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Thursday, February 21st, 2013 11:11 pm
My thanks to the 23 authors who made Allies Alphabet Soup a reality: 11am_street, Campylobacter, Colls, Cowardly Lion, Delphia, Dennydj, Eilidh, Elder Bonnie, Fig Newton, Gategremlyn, Greenbirds, Ivorygates, Jedibuttercup, Lokei, Magistrate, Rinkafic, Roeskva, Sid, Skieswideopen, Splash the Cat, Thothmes, Traycer, and Wonderland. An extra warm welcome to our new Soup cooks, Cowardly Lion and Dennydj, and special thanks to the seasoned chefs who keep coming back for more -- especially Sid and Eilidh, who gave us two servings each!

Enjoy over 23,000 words of Allies Alphabet Soup! Ratings range from G to PG-13, with spoilers throughout the series. Allies referenced here include Thor and the Asgard, various Jaffa (including the Sodan), various Tok'ra, the Ancients, the Tollan, Lya, the Land of Light, Madrona, Byrsa, Langara, Alaris, Edora, Colonel Chekov and other Russians, Harry Maybourne, Malikai, Martin Lloyd, and even the Furlings! As an extra treat, Eilidh (who wrote two letters) included artwork for her stories. Click on the images to view them in full size.

At the end of each fic, you will find a link to the author's own entry. Readers are encouraged to leave feedback for the authors in their respective journals.

A is for Allies
by [personal profile] roeskva

* denotes host/symbiote internal communication

"You were trespassing on my domain!" the Goa'uld on the throne exclaimed, angrily. He glared at the four people kneeling in front of him, his First Prime standing beside them with a painstick in his hand.

The Goa'uld on the throne was a youngish looking man, with short, dark hair, and piercing black eyes. His face was regular, and he was quite handsome, even though his cold expression detracted some from his appeal. He was dressed in the Egyptian style, as was another man - probably also a Goa'uld - standing a few steps behind him. That man's fiery red hair and green eyes made him look oddly out of place, though the lack of a cynical expression did that in any case. His look was more blank than evil.

"Sorry," O'Neill said, not looking like he meant it. "Didn't know it was yours. Maybe you should put up a sign? Who are you, by the way?"

"Insolence! I am Lord Hu! How can you not know my greatness?" He motioned at the nearest Jaffa, who gave O'Neill a hard blow on the shoulder, making him cry out and fall forward. Hu smirked. "Of course, the Tau'ri, know little of what happens in the Galaxy. SG-1! Yes, I recognize you! Heru'ur shall be most pleased with me when I present you as my gift!"

O'Neill picked himself up from the floor, and looked at the Goa'uld. "Huh? Really? That's your name?"

"That is enough!" Hu roared, furious over the insulting way O'Neill was behaving. "You will tell me why you are here, and then Heru'ur shall get you. You are going to regret your insolent behaviour, human!" He turned to his Jaffa. "Kree! Show the human what happens when you disobey your god!"

The Jaffa immediately jammed a painstick against O'Neill's neck, causing him to fall forward again, and the light to shine strongly from his mouth and eyes.

Before the interrogation could continue, a nervous man entered the room, bowing very deeply. "I... I apologize, my Lord, but you have a visitor. He is most insistent."

Hu looked at the man with such anger, that the already nervous man paled and seemed close to fainting. Hu turned to the man standing behind him. "Thopar. Handle it."

"At once, my Lord." The underling bowed and left.

***


Thopar stepped back into the throne room and observed the scene before him for a few moments, frowning slightly. Hu was still interrogating the prisoners, alternating between using his ribbon device and letting his Jaffa use their painsticks on them. It did not seem like they were giving Hu any information, or perhaps he was not really interested in any.

The young Goa'uld walked up to his master, again giving the Jaffa and prisoners the briefest of glances, before bowing in front of Hu. "My Lord, I regret to interrupt you, but your presence elsewhere is required. A messenger from Heru'ur has just arrived."

"Now?" Hu exclaimed, turning angrily. "While I am amusing myself? Why can you not handle this?"

"I apologize, my Lord, but he insists the information can only be given directly to you. I felt it... pertinent, that we do not let Heru'ur's messenger wait. Not after... the unfortunate accident at Heru'ur's palace last month."

Hu glared at him for a moment longer, then sighed. "You are correct, Thopar." He gave his prisoners a look of regret. "I will continue this later, perhaps. Have them placed in a holding cell, then inform the cook that he had better prepare a perfect dinner tonight..."

"Of course, my Lord." Thopar bowed deeply.

***


O'Neill straightened, trying to find a position that did not hurt as much. It did not seem possible. He groaned. "Tell me again, why did we go to this damn planet?"

"The 'shady character' as you called him, at the market place on P3R-325, claimed that it had been abandoned by the Goa'uld, despite there still being naquadah left in the mines," Teal'c reminded him, surfacing briefly from his kel'no'reem.

"Made us pay him a good price in gold, too." O'Neill grumbled. "Any luck?" he called to Sam, who was fiddling with the lock on the door.

"No, sir, not yet." She grimaced as a too fast movement caused the pain and nausea to return. Side-effects of torture with the ribbon-device, she knew.

"Meaning we're stuck! It's only a matter of time before the Goa'uld finishes talking with that messenger, and then he'll probably go right back to torturing us," Daniel observed morosely, not opening his eyes. He was lying on the only bench in the room, moving as little as possible.

"I don't think so. It sounded like it'll be some time... maybe even until tomorrow," Sam said. "It should give us time to heal up. Mostly, anyway."

"Yeah, why didn't they throw us in the sarcophagus? Don't they usually do that?" O'Neill asked.

"Not always. The Goa'uld sometimes use this a way of wearing down their prisoner's resistance, making them more likely to talk," Teal'c told them. "Besides, our injuries are not severe."

O'Neill snorted. "Not severe! Tell that to my neck - or my shoulder! Actually, just about any part of my body!"

"Teal'c is right, sir. We're sore and uncomfortable, but we've got no life-threatening injuries." Sam sighed, frustrated. "I can't get this door opened!"

"I refuse to die at the hands of a Goa'uld called something as stupid as 'Hu'!" O'Neill exclaimed.

"We won't - he's going to give us to Heru'ur, remember?" Daniel said. "Not that it matters. We're dead anyway."

"Maybe not..." Sam frowned. "I'm almost certain the underling - Thopar - is a Tok'ra."

"A Tok'ra? Why hasn't he done anything, then?" O'Neill scoffed. "He just let Hu torture us, for Christ's sake!"

"Maybe he couldn't do anything immediately, not without getting his cover blown," Sam suggested. "Wouldn't do us much good if he just got himself locked up too."

"Or maybe he hasn't been told we're friends of the Tok'ra?" Daniel said.

"I guess that's possible." Sam admitted. "I don't know how often they keep their undercover operatives updated, or even if it's something they'll deem important enough to tell them."

"Hrmph," O'Neill said. "We'll see, I guess."

***


Thopar - or Porwin, as his real name was - hurried to his quarters as soon as he had given the order to have the prisoners thrown into a holding cell.

*They were badly injured. Perhaps we should have had them sent to the sarcophagus first,* Jihlen sounded worried.

*If I had done so without Hu's explicit order, I would have angered him, perhaps even arosen his suspicion. We cannot afford that. You know how important our work here is. Hu may be a minor Goa'uld, but he is Heru'ur's ally, and that means he gets invited to all major meetings, and celebrations. As his loyal underling, he usually brings me as well,* Porwin told his host. *Besides, their injuries were not that severe. Even the humans will heal on their own. The sarcophagus is not a thing to use lightly.*

*They are friends of the Tok'ra. Our... allies. The are even the team known as SG-1, the ones who made contact with the Tok'ra.*

*Yes, and that is why we will take the risk and contact our base. Hopefully, Hu will go through with his plan to send the prisoners as a gift to Heru'ur - that will give some of our people the opportunity to save them. I feel fairly confident Hu will do as we expect.*

*Perhaps. In any case... do you really think the Council will agree to send a rescue team?*

*Probably. I believe Garshaw has become quite convinced of the importance that we cooperate with the Tau'ri. Also, Selmak's new host is Tau'ri, so she will vote in favour as well. Of course, there is also the fact that Jolinar's former host, Captain Samantha Carter, is among the prisoners. She holds much information which could endanger the Tok'ra, were the Goa'uld to access it.* Porwin opened the door to his quarters, and went inside, closing it after him, then locking it.

He methodically went through all the rooms and closets, checking everywhere that no one was there. When he was certain they were alone, he pushed his bed a little bit out from the wall, and opened a panel on the back.

*It is incredibly dangerous to allow this Samantha Carter to go on missions without a symbiote. Why do the Council permit it?* Jihlen complained. *What if she has all of Jolinar's memories? Then she would know the placement of a great many of our operatives and location of several bases and outposts. There are much which has not changed since before Jolinar died!*

*We cannot force Samantha Carter to refrain from going on missions, and we obviously cannot force her to become a host!* Porwin pulled a small transmission device from the hidden room, sounding tense. *Sorry, I know that is not what you meant.* He 'hugged' his host and took a deep breath. *Being undercover is wearying. Seeing the Goa'uld mistreat their slaves and prisoners, are even more so. So many suffers, and we can do little or nothing!* He took a deep breath, and let it out slowly, letting the frustration drain with it.

Jihlen 'hugged' him back. *We are doing something now. Maybe, together, one day the Tok'ra and the Tau'ri will see the fall of the Goa'uld System Lords.*

*That will be a wonderful day indeed!* Porwin went to the door and listened. All was quiet.

*Even if the Council decides in favour of a mission to retrieve the Tau'ri and the Jaffa prisoners, someone will have to agree to take on that mission. The Council would not make such an endeavour an order. Our association with the Tau'ri is not yet that strong,* Jihlen considered it for a moment. *Perhaps Selmak will go? Since her host's daughter is one of the prisoners.*

*Selmak is a member of the Council. She will likely not be permitted to go on such a dangerous mission. Not so soon after getting a new, untried host.*

*Maybe Jolinar's mate will volunteer, then? Since Jolinar is partially responsible for any danger to the Tok'ra, given that she took an unwilling host.*

Porwin sighed. He understood his host. Many of the Tok'ra shared his outrage at what Jolinar had done.

"Jolinar is dead - and she could not have foreseen what would happen as a result of one rash decision - however much against the law of the Tok'ra it was. As for Lantash, he is not at fault for what his mate did, but knowing how passionate he is about Tok'ra principles, he may still feel it is his responsibility.* Porwin sighed again. *Regardless, it will soon be out of our hands. Please, be silent while I record and encode the message. As you know, I have some transmissions I need to send for Hu very soon. I am hoping to hide this message inside that signal.*

***


"Move, human!" the Jaffa shouted, pushing Daniel in the back with his staff weapon.

He stumbled, and would have fallen if Sam had not steadied him.

They were walking along the road to the Stargate, on the way to being handed over as a gift to Heru'ur. Hu apparently wanted to use them to ingratiate himself with the other Goa'uld.

Ahead of them was a dense forest, with the path meandering through it. It was not a very wide road, but since it was not overgrown at all, it was probably reasonably well travelled. Probably it was mainly used by Jaffa travelling to and from the Stargate, perhaps escorting slaves that brought food and other supplies to Hu's palace.

***


"This looks like a good place for an ambush," Lantash observed, indicating the dense shrubbery and the thick foliage of the trees.

"I agree," Tiana said, after studying the terrain for a few moments. "The Jaffa should not be able to see us from here." She turned and looked back the way they had come. "The chaapa'ai is somewhat further away than what I would prefer, though. We would have to move swiftly to make our escape after rescuing SG-1."

"How certain are we that they will even be taken this way?" Aldwin asked.

"Fairly certain," Lantash said. "According to Porwin, Hu would probably present SG-1 to Heru'ur, as a gift. He apparently needs to increase his standing after accidentally killing Heru'ur's favourite hunting falcon."

"And they are unlikely to be taken there by ship, so since this is the only road to the chaapa'ai, they will pass by here," Tiana added.

Aldwin nodded. "That makes sense. Do we have any estimate on when?"

Lantash shook his head. "No. Hopefully soon, since later probably means Hu wishes to torture his prisoners for information before handing them over." He looked up at the Sun which could be seen straight over their heads - the only position where it could actually be seen from inside this dark forest. "We shall just have to wait and see."

***


This part of the road went through fairly dense forest, and just when the guards and the prisoners turned a bend, the lead Jaffa was suddenly hit by a zat'nik'tel shot. Chaos erupted, but before the Jaffa had time to get their bearings, three more of them had collapsed to the ground. Six Jaffa were still standing, confusedly looking around, but with their staff weapons at the ready, trying to determine where the attackers were located.

The members of SG-1 took advantage of their guards apparently having forgotten about them, and the fact that only their feet were chained together.

Teal'c grabbed a knife from the nearest Jaffa, and cut his throat, killing him before anyone could stop him. Meanwhile, O'Neill and Sam had each snatched a zat'nik'tel from a Jaffa, and shot one enemy each. Another volley of zat'nik'tel shots came from the dense trees beside the path, felling the last three Jaffa.

Seeing that all the Jaffa were down - and dead or unconscious, Lantash and the other Tok'ra crawled down from the tree tops where they had been sitting.

Lantash gave control to Martouf. Not wanting to risk getting shot at, he called out to SG-1. "Do not shoot. We are Tok'ra." He stepped out onto the road.

"Martouf," Sam exclaimed, surprised, but pleased.

"Marty! Good to see you!" O'Neill grinned. "Thanks for..." He waved his hand, indicating the Jaffa on the ground. "This..."

Martouf smiled. "You are quite welcome." He indicated his companions. "These are Aldwin and Tiana."

"Hello," Aldwin said, making the small Tok'ra half-bow in greeting.

Tiana did as Aldwin. "Greetings."

"Hi, guys!" O'Neill nodded at them.

Martouf went to the Jaffa leader, and searched him, quickly locating his keys. While the other Tok'ra disarmed the Jaffa, who were starting to wake up, Martouf quickly worked at unlocking the foot chains that held the members of SG-1 locked together.

"We should move quickly. It will not be long before the Jaffa are back on their feet," Martouf warned.

"Perhaps we could zat them again?" O'Neill suggested.

"Wouldn't that kill them?" Daniel asked.

"It very well may. The time which has passed since the previous zat'nik'tel shot is, perhaps, not quite long enough. Shooting them again may risk killing some of them," Martouf answered, removing the last of the chains.

"I honestly can't say that's something that's concerning me much right now!" O'Neill exclaimed, thinking of how the Jaffa had kept pushing and hitting him and the others, when they did not move fast enough.

"We also cannot risk the Jaffa raising the alarm," Martouf said, somewhat apologetically. "We must simply hope enough time has passed to allow them to live." He fired at one of the Jaffa who were already sitting up. "We should leave." He shot two more Jaffa that had woken up, and O'Neill shot a fourth, then SG-1 and the Tok'ra all ran in the direction of the Stargate.

"We don't have a GDO," Sam said observed.

"It is of no concern. The Tok'ra have one, so we will got to our base," Martouf said, as he quickly dialled the address to a stopover world.

"Jaffa!" Tiana suddenly called out, shooting at the approaching enemy with one of the staff weapons they had taken from the Jaffa.

They all quickly crouched down behind what large rocks they could find, or dove for bushes, activating their staff weapons - unfamiliar as these were to some of them.

The firefight was as violent as it was brief, and mere minutes later all the attacking Jaffa lay dead or badly wounded on the ground.

"Everyone okay?" O'Neill asked, getting up from where he had taken cover behind a fairly large rock.

"I think so..." Sam said, looking around, seeing Daniel, Teal'c, Martouf/Lantash, and Tiana getting up.

"Aldwin is down!" Martouf exclaimed, hurrying to the other Tok'ra's side. He kneeled beside him, holding his hand over Aldwin's head, as the Tok'ra usually did when checking on the energy signature and strength of the symbiote.

"How is he?" Sam asked, worried.

She and Daniel joined Martouf. Tiana, O'Neill, and Teal'c kept guard while the others checked on Aldwin.

"He was hit in the back, just under the left shoulder," Martouf told her. "Gerim will be able to heal it, but it would be better if we could get back to our base quickly."

Martouf redialled the Stargate, and then he and Sam carefully lifted up the still unconscious Aldwin. They hurried through the wormhole, followed by the others.

***


"Sure you should be out of bed already?" O'Neill asked.

After he had talked to the Council, he had gone to the healers rooms, to check on Aldwin, feeling somewhat responsible since the Tok'ra had been injured while rescuing him and his team.

Sam, Daniel, and Teal'c, as well as Martouf/Lantash were still being debriefed. Tiana had talked briefly with the Council, then left on an important errand for them.

"Yes, I am healed, but thank you for your concern." Aldwin smiled at him.

"Guess having a symbiote is good for something." O'Neill grinned.

"How gracious of you to admit that," Lantash said, somewhat acerbically, as he walked into the room, followed by Teal'c, Sam, and Daniel.

"Oh, hi." O'Neill turned to look at them. "Lanny."

Lantash frowned. "'Lanny'?"

"Aw, come on! It's... an affectionate nickname," O'Neill insisted.

"I see." Lantash's frown deepened, then he suddenly grinned. "In that case, thank you, Jacky!" He got a smug look on his face.

O'Neill made a face and shuddered. "Oy! You know, on second thought, perhaps our normal names are good enough, wouldn't you say, Lantash?"

"Absolutely." Lantash smiled, triumphantly.

Sam and Daniel both rolled their eyes, and Teal'c raised an eyebrow, as they observed the exchange.

"Well, if no one else has said it, I'm going to - thanks for coming to save us, guys!" Sam said, wanting to steer the conversation in a different direction.

"Indeed. We are grateful for your assistance," Teal'c offered, bowing his head in respect.

"Yeah, good work - of course, given a little time, we might have made it out ourselves..." O'Neill began, then Daniel elbowed him in the side.

"Jack!"

"Um, okay." O'Neill shrugged, then smiled. "Okay. I'll admit it. Just this one time. We were totally screwed."

"Thank you," Aldwin said, smiling at him.

Lantash smiled as well, then inclined his head. "Thank you. We're pleased the rescue was a success."

"Well, if the situation was reversed, and all that... you know..." O'Neill said. "We don't leave anyone behind."

Lantash nodded. "I understand. Your people and ours are friends. Allies."

The others smiled. Allies. It was a good word.

"Do your mess hall - or whatever it's called - have cake?" O'Neill asked.

"Yes... I believe we can get some cake." Lantash said.

"Then what do ya say we go get some of it - and celebrate a mission well done?" O'Neill suggested.

"And the friendship between the Tok'ra and the Tau'ri," Daniel added.

"It sounds like a very good idea." Lantash smiled.

They all agreed, and together they went to the Tok'ra mess hall, looking for cake. The rescue - and their friendship - were indeed worth celebrating.

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B is for Byrsa
by [personal profile] rinkafic

For many years, the red shine of the Ring of the Ancestors had warned the people of Byrsa that it was time to flee, lest they be taken as hosts for the Goa'uld. They had sheltered in their caves until the danger passed them by and it was safe to emerge.

The Tauri had come, and they had forged an alliance with them. The Goa'uld did not come as frequently as they once had. Life was better, the children did not live in fear of the activation of the Ring.

Then the Ori came. The people of Byrsa heard that the people of other worlds were given a choice to accept a new master or to die. This was unacceptable. They did not wish to live in fear again.

And so, they did the only thing they could think of to protect themselves.

They pulled down the Ring of the Ancestors and buried it. They might be cut off from other worlds, but they would no longer be terrified of what might come through the Ring.

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C is for Circumstance
by [personal profile] sg_wonderland

Circumstance -- events or conditions beyond someone's control (The Microsoft Encarta Dictionary)

"Hey."

Colonel Chekhov squinted at the figure lounging in the infirmary doorway. "O'Neill. I hope you have news. They will tell me nothing."

"Well," Jack rolled a stool over and took a seat at the bedside. "I might be able to answer a few questions."

Chekhov grunted. "The Korolev?"

"What do you remember?"

"We took hit from Ori ship."

"Worse than a hit, I'm afraid." Jack looked him in the eye. "I'm sorry, but they blew her out of the sky."

"Korolev was destroyed?" The idea was more than he could imagine.

"Completely. Someone got you to the rings and down to the Odyssey."

"How...how many survivors?"

"Counting you? Six."

The breath left Chekhov's body in a rush. Finally, he whispered, "Is not possible."

"Wish I had better news, Colonel. Truth is, we all got our asses kicked today."

Belatedly, Chekhov realized O'Neill looked pale and drawn. Exhausted. "What of SG-1?"

"Mitchell and Carter made it back to the Odyssey. Teal'c and the Lucian Alliance are still...negotiating."

Chekhov hesitated. "Dr. Jackson was not among survivors?"

"No."

Jack didn't have to understand Russian to translate the deep, guttural words pouring from Chekhov's mouth. They sat silently for a few minutes.

"In old Russia, a loss of this magnitude would require ultimate sacrifice."

"We had you searched for cyanide tablets before we beamed you down." Chekhov snorted. "Like I said, we all got whooped today. But that doesn't mean we give up." O'Neill stretched, got to his feet. "Listen, you just concentrate on getting better. We'll need everyone when we figure out what the hell we're going to do next."

"There is plan?"

"Not yet," He sounded strangely cheerful. "But we'll think of something. We may be down but we sure ain't out."

"General O'Neill," he stopped at the door. "I am sorry for loss of Dr. Jackson."

"Yeah, well don't hang out the black wreath just yet. Daniel has a bad habit of turning up when and where you least expect him."

He sat for long moments after O'Neill left, and then he rang for the nurse. He would need his computer. There were condolence letters to write. Two hundred and thirty-four of them.

Chekhov sent up a silent hope that it wasn't two hundred and thirty-five.

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D is for Destiny
by [personal profile] traycer

The Legacy

They asked for so little, yet gave so much. Theirs was a legacy that would benefit future generations of the fifth race, even as that race slowly found ways to destroy themselves. Still, it was the Asgard's hope that the heirloom of knowledge passed down through the friendships they made would surely build a stronger bond in hopes of preserving the future. It was their greatest wish.

Not only their greatest wish, but also their legacy. Because even though they had the superior technological advances they acquired over the centuries, they still couldn't find a way to deliver their own salvation. They had come to terms with their fate as they faced their final enemy. They had fought death by cloning, and death had won anyway.

And when the end was near, their demise came swiftly with only a few hours to prepare, although many of them knew for years that their time would come. It had been their destiny, shaped by the cloning process they had put so much hope into, as well as the final desperate act to save themselves from the pain and degradation of diseases that plague their kind. There was no turning back now that the mistakes were made, only death. And the Asgards embraced it for they knew there was no other way.

Silence filled the rooms and hallways as they waited for Thor and the technicians to return from the Tau'ri ship. A calming silence that eased some of the apprehension a few felt, despite their anxieties. Even when Thor finally appeared with the others, no words were spoken, for there was nothing to be said. They stood silent while some closed their eyes, others clasped hands, and only the reverberations of the blast disturbed the quiet solidarity of their existence.

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E is for Edora
by [personal profile] fignewton

Three men and two women sat quietly at the table, awaiting the delegation from Earth. There was no need for them to speak; they had already discussed the day's topics in great detail and were more than ready for the coming encounter.

Footsteps in the corridor alerted them, and the councilors rose to their feet as SG-9 filed into the room.

"Fair day, Major," said Erain, the council's designated speaker.

"Fair day, Erain. Councilors," Major Kovacek replied, nodding to each one in turn. The other members of SG-9 echoed the greeiting.

"Be seated, please," Erain invited.

"Thank you." Kovacek and the rest of SG-9 moved to their regular seats. As chairs scraped and folders were placed on the table, Erain considered Earth's diplomatic delegation and thought about how far they'd come.

At their first formal meeting several days ago, he had observed a quick flash of disappointment, hastily concealed, when Kovacek realized that he would be dealing with strangers. Of course, it would have been politically unwise for the Edorans to allow anyone who had been in close contact with the SGC to conduct these negotiations. It didn't matter whether such people had been those who had sheltered on Earth after the fire rain strikes, or simply a member of the village nearest the Stargate who had befriended Jack O'Neill during his time on the planet; there would have been an unavoidable undercurrent of debt to the SGC for saving lives and restoring their people. Erain, like everyone else on Edora, deeply appreciated Earth's assistance, of course. But trying to create a treaty from a position of weakness could only leave Edora vulnerable to exploitation, even if the SGC had no such deliberate intentions.

Erain hadn't been dismayed by Kovacek's chagrin. After all, any good diplomat automatically seeks to gain the greatest possible advantages. Erain would have been almost insulted if the SGC had sent inexperienced men to form a treaty with Edora. It was enough that Kovacek recognized that the Edorans were wily enough to avoid unnecessary weakness. The first careful steps of the intricate dance of negotiation had begun.

By now, after so many sessions, the council members knew the SGC's diplomatic team quite well. Their smiles and nods at one another were not just polite, but genuine.

"Today's discussion will be about housing for the naquadah miners," Kovacek began. "As we explained last time, Erain, we can bring prefabricated materials through the Stargate and set up shelters. Has the council arrived at a decision on the subject?"

"It has been suggested that your miners might prefer staying in the village itself," Erain said. "Your prefabricated shelters would not be very comfortable."

Kovacek smiled. "Our people are well used to such shelters," he parried. "The familiarity will give them a sense of home, even on another planet."

Erain smiled back. "Surely the social aspect of living among others would give an ever greater sense of home, Major."

"I don't think that our people will have too much time for socializing," Kovacek said, sounding sincerely regretful. "They might prefer to keep to themselves."

"Yet we have agreed that your people will have regular contact with ours, and trade for fresh fruits and vegetables from our markets," Erain reminded him.

"Yes, they will. And I am sure that some socializing will occur when our people are not on duty..."

Point and counterpoint, advance and retreat. Erain conceded the lucrative prospect of housing the miners in the village, but extracted a guarantee that the SGC's people would purchase a certain percentage of their food directly from the Edorans. They settled on a reasonable exchange of Earth goods and medicines for Edoran food and drink, to be renegotiated on a regular basis.

Erain carefully broached the delicate subject of too much socializing, especially when off-duty workers imbibed the potent local brew. Kovacek assured him that Earth's people would conduct themselves properly or face severe consequences from their superiors. Erain reasonably asked for guarantees on the subject; Kovacek politely requested a deferral on the matter, so he could consult and determine the best protocol if such circumstances would arise.

Finally, the last scheduled topic of the meeting was covered. Both the Edorans and SG-7 seemed cautiously optimistic. There was still a long way to go before the treaty could be completed, of course, but matters were proceeding smoothly.

"We shall speak again tomorrow," Kovacek proposed. "Will that suit, councilors?"

Erain glanced at the others, who murmured quietly among themselves and gave slight nods of approval. "That will suit," he agreed.

He rose to his feet, formally concluding the meeting. As the others also stood, Erain extended his hand in the Earth custom they'd learned. Kovacek shook it without hesitation, friendly respect plain on his face.

Erain offered an equally respectful smile of his own. Yes, these people would make good allies -- as long as they dealt as equals. He was pleased to see that Kovacek seemed to like it that way, too.

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F is for Favorite
by [personal profile] sid

Lya doesn't play favorites. Her impartiality is a watchword among even the Nox themselves.

But that doesn't mean she doesn't have favorites. She sees the hope and goodness in young Daniel Jackson, the intellect and the compassion of brave Samantha Carter, the determination to save his people and the desperate need for redemption of the mighty Teal'c. She sees the cynicism, the scars, and the deep-buried faith of loyal Jack O'Neill.

She will always do the right and the fair thing, which always, so far, has turned out to be the thing that helps those she cares about most. One day she knows that might change.

On that day, faces will no longer light up when they see her. Smiles will not spring to lips, eyes will cease to shine with delight.

Lya will lose her position as everyone's favorite ally.

So be it.

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G is for Weather Gauge
by [personal profile] jedibuttercup

La Moor had spoken to ambassadors from Earth many times since their people had first walked through Madrona's Stargate, but she had seldom had occasion to frown at them since they had returned the stolen Touchstone and thus begun their long and fruitful alliance.

"You are certain?" she asked, pausing just outside the entrance of the Temple to confirm the Major's words. "We had already begun to allocate space and supplies; I assure you, it would be no trouble to house and feed your friends for as long as may be necessary."

It would not be the first time La Moor's people had taken in refugees from other allies of Earth beset by conquering armies or natural disasters; with a perfectly controlled climate and a history of protection rather than domination, Madrona boasted a large population that wanted for little. She had learned much in the years since her people's first eventful introduction to the worlds beyond the Stargate, first as her uncle's heir and then as his successor, and knew they were in a rare position; Earth did have other friends, some just as peaceful and many more powerful, but very few had such resources to spare. They had begun to trade much of their excess since the awakening of the Stargate, but the Touchstone allowed them to cultivate as much land as they had hands to spare. And there were always hands to spare among those new come to her world's great gardens.

Many of the refugees would leave again, when the disaster was over; they always did, returning to their homes or building anew on uninhabited worlds. But many would also stay, contributing their strengths to the harmony of Madrona. Whatever resources might be spent on sheltering these Langarans, La Moor was certain her people would only benefit in the long term.

But the Major only shook his head. His hat, removed earlier in respect for the Temple, had been tucked under his arm; the bright summer sun struck warm highlights in his dark hair, reminding her of the still uncomfortable weight of the formal priests' headdress pressing down on her brow.

"And they were very grateful for your offer, Princess; but they have chosen not to take advantage of it at this time. There is still a chance they may be able to save their world, and they have decided to devote all their energies to that end," he said, measuring his words carefully.

That was only half-truth, she judged, though prettily spoken. Not all of Earth's people were as bluntly spoken as the first four visitors-- which had its charms, as well as its detractions. But she could gauge the direction of the wind herself. The Langarans would not be the first to resent the necessity of retreat. Even in her peaceful culture, untainted by the Goa'uld whose influence had poisoned both rock and soul on Langara, individuals had their pride; the Earthers had not needed to teach them of that. But should the Langarans change their minds, Madrona would still be there.

"Then I wish them fair weather for their endeavors," she said, bowing very slightly and pressing her palms together. "Please let us know if the situation becomes more urgent."

"We thank you for your patience, and your generosity." He bowed back more deeply, bending his knees as was proper, and gave the customary words of farewell. "May there always be peace between our two worlds." Then he donned his hat again and approached the ceremonial guards at the end of the path, who deactivated the new security measure the Earthers called an iris and touched the Gate symbols for his home.

La Moor waited under the high, arching columns of the Temple entryway until he was gone, then turned and walked back inside. The scientists currently studying the Touchstone smiled at her passage; she nodded in return, but did not pause for conversation as she might normally have done. She was needed in the administrative precincts; preparations for the newest influx would have to be shelved.

And then-- perhaps a tour of the traders' district. It was scheduled to be a clear day, and there was always new growth to be found.

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H is for Harry's Hat
by [personal profile] delphia2000

Harry stepped out into the bright DC sunlight and paused at the top of the stairs to adjust the brim of his hat against the glare. God, he missed being in uniform. He missed his hat.

Of course, this wasn't his uniform. He probably could have found one of his own in one of his many safe houses, but he needed a non-com's uniform. Nobody ever looked at a non-com's face,just the uniform and the salute. It was very important no one should recognize him today. He'd added some glasses and adopted a slack-jawed, vacant look just to help the disguise along.That, and turning his head whenever he neared a location he knew was covered by video cameras.

It was entirely possible his face would show up in any camera recordings he didn't know about, but by the time the corrupted Trust saw the tapes, he'd be off-world. Or at least he hoped so. He had a scroll and a device that would let him into a protected place, a planet sanctuary, free of the Goa'uld. It would take a little doing to get himself through the Gate, but he was certain he could manage that.

Especially since he'd just ensured the Stargate program would continue.

There was no telling how far the infestation had spread, but there had been at least oneGoa'uld-edcongressman on the Finance Committee and it was undoubtedly trying to shut down the program, to make Earth vulnerable to attack in spite of the Asgard treaty. There had been a Goa'uld; there wasn't now.

The NID had stolen some of the parasite suppression drugs used by the Tollan and Harry had stashed some he'd stolen from the NID. It had taken some doing to get an appointment with the congressman and to slip him the drugs, but they worked and would continue to work long enough to ensure the program's funding. Eventually, the congressman would have run out of the drugs andt he Goa'uld would have taken over again, but Harry had added another ingredient to the drugs and it was killing the symbiote. When it died, it would take the host with it.

Harry had told the congressman what was going to happen and the man agreed it was for the best. He would do anything to keep the Goa'uld from Earth now that he'd experienced them firsthand. Harry hadn't bothered to mention the possibility of extraction. He might have if he hadn't found out how corrupt the bastard was, taking bribes and abusing interns long before the Goa'uld took over.

Once, Harry had offered to make Colonel O'Neill's problems go away. The smug and superior O'Neill had made some counter-suggestions that weren't very nice.So now, Harry wasn't doing this for Jack. He was doing it to keep Earth safe long enough to get himself away. Then they could all rot, including Jack O'Neill.

Or, if he could get a message back to them after he reached Sanctuary, maybe he'd warn them about the Goa'uld-ed Trust members.

Some days he hated Earth and some days he wanted to go back to before the Stargatehad been opened. Back when he'd been a Colonel and respected and proud to wear the uniform.

Some days, he just missed his hat.

Right on time, a small group of military men and business-suited hangers-on climbed the stairs and strode past him. Harry saluted and several of them, O'Neill included, off-handedly saluted back, without even looking in his direction.

Harry smirked. They'd testify to a closed committee and the funding was likely to be not only continued, but increased.

You're welcome, Jack, he thought to himself. Now, you owe me.

Then he straightened his hat again and, with a jaunty step, descended the long flight of stairs.

Maybe he'd keep the hat.

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I is for Ideology
by [personal profile] fignewton

"The first time we met the Tau'ri," Ledora said thoughtfully, "we assumed they were gods. Surely only the divine could travel through the Light."

Drey'auc's mouth twisted. "So it has been with us, for too many generations." Her right hand drifted from the small potter's wheel and stole to her belly, unconsciously stroking the skin above the creature that suckled at her life force. "We believed Apophis was divine because of the tools he wielded. We did not see that we were his tools, and too often the source of his might."

Ledora politely averted her gaze from Drey'auc's curse, even as her people had always shown mercy for the Touched by sending them away to spare them from others' stares of pity or disgust. "The Tau'ri insisted they were not divine, but I did not believe them until I saw that they, too, could be Touched by our curse. They cured Doctor Jackson and all of our afflicted brethren, but their ability to heal proved only knowledge, not godliness." Her own fingers moved with casual skill, shaping wet clay into graceful curves. "How did your people discover the truth?"

Drey'auc bent her head over the wheel again, and Ledora allowed the delay as the woman gathered her thoughts. "Teal'c might say with you that it was the Tau'ri and their actions," she said at last.

"But you would not?"

"No." Drey'auc suddenly straightened, and Ledora saw the gleam in her dark eyes. "I do not dismiss the Tau'ri, for they have indeed done much. But their goals are not ours."

Ledora frowned, uncertain. "They seek to battle those that would be gods, as you do."

"Yes."

"And they offer aid."

"Oh, yes." Drey'auc's lip curled. "They are most generous."

"I do not understand," Ledora admitted honestly.

Drey'auc rose from her stool, turning away from her amateur efforts at the wheel. "I do not like the chafing burden of gratitude," she said quietly. "The Tau'ri have fought against Apophis and achieved victory, yet Chulak has suffered grievously. Many of our strongest and bravest were lost over Tau'ri. Bra'tac and Teal'c both promised us that Apophis was dead, yet he returned to slaughter us anew and nearly destroyed my son. I know that war breeds many losses -- how could I not, after so many years? -- but our losses are not the Tau'ri's, and they seem to care for us only where it touches upon their own needs."

She paced restlessly to the door and peered out at the bright day. "My son is out there," she said, her voice more bitter now. "He runs in the sunlight of your world. But that is none of my doing. The Tau'ri wished to keep Teal'c happy and by their side, so they took my son and brought him here, where he sees no other Jaffa child and is only trained when Bra'tac or Teal'c remember his needs. And for this -- the loss of my home and husband, the dismissal of the shame I fought and the path I was forced to take -- I am expected to be grateful. All our efforts, all our pain, mean nothing to them. They only see themselves as our saviors, and I would not trade one master for another, not even a benevolent one."

Ledora thought she understood now, just a little. "In a way," she offered, "I was glad that the Tau'ri asked us to offer sanctuary, first to the Tollan and then to others, like you. An exchange of aid lessens a presumption of debt. If we assist the Tau'ri, they look upon us as equals, rather than supplicants."

Drey'auc's gaze suddenly dropped. "I apologize." Her fingers, still stained with clay, twisted together. "I do not wish to spurn your kindness."

Ledora gave a soft laugh. "I did not take it as such. A woman may accept a gift, especially in need, and still be wary of what might be demanded as thanks." She rose and joined Drey'auc at the doorway, shading her eyes from the everlasting brilliance that flooded the courtyard. "But you have not yet answered my question. If not the Tau'ri and their actions, what showed your people the truth about those that claim to be divine?"

"For long and long, we spent our husbands and sons on futile wars," Drey'auc answered obliquely. "I do not believe that I alone dried a warrior's tears in the dark of night, or that other women did not wonder why, if our lords were divine, our husbands needed to teach us how to fight for our lives if wars were lost. It is true that many never stopped to question, and perhaps they never will. But obedience was never wholly blind, even if eyes were willfully kept shut. The Goa'uld wanted skill in their Jaffa; they forgot that skill demands thought."

She smiled suddenly. "So I would say, Ledora, that the truth was known long before the Tau'ri arrived on Chulak. Yet we could do nothing with that truth until the Tau'ri offered a choice that we had never had before. If we truly owe the Tau'ri, it is for the chance to choose to follow truth."

"Choices," Ledora agreed, "are the greatest freedom of all." She clasped Drey'auc's hand. "I am glad you are here with us now, even if that choice was not completely your own."

"Not my own choice, no, but I am content that I and Ry'ac still live. " Drey'auc gave a firm nod. "And when the time comes, I will choose what is best for my son... and for myself as well."

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J is for Justified
by [personal profile] ivorygates

When she was seven years old, Shau'nac of the Red Hills was taken to the Great Temple of Apophis to receive the mark of the god upon her forehead. Now I am a woman, she thought. She was old enough to move from her mother's rooms in the House of Increase to her own room in the House of Promise. For the first time, she could approach the God's shrine and light its lamps. Her prayers would be heard by the God Himself.

When Shau'nac was ten years old, there was a great ceremony. She returned to the Great Temple, and the priestess of Apophis opened Shau'nac's pouch for the first time and placed the body of a god within her flesh. Now she was Prata.

It was a glorious thing to know she now served the God Apophis directly. She loved the new strength and power that came with his favor, the freedom from the weakness of the human cattle. She loved being able to go to the temple, to hear the praise-songs of the God Apophis in person, not just over the vo'cuum. She loved to walk through rooms and know that He had walked through the same ones, had seen with His own eyes the same sights she beheld. She knew she could never serve Him in His glorious battles with his brother Gods, but she began to hope with all her heart she could serve Him in her own way.

When Shau'nac was thirty years old, she said goodbye to her lover and went to the temple to train to become a priestess. Teal'c had tried to talk her out of it. He swore to her that he would become the greatest of the God Apophis's Jaffa. That he would win such honor in battle that the God would grant him the boon of a wife. And he would come to her and they would wed.

And Shau'nac said: no. The life of a Jaffa warrior was uncertain. The path to the God's favor was long.

And she did not want to wait to serve.

When Shau'nac was thirty-five years old, she saw the God Apophis in the flesh. He came to the Temple to speak to the High Priestess, for a Choosing was to be held, and the Temple would preside over the ceremony in which the Gods were made flesh. He was a glorious figure in golden armor: noble, wise, all-seeing. He smiled at her as he passed, and his eyes glowed with the divine fire.

That image warmed her heart for a very long time.

When Shau'nac was fifty years old, she took her seventh prim'ta and became a priestess of the Temple. She cared for the little Gods awaiting Jaffa pouches. She sang the litanies of praise and victory, and presided over the daily cycle of prayers. She gloried in the knowledge she was building the God's empire among the stars.

When Shau'nac was sixty years old, Bra'tac, First Prime to Apophis, came to the temple with his newest apprentices to dedicate them to the service of the God. Teal'c was among them, and her heart sang, for it was yet another proof of Apophis's wisdom, that he recognized Teal'c's greatness.

It was proof that Teal'c lived.

When she is seventy years old, Shau'nac is given a new duty. Now she presides over the kel'no'reem of the apprentices and the younger priestesses, and knows from this that someday, many years from now, she will be High Priestess of the Temple. Her days are full: she brings children into the world to serve the God. She gives them His flesh to bear. She brings forth the Gods ready to take Their robes of flesh.

Her heart is as full as her days.

In the year she takes her twelfth prim'ta, she is given a miracle. It is a long time before she understands it for what it is. Then there is joy to wash away the sorrow and the fear, the hours she spent before the Great Altar, weeping at the knowledge that had come to her through her folly. She has broken the first and greatest law of her people, the one given to her at her Prata. She has touched the mind of the God whom she carries, and in doing so, has discovered it to be no god at all.

She knew not what it was, this alien mind that sent her terrible visions, that gloried in her suffering and delighted in pain. She thought of the God Apophis, wise and merciful and just, and felt its mockery. For it was of Apophis, was like Apophis.

As Apophis was like the one she carried.

Monster.

But she could not, would not, believe it.

She had already broken the greatest law and concealed her crime. And so she went, again and again, to touch the mind of the being within her. Trying to understand. Trying to explain...

And years passed.

Enemy became ally, became friend, became cal'mah, dear to her as the child she would never bear. And she knew that all the pain she had suffered was justified.

In those years, rumors came to the Temple, and Shau'nac drank them up like sweet nectar. Great Lord Ra, dead. Rebellion among the gods who were no gods. Rebellion among the Jaffa, and her once-lover branded shol'va Traitor.

Only Shau'nac knew this was an honor beyond any the False God Apophis could ever have bestowed. She spoke of it to no one, until the day Master Bra'tac came to the Temple to tell them Apophis was dead, that the Jaffa were free, that the First World had been rediscovered, and the brave warriors of the Tau'ri had pledged themselves to destroy the Goa'uld. And he believed they would, for Teal'c was among them, leading their greatest warriors into battle.

And the cal'mah within her leaped for joy at Bra'tac's words. Soon, she whispered to it, soon you will be ready to take a host. Not as the Goa'uld do, in horror and subjugation, but as Tok'ra do. You will bring justice where there has only been tyranny. She felt its wordless eagerness to help her people, its impatience to join the fight for their liberation.

When Shau'nac was nearly a century old, she beheld her cal'mah in the flesh for the first time. And Hebron smiled at her, and so did Tanith. His eyes twinkled, as if he knew a joke and wanted to share it with her. He took her tenderly in his arms.

"You showed me the means to destroy the Tok'ra," he said. His hands closed on her arms like the shackles of slavery, and she began to struggle.

"Now accept your reward."

Shau'nac of the Red Hills had seen ninety-nine years come and go.

She would not see a hundred.

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K is for Kite
by [profile] chattycatsmeow

M'zel recognized the need for administrative meetings but had never enjoyed them. The Tau'ri had a phrase which summed them up perfectly - necessary evil. That phrase was one of the few things from the Tau'ri which he found useful. The meetings were less so, especially with the Tau'ri in charge. They did things differently, less efficiently, but wrongly believed their ways to be superior to those of the Jaffa. The Tau'ri were soldiers, not warriors, and it irritated him to be under their command.

The inclusion of the Tok'ra to the alliance had not improved matters any. While the Tau'ri yoke chafed him, the Tok'ra presence galled. Even more so than the System Lords, the Tok'ra were secretive. Master manipulators. Devious in the extreme. Above all, they were Goa'uld just like the System Lords they claimed to oppose.

M'zel had seen it before. One god supplants another and becomes the very same as the tyrant that had been deposed. The Tok'ra professed benevolence and fairness now, but once the balance of power shifted, once the Tok'ra held sway, how long would that benevolence last?

The Tau'ri said to trust the Tok'ra and he did. He trusted the Tok'ra to betray them all. The only question was how soon.

Colonel Reilly dismissed them and M'zel left the command hut, ruminating on the changes just outlined. He felt a tap on his shoulder and turned to see Major Green.

"I'm heading to lunch but I'd like to discuss item four if you have time," said Green.

M'zel readily agreed. As they discussed the proposed changes to perimeter checkpoints and sentry rotation, M'zel considered the man beside him.

As one of the senior officers of the Tau'ri, Green had many people directly under his authority. Green was neither fierce nor stern, but despite these shortcomings, his people performed well and seemed loyal to him. M'zel generally found him to be reasonable and less perplexing than some of the other Tau'ri. Green was, in the Tau'ri parlance, an okay guy.

At the commissary, M'zel was pleased to find that meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy was being served. Some of the Tau'ri food was too foreign to be palatable. It nourished the body, nothing more. This dish, however, was quite enjoyable. More than once M'zel had thought of procuring the recipe from the cooks but then he would have to find the equivalent spices and ingredients on his own planet. No easy task.

Once through the food line, he and Green took their laden trays to one of the few tables with available seats. They would be sharing with two youngsters, Hassan and Tompkins. While Tompkins was, unfortunately, a woman and therefore lacking in strength of body, she had a strength of spirit, a determination, that was refreshing to see. Coupled with her intelligence, it should serve her well in her tenure at the SGC. Hassan, while possessed of greater physical strength, lacked the spark that marked a true warrior. It was not just Hassan's youth that made M'zel think of him as a boy. There was a softness to him reminiscent of that which, among the Jaffa, was usually found in unseasoned striplings.

The Tau'ri rituals of strength and endurance known as Boot Camp would be as play to the Jaffa children coming of age. M'zel did concede, that from the descriptions and stories, the advanced rituals undergone by those who became Special Forces did seem almost as worthy as those the newly inititated Jaffa practiced. Clearly, Hassan would benefit greatly from the latter.

M'zel glared at a pair of foot soldiers who had the audacity to try to claim the chairs first despite being of obviously lower rank. The soldiers rightly backed off, but M'zel made a point of remembering who they were. Such presumption should not go unremarked.

Hassan's head was turned so he hadn't seen M'zel and Green approach. Tompkins had, though. Her gaze flicked from Hassan to Green then back to Hassan. She shook her head slightly at Hassan who did not take the hint.

Green held his tray just above the tabletop waiting for Hassan to finish his sentence before interrupting. M'zel set his tray on the table.

"I couldn't wait for Lieutenant Glenn to relieve me," complained Hassan. "Let him listen to the Carters argue with each other."

Reminding himself that these soldiers were not his to discipline, M'zel kept silent. He pulled out the chair as he waited to see how Green would respond.

"Superior officers never argue, Lieutenant. They engage in spirited discussions." Green gestured to the empty chairs. "Are these seats taken?"

Hassan's head whipped around. Eyes wide, he opened and closed his mouth several times but only a croaking noise emerged.

Even as he asked, Green plopped his tray down and took a chair.. M'zel was already seated. A Jaffa of his rank asked permission of no foot soldier. He was relieved to see that Green's request was a mere formality but even the pretense of requesting permission from an underling was a mistake. Coupled as it was with a rebuke so mild it hardly deserved the name, it showed a distressing laxity. The chain of command should be honored and reinforced at all times so that all who toiled within it knew precisely what was expected of them.

Red-faced, Hassan stammered out something that sounded like a cross between an apology for gossip and an invitation to join the table. M'zel ignored him expecting Green to silence him.

Instead, Green spoke in the gentle tone of an indulgent master to an apprentice of no more than ten summers.

"Pick a new subject, son, and start talking," Green suggested. "It'll be less awkward that way."

"Yes, sir. Thank you, sir. Um..." Hassan stared into space. "Oh! I think a pair of swallow tailed kites have made the base part of their territory."

"That's the great big black and white bird with the vee-shaped tail, right?" asked Tompkins. When Hassan nodded she continued. "I've only seen one of those."

Again, it was not truly his place to correct these soldiers but M'zel could not let the error go unremarked. He said "There are, in fact, three individual birds."

"Really?" Hassan looked excited. After a quick search of his pockets the boy pulled out a tiny notepad and stubby pencil. "Where did you see it? When? How could you tell it was a third individual?"

M'zel was pleasantly surprised. While he hesitated to interfere with the discipline of another officer's troops, surely a bit of praise would not be unwelcome? After all there was more than one way to steer a cart. The Tau'ri had such a rudimentary understanding of the dedication practiced by a true warrior such that any guidance would be better than none. Although it went against his grain, M'zel used the example set by Green moments before and spoke gently..

"I commend your attention to matters such as this," said M'zel. "I had not thought the Tau'ri to be so focused on tactical detail."

"Um. Tactical?" Hassan paused, eyebrows drawn together, pencil stub hovering over the open page.

What was so difficult to understand about that sentence? Just when he thought he couldn't underestimate the Tau'ri, they would hit a new low. Exasperating, but he could demonstrate patience as well as guidance. Let Green see and learn from his example.

"Yes," M'zel spoke as if to a small child of limited comprehension. "Noting the usual appearance and behavior of the local creatures such as the birds so that you may be alerted if a break in their pattern is detected. This kite of which you speak is both a predator of smaller animals including other birds and an eater of carrion." M'zel gestured with his eating utensil thinking that perhaps a visual aid would be of assistance. "Should the bird suddenly abandon its usual territory it may indicate a larger predator or enemy ground forces in the vicinity. The presence of what appears to be a family group consisting of a mated pair and one newly adult offspring is a good sign."

"Well, I'm keeping track because I like watching them. They're beautiful creatures. Birds I mean. In general. Not just these, but..." Hassan's speech tapered off as he continued to gape at M'zel.

And once again, a new low. That was twice within minutes. M'zel wondered if it was a record. "You watch them because they are ... pretty?"

He was disgusted but unsurprised. The Tau'ri valued a surprising number of valueless things.

"I believe our tongue-tied young friend here meant that in addition to taking detailed notes for tactical purposes, he also appreciates the beauty inherent in their conformation and coloring. One may observe and admire at the same time, don't you think?" asked Green. "Or have we finally found something that the Jaffa can't do?"

M'zel bristled at the insult before he realized Green's strategy. Green was trying to encourage his underling's proper behavior by saying, in effect, Here is something you do well. Be proud of it. Continue your efforts and you will bring honor to us all.

Jaffa mothers often used sweet kalmesh sauce to get their children to eat their vegetables. Soon, the children would learn to eat the vegetables plain and the kalmesh sauce would be put away. Perhaps if he considered it in that regard it would be more acceptable. Aesthetic beauty would be the kalmesh for Hassan's observation of the world around him.

While it was not at all the way he would have handled it, M'zel could understand the approach. To show his tolerance and his respect for Green's authority, he would assist in the effort. He took a moment to reflect.

The species was unknown to him prior to this, but from comments overhead, he understood that the kite was nearly identical to a bird native to the Tau'ri after which it had been named. The bird's swallow-tail was distinctive, as was its coloration. The stark contrast of pure black and solid white emphasised its conformation during flight. There was a simplicity and an elegance to the bird that he had noted on his first sighting of it.

"The plumage is striking," said M'zel.

There. Never let it be said that M'zel could not engage in diplomacy when needed. He had done his part, now it was time to move on. The meatloaf had waited long enough. It was delicious as always. Every mouthful a treat. The mashed potatoes and gravy had cooled but not so much that they had congealed.

Nodding to indicate Hassan, Green said, "He's been bird watching since he was kid. He's a genuine bona fide member of the Audubon Society and everything. Now, I like watching birds. Love watching them fly. I can tell you what color something is and make a guess about what kind it is but I'll never know as much about them as he does."

By the gods! M'zel nearly flung his utensil to the table. Now Green was just coddling the boy. With an effort of will, M'zel kept his gaze on his meal and held his tongue. It would not do to chastise a fellow leader in public, even an inferior Tau'ri officer. That was three. Three new lows in a matter of minutes. Apparently, M'zel was not destined to enjoy his lunch today. He felt his annoyance rising.

"I bet you he can answer any question about birds," Green continued. "Go on. Try to stump him."

While M'zel mentally composed the points he would address quite sternly with Green in private later, the woman obliged Green by asking a question of Hassan.

Hassan had no chance to answer. Sirens sprang to life, wailing danger from the air. The commissary emptied as everyone went to their assigned posts for battle. M'zel was pleased with the alacrity with which the soldiers moved. As Green exited the hut in front of him, a huge fireball exploded nearby nearly jolting them off of their feet. He grabbed the doorway with one hand and Green with other keeping both himself and the Tau'ri upright.

Instead of the kites, the sky held two alkesh each in a strafing run attempting to knock out the gate. At this moment, the differences between the Jaffa and Tau'ri had no meaning. All that mattered was surviving this fight. Perhaps, M'zel thought, when this was over, if Hassan still lived, he would take the boy aside and teach him what to look for when observing the wildlife and why it mattered. For now, he calculated the strength and composition of the attacking force as he made his way to his battle station.

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L is for Loss
by [personal profile] ancientmuse

"You can't heal me, can you?"

"I am still trying, Elliot."

"It's taking all of your strength just to keep me breathing."

"If I can keep you alive until Selmac and Doctor Jackson arrive--"

"That's a big 'if'."

Elliot's eyes turned to watch Major Carter as she paced a few feet away, P-90 gripped tightly as she waited for the colonel and Teal'c to return, hopefully with her father and Doctor Jackson.

"She's the reason you're trying so hard." Elliot could tell he'd surprised Lantash; the Tok'ra hadn't meant to let his thoughts slip. "You didn't just want to tell her how you felt, you wanted to be with her again."

"I meant what I said. I've come to love her as much as I once loved Jolinar."

"So I'm what--just a life preserver?"
He could feel Lantash's bristle at the remark, which was an odd sensation.

"Would you not have done the same thing if your only other option was death?"

"I suppose. I'd just like to think I was more than a convenient way for you to get close to her again."

"It is more than that. The Tok'ra numbers are declining--look at how many we lost in this attack. I hold knowledge that is vital to our survival."

"A death is a death, isn't it? Even if I'm not the last of my kind? I'm not ready to die, either. This was my first mission--I didn't even get to complete it."

"For that I am sorry. I am also sorry that I am unable to restore you to health."

"You're thinking of moving to another host."

"If I have enough strength for the transfer, it might be possible. I believe Colonel O'Neill might be a good choice."

"Oh, I think Colonel O'Neill would make your life miserable on a daily basis."

"True. Perhaps Doctor Jackson would be a better choice. He would be a good match for Major Carter."

"And I think you'd find him a lot stronger, and more resistant, than you anticipate."

"That is also true. Which is why we requested him for this mission. He has impressed the Tok'ra with his strength and perseverance on many occasions."

"But you're going to try anyway, aren't you? I thought the Tok'ra didn't take a host against their will?"

"It would only be temporary."

"Would it? Are you sure you'd leave willingly if it meant losing Major Carter? Besides, as weak as you are, if you tried to transfer hosts now, you'd put everyone at risk of being captured."

"You believe I am being selfish."

"I'm just being realistic."

"No, you are right. I am letting my feelings for Major Carter affect my decision-making."

Elliot and Lantash watched as Doctor Jackson helped an injured Jacob-Selmac down the trail with O'Neill and Teal'c at their side. Apparently, the cargo ship wouldn't be taking them anywhere. All they could do was try to avoid the Jaffa patrols for as long as possible, even though they both knew the hunt wouldn't stop until they'd been found.

"We are too weak to leave this place. It is over. The Tok'ra will be defeated and the Tau'ri will lose their greatest asset: SG-1."

Host and symbiote watched as Doctor Jackson pulled out the vial of Tok'ra poison and held it up. "We still have this."

"Not necessarily, Lantash.Maybe we can do one last thing--something that will make this all worthwhile." An idea formed, and Elliot was aware when Lantash picked it up.

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M is for Merlin
by [livejournal.com profile] 11am_street

Looking at the schematics, he kept thinking of the crime he was willing to commit. Could he do it? Should do it? Could he really continue with the creation of a weapon that will extinguish the life of millions? It wasn't in his character to do harm; however, he knew too much, had seen too much.

He closed his eyes and thought back to his days in the Alteran Home Galaxy when his kind and the Ori coexisted. He knew without a doubt he must do what he must. There was no choice; there was no turning back. If not him, then who would take on his mantle and see his plan through?

He breathed in and as he exhaled, he thought, she would. She had tried before, and nearly succeeded. Always she sought his demise, he thought bitterly. She, just like the others, did not understand, could not understand the depth of horror he had seen, that has been in existence for far too long.

He continued downloading the plans for his weapon into the Repository of knowledge. He couldn't enact his plan, but perhaps, perhaps one day he would find a man with the same desire, the same strength and willpower. A man willing to sacrifice all, including his own life, to achieve the ultimate goal: the destruction of the Ori and the freedom of his former galaxy.

He felt a slight chill on the nape of his neck. He had no need to turn around to know who was behind him.

"Have you come to stop me yet again, Ganos Lal?" he said not bothering to even slow down a moment from his eminent task.

There was a long pause and the slight shuffling of feet. Merlin felt a hand rest upon his shoulder. The touch was cold at first and then slowly warmed to a natural human touch. Though Merlin knew the woman standing behind him was anything human.

"No," she sighed. Merlin stopped.

"I did as you asked," she said with slight hesitation. The tone of her voice intrigued Merlin; there was something different, something uncertain in her manor of speaking.

"Did you?" his interest was piqued. He turned toward her.

"Yes," she continued, "I went to the Ori galaxy and saw the fear they instill in the people and the destruction they wrought upon those who would dare stand up to them. They force them to be subservient and worship the Ori, increasing their power as time passes and their worshipers increase."

"As I have told you," he replied dryly, "Now what shall be done of it?"

Morgan Le Fay shook her head. "You know the laws, you know we cannot interfere."

"Yet, you went against the will of the others and saw for yourself the horror of the Ori," he defied.

"I did, though none know of this, only you. The Ori are still blind to our existence in this Galaxy and for now the others do not yet know of the true purpose of your weapon as I do."
"I will not stop my work, you know this. The Sangraal is nearly complete, and I need only add the last details."

He thought of the brave Knights of the Round Table and their King who knew of his secret, the threat of the Ori and his bitter rivalry with the woman standing before him. It was only just a few weeks that he had finally parted from his pupil Arthur. He dearly hoped he should succeed and not make the terrible choices he feared he would. He knew deep in his heart that as lovely as Guinevere was, she would surely attract trouble. He smiled ruefully, beautiful women almost always did. As much as he admired the young King, he could not feel the hope that he would have been able to follow through with Merlin's plan and complete the Sangraal and send it to the Ori Galaxy. The humans of Earth had not yet reached that level of comprehension, and would not for some time, he feared. A long time.

"I have not done all this work just to see if fall through."

"It shall not," Morgan said earnestly. "I know we had our differences in the past and I tried to stop you many times before, but hear this, I shall not let the Ori win."

"How do you propose you do this? Surely you will not interfere?"

Morgan smiled slyly, "Not exactly."

***


At least five centuries later...

"Here lies Myrddin, archmage of the round"

Having been recently removed from stasis, Merlin peered into the face of the man sitting next to him. He listened at length to the young man, who introduced himself as Daniel Jackson, as he talked. Relief flooded through him as he thought:

Now there was a dedicated man and willing to sacrifice all to achieve the ultimate goal.

Merlin smiled, eliciting an alarmed glance from this naïve, but true at heart young man. The Ori's end was at hand.

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N is for Nondisclosure
by [personal profile] magibrain

Kianna's Goa'uld had been incisive, precise, detailed in her reports, and punctual to a fault -- a model researcher, with the twin exceptions of her taking a Kelownan scientist hostage and her intention to seize the research and enact a coup. Kianna herself had never trained herself into the military discipline that seemed to be required of the people at the Institute, but in the interests of not making a worse impression on her superiors than the Goa'uld had, she was making an effort; she arrived for her first appointment with the First Minister only a couple minutes late.

Which was why she was surprised that the First Minister, a woman with a military sense of timekeeping herself, still had a visitor when she arrived.

Kianna couldn't see who it was through the heavy wood door, but she could hear First Minister Dreylock's voice. "Jonas, it would behoove you to realize that these people are not our allies, however much they might think--"

And Jonas's. "But they are our allies! Or they would be, if we let them be." He had that impassioned tone, that just-look-can't-you-see-the-evidence tone. Kianna was familiar with that tone. But right here, right now, it made her want to slink away into the back passages of the Institute and lose herself in the research materials she had until now only experienced secondhand.

"You can bring this up at the next Institute meeting," Dreylock said, which wouldn't mollify him. Kianna knew that much. The Institute meetings were theoretically a way to allow the researcher's voices to be heard, but served mostly as a way for the government to monitor sentiment. Investigations and quiet dismissals were a more common result than policy changes. "In the mean time, I understand your frustrations, but I do have a meeting. I have to end this one."

A pause. Then Jonas said "Right. Of course. Thank you for your time, First Minister," and there was the sound of papers being shuffled, and the door creaked open. Kianna stepped to one side.

There was the expected jolt of recognition when Jonas stepped out; the expected uncertainty, the expected unease.

"Kianna."

Kianna swallowed. "Jonas," she said, taking her cues from him -- still on a first-name basis, it seemed. Anything else, she suspected, would be too far one way or another; too much forced closeness, too much forced distance.

Still, it felt like they were going to go through this dance every time they encountered each other for a while, yet.

"I was just," Jonas said.

"I have an appointment," Kianna replied. Then, after a moment where neither knew what to say, "With the First Minister."

As though that wasn't obvious.

Jonas nodded, looking half like he was relieved to get out of the situation and half like he'd wanted to stay and say something. "Of course," he said. "Later, then."

Kianna nodded. Jonas left.

Inside the office, First Minister Dreylock had come out from behind her desk, and was looking at Kianna. "Researcher Cyr. Please come in."

Kianna ducked her head, and went in.

Dreylock had the same vaguely maternal look to her that Kianna knew full well masked a ruthless political wit, but even knowing it didn't do much to dispel the illusion. Of course, Kianna had the feeling this particular maternal interaction was going to be tinged with disappointment if not outright pity.

"Researcher Cyr," Dreylock said, again, and gestured to the door. Kianna shut it behind her, wondering if the weight was due to its construction, to her body missing the Goa'uld's strength it had become accustomed to, or just to her own apprehension.

"First Minister, I've drafted a copy of my resignation," Kianna said as the door creaked shut. "I know that -- given circumstances--"

To Kianna's surprise, Dreylock looked surprised. "Resignation?"

Kianna blinked, gathered her thoughts, took a deep breath and laid them out. Some things were easier that way -- just breathe and have out with it, like the last line of a proof. "I had assumed there would be concern over the extent to which I'd been... compromised." The last word came out strained. Dreylock acted like she hasn't noticed.

"Nonsense." That was brusque, no-nonsense, and probably forced. "On the contrary. We're all excited to learn what insights you may have gained during your ordeal."

Kianna blinked again. Strange how that hadn't occurred to her, but now that she thought about it, it made sense; the Kelownan government probably wouldn't let her retire if she did want to. Not when she could hold the secrets to Goa'uld technology that could further their superiority over the Andari and Tiranians.

And, in the governmental accounting, perhaps the SGC.

And Kianna didn't try to think about whether she did want to resign.

Dreylock gave her a moment, then said, with the same forced brusqueness, "Of course, you will need to complete the internal screening again, seeing as you technically didn't the first time." She looked at Kianna closely, then said, in a slightly lower voice, "You do know the correct answers to give them?"

Kianna straightened her back. "Of course, First Minister," she said. "My only loyalty is to Kelowna."

Dreylock nodded, satisfied. "As soon as you complete the contracts, then," she said. "Feel free to return to work."

***


The screening was more like a recitation -- which all the scientists and screeners knew, but which no one ever pointed out. It served more as a way of making sure all the scientists knew what was required of them than of any real gauge of their sentiments.

And still, after knowing this for all this time, Kianna still fought the pause she felt at the question, "Under what circumstances, if any, is it permissible to share the your research outside the hierarchy of your command?"

***


Kianna's clearance came quickly, and the formal assignments back to her old lab and old partners were nothing if not expected. She'd already been on the team dedicated to the most valuable projects rated most valuable to the military; where else could she be put, with the knowledge of the Goa'uld?

She was relieved to find the lab empty when she walked in. The clutter was familiar, if not precisely homely; she preferred to keep a tidy space and loose hours.

Still. It was something.

She wandered over to look at the blackboard. In the days that had passed between the DUEV mission and her re-confirmation, it seemed like the lab had been in limbo; even the odd tangential scribbles in the margins were sparser than usual.

"Hey."

Kianna's first instinct was to freeze, but her second instinct was vestigial: the Goa'uld's insistence Don't betray yourself. Act as though nothing is out of place. She turned around to see Jonas in the doorway, arms full of books, hesitating before coming in.

"It's your lab too, you know," she pointed out.

Jonas glanced at the office, then gave a shallow chuckle. "So it is." He raised his eyebrows, gave a half-shrug and stepped inside, setting down his books. While he did so, they shared an awkward silence.

Jonas dispelled the silence, though not the awkwardness, by turning to Kianna and saying "So. ...how are you doing?"

Kianna swallowed back a bitter taste, and looked down at the woodgrain of the long table. "I don't know," she said, and noted that her voice still had that carryover calm. Don't betray. "How should I be feeling?" She caught the unconsidered implication of the question, and pulled it back. "Has this happened before?"

The Goa'uld inside her hadn't known of any others. But then, she wouldn't have, would she?

Jonas's chuckle came back, brief and uneasy. "No. I mean, not in Kelowna. Not to my knowledge."

"Of course," Kianna said.

The silence came back. Awkward and persistent.

"Kianna," Jonas said, and she looked up at him. The calm she felt was entirely artificial, sitting like a dense weight on her diaphragm, and she could feel a scrabbling panic beneath it and couldn't tell whose self-control was keeping it shoved down.

"I don't know," she said. "I don't know how I should act around you, and I don't know how you should act around me. I don't expect you to know, either." One hand came up to her sternum; the other followed it, worrying the web between thumb and forefinger. "So. I guess we just start working, then? Formulate and test our hypotheses. The way it's always been."

Or not. Jonas looked at her, pained-amused, and Kianna looked back to the table again.

Then, after a few more moments, Jonas broke the silence. "...let's go get lunch?"

***


The Institute's cafeteria wasn't exactly luxurious, and by the time they picked up tins of soup and ration bread -- a dense, unleavened mass that probably made it onto the menu as a not-so-subtle reminder that science had suddenly become the backbone of the Kelownan military apparatus -- the odd looks of the other scientists and staff had unnerved Kianna enough to make them retreat back to the lab again. They sat among the books and equipment, at haphazardly-cleared spots along the table, crumbling the bread into the soup and eating.

After a bit, Jonas made an odd noise. Kianna quirked her head at him.

"I was just thinking it's not that good," Jonas said.

Kianna frowned at her soup. "I hadn't noticed," she said, honestly -- the Goa'uld ha treated Kelownan food as an obligation, a way to intake the necessary calories to sustain their combined biological functions, and the thought of evaluating food on the merits of its taste was a distant concern for Kianna. She had other things occupying her mind.

But then she looked up, and saw the look Jonas wasn't even trying to hide, and her frown deepened. "Can you not -- you're looking at me like I'm an interesting ethics problem."

He looked chastised, in the way that said he wasn't really ashamed but he'd toe the social convention that required him to act apologetic. "Sorry. It's just -- not that I'd ever imply that you were, but..."

Kianna sighed. "But I am." She cracked off another piece of bread.

"But your existence does not reduce to what happened to you," Jonas said. Kianna tried a shrug, and found it to be an odd, almost convulsive motion.

"Except in the eyes of the people who decided to let me continue my research here," Kianna said. "Or start my research here, I guess. My research."

Jonas thought for a moment, fumbling for a way to reassure her. It was odd; Kianna felt like she half-knew him, but only in the sense that she would know someone in one of the great novels: she knew how he would react in situations she didn't initiate, react to words she wouldn't say. But layered into that knowledge was tactile memory that belonged wholly to her body, but not to her. She shook her head before Jonas could come up with anything.

"You had an argument with the First Minister." Strange, that the woman with the alien in her head had a better meeting than the rising star of naqahdriah research. Or maybe not so strange; for all the government's talk of pardons, she knew how much they still thought of him as their traitorous, prodigal son. Better kept here where they could keep an eye on him.

"Yeah," Jonas answered, and stuffed another spoonful of soup in his mouth. "Same argument we've been having," he said, around the food.

"What's your reasoning?" She glanced up, then looked down. Broke up a crumble of the bread with the side of her spoon. "I'm not skeptical. I just want--"

"To hear my reasoning, yeah," Jonas said, and a brief, convulsive smile ticked Kianna's lips. The Goa'uld had been intel-seeking, true, but the tone of the conversations they'd had were similar enough to work with.

Jonas chewed for a moment.

"It's simple enough," he said, at length. "I think we need to share our research, work with the scientists of other nations, and of Earth. They think we need to keep as many secrets as we can."

Kianna smiled again. "Didn't they make you go through the screening?"

"They made me recite the right answers, yeah," Jonas said. "But what are they going to do? I mean, they can't dismiss me. Much as I hate it," and his voice took on a warm amusement, "there are certain advantages to having your government fear you and your associations with a more technically advanced power."

"But they don't see the wisdom in collaboration."

"No, they don't."

Kianna quirked her head. "Why do you?"

"Why?" Jonas asked. He drummed his spoon against the tin bowl, then shrugged. "Because I think that our results are reproducible. I think that now that the Andaris and Tiranians know that naqahdah can be converted into naquadriah, they will devote all possible resources to obtaining naqahdah and producing naquadriah. Even if we have the majority of the known veins of naqahdah, we've already seen how easy it is to smuggle naqahdah and naqahdriah out of our facilities and to stockpile it -- I can't imagine that Andari and Tiranian spies wouldn't have taken advantage of that already."

"You think that because they have the resources, we should share the knowledge?"

"Well, yes, but you're coming at it the wrong way," Jonas said. Kianna raised an eyebrow, and Jonas relented. "Point taken; I'm framing it the wrong way. How's this." He exhaled. "Andari and Tiranian naqahdriah capabilities are a foregone conclusion. The only question is how long it will take them to acquire those, and how they'll feel about us once they have."

"And a spirit of collaboration is going to serve us better, politically, than a spirit of competition," Kianna said. Jonas nodded.

"Exactly. But for all we've made token gestures of sharing the research related to the naqahdriah..."

"No one is fooled."

"Right."

Kianna swallowed down a few more spoonfuls of soup. Now that she thought about it, it was bland, the bread dense, the indeterminate legumes overcooked to the point of mush. Maybe if they'd gone earlier in the day, it would have been more palatable. Or undercooked to a different point of unpalatability.

The Kianna Cyr the Goa'uld had acted as had hewed to the party line: mistrust and paranoia. She'd been the darling of the cabinet and the institute's directors for more than one reason. "I'd like to say that this kind of secrecy isn't sustainable," she said. "But then, from what I know of the Goa'uld..."

"Well, the Goa'uld are different," Jonas said, and it stuck her how much more he probably knew about them than she did. She had the memories and knowledge of one stuck in her head, with all its attendant presumptions and delusions.

She felt a sudden, sharp stab of resentment, at that.

"Naturally unimaginative," Jonas went on. "Paranoid and mistrustful to a fault. I doubt they'd be capable of meaningful collaboration."

Kianna thought back to her Goa'uld, its shifting reasons for being here. "I could believe that," she said. "So what do you think we're headed for?"

Jonas sighed. "What do I think? Despite our early superiority, the playing field will even out again, and the tensions which will have resulted from making it into an arms race in the first place will bring us into a world none of us want to live in." He shook his head, and for a moment the perpetual curiosity, the bright enthusiasm, dulled into something world-weary and tarnished. "We'll be brought to the edge of catastrophes time and again, as further weapons are tested, under one form of political cover or other. Smaller factions within and outside our nations will develop similar, if smaller weapons programs, giving them clout in world politics they're not accustomed to and we're not inclined to respect. Eventually, if we're lucky, the governments will learn to respect the technology enough to agree to work toward putting it aside. And we'll all, hopefully, live to look back on this time as one of senseless panic, wherein nationalistic bravado very nearly got us into more trouble than we could handle." He looked up, and the indefatigable bright-sided edge was back in his eyes. "Emphasis on the 'live'."

Kianna digested that.

She didn't have anything to say, for a while. Finally, she jammed the rest of her bread into her soup and set to work breaking it up. "You know," she said, "there was a rumor that you learned how to see the future on Earth."

Jonas made a surprised noise, and then laughed -- a real laugh, not one of his half-chuckles. "No. Well, yes, technically, but they removed that." She didn't even have time to ask what that was supposed to mean. "No; I just had the opportunity of studying a civilization who did go down this path."

"Who are still keeping secrets," Kianna said. "Aren't they?"

"Well. No one ever said they were perfect." Jonas shrugged. "And, to be fair, the Stargate project is also under military command."

Kianna swallowed down a spoonful of sodden bread and chewed on that, literally and figuratively. "Military entities favor limitation of knowledge," she said, and found her mind worrying at the edges of the knowledge left scattered in her brain. "Even the Goa'uld."

"It's understandable," Jonas said. "As scientists, we're trained to see knowledge as the goal and ignorance as the enemy. To them -- the military and the government, I mean -- knowledge is a tool, a weapon, and the enemies are literal. When we're working under different assumptions and toward different goals, it's no surprise that we run into problems."

"So what do we do?" Kianna asked. "As scientists -- as ethical scientists." Another sidelong smile, another half-joke. Jonas wasn't appointed as an ethical advisor, but you couldn't take the ethics out of him. As First Minister Dreylock probably lamented.

Jonas exhaled. "We keep working," he said. Then, as though realizing the ambiguity, "toward what we think is right."

"And in the mean time we keep our mouths shut?" Kianna asked.

"In the mean time," Jonas said, punctuating his words with a jab of his spoon, "we talk to anyone who will listen, so long as they won't get our security clearance revoked. But, yeah. In the mean time, until the rules become unethical, we follow the rules."

Kianna nodded to herself, and set to finishing her lunch. The silence fell in between them like the end of an argument.

When the bowls were scraped clean and set aside, Kianna finally voiced the thought that was running through her head. "It's constraining, though. Lonely, too."

"It's a necessary evil, from their perspective."

"Evil?" Kianna asked. "Or just another tool?"

"Either way," Jonas said, and Kianna nodded.

"Either way, it's the world we get to live in."

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O is for Odin
by [personal profile] eilidh17



They are as we once were.

Original?

Perhaps exceptional would be a wiser word choice.

Exceptional would tend to assume that we are no longer as good as we once were. Or perhaps there is a stage above perfection we have yet to name?

Originality is a template of sorts.

Ah. An untainted gene pool.

Do you always regard life in such simplistic terms?

I was not a scientist. Neither were you.

I have adapted. You are aware of what the humans regard our kind as?

I have heard rumors, but I am unsure of what the term 'little green men' refers to.

It is a common illusion of our kind. Doctor Jackson once stated that it was a phrase given by those who claimed to have seen us among their population. O'Neill would call it a term of endearment. It is not the opinion of those who have made it their place to protect their planet.

I see your fondness for the Tau'ri has not waned over the centuries. And yet you would share with them everything we are, that we have attained...

That we have achieved? They have earned our respect and in turn their place in the galaxy. There is no other to take the mantle we leave behind. You do not agree?

There are those among the Tau'ri who command a faith once reserved only for our allies, but they number few.

You do not regard them as allies?

I see them as capable children, walking a steady path to adulthood, but I do not believe they are ready for this responsibility we would give them. Is not a true ally someone with whom we share an equal respect?

Even allies have truths they would hold back from their friends. Is that not the way of all intelligent beings?

Yet we give to them the sum of our existence in the hope that those very few whom we trust will know how to use our legacy.

We are dead. We have reached the end of our evolutionary path, perhaps exceeded it, and so we have nothing but our legacy to give.

And yet we are leaving them at their most vulnerable. This is not the way of an ally.

You are incorrect. We are enabling them at the most important moment of their growth. They are us, only they have the virtue of knowing the weaknesses that lead us to our end.

Some would say a lesson is not learned if it is not first experienced.

Perhaps. But then every lesson is taught by a different teacher. Our path is not theirs.

What will become of us, my son?

Our legacy is shared. The sum of our knowledge will be left in the care of those who are most qualified to use and honor it. Your story will be as well told as my own, of that I am confident.

Odin's avatar image flickered, and for a brief moment it looked as though the old Asgard was smiling at his son, though Thor knew better. The aesir had consigned themselves to virtual history eons ago, rejecting their choice to be cloned. Frigg, Balder, Tyr, and Odin. All heroes of an era long past.

And now Thor would join them.

You are afraid?

No, father. I trust them with our future.

They are the Fifth Race?

Of this I am certain.

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P is for Pournelle's Iron Law
B is for Bureaucracy
by [personal profile] splash_the_cat

Pournelle's Iron Law of Bureaucracy states that in any bureaucratic organization there will be two kinds of people: those who work to further the actual goals of the organization, and those who work for the organization itself.

Ja'tal often does not understand his Jaffa brothers. He is young enough that he has never carried a prim'ta, has never carried a staff weapon in anything but defense of his brothers and their allies, has never knelt in awe or fear of a god.

But most of all he does not understand why his elder brethren cannot be bothered organizing things properly. It is not as if Jaffa do not possess great or efficient minds: the oral sagas are always rich and detailed, and remembered perfectly. Battle plans and strategies are handed down for generations. Most free Jaffa are more than proficient at using the Goa'uld computers scavenged from ha'taks and the occasional al'kesh and repurposed to maintaining information and organizing communications.

But when it comes to the everyday mundanities, tasks and details of a rebellion, everyone single person has their own opinion, their own way of doing things, and it is slowly driving Ja'tal to madness.

He stomps through the chappa'ai and right into Master Bra'tac. Stumbling back from the collision, he lands with a humiliating thud on his backside. Ja'tal sucks in a breath, more at the sympathetic smile on Bra'tac's face than at the sting of impact. He has seventeen summers! He will not cry like a baby.

"Hold up, young son!" Bra'tac offers a hand, and snuffling back his anger and embarrassment, Ja'tal takes it, letting the old man pull him to his feet. "You look fit to start a storm, Ja'tal. What has happened to bring you back in this state?"

Ja'tal surreptitiously brushes the dirt from the seat of his pants and pulls himself straight and tall. "It is nothing, Master Bra'tac. My apologies for my inattention."

But his attempt to school his feelings apparently falls as awkwardly flat as he did, and Bra'tac sighs. "What has Dalna'k done this time?"

"He has released me from my duties, and wishes Master Teal'c to send him a more 'suitable replacement'."

Bra'tac tugs him away from the steps of the chappa'ai platform. "Suitable as in 'pliable,' you mean?"

"I only thought to improve our processes for requests of travel rations and weapons!" The words are out before he even has fully formed his reaction to Bra'tac's question, and he cannot dam the torrent that follows. "We often run low on stores because Dalna'k keeps all the requests in his head, and never tells the quartermaster what to expect. I programmed a crystal to establish and track an inventory of our needs and supplies. It would also integrate all requisitions and produce a weekly or even daily report that Kanek could give to Dalna'k, if he so desperately needs to be aware of everything all the time, but he took the crystal and smashed it underneath his boot and chastised me for stepping above myself."

No censure from Bra'tac for his impertinence banishes the last of his desire to take his disgrace with dignity. "Dalna'k doesn't even need to be involved, shouldn't be involved most of the time. Kanek should be the one to take these requests as Dalna'k holds him responsible for procuring and dispensing such supplies. But how can he fulfill his assigned tasks when he does not know, and Dalna'k will not tell him. Instead Dalna'k berates him for his failures! In front of everyone!

"It makes no sense! It is not efficient." Ja'tal slams the butt of his staff weapon upon the ground. "It is stupid."

"And you told Dalna'k this?"

The fire of his indignation spent now spent, Ja'tal bows his head and mutters, "I may have implied that I found his leadership would benefit from... improvements."

Bra'tac's low chuckle is warm with understanding. "Come, let us drown your sorrows in a bit of spirits, and find a better fit for your skills and passion."

"But what of Dalna'k?" He hates how peevish his question comes out. He is Jaffa. He will not be bowed by some old bully who scratches his ass constantly and grunts like a boar about his glory days.

"I will bring this to Teal'c's attention, but Dalna'k has his uses." Bra'tac gripped his shoulder. "Welcome to the revolution, my boy."

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Q is for Quacksalver
by [personal profile] sid

I have never laid any claim to being a scientist. Anise, of course, is a scientist, and a highly trained one at that. Unfortunately she can never seem to remember that her training is entirely in the area of ancient civilizations and cultures. She is constantly dragging me into situations that make me look and feel foolish. Much worse than that, other people have been endangered.

But what can I do about it? If I raise objections, she dismisses them, the same way she dismissed the concerns of the Tau'ri about the tests she wanted to perform using the Atoneek armbands. She kept insisting that Colonel O'Neill and his team would be all right, in spite of their physician's very vocal unease. In a way, Anise was correct. They would have developed antibodies, the armbands would have fallen off, and everyone would have been safe and healthy. If we hadn't convinced them to undertake that mission for us.

I share the blame for that. Their deaths would have been on my hands as much as... After all these years, I still find myself using phrases that are quite silly in our situation. There is only the one pair of hands, and one head for blame to be heaped upon. It does seem unfair that they should be mine, every time.

Anise is ingenious, there is no denying. She surmised the existence of the Zatarc mind-control technology, and, with a good deal of help, built a machine that uses a modified memory recall device to detect the presence of an implanted false memory. But once again, she believed so strongly in her theories that she overlooked other possibilities, such as the Tau'ri instinct to dissemble under certain circumstances. They are so inhibited and bound by pointless rules.

The Tau'ri have a word for Anise. Well, they have several. But the most interesting one I overheard comes from the language called Dutch: quacksalver, meaning hawker of salve, with said salve being considered of highly dubious value. They have shortened it over time to simply 'quack', but Doctor Jackson was more than happy to supply me with the complete definition and etymology when I enquired. More than happy.

Anise sulked for quite a while after that, and perhaps it was unkind of me, especially in view of her regard for Doctor Jackson, but I felt it was in everyone's best interests. Perhaps, going forward, she will be more cautious. More scientific with her scientific experiments. Things clearly could not continue as they were. Certainly her intentions are always of the very best -- I can vouch for that.

But quite frankly, with such an ally as Anise, who would require enemies?

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R is for Regrets
by [personal profile] skieswideopen

Haikon is the last of his people. The Tau'ri confirm it for him after they destroy the thing that used to be Volnek, but he'd already known.

The Tau'ri take him back to their world. He doesn't expect to survive, but their surgeons prove as skilled as Volnek reported, and he wakes from surgery to voices telling him that he'll be fine.

He spends his recovery reviewing his regrets. It's not a luxury he would have allowed himself in the days when he was Lord Haikon, leader of the Sodan. But now he's just Haikon, with too many hours and no purpose to guide his use of them, and his regrets have grown past counting. (If only he had been a better warrior. Fought harder. Brought Volnek down.)

The Tau'ri tell him there is nothing he could have done. His people were doomed the moment the Prior first made contact. (If only he had hidden them more effectively. Guarded them from the eyes of the Ori.)

"If you'd stopped Volnek, they would have tried something else," Mitchell says. "One way or another, they would have brought you down. They don't believe in taking 'no' for an answer."

"And yet here you stand, your world untouched," Haikon counters. (If only he'd moved his people to this world. Perhaps whatever blessings protect the Tau'ri might have protected them also.)

"So far," Mitchell says grimly. "And only if you don't count that bout of Prior Plague we went through."

"Even so."

Mitchell shakes his head. "Can't run on luck forever."

The Tau'ri invite him to stay when he's healed. Tell him they can find a place for him on this world. He refuses their offer. The Tau'ri seem to have few plans for a direct attack right now, and Haikon lacks the patience to wait. Besides, if he's to face down an implacable enemy, he'd rather do it with Jaffa at his side. Even Jaffa who have only recently thrown aside the yoke of false gods. (If only he hadn't survived the attack. If only had hadn't lived long enough to know the terrible loneliness of being the last.)

Teal'c gives him the addresses of several Jaffa worlds where he will be welcome. Haikon picks one at random and asks the Tau'ri to dial it for him.

The world he walks into is as strange as that of the Tau'ri. The clothing is odd, the smells unfamiliar, and the symbols of the false gods are everywhere, though many have been vandalized or torn down. Haikon resolutely ignores all of it and goes in search of the warriors.

It doesn't matter anyway. He doesn't expect he'll be here long.
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S is for Syndication
by [profile] elder_bonnie

The moons of Alaris sat side by side upon the horizon, fading as the sun rose. Caiman stood and stretched, smiling at the scene that was so familiar to him. He stepped carefully over the legs of Sergeant Haverdan, a member of SG-12 from Earth. Their team had been studying with his people for a while now and were scheduled for departure soon. Caiman was looking forward to showing them the ruins at the base of the ravine today. He started walking toward the woods, hoping to look at the Stargate, when he heard a noise like the growling of an alien beast. Caiman recognized it as coming from the gate and broke into a run, but by the time he reached the gate, it was already activating, surrounded by a strange webbing of energy-

The moons of Alaris sat side by side upon the horizon, fading as the sun rose. Caiman stood and stretched, smiling at the scene that was so familiar to him. Sergeant Haverdan grunted and rolled over, nearly tripping Caiman as he moved past the group and started heading toward the Stargate. He was intent on studying its glyphs, intrigued by them and secretly hoping someday to travel through the ring. He began making his way through the woods when he heard a terrible roar begin in the distance. It was the gate! He began to run, but was clotheslined by a low-hanging branch. Caiman landed on his back with a thud, the wind knocked out of him-

The moons of Alaris sat side by side up on the horizon, fading as the sun rose. Caiman stood and began to stretch, but he lost his footing and fell backwards into the dying fire embers. His comical shrieks awoke the members of SG-12, who quickly pulled him out of the ashes and laughed as they dusted him off. But then they all heard the shriek of the gate and began to run to the Stargate's clearing, commanding Caiman to stay behind.

The moons of Alaris sat side by side upon the horizon. Caiman was still asleep and slept through the whole loop.

The moons of Alaris sat side by side upon the horizon. As Caiman was standing to stretch, he heard a soft whooshing from above. He turned in a quick circle, looking at the sky, but was unable to spot the golf ball before it hit his head.

The moons of Alaris began to peer over the edge of the horizon, illuminated by the last dying rays of the sun. The day had been a productive one, and the members of SG-12 were ready to head home. Caiman was sorry to see them go; they hadn't spent nearly enough time learning from each other. It wasn't until the team had the gate dialed up and ready to go that they all received word of what had happened -- a time loop had trapped their world along with a number of others, apparently causing them all to relive the same handful of hours again and again and again. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately for them, their loop had begun shortly after they'd gone to sleep the night before. They had slept most of their loops away. Upon hearing all of this news, Caiman absently rubbed the back of his head, as though subconsciously feeling the pain from an injury he never received.

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T is for Troubled Minds and Traitor
by [personal profile] lokei

Troubled Minds

Travell doesn't think of herself as the sort of person who vacillates wildly. In her role, she can't afford to, after all. One doesn't become High Chancellor by looking indecisive or unprincipled.

SG-1 makes her head spin in ways she doesn't much appreciate, but then again, less technologically advanced societies do have a tendency to be more volatile than her own more regulated community. First, they insist on 'rescuing' the last team from Tollan, and then rescuing them again from their own government by contacting the Nox and engineering their escape. Next they attempt to disrupt the Triad and subvert a highly respected member of the Nox delegation, and somehow end up saving Tollana again. Yet a mere handful of weeks later, other Tau'ri are implicated in the theft of valuable technology from more than one set of allies. It is as if the humans of Earth are constitutionally incapable of acting in rational or predictable patterns, and they are all extraordinarily aggravating to Travell's sense of order.

Dealing with the Tau'ri is like grabbing on to the end of a wildly swinging rope and hoping it doesn't fray under your fingers and let you drop somewhere unpleasant.

Travell considers this, and clenches her fingers tightly around that invisible thread of hope, and bows to Tanith's demands.


Traitor

It's a hard label to bear on a daily basis. For all Nyan loves being Doctor Jackson's research assistant, plowing through the massive piles of books and notes that continually overturn everything Nyan thought he knew about the universe, every single page is also a reminder. Every penciled scrawl for transcription, every email heading, every gold-titled tome of folklore mutates under Nyan's gaze to a scarlet brand of betrayal, like that book he'd picked up in the on-base library. Yes, he is happy to be learning. Yes, he is happy to be alive. Yes, he did the right thing, helping SG-1 escape. Most days he is content with his status as political refugee, as a member of the SGC, as a scientist who put truth above belief.

But some days, he is a traitor to Bedrosia, and he can never go home.

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U is for Ultimately Unmoved
by [personal profile] thothmes

Long and long ago when the galaxy was much younger, and no modern human beings had yet evolved to walk the Earth, there were four great races that allied themselves. Although the Tau'ri were to assume later - and mistakenly - that these races allied to fight the Goa'uld, this was not so. At that time the Goa'uld were still confined to the swamps of a single backwater planet, and they were considered a curiosity, and a curse on the few Unas that were afflicted with them. It was only millennia later, when humans had evolved and some of the Unas had been taught the use of the stargates and had begun to wander the galaxy that the Four Great Races, already allied, turned their attention to the scourge that was the Goa'uld, and because defeating the Goa'uld had never been the reason for their alliance, merely yet another of the paths that they explored in their attempts to better the universe, they did not - as a body - feel that they needed to see that task through.

They had banded together because they were each intelligent, space faring, curious races, and the universe is a vast place and evil was as strong and as dangerous back then as it is in our time. They were stronger together than individually, and thus they allied themselves, to share knowledge, to share resources, and to pool their questions about the nature of the universe. A dying race, still older than any of their own and the possessors of great wisdom, passed on to them the prediction that a Fifth Race would arise and walk amongst them all, and this race would be the one to defeat the Goa'uld, once and for all. Then that race, whose name has vanished into time, came to an end, taking their vast wisdom with them, a bitter development for the Asgard, who had hoped to benefit from it.

The first to drift away of the Four were the Ancients. They were always an overweening and outward-turned race, seeding the universe with stargates and with races created in their own image, using their stargates to spread the most successful mutations as they evolved far and wide throughout the universe. They studied time and learned to travel through it when the spirit or necessity moved them, and eventually they grew so mighty and had reached so far beyond their corporeal forms, and were so wracked by a great schism, that they passed beyond the ken of the other three races, ascending or becoming the gods of the Ori, depending on which side their loyalties lay.

The Nox were next. Though they had discovered many beauties and wonders out on the other worlds of the galaxy, the technology that they used to reach out to the stars had badly damaged the ecology of their planet. The Ancients had given them a stargate, enabling them to travel the stars by other means, but the Nox looked at the ruins of their native planet and they felt great sadness and great shame that their selfish quest for the wonders beyond its bounds had led them to abuse the other organisms that they shared the planet with. Their thirst for knowledge ceased to lead outward, and instead focused on finding the best ways to undo what they had done, and learning how to live in harmony with the environment they would cultivate and restore. They were, alas, not wise enough to be able to fully recreate all that had been lost. Some things, once broken, cannot be regained, but it would have been difficult for outsiders to see this. They tended their garden and worked to perfect the ability to live in harmony with all things.

The Asgard, alone of the Four, stayed and fought on, but their quest to amass ever greater intelligence and knowledge by defeating death was their downfall. With growing minds and failing bodies, they faced the press of their duty to hold back the tide of the Goa'uld, and this was complicated almost beyond feasibility by the rise of the Replicators. Still, courage and steadfastness is a quality more of the mind than the body, and they soldiered on, keeping back the forces of darkness, and waiting for a sign that the Fifth Race had arisen to help them bear the burden. It had been said that the Fifth Race would come of its own volition to the Asgard, and that it would have a wisdom unlike any other, binding the hard strength of the warrior with the fresh curiosity of the child. The Asgard fought, and watched, and waited.

This left the Furlings, and they had their own ideas about who the Fifth Race might be. The Ancients had tried to create them, sowing the seeds and starting the process of evolution, helping it along here and there. The Nox had turned away from the quest for the Fifth Race, and had instead cultivated their own garden. The Asgard were absorbed with guarding the seeds the Ancients had sewn, and if the Fifth Race was not to arise from that source, well then they were content to wait for it to come to them. A race older and wiser than themselves had told them that it would come, and they had no reason to doubt that this would be so. The Furlings had their own idea about what kind of beings had the best shot at becoming the Fifth Race, and so they put down roots and entwined their lives intimately with those they were grooming for the role, content to let nature and evolution take their course. If they regretted giving up their freedom and binding themselves inextricably with another species, they have never made that known to any others.

Long years passed. One day was much like the next, and the Furlings delighted in the harmony that they and their chosen race created. The people they nurtured did not grow or advance as fast as had been expected, but as the Furlings spread over their globe, so did their chosen people, and they were a peaceful, gentle, loving race. In time the Furlings hoped they would do great things indeed, and bring their harmony to the universe at large. The Furlings were slow growing and patient. They would wait.

And so the days followed each other, and the years passed away, and change was slow and very, very gradual. Each day was much like the day before, and would be much like the day to come, until unexpectedly change and disaster came calling all at once through the stargate. This stargate on the planet the Furlings had chosen to put down roots on had not been activated in millennia, but suddenly one day it burst into life, and a terrible death-dealing machine issued forth, flying through the air and slaying one of their number. Then it was that the Furlings regretted deeply having put down such deep roots. In building the bond between themselves and their chosen people they had been forced to make the choice to give up wandering the stars. They no longer had the capacity to rise up and fight fire with fire. All they could do was make their displeasure known, in hopes of driving away the invaders that followed the terrible machine. It would be effective, but this would also affect their chosen people. Many of them would also sicken and die. At least this way they would remain pure and uncontaminated by the violent nature of the Ancient's spawn that came through the gate.

But the intruders did not wither and fall fast enough. Still more came through, and these invaders took one of the chosen ones back through the gate. The Furlings pressed harder, and still the intruders did not leave, although they began to show signs of difficulty. Eventually more of the intruders began to make their way back to the gate, and the Furlings began to sense victory. There was sorrow for the one that was stolen, but at least it looked likely that the intruders would all turn back and leave in time.

As the outcome began to look more certain, the Furlings began to discuss another disturbing development amongst themselves. One of the intruders had a genetic marker. The tell-tale pheromone had wafted their way. It was unmistakable. The Asgard had done this, marking him as a likely member of the Fifth Race. That one had gone to the Asgard. They apparently felt that he was in fulfillment of the prophesy, and they had marked him as such. Although not all the Furlings were convinced that this view was correct, the majority felt that as disappointing as development was, it was altogether too likely that the intruders, these aggressors, these cultivars of the Ancients, were in fact the Fifth Race, and the Furlings' beautiful, peaceful, harmonious people were just that, people. They were not destined to go forth and free the world, only to live their peaceful lives and sing their sweet songs. If, indeed, they ever sang again, because they had been sickened, and both they and the Furlings were spiraling into disaster now. The Furlings themselves were too out of harmony, and arguing amongst themselves, and as they continued to emit their soured sounds, their people sickened further, and the Furlings could feel themselves drawing down in and away, and their people did not sing to bring them back.

Then came the final proof that the Furlings needed to be convinced as a whole that the intruders were of the Fifth Race. The original four came back, with new machines, and the new machines played the Furlings' own voices back to them, a sound from before the machine had mown down one of their number. Their chosen people began to recover and revive, and as they did so, they began to sing. They were saved, and the intruders had saved them! These were not evildoers, but well-intentioned, if unintentionally deadly voyagers. Happy and relieved, and content to let the intruders go in piece to wander the universe and fulfill their destiny, the Furlings stretched themselves up towards the sun and began to sing their own song.

The intruders stood for a few more moments to watch the results of what they had done, as the people sang and the strange white flowers reached for the sun and began their own song. They were discussing what had just happened.

The Asgard-marked one turned to another and said "Captain?"

"I... I talk to my plants, okay?" said the shortest, slenderest one, and they began to pack up their machines and leave.

The Furlings barely noticed them pass away, moving on to their destiny. The home of the Fourth Race was here now, with their people, and the sun was shining, the music was beautiful, and all was well with their world. They had spent many long millennia striving. Now their roots ran deep on this planet, and the Alliance of the Four Races was no more. Let the Fifth Race and the Asgard strive and struggle. If they were called on the Furlings would honor their ancient alliance and do what they could, but for now they were content to bloom and fruit here.

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V is for Vodka
by [personal profile] colls

Martin groaned as he tried to open his eyes. His head was pounding and the room was swaying slightly, so he closed them again and buried his face in the pillow. He didn't remember how he got into bed, but he did know he didn't want to get out just now.

Moments later, the alarm clock on the night stand began blaring out an obnoxious tune. Martin struggled to turn it off, cursing and nearly crying in frustration. Mission finally accomplished, he sat at the edge of the bed with his head in his hands, wondering who had tuned the clock radio to a pop station. The housekeeping staff? Probably. He hated this hotel, but it was closest to the movie set.

He made his way to the bathroom in search of water. On the sink was a bottle of Tylenol, three bottles of water and a bottle of Gatorade. Attached to the mirror was a hand written note.

Martin;

It seems we need to discuss boundaries and rules once again. Please keep this in your wallet and refer to it as needed.

1) Do not phone Jack O'Neill except in cases of emergency EXTREME emergency.

2) 50's night at the local karaoke bar is NOT an emergency.

3) Your date thinking that you're weird does not mean she suspects you to be an alien. You're just weird.

4) You are not refer to back home as 'on your planet'. If you find yourself in a bind, say you're from Canada.

5) Under no circumstances are you allowed to drink vodka again.

Signed;

Jack O'Neill

P.S. I've asked the local sheriff to drop the drunk and disorderly charges, but she's put you on notice. "No more shenanigans!!" (her words) She's also left her number, apparently she's a 50's fan and thinks you have a nice voice.

Do not EVER put me in a position of having to hear a sheriff say something like that about you EVER again. Do you understand me?


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W is for Wile
by [personal profile] eilidh17



Anise was a fool; a child among the most junior of the Tok'ra, despite her many centuries among their ranks. Sure, she had the promise of becoming one of their most exceptional scientific minds, but she also had a naivety that meant most of her 'brilliant' work was clouded by her reputation for stumbling, sometimes blindly, upon solutions to problems.

One of her other shortcomings was her love for the tactile feeling of handwriting. Tallan looked at Anise's open journal, to the details of her latest creation and its' unpromising results. He smiled smugly, noting the errors she had made with her calculations and how swayed her hypothesis was because she simply believed she was right.

None of this mattered now that his plan was slowly unfolding. Anise was crucial to his next move. He shadowed her from time to time, as any good teacher would--backing up her theories with his practical wisdom, borne from more than a millennia of life studying the sciences--and encouraging her research down a path that would lead to particular results. All the while, blinding her to the minuscule flaws in the device she had created.

Tallan was not Tok'ra. He guessed, if he had to define his being, he would regard himself as a Goa'uld spy, for that was exactly what his purpose among the Tok'ra was. He had lived with them for most of his considerably long life: waiting, watching, and only feeding back to his master the most crucial of information. He slotted in perfectly with their society. No one knew of his ruse, of how one of his former hosts had been captured by his master, and how he had taken that Tok'ra's place and never allowed the host to surface again. Each subsequent host was silenced with equal ease.

In one corner of Anise's laboratory sat the very device she had developed to counter the latest threat to the Tok'ra. It was innocuous looking, and it was also defective... to a degree. There was no way Tallan could let the device work exactly the way Anise suggested it would. Fortunately for him, several members of the Tok'ra had already been exposed to this device, with a range of results that left Per'sus and the rest of the High Council in two minds over its effective use.

Of course, what no-one on the High Council knew was that the technology to turn someone into a za'tarc was of Tallan's making. And that the device itself was safely in the hands of his master and awaiting its next target.

As the Tau'ri became more active in the affairs of the galaxy, the age-old ways of the Tok'ra and their chain of operatives was coming to an end. In some ways, the roguish nature of the Tau'ri made it easy for the Goa'uld to focus their energies inward to the internal issues among the System Lords, but in other instances it made their struggle that much harder with the rise of the Free Jaffa movement. In the end, his master had decided to further his own standing among the System Lords by breaking up the proposed Tok'ra-Tau'ri alliance.

Tallan saw the beauty in the plan, the simplicity of sitting back and watching from afar as the two sides played a blame game over the deaths of their most prominent leaders, at a time when they should have been trading treaties and making promises that ultimately neither side would adhere to. He had seen it all before, when one System Lord offered the branch of peace to another, for the purpose of joining forces against a third. War inevitably never ends well for either side.

Traps had been set, plans laid, and Tallan's place on the High Council--and his ability to subtly cast doubt over Anise's solution to the detection of za'tarcs, while still appearing to support his student--had guaranteed that he knew the movements of every operative in their ranks. And further ensured that when the time came and the device was turned on against the Tau'ri, the results would cast further uncertainty over the fledgling alliance.

"Tallan?"

Momentarily startled at the intrusion into his thoughts, Tallan looked up to see Martouf framed in the entrance to the laboratory. He smiled amiably and closed Anise's journal.

"Martouf, my friend. You are well?"

"I am. Your presence is required in council chambers."

"Anise?"

"Already there and waiting for you."

"Yes, yes. I am quite sure she is." He lifted the journal and tucked it under one arm. "Sometimes I wonder how she manages to rise in the mornings, being as forgetful as she tends to be." He patted the journal for good measure, as if it was his reason for being in her laboratory in the first place. "I see you are packed and ready to leave?"

Martouf shrugged the shoulder his travel bag was slung over. "The council would send me to the D'Char system to investigate an uprising among Amaterasu's Jaffa ranks. But of course," he said after a moment, "you are well aware of my mission."

Tallan nodded sternly. "Ah, yes. More loyal Jaffa turning against their god. Amaterasu's forces are vast, her hand reaches far. Caution is advised, my young friend."

"Well noted." Martouf bowed slightly and turned, setting off down the corridor towards the council chambers, leaving Tallan once again alone in the lab. There was no doubt Martouf and Lantash would be safe because Tallan had already ensured their return. After all, they had another more important mission in their future. The young Tok'ra was his master's perfect candidate: the one operative who had the unfailing trust of both the Tok'ra and the Tau'ri, and thus the perfect choice to ensure the proposed alliance between the two sides would never come to be.

For now, Martouf and Lantash had no idea of what really awaited them in the D'Char system, and Tallan's device would ensure they would never remember.

Tallan left Anise's laboratory and made his way to the main council chambers, where the High Council would soon be in session. Planning for the forthcoming Tok'ra-Tau'ri alliance was high on the agenda today. He had notes to make, opinions to give, and more plans to devise.

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X is for Xабаровск
by [personal profile] greenbirds

It's December 30th when they bring Ganya home to Khabarovsk.

[Aminev, GennadyIvanovich. Captain. Born 10 October 1971. Killed in action 10 December 2003, at an undisclosed location. Posthumously awarded Hero of the Russian Federation for conspicuous gallantry.]

The river is thick with ice. The marshallers on the airstrip are bundled up to their eyebrows and wearing fur hats that are quickly collecting their own snowdrifts. Andrei Chekov, in his own fur hat and muffler, his only distinguishing marks a general's wool greatcoat and the stars on his shoulders, is waiting on the tarmac when they carry Ganya off the plane.

The weather is nothing new to Chekov. Khabarovsk was his first posting. He was nineteen. He remembers the drafty little shed at the edge of the airstrip, and the tiny oil heater whose only function seemed to be convincing rawboned boys that it couldn't possibly be as cold inside the marshallers' hut as they thought it was. When they sent him off to Cuba three years later, he praised the God he wasn't supposed to believe in.

There's no honor guard waiting when they carry the little pine box draped with the Russian flag off the plane; none but the blowing snow and the marshallers with their beacons and a general several years past his prime.

Chekov thinks of state funerals that will never happen, of parades honoring fallen heroes that would mean admitting state secrets, of cosmonauts whose names are etched in history (Gagarin, Tereshkova) for going a millionth as far from earth as Ganya went. He says a prayer to the God he still doesn't believe in for the soul of a fallen hero.

They load Ganya into the back of the waiting TIGR. The driver holds the passenger door open for Chekov, offers him a salute.

They'll bury Ganya in the morning.

Chekov will return his personal effects (all but one) to pretty Yelena, pat Ganya'ssons on the head, tell them their father was a great hero.

He touches his pocket.

Perhaps someday the Americans will loosen their stranglehold on the truth.

Perhaps someday he will be able to go to Yelena, to little Sasha and his brother, and give them the patch he holds in his pocket, with its blazon stitched in silver thread. Perhaps someday he will tell them a story that begins, "Your papa was SG-4."

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Y U No Pants
by [personal profile] campylobacter

"Bring me pants."

"My Lord, you are wearing them."

Lord Yu doesn't bat an eyelash. "I desire the pants with the red and gold dragons."

Yu's First Prime rues that day he was forced to assume the duties of the late lo'taur Jarran; domestic chores added to military command in His Lordship's service have become exhausting. "Are the pants you are wearing with the red and gold dragons not the ones you desire, my Lord?"

"You are clever, Oshu," Yu says as he rises from the sarcophagus. "These are the pants I desire. I am the oldest of the system lords; my wants are simple. Those younglings assume that the voices and memories crowding their minds make them great, make them gods."

"My Lord?"

"I am not great because I am a god, but am a god because I am great. I listen to the only voice in my head: my own."

Oshu begins to wonder if Yu has lost the only other voice he could have heard in his mind: that of the host. Yu's reposes in the sarcophagus have become less effective in restoring mental acuity. "My Lord, you are wise in all things."

"Why then have you not brought me pants?"

Oshu stifles a sigh. Where was an ambush by Ba'al when you needed one?

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Z is for Zenith
by [personal profile] gategremlyn

They are more than an irritant; they interfere with his plans. SG-1, peaceful explorers so they claim, are not welcome here, not now, not when he's so close. Malikai stands before the altar and--with the power of the Stargate at his command--prepares to change the flow of time. He will be with his wife, gone now these twelve long years. He will hold her hand, touch her face, and hear her voice.

He will give anything, do anything, to conquer the past. One more minute and then all minutes will turn back and give him the thing he desires most...

...if they will ever leave him alone.

Malikai is a scholar still. Once, he stepped through the Stargate to find the wonders of long-dead civilizations. He deciphered mysterious writings on temple walls. He learned of ancient beings whose technology was there to be discovered. Then at the height of his anguish and pain, he found this--a time travel machine which would take him back to her.

He understands Daniel Jackson even as he tries to drive him away. But Doctor Jackson cannot have what Malikai has been denied. There will be no joy, no hope, no love of knowledge without his wife by his side. When he shoots, he has no regrets.

O'Neill bothers him the most with his sarcastic swagger. Who does he think he is, challenging the work of more than a decade? O'Neill demands that he stop, but that must not happen. Malikai will have only one chance in this lifetime and he will take it.

He tries over and over again, and time after time he fails. For days, for weeks, for months, he tries. The time loop lasts only hours, and he is left again at the altar of his grief. One last adjustment and he will be with her. One last time (let it be the last, he prays) to bring time to her. But SG-1 appears again. His manipulations have affected many worlds and many people, they tell him. He doesn't care.

At the height of sorrow is understanding. What O'Neill tells him echoes in his own soul: "I lost my son," and Malikai knows it's true. The hurt is too raw to be denied--and Malikai knows his own voice sounds like that when he talks of what he lost. It is too much to endure.

Now he sees that to alter time is not to stop its progress, it is merely to re-live its hell. He lets the moment pass and time resets itself.

The geomagnetic storms fade. His dreams fade with them. When SG-1 steps through the Stargate, he is left alone to find his way home. It is time to try, although he doubts home will ever be there for him again.

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