “You weren’t supposed to tell.”

Alfie looked embarrassed at the mistake, “Oops, sorry.”

General Carter turned and gave that weird authoritative quizzical look parents are so fond of, “Chloe?”

Chloe raised her hands, palms up and shrugged, “Well, it feels awesome to run around the entire city wearing only a swim suit.  Nobody can really see, and you save a lot of money at JC Penny!  Boys, you can get rid of your outfit, but you have to wear clothes!”  And with that the boys vanished, probably to change their clothes in private.  Then Chloe added, “Wait, that didn’t sound right.”

Tamara made a small cough, and when everybody was paying attention, she gave her report, “All of the wounded are now OK.  No fatalities except for some of the Ori soldiers.  They have been buried in space and are heading for the sun.  The future health of the Ori that were beamed aboard is uncertain, but we will do what we can.  The injured from the Task #3 puddle jumpers are recovering.  I removed all of the skin from their backs and applied artificial skin.  Within a few weeks the artificial skin should peel off, like a bad sunburn.  Today they are on vacation, and tomorrow they will resume their regular duties.”

Jennifer was shocked, and exclaimed, “Wow, already.  Do they feel any pain?”

Tamara shook her head, “None now; and they are not taking any medications.  They are confused about this, since the initial pain was extreme.  I have requested that Elysium create training videos of Alteran space medicine, for novices and new arrivals.  The Generals have both seen this sort of thing in action, but we all need to know our limitations with this technology.  It can not, and we must emphasize this over and over again, it can not help you grow an arm or replace damaged brain tissue.”

General Carter nodded, “Excellent.  OK, the next order of business is the Ori ships.  General Young, please return to the Ori galaxy immediately and secure the, what is it now, 4th SG~Fleet?  Take the twin boys and their dragon with you.  We have transferred all of the Ori prisoners to your ship.  Do whatever you think best.  We will secure the 3rd SG~Fleet here and meet you at a location and time to be determined.  General, Delphyne, thank you, dismissed.”  The holograms vanished, and the staff that had been standing moved to take their seats.  “Colonel Sheppard, report.  And Jennifer, you can leave the ‘fashion show’ out of the record if you like.”  Everyone smiled and shook their head at the joke.

Before Jennifer could respond, John launched into his account of events, finishing with, “And a final suggestion.  If any of you are offered clothes from that little bag the twins carry around, I suggest that you keep your underwear on.”  Jennifer dropped her head on the table, but everybody giggled anyway.

Vanessa sat up straight and wiggled a finger for permission to speak, “I have a suggestion along those lines.  Why not have Elysium and Delphyne start making uniforms for the civilians.  The Ancient uniforms look really sharp, comfortable and functional.  And we are a military unit.  But the best reason I have for this is the need to know who is on and off duty.  Also, we are a 24/7 operation, so we should start rotating the lighting in the arms of the city to help people get some sleep.  Tamara?”

Tamara had dropped her mouth open at hearing Captain James make such critical suggestions, and turned to her as she added, “Bless you Vanessa.  We are starting to see battle fatigue, and it never occurred to me that we Earthlings have a daily cycle that is extremely important to our health.  Elysium is a planetary vessel, and the A.I. has little experience in this issue, but we can work up a schedule and shift people around.”

General Carter nodded her confirmation, “OK, I’m going to bring us back to military matters, and please, if you think of anything else civilian related, write it down so we can discuss it after the break.  In any case, Tamara and Vanessa have a go.  Now, here is my idea, and I want feedback from everyone.  We take the 3rd SG~Fleet of Wraith ships to Alpha Base #4, where Colonel Steven Caldwell will take charge of outfitting the ships.  We will use the gate at AB#4 to get replacements from Earth, under cover of some secret mission.  We are going to start recruiting from foreign services as well.  This is my decision and mine alone.  Now that we know how the gate helps us translate languages, we can bring people from any country through the gate and immediately put them to work using International English. I want at least two fully trained crews on each Atlantis class starship-city.  That means two sets of 3 complete shifts, at least until we settle down on a planet.  If we find more starship-cities we can then transfer half of our population over to the other ship.  Wait.  Rodney, where in the three-space of the universe do the Ancients get the blank ZPMs?”

Dr McKay looked puzzled, “Damn, I never thought to ask.  Elysium?”

Elysium, Alison, Ashley and Chloe all spoke one word at once, “NO!”

General Carter sat thoughtfully for a moment, motioning Rodney to remain silent, “I understand.  But can you replace the missing modules on our ships, or would you prefer that we retrieve the ones in the 3rd SG~Fleet and install them on Delphyne?”

Chloe received an OK from the twins to proceed, and stated some facts that were not known to the rest of the crew, “Samantha, your modules on both ships have already been replaced and recharged!  But you must request permission from an Ancient prior to using these very dangerous power modules in any non-ancient device.”

Alison then got down to business, “We have agreed to the following.  You must remove all the ZPMs from the Wraith ships.  They do not have the ability to recharge or protect the modules.  And the ships do not like the power source.  They say it makes them bloated and hard skinned.”  Everyone suddenly dropped their mouths open.

General Carter was not surprised to learn that the Wraith ships were sentient beings, probably abused by the damn bugs, “Agreed.  I am not returning the ships to the Pegasus Galaxy, since they would be attacked out of hand.”

Ashley nodded, and added another condition, “You may install a module on any ship controlled by an Ancient, or which has an Ancient in command of the fleet.”  Meaning the twins of course, since all the Alterans had gone missing.

Chloe, however, was thinking of Earth, and how the technology could benefit the planet, “You may convert your fossil fuel and nuclear power stations to use ZPMs, provided that you cease mining uranium.  By the way, the Asgard removed all of your nuclear warheads at the request of Jack O’Neal.  They have been replaced with depleted uranium.  We will resume the mass manufacture of ZPMs on a secret uninhabitable planet that sits between binary stars.  We will then supply the ZPMs, at a price of course.”

Tamara did not like everything she was hearing, “That is a very clever way of making our planet behave, or do your bidding.  We will have to think about that one.”  Suddenly Tamara realized what she had just said and looked embarrassed.

Alison nodded agreement, and added, “Wise words indeed.  General, Elysium is ready to depart.  Should we go first, so as not to alarm your AB#4?”

General Carter turned to the hologram, “Elysium, proceed according to the plan we discussed.  Everyone, we should be there in a few hours.  AB#4 was supposed to monitor the use of the Supergate, but their Earth ship is down for repairs, thanks to the downsizing of Stargate Command.  OK, to wrap things up.  Our mission for the next few days is to bring thousands more people on board our ships and get them trained.  We also need to staff the Wraith ships.  Anybody have an idea for a new name?  We can’t keep calling them Wraiths.”

Vanessa knew a little Spanish, and suggested, “Nueva Vida?”

General Carter smiled, “New Life; beautiful.  Well done Captain James.  Elysium, please implement.”

—oOo—

Colonel Steven Caldwell was sitting in his comfortable office chair, feet up and listening to a CD of classical music when he got the call from Atlantis.  He also saw the huge starship landing on the planet.  He flipped on the computer monitor and saw who was calling, “General Carter, so good to see you.  I heard the news from Earth about you saving the planet.  And here I am, sitting in my office watching you land Atlantis on my lake.”

General Carter smiled and hit him with a surprise, done with a little extra slyness, “General Steven Caldwell, I am on a com-link with my staff…”

Colonel Steven Caldwell interrupted her, “Sam, I think you landed on the wrong planet.  There is no way in the three-space of the universe that conservative nut case in the Oval Office would agree to my promotion, not after I called him a toad at what was supposed to be a private party.  That’s the last time I try to out-drink a pretty back-stabbing reporter from Fox News.”

General Carter smiled and continued, “General Steven Caldwell, if you will turn around you will find your promotion and authorization in your fax machine.  Now Steven, let’s get down to business.  In the next few hours the first of thousands of military and civilian personnel will start pouring through your Stargate, including a dozen highly intelligent and experienced full bird colonels.  Many of them will be from foreign countries.  All have been vetted by NATO.  All will speak English after they arrive.  Any questions so far?”

Steven sat back in shock, and then he started to rise from his chair as he replied, “Hang on a second, I need to scream.  Then I will yell out some orders to my staff.”  While he was gone from the monitor, Samantha yelled out to Daniel in the control room to double check on the status of the Nueva Vida fleet.  “OK, I’m back, and thank you Samantha.  I thought I was marooned to this vegetable patch for the rest of eternity.  Wait a second.  I thought that you had command of all of the Stargate people, and were sent packing.  I heard there is no way the president would approve or finance expansion of the Stargate program.”

General Carter just smiled in that devious way she loved so much when getting around some fool who was in her way, “As we speak, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs is informing the President that a meteor is heading for the planet; and that we need to evacuate as much of Washington DC as possible.  I don’t know what is really going on, and we should get an update in a few days.  Hopefully it isn’t a military coup, although I suppose that may happen some day if we keep electing lunatics into office.  The President will probably take flight to AB#7.  What is relevant to us is that we can use this opportunity to get new personnel through your Stargate.  If nothing happens to Earth, we can just say that SG1 saved the planet, again just in time.  In any case, I am on the com-link so that my staff also hears this news.”

An officer entered the office and whispered to General Caldwell, who suddenly yelled to Samantha, “Hang on, we have telemetry on Wraith ships!  Sam, get out of here, now!”

Colonel Sheppard jumped into the conversation, “General Caldwell, tell your staff not to panic.  It’s only our 3rd SG~Fleet, landing to pick up supplies and replacement crew.”

General Caldwell turned to the officer and issued instructions, then turned back to the computer monitor-webcam, “Hang on…OK, I’m back.  I am going to shut up now, because I suspect that you have only just begun to shock me to the core of my sanity.  Wait…ThirdFleet?”

Colonel Sheppard reported the news while Samantha was busy in the control room with Daniel and Dr McKay, “What you are watching land is the fourth alien nation that we have conquered, with the help of two sets of Ancient twins and their pet dragons.  The 1st SG~Fleet is the Lucian Alliance that attacked Earth.  The 2nd SG~Fleet is composed of the remainder of the Goa’uld race, minus the snakes.  We have placed 24 ships from the 1st and 2nd SG~Fleets in orbit around Earth.  We may be adding 12 Wraith ships, now called Nueva Vida, also in orbit around earth.  We need you to assign a full bird colonel to each SG~Fleet stationed around Earth.  And the 4th SG~Fleet is four Ori Warships, which will be under your command until we find you an Atlantis class starship-city.  Currently General Young has command of the Delphyne, a twin of Atlantis, and the four Ori Warships.  What you know as Atlantis is renamed Elysium.  Any questions?”

General Caldwell was indeed shocked at the news, and smiled, “Pet dragons.  This I gotta see.  Funding?”

General Carter got on the com-link and answered that question, “Funding is unlimited.  Not only do these city-ships convert human waste into diamond cubes, but the Goa’uld mother ships are plated with more gold than they have in Fort Knox.  Apparently gold, like lead, is a great shield against space radiation.”

Daniel also got on the com-link, “General Caldwell, did the team of archeologist from the Smithsonian I sent you find anything interesting?”

General Caldwell looked a bit puzzled, “Funny you asked.  They are excited about some geometric pattern on a stone cube.  It has thirty six points, and just before you got here it started to light up; which is when they called me on the radio.  But they can’t make heads or tails of the inscriptions, or the purpose.”

 

Pattern on stone cube.

 

Alison jumped up from her seat and shouted, “Don’t touch it.”

Ashley had also jumped up and added, “You must tell them not to go near it!”  And with that the twins went running out of the room.

Chloe was a bit more calm than the twins, since she did not know what was going on, except that her brain was getting hit with panic signals from the twins, and her armband was buzzing, “That was the twins, and I am Chloe from the Destiny.  General, we need your full cooperation in this matter.  This planet could be in grave danger.”

General Caldwell turned to pick up a military issue radio, “I’ll call the geeks now on the radio and order that they get back here ASAP for a conference.”

Dr McKay waited a few seconds, and then couldn’t control himself any longer, “General, do you have any livestock on this planet?  Elysium makes the most horrible steaks you could imagine.  They are probably some kind of soybean health food.”

General Caldwell laughed at Rodney’s voice on the com-link, “It’s nice to see you too Rodney, and that bottomless pit you call a stomach.  We have millions of cattle and sheep, feeding in pastures all over the planet.  Part of some doomsday plan.  If there are no more pieces of shocking news that can wait, I have 3 full bird colonels standing in my office demanding to know where in the three-space of the universe the Country Club is located.”

General Carter had returned to the conference room and closed the meeting, “We’ll see you in a few hours General.”

—oOo—

Teyla Emmagan and Ronon Dex were the last to arrive at AB#4, cutting their vacation on Hawaii short.  They had been notified that the Wraith had been defeated, and that Atlantis was back in business.  General Carter hugged them both, and then gave them an update.  “I need you two to go over every one of those ships, and the crew that used to be Wraith.  Teyla, please see if you can sense any Wraith.  Then we are going to take you home as conquering heroes, and hopefully you can help us do something about the Wraith stragglers still in the Pegasus galaxy.”

Teyla replied first, “It would be a pleasure to see the Athosians again, not as a hero, but as a soldier, like so many others who have fought the Wraith.”

Ronon Dex gave his usual eloquent response in one word, “Cool.”

—oOo—

Daniel ran up to the group assembling outside the airbase at AB#4, late as usual, and with the dozens of items he liked to bring along on expeditions.  He turned to the twins, “OK kids, jump in the back.  Sam, you drive while I navigate the map Steven gave us.”  They were loading supplies into the back of a large four passenger electric golf cart that was popular on the Alternative Planets, called Alpha Sites.  Just as they were about to leave they felt a thump on the back of the cart and turned to see Uncle George smiling back.  “Hello, mind if I come along?  If we’re going to blow up the planet, I would sure like to watch.”

Alison scowled at him, “Uncle George, we don’t make a habit of blowing up planets!”

The dragon pointed at Samantha, “Well, she does!”

Daniel looked from the dragon to Samantha, “He does have a point Sam, you do like blowing up planets.”

Samantha groaned, “Shut up and drive.”  Chloe, Vanessa, Matthew and Tamara were riding in the second golf cart.  Adria, John and Jennifer were in the third golf cart, with Rodney in the back seat, working at his laptop as usual; and as you would expect, Rodney made sure the back of the cart was loaded with food.  It was a beautiful day, and they had all decided to take a break from the mad rush of people coming out of the Stargate and getting settled into the spaceships.  And interestingly enough, they had nothing else to do.  Elysium had efficiently issued the transfer orders to Earth personnel by Priority Mail or DHL for Europe, along with funds for transportation and emergency family moving expenses.  When Samantha saw children coming out of the Stargate from Earth she decided that maybe Elysium was right.  Atlantis is not a battleship, but a real city.  Samantha needed a break from this added moral dilemma of putting children in harms way, and jumped at the chance to go exploring with Daniel.  After winding their way through a wooded area they found the ruins of an Ancient town the archeologist were exploring.  And in the middle of the ruins, which might once have been the town square, was a stone cube.

Daniel announced to everyone as they piled out of the carts,  “According to the map, that is it.”

He then began cautiously walking over to the object that the archeologist had located, mindful of the warning from the twins.  The staff from the Smithsonian had returned to Earth to take a short vacation, so the Atlantis crew had the site all to themselves.  Besides, Samantha did not want them in the way in case they had to evacuate in a hurry.  All four sides of the cube had diagrams and inscriptions, but the twins were looking at just two of the sides.  One side had a square matrix of six cells across and six cells down.  And the other side had the mysterious diagram, which looked like a paper doily or snowflake.

Vanessa and Adria were looking at one side of the cube when Vanessa asked Adria, “What are these symbols?  I don’t recognize them.”  Captains James and Scott were supposed to be standing guard with Colonel Sheppard and Major Hailey, but Vanessa couldn’t resist the temptation to get into the treasure hunt.  She had given the dragon her weapon and was running her fingers over the stone carvings.

Adria looked at Vanessa with that condescending attitude she often had when dealing with Earth humans, “These are ancient Egyptian symbols for numbers.” 

Daniel reached into his bag and pulled out a notebook.  “Correct.  Here, these are the equivalent English numbers, and how the Egyptians counted.”

Samantha, watching the dragon pace around the perimeter, trying to act like a soldier, walked up and asked Vanessa, “Are you sure he should have a gun?”

Vanessa showed Samantha an extra ammo pack she was carrying, and replied, “Don’t worry, I took out the ammunition.  I told him that at any moment a band of naked female Amazon warriors could jump out of the woods and attack us.  That should keep him out of our hair for a while.”  She then turned to Daniel and asked him, “Daniel, do you have any chalk in that bag?”

Samantha answered instead, “Are you kidding me?  Daniel without chalk would be like the President without a teleprompter.  Such sacrilege.  Vanessa, for shame, for shame.”  Daniel smiled as he handed Vanessa a chalk holder and placed a box of colored chalk on top of the stone cube.

Both Adria and Vanessa started translating the Egyptian symbols.  As soon as they were done Samantha calculated the sums of each row and column, which were 111.  When she added the diagonals, they were not the same as the other 12 sums.  She spotted Major Hailey nearby and yelled,  “Hey Jennifer, look at these sums!”

Jennifer looked at the numbers in chalk and looked a bit puzzled, “That’s strange.  In a magic square the diagonals are supposed to be the same sum as the rows and columns.”

Samantha whispered to Jennifer the real reason she had called her over, “Major Hailey.  Aren’t you supposed to be on guard duty?” 

Jennifer whispered back, “Colonel Sheppard said I could help out here, so I gave my weapon to the dragon, unloaded of course.”  Samantha looked over and saw the dragon, now with two rifles and dressed in camouflage, pacing the edge of the woods, looking for naked warrior queens.

Samantha turned to one of the twins and asked, “Alison, how does he change clothes?  Please don’t tell me he’s running around the woods naked!”

Alison shook her head, “Oh no.  He creates his own clothes when he does the transformation between human and dragon.  It has something to do with dragon scales.  Besides, he doesn’t have a thingy in his male human form.”

Jennifer looked shocked, and then responded with, “Now that was definitely too much information.”

Meanwhile, Ashley and Dr McKay were watching the lights flash on the other side of the stone cube.  Ashley looked puzzled, and asked Rodney, “Dr McKay, this doesn’t make any sense.  This is the same diagram as the amulet our dragon wears, but his amulet does not flash or have any symbols on it.”

Dr McKay was also looking at his laptop computer, and sounded alarmed, “Sam, I’m getting increasing energy readings, and they are slowly going exponential.”

Vanessa did an imitation of a ditzy teenager, “Like, what would that mean in cheerleader speak?”

Dr McKay was still annoyed that Vanessa was always getting praise for coming up with great ideas.  So he ignored her and told Ashley, “If we don’t figure this out in the next few days something really bad is gonna happen.  Why don’t we try the amulet on your dragon, see if it’s a key to a door or something?”

Ashley turned and yelled, “Pet, come over here for a minute!”  The dragon dropped his rifles and ran to where the twins were standing.

Vanessa walked over to the rifles and shouted back as she began cleaning them off, “Remind me not to put him on guard duty.”

They tried putting the amulet in the middle of the diagram, but nothing happened.  Then Rodney looked closer at the amulet and asked the dragon what was on Samantha’s mind as well.  “If there aren’t any numbers on the amulet, how do you read the security codes and gate addresses.”

The dragon looked right into Dr McKay’s eyes, “If I told you that, then I would have to eat you!”  The dragon licked his lips, turned and then went to lie down on the picnic blanket that he had spread out on the grass.  Ashley just rolled her eyes, and Alison smiled at the dragon’s sense of humor. 

Jennifer was staring at the diagram and the flashing lights, and suddenly had it, “It’s a map!”

Everyone came over and stared at the lights.  Daniel looked excited and yelled, “Cool, so where does it take us?”

Jennifer looked at him and explained, “Nowhere.  It’s a mathematical map.” 

Daniel came rushing over, “Sam, I just finished translating the Egyptian script on the other two sides of the cube.  Basically it says that ‘If any vessel is placed on the lake of the Ben-ben, all those of the vessel who are not pure will be destroyed by the Aten’.”

Vanessa did her ditzy routine again, “And translated into cheerleader speak, that means?  Like what, if you’re not a virgin then you’re screwed?”  Vanessa then looked embarrassed at what she had just said, and added, “Wait, that didn’t sound right.”

Daniel had to laugh anyway as he clarified what he had just said, “I recently discovered that the Ancients used a special set of script and symbols for writing secret messages.  The Wraith could never figure out the codes.  The Goa’uld later used this secret code as their primary language, called Kemet.  Or what you know as ancient Egyptian writings.”

Dr McKay really hated listening to any archeologist, and just about anything dealing with the past, “Could we get to the part where we get blown up?”

Daniel ignored him and continued, “This planet is protected by a device that detects if Ancient ships have been hijacked by aliens.  Or if the Ancients have been taken prisoner and forced to land here.  If an Ancient does not deactivate the device in 111 hours, the invaders are killed.”

Dr McKay threw up his hands and began to panic, as usual, “We’re toast.  We need to evacuate the planet now.  At most we have another 23 hours to go.”

Alison could see that they were making progress, so she decided to give them a hint to solving the puzzle, “Daniel, what is that saying in your Christian Bible, about the number of the beast?”

Ashley added, “Revelation chapter 13, verse 18, I believe.”

Daniel looked at the twins with renewed respect, and answered, “This calls for wisdom. Let the person who has insight calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of humanity. That number is 666.  This is the sum of the numbers from 1 to 36!  So now we can add to this diagram the fact that it is also the Symbol of the Beast.  Yes, we are definitely toasted.”

Adria had been watching everyone with intense interest and amusement, and finally got tired of all the chatter.  She walked up to the diagram and started pushing buttons, “The puzzle is very simple.  Your Earth religions are interfering with your abilities to think logically.”  Before Daniel could stop her she had pushed all 36 buttons.  Suddenly the lights stopped flashing.

Dr McKay was looking at his custom made laptop and announced to everyone, “The energy readings are at zero!”

Alison had a look of approval on her face as she said, “Well done Adria.”

Ashley nodded and added, “Yes indeed.  Perhaps you can also help us in the training of the Empress.”

Tamara whipped around, put her fists on her hips and exclaimed, “That does it.  My child is not going to be some Empress of yours, running around naked and chasing dragons.  And that’s final!”  Tamara looked like she was about to attack the two of them right then and there.

Ashley put her own fist on her hips, in imitation of Tamara, “Don’t be silly.  Carmen is not the Empress.  She is too Young.”  At which point Alison giggled.

Tamara’s face scrunched up, “That pun about her father’s name is not funny.  General Young is just as pissed off as I am.  So, who is this Empress of yours?”

Ashley and Alison looked at each other, smiled, threw up their hands, made a duh face, turned back to face Tamara, then they both replied at once, “You are!”

—oOo—

General Young had taken his new command and returned through the Supergate, back to the Ori galaxy.  Delphyne had given the OK to proceed through the gate, and could tell from the Supergate readings and visual display that nothing had changed on the Ori side since they had left. Everett called out to the room, knowing the ships A.I. would put the control room on speaker phone, “Captain Scott, come in please.”

Matthew finally replied, and was surprised that he was hearing from his boss so soon, “Scott here.  That was quick!”  Everett gave Captain Scott a quick rundown on the situation with the Wraith. 

Suddenly Aunt Jane, our new blonde dragon, marched into the gate room below, looking rather stunning in a quasi military outfit, and yelled, “Battle Stations”.  The twin boys came running out of the control room elevator and over to the balcony overlooking the gate room.  Apparently the twin boys had the same problem as the twin girls, abandoning your station in the middle of a battle.  But teens get bored very fast, and the twins wanted to be where the action was.

General Young decided to let it go for now, and immediately ordered, “Captain Scott, prepare for battle, and stay on the com.”

Alfie shouted down to his pet dragon, “What’s up Aunt Jane?”

Aunt Jane ignored the question, and said what was on her mind, “I have decided that I hate that name, especially in front of these humans.  From now on I wish to be called, let’s see, Aphrodite.  Yes, that name fits me perfectly, the goddess of love and beauty.”  Suddenly she changed into a sheer white flowing gown, with white lace panties and bra clearly visible.  The soldiers in the gate room stopped what they were doing and stared in amazement.

General Young had also walked over to the railing above the gate room, and yelled at everyone, “Move it soldiers!  Lady, the brain in my pants died some time ago, so that routine is not gonna cut it on this ship.  Try something that will earn you respect in a military unit.”

The dragon thought about it for a second and asked, “How about Kali, the Black Goddess of Dakshineswar?”  The dragon then changed into a dark skinned woman, with huge breasts, in a stunning outfit straight out of India mythology.

Asgar, still looking down from the balcony next to the control consoles, shouted from above, “Oh, I like it!”

General Young shook his head, “Nope, no gods on my ship.  The Ori were enough trouble.  And could we get back to battle stations?”

Aunt Jane looked thoughtful, and replied, “Hum, no gods, how boring.  Military you say.  How about Xena, the Warrior Princess?”  The next transformation was just as stunning, as the dragon changed into a Xena outfit.

General Young shook his head, “How about Joan, in honor of Saint Joan of Arc, a female warrior and hero of the French?”

The dragon look absolutely thrilled, “Oh, I love it!  It will be JoanArc.”  She changed into French hot-pants and blouse.

General Young threw his hands out with impatience, “Now, if the fashion show is over, perhaps you could tell me why my crew is running around preparing for battle?  And for heaven sake lady, put some pants on!”

JoanArc changed into a more conservative Joan of Arc outfit, “Three Ori ships will arrive in five minutes.  And could somebody get me a glass of that wonderful Bigelow Plantation Mint tea, with honey?”

General Young noticed that Delphyne had appeared at his side, but he turned to face the twin boys next to him, also watching the show from the mezanine, “Alfie, could you go back to the ship Captain Scott is commanding?  And Asgar, to the Chair Room?”  They both vanished.  “I guess I will take that as a roger-wilco.”  Then he turned to Delphyne, “I want this ship in the apex of a pyramid, away from the direction of the incoming ships.  I want you to remote control the other three Ori ships to form the base of the pyramid, also facing the enemy.  And get us positioned so that if Elysium comes through the Supergate she can hit the flanks or rear of any enemy vessels.”

Captain Scott was listening to the entire series of conversations, and was worried that the battle might not go well if they were outnumbered, “General Young, why don’t you just bug out.  You are commanding a valuable city, and these Ori battleships can tear you to shreds.”

General Young thought about it for a few seconds and replied, “Matthew, I appreciate your concern.  But if I took off, that would leave Elysium at the mercy of any Ori ships.  Remember, you do not have any FTL drives online, since they were disabled in the event the Ori crews were able to retake the ships.  We have no time to evacuate our own troops, and I will not leave them behind.  As the twin girls are fond of saying, let’s make some new friends.”

Delphyne nodded at his assessment and added, “I concur.  The probabilities are very good for us if they are deceived into thinking that we have taken full control of the four Ori ships.  And here they are.  General, the three ships have shields up and are prepared to fire!  You can speak to them now if you wish.”

General Young announced to the room, “Attention Ori ships, this is the Supreme Commander of all Earth Forces in the Universe.  I now have four Ori ships at my command, and I have just destroyed the entire Wraith Nation.  You will stand down or I will have my dragon of Alteran legends erase the minds of your entire army.”  JoanArc, who was sipping tea, gave the hand signal for over the top, and was shaking her head that she would not be able to take on all three ships at once with their shields raised. 

General Young whispered to her, “JoanArc, it’s what we call a desperation bluff in No-limit Texas Hold’em Poker.”

The Ori commander responded, “Thank the stars around us that you are here.  If you don’t mind commander I would like to take my army home to their families.  They were all forced into the service of the Ori.  We are just trying to protect our home worlds with what is left of the Ori fleet.  We don’t really know how to fly these damn things.  We have lost three ships already.  So, if you agree to protect our galaxy, then these seven remaining ships are all yours.”

Delphyne turned to him, concern on her face, “Caution General.  He may have just hit you with his own bluff.”

General Young whispered to her, “My thoughts exactly.  Some day we will have to play poker.”  General Young thought about a response, and with Captain Scott listening in, he gave the orders, “Ori commander, here is what we will do.  You will lower your shields and stand down your weapons.  One of the Ori ships, piloted by an Alteran Warrior and his Dragon, will ferry all of your people home.  Our brave soldier Captain Scott will supervise the disarming of your crews.  This is not intended as an insult.  You have very dedicated soldiers, and some are still fanatically linked to the Book of Origin.  So we must take extreme caution.  We will designate your home world as a protected planet of Earth, and we will also assign a battleship to monitor the Supergate at all times.  Everyone, those are your orders.  Carry them out.”

The Ori commander was vastly relieved, “Thank you Supreme Commander of Earth.  May our grandchildren bless you.”

JoanArc was nodding approval, “I will fly over to the Ori ship as soon as I finish this tea.  I will take out any human that tries to resist.  Well done, for an Earthling.  It looks like you have indeed made new friends.”

—oOo—

Tamara was shaking her hands to either side of her head, in the way that people do when they are about to go crazy, “Will somebody please just shoot me!  No, wait, better yet, shoot them!”  She was pointing at the twins and their dragon, who were having lunch on the picnic blanket.  She then went over to the picnic area to get an apple juice.

Jennifer had no idea what Tamara was going through with the twins, so she just ignored it for now and turned back to the puzzle on the stone cube, “Adria, do you realize that what you just did is impossible, or more correctly, improbable.  You had one chance in a billion of getting it right.”

Dr McKay was hitting keys on his laptop, “No, the probability is one in 3.72 times ten to the 41st power.”

Jennifer moved over to the magic square on the other side of the cube, “Rodney, if you properly map the rows and columns from the square onto the star, then you only have to try 720 squared attempts, which would take 2.6 million minutes to complete, at five minutes each.”

Dr McKay joined her and used some chalk to illustrate his own assessment, “Yes, but you can permute the rows and columns of the magic square first, which would give you more possibilities and increase your probability of success.” And so it continued.

Vanessa was carrying the two rifles and shook her head as she asked Samantha, “Is he always like this?”

Samantha laughed, “You have no idea.  What has got Rodney fired up is that she is doing the math in her head and he has to use a laptop.  That poor man.  I think he has just met his superior.  This is going to be nothing but trouble.  Oh crap, now what is he doing?” 

Uncle George was looking at the numbers on the face of the Magic Star of Egypt.  He then turned to the twins, “Hey kids, this is the location of two of your cousins!”  The twins vanished from the blanket and suddenly appeared in front of the stone cube.

Alison was now hyper, and I do mean hyper.  She grabbed the dragon by the arm, “Where?”

Jennifer came running around the cube, “So those really are Stargate addresses!”

Ashley was a bit calmer than her sister, “Very good Jennifer.  For added security, all of the Stargate addresses must add to 111.”

Alison was looking at Colonel Sheppard, still on guard duty, “Otherwise a monkey could dial the Stargates.”

Adria smiled at the insult, even though she was considering the reality of having to mate with one of these humans, sooner or later. “Primitive cultures remember gate addresses using words and familiar symbols.  But the Alterans probably used numbers, which I prefer as well.”

Alison nodded, “Correct Adria.  But Uncle George, there are only 21 levels of magic, not 36.”

Uncle George was an expert on the amulet he was wearing, and knew every number by heart, “Merlin gave me the amulet for a reason.  The numbers on my amulet are the gate addresses of the home worlds in my galaxy, and double as security codes for your Starships and cities.  But these are different.  He left us a clue to the puzzle, and I would bet that these cubes are scattered all over the Alteran Empire.  The first Stargate address in the diagram is the center diagonal, and has nothing to do with the dragon home worlds.  Kids, the 22nd pair of twins are on this address.”  The dragon ran a finger down the middle vertical column, which reads,

22~7~20~17~30~15

Ashley was now as hyper as her sister, “Come on everybody, we have to go.  We need to rescue our cousins.”

Alison pulled at the dragons arm, “Come on pet.  We have the address memorized.  Let’s go!!!”  Soon everybody was packing up, everyone that is but Adria.  She was looking at the shimmering image on the face of the cube and suddenly realized something.  She then touched the number one, and the entire set of numbers changed, with one at the top.  She did some quick arithmetic and saw that the cube had given her a second solution to the puzzle, which was probably a gate address to a prison planet, and the location of more of these twins.  Adria was very reluctant to reveal this fact to anyone, since the twins were her superior, and nobody with her powers likes taking orders from kids.  But she decided to make one of those life changing decisions.  She didn’t know that Chloe was watching her, and would have killed her on the spot if she didn’t reveal what she had just discovered, “Wait, everyone!  Girls, calm down.  That is only one location of a set of exiled twins.  Does anyone have a camera?”

Tamara touched her pockets and realized they were empty, “I left my BlackBerry Torch on the ship, since there’s no signal out here.”

Daniel pulled a camcorder and tripod out of his bag, “What self-respecting archeologist would be caught dead without a high definition digital SLR camcorder?  Is wide angle OK?”  Daniel moved ten meters away from the cube and got set up, putting the camcorder in high resolution photo mode.

Adria smiled at him, in spite of the fact that she had tried to kill him a couple of times, “Yes Daniel, thank you.  Take a picture of the diagram, with the number one at the top.”  Daniel took a picture of the diagram, and Adria then touched the number two.  Adria stepped back so that everyone could see what was happening.  Ashley changed into a print dress, walked up to the diagram, and did the same for the number 3, with the obvious intention of being included in the photo.  Uncle George jumped up on top of the stone cube and posed for the camera, dressed in a safari outfit.  Alison, not to be outdone, changed her outfit into an evening gown and posed for the camera on the other side of the diagram of Stargate address number 4.  Soon the three of them were joined by Chloe and Adria, looking awesome in Tan Through bikinis.  These special swimsuits allow you to tan right through the swimsuit, and can sometimes be very revealing.  The fashion show was underway, with Daniel snapping photos of the ladies and the Stargate addresses for 36 sets of twins and dragons. 

—oOo—

When the group returned to Elysium they found that everything was ready, except for minor details.  Samantha decided to leave the oldest Air Force captain she could find in charge of AB#4, one who was close to retirement and would be of little use out in space.  General Carter was taking everyone else with her, except for a small maintenance contingent that was due some leave time.  She was soon pacing around the control room, waiting to depart.  She needed to get back to the Ori galaxy, and ordered, “Elysium, please wrap things up here, get everyone prepared and proceed to the Supergate.  Yes Daniel, what’s up?”

Daniel walked over to where she was standing, “I just downloaded the photos to my laser printer, and here are the 36 gate addresses.” 

Just then, General Carter noticed that they had arrived at the Supergate in the Earth galaxy, “General Young, do you read?”

General Young immediately responded, “Reading you loud and clear Samantha.  The Supergate is clear at this end.  Please identify the name of your dragon.  Our blonde bombshell was called Aunt Jane, and is now Joan of Arc.”

General Carter, “Something tells me that I just don’t want to know.  Everett, our old dragon is asleep, and his name is Uncle George.”

General Young, “You are cleared to proceed.  Do not be alarmed.  We have seven Ori mother ships, manned by our own staff, fully shielded, weapons on standby.”

General Carter looked somewhat surprised at the success of General Young, but it was what she expected others to do, “Understood.  Out.”

Daniel was nodding approval at what he was hearing, “Nice security procedures.  If interrogated, you can give away security codes.  But no alien would be able to answer random question.  Seven ships?  He certainly has been busy.”

Suddenly Ashley and Alison were standing in front of Samantha and Daniel, also facing the screen in the conference room, and had heard the last part of the conversation.

Alison turned to Samantha and stated, “He’s probably making new friends!”

Ashley rubbed her hands together in anticipation, “So, now we get to meet some of our own friends.”

—oOo—

Daniel was looking at the pictures of the Stone Cube he had reprinted, while walking absentmindedly on his way to the conference room, when the twins caught up with him, “So Daniel, did you enjoy the photos of our fashion show?” 

Ashley smiled in that devious way of kids, “Yes, we thought Chloe was awesome in that evening gown.”

As they entered the conference room Alison noted, “Well, looks like there’s standing room only.  Thank you, Captain Scott.  Ashley, you can sit on my lap.”

General Carter noticed the new arrivals, and stopped what she had been doing, “OK, now that everyone is here we can get started with new business.  Those who arrived late can get a status report of past events from Jennifer.  My orders from the President were clear.  We were to go out on Recon only, six months at the minimum.  In other words, get lost and stay out of trouble.  Over the past ten years I have discovered that in space exploration Recon missions usually turn into search and destroy nightmares.  So if any anyone here wishes to question my orders or authority you may feel free to speak up now.”

General Young reached into his shirt pocket and spoke first, “General Carter, on behalf of the senior ranking officers, both here and in the Milky Way galaxy, I feel that it would be best for you to wear another star.  We can all revert back to our past ranks when the new President is in office, and let the chips fall where they may.”  He then tossed Samantha a pair of stars in a velvet box.

General Carter smiled as she picked up the stars, “So, I take it that you are no longer the ‘Supreme Commander of all Earth Forces in the Universe’?”

General Young looked around and exclaimed, “OK, who snitched on me?”

After the laughter quieted down, Samantha stated with dignity, “I thank you all for your vote of confidence.”  While she was pinning on the extra pair of general’s stars, she asked General Caldwell to proceed.

“I will take most of the 4th SG~Fleet of Ori ships to the Pegasus galaxy and spread the news of the defeat of the Wraith.  We will rotate one vessel to guard the Supergate.  Our news broadcast will have a tremendous impact on the entire region.  I will help Teyla and Ronan get things organized, like financial systems, trade and farming.  Most of the stray Wraith darts in the Pegasus galaxy will run out of energy soon enough.  We will also do our best to hunt down the remainder of the Wraiths.  However, my primary mission is to use the data from Elysium to find and activate Ancient technology.”

General Carter: “As far as I am concerned, the Ori are finished, and nobody is ever again to refer to Adria as Ori.  So, we need a new name for the Ori ships.  General?”

General Caldwell: “I was thinking Fuar go Maith.”  Everyone was puzzled, since nobody understood the words.

Alison asked, “Good Cold?”

Daniel smiled and guessed, “I think he means Cold Well, a pun on his name.”

Ashley smiled and teased him, “Very good boy-toy.  I think White Demons would be more appropriate.”

Alison: “Since their only purpose is to destroy planets and create terror.”

Ashley: “As battle ships they really suck.”

Alison: “No maneuverability in tight formation.”

Ashley: “And absolutely no flexibility in the shields.”

General Caldwell: “I give up, you caught me.  WD#1 to WD#7 it is.”

General Carter had been following the comedy routine of the twins and rolled her eyes, “Moving on.  All salvaged Ancient property will become part of the 5th SG~Fleet, which is currently unmanned but hiding amidst the rings of Saturn.  Now that we have two Ancient starship-cities at our command, this will be known as the 6th SG~Fleet.  Elysium has given us the location of eight more Atlantis class ships that are nearby.  This ship will investigate 4 locations and the Delphyne will investigate the other 4.  Chloe?”

Chloe had told Samantha that she had important information, and so she was called on prior to General Young, “Each of the 36 dragons was given an amulet by Merlin, so we can utilize them to activate Ancient ships and cities.  And with each dragon are twins.  If you find that anyone, in any of the SG~Fleets, suffers from xenophobia, report it to Tamara immediately.  This is my second alien form.  One experience was terrifying; the current experience is beyond awesome.  This doesn’t include my terrifying experience as a teenage Earthling.  Sam.”  The twins were surprised at the smiles, but they figured that Earth humans must go through some sort of weird transformation as kids.

Vanessa felt her armband tingle, so she spoke up on what she had been thinking, “I have a question that may sound stupid, but the gate addresses in these photos spread around the table have only six numbers.  The exiled twins are located throughout the known universe to prevent one dragon from locating another dragon nearby.  Uncle George was able to detect the presence of JoanArc only when he was in close proximity to the solar system.  So how do we find them without visiting each gated planet in each galaxy, or running a search grid for the dragons to sniff out?  I thought that each Stargate could have a duplicate address in another galaxy, like having the same phone number but with two different area codes.”

Jennifer had been standing in a corner, and moved over to where Colonel Sheppard was sitting and plopped down in his lap so that she could face Samantha and Rodney, totally oblivious to the smiles around the room.  Samantha thought Yes indeed, a romance is definitely brewing there.

Jennifer began her train of thought, “If these planets are isolated, and probably located in near-empty space between stable spiral galaxies, then we can set this as variable A.”

“We can assume that all the prison Stargate DHDs have been modified not to dial out, which may include situations other than prison planets.  Like planets with deadly epidemics that need an influx of medical supplies, but no one may leave and spread the disease.  The DHD can only be used like a call-back button for authorized medical personnel, which is how the twins escaped the exile planet.  Make this variable B.”

“Next we have to consider the need for acceptable climates, food, shelter and vegetation; with a protective magnetic field and low radiation sun.  Make this variable C.”

 “So, piece of cake.  Now we just run a search of all Stargates, looking for…”

Dr McKay had been typing furiously into his notebook computer, “Finished.  Elysium says there are 256 such planets in the known universe.  I have selected the highest probabilities based upon your set of variables.”  The twins jumped up and yelled for joy, and everyone congratulated Jennifer on her solution to the puzzle.

General Carter raised her hands to calm everyone down, “Before we start bringing more dragons and twins on board, there is something we all need to know.  Tamara.”

Tamara: “I am going to give you the medical reality of what is happening here.  The moral implications are for all of us to discuss.  The Alterans used genetic engineering to create a new race of humans that could control war-dragons.  The experiment failed and the subjects of the experiment were exiled because they were too dangerous.  But evolution follows the laws of probability, and the dice were in favor of the exiles.  They evolved into a race that made the experiment a success.  Each pair of twins is now more powerful than the Alterans, given that they had ten thousand more years and special genes to help them.  Any questions so far?”

Captain Scott entered the room and asked, “Tea anyone?”

After a short break, Tamara continued, “Now comes the gruesome part.  The twins are sterile, and they live the usual Alteran life span.  While they were all on a single planet in training, they realized that they had a solution to this problem of reproduction.  When one twin dies, the other dies automatically.  Their minds are linked, which is why you always hear one of them complete the sentence of the other.  The dragon then eats the twins, literally.  The dragon transforms into a human female, mates with any male available and in nine months gives birth to twins.  The memories are intact and the twins are cared for by the dragon.  A simple solution to a survival need.”

Uncle George, “And they are very tasty I may add.”  Nearly everyone had experience with aliens, so nobody was shocked, just surprised that he spoke up at all.

Dr McKay was a bit suspicious of all this, and challenged the dragon, “But how do the dragons live ten thousand years?”

JoanArc just shrugged as if the question was immaterial and rather obvious, “We have become immortal, unless we are destroyed by an enemy or calamity.”

Jennifer was having fun competing with Rodney so she asked, “I would guess that the dragons already had a similar reproductive cycle on their home worlds?  And the human DNA altered their own genes, just as it altered the genes of the Wraith, so that they could switch between forms at any time?  Add to that the influence of naquadah and more evolution.”

Dr McKay jumps right back at her, “Yes, but the laws of probability are not in favor of immortals that reproduce.  Sooner or later evolution will work against you, like the Asgard and Tok’ra, where cloning and migrating to new host bodies finally failed.”

Tamara decided to jump in before this turned into an anthropology or physiology class, “Correct Rodney.  The mutated dragons are dying.”

Jennifer was shocked, “Oh no.  Is there anything we can do?  How long do they have to live?”

Elysium stated calmly and factually, “By my calculations they will die off in approximately three million years.”

Jennifer put on her most comical voice and looked at Dr McKay, “Well Rodney, you better gets right on it and solve this problem!”  While everybody was laughing, Rodney pointed to Jennifer and silently mouthed, “Very funny.  I’ll get you for that.”

Tamara suddenly spoke up, and in a very serious tone, “This is my decision.  We will house the twins in the 6th SG~Fleet for now.  After they are all found and settled in, we can let them propose a solution for themselves.”  Suddenly Tamara realized that everyone was staring at her.  Then she apologized, “I’m so sorry, I don’t know what came over me.”

General Carter gave Tamara a reassuring smile, “That’s alright Tamara.  We realize that you and Chloe are connected to the twins and the dragons.  You all have the right to self determination, provided that it conforms to our Earth values of human rights.  And those human rights must extend to all advanced species, provided that they respect the rights of others.  A simple law, and a simple path for us all to follow.”

Chloe wholeheartedly agreed, and exclaimed, “Amen to that!”  (Amen is the ancient name of the Egyptian Creator god, and is used at the end of Christian prayers.  Alternative names are Amon, Amun and Aten.)

General Carter, “So, let’s get back to Recon, and make new friends.  Dismissed.”

 

 

Honor Amongst Thieves, NOT!

 

Dr McKay knocked on the open door to Samantha’s office, located next to the control room.  It was officially the Captains office for Atlantis class starship-cities, but the twins had ignored the room completely, and Alison was not about to take on any paperwork that came with the title of Captain.  So Sam and the twins had an unspoken understanding.  The twins could pretend to be the Captain and Navigator, and stay in the Captains quarters, while Sam would have all the responsibility and authority.  Anyway, Rodney seemed a bit depressed and began the discussion with a weird statement, “I’ve just spent three hours doing some heavy math with the brats, and they have proven that time travel is not possible.”

Samantha sat back in her chair and looked at Rodney, then told him what he already knew, “Rodney, a number of us have traveled back and forward in time.  We even have the memories of those travels.”

Rodney shook his head, “I always had my doubts, and I think the confusion comes from our lack of understanding how the Stargates work.  Let me ask you this; what is time?”

Samantha thought about it, and held up her hands, palms facing each other, “The movement of a photon from point A to point B produces time, as does the vibration of an electron attached to an atom.”

Rodney smiled, mostly because he was lecturing someone he thought was not as smart as he was, and he loved to show off.  And he was no longer depressed at the way the twins had beaten up on him, “Exactly, time is energy in motion.  If everything around us ceased movement, at zero energy, then time would stop.”

Samantha then argued what every physics professor knew to be true, “But if you travel faster than the speed of light, you can reach a point in space where you would be able to observe past events back on Earth.”

Rodney nodded, and added the clincher, “Yes, but you would be an observer, and not a traveler.  What we have been doing is traveling to alternate realities, which removes the grandfather paradox where you would change the course of your own history.”

Samantha thought about something, “OK, so ‘back to the future’ is bad science, but what happened when I traveled back in time, or at least thought I was back in time after passing through the Stargate?”

Rodney was now ready to hit Samantha with the stunner, “You jumped back and forth between realities, which the Ancients used to do when they needed to engage in some industrial espionage.”

Samantha was indeed shocked, “So the Stargates can be programmed to jump realities?  And you could visit a future alternate reality to learn new technology, and bring it back?”

Rodney was now tickled pink, like a kid who has finally won a game of chess against a master.  He added a few more facts, “Remember the device you found, that lets you pass into and out of parallel universes?  The Stargates can do the same thing.  All you have to do is tell the gate controller where in the infinite number of alternate realities you want to go, and it will establish a wormhole near a supernova, a black hole or a solar flare.  Anything with a mass of extremely high energy, even a nuclear bomb will do the trick.”

Samantha then realized something, “And to get back to your own reality, you only need to dial the same Stargate address you left from, and it will do the programming for you.  But if you don’t have a DHD to do the exact calculations, then you could end up stuck in the wrong reality.”

Rodney stood up and gave her that mischievous grin that could only bring bad news, “Exacto mundo.  With all the gate travel you have been doing, you could very well be stuck somewhere other than your birth reality.  Wouldn’t that be a hoot?”

—oOo—

General Young was brushing his teeth, getting ready for breakfast, when Delphyne appeared behind him and announced that he had a secure call from General Carter.  He walked over to the communications screen in his quarters, still wearing his pajamas, and pushed the activate button.  He could see that the screen was split, with Samantha on the left and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on the right.  As soon as the Chairman saw Delphyne behind General Young he spoke up, “Everett, you may want to dismiss your young lady friend.  And are we to assume that is the uniform of the day?”

General Young could see that the Chairman was joking, and decided to play a joke himself.  He motioned Delphyne to come closer and waved his hand through the hologram as he said, “Well, you know how hard it is to get your arms around a good solid woman these days.”  After Samantha and the Chairman laughed he told them he had just woken up, and concluded with, “OK, let’s hear the good news first, because I have a feeling the bad news is going to take some explaining.”

The Chairman began with an update, “There is no good news.  The asteroid we detected weeks ago heading for Earth is targeted to hit Masjid al-Haram, the largest mosque in the world, and will destroy the Kaaba.  We had planned to divert the slow moving rock using one of the spaceships in your 1st or 2nd fleet.  But we have discovered that the rock is being pushed by a small propulsion unit, which is communicating with a North Korean satellite.”

General Young had continued getting dressed, on and off camera, and interrupted, “I take it that any failure in the transmission will trigger some worse event, and the asteroid will not cause any serious damage to the rest of the planet?”

The Chairman raised an eyebrow, and commented, “We could have used that assessment days ago, and it might have prevented the mess we are in.  The President decided to do some grandstanding, and called for a simultaneous meeting of both the United Nations in New York and the entire Congress in Washington DC.  He wanted to show the world that there was nothing to fear, and that this destruction of Islam was Gods will.”

Samantha was shocked, and exclaimed, “Nobody could possibly be that stupid!”

The Chairman just shrugged and said, “We did elect Jimmy Carter and Bush Junior, and somehow we survived their disasters.  Anyway, the massive rioting by Muslims around the world is not the problem.  Last night two super-cargo vessels off the east coast launched a helicopter assault just as the meetings began.  The cargo containers were fake shells, hiding EC725 Cougar troop transports, stolen months ago from the factory.  Simultaneously a group of terrorist, who were mixed in with protestors, rushed the buildings and attacked the security guards with silenced hand guns.  By the time the local police arrived with swat teams, the helicopters from the ships offloaded their troops, disguised as US Military units, and wiped out the remainder of the security and police.  They are now inside both the New York UN General Assembly room and House of Representatives chamber of the United States Capitol.  And they brought with them two nuclear bombs.”

Samantha was not surprised, and to her credit she thought about the problem from a scientific perspective, “I assume the nukes were easily shielded from detection by Homeland Security, and one person at each location has a hand release trigger (If a depressed push button is released, the bomb goes off, just the opposite of most triggers.  This prevents anyone from shooting the person holding the detonator.).  We should be able to beam the nukes out and your teams can then move in.”

The Chairman shook his head, “From your reports, our gizmo teams have determined that your Asgard beam will not be able to penetrate the small shield they are using over each device.  It appears to be Ancient technology the Trust acquired.  So what we have is a nightmare.  The North Koreans have supplied the nukes and asteroid, the Russian Mob has supplied the ships, arms and helicopters, and the Iranian / Palestinian fundamentalist seeking to destroy Saudi Arabia have supplied the troops.  And what is left of the Trust is providing advanced technology to wipe out the US Government, probably in the hopes of getting their own people elected.”

Colonel Young, “I assume that the military did not attend the joint session of congress, and you are safely out of the way.  The Pentagon is probably another target.  But something isn’t right here.  There has to be money involved.  Iran and the Trust I can understand.  They want power and the destruction of Saudi Arabia.  But the Palestinians and the Russian Mob know better.”

The Chairman nodded afirmative, “We have agreed to empty Fort Knox and transfer the gold to dozens of locations, where it will probably be melted down in hours and vanish.  The President ordered the release of gold from the vaults in New York as well.  If I thought he had the brains to pull off this heist I would make him my first suspect.  In any case, we think the bombs will be detonated when the shipments are completed.”

Samantha turned to someone in the room with her and asked, “Elysium, do you have any ideas?”  When she turned back to the screen and shook her head, Everett knew they had a huge problem to solve.  Suddenly Ashley popped up in front of Samantha, smiled into the screen and announced, “We’re on it Generalissimo.  We’ll be there in an hour.  Out.”  Samantha vanished from the screen, leaving the Chairman with a puzzled and irritated look.

General Young apologized with an explanation, “The twins haven’t learned the slang use of words yet, so they were referring to the Italian definition, which technically is your rank, and very respectful.  I have an idea.  Hold off on the gold shipments, or at least slow them down.  We can put a special tracer metal in the gold bars and follow the melted gold anywhere on earth.  And my knowledge of nukes tells me that the damage from detonation will not be that great.  These are probably small dirty bombs, intended to make a statement and not much else.  And they will detonate inside solid buildings, which will absorb all of the heat and most of the air blast.  You may need to start moving in heavy equipment to bury everything at ground zero.”  The Chairman agreed, and signed off.

—oOo—

They had a few days to work things out, so a meeting was called an hour after they arrived in orbit around Earth, fully cloaked.  They had exited the wormhole on the other side of the sun, and after recharging they had made good time in stealth mode around the star.  Samantha was always on the lookout for traps.  Two starship-cities were a prime target for half the advanced species in the universe. Elysium was keeping the Chairman updated every hour, and had received a tremendous amount of data, including spy-video of the inside of each building.

As soon as everyone was seated Chloe scolded the twins for playing cards.  Ashley just smiled and replied, “We got nothing yet, but we are remembering everything we can about Earth weapons and battle strategy.  Right now we are watching the movie Live Free or Die Hard.  But the Trojan horse trick is probably the best option.”  They went right back to playing cards.  Chloe stamped her foot and sat down in a huff.  It was her planet, and her father had served his country in a building that was about to be vaporized.

Samantha was very interested in what the twins had said, but decided to give them time.  So she asked Elysium to give everyone an update, which follows:

“One: At the suggestion of Everett, the gold is being melted and remolded with an isotope tracer element not known on Earth.  Using detection devices now being installed on our jumpers, Interpol will then round up the conspirators in the free world, and the US Air Force will bomb the rest.”

“Two: Twenty suicide bombers are located in each building; and half are asleep at any given time.  Two guard each door, and the others take people to the toilets.  Sleeping bags have been provided by the local Red Cross, and lights out at 22:00 each night.”

“Three: A schedule of five more days has been established for delivery and distribution of the gold.  Food is provided by a catering service with strict controls, and is only given to the hostages.  The armed men have brought their own food and water.”

“Four: The nuclear devices are located on the main podiums in each building.  They are in full view of everyone and are protected by a spherical force shield five meters in diameter.  We have not been able to beam them out, as predicted.  If we tried to beam out the entire building, the bombs would detonate anyway.”

“Five: Any attempt to divert the asteroid will detonate the bombs.  And lastly, the two ships that delivered the assault teams have been sunk by the crews, with no survivors.  Any questions?”

Ashley stopped playing cards, and turned to Uncle George, “Pet, go get one of those Zat guns and shoot Vanessa.”  She went back to playing cards as the dragon ran out of the room, smiling of course.

Vanessa looked around the room of puzzled faces and asked, “What did I do this time?”  Just then Asgar and Alfie, with their pet dragon JoanArc, walked into the conference room.  Not as holograms but in physical form, dressed in camouflage fatigues. The twin boys sat on the floor and also began playing cards, totally ignoring everyone.  Of course JoanArc was wearing her uniform like a model, and asked, “Are we fashionably late for the party?”  She then walked over and sat in Colonel Sheppard’s lap.  Jennifer immediately jumped up and put both fists on her hips, but then she smiled and said, “JoanArc, I would be honored if you would take my seat.”  This is exactly what the dragon wanted, since she had no intention of standing around and wasting valuable nap time. 

Jennifer then looked at Colonel Sheppard and growled, “That better be a military issue flashlight in your pants!”  John reached into his pocket and pulled out a large Swiss Army knife, which Jennifer began playing with as soon as she sat down in his lap.  More than one person in the room was giggling.

Suddenly Uncle George returned with a Zat gun one of the MPs had given him, and he shot Vanessa.  Samantha trusted the twins, but many of the others did not.  She had already prepared for this and had a restraining hand on Captain Scott.  But nothing happened.  Alison looked up at the dragon, “OK, now give Vanessa the gun and let her shoot you.”  This time something happened, but it was really weird.  Vanessa was wearing nothing but underwear for a fraction of a second, and the area around her glowed with tiny streaks of electricity.  But the Zat charge did not reach beyond her small personal space.

Asgar stopped playing cards for a second, looked up at Vanessa and asked her, “Are you OK?  You should not have been hurt.”

Vanessa looked a bit stunned, and rather disappointed that she had not knocked the dragon on his butt.  But she replied, “Yes, I’m OK, just a little tingly.  Why don’t we just use the phase shifting device that Elysium just made?”

At least four people in the room, including Samantha, exclaimed, “What?”

Adria looked at Vanessa and scolded her, “That is supposed to be a secret, and must remain so to anyone outside this room.  General Carter, I have been putting Elysium to work creating devices that even the Alterans did not possess or had not perfected.  We have retrieved them from Area 51 and other locations.  Dr McKay will need to initiate a testing project on the prototypes as soon as they are ready.  In any case, the suggestion is an excellent one, except for one problem…”

Vanessa interrupted her, “… the nuclear triggers.  If someone appears out of nowhere, then the shock alone will cause the trigger man to react.”

Alfie looked up from his cards and said, “Vanessa, imagine that you are invisible.”  She vanished, but not entirely.  Everyone could see what looked like a glass statue, and this needs some explaining.  Adria, Chloe and the twins had still not told anyone that the armbands release nanobots into the human body, and that these nanobots can be programmed to do many things.  The armband alone does not have the power to perform the task of shielding or cloaking a human.  On the other hand, the nanobots can absorb energy from the body, or from an outside source, like a Zat gun.  Each nanobot can transmit light, just as your skin transmits light.  You may not even realize that your eyes are transmitting light as well as absorbing light.  When a photon from the sun, or any other light source, hits an atom on your skin the energy is absorbed, and an electron cloud around the atom is excited.  This electron then releases the surplus energy as another photon, but with the wave frequency of that electron.  For example, when a photon hits a bar of gold, an electron is excited in the gold wavelength, and so you see pure gold.  But when a complex chemical compound like a Crayola is hit with photons, you may see a color that is mixed, since many different types of atoms were excited.

Now to the point.  Put your hand in front of your face, palm towards you.  Suppose we want your hand to become invisible.  This means that the nanobots on the palm of your hand must transmit a photo to your eyes that imitates what your hand is hiding.  The nanobots on the back of your hand become photo receptors, like a camera.  The image received from the back of your hand is transmitted to the nanobots on the palm of your hand, which then act like a display monitor.  So what you now see is the image behind your hand.  The problem here is that it takes a significant number of nanobots to do this at low energy, or a few nanobots pumping out a great deal of light to hide all the other photons coming from your hand.  This is why the technology is only used in very low light situations, or when plenty of energy is available.  It might be useful to hide distant fighter jets or tanks, but the cost and application are not really worth the effort.

Asgar had turned around to watch and ordered, “Excellent.  Now imagine that you are JoanArc.”  Vanessa morphed into an exact copy of the boy’s dragon, with no shimmering or defects.  The hair was slightly different, but not enough to notice!  “That is very good indeed!  Please resume your own form.  Thank you.”  The boys then went back to playing cards.

Samantha was starting to get an idea, but needed more information, “Vanessa, am I to assume that you do not wear any real clothes these days, other than underwear or a swimsuit?  And I suppose you will teach me this trick sometime soon?”  Vanessa just nodded, somewhat embarrassed.  “Adria, could we use the phase shifting devices for some of the troops?”  Adria nodded.

Alison had been watching, and the cards had vanished.  She then announced, “Good, we will take you with us!”

Tamara immediately replied, “No!” All four twins jumped up and put their fists on their hips, as did both dragons.  Tamara calmly continued, “If you are unable to stop the nuclear detonation, which happens in a fraction of a second, then the massive amount of naquadah in your bodies will blow a hole in the planet, causing an extinction event on Earth.  You will remain here and man the Chair Rooms and control consoles.”  All four kids nodded agreement and walked out of the conference room, chatting amicably, followed by their smiling dragons. 

Tamara continued, “Adria will lead the troops, since her powers are based on electronic energy and not positronic sub-space energy.  Captains James and Scott have the most experience with the armbands, so they will lead one team, and Colonel Sheppard and Major Hailey will lead the other team.  And you will all do exactly what Adria tells you.  Chloe will run all of you through the battle simulations, and make certain that everyone is ready.”

Samantha looked at Tamara like she had just grown a crown on her head and was now a Queen.  She then turned to Chloe, and took on that motherly attitude.  “Chloe?”

Chloe then decided to joke a little, “Do you wish me to discus how many people are currently running around Elysium almost naked, or do you wish to hear the battle plan?”

Samantha was not going to be out joked, “Well, you can always tell us the battle plan naked, but with your good looks the men might not be listening as intently as I would like.” Back atcha girl!

Daniel was just about at wits end, what with all the drama that archeologist absolutely loath, “I assume from the earlier reference to a Trojan Horse, and the movie Die Hard, we are going to send the Marines into the buildings, disguised somehow, and stop a nuclear explosion?  And you actually think this is going to work?”

Adria turned to him and smiled, “And you’re coming with me in case I need a negotiator at this United Nations of yours.”

—oOo—

Samantha called the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff an hour later and told him what they had in mind.  The Chairman immediately approved the plan, and then added, “I agree with your changing the designation from terrorist to thieves.  We now have enough intercepted chatter to determine that the Russian Mob plans to betray the Iranians and Palestinians.  They will probably keep the last three shipments of gold, which may cause the ‘thieves’ to set off the bombs ahead of schedule.  Do you have any ideas?”

Samantha thought for a second, then suggested, “Why not let CNN film your people delivering some of the gold directly to the Palestinians in Gaza, Lebanon, Jordan and so on.  This will keep the thieves inside the buildings calm, and will only cost us a few hundred million.  Let us know immediately if they contact you with complaints of delays, caused by their fellow thieves.”

—oOo—

The soldiers using the phase shifting devices (PSDs) infiltrated the buildings first.  Everyone agreed that Zats would be best, since rifles can cause a lot of collateral damage.  In addition, a full Zat blast puts you out cold, whereas many people continue to fight after being hit with bullets.  The team leaders, unarmed and disguised as delivery boys, brought the lunch carts into the building after being frisked by the outer ring of security.  When they neared the entrance to the assembly hall the two guards stationed in front of the only set of unlocked doors moved to intercept them.  Suddenly from behind the thieves, two Marines appeared from nowhere and shot them with silenced pistols through the back of the head.  This may seem gross, but it is the quickest and most silent way to take out a guard.  The noise could not be heard through the heavy wood doors, and the bodies were quickly dragged away.  The team leaders changed their disguise to imitate the guards, and pushed the carts into the room.  As soon as the thieves inside the room saw the carts, the leader of the thieves sent two replacement guards to stand outside the assembly hall.  They were then shot in the same way as the first two.  The second set of marines then stood guard outside in the hallway to prevent the outer ring of thieves, located elsewhere in the building, from interfering.

Four down, sixteen to go.  The Atlantis team leaders then started handing out lunches, working their way down to the podium.  They had watched the video feeds from the assembly hall, which the thieves had not even bothered to cut.  The thieves must have known they wouldn’t have gotten ride of all the cameras in any case.  The next step was the key to the whole operation.  Colonel Sheppard didn’t say a word as he casually reached out and took one of the detonators.  He depressed the plunger and showed the thief holding the twin plunger that he had taken over his shift.  Once the thief moved away from the trigger, Major Hailey casually walked over and pretended to be talking to the trigger man.  Both of them had fake weapons, and were still unarmed.  The armbands require that you wear and hold absolutely nothing that could interfere with the nanobots transmitting light from the surface of the skin.  Even something as small as a wedding band could give you away.

Adria had been jumping between both locations, using the transport trick the twins had taught her.  Since she was also out of phase, she could see when both teams were ready.  She then did something so simple that even the Marines were amazed at how clever she was.  She simply walked into the hall naked, said ‘oops’, and walked back out the door.  Not even a crazy person would set off a nuclear bomb just because they had just seen a naked woman.

Jennifer immediately grabbed the twin plunger that John handed to her, depressed the trigger and both of them dropped to the floor.  Two marines immediately appeared from nowhere and began firing at the nearest thieves.  In less than ten seconds every thief in the room was down.  The Marines then ordered everyone to lie down.  A few tried to run out the doors, and were hit with a single Zat blast.  They needed to do this for two reasons.  Anyone in the room could be the enemy, and the only way to watch them all was to move them into the open areas and have them lie face down.  The other reason is that the Marines had to clear out the thieves roaming the building, and they didn’t want them alerted to what had happened.

When Adria jumped over to DC, and signaled the assault, she stayed in the room.  She didn’t like the footage she had seen of the way the thieves were moving around the Representatives desks.  In one of the videos she had noticed that one of the members of congress was getting too much attention from the thieves.  Now, as she was watching the action, she spotted the man that had gotten her attention.  Instead of dropping to the floor like everyone else, he reached under his desk and brought out a weapon she had never seen before.  He fired a single shot towards Vanessa and Matthew, but they had already ducked down out of sight.  In order to hit them the man had to jump up on the desk.  That is when Adria reached out her arm, releasing a blast of energy, and sent the man flying through the air, to be smashed against the wall.  A Marine immediately shot the traitor to make certain that he was dead, and removed the weapon from his hand.  Adria was now fully clothed and remained in the room, looking for more signs of treachery. 

Meanwhile, Rodney was being rushed into the chamber by two Marines.  He jogged down to the podium, carrying his bag filled with equipment.  He gave thumbs up to the team leaders holding the plungers down, and activated his own personal shield, which he had used once before on Atlantis in the Pegasus galaxy.  Since the two shields were of the same technology, Rodney was able to pass through the shield protecting the bomb.  This allowed him to deactivate the shield protecting the nuclear weapon.  The bomb was then beamed out by Elysium, and was sent to a remote island in the Pacific for defusing.  Rodney then announced to the room that it was over.  He got an ovation from everyone still prostrate on the floor.  The team leaders just rolled their eyes at his grandstanding, and let go of the plungers.

When Samantha received the green light from both locations, she got on the com-link to the twins, “Ashley and Asgar, you may proceed to destroy that asteroid.  Stay out of range of any possible nuclear device on the propulsion unit.”  As expected, after the first salvo of drones hit the rock, a nuclear explosion lit up the sky.  But the bomb had little effect on the asteroid.  Remember, in the vacuum of space, there is no concussion.  It took an hour to pulverize the huge rock into pieces.  Without an atmosphere, the use of standard missiles was wasteful.  What Samantha told them to do is melt parts of the rock with energy drones, and then send an explosive missile into the molten lava.  The liquid rock served as an excellent blast fluid, like throwing a grenade into the ocean to kill fish for lunch.  Finally the pieces of rock were small enough to burn up in the atmosphere of Earth, although some would hit land.  The area around the target on Earth had been evacuated, and fortunately it was not a popular pilgrimage time of year.

As far as the world was concerned, the US Marines had rescued the hostages, and there was no mention of a force shield or naked people.  Interpol did manage to capture a low level money laundering operation of the Trust, but the conspirators were never found.  Chances were very good that the members of the Russian Mob who were not caught took out what remained of the Trust in revenge.  The nuclear devices were put on display, and proven to be North Korean.  All trade with North Korea stopped, and the country went into total isolation.  China sealed the border and sank the entire North Korean navy.  Many suspected this punitive action was intended to cover up their own complicity in the scheme.

—oOo—

Samantha called the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to discuss the status report, and received a shocker when he stated, “We have a problem.  Apparently the remaining Goa’uld in this galaxy, and a few from distant galaxies like Abydos, have migrated to Earth.  They have decided to try and take control of the only planet in the known universe with more than one billion humans.  And they are going to do this by working from within the system, totally ignoring the Stargate Project for now.  Is there anything that you can do to detect them, or perhaps flush them out?”

Samantha thought about it, and then had an idea, “The dragons may be able to help.  Spread the word around the planet that there is a rare disease that causes people to suddenly collapse.  The disease is not contagious, but may have been spread by a company selling gourmet food.  All that is required is that the person be taken to the hospital immediately and given an infusion of protein and iron.  We will try something at noon next Friday.”

When the day for the experiment came the twins and Uncle George were ready.  They arrived in a cloaked jumper, traveling at mach 4 around the planet.  Uncle George would concentrate on a vision of the snakes inside a human, wrapped around the spine.  The twins were constantly monitoring the dragon to ensure that he did not get carried away and start eating innocent people when he was supposed to be killing snakes.  Uncle George would send out a blue bullet of energy, which passed through the wall of the jumper and down towards the planet.  Colonel Sheppard would then read the GPS location to Major Hailey, who would then radio the local authorities to send an ambulance to the exact address where the Goa’uld had been detected and killed.  Over one hundred and seventeen were killed in the North American continent alone.  Although this did not stop the infiltration completely, it soon became clear to the surviving Goa’uld in all nearby galaxies that Earth had a secret snake killer that made the planet Earth a useless target.

 

Family Reunions

 

Ronon Dex ran through the forest, leaping over fallen trees and dodging around the thick brush.  He was wearing a pair of hybrid hiking boots that could also be used as cross-country running shoes.  All he carried was his pistol and ammo belt.  Three Wraiths were chasing him, excited by the hunt and the challenge that this prey was presenting for them.  Ronan had doubled back a number of times, and had already killed the fourth Wraith in the hunting party.  They had almost fallen into a number of traps set by Ronan, but the bug DNA in the Wraith brain knew the history of spiders and flies, and was not so easily fooled.

 

Wraith hunter.

 

Meanwhile Teyla was in a small clearing in the same woods, working with the Athosian Volunteers.  They had been equipped by the soldiers on Atlantis with claymore mines, automatic weapons and other very useful tools of war.  They were setting a trap for the Wraith, with claymores strapped three feet up a tree, pointing towards the clearing.  Hopefully the Wraith would follow the path through the woods and directly into the clearing.  Suddenly they heard a shot, which sounded like the pistol Ronan used.

Teyla shouted to the others, “Hurry, into the ditch behind those trees.”  Teyla grabbed the trigger device and unrolled the wire as she ran to the ditch.  She wished that she had more experience in the wireless explosive devices that the American soldiers used, but they had warned her that some weapons required months of training, and were prone to accidents.  These claymores would not explode until they were hooked up to a battery, which was far safer for everyone in the Pegasus galaxy.  Within a minute Ronan came running through the clearing, pretended to be tired and wounded.  The Wraith were enraged and hungry, otherwise they may have seen the trap.  Just as Ronan dove into the ditch where Teyla was hiding, the explosives detonated and three Wraiths tumbled to the ground.  The Athosians raced to the bodies and cut the heads off the Wraith, knowing this was the only way to stop them from regenerating and recovering from the multiple wounds.

As Teyla and Ronan walked up to the bodies, one of the Athosian Volunteers asked, “Shall we have a cup of tea before we move on to the next planet?”

Ronan looked at him and raised an eyebrow, “OK, but no goats milk in mine this time!”

—oOo—

The next three months on Elysium were spent exploring, and looking for more sets of twins and dragons.  Very few cities can survive ten thousand years of neglect.  Most buildings on earth don’t last more than one hundred years.  So there was very little to salvage of what the Alterans had built.  Some cities were buried in ice or water, and well preserved.  They were tagged for possible future renovation.  Many of the cities had vanished as rubble under new cities built by migrants from other planets.  Daniel Jackson was put in charge of all archeological exploration, and he had to be the happiest man in the Universe.  He would call Samantha at least three times a day with news of something new they had found.

Tamara insisted that they take at least one day off each week, both to give the crew a breather and to train her staff in emergency medical procedures.  Tamara loved the fact that she didn’t have to learn all the details that doctors had to absorb in college.  She was becoming Earths first medical programmer.  The Ancient machines did all of the diagnosis, and all she had to do is program the devices to achieve the desired result.  Cosmetic surgery, teeth alignment, heart replacement and artificial limbs were all less complicated than making a wedding cake.  Dr Keller said it was like going to doctor heaven.

They found plenty of planets where the humans had lost all assistance from the more advanced Alterans, and had reverted back to the Stone Age.  Some of the crew began calling Dr Jennifer Keller Florence Nightingale.  Elysium created paper documents in basic industrial machine design and mineralogy.  With textbooks in life sciences and technology, each planet was able to begin large scale farming and home building.

The crew of Elysium was ready for a break.  They had traveled to an isolated solar system between a spiral galaxy and a huge dust cloud system that couldn’t really be called a galaxy.  Elysium said that this solar system was a possible location of a set of twins and dragons.  Although the Stargate would not activate, Uncle George said that another dragon was somewhere in the system.  What they found first was a planet that had a luxurious resort that had been built only a few years earlier.  This was a rare find indeed, so Samantha decided to rotate the crew for a week, and give everyone a chance to stay at the resort.  The solar system also had a second planet, but the locals told the Elysium crew that legends said it was a forbidden planet, covered in water, with evil monsters.  This sounded exactly like a prison planet to Samantha, and so they lifted off from paradise and flew towards the water world.

As they were approaching the second planet a ball of fire erupted out of the sun and headed right for them.  Elysium raised the alarm in the control room only, and everyone scrambled to their stations from coffee breaks or chatter.  The ship took evasive action, but the fireball stayed with them, at exactly the same speed.  General Carter had been taking a shower, and showed up in the control room in her bathrobe, a towel around her head and barefoot.  But she was all business as she yelled, “Elysium, report!”

Elysium appeared in front of her, and stated in that calm way of computers, “It appears to be a plasma drone.  Ashley is in the chair, and has fired at the drone several times, but to no effect.  I have accelerated and decelerated in small amounts, but it stays with us at exactly the same velocity.”

Alison ran over to the console behind Amelia Banks.  When Amelia got up to vacate her seat Alison motioned her back down.  This put a smile on Amelia’s face as she reported, “Ma’am, it also seems to be herding us away from the planet we were approaching.  Perhaps we should slow down to a stop and see if it leaves?”

Alison and Samantha looked at each other and Samantha ordered, “Do it Amelia, but be very careful.”  The drone came to a dead stop, positioned between the planet and Elysium.  Then Samantha thought of another idea, “OK, let’s see if it can follow us in FTL.  Ashley…”

Amelia shouted, “No.  Sorry ma’am, give me a second.  OK, according to this data the drone will ram us as soon as we try and exit FTL, even if it doesn’t want to.  Like two speeding cars where the first one slams on the brakes.  The same for a wormhole drive.”

“Amelia, you just saved thousands of lives, including my foolish ass.  Remind me to take you shopping at the most expensive fashion store on Earth.  OK, Ashley, make a very slow turn towards our first planet.”

Amelia watched her display and reported the results, “No go ma’am.  It’s blocking our way towards both planets.  For now we need to just sit tight.”

They all heard a commotion in the gate room.  Alison, Samantha, Major Lorne, Colonel Sheppard and Major Hailey ran over to the railing and saw a most bizarre sight.  Uncle George was dressed in a cowboy outfit, complete with two pistols, cowboy boots and a rope.  Carmen was riding on his back in some sort of baby pack, and he was trying to lasso Eric.  Tamara was right behind him, with her ever present hypo in a side holster of her own design.

Alison yelled down at him, “Uncle George!  Where have you been?  We are under attack.”

Uncle George kept chasing Eric as he yelled back, “Not to worry.  The weapon just wants us to leave.”

General Carter shouted down at him, “We don’t leave our people behind!”

Vanessa was standing behind Samantha, holding underclothes, a uniform and shoes, “Thought you might need these clothes ma’am.”

Samantha spun around and looked relieved, “Bless you Captain.  I’ll change in the conference room.  Keep me posted.”  As she entered the conference room Elysium followed her.  “Elysium, why didn’t you sound General Quarters?”

Elysium was programmed to be very patient with children, and slow minded adults.  Most of the time she spent with this race of humans she was acting as a teacher, “There was no time for Earth humans to adequately react, and someone could have been hurt unnecessarily.  In these situations it is best to keep these rushing people out of the way so that you can focus on the emergency.”

Out in the gate room Uncle George was again chasing Eric, and yelled up at Alison, “Now, if it was me, I’d lasso that sucker and vaporize his ass.  And you tell those brat cousins of yours that if they pull a stunt like this again I’m gonna brand both their butts.”

Alison yelled down at him, “Pet, you’re a genius.”  But he was already running down the corridor, chasing a screaming Eric.  She mind-spoke to her sister out loud, which means that she talked so that everyone around her could hear what she was saying, but since the twins did not wear the earpiece communications devices, she also sent her twin a telepathic message, which has limited range, “Ashley, let’s do some testing while the General is getting dressed.  Move away from both planets at increasing speed.  Amelia, tell us what happens.”

When Samantha returned Alison had the data she needed.  She nodded to Amelia.  After a moment Amelia reported, “General, the drone follows us, but decelerates slowly only if we maintain a course perpendicular to the point in space half way between the two inhabitable planets.”

Alison told her of the idea the dragon had come up with, “So, if we hang a Stargate out in space, directly in the plasma drone’s path, it will explode when it merges with the naquadah, as some of you have experienced.”  She was looking directly at Samantha.

“Great.  Does the whole universe know that I like blowing up Stargates?  Rodney, what about radiation?  Amelia, compute the distances needed.  Wait a minute everyone.  Alison, are you telling me that we have to give up our Stargate?  Captain Scott, Dr Jackson, Dr Zelenka, Celia Santiago, Adam Brody report to the control room!”

Alison shook her head, “Not at all.  Just grab one from the Stargate well.”

Everyone said it at once, “The What?”

Alison smiled, “I’ve been watching Abbot and Costello videos, and I must admit you guys are almost as funny as they are.  Here is the plan Uncle George thought of.  Two jumpers grab a Stargate from the storage well in arm #6.  They follow us and release the Stargate directly in the path of the huge drone.  The tricky part is calculating the safe distances.  If the jumpers don’t get back inside our shields in time, they are toast.  If we are too close to the explosion, then we are all toast.”

Amelia then reported the results of her inquiry to Elysium’s computers, “The shields on Elysium can take the blast at 50kk (50,000 kilometers), but no closer.  Optimum would be 100kk.”

Dr McKay had also submitted a problem to the computer, “We need to be three million klicks from the planets to avoid harmful radiation to them.  Our optimal distance from a planet is 10 million klicks.”

Colonel Sheppard did not like this plan one bit, and gave his assessment, “This is going to be like an alcoholic trying to thread a needle in a hurricane while riding a skateboard on a bumpy sidewalk.”

Alison agreed that it would not be easy, “You will have seven tries, after that we will have to leave and come back with more Stargates or a better solution.  The calculations have to be done in the copilot’s chair of the jumpers.  Elysium will not be able to fly the jumper as a fighter pilot.  No computer has that kind of decision making skill.”

General Carter decided it was worth a try, “Colonel Sheppard and Major Hailey go.  Major Lorne and Rodney go.  Don’t take anyone else with you.  Dr Keller prepare for radiation injuries.  Alison and Elysium, take command.”  Sam realized that the best people for this mission were highly talented and skilled experts, not a scientist who loves to tinker with gadgets and go on planetary adventures.  Alison was bouncing from one console to the next, looking at the screen and pausing to think of what could go wrong.  Meanwhile she left the mission control to the best multi-tasker in the universe.

Elysium calmly started issuing instructions, “Both jumpers, you will find a round hatch halfway down arm #6 of the city.  I will open the hatch for you.  While touching the controls of the jumpers, think of grappling hooks.  They will extend from the jumpers automatically.  They will then attach to the top Stargate and pull it out of the well.  This is a standard operation of this ships function.  We used these spare Stargates to replace gates on key planets, but typically only in an emergency.  For routine upgrades we used the seeder ships.  So you will be able to pull out 7 gates before we have to go to plan B.” 

Dr Zelenka had been listening in on his way to the control room and asked a simple question, “How do we recover the Stargates that miss the drone?  If we try to come back for them we will get hit with another attack.”

Amelia smiled at Radek, and then suggested, “Good point.  We could pick them up if we were on the other side of the sun, away from the planets warning system and defenses!”

Alison looked at her and smiled, “Brilliant!  Ashley, take us around the sun and outward again.”

Dr Zelenka asked another question, “But why didn’t the drone attack us when we first arrived?”

General Carter thought about a new possibility, and had a vision of prisoners taking over a cell block and setting up a defensive barricade.  When her armband tingled, she knew she was on the right track, “The second planet is the key, and probably contains the defense warning system.  If we are going to retrieve our people from that resort on the first planet, then we need to solve this puzzle.”

Amelia realized that they had another problem, “And if they run out of gold bullion, they will all become homeless.  I’ll contact them and warn them to stop spending tourist trap money and get cheaper rooms.”  Samantha nodded OK.

Colonel Sheppard reported in, “OK, we have the gate suspended between two jumpers, and we’re trailing the ship.”

Elysium gave the next set of instructions, “At maximum range, and on the count of three, release the gate hanging between your jumpers and return to the ship at top speed.  We need to make this a practice run to test your skill and timing.  One, Two and Three.”  The jumpers dropped the gate and raced back to Elysium.  As soon as they landed on an arm of the city Elysium jumped forward at maximum sub-light thrust.

Amelia announced the results, “Guys, that was a disaster.  If the drone had hit the ring, which it missed by 13 klicks, we would have been 5 seconds too late.  However, since you were farther out than required, you could make it back in time, if you can hit the drone.”

Jennifer was sitting in the co-pilots seat of one of the jumpers, and asked, “General Carter, does Dr Jackson have any of those Alteran laser survey devices he uses on archeological digs?  And Ashley, can you shift the city so that two of the arms are outstretched in a triangle pattern perpendicular to our flight path.”

Daniel jumped into the conversation, “Sure, how many do you need?”  Ashley also responded, “No problem.”

Jennifer continued to formulate her plan, “Bring at least a dozen, we don’t have time to test each one for dead batteries, no offense Daniel.  And we could use a third jumper flying ahead and above us.”

Dr McKay interjected, “Sam, I really don’t think we need that level of accuracy.  Sheppard and Lorne can fly these…”

General Carter decided to get into this before these people spent a week arguing, “Hold it a minute Rodney and Jennifer.  Adria, can you fly a simple mission like this?” 

Adria gave her that look of people who don’t like being asked stupid questions, and asked back, “Can dogs piss on fire hydrants?”

Samantha gave her an apologetic smile and said, “OK, Adria, Daniel, Captain Scott grab the survey gear and a jumper.  Jennifer, you first, explain, and fast.”

Jennifer was calm and calculating, but also excited at the adventure she was on, “General, to thread this needle we need to be frozen in space-time, and only a computer can do that.  When Colonel Sheppard touches the controls, even with his little pinky, the ship moves a few micrometers.  At this speed that translates to being thrown off course hundreds of meters.  So, we use the laser distance finders to set up exact distances to Elysium.  Adria will program the devices, since she has more advanced talent than Rodney or I have.  Then we do a crossover with the third jumper to establish three dimensional navigational lockdown.”

General Carter then switched over to her other math wizzard, “Rodney, explain and fast…that drone is slowing down and may stop at any moment.”

Dr McKay was busy at his laptop, and didn’t like having to argue with anyone over what he had decided to do, “I’m programming the jumpers to use radio signals between the two jumpers holding the gate, to fix the distance between them, which means we only need to worry about roll, pitch and yaw…”

General Carter interrupted him, knowing that he was wrong, but his concept may prove useful in any case, “Rodney, interface with Adria and see if she can use the extra stabilizers you are creating.  Colonel Sheppard, the third jumper is on its way.  Meet outside the Stargate well.  Major Lorne, your assessment?”

Major Lorne, “The risk to the ship is too great to trust a bomber pilot like me, paired with a space jockey fighter pilot like John.  We are too far out of synch.  I would let the geeks set it up and have Elysium then use the computers and gizmos to execute everything in a single microsecond.” 

Samantha looked at Alison, who nodded agreement.  “OK, that is an excellent plan you have all come up with.  But I want a trial run with a wide margin of safety.  Amelia, keep an eye on the floating Stargate and let us know immediately how close it gets to the drone.  Then you need to extrapolate it being closer and faster.  Ashley, if the drone stops, take a short hop towards the drone and then continue flight.  Hopefully it will react like a tired watch dog and resume chasing us.  Since the jumpers will be locked onto Elysium, Ashley is the lead pilot.  Amelia, warn us if there is any obstacle ahead of Elysium that we need to detour around or blast out of the way.  Everybody report in when you have the equipment set up.  Go!”  The teams installed the laser distance finders quickly with the help of Daniel, and sure enough one out of four had a dead battery.  Out in the field Daniel replaces them when they go dead, which is no big deal inside castle ruins on a sunny day with no dragons or drones chasing you.

Amelia reported, “Ashley had to move towards the drone and fire a shot at it.  It was going too slow, and at that slow speed it might have just maneuvered around the floating Stargate.  Now it is following at high speed.”

Elysium took charge, and calmly stated, “Everyone is ready.  Commencing test run now.”  A few seconds later the results came in.

Amelia turned to Samantha and smiled as she reported the results, “And the miss is…150 meters.  Awesome!  That’s as good as a bull’s eye when we execute the plan.  We will have 5 seconds to spare if everything goes OK in the next run.” 

General Carter sent the order to the three jumpers, “Reload!  This is it!  Go!”

After a few minutes Elysium announced, “Everyone reports in ready.  I am commencing full run, now.”

Everyone in the jumpers and control room saw the explosion on the screens, in blues and yellow.  If it wasn’t so terrifying it would have been an awesome fireworks display.  Elysium had closed all windows in the city in anticipation of extreme radiation.  After the cheering died down, Samantha ordered all the jumper crews on Elysium to saddle up and find the missing Stargates.

General Carter turned to Alison and found Ashley and Chloe standing together, talking quietly.  Then Chloe announced, “Celia is in the Chair Room for now.  We need a jumper, with Adria and Jennifer as pilots.”

Alison added, “We also need Tamara and Dr Keller as medics.”

Ashley concluded with, “With Daniel and you General as civilian and military representatives.”

Chloe explained the plan a little more, since the twins tended to be somewhat cryptic with adults, assuming they immediately understood what the kids wanted, “We will take a cloaked jumper around the sun and slowly approach the second planet.  The jumper should be small enough and less threatening so as not to cause alarm or trigger the plasma drones.  We will need hiking gear to approach the settlements slowly so that we don’t startle them, and we can use medical supplies to show our peaceful intent.” 

General Carter turned command of Elysium over to Colonel Sheppard and Rodney, with instructions for a possible rescue if they didn’t return in 24 hours.  And she added Captains Scott and James with some US Marines to the crew.  When everything was ready, Adria piloted the jumper out of the control tower bay and Chloe said, “Let’s go make some new friends.”

—oOo—

The cloaked ship had no problems sneaking onto the planet.  They approached from the direction of the sun, still invisible but also mixed in with the spectrum of the sun’s radiation.  They could see that the entire planet was covered in water, except for a few islands.  It didn’t take long for everyone in the jumper to see signs of human habitation.

Jennifer was in the co-pilots seat and was excited, “Hey it looks exactly like New Zealand!  I’ll navigate from the south end and we can work our way north.” 

Adria nodded and flew the jumper to the location indicated on the display screen.  Everyone was looking out the window, but it was Adria who first saw the infrared glow up ahead.  “There is a village about 3 klicks from here.  Should we land and approach through the forest?”  Samantha nodded, and Adria set down in a clearing.  Everyone piled out, and using a remote control device, Samantha sealed up the jumper and left it cloaked.  She knew from past experience that a human guard was a dead giveaway, both for enemy troops and animals.  Body heat, human smells, movements of the guard, and food storage were all possible means of detection.  Captain Scott had the soldiers test various types of directional equipment in their pack; so they wouldn’t get lost.  Most habitable planets have a protective magnetic field, so all they had to do to calibrate their direction of travel is rotate the N on the outer ring of the special compasses the Marines had made for space travel.  Samantha looked around, nodded to Captain Scott and off they went, without a word spoken by anyone.

After a few klicks they crossed a stream, which probably meant a human settlement nearby.  Suddenly a creature almost identical to a grizzly bear reared up and roared.  One of the soldiers was about to shoot it when the twins yelled “NO”. Two of the soldiers had fired anyway, and the bear started to charge.  Adria brought her hand up, ready to send the bear flying, but Alison stepped towards the charging bear and shouted, “Uncle Bruce, you stop that right now.  This is not funny!”  At which point the bear morphed into a running human, dressed in an outfit that could only be described as very gay.  As he ran-swished up to the girls he exclaimed in joy, “It is you!  Alison and Ashley in the very flesh, although I must say I liked you better when you were dressed as boys.  Ha!  Oh, and you brought me some yummy lunch.”  The US Marines were getting a little nervous at the way the man-creature was looking at them.

Ashley put her fists on her hips and said in a stern voice, “No Uncle Bruce, you may not eat them.  Now play nice with our boy-toys.”

Uncle Bruce put his hand to his heart and exclaimed, “Well, I never.”  At which point he turned right around and started swishing away.  “Walk this way people!”

Captain Scott looked at Samantha and asked, “Do we have to?”

Samantha decided to have some fun, “Now Captain, play nice with the dragon.  I bet he fancies you for his next snack!”

Captain Scott smiled and pretended that he didn’t hear, “Everyone spread out and stay alert.  Remember, these may be the people who shot at us.”

As they entered the village they could see that the natives were at the hunter-gatherer stage.  Evidently the two planets did not have space travel, and may not even know about each other.  A dance was in progress, with a dozen girls and boys in medieval costume.  It reminded Samantha of the Georgian dancers she had once seen during a European folk festival in New York City.  Natives were playing simple instruments like flutes and drums.  When the dance was finished the costumed girls all dashed into a long communal hut to change clothes.  The twins walked right up to the hut and entered with Chloe. 

After much yelling and laughter the twins came out of the hut with two older girls who were dressed in decent but old clothes.  Captain Scott organized his team, assigning them guard duty around the perimeter of the village, looking for any sign of aggression.  After Alison introduced the girls as Amanda and Adina, Samantha asked Ashley, “Do all the twins have names starting with A?”

Ashley nodded, “We are the Alpha group.  If the genetic experiment had succeeded then the next group would be Beta and so on.”

Alison shrugged, “Over the millennia we just kept the names in case we met any Beta group twins.”

Ashley turned to the older girls and asked in a scolding way, “Now Adina, did you shoot at us?”

Adina looked a bit guilty, “Sorry, we thought you were Alterans, bringing more prisoners.  And we don’t have room for any more people.  Although I will admit, that was thousands of years ago.”

Amanda explained what had happened, “A plasma creature lives in the Sun, and he protects the planets from anybody we don’t like.  Uncle Bruce met him thousands of years ago.”

Adina:  “We also buried the gate as soon as we were exiled, so that they couldn’t drop off any more prisoners without landing.”

Amanda looked over at her dragon and smiled, “Uncle Bruce had a plan to hijack a spaceship and take us off this star-forsaken water world.”

Adina was shaking her head in sadness, “But that was so very long ago.”

Amanda then stood up straight, and said with conviction, “Alison and Ashley, we can’t go with you.  We are needed here.”

Adina: “For many centuries we have been taking care of the villages on these islands.”

Alison grinned like a cat that just ate both a mouse and a noisy bird, “Well then, we have wonderful news.  Our jailers are all dead, and we are free.”  Adina and Amanda looked at each other in shock.

Ashley added some more good news, “We can put Stargates on both planets, and people from a planet called Earth can take over caring for the villages.”

Alison pointed to the Elysium medical crew, who were now caring for the children, taking blood samples and giving them various medical field exams, “See, the doctors are already busy.”  Both Amanda and Adina squealed with joy at the sight of Tamara and Dr Keller giving exams to the children.  The older twins dashed back into their hut to pack. 

A team from Elysium arrived in a puddle-jumper and quickly dug up the Stargate.  Adria reprogrammed the gate to function normally, with no special restrictions.  She also suggested that they do the same for the other Stargates on populated planets where twins were exiled, including the planets where the first two set of twins had been found.  Samantha arranged for medics from the more advanced planet to visit all the villages on the chain of islands on World #2.  Elysium provided paper blueprints for drug production facilities; as well as training material in medicine for World #1.  Soon people began travel between the two planets.  The water world had an abundance of exotic seafood, which the industrialized world had never experienced.  Dr McKay was trying to figure out why one world had only a few huge fresh water lakes, while the other world had very little land mass and a salt water ocean.  He was thinking of using the Stargates to pump water from one world to the other.  Such are the minds of scientist and engineers.  Meanwhile the Elysium crew finished their vacation rotation on both planets.

—oOo—

The meeting was called to solve a problem they had not anticipated.  Even with seven billion people on Earth, Elysium could not find enough recruits to staff a third Atlantis class starship-city they had just found in a galaxy near Pegasus.  General Caldwell had been exploring with his Ori ships, and found the Atlantis ship covered in dust.  His crew was barely able to lift the ship off from a volcanic planet, where it was surely doomed to destruction in the next few thousand years.  Or it could have been destroyed the next day.  The ZPMs were now all dead as the ship orbited the planet.  The battery recharging room could not be found by the crew, since they did not have access to the restricted areas of the ship.  The ships A.I. would not activate and they were starting to run out of air.  And that was the good news.  So then General Caldwell had called for help.

General Carter called the meeting to order, “We should soon be arriving at the solar system where we have found a third Atlantis ship, but it’s in trouble.  I need volunteers to man the ship until we can park it in the junk yard.  We just don’t have enough people to staff another ship that size until we can recruit and train more military personnel from earth.  General Young has also found another ship and has already committed his surplus people, and here on Elysium we are about to investigate two more ships. Any ideas?”

Dr Zelenka looked at Uncle Bruce and asked a rather obvious question, “Why not just transmit the security code from here?”

Amanda answered, “Only an Alteran can active the A.I. in person, and only if they know the code.”

Samantha suddenly realized something, “Which is probably why the Elysium A.I. was not activated when the Alterans took control of this ship in the Pegasus galaxy.  They were not authorized to command the ship, and were not fully prepared to battle the Replicators.”

Amanda continued, as if she had not been interrupted, “We can transfer over to the ship, and Uncle Bruce can activate the A.I.”

Dr Zelenka: “I can go with them to check out the systems, or shut them down if we need to.”

Adina didn’t like the plan, and being slightly more mature than the younger twins, saw another problem, “But if we put it in the junk yard then someone might steal it, especially if it’s surrounded by all of the other Alteran warships and supply ships full of valuable equipment.”

Colonel Sheppard was snapping his fingers, in imitation of Rodney, “I agree.  These junk yards we are creating are going to look more tempting than the gold vault at Fort Knox, with the tanks and soldiers gone missing.  Speaking of pirates, I have an idea of how we can man the Atlantis class ship General Caldwell just found, and lots of other ships.  Let’s see.  I’ll need Celia, and…”

—oOo—

This was the third planet they had visited, and it didn’t look as if anyone was taking the bait.  Colonel Sheppard was in a tavern sipping a beer at the counter; while Amanda, Adina and their dragon were eating super.  Suddenly someone tapped on John’s shoulder, and as he turned he smiled, “Well, hello.  If it isn’t Larrin, Traveler extraordinaire.”

Larrin gave him that sweet smile of deadly intent she was so fond of, “Hello John Sheppard.”  She pulled out a stun gun and said, “Goodbye, John Sheppard.”

—oOo—

John woke to find himself in a chair, and tied up exactly as he had been not so many months ago.  He had told the twins and their dragon not to interfere in the bar planet-side if any trouble started.  He needed to find the Travelers fleet, and this was probably the only way to get aboard one of their ships.  Larrin came walking into the room and slapped him not so gently.  The guards left the room, knowing how Larrin liked to play with her prisoners.

Larrin yelled, “Liar!  You said I should come to Atlantis if I needed help.  And what do you know?  The city has just up and vanished.”

 

Larrin interrogating John.

 

John smiled at Larrin, “We really need to stop meeting like this.  People are beginning to talk.”

Larrin grabbed his cheek with her fingers and smiled as she replied, “And that’s exactly what you’re going to start doing.  Where’s Atlantis?”

Just then someone behind Larrin yelled, “Battle Stations”.  When she whipped around, ready to scold the guard for interrupting her, she was shocked to find smiling twin girls and a middle age man standing inside the doorway.  She could see through the now open doorway that her guards were running towards the room from down the corridor, but Larrin already had her gun out.  The door slammed shut in the face of the guards, and the gun in Larrin’s hand suddenly became too hot to handle.

Uncle Bruce put his fists on his hips and asked the twins, “Should I eat her now?  To be truthful, she just isn’t my type.  That macho bitch routine is just so over the top.”  While he had been speaking he had moved around to untie Colonel Sheppard.

John acted like his rescue was just a daily routine, and looked at the twins, “Kids, what’s up?  We were just starting to have some fun.”

Adina rolled her eyes, “Sorry to interrupt your Sadomasochist session.”

Amanda, “But Uncle Bruce says a fleet of small ships is approaching, ETA 5 minutes.”

Adina looked around at the room and added an insult, “And I bet this rust bucket couldn’t take a hit from a pop-gun.”

Larrin was still rubbing the slight burn on her hand as she demanded, “What are you all talking about?  And who are you and how did you get aboard my ship?”

Amanda stated what should have been obvious, “We are the twins!”

Adina pointed at Uncle Bruce, standing with his wrist tucked into his hip, “And this is our dragon!”

Larrin turned to John, “So now you’re hanging out with underage girls and the tooth fairy?”

John ordered with a serious tone, “Larrin, raise shields and get ready for a fight.  And who in the three-space of the universe did you piss off this time.  We just eliminated the Wraith, thank you very much.”

Larrin was not stupid, and as the leader of a group of nomadic space travelers, she had to be fast and merciless if her people were to survive in the Pegasus galaxy.  She yelled at the twins, “Well, open the damn door.  Come on.”  She ran out into the corridor and motioned the guards to follow the group.  She shouted orders for her ships to prepare for an assault.  As they entered the control room of her ship they could see out the observation window that a small group of vessels had just exited FTL and were starting to open fire.  Amongst the group were 5 darts from what was left of the Wraith hive ships that had abandoned them.  The rest of the ships were a hodgepodge of traders and fighters from the human planets scattered around the Pegasus galaxy.

Suddenly Uncle Bruce fell to the floor screaming.  John immediately realized that the Wraith were trying to take over the mind of the dragon, and if that happened, they were finished.

John ordered, “Larrin, jump into FTL, now!”  But he didn’t have to wait for her to respond.  The twins had already shoved the startled crew aside and hit the console buttons required to send the ship on its way.  The rest of the Travelers fleet was following, having gone through this procedure countless times in the past.

Larrin whipped around and yelled at John, “I thought you said that you defeated the Wraith?”

John patiently replied, “The hive ships are gone.  These are dart stragglers, and the other ships are probably Wraith collaborators.  That’s the good news.  The bad news is that those darts are piloted by Wraith Commanders who hunt for sport.  And if they take over the mind of that guy in the fancy clothes, then we are burnt toast.”

Adina was helping the dragon to his feet, and announced, “Uncle Bruce is OK, but the instant we come out of FLT this is going to start all over again.”

Amanda looked at Larrin and asked, “Lady Commander, do you have any sedatives that can make someone sleep during a medical operation?”

Larrin looked at the girl and realized that they probably needed to sedate this Uncle Bruce before he could do whatever it was they were worried about, “The name is Larrin, and of course we do.”  She motioned for one of the crew in the control room to go get the medic on board her ship.  “Now, where are we headed?”

John smiled, “Hopefully, right into a trap.  Only we need to spin the spider web first.”

—oOo—

General Caldwell was in the control room of the Atlantis starship-city, and had just received a call from Colonel Sheppard, with details of what was happening, “Battle Stations everyone.  We got friendlies coming in hot.  Sedna (the name of the new ships AI, meaning Goddess of the Sea) what options do we have?”

Dr Zelenka and Amelia were already at the control consoles, and Celia was running from her quarters to the Chair Room.  Elysium had dropped them all off and had continued on her own mission.  The hologram of Sedna was standing by the railing overlooking the deserted gate room.  She thought for a minute and calmly stated, “I have computed the probabilities.  The Travelers fleet is no match for the enemy pursuers.  They have too many family vessels and supply ships, and not enough war ships.  The intent of the darts is probably to extract humans from the ships with weak shields and flee.  Meanwhile the other enemy ships will seek to distract the fire of the main battle ships and do as much damage as possible.”

Amelia was thinking of the strategy of the Wraith by putting herself in their shoes, “This looks like it was intended as a raid.  If it weren’t for the early warning of the dragon they would have taken ten percent of the humans and fled.”

Dr Zelenka was indeed worried, and voiced his thoughts out loud, “Do that ten times and the Travelers are finished.”

General Caldwell touched his earpiece, “Celia, how good are you with a needle and thread?”

—oOo—

Colonel Sheppard liked the plan that General Caldwell had come up with.  He then turned to Larrin, who was still looking at the twin girls with annoyance.  She didn’t like the way they had instantly taken control of her ship.  Of course, they had gotten her fleet out of harms way, for now at least.  He thanked her for use of the radio and was trying to calm Larrin down and get her full cooperation. “OK, by using the sub-space communications between our guy and this ship, the twins can calculate an exact location at which to exit FTL.  But you have to let the twins operate the consoles.  Your people are not fast or accurate enough.  The ship at our end will have a reception ready.  Signal to your fleet to line up in single file nose to tail.  And this is critical.  When they exit FTL they are to remain in formation.”

Larrin looked at John like he was an idiot, “Are you insane.  We need to spread out like an exploding grenade when we exit FTL.  Then circle back and attack the enemy when they exit FTL after us.”

Amanda shook her head, “That is the oldest tactic in the universe.”

Adina: “And exactly what they expect you to do.”

John shook his head at Larrin and pointed a finger at her, “Tell your people to expect a ring of fire when they exit FTL, and to head straight for it, down the center, single file.”

—oOo—

General Caldwell was pacing the floor and asked for the third time, “Celia, are you ready?”

Celia Santiago, “Locked and loaded General.  I have twelve hundred drones arranged as ordered, 50kk from here, perpendicular to the ship.  If any get past my drones we can take them out from the flank with a second salvo.  This is just like that new game I bought…”

General Caldwell, “OK Celia, take a deep breath, here they come.  Wait for the darts, and ignore the rest.”

As soon as they exited FTL the Travelers fleet headed straight for the most terrifying sight they had ever witnessed.  Over a thousand drones were heading right for them, in a massive ring of fire.  One ship began to veer off, but quickly got back in line when Larrin yelled at him over the radio.  After the last of the Travelers ships passed safely through the center of the ring, they began to spread out like a flower.  The enemy ships immediately followed the Travelers out of FTL and headed straight for the ring of fire.  They panicked when they realized that they were heading straight for what had to be deadly weapons.  Only the Wraiths in the darts knew exactly what was happening, having experienced Ancient weapons thousands of years ago, and some more recently.  Before they could veer off, a thousand drones slammed into the five darts.

Celia was shouting for joy and drowning out General Caldwell’s comment about overkill.  But hey, better safe than sorry.  And those darts could outrun a drone if given a chance to reach top speed.  The Travelers fleet immediately gave chase to the enemy stragglers, taking out all but three who escaped into FTL.

—oOo—

General Caldwell greeted Larrin and her senior officer Kesla as they entered the conference room on the Atlantis starship-city now called Sedna by everyone on board.  The Sedna hologram was seated, along with the entire earth crew and the senior commanders of the Travelers.  The main Travelers battle ships had landed on the six arms of the city and the crews were allowed to visit the cafeteria to enjoy the best meal of their lives.  As dragons will do, Uncle Bruce was fast asleep in the corner, relaxing in a well-padded pink round wicker chair Uncle George had made for him.

Larrin was looking around and was the first to speak, “So John, you have moved Atlantis, but where are all the crew?”

General Caldwell interrupted her with a correction that was very important, “This is an Atlantis class ship called the Sedna, which is also the name of the ships A.I. system seated across from you.” 

Sedna smiled and said, “And since you have already met the twins and their dragon, we are ready for your commands.”

Larrin was totally confused by the statement from the hologram, “Excuse me?”

General Caldwell, “What Sedna is saying is that we would like to make you a General, under the command of the United States Air Force.  Your immediate supervisor would be General Samantha Carter.”

Larrin shook her head, “Thank you, but no.  I have to look after my people, and if the Wraith are truly gone, then we will probably start searching for a home world.”

Officer Kesla added, “But most of us will stay in space.  It is all we know.”

Colonel Sheppard smiled at the two Travelers and added, “Ah, Larrin, that was the bad news, and I know how you feel about taking commands from someone else.  The good news is that you would have independent assignments in this area of space, have access to dozens of Ancient battleships currently parked in this junkyard, and be in command of this city!”  Larrin’s mouth fell open, and the other two officers from the Traveler command looked at each other in amazement.

Amanda had already updated her mind with the ARK on Elysium, and could now add input to the conversation, as well as properly introduce herself, “This ship has a capacity of three thousand people.”

Adina, “And we will assist you in learning to use the new technology.”

Amanda, “Some of which you already know.”

Larrin was having a hard time comprehending the enormity of what she was hearing, “Let’s see if I have this right.  You are giving me an Atlantis ship, and two little girls are going to train thousands of my people in Ancient technology?”

General Caldwell had heard about the little trick the twins liked pulling on doubters, so he turned to the girls and asked, “Amanda, I forgot my treaty papers in the other room.  Could you be a doll and get them for me?”  At which point he winked at the twins.  Amanda turned towards the wall and walked right through it, returning a moment later with the papers.  Meanwhile Adina had reached out to take a pen Celia had in her hand across the table, and dropped the flying pen in front of Larrin.  They almost laughed at the look on the faces of the Travelers staff.

Larrin grabbed the pen and paper and asked, “Where do I sign?”

—oOo—

General Carter was very reluctant to give up any members of her team, which she now designated as SG1.  She had to let some people move to the other ships, and Dr Zelenka was needed on the Sedna.  Adam and Lisa were happy to resume working with General Young, and had been feeling lost amongst all the high powered members of SG1.  The real problem was the need to shift around thousands of personnel, without disrupting the ability of each ship to defend itself.  They decided to slow down the hunt for more city-ships until they could find more of the exiled twins.  They had visited one planet where twins were supposed to be located, and much to everyone’s shock there was a note, carved in stone in Ancient, by the Stargate that said ‘Moved to another planet ~ Merlin.’  The planet was totally barren, with burned tree stumps everywhere.  Evidently Merlin had not only given each dragon an amulet, but he had relocated anyone who was in danger from predictable future cosmic events, like stellar dust clouds or dying stars.

Everyone in SG1 was meeting to discuss the problem when Elysium announced that she had found more of the twins.  Uncle George had told Elysium hours ago that he had sensed not one, but two dragons up ahead.  He could more easily detect their presence because they were flying around in their dragon form and not walking around in human form.  And he had been taking a nap in his own dragon form.  Evidently this made a significant difference in talents, because dragons were better able to detect sub-space disturbances while in dragon form.  Anyway, as soon as they got close enough to the planet Uncle George took off, right through the wall of his cabin and down to the planet.  They were still going over the roster when Uncle George returned in human form, grinning from ear to ear and holding his belly like he was full.

Alison looked at him and pointed at his tummy, “You better not have eaten any of the villagers, or you’re in big trouble mister!”

Uncle George looked at Alison and smiled, “Don’t be silly, I had a wonderful feast eating my brothers.”  Dragon humor is hard to understand sometimes.  He meant that he had downloaded the memories of the other dragons, although they were nothing compared to his own.  Uncle George was still the king of the female warrior fantasy world.

Alison rolled her eyes, and Ashley asked him impatiently, “Excellent, so where are the twins?”

Uncle George looked confused, mostly because he wasn’t too bright, “Who?”  When he saw the girls looking at him with that ‘I’m gonna hit him!’ look, he said, “Oh, your brat cousins.  I have no idea.  Probably playing some prank on the local lords of the kingdom during the festival.”

Chloe looked perturbed, put her fists on her hips and commanded, “Dragon, report!”

Uncle George looked a bit put out, “Well, I was going to take a nap.  You humans are always in such a hurry.  When Merlin moved the second set of twins and dragon to this planet, the exiled kids decided to twin-swap.”  Everyone looked confused, so the Dragon looked at Daniel Jackson and pointed to him to continue.  This needed a bit of explaining, which Daniel was happy to do.  The dragon went over and sat down, hoping to take a nap in his corner chair.

Daniel looked around the room, and saw that people were truly interested in the topic, “Throughout human history, twins were a problem for any kingdom, or any wealthy family for that matter.  Civil war often erupted over who would inherit the thrown or a merchant empire.  The solution was typically to kill one of the twins at birth.  Some societies even outlawed the raising of any twins.  So most cultures ended up with an underground baby swapping system where boys were traded for girls, thus producing an amazing number of fraternal twins in the official records.”  By the time Daniel had finished his explanation, the twins and Chloe had downloaded the recent memories of Uncle George.

Chloe turned to the dragon, “OK, Uncle George, we got all of it.  You can go take a nap now, or play with the kids.”  The dragon smiled, picked up Eric and walked out.  Amanda grabbed Carmen and followed him out of the conference room.  “When the first set of twins arrived here they found an extremely violent society, constantly at war.  This was probably due to the constant influx of criminals and psychopaths, all of whom were women for this prison.  Since many of the women were pregnant when they arrived, the society grew instead of dying off as planned.  The Alterans weren’t very good prison wardens, and should have sterilized the prisoners prior to dumping them off on the planet.”

Alison: “The good news is that the children grew up in a world dominated by women, and were well cared for.”

Ashley: “The bad news is that competition for males was fierce and often led to bloodshed.”

Alison: “So to make a long story short, the women and men on this planet are now equals, in everything.”

Ashley: “And the dragons, who raise the twins each incarnation, swap one of the boys for a girl.”

Chloe: “Swapping twins is now required by law, thus preventing parents from murdering their children.”

Alison: “So we have two kingdoms that now live in peace, and for five days each year they have a festival.”

Ashley: “They reenact the wars of the past, prior to the arrival of the dragons.  The females who win any contest get to choose a new husband, and usually mate in public during the party.”  Ashley stuck her finger in her open mouth to imitate throwing up.

Daniel rolled his eyes and looked at Samantha, “A simple solution to survival of the fittest.  So, do we get to visit this festival?  I would love to see the costumes and crafts of this culture.”

Amelia came into the conference room and whispered into Samantha’s ear, after which Samantha excused herself.  The meeting continued with a suggestion from Jennifer, “General Young, the kids had fun with paint-ball at summer camp, and it’s fairly safe.”

Chloe felt her armband tingling, looked at the twins, and stated, “The younger twins, Adria, Samantha, Daniel and I will not be staying; we have something else to do.  In any case, I was thinking of General Young’s requirement of training our troops on planets.  Many of the Travelers on SG3 have not been planet side for decades, and have no idea how to defend themselves in a primitive society.  Elysium, you have the basics of what we need, what do you recommend?”

Elysium nodded in affirmation, and summarized a possible solution, “Based on the skill sets of all personnel, I have worked out transfers and new assignments for everyone.  These will need to be reviewed by Major Lorne and all senior staff.  Next, I recommend that all ships land on the lake, located an hours march from the festival grounds.  The dragons will remain on board in the event of an attack.  The twins will take turns on guard duty.  The festival is more of a sports contest, and not a battle reenactment.  What you would call a free-for-all with small teams from each village.  So to be fair to others, the twins will not use any talents not given the average human, and will not engage in any mating contests.  You have all been invited on the condition that you do not bring any lethal weapons.”

Larrin, the new commander for SG3, turned to her scientist and asked, “What is paint-ball?”

Dr Radek Zelenka perked up, since this was his favorite form of exercise, “The kids brought the game back from their summer camp, and I’ve gotten very good at it.  You fire little balls of paint instead of bullets or stun charges at the enemy.  We have been using it on SG1 and SG2 to help train the troops.  It has also proven invaluable in learning the layout of the ship, since you run for miles chasing your opponent.”

Elysium made a stern but mocking face, “Yes, and I get stuck with the task of cleaning up the mess.  In any case, we are ready to land.  Shall we engage in this festival General Young?” 

General Young looked around at the eager faces, and stood, “Let’s go make some new friends.”

—oOo—

The call was from a secure subspace link, and it was clear to Samantha that USAF Colonel Paul Davis was upset as he quickly reported the situation, “The Jaffa have kidnapped twelve SG teams, including SG1, and are holding them hostage.  They sent a letter by US Mail directly to the President.  I just got back from a meeting with the CIC, and he is freaking out that he did not know you had taken possession of Goa’uld ships.  Nobody else knows how many you have, or that a few dozen are orbiting the planet.  In any case, all that we know for certain is that the Jaffa demand that we surrender ALL Goa’uld ships and devices that don’t require a symbiote to operate, including everything in Area 51.”

Samantha had lost track of the SG teams when the President sent them off world to negotiate non-aggression treaties with the other human colonized planets in the galaxy, a project that the President had hoped would take years to complete, or at least until he was out of office.  She interrupted Paul with a question, “How did they capture all of them at once?”

Colonel Davis shook he head, “I’m sorry to tell you this, but the President ordered the Pentagon to negotiate these treaties with total transparency, which means the Jaffa were told where all of our troops were located and when they would be meeting with various representatives on Jaffa planets.  All but two of the SG teams were captured and taken to a secret location.  You have been ordered to surrender everything they requested, including the ships stolen by the Lucian Alliance.”

Samantha was stunned, and decided that keeping her opinions of the idiot in the White House to herself would be the best policy.  So she asked a rather devious question, “Exactly who did the President say I was to deliver the ships to, if we can safely assume that the hostages are not on the Jaffa home world?”

Colonel Davis smiled, and once again had to admire the devious nature of Samantha Carter, “The orders, which you should find on your secure flash-drive in your quarters, state that you are to return the property to the legitimate democratic government of the Jaffa people.  That is all that I can or should say.  Good luck and Godspeed.”

As Samantha sat looking at the blank screen she thought to herself that Colonel Paul Davis had just managed to get himself into a boat-load of trouble.  The President didn’t know that the Jaffa did not have any such government, and hopefully he would not find out until he was out of office.  The Jaffa High Council Traditionalists would never accept democracy, and the Progressives were outnumbered and outgunned.  When she returned to the conference room she found Elysium, Chloe, Adria, Alison, Ashley, Uncle George and Daniel waiting for her.  Daniel spoke up first, which was to be expected since he was probably the most curious person in the universe, “What’s up Doc?”  OK, I will admit that a cartoon rabbit could ask that question.

Samantha hit them with the news, and when she mentioned the name Vala Mal Doran, Adria jumped up; and was immediately frozen, as if in a block of ice.  The twins got up from their chairs, sat on the table facing Adria so that she could clearly see them.  The force shield they had placed around her slowly dissipated, and Alison said in a very calm voice, “Don’t ever do that again.”

Adria responded as she sat down, “I must rescue my mother, she is in grave danger.”

Chloe interceded as the twins returned to their seats, “Adria, we know that you can find Vala anywhere in any galaxy, so we need you to help us.  And I suspect that they are also setting a trap for anyone trying to rescue the SG teams.”

Adria bowed and respectfully replied, “My apologies, I sometimes find it difficult to think of the welfare of others, or use necessary caution, after living for years as a powerful god.”

Daniel smiled at her, and said in a very comical tone, “I know the feeling.”

Adria smiled back at Daniel and turned to Samantha, “We should head for Goranak immediately.”  Goranak is a planet in the Milky Way Galaxy that was once the possession of two Goa’uld System Lords, and now belonged to the Free Jaffa.

Samantha looked at Elysium and nodded.  Samantha was amazed at the power the twins had over Adria, and had been wondering what else they could do.  Daniel wasn’t the only curious person in the room.

—oOo—

Back on the planet, General Young had received the news immediately, and Samantha told him they could handle it.  More than one ship would probably set off alarms and put the hostages at risk.  Elysium would take the skeleton crew that was still on board, and on the return trip they would stop by AB#4 to pick up thousands of more trainees from Earth.  The troops that needed more training and exercise, along with nearly all the senior staff, were shuttled to a clearing a half hours walk to the ‘war zone’ of the games.  The team leaders were sent through the Stargate in jumpers so that they could learn the language of the local planet, and it gave them a chance to quickly sign in for the games.  Half the troops were assigned to each kingdom, and the teams were given starting positions at various locations in the woods.  Most of the defenders were male, while most of the attackers would be females.  Once the trumpets sounded the entire valley resounded with cheers and war cries.  The castles were clearly visible from most of the forest clearings, so nobody would get lost.

Amanda and Adina decided to team up with a group of young women, who looked exactly like what you would call Amazons.  Most of the Atlantis senior staff women were with them, dressed in the costumes for the festival.  The Amazons were considered underdogs in the contest, mostly because the older women on the planet were desperate to catch a younger man.  And the younger women had little experience in these festival battles.  After marching through the woods for an hour the girls found themselves at the edge of a clearing.  Amanda exclaimed, “Oh great, the perfect place for an ambush.”

Adina was peeking around a tree, “Yep.  The forest to the left and right are thick with brush, probably hiding the enemy.”

Amelia had been placed in charge by random drawing, and was looking through her binoculars, “Ahead are thin trees with a scattering of male troops.”

Amanda smiled at what she was seeing, “And they put the cutest guys in front.”

Adina frowned at her sister as she added, “Perfect bait for our own troops.” 

Amelia motioned for the Amazons to gather around, and asked, “What do you guys use for weapons?”

An Amazon pulled a slingshot from her backpack and a bag of eggs, “These are the eggs of chickens that are found in the forest.  We don’t eat them because we don’t know how old they are.  Some are rotten and stink up your clothes for weeks.”  The twins made a face, but let it go.

Amanda: “Ok, here’s the situation.  We have to get through that clearing and into the woods beyond.”

Amelia: “The forest on our flank is probably full of enemy troops, ready to attack as soon as we enter this side of the clearing.”

Adina: “The guys across from us have the protection of the trees, while we will be exposed.”

Amelia smiled in that devious way teen girls do when heading for trouble, “That gives me an idea.  Did any of you bring anything we could use to cut cloth?”

Another Amazon woman replied, “Knives are forbidden.  But some of us have scissors, in case we need to make bandages.”

Amelia motioned for everyone to gather around her, “OK, here is what we are going to do!”

—oOo—

John and Rodney were having a blast.  This was just like old times, walking through the woods, looking for bad guys.  Matthew and Vanessa had been put in charge of this group by random drawing.  They had marched for half an hour into the woods, and had stopped at a clearing that looked perfect.  They had sent the women in their group to the left and right, setting up an ambush for anyone trying to get to the castle located behind them.  Matthew wanted as much room as possible behind him in case they needed to fall back.  Defending a castle near the walls was stupid, since the enemy could use your own fortress as an anvil to pound you against.  And nobody was allowed inside the castle during the contest.  Jennifer was just climbing down from a tree and reported, “There’s a large group coming through the woods on the other side.  I think I spotted Amanda in the group.”

Rodney was smiling, and eager to do battle where nobody got killed, “Awesome.  Now we get to teach those brats what happens when you mess with Canadians!”

John wasn’t surprised that Rodney didn’t get along with the newest set of twins, since they had played numerous tricks on him when he was trying to figure out how a gizmo worked.  He turned to Rodney and gave him that big brother tone, “Now Rodney, let’s not get carried away.  Just because they beat you 4 out of 5 games of Spiders and Swords.”

Vanessa whispered out loud to the younger men from the villages, “OK, you guys stand near the clearing.  Make it look like you are guarding a larger group behind you.  Hopefully the enemy will head for the ambush on our flanks.  The rest of us will wait back here for the attack.”

In a few minutes the action began.  When they heard the screaming charge of the Amazons they all rushed to the edge of the clearing.  Suddenly Rodney, John and Matthew stood in shocked disbelief.  As did all the males in the group.  Vanessa was the only one to open fire on the Amazons running across the field.  But the paint-ball rifles did not have the range, not yet.  Amelia was leading a group of Atlantis men and women on the far left, while Dr Keller was charging up the far right with another group.  Each team member was carrying two rifles each, and they were firing a solid wall of paint balls at the bushes and trees on the flank, only a few feet away.  You could hear the whistles of the referees as dozens of enemy troops went down with each volley of paint and rotten eggs.

But that wasn’t the reason all the men were frozen.  Somebody had cut away the lower half of the Amazons tunics, so that the cloth barely covered their chest.  As the Amazons were running, the tunics kept flying up, exposing a most beautiful sight.  Nothing in the universe paralyzes a male faster than a pair of bouncing boobs.  And the women charging up the middle seemed to be unarmed.  Vanessa and Jennifer were yelling something, but nobody heard them.  All they could hear were the screams of awesome Amazons, running straight for them. 

Then a little voice behind the charging Amazons yelled to the women running in a line in front of her, “Ready girls, get your weapons, lock and load.”  Amanda and Adina, with all the other now unarmed troops from Atlantis were running behind the lead group, in a second wave.  The plan was to pick up any weapons from the fallen women in front and continue the charge.  They had given up their paint-ball rifles to the charging troops on the flanks, giving the flanks maximum fire power.  The leading line of Amazons reached behind them and pulled out their hidden slingshots and an egg.  Amanda had calculated the effective range of the slingshots and of the paintball-guns.  At the right distance she yelled, Fire!

Splat!  Rodney, John, Matthew and half the standing males were hit with rotten eggs.  Vanessa and Jennifer looked absolutely disgusted as they made a hasty retreat back in the direction of the castle.  The referee blew the whistle and ordered the guys to lie down.  But they were still frozen, watching the Amazon women jog up to them.  The Amazon girls knew exactly what to do.  They grabbed at the paint-ball rifles and shoved the men to the ground.  When Rodney landed on his back he suddenly found an amazing woman standing over him, feet planted to either side of his shoulders.  The view from the ground was just awesome.  If you don’t know what I mean then you are too young to be reading this book.  Very naughty indeed.  Rodney was yelling something about not playing fair, and refused to give up his rifle.  Meanwhile his brain was also recording the fact that medieval women rarely wore panties, since they couldn’t afford fancy undergarments.

John had surrendered his rifle, and was once again standing up, looking around in total embarrassment.  He saw Rodney struggling with the blonde Amazon, still refusing to surrender.  Then he looked over at the short female referee, who had to weigh at least 350 pounds.  John was thinking that the pigs on her farm ran in terror at the sight of her.  He tried to warn Rodney that the referee was coming; but he could see that Rodney was hanging on to the weapon just to keep the Amazon goddess standing above him, and bouncing around struggling for the rifle.  This is what males do.  Go figure.

John thought he might intervene, so he tried to stop the referee and asked her what the punishment was for breaking the rules.  She replied with a smile, “We sit on them until they surrender.  Then we strip them naked.”  John yelled at Rodney, but it was too late.  The giant referee pushed the Amazon goddess out of the way, hiked her skirt up a few inches and lowered herself onto Dr Meredith Rodney McKay, astrophysicist and genius extraordinaire.  Throughout the entire valley you could hear a scream of terror just before he was smothered in rolls of flesh.  And we are NOT going to discuss this any further!

Thirty minutes later Dr Keller and a group of medics with stretchers came back from the castle, with a very worried look, “We got a call that there were injured in this clearing.  What happened?”

John was sitting on a tree stump, holding his back, and Rodney was lying on the ground, unconscious and naked except for a shirt that somebody had thrown over him.  John was shaking his head, “I think I pulled my back trying to yank three hundred pounds of blubber off Rodney.  And he may have a broken nose.”

—oOo—

Elysium arrived in the Goranak system, hidden by the sun from the planet.  They slowly circled the star, fully cloaked and shielded.  Samantha had sent every pilot and copilot to the jumpers, which were now scattered in a sphere millions of miles from the planet.  They were looking for any vessels hiding amongst the other planets in the system, or behind any asteroids or moons.  They were given six hours to complete the mission.  The recon teams slowly descended to the planet Goranak, on the opposite side of the Stargate complex.  They made their way around the planet very carefully, looking for any signs of the enemy, which took three hours.  Adria guided the group to the location where she sensed her mother, and the jumpers behind them followed at a distance.  What they found was not good news.  A village had been barricaded with wood poles, like an early American fort out west of the colonies.  The perimeter outside the fort was protected with infra-red sensors, microwave scanners, radar and ground vibration sensors.  And those were the devices that they could see or detect from the jumpers.  They could also see wires strung between the larger community huts, connected to barrels of flammable liquids stacked around the sides of the buildings.  The teams backed off and landed three klicks from the town, deep in the woods.  They changed into the costumes of the locals, which had been quickly made by Elysium.  They could now pretend to be villagers on a hunting party, carrying crossbows and rope.

When the hunting party was less than a kilometer from the village, and still in the woods, they were stopped by a troop of Jaffa soldiers, who ordered them to turn back and hunt elsewhere.  They returned to the jumpers and took off, heading back exactly the way they had come.  The jumpers searching the space around the planet found three Goa’uld supply ships, hiding in the asteroid belt surrounding the sun.  The Goa’uld ships would follow the planet for a while as it rotated about the sun, and then they would park near an asteroid and wait to see if any other ships were moving in the area around the planet.  The enemy ships didn’t have cloaks, so they were mostly limited to a game of hide and seek.  During the entire recon mission everyone from Elysium had maintained radio silence.

Samantha brought all of the senior staff into the conference room and received an update.  She then stated what many of them already knew, “We can’t beam them out for a multitude of reasons.  If we have either the cloak or shields up, it will cause some interference with the Asgard device, which will result in loss of life or serious injury if we try to beam them all up at once.  And if anyone inside those buildings vanishes, then the rest will be killed.  The compound does not have a front gate, so they probably use transport rings to send in prisoners and supplies.  Getting in would be like defusing a bomb while running the hundred meter dash at the Olympics.  Any ideas?”

Uncle George sat up from his nap in the corner and said, “A wise person cuts the head off the snake before trying to steal the rattles from the tail.”  He then shut his eyes and went back to his nap. 

The twins thought about what he said for a second, then turned and looked at Chloe, waiting to see if she had any ideas based on her new powers.  They knew Chloe was still young, and may not have the wisdom from experiences spanning thousands of years interacting with humans.  But it was Daniel who came up with the plan, “Why don’t we enter the planet through the Stargate, pretending to be somebody else.  They have never seen the twins or Chloe, and the rest of us can go in disguise.  Perhaps we can negotiate with them as a third party, like the Lucian Alliance, or just cut the head off the snake.”

Samantha shook her head, “They know that the Lucians are now allies of Earth, and they want those stolen vessels as well.  What I forgot to tell you is that some of the former Lucian clans have mutinied and joined them, which is how they managed to gain so much intel.  And if we send in a team to negotiate, they will probably add us to the hostage population.  Any aggression on our part to defend ourselves will put the current hostages at risk.”  Samantha looked at the twins to make sure they understood.

Daniel brought up another point that they needed to consider, “From past experiences I would guess that this faction will probably kill them anyway, prior to launching an all out attack on Earth.  They see Earth as the only planet standing in their way for control of the entire galaxy.  We should have expected this, given the fact that the Jaffa have been engaged in war for thousands of years.”

Alison had been concentrating for a few minutes, searching her brain for a solution, and suddenly turned to Elysium, “Do you have any Truth Rods in your inventory?”

Elysium frowned when she answered, “They have been banned for over twenty five thousand years, long before you were created.”

Ashley looked directly at the hologram, “You will make twenty of them, and set them to self-destruct in thirty days, now!”

Elysium stood, and replied in a very annoyed tone, “As you wish Captain.”  She then vanished.

Samantha asked, “Girls?”

Chloe had immediately dug up her database memories and answered, since the twins were not inclined to respond, “The Truth Rods are a lie detector test.  They look like a clear glass cylinder, and when you hold them they feel warm.  If you lie they turn a color that depends on the nature and severity of the lie.  Initially they were used to speed up trials.  If you refused the test then you were found guilty and given the maximum sentence.  Otherwise your punishment was determined by the color of the rod.  The military used the device to evaluate the risk of letting prisoners of war back into society.”

Samantha nodded with agreement, since she liked the sounds of this gizmo, “And?”

Chloe continued, “Soon husbands were ordering their wives to take the test just to see if they had lewd thoughts of the pool-boy, and children lived in constant terror of their parents.”  Chloe looked at the twins and clarified the last statement, “Well, mischievous children and pranksters!”  The twins just smiled.  Chloe turned back to face the entire group and began, “So, here is our plan…”

—oOo—

The team was assembled in the gate room, and what a sight they made.  The twins were wearing a leather leash, like the kind you find on the dogs of rich people or movie stars.  They were helping Chloe pick an appropriate outfit for this mission.  Chloe first changed into a full body outfit, made of leather and solid looking cloth with leather straps.  The twins then spiced it up by removing various pieces.  Finally they settled on a black leather outfit that was assertive, sensual and definitely warlike.  Chloe waved her arm to activate the Stargate, then looked to her left and signaled to the soldier staring in amazement at the sight.  The soldier shook his head in wonder and threw a single rose through the Stargate.  At the target gate, located inside a pyramid complex, Jaffa soldiers saw the rose come through the Stargate and relaxed just a little.  They then sent a runner to get the Jaffa commander of the planet’s military contingent.  Ten seconds later the Jaffa guards witnessed two cheetahs come through the gate, followed by a thin woman in a striking uniform.  As Chloe walked forward she was followed by a retinue of a lady-in-waiting and two old bearded men, carrying what looked like gift treasure chests.  Daniel was the only one anyone might have recognized, but in his current disguise Samantha could barely tell who he was as she sent him through the Stargate.

The group said nothing as they waited for the commander to arrive, nor did the guards expect them to say anything.  When the senior officers came running into the gate room they slowed to a walk, and looked in amazement at the four adults and two large cats.  Chloe spoke exactly what the twins had rehearsed with her, although she was rather disgusted at what she was saying, “My name is Cleopatra, from the Pegasus galaxy.  Now that the Wraith are gone, we have a problem.  Our young strong men have long suffered at the hands of the feeding bugs, and now we have thousands of virgin girls with no mates, except for hundreds of old men like these two.”

The Jaffa commander was pacing back and forth, trying to figure out what in blazes was going on, “And what do you want of us?”

Chloe continued, “We have rounded up all of our young virgins, and brought them to a nearby Stargate.  In exchange for the precious gems in this chest, you will agree to send your best soldiers to impregnate our women, whether they wish it or not.  You have one day, and one day only to do this; after which you must return here.  We will remain here until this is done.  But first, each of you must pass a test.”

The Jaffa commander was now very interested in this woman, and what warrior wouldn’t be interested in sex, violence and money?  He looked at Chloe with a slight grin, thinking that perhaps he would have this girl all to himself, once he killed her guardian pets.  The he remembered that she had said something at the end, “And what test would that be?”

Daniel opened up his treasure chest and bowed as he extended the box out to Chloe.  She reached inside and removed a Truth Rod, “Take this and hold it firmly in your hand.”  The commander saw that it was a simple glass rod.  After looking at the guards to make certain they were alert, he took the glass rod and stepped back.  Chloe continued with her instructions, “Now, tell me a lie, one that is obvious to all.”

The Jaffa commander smiled and said, “My father was a monkey and my mother a chicken.”  The glass rod turned bright red, and the Jaffa commander added, “Very impressive.  So what truths do you wish from us?”

Chloe repeated exactly what Alison had suggested, “Every one of your soldiers traveling to our planet must swear the following to be true ~‘I am willing to kill everyone in my path, including women and children.  I will not hesitate to take women by force, and I despise those who are weak and helpless.’~ They must truly mean what they say.  Any inferior pansies who fail the test must remain here, the others may proceed”.  Chloe waved her hand at the Stargate and it activated, which impressed everyone in the room, some even jumping back in surprise.

The oath requirement made sense to the commander, since it would insure that the females would have strong offspring.  He immediately took the oath, and ordered the rest of his men to do the same.  When the rod turned red, or even a little pink, the soldier was sent back to guard duty.  Even the senior Jaffa civilians, especially the council members, were tested.  Many were selected, and soon hundreds of Jaffa departed through the gate, leaving the newcomers to be guarded mostly by the female Jaffa and Lucian deserters.  The Jaffa commander had ordered the civilians who failed the test to be sent to holding cells, since they could not be trusted to supervise the hostage situation with the Earth people.

As soon as the gate shut off the dragon arched his back and dozens of blue pellets of light left the heads of the female soldiers and entered the dragon.  All of the females collapsed to the floor, breathing, but still as a baby.  The dragon had transformed into his natural stuffed animal looking shape as he was doing this, and soon curled up on the floor to take a nap.  Meanwhile, the twins took their usual human form and extended an arm out to all of the remaining males in the room, who were frozen in shock.  The somewhat gentle blast of energy from Adria, Chloe and the twins knocked out the remaining guards.  Suddenly everything was still.

Chloe began issuing new orders, since nobody had counted on the troops taking the bait.  I mean really folks, how dumb can people get.  On the other hand, the bait was more than a psychopath could handle.  The orders to guard the Earth hostages had been forgotten faster than a cheating ex-wife.  Chloe turned to the others, “Adria, you and Daniel get those civilians out of lockup and bring them here.  Have them order the remaining troops in the compound to release the prisoners in the stockade and bring them here.  Girls, lets go.”  The three transformed into glowing angels of light and vanished through the ceiling.  This was done more to impress Adria with the fact that they could do what she could, and ascend to energy at will.  As soon as they left the building they simply vanished, since they didn’t want to be seen by anyone.  Adria was impressed, but not really surprised.  She suspected as much, especially since learning that the twins were over ten thousand years old.

The three popped into view of everyone inside the prison compound, disguised as SG soldiers.  The guards standing outside would not notice anything was amiss when they occasionally looked into the windows of the building.  The senior prisoner of war walked up to the three and introduced himself, “Hi, I’m Colonel Cameron Mitchell, this is Vala Mal Doran, and this is our friend Teal’c.  And who might you be?”

Alison just loved this part, “We are the twins.”

Ashley smiled, “And this is our friend Chloe from the starship Destiny.”

The mouths of all three hostages dropped open.  Not from the sight of people who suddenly appeared out of nowhere.  They had seen this sort of thing lots of times, but usually with a glowing blue light.  Their shock was the mention of Destiny. Colonel Mitchell had a puzzled look on his face and asked, “You wouldn’t happen to be the twins the Lucian deserters kept mentioning when we were interrogated?”

As the twins smiled, and did a comic routine of Who, us?, Chloe jumped in and answered, “Probably.  But we can get into that later. Do you have any injured?”  Cameron nodded and took the three over to four cots, where soldiers were resting who had been hurt in a firefight.  Chloe and the twins got to work, first examining the wounds, and then they held their hands over the wounds.  Everyone could see a glow descend from the palms of the girl’s hands and enter the body of the wounded.  In minutes the soldiers were healed and walking around.  When they heard the door to the large hut open they all turned.  The three girls erected a force shield around all of the occupants, but it was not necessary.  The guard told them that they were being released.  They were led into a secret tunnel that led all the way to the pyramid complex. 

When they arrived in the gate room they could see that Daniel was instructing the remaining Jaffa in the use of the Truth Rods, and finished with a final warning, “You must take these rods to your top level military and civilian command on all of the planets held by the Jaffa.  For those who fail the test, send them to the same address that we used here.  It is a prison planet with no exit, so they will be exiled for life.  Purge your society of all the fanatics, and put your democracy into action immediately.  Now, you must remember that these rods will self-destruct in twenty eight days, so throw them into the deepest lake you can find.”  Just as he finished, Adria came into the room, saw Vala, and said, “Hello mother!”  Vala, weak from hunger and depression, screamed and then fainted.  Luckily Daniel was nearby and caught her.

Alison looked at her sleeping dragon and exclaimed, “Great, now we need two stretchers!”

—oOo—

The orchestra from Elysium was playing the second movement of Tchaikovsky’s Serenade for Strings in the grand ballroom of the castle.  Alison and Ashley were dancing with Asgar and Alfie, all dressed in wonderful palace costumes. Occasionally they would hide behind a column or dash into a bathroom and switch costumes.  The real costumes for the other members of Atlantis had to be made by Elysium for anyone not wearing an armband of the Alterans.  John was wearing a back brace disguised as a French Revolutionary War officer’s costume.  I could continue to describe the grand ball held after the festival, but if you have seen the movie Amadeus, then you know what it is like to attend a palace ball.  I just wanted you to know that Earth isn’t the only planet that knows how to party in style.  So, let’s move on.

—oOo—

The remaining 36 sets of twins were soon found.  Unfortunately, only two more Atlantis class star-ships had been recovered so far that were in good enough shape to fly.  This gave the Atlantis Expedition six fully functional city-ships.  Parts were cannibalized from the rest, mostly to obtain rare metals and sheets of material that could be used to quickly repair damage from meteorites.  All six ships were now out looking for more property of the Alterans, and trying to stay out of trouble.  During their searching they had come across planets that were missing Stargates, mostly due to volcanic activity or massive flooding that washed the gate out to sea.  They were able to seed those planets and show the residents how to use the Stargates to resume trade.  Soon all six of the Atlantis ships were empty of spare Stargates, having used them up seeding planets.  They were tempted to travel to the outer reaches of the known universe to catch up with seeder ships, many of which were still in great shape.  But that would take too much time, and would have to wait.

On one of the planets an Atlantis class ship was occupied by a primitive race of humans, and was being used as a shelter.  General Carter ordered that a village be built for the humans, along with lessons in tool making, farming and trade.  The occupants were then evicted and the ship cleaned up.  She hated to do this, but the villagers were grateful for the new technology.  Oddly enough, none of the Ancient star-ships had any primitive tools.  On the other hand, they didn’t need any saws or hammers because they didn’t have any wood on board; or anything flammable for that matter.

The biggest problem was what to do with the derelict vessels.  None of the small vessels had worm-hole drives, and they numbered in the thousands.  Everyone agreed that the Alterans must have ascended en-mass.  Millions of Alterans vanished in a very short period of time.  This made absolutely no sense in terms of Earths myths, legends and religions.  The only solution was to send the derelict vessels to a local space junkyard in each galaxy, where they could be salvaged at a later date.

—oOo—

All of the twins had decided to meet on the Elysium ship.  Alison had discovered the sport of roller skating, and the kids were putting on new roller skates made by Elysium.  Some of the twins were adults, but had the mindset of teens.  This could be a genetic design of the Alterans meant to control the twins, or it could be a result of having a massive intellect, without corresponding challenges.  Or to put it another way, the twins were always bored and looking for trouble.

Meanwhile, Tamara was teaching Eric how to play chess.  The boy had an advanced intellect, even if he was still emotionally immature.  Carmen was watching the two, and kept reaching for the pieces.  When Eric moved his Knight in front of Tamara’s Queen, the Knight suddenly came alive and reached out to grab the chest of the Queen.  The Queen then slapped the Knight, and returned to her solid form, as did the Knight.  Tamara was stunned by what just happened, but didn’t know who had animated the chess set.  It could be a prank of the twins, or it could be something Eric or Carmen could do on their own.  She would have to ask Chloe about this.

Amanda skated into the hospital daycare center and asked Tamara if she needed help as she picked up Eric.  Then one of the cute twin boys skated in and asked her, “You ready?”  She immediately set Eric down and took off skating with the other kids.  Tamara pushed a button on her boom box CD player, and bent down to pick up the tearful Eric.  “Awe, poor baby, did she dump you?”  She thought it appropriate when she heard the music Runaround Sue by Dion on the CD player.  So she put her com-link earpiece on the boom box, tapped the control, and suddenly the entire city was filled with the music.  Soon all the kids and dragons were skating through the corridors, dancing to the classic rock-n-roll music, and some of the twins were already very good skaters.

—oOo—

Almost as soon as the music stopped Elysium appeared in front of Samantha and exclaimed, “We have a distress call from a nearby galaxy, but it is not one where we have any Stargates.  It is from a species called the Furlings.”

General Carter, “Get everyone to the conference room, but only the first three sets of twins, without dragons.  We don’t have room for the other groups of twins, with my apologies.”

Elysium smiled and reminded Sam of one of the most important abilities of the twins, “Not to worry Samantha.  They can listen in and contribute at any time through mind-speak.”

Soon everyone was seated, and Daniel immediately opened the discussion, “Elysium, we have only heard of the Furlings from the Asgard.  They are supposed to be one of the four advanced species, along with the Nox and Alterans.”

Asgar: “That is because they do not use the Stargates, and their galaxies are off limits to other human races, even though the Furlings were once the same species as we are.”

Alfie: “They prefer to use wormhole drives in their city ships, and do not travel using FTL.”

Amanda: “They are smarter than all other known races, and prefer not to travel at all.”

Adina: “They tried to merge our two species thousands of years ago on your planet Earth.”

Ashley: “But the offspring, who called himself Akhenaton, proved to be somewhat insane.”

Now they were talking about something of which Daniel was an expert.  He turned to the Earth group and explained who the Egyptian pharaoh was, “He claimed that he was the son of the Creator, and anyone who believed in him would have everlasting life.”

Tamara shook her head, “Correct me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t that Jesus?”

Daniel grabbed the computer laptop on the table and hit some keys.  Soon a series of images appeared on the main screen, “I don’t believe Jesus ever made any such claim, at least not explicitly.  The first person of legends to make the claim of being the son of a god, and of divine birth with a mortal human, was a Pharaoh called Horus, who dates back at least 5,000 years.  His mother was Isis, who was impregnated by the Creator out of compassion for her dedication to her dead husband Osiris.  This is a hieroglyph of the conception of Horus.  Then we have actual humans who made the same claim, such as Imhotep, Hatshepsut, and Amenhotem III.  Even Alexander the Great and Cleopatra VII Philopator claimed to be of divine birth.  In this hieroglyph you can see where the mother of Hatshepsut was visited by a heavenly being in a glowing light and was told that she would give birth to a daughter of the Creator.”

Tamara was persistent, “Like the angel that appeared to Mary?”

Daniel nodded, “Exactly.  Anyway, what made Akhenaton different from the other Pharaohs is he stated that you did not have to pass the many tests of Osiris to enter the gates of Heaven, as depicted in this hieroglyph.  Today we use Saint Peter instead of Osiris in this role of Heaven’s gatekeeper.  All that was required by Akhenaton is complete faith and devotion to him as the son of the Creator, and you received instant salvation, as you can see in this hieroglyph.”

Tamara shook her head, “The Pope is going to freak out when he hears about this.”

Daniel smiled at what would have been funny if it were true, and shook his head ever so slightly as he replied, “The Popes have known about this from the beginning of Christianity.  The Romans were obsessed with the Egyptians, and thought that the early Christians were Egyptian priests.  The Egyptian obelisk in St. Peter's Basilica was brought to Rome in 37 CE by Emperor Caligula and stood in his circus.  It was then moved by Pope Sixtus V in 1586 to its current location in St Peter’s Square, as you can see here on Google Maps.  It serves as a sun dial with the signs of the Zodiac in white marble disks in the paving of the Square.  Nearly everything we think of as being Christian is in fact Egyptian, like funerals, the afterlife, salvation, resurrection and judgment day.  Neither the early Christians nor ancient Egyptians believed in a burning Hell of punishment.  Instead they taught the idea of naughty people being sent into oblivion.  And lastly, after every prayer we say Amen, which is the name of the Egyptian creator god.”  After that statement, there was a long pause.

Asgar sat up straight and continued the relevant conversation, “Anyway, the son of Akhenaton proved to have multiple birth defects, and died while still a child.”

Daniel, “Yes, that would explain the hieroglyphics of Akhenaton with an elongated skull.  And the death rate in his family.  But do you mean to say that King Tut was the grandchild of a Furling?”

Alison spoke in a huffy voice, “Yes boy-toy, that’s what he just said!”  The twins did not like Daniel stealing the spot-light.

Ashley concluded with, “This is why the Earth human race does not mix with the Furling human race.”

General Carter was not surprised at what was being discussed, since she had witnessed many events that automatically rewrote the history books.  But she needed to end the lesson and get back to the problem at hand, “OK, let’s get back to the distress call.  Elysium?”

Elysium nodded and gave her report, “According to the message I received, they are under attack from a fleet of ships controlled by machines and humanoids who call themselves the Replicators.  The leader of these Replicators is Elizabeth Weir.”

Everyone but the twins started talking at once.  Samantha let it die down, and then asked a simple question, “Elysium, why would they attack the Furlings?”

Elysium paused for a moment to access her memory banks, “As of three days ago, the network of Stargates has reported a total absence of Replicators, probably due to the devastation caused by Stargate Command.  My best probability guess is that they are seeking other star systems where they are not vulnerable to our technology.  The Alterans built the Replicators specifically to battle the Wraith and none other.  It is now apparent to the Replicator humanoids that the Earth human races are very capable of destroying them.  But I have no idea why machines would attack a species that do not pose a threat to them or their creators.”

Alison explained what was happening with the ships A.I., “Elysium is not allowed to think about the insanity of machines that violate her ethical programming.”

Ashley looked at Samantha, “It would be best to ask us these questions that you have about the Replicators, who were created after we were first born.”

Daniel could not believe what he was hearing, “We thought that we had left the group of Replicators we call the Asurans out in space, harmless and frozen.”

Alison shook her head at Daniel and pointed a naughty-boy finger at him, “But according to your log, you left them near a Stargate, a wonderful source of food and energy for Replicator nanobots.”

Daniel suddenly looked very guilty, “Ooops.”

Colonel Sheppard jumped in to stop all the finger pointing, since he was also responsible for making such a dumb mistake, “OK, the milk is spilled.  How do we clean it up?”

General Carter decided what to do, and began issuing orders, “Daniel, take all the sets of twins except Alison and Ashley, and that sleeping lump in the corner.  Explain to them the hand held device that you want them to build, which they should be able to construct if they used the same ARK as Jack to download current technology into their minds.  Then have them divide up into six groups, one group on each ship.  Take McKay, Zelenka and Adam Brody with you.  Major Lorne will get you anything you need.  Have each Atlantis class ship start building those devices.  Dismissed.”  After they had left, everyone else sat down at the conference table.

Colonel Sheppard was looking more worried by the second, “Sam, this could be a trap to try and retake this ship.”

General Carter nodded, and was happy that John was on his toes, “I was thinking about that the second I heard the news.  Elysium, how can you authenticate the distress call?”

Elysium: “The message was sent out in the language of the four species, called the Elements of Creation.  And it is in code, known only to senior commanders of the four races.”

General Carter nodded, and thought that the Replicators would have to be very creative to come up with this kind of deception, “I have seen this universal language once before.  So, your assessment of the risk?”

Elysium made a suggestion that was obvious to an A.I., but not to anyone who did not know her abilities, “Perhaps you should talk to the Furlings and evaluate their behavior.”

Tamara had been studying the medical systems of the Alterans almost 24/7, and knew exactly what the A.I. was saying, “Of course.  Elysium can detect deception in nearly any species by monitoring their vital signs and behavior.”

Chloe was worried, and interrupted, “But won’t that give away our position?  All sub-space devices can be detected and traced by advanced species.”

Amelia Banks was serving tea, and was about to return to her post when she suggested, “Not if we are in FTL.  The Heisenberg uncertainty principle limits…”

General Carter tapped her fingers on the conference table, “You go girl.”  But as Amelia was about to continue to explain the law of physics, Samantha interrupted Amelia, “No, I mean GO.  Excellent idea, so get these ships on the way as soon as Major Lorne gives you the OK.  FTL speed only for now.”  Amelia grinned from ear to ear as she rushed out of the room.

Captains James and Scott came running into the conference room; hair wet and started to apologize for being late.  Samantha beat them to it, “Was it the swimming pool at the end of Pier #3 this time?”

Captain Scott looked a bit embarrassed, and stuttered, “Um, yes ma’am, the swimming pool.”  Most of the crew from Destiny took at least three long showers every day, often times in pairs.  Samantha was going to have a talk with Tamara about providing some subtle therapy for the crew.  She knew that homeless people took sponge baths in public toilets and even at McDonalds.  They rarely got to wash their clothes, and usually just threw them away after six months.  That experience can damage anyone’s sanity.  Vanessa just sat down and gave everyone that satisfied smile that only comes after a good night with a good man.  “We were listening in on the com-link.  I was thinking that perhaps we could set up a few tricks to see how they react to the twins and the dragon.”

General Carter turned to the girl from Spain, “Celia, I want you in the Chair Room.  This may take hours, so take some food and drinks with you.  Colonel Sheppard and Major Hailey, get to the jumpers and start training your troops with mock-ups of the weapons Daniel is building.  Rotate amongst the six ships and get all jumper crews ready.  Elysium, notify everyone on every ship that we may be heading towards an extremely dangerous conflict.  However, we will not put the Atlantis ships in the middle of this battle.  Not until we can fully assess the threat and return with a superior force, with fewer people at risk.  We will send the jumpers into the conflict, and only to assist our allies.”

Elysium nodded and reported, “Done.”  Amelia entered the room and announced that they were in FTL and the six groups of twins were busy making the gizmos.

General Carter decided that everything was ready, and commanded, “Girls, please wake up Rip-Van-Winkle and sit in a group.  OK, let’s figure out how to make some new friends.”

—oOo—

The creature on the screen looked somewhat human, except for the elongated skull and protruding belly.  Daniel had provided them with a picture of Akhenaton as he was portrayed in a famous work of art found in a tomb in Egypt, and the Furlings looked almost exactly the same.  Elysium was translating the transmission in real time, since only one of the Furling had ever walked through a Stargate, and that was the one at Giza, many thousands of years ago.  The Furling Commander could only see the girls and the old man, at least for now.

The Furling Commander started the discussion, “I am the Prime of the Third.  And what human race of the First might you be?  The senior race of the First has vanished, and now the Second is missing.”

Alison responded in the same style of the Furlings, “We are a small group of survivors of the senior race of the First, also known as the Alterans.  We have with us a large group of the junior race of humans, which we refer to as Earthlings.”

Ashley: “The Second, which we call the Asgard, are no more.”

Alison: “The Forth are living alone and in peace, those we call the Nox.”

Ashley smiled as she introduced herself, “We are the twins.”

Alison pointed at Uncle George and concluded the presentation, “And this is our Dragon.”

The Prime smiled ever so slightly, “Interesting.  You do realize that we received a message from the First many thousands of years ago to shoot the three of you on sight?”

Ashley put her fists on her hips and exclaimed, “Now you listen here Prime…”

Alison was pointing a finger at the Furling, “…We are responding to your call for help.”

Ashley: “And if you are going to start shooting at us…”

Alison had scrunched up her face, and let him have it, “Then you can just kiss our prime butts.”

The Prime looked away for a few seconds, as if talking to other people in his control room, “We apologize for the insult, but it was necessary in order to verify your identity.  Your ships computer is not the only A.I. in the universe capable of using such security measures.  Now, you have glanced to others in your meeting room.  Please introduce them to us.”

The camera zoomed out to include the entire conference room, and Elysium spoke first, “I am Elysium, the ships A.I., and this is General Carter of the lowest race of humans, who is in command of our fleet.”

The Furling Prime was now very amused, “Interesting.  So the monkeys have indeed taken over the zoo.  We received a message some years ago from the Second that this was so.  No insult intended ma’am.”

General Carter just rolled her eyes and shook her head, “No problem.  We are used to it by now.  And we are sorry to tell you that the Asgard were destroyed by the very same Replicators that you are fighting.”

The Furling Prime looked saddened at the news, “They were a dying race in any case.  Fortunately they all uploaded their consciousness into your ship.  So perhaps later…”

General Carter looked shocked, and asked, “What?”

Alison jumped in to explain, “Furling Commander, the General does not know that the Asgard gave them weapons technology that also includes the storage of millions of Asgard minds.”

Ashley turned to Samantha with that guilty ‘oops we forgot’ look, “We never got around to remembering all of the details yet.”

The Furling Prime looked at Alison and asked, “I would suspect that this race of humans is responsible for this invasion of our region of space by these Replicators?”

General Carter definitely looked embarrassed, “Uh, can we get back to you on that question?”

Alison decided to return to the problem at hand before they all looked like idiots, “Prime, do you wish our assistance?”

The Prime relaxed a little, satisfied that these people were not more Replicators, who had not shown any real emotion since first contact, “Indeed.  We are at something of a standstill for the moment.  The Replicators have surrounded us in a sphere, from which we can not escape.  These robots of the Replicators have boarded our ships.  However, we have internal force shields throughout the ships as part of our life support system.  The little mechanical spiders are currently limited to the flight decks, which were the easiest to infiltrate.  Currently they are literally eating our ships.”

Ashley was curious, and somewhat excited by the challenge of this problem, “Have the Replicator humanoids made any demands?”

The Furling Prime nodded ever so slightly, “Their leader, who calls herself Doctor Weir, claims that they only want five of our vessels, which are loaded with heavy metals rich in neutronium.  They are not concerned about the fact that these ships use the shielding of the metals to protect vast numbers of families in transport to a new colony.”

General Carter got back to her strategy planning, “Prime, can you give us a coordinate, starting at the point of your sub-space transmission, which is on the opposite side of a local star?  We can not locate your exact position without the use of a Stargate, so we need your help with navigation.”

The Furling Prime looked sideways and nodded, “Done.  General, I must go for now.  This transmission is gaining us too much attention from one of the Replicator ships.  Please call back when you need our updated battle report.  And thank the twins and their dragon.  Out.”

—oOo—

The six Atlantis ships all entered a wormhole and arrived at the Furlings region of space in a few hours.  Luckily the Replicators had no real concept of human time, so the battle with the Furlings could last for weeks or months.  The construction of the disruptor devices was running at full speed, but they needed to do a test.  Samantha told Elysium to go ahead and construct a tiny Replicator, but in the gate room.  This way it could be Asgard beamed into the nearby sun if the test didn’t work.  As you would expect from Alteran technology, the test was a success.

They had thought of many plans of attack, like using the Asgard plasma weapons or a massive drone attack.  But nothing would work, since it always came down to the fact that the Replicators were machines, and their speed was incredible.  The little spider robots were designed to eat a ship, so they were slow and usually harmless to humans.  But the weapons systems on Replicator ships could adapt almost instantly. 

By the time they were in position behind the destination sun (hiding the conflict raging on the other side), they had all agreed that the original plan was best.  The dragons were no use against machines, or humanoids like Dr Elizabeth Weir (PhD) who were built out of nanobots and artificial cells.  The idea was to provide enough assistance to help the Furlings escape.  This was going to be a simple rescue mission; or as simple as it gets for Stargate Command.

 

Replicator ship.

 

General Carter got on the Earth designed universal com-link to all ships, which was not powerful enough to be detected on the other side of the sun, “OK, everyone in the jumpers into your assault suits, which are only designed for work inside ships with no atmosphere.  So stay out of the sunlight.  If your suit gets punctured, return to the jumper immediately.  Your job is to land on the flight deck of the Furling ships and eliminate the robot spiders.  You will then leave the ship immediately, reload your air supply and stand by for the next assignment from the Furlings.  Once the ships are clear of spiders you will return home.  Stay cloaked and shielded at all times.  If you are attacked by a Replicator ship, bug out.  You are to maintain radio silence at all times.  You have a go, and Godspeed.”

It would have been nice to watch the jumpers take off, but as soon as they exited the shield of the starship-cities, they became invisible.  Samantha then requested General Caldwell, Daniel Jackson, Rodney, Zelenka and Colonel Sheppard to meet her in the conference room on Elysium.  These were the people who had the most experience with the Replicators.  The Elysium twins, Chloe, Adria and a few guards were already present.  The dragon was back to sleeping in the corner.  The rescue plan was working out just great, but as you would expect, it led to a total disaster.  The spiders were eliminated by the troops that landed on the Furling ships, using the hand held disruptor weapons.  Some of the jumpers had to open the hatch door while flying and fire the weapons at Replicators located on the outer hull of the flight decks.  It was easy to see where the internal force shield was located, because that is where most of the Replicators were trying to get through.  The problem is that the Replicators had more than one plan.  Suddenly Samantha realized what was happening as the Replicator ships began to take up new positions.

General Carter was terrified of what was about to happen, “Elysium, get this ship, and this ship only, to the other side of the sun. Send out a one-way broadcast to all jumpers to return to the remaining five ships.  Damn, I forgot the Replicator machines always destroy what they can’t have.  Damn, damn, damn.  Celia, are you ready?  Fire up the Asgard plasma weapon.  Forget about drones for now.”

Daniel was shaking his head, “Sam, I don’t think they’re going to scare off so easily.  The Asgard had little success with that weapon against the bigger Replicator ships.”

General Caldwell added his thoughts, “If I’m thinking like a machine, and if I can’t see my attacker, then I will send everybody in a search grid until I can pin down the location using more sensitive sensors.  And then I would send everything I have to that location and eliminate the enemy.”

General Carter nodded, “Exactly.  If we can draw enough of them off, then the Furlings can escape through a hole in the sphere of Replicator ships.  We should be able to escape through a wormhole, and hope they can’t follow us.”

Colonel Sheppard looked around the room, “Uh, folks, suicide missions are terrible for my digestion.  Couldn’t we think of something else?”

Suddenly Ashley went flying across the table on her knees and grabbed Samantha’s face with both hands.  “You must trust me, I have a plan.  But there is no time to explain.”  Samantha tried to speak, but her mouth was squished together by Ashley’s hands, so she just nodded.  For everyone’s benefit, Ashley spoke out loud, “Alison, you take care of the Stargate.”  Alison ran to the Stargate control console and placed her hand on the area everyone thought was for identity check.  What she was doing was programming the Stargate.  Unlike the other gates that could be programmed with simple thoughts, this newer version was very complex, and required overrides and subroutines for what she needed to do.  Those damn Alterans had gotten paranoid with so much conflict in the Pegasus galaxy.

Ashley had already jumped up and yelled at the sleeping lump in the corner, “Pet, get some tea, now!”  The dragon woke up and ran out of the room.

Chloe was in motion, and turned to Dr McKay, who had just returned from the labs with a pile of strange looking objects in a cart, “Rodney and John, grab two of those weapons, activate them and put them down next to the Stargate.  General Caldwell, take one of the weapons and stay up here, out of sight.”

Adria was now able to take commands from the twins using mind-speak.  She had run down to the gate room and was getting things set up as she yelled, “You soldiers, stand next to the Stargate, to either side.  On my order throw those weapons into the Stargate when it is activated.  You soldier, move that Alteran camcorder and point it away from the Stargate.  Keep it over here.” 

Ashley yelled at the ships A.I., “Elysium, use only the camcorder to communicate with the Replicators on our order.”

Chloe yelled up at the control room, “Amelia, lower the gate shield now!  On my order of One, hit the deactivate button, and then immediately hit the dial-back-activate button for the Stargate.  Then on my order of Two hit the deactivate button and raise the gate shield.” 

Amelia shouted back, ‘Roger.

Uncle George came flying down the corridor with a tray of tea and passed out the cups and saucers to everyone now standing in the gate room.  Ashley yelled out at the room, “Smiles everyone; quiet on the set.”  That got a laugh around the room, which is just what they needed.  Ashley looked around to make certain that everyone was relaxing and looked like they were out for a stroll in the park.  Ashley patiently told people to relax and smile.  Alison had finished programming the Stargate and ran down to join Ashley.

Adria motioned everyone into position within the viewfinder of the Ancient camcorder device, “General, salutations to your long lost friend.  Elysium, hit it.”  The A.I. sent out a broadcast to the Replicator ships, and received an immediate reply.  The large screen in the gate room lit up; and standing in the middle of a group of ‘people’ was a humanoid that looked exactly like Dr Weir. 

Adria had moved the Ancient camcorder device underneath the screen, pointing at Samantha and the twins.  General Carter spoke first, “Doctor Weir, how wonderful to see you.  We heard that you were in the neighborhood, so we stopped by.”

Dr Weir showed little emotion, and pretended to smile, even though her eyes were cold, “Well, hello Samantha, Rodney, John.  Did I miss tea time?  On Atlantis no less.  And who are the children?”

General Carter turned to the twins and started to reply, “Why, these are the…”

Alison interrupted Samantha, “My name is Liz.”

Ashley smiled hello and finished with, “And my name is Beth.”

The Dr Weir humanoid raised her eyebrows in imitation of human surprise, “So, I must have been frozen in space longer than I thought.  Samantha, I am honored, truly I am.  Naming your beautiful children after me.”

Ashley gave her that innocent kid’s smile, hiding her deadly intent, “We have been dying to see you since we heard you were alive.”

General Carter moved the discussion forward to the next level, “Would you believe that we found a recharging room on this ship, with 60 ZPMs.  And the Asgard gave us all of their advanced technology.”  At that news all the people next to Dr Weir moved their heads and looked at each other, in that mechanical way of robots.  OK, the bait was set.  The Wraith and the Replicators did not have the recharging device for the ZPMs.  They stole what they needed from Ancient ships and cities, and used them up till they ran dry.  This is what Earth had also been doing.

Alison added in that innocent voice that she rarely had a chance to use, “Mom says that you probably have a Stargate on your ship.”

Ashley just gushed with fake childish excitement, “And you must have remembered our gate address, so why don’t you come over and visit?”

Alison imitated her sister, “And as soon as you arrive, why don’t I come over and see your ship?  I just love to visit other places and see cool stuff.”  She was offering herself as a hostage, an offer that the Replicators could not refuse.

Dr Weir turned to the ‘people’ next to her, and without saying a word, seemed to give them instructions, “Why, my friend and I would be glad to dear.  And my other companions here can watch how civilized humans greet their long lost friends.”  Message received, loud and clear.  If you try anything we will attack and destroy.  The gate activated and in a few seconds only Dr Weir walked through the Stargate and over to Samantha.

Chloe yelled up at the control room, “Amelia, One now.”  The gate shut off and then activated with an outgoing wormhole; right back to the Replicator ship.

Adria pointed to the soldiers next to the Stargate, holding the disruptors, “Soldiers, now!”  They tossed the devices through the shimmering gate and stepped back.

Chloe again yelled up to the control room, “Amelia, Two NOW”.  The gate shut off and everything went quiet.  General Caldwell had run over to the railing and was firing the disruptor weapon at Dr Weir, but nothing was happening.  The twins had walked over to Dr Weir and held onto her hands, talking to her in gentle voices.  Dr Jackson was watching the screen, and shouted for everyone to look.  The disruptors were doing the job.  The humanoids were dissolving, from the left of the screen to the right.  Then the entire ship began to dissolve.  Suddenly the screen went blank and everyone cheered.

General Carter yelled over the cheering, “Celia, open fire at any enemy target of opportunity.  And have the ship jump around after each shot.”

Celia Santiago yelled back, “Yea baby, Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robots, you gonna die tonight.”  Samantha thought she better have a talk with that girl, and very soon.  But in a few minutes Amelia reported that the Replicator fleet had begun a retreat.  Even robots understood defeat, and the need to survive to fight another day.

Samantha had completely forgotten about Dr Weir, and had assumed that she had been blasted by Steven.  But as Sam turned around, there she was, holding hands with the two girls, a bit confused.  Adria had tried to blast Dr Weir, but her energy force just bounced off the woman who was standing between the twins.  It then occurred to her that the twins were protecting this somewhat dazed woman.  The girls looked annoyed but appreciative at the same time.  So, Adria was ready to protect them, and had also learned again that her powers were no match for the girls.  Sam thought that this was getting very interesting.

Ashley turned to Samantha and announced, “General Carter, we have made a new friend.”

Alison added, “Who has just returned from a conference with the I.O.A. at Stargate Command, on Earth.”

—oOo—

The Furlings had left the scene of the battle, without saying a word.  Then again, they probably would have said “Thanks for helping to get these bugs off of us; the same bugs that you just threw at us in the first place!  Damn monkeys.”  Oh well, you win some friends and you lose some friends.  Such is life.

Samantha had called a meeting, attended by Dr McKay, Colonel Sheppard, twins #1, Uncle George, Tamara, Daniel and Dr Weir.  The medical doctors, including McKay and Zelenka, had given Elizabeth a clean bill of health.  No nanobots were present, and all her physiology was in the right location, emitting the correct energies and wave lengths.  General Caldwell was not entirely convinced, but he had returned to his ship and they were all on their way to the Milky Way galaxy, home of Earth and other ‘monkey’ planets.  The meeting was limited to those with a need-to-know; and friends of Dr Elizabeth Weir.

General Carter turned to Alison and stated in the tone moms use, “OK girls, that story about Dr Weir arriving from another reality isn’t gonna cut it.”

Alison perked up and tried another one, “Uh, would you believe we went back in time and nabbed her?”

Daniel turned to the twins and gave them that annoyed but humorous look, “Perhaps you kids should not watch so many TV episodes of Get Smart.”

Ashley raised her eyebrows and asked, “Are you sure that you want to hear the truth?”  Everyone nodded, especially Dr Weir.

Alison began the lecture, “You remember that Anubis was a master at programming the Stargate?”  Samantha nodded.

Ashley looked around the conference table, “And that after he created a model of his clone soldier, he used the Stargate to create copies.”  They all shook their heads no.  They thought the clones were manufactured in a lab or assembly line.

Alison was getting into the campfire horror story routine, “First, he sent the prototype clone through a Stargate.  We know this from the scheduled data transmission update that gets sent to all Ancient vessels, including Elysium while she was in shut down mode, under water.”  Again they shook their heads no, they had not heard about that either.  But it did make sense.  Why create a network if it wasn’t going to report back data?

Ashley kept up the summer camp story telling routine, “Then he sent prisoners through the same gate, each of them carrying raw minerals in a box.”

Dr McKay interrupted, mostly because he couldn’t help himself, “Conservation of mass.  They had all the elements needed to create a copy of the original, including the advanced armor.  But that would have killed all the prisoners, since the clones were totally different in physiology.”

Alison was annoyed at the interruption, and was tempted to place a force shield around his mouth, “The soldiers were a sub-set of human organic material, with the excess atoms flushed out the Stargate with the clones.”

Dr Weir exclaimed, “So you’re saying that I’m a copy of the Replicator humanoid?”

Ashley smiled at the shock, which was fun to see on adults when telling a story, “No, you are Dr Weir, who was attending a meeting on Earth.”

Alison clarified the issue a bit, “The Replicator version has been destroyed, with no two atoms connected, bonded or arranged in any order.”

General Carter: “Now I’m totally confused.  So you did not alter the DNA of the ‘flesh and blood’ of Dr Weir.  And you did not convert the nanobots or other infections of the person coming through the Stargate, as you did with the Wraith or Chloe?”

Daniel was getting annoyed, simply because he couldn’t figure it out either, “And clearly Dr Weir does not remember anything of her being captured or constructed by the Replicators.”

Tamara figured it out and exclaimed, “The memory buffer!”

Ashley nodded with satisfaction, “The Empress is correct.”  Tamara gave the twins a mean look, and they just smiled back.

Alison turned to her sister, “Her learning curve is coming along just fine.”

Ashley joked back at her, “Soon she will be out of diapers and fully potty trained.”

Elysium decided to intervene before these two annoyed everyone, “OK you two, let her explain.”

Tamara pretended to ignore them, “The Stargate on Elysium keeps our wormhole wave pattern stored in a huge memory device deep in the heart of the ship instead of using the buffer within the gate itself, much like the Asgard memory modules that stores their consciousness.  The twins programmed the gate to use the atoms in the two bodies in the incoming wormhole to build the single body of the Dr Weir pattern stored in the ship.  They used the version of Dr Weir that passed through the gate prior to her physical experience with the Replicators.”

Colonel Sheppard was smiling with complete understanding, “So this truly is our friend, Dr Weir.”

Alison turned to John and grinned, “And now she’s our friend!”

General Carter looked at Dr Weir and got in a joke of her own, “Which could be a good thing; or a bad thing.”  She smiled at the twins, who pretended to be insulted.

Suddenly Uncle George woke up, looked at Dr Weir and asked the twins, “Can I eat her now?”

Alison rolled her eyes and Ashley dropped her head on the table and moaned, “No pet.  Go play with the kids.”  At which point he smiled and rushed out of the room.

 

Descended Beings

 

General Carter entered the conference room and motioned the military personnel to be seated, “Thank you all for coming to this meeting.  We do not have enough room here for the entire senior staff and consultants of all six ships.  So I am using video conferencing to all Atlantis city-ships.  A few of the people here are holograms, including a representative from the Lucian Alliance, the Tok’ra and the Nueva Vida.  Most of you have taken the time to read our rather massive status report...”  Sam then looked at Colonel Sheppard, “…and for those of you who are still working their way through the audio tapes, I will quickly summarize...”

Chloe suddenly jumped up and interrupted, “Excuse me Samantha, but we have to go!”  Chloe, all of the twins and every dragon, on every ship, just vanished.

Tamara explained, “Not to worry, they have a situation brewing that should not concern us.  It’s a sub-space thing I don’t fully understand yet.  Samantha, please continue.”

—oOo—

The twins and dragons were assembled in an empty grey room with no walls, just an infinite void of grey that faded to black.  Alison grabbed Ashley’s hand and began, “If no one objects, we will assume the role of Speaker, and Chloe can moderate.  Agreed?”  Everyone in the circle of 36 sets of twins nodded in agreement.  “Good.  Alfie, what has happened?”

Alfie quickly gave his report, “Our shift at guard duty led us to a planet where somebody was building another interface to the Ori.”  The group had decided weeks ago to rotate the 36 sets of twins to performing guard duty, which is something the Alterans used to do so many thousands of years ago.  They would monitor all sub-space activity, check out the Stargate network data and send out commands to robots to investigate anything that could possibly be a threat.  They decided to limit the galaxies under surveillance to those with a history of trouble; otherwise they could be overwhelmed with data.

Asgar continued his report, “We took one of the Ori ships and landed on the planet.”

Alfie: “We destroyed the equipment, and JoanArc stole the soles of every male adult in the village.”

Asgar: “They will not have any memory of what they were doing, and will recover quickly.”