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Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves III
an Alternate Universe SGA/SG-1 Crossover
by Auburn


Gen Plot with Mixed Slash and Het Elements
Part One
Part Two

Part Three [a] [b]



Post-ashrak, he sent a coded message back to the Tok'ra through a dead drop. Everything Jolinar had known, he knew, including the comm protocols. He didn't like or trust the slithering bastards, but they were fighting the Goa'uld and maybe some of them deserved to know what had happened to one of theirs. His head felt hollow without Jolinar there. His moved, but it felt awkward and foreign, as though he were the usurper.

He left the world where the ashrak had caught up to them — her — and started using a different name. The first and only time he introduced himself as Rodney, he could hear Jolinar's voice pretending to be him, and nearly vomited. He was who he had always been, though, so he used his name, given at birth, and not some made up one.

Meredith McKay had skills, but most of them were skills he couldn't admit to possessing in a Goa'uld controlled galaxy.

He never once considered returning to Earth and the Tok'ra could take flying fuck out a fifty story window. He wanted nothing to do with them, mostly because he knew they'd do everything in their power to convince him to take another symbiote so they wouldn't lose everything Jolinar had known. Everything might include forcing rather than persuading and no way was he ever letting another snake in his head.

Without Jolinar to muzzle him, Meredith was at least as blunt as he'd once been. He was out of practice at monitoring himself. Not that he'd ever been good at that. Two different smugglers tossed him off their ships in three months. After he'd rebuilt them into something that could reliably fool or out fight or out run any Goa'uld ship, of course. He already had a reputation by the time he washed up on Hebridan. One of the development groups putting together an entry for the Loop of Kol Garat should have snapped him up, but they didn't. His last captain had blackballed him.

Mer smiled grimly when he thought about that; the sonovabitch would be in trouble in six months. The man he'd replaced Rodney with didn't know yellowcake from birthday cake. The first time something went wrong in the engine room, the smuggler and his crew would be screwed.

His funds were running a little low however. The Hebridan port worked like every other port and gouged travellers for everything it could. Goods cost more. Even the fleahole where he'd rented a closet to flop in charged a steep price. The beer was good, though he had to be careful; without Jolinar to regulate his metabolism, he had no head for it any longer.

The mug in front of him had to last for other reasons. He'd stopped into the tavern where spacers hired on crew every day and finally heard something. Someone with an al'kesh was looking for an engineer after it limped in-system on sublights from Netu knew where. He figured he might have a chance to sign on and get his ass off Hebridan before he was forced to start selling, since the ship's captain was probably as desperate as he was.

The cold rush of recognition as someone else with naquadah in their blood approached hit Rodney the same time the leather-clad woman and her shadow stalked into the bar. Fuck, fuck, fuck, and fuckity fuck. A bitch Goa'uld or a Tok'ra undercover and wasn't that just who he didn't need? That explained the al'kesh, he supposed. He pulled a gun and kept it ready under his table. He didn't bother not staring; she'd felt the same thing he had and unerringly swiveled her head until she found him.

Mer watched her slink across the room toward him and laid his index finger across the trigger, tracking the center of her torso with the muzzle from beneath the table. He hooked the toe of his boot under the nearest leg of the table so that he could up-end it and make a try for the back exit if he had to. If she was Goa'uld, she likely had a shield and his gun would be about as useful as spitting. Her shadow didn't appear to be Jaffa, no mark, and what that made him Mer didn't care to think about too much. Earth had its share of people who had or would collaborate, too.

The sardonic tilt to her smile belied the invitation in the swing of her hips. Sex smoked off her but he'd bet half of it was an act. Plenty of men would be busy staring down her cleavage right up until she slid a knife between their ribs. They wouldn't have Mer's advantage. They wouldn't be wondering what else was looking out from behind her pale eyes.

"Merdith Mackah?" she asked when she reached the table and stopped opposite him.

The shadow stayed a step back and two to the side, making sure Mer couldn't cover both of them and watching their backs at the same time. He dressed all in black too, covered from head to foot and down to his gloved fingertips. Someone didn't like being touched. Mer counted five different obvious weapons. He calculated that meant at least seven more he couldn't see.

"Meredith McKay," he corrected her.

"Vala Mal Doran."

"And?"

He wasn't asking for an introduction to the shadow and let it show, sure she would pick up what he did mean.

She bared her teeth. It wasn't a smile.

"You stink of naquadah too."

"You're not Tok'ra."

She hissed but no telltale gold flared through her sclera. "I'd rather suck off an Unas."

Mer snorted and the shadow's mouth tilted up at one corner.

"Yeah."

"Word is you were," she half-asked.

"And now I'm not," Mer answered.

She nodded, pulled out the chair opposite him and sat.

"Word is you can make an al'kesh run sweeter than honeyed wine."

"I can make an al'kesh do things no one on this jumped up dirtball ever dreamed of," Mer said.

Shadow chuckled once, under his breath.

"Then why are you looking for an engineer's job?"

"I can't be nice."

Laughter burst from her and Mer decided that whatever she was, she wasn't Goa'uld. Their deficient senses of humor always tripped them up when trying to fake being human. Jolinar had been much better at that: she knew how to be self-deprecating. In fact, she'd been better at it than he had. She'd accused him of having an ego the size of Goa'uld's once or twice.

Vala reached back and patted her companion's thigh. "We aren't looking for anyone nice, are we, Jehan?"

Interesting. Maybe Shadow — Jehan, Mer corrected himself — wasn't strictly all hands off, but more like private property. It was academic anyway. Jolinar had taught him to pay more attention to interpersonal relations — she'd been a Tok'ra spy after all — and he couldn't just turn it off now. The humming sense of the naquadah in Vala's blood had settled into the background of his consciousness, but even with the first shock worn off, there was no way to tell whether she still possessed a symbiote or not. That was interesting. It meant that under necessary circumstances he could fake it, too.

Jehan turned his head enough to catch Mer's gaze, revealing green-hazel eyes and a sardonic smile.

Vala sat back in her seat and contemplated Meredith. "Any place you can't go back?" she asked. "Where's home?"

"I'm never going back to the Tok'ra," he replied. "As for home, that'd be kind of hard. Earth has an iris on its stargate; they put it up after the first time Apophis came visiting."

Jehan jerked and drew in a breath.

"Earth?"

"Earth," Mer repeated. Jehan looked eager and sick at the same time and Vala's gaze swung back and forth between him and Mer. "The First World." He waved a hand. "Goa'uld call us Tau'ri."

"The Tau'ri," Jehan said and let out a ragged laugh, "of course."

"Yeah, don't believe that crap about never leaving a man behind they spout," Mer added bitterly. "They sure as hell never tried to save me."

Jehan shook his head, laughed again, and muttered, "I need some air," before striding out of the bar.

"What the hell was that about?" Meredith wondered out loud.

Vala shrugged.

"He's moody." She smiled. "You get used to it. Now, tell me what kind of speed can you get me from my al'kesh?"

~*~


"Ma'am — "

Parrish kept calling Sam ma'am. Trying to be polite and respectful, but the habit just made Sam feel old. She had a rough desk and chair in their temporary, over the tavern headquarters, covered with inventories and mission schedules written on the locally made paper. She didn't give a damn about formality. She didn't have a clue what brought Parrish to her either and his nervousness irritated her, though she tried to conceal that.

"Drop the ma'am," she ordered.

"Yes, m — yes." Parrish gulped.

Sam shoved her hair out of her eyes and decided again to chop it off. "Well?" she demanded.

"Did you reassign Dr. Gall?"

"Did I what?"

Parrish shrugged. "We've been working at the Ellesit farm. He doesn't really know anything about plants, so we were paired together."

Right. Parrish was one of the botanists. Gall was another hotshot astrophysicist. Well on his way to Rodney McKay levels of obnoxiousness, though Sam felt he lacked the spark of genius that justified Rodney's arrogance. An academic hothouse flower. Gall liked to take his time and was young enough to think he had all he needed. He didn't work well under pressure, not real world, 'in five minutes we all die' pressure. He no doubt hated getting his hands dirty — she noticed the dirt ground in under Parrish's fingernails — and taking orders from a mere botanist probably chafed on him as much as the physical labor in the Genii's tava fields. The hope had been that Parrish's genuine interest in the tava vines and quiet ways would off set Gall's personality enough to keep from alienating any of the Genii.

Maybe that hadn't worked after all.

"I haven't spoken to Dr. Gall," she said.

Parrish's thin, horsey face fell. "Oh."

"Why would you think I had?"

Sam braced herself for an answer that ranged from 'he killed the tava and left the weeds' to a lover's spat.

"He hasn't shown up for four days." Parrish twitched his shoulders and shifted awkwardly. "I know he hated to work, but I can't handle my share of work and his too. I asked some of the other scientists, but no one's seen him. I thought maybe, uh, maybe you'd sent him offworld?" He ducked his head and mumbled, "It's not like anyone would bother telling me."

"No," Sam said. She hadn't anticipated a disappearance. It didn't gibe with Gall's personality. He wasn't as big a complainer as Kavanagh, but he was still more likely to demand an ego massage than go off and sulk alone. She pointed at the other rickety chair. "Sit down."

Parrish gave her a wide-eyed look of alarm, but sat obediently.

Sam sighed silently. "I don't think you would have come to me over Dr. Gall shirking. What else is bothering you?"

"No one's seen him," Parrish repeated. "His pack's not in the Ellesit's loft — I checked. They don't know where he went." He twitched again. "Or they wouldn't tell me. It's hard to tell. They're all so..."

"Closemouthed?"

He nodded.

The Genii had taken the expedition refugees and the Athosians in in exchange for work in their fields and repairs to some older equipment like their water wheel and mill, but they weren't the most friendly lot Sam had ever met. She didn't know if they regarded her people with suspicion on general principle or because they were technophobes. She couldn't fault their generosity. The village didn't have housing for such an influx of numbers, so members of the expedition were sleeping in extra rooms, kitchens, attics, haylofts and parlors in town and out on the farms where many of them were working for their room and board. The marines had a little tent city going as well.

Sam hadn't liked scattering everyone, but none of them had wanted to quibble over the terms of the Genii's charity.

She frowned at the bare, wooden wall as she thought. She didn't like this development, not at all. She'd begun sending teams of marines and scientists through the stargate with Halling's traders, in hopes they'd come across information that could lead them to a ZPM or something equally useful or even some of their other missing people, since an unknown number had fled in company with some of the Athosians. The schedules scratched down on the papers before her didn't include Gall; she knew every name on them after going over and over possibilities with Ford, Cole, Grodin, Zelenka and Bates. Gall hadn't made the cut; he had no offworld experience before joining the expedition and no, as Bates muttered to Ford when Sam wasn't supposed to hear, 'cojones'.

So where was he?

"Uh, there's something else," Parrish said.

Sam snapped her attention back to him.

"What?"

"When I was asking around? A couple people mentioned Lydia Dumais."

The Genii buildings had no air conditioning or no fans, but despite the afternoon warmth of the room, goosebumps formed on Sam's arms.

"No one's seen her for a while either."

Dumais wasn't on any of the mission schedules. She'd sprained her ankle during the culling and been reduced to helping weed gardens until it healed up. She'd shrugged philosophically over the temporary reassignment, taking it with better grace than most of the scientists, admitting she'd helped in her family's garden as a child. Sam had hoped that Dumais' double degrees in nuclear physics and electrical engineering would become more useful if they found any leads to a power source and been grateful to avoid the sharp side of her tongue for once.

Gall might be the kind of man to shirk his new duties, but Lydia Dumais was too proud to give less than her best even to the most menial task.

"Thank you," she told Parrish. "I'll check into this." She forced a smile to her lips. "Don't worry. It's just a mix-up."

Parrish jumped to his feet and nodded. "Yes, I'm sure it is. I mean, we'd know if there were Wraith here, right?"

"Right," Sam agreed. "Kanaan has the Gift and we have sentries watching the stargate."

"Oh. Sure. I guess I'm just being foolish." He waved to the door. "I'll just go now."

"It's probably best not to alarm anyone else," Sam said. "So maybe you should stop asking around for Doctors Gall or Dumais."

He blinked at her.

"Oh. Uh. Right."

"People are nervous enough right now," she added gently, implying but not saying Parrish was among them and might be blowing the matter out of proportion. Lying through her teeth because she was alarmed too.

Another jerky nod from Parrish followed and then he sidled out of the room. Sam pressed the heels of her hands to her closed eyes until colors starred and bloomed in the darkness behind her eyelids.

"God damn it."

She activated her radio. "Sgt. Bates, could you join me in HQ? Carter, out. Over."

"On my way. Over."

She flipped through the brown-tinted papers until she found the housing list, then ran her finger down it until she found the listing for Lydia Dumais. In the village itself, unlike Gall, with a childless couple who had a large front room. No one else from the expedition had been staying there. Dumais had been recruited to SGC on the basis of a list Rodney had put together, one of the bits and pieces Sam had inherited. She'd added her own recommendation to Hammond and later Weir, based on qualifications and an interview.

Bates knocked before stepping in.

"We may have a problem," Sam declared.

"A new one?"

A snort of dry laughter escaped her and she nodded acknowledgment of his hit.

"I don't want to start a panic with our people, but one of the botanists was just here. His work partner has disappeared. One of the engineers may be missing too."

"Who?" Bates asked.

"Brendan Gall and Lydia Dumais. I already checked. They aren't part of our offworld teams." She waved the sentry report log. "They haven't gone through the stargate."

"AWOL?"

Sam shook her head. Gall might do something stupid in a fit of overweening ego, but not Dumais. This wasn't like being on Earth, where no matter how far you were from home, there was always some way back. The expedition members were all each other had of Earth.

"Why?" she asked. "And not both of them. They're not friends or lovers."

Bates leaned back against the door and frowned.

"Scientists," he said.

Scientists, not his usual, contemptuously pronounced civilians. Pointing out the common denominator. Bates had been part of the Alpha Site security detail before the expedition. Experience riding herd on and safeguarding researchers had been one of the reasons to recruit him. Dumais and Gall were both brilliant, even on Earth they would have value. In Pegasus? They might bring any price.

"I want a head count. I want everyone that came here two weeks ago accounted for now," Sam ordered. "Try to do it quietly, but do it."

"Why not assemble everyone?"

"If they are gone and not voluntarily, I don't want to alert whoever took them that we know anything is going on."

"Got it."

It felt too much like locking the barn door, but what else could she do?

Gall had disappeared first. First but not last.

No evidence supported that conviction, but Sam knew. They took Gall first. They thought Gall would be more useful, more knowledgeable, more valuable than a woman and weighed that against believing someone would miss him before a woman, so they took him first.

She ordered Bates and Stackhouse to search for any signs of what had happened when the head count confirmed Parrish's worry. They came back with nothing. She thought about relocating the expedition again, but there were too many teams out with the Athosians with no way to know where they'd went. She didn't know where they could go. Beckett was on Hoff, invited to stay, but that invitation hadn't been extended to anyone else.

A week later Kavanagh dropped off the radar between one daily check in and the next.

No one had gone through the stargate. Aside from their regular sentry, Bates had assigned a covert watcher, someone the sentry didn't know about.

Sam made everyone buddy up, changed assignments, pulled the hard science experts in from any outlying farms on the tenuous basis of Gall, Dumais, and Kavanagh's specialties. The daily check in became face to face and not over the radios.

Tyrus swore the Genii had no idea where her three missing people could have gone. Perhaps they had simply wandered off and become lost, he suggested in a tone so patronizing Sam had to grit her teeth against belting him. Her scientists might not have been Daniel Boone types, but they were smart enough not to wander away. Kavanagh complained about having to go outside to use a latrine. Speaking of latrines, she recognized crap when it was being shoveled over her feet, and thanked Tyrus sweetly for his offer of a search party, telling him she knew his farmers couldn't spare the time away from their crops.

She began plotting how to get Sora, Tyrus' ever-so-curious daughter, off somewhere Cole could pump her full of sodium pentathol.

Billy Abrams and Corporal Mingus vanished next. Rafel and Deela, the couple they were staying with, swore up and down the two had shared breakfast with them, left, and they knew nothing more.

Either the Genii were all oblivious idiots or the Genii were liars.

Sam sent Ford and Grodin to Hoff to negotiate for permission to evac the rest of the expedition there. Manufacturing bioweapons would be better than being picked off one by one. She didn't know what was going on with the Genii, but their bucolic world felt more and more like a trap. With their luck, if the Hoffan agreed, they'd be going from bad to worse, but Sam's instincts were screaming every day now to get out. O'Neill had kept them alive following his instincts; Sam wasn't about to ignore her own.

If it wasn't already too late.

"I do not understand why you wish to leave," Halling said. "The Genii have been welcoming."

Sam shrugged and said, "Sure, but we didn't come to this galaxy to do stoop labor, Halling. I can't ask my people to keep at this." She waved toward a ubiquitous tava field and wrinkled her nose against a psychosomatic sneeze. Most of the expedition had survived the first reaction to the tava pollen. Only Kavanagh had developed hives. Bloom time was passing anyway. "From what Beckett tells us, we'll fit in much better on Hoff."

"But my people will not."

"Halling..." She didn't want to leave the Athosians behind. The expedition owed them.

It was Halling's turn to sigh. "I understand."

"Do you?"

"It is never comfortable to live as a guest, on sufferance. This is not our world either."

"We're grateful," Sam said carefully, "but I don't think we can stay."

Not while some mysterious force was picking her people off, one and two at a time.

"Have you told Tyrus or Cowen?"

"Not yet. I'd rather wait until we're ready to go." She couldn't shake the feeling the Genii were behind the disappearances. She didn't want to give away her plans. "Don't worry, we're not going to steal the good silver on our way out the door."

Halling chuckled and left her staring out over the dusty green tava field, watching her sunburned marines working beside the Genii. The Genii wore sensible hats to protect themselves from the hot sun. The marines wore baseball caps or boonies. The Athosians wrapped their heads in brightly dyed kerchiefs and dabbed soot under their eyes to cut the sun glare. They were all tying the vines up off the ground with twine and sticks. It looked like a picture of intercultural cooperation.

Sam put on a pair of sunglasses and walked back to the village tavern. Two marines assigned as her own security shadowed her. She smiled and nodded to the villagers as she passed them while trying to formulate a plan to search for her missing people that didn't involve screwing the muzzle of a P90 into Tyrus' ear and demanding the truth. She didn't want to abuse the trust Halling and the Athosians had given her and the expedition by bringing them here and vouching for them, but once she had her people out, it might come to that.

She wasn't just walking away without trying to get her people back, not when she was already cursing herself for losing them in the first place. It shouldn't have happened. They were her responsibility now. She should have known better than to relax her guard. O'Neill would have known better. Teal'c would have known better. Hell, Rodney would have known better, with his finely honed sense of paranoia. He'd never have bought the Old McDonald's Farm shtick the Genii were selling.

Rodney would have taken one look and screeched Potemkin Village! before insisting they search beneath the surface.

Sam stopped in her tracks.

Surface?

If there was a surface, there was an under the surface?

She turned around and looked at the village. What was the Genii's secret?

"Ma'am?" one of the marines asked. He was sweating and red-faced in the midday heat and obviously wondering if Sam had finally lost her shit.

"Just thinking, Corporal." She pulled open the tavern door. "Just thinking."

Thinking didn't get her anywhere though, not even hours later. She thought she'd pinpointed when things had changed though: it had been one week into their sojourn on Genea. Right after Ford had authorized using some of their limited supply of C4 to help clear stumps from a nearby field. Bates couldn't chew out an officer for flat out stupidity, but Sam had. She'd dismissed the matter after that, though, because the job she found herself doing, running the expedition — what was left of it — had taken up all her attention. She'd already negotiated an agreement with Tyrus, even though his patronizing manner made her bristle. They needed to establish some kind of base to operate from until they found an energy source that would let them get back into Atlantis and dial Earth. Genea had seemed good enough, it was one of the Athosians' bolthole worlds and with some luck, they might regain contact with some of their missing by staying in one place.

Halling had sent scouts through the stargate to other Athosian trading partners. At least twelve different groups had fled through the stargate during the night of the culling, because they'd hooked back up with that many. It had likely been more. In Pegasus, children's ditties were formulated to help them memorize the runes on a DHD. Travellers and traders exchanged gate addresses and news. Despite the long shadow of the Wraith, the societies of Pegasus were far more knowledgeable than those in the Milky Way. Even panicked and running from the Wraith, the Athosians had remembered and found their way to 'safe' worlds, and they'd taken many Tau'ri with them.

That's how they'd found Beckett. MIA up until then, it turned out he'd followed Charin to Hoff, where his medical knowledge more than paid his way, it turned out. She hoped the Hoffan government would be just as interested in improving their nineteen-fifties era technology on other fronts.

Beckett hadn't said it, but Sam had got the message. The Hoffans were working on a bioweapon that would target Wraith. She should have called him back, but feared he might refuse the order. As CMO — even if Cole, the emergency specialist, would have been the better choice than a geneticist — Beckett occupied an analogous rank to Sam's as CSO. He'd never acted like having balls made him better, but there had always been someone else in charge of both of them. She couldn't guess which way he would go under their changed circumstances; she didn't know him well enough.

She wasn't willing to push the matter, not when she preferred working with Cole anyway.

Now she was grateful she hadn't.

She thought the SGC would send a rescue eventually, once too much time had passed and Prometheus' refit with intergalactic caliber hyperdrives had been concluded, but had to wonder if the expedition would be around to be found. How hard would the SGC look, with an entire galaxy to search? Would they recognize who they found? Sam sensed the changes already and knew there would be more. The divide between life back on Earth and in Pegasus went deeper than the rift between galaxies.

They needed to find a way back to Atlantis that wouldn't end in them drowning with the city. Now Sam was worrying about finding them a way off Genea.

Zelenka and Miko were working on the problem of an energy source. They needed ZPMs, but she'd settle for coming up with something more powerful than the naquadah generators, something small enough they could transport it through a stargate. Grodin and Angela Bele were combing through the directory of gate addresses they'd pulled from Atlantis before fleeing, translating whatever notes were included. All of them were jammed into the second upstairs room above the tavern. The laptops were too valuable at this point to leave the room. Zelenka had the solar collectors that charged them set up in the window.

"Any progress?" Sam asked automatically as she poked her head inside.

"Nothing yet," Zelenka answered.

Miko didn't look up from her screen. She'd fit herself into a corner where no one would stumble over her and she could work in near silence. Equations reflected off the huge lenses of her thick glasses.

Sam sidled between Angela's chair and Zelenka's, to where she could read the screen over his shoulder. Ancient poured down one window, mirrored by a stilted English translation next to it. The automated translation program Daniel and Weir had labored over was running. Unfortunately, the Ancients hadn't thought or written in a way that made sense in English grammar. Neither did a lot of Earth-based math and physics, of course. Combined with another language, the translator usually rendered the information they wanted most into gibberish.

"Anything I can do?"

"Here, my eyes are beginning to cross," Zelenka said as he scraped his chair back. "I need to stretch my legs."

"May I join you, Dr. Zelenka?" Miko asked.

Sam settled into his chair, wincing at the hard seat, and began reading through the translation while Angela and Peter murmured together, ignoring her.

An hour later, she sat back and pinched the bridge of her nose. Ascension. All the Ancients had been interested in had been abandoning physical forms in favor of existence as energy. Every other notation she found referred to another world abandoned to the Wraith as they'd fallen back through the Pegasus Galaxy. They hadn't cared much for the human societies they'd seeded on those worlds beyond persuading them to do whatever they could to slow the enemy's steady gains. Sam didn't get why Daniel had thought these people were so advanced. She didn't see it. They'd been on top of the technological heap, but an alleycat had more morals.

She frowned and looked around. Miko's chair was still empty. Zelenka hadn't returned either.

Sam shoved her chair back with a screech. Peter and Angela's heads snapped up and they blinked at her, dazed, surprised and alarmed, as Sam jerked the door open.

"Kosciusko," she snapped at the marine outside. "Where are Doctors Zelenka and Kusanagi?"

Kosciusko tried radioing their security.

"Maybe the batteries on their radios are dead?" he offered.

The sinking feeling in Sam's gut told her otherwise. She bolted down the stairs with her security right behind her protesting, "Ma'am, ma'am, Dr. Carter, let us do our jobs — " Out the back of the tavern's door was a forked flagstone path that led to the outhouse on one hand and a summer kitchen on the other. Sam took the left fork. Kosciusko surged ahead of her and began cursing a moment before she saw what he had.

Zelenka and Miko's radios weren't dead. They were lying, one crushed, next to the path. The blood spatter and the evidence of a scuffle led to drag marks. Neither scientist had gone willingly. Sam followed Kosciuscko, bird-dogging the drag marks and cursing more and more obscenely, around the outhouse, where they spotted the first pair of boots. Behind her, Mendez, her other marine escort, began reciting a prayer for the dead.

"Damn it," she said softly. This was too much. The Genii couldn't believe she'd ignore this. She activated her radio. "Lt. Ford, Sgt. Bates, activate Charlie Lima Foxtrot One. Defcon Red. Carter, out. Over."

Static sizzled through her earpiece. Bates replied first. "Defcon Red. Acknowledged. Bates, out. Over."

Charlie Lima Foxtrot One was their emergency evacuation of everyone through the stargate to the empty world where they'd stashed most of what they'd salvaged from Athos. Sam called it Operation Clusterfuck in her head. Defcon Red was the expedition code for weapons hot rules of engagement. She'd just authorized the marines to shoot on their own recognizance.

"Ma'am?" Ford questioned a moment later.

"You have your orders," Sam snapped as she stared down at the bodies of Marine Corporal Allen Henson and Private Donny Wilson, Miko and Radek's assigned security escort. Their throats had been cut. Local insects were just beginning to buzz around the drying blood pooled under them. "Follow them, Lieutenant. Over."

"Yes, ma'am. Over!" She could practically hear the salute.

It was time to bug out, while they still had enough people to get out.

~*~


Tau'ri.

Tau'ri.

Jehan squeezed his eyes shut, but only for an instant, because he was exposed out here, even in the shadows.

Light pollution hid the stars on Hebridan. The lights from the port sheened the sky over head with a metallic blue glare that hurt the eyes. On the ground, garbage reeked from the alley next to the bar. The local version of music, all atonal wails and hisses layered over mathematic progressions rather than the rhythms favored by strictly human cultures leaked from inside the bar and mingled with the distant roar of ships setting down and striking out for orbit. Hebridan was wetter and warmer than many worlds and sweat slicked Jehan's skin under his tight clothes.

God damned Tau'ri.

Jehan leaned against the wall outside port bar, but that wasn't support enough and he doubled over and braced his hands against his knees. He should have known. He should have guessed. But he hadn't. He'd never had a clue.

Goa'uld damned Tau'ri.

He'd mourned his people, Earth, all of it, all of them, all the selfish, thoughtless wonder of an entire world that had never been ground under the heel of the Goa'uld, that had built for itself a variety and intricacy that rivaled the rest of the galaxy, and he had choked on the guilt of his helplessness to save it. Out of all the Milky Way, only Earth had been innocent of the Goa'uld taint. Earth. Of all Vala's arguments after she stole him, it had been revenge that moved him when he'd thought he had nothing left in him to feel. All his sorrow, all his guilt, every risk he'd been taking and pushing Vala to take with their ship until it broke on them, it had all been for nothing. Earth was the First World and the foundations of everything they'd built stood on the sandblasted rubble of Goa'uld domination.

Every suffering soul and condemned slave in the Milky Way could trace their descent back to the First World. They were all orphans of the First World, no matter how many generations removed, and they hadn't just been abandoned, they'd even been forgotten. Anger ran like acid through Jehan's veins.

The Tau'ri didn't need help. They were doing just fine. They'd even stood up to a Goa'uld fleet. They were no more innocent than the cutthroats and entrepreneurs of Hebridan. The Tau'ri had already left a trail of chaos behind them in the Milky Way, though, that reeked as badly as whatever was rotting in the nearby gutter.

Laughter rattled out of him in uneven gasps, the kind of sound that made even the drunks and muggers steer clear of him. Smart of them, because right then Jehan wanted to kill something.

Those fucking bastards. They'd been waltzing around the galaxy all this time. Even he'd heard of the Tau'ri, of Onee and the sholva Teal'c, of Samca'ta, Danyel Jaxen and Mackah — Mackah, who had to be McKay, pale and cynical except for intensity of his blue eyes, with his Caesar hair cut and a face and head that could have modeled for some Roman emperor; he certainly had the requisite brilliance and arrogance according the galactic rumor. The stories had twisted and turned so far as they passed through the chappa'ai though, just as the names had changed, that Jehan had never made the connection. His mouth shaped itself into a snarl, remembering Teal'c. There hadn't been an ounce of mercy in the Jaffa First Prime the day Jehan had faced him. Impossible to imagine the sholva had switched sides so easily afterward.

Quiet, heartfelt curses in a mixture of the languages Ba'al had made him learn slipped out, mostly Goa'uld, but he'd picked up some of the Jaffa subdialects, had some Arabic, and bits of the Gatebuilder's tongue. Ba'al had an obsession with them and collected anything and everything that survived of what they'd left behind, hunting secrets and power.

He'd heard Ba'al amused and admiring by turns by the impertinence of the Tau'ri, but Ba'al's fury had burned for the traitor Jaffa. Jehan had savored the idea of what Ba'al would do to the sholva if he ever fell into his hands, knowing he was wrong to want it and not caring. The taste of bile hit the back of his tongue and he had to twist to the side and throw it up, hoping he'd miss his boots. If Ba'al had ever captured Teal'c, would the Tau'ri have come for him? They hadn't cared enough to come for him...

Ba'al hadn't known Jehan came from Earth. There had been some reason the Goa'uld valued Jehan over most slaves, something Jehan had never been privy too, but it hadn't been a connection to the despised Tau'ri.

Another heave and Jehan wiped carelessly at his mouth.

He wasn't Tau'ri. He refused to be. He had no more reason or desire to return to them than did McKay. They'd let the Tok'ra have McKay, who was obviously too smart not to be dangerous, so they sure as hell weren't interested in getting one used up Air Force officer back. Jehan couldn't even imagine being back on Earth. What in hell would he do?

Right, he'd be locked up somewhere and debriefed for the next decade. Hakorr kra terak shree. Kresh'taa.

He refused.

The thought of a Jaffa, a First Prime responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands, of Teal'c of Chulak, striding around Earth with one of the snakes in his belly all along, accepted and protected and considered one of the Tau'ri, nearly made Jehan throw up again. As far as he was concerned, they'd betrayed him; he'd never be one with a people who accepted a Jaffa among them. Goa'uld didn't possess a word for apostate or even recreant and he didn't care much for the alternative, but he'd embrace the epithet anyway.

Sholva, then.

He rejected them.

He rejected them all.

~*~


The basement storeroom under the Genii tavern had no lights.

Flashlights played around through the darkness as Sam's marines searched it. The air smelled of damp earth and beer. She stood back, flanked by Kosciusko and Stackhouse, while Bates ran the search and the others snarked back and forth.

"Blacker than my ex-wife's lawyer's heart," Sergeant Schmidt remarked.

"Divorce lawyers don't have hearts, Smitty," Markham told him. "Here, give me a hand with this barrel."

The barrel couldn't be lifted. Markham found a catch, though, and it and another stack swiveled to the side along with an entire false wall.

"Hey, look at that."

A triangular concrete hatch rose out of the floor to about knee height.

"So much for the Pegasus Pennsylvania," Stackhouse muttered.

"Yeah," Markham said. "Not exactly Amish." He ran his hand around the hatch lip to the hinge and rubbed his fingers together. "You notice? No dust and it's been oiled recently."

"Open it up," Bates said. Schmidt gave Markham a hand lifting the weighty hatch. It balanced vertically — a thick chain kept it from opening further and breaking the hinges.

The shaft revealed under the hatch had three sides.

Markham aimed his P90 down the hole revealed. He flipped on the light mounted over the barrel and played it over the smooth concrete sides. A metal ladder was bolted to one side.

"Great," Smitty muttered, peering down. "Effing bunkers."

"We're going down there?" Markham said.

"Yes." Bates grimaced and then glanced at Sam. "Are you sure, ma'am?"

"Yes," Sam told him.

Sam had ordered the scientists not to let their equipment out of their company and Miko had taken the directive seriously. Miko had taken her laptop with her everywhere. Even on a walk with Zelenka, she'd tucked it in its case and slung the strap over her shoulder, carrying out with her. They hadn't found it at the scene where she'd been taken, so she might still have it, and all of the expedition's laptops were equipped with tracer beacons.

Grodin had had a grid on his laptop screen showing the location of Miko's laptop — and Miko, they all hoped — while Sam was still thinking of it as another equipment loss. She'd walked into the makeshift HQ and gave the order to begin breaking it down for evac and Grodin had grabbed her arm and pointed her at what he had.

"The signal's underground," he'd said. "It cut out. Probably shielded, but I found this." Two key taps and another window opened. "Radiation. Something's generating power down there. I recorded a spike in background radiation that coincided with the tracer disappearing."

"A door opened," Sam agreed.

Grodin nodded. "And then closed."

Sam looked at the time stamp. So close. The entrance had to be close by, even in the tavern, or under it.

Sam had sent Kosciusko for Bates and two squads of marines kitted for search and rescue and helped break down the rest of HQ while they waited. Not heading down to the tavern basement without back up had been a feat of willpower, but she knew better. She knew too much to let herself be taken too.

Bates knew it too.

"Ma'am, you should join the Lieutenant at the stargate and wait for us on the other side," he said.

"We're wasting time, Sergeant," Sam told him. She tapped her radio and transmitted. "Lt. Ford, this is Carter. We have located a hatch behind a false wall in the tavern basement and are proceeding. Over."

"Good luck, ma'am. Over."

He didn't like it, but Bates didn't argue any more.

"Smitty, take point. Remember, we want to get our people back. That's the mission."

"And get out ourselves," Smitty muttered as he swung over the lip of the hatch and began the long climb down. The other marines followed. Sam went almost last and only after Bates gave the all clear. They left the hatch open above and progressed down at least one story.

Sam tested her radio when they reached the bottom. "Lieutenant Ford, this is Carter. Over." All she got was static. Grodin had been right. The underground had been shielded against RF, too.

"Nothing," she told Bates. She looked around. There was some timber work that had nearly rotted out, but beneath that the concrete and stone work remained sound and obviously predated it. Light shafts offered enough illumination to move around. "I don't think this is Genii work."

"I don't think it matters, ma'am," Bates said. "They're using it."

"You're right."

Bates gestured toward a massive metal door. "Shall we?"

Sam nodded.

The door opened with a groan, sliding to the side. A rush of damp, cool air escaped, bringing with it the sound of waters.

The two squads of marines proceeded forward. All of them gaped at the vista that revealed itself before them. An artificial lake and hydroelectric dam system dominated a vast cavern. Lights glittered from buildings along the lake's edge. More clung to the walls of the cavern like angular barnacles.

"Holy shit," Kosciusko exclaimed.

Sam wanted to kick herself. So much for Halling's 'simple farmers'. This had been underneath them since they arrived on Genea.

"Joke's on us," she said.

"Let's move," Bates said and they started down the precarious metal steps bolted into the stone. "Someone's going to figure out we've found their secret soon."

Sam got out her tracker, checked, and found the signal from Miko's laptop. "Our people are down here somewhere. Let's find them before some finds us."

Tracking the laptop's signal took them deeper, down among the buildings, upping the danger of discovery. They skulked along as fast as they could and hoped their luck would hold. The Genii were far more advanced than the face they presented on the surface. Sam began hoping they'd catch up with Miko and Zelenka and their captors without any other encounters.

She knew better.

They were ready when they were discovered, taking cover as a patrol of six men in gray uniforms saw them and fired at them.

The marines flattened themselves against the walls, behind anything bullet proof and on the floor and hosed fire back on full auto. The six men went down.

"Hold fire!" Bates ordered.

Silence.

Sam kept her P90 aimed at the doorway the patrol had arrived through. Kosciusko had her back and two others were watching the the way they'd come. Everyone stayed in place.

"Markham," Bates hissed. He held up his hand and signed for the younger man to go forward, while Bates covered him.

Markham crawled forward on elbows and knees, weapon extended before him.

Sam held her breath, let it out, and realized she could smell blood and someone's belly wound as she pulled in a new lung full of air. Her skin prickled, pulled taut, every hair on end thanks to the adrenaline flood her fast beating heart rushed through her body. Cold soaked through her tac vest from the rough concrete floor. Her knees hurt and her hands ached from clutching the P90 to tight.

"Clear," came Markham's voice. "Six hostiles down."

Sam checked the tracker. The dot was moving faster.

"Let's move, people," Bates said. "Someone heard that."

She got to her feet and showed the screen to Bates.

"Yeah," he acknowledged.

He was looking down at one of the Genii hostiles. Blood glistened dark through the gray fabric of the dead man's uniform. Bates prodded his arm with the toe of his boot. It fell to the side, revealing a gun belt and a side arm in addition to the fallen weapon.

"Doesn't look like they have automatic weapons yet," Bates said.

Sam nodded to one of the shot out lights. "Electricity." She paused then added, "Probably from the dam down there, but the radiation reading Grodin got makes me think they're messing with nuclear power."

"Hostiles," Schmidt said. The rest of the marines redeployed themselves to cover the Genii arriving.

Sam turned to the right and saw Cowen, accompanied by Pockface and a squad of Genii military in the already disliked gray uniforms at the opposite end of the corridor they'd started down before the patrol encounter. Their weapons were aimed at Sam and her people.

"If by nuclear, you mean a force that will destroy Wraith hives with its power," Cowen's unpleasantly confident voice said, "then yes."

Sam considered him and the situation. Zelenka and Miko were with him. The chances of recovering them had just dropped through the floor. Getting out themselves had become all she could pragmatically hope to accomplish.

"Nice. We wish you luck," she said. "Hand over our people and we'll leave you to it."

"That won't be possible. Once we became aware of the technology your people had brought with you, we knew we needed what you know," Cowen said. "But even if we didn't need your scientists, we couldn't allow any of you to leave now that you know our secret."

"What secret? Your underground bunker?" Sam laughed at him. "We could care less."

"People will do anything to survive, Dr. Carter," Cowen said.

She shook her head. "Your mistaking your own lack of principle for a universal truth."

"The only universal truth is that the Wraith must be stopped," Cowen snapped. He waved to Pockface. "Kolya. Get the one we picked."

"With great pleasure," Pockface told him and faded back through the Genii soldiers briefly before leading Kavanagh forward by the arm. He held on of the blocky pistols the Genii soldiers all were carrying to Kavanagh's back.

Cowen said, "The Genii once controlled a great empire of stars. Our starships and soldiers were feared through out our galaxy. The Wraith broke our empire and drove us back, drove us into hiding, into grubbing the dirt like every other primitive herd of human cattle just so we could live." His voice dripped scorn. "But the Genii have not forgotten themselves like the Athosians. We are patient. And we will destroy the Wraith and rule again."

He gestured to Kavanagh.

"With the help of your scientists, your knowledge and your wonderful 'C4', that day will come within my lifetime."

Ford, you damned idiot, Sam thought, using that C4 like that.

"Now, you will put down you weapons and surrender. After that, we will go to the surface and you will radio your people to return," Cowan told her.

"Like hell," Bates muttered.

"If you do not," Cowan said, "Commander Kolya will have to shoot Dr. Kavanagh. He hasn't been as cooperative as Dr. Gall." He walked up to Sam with his hand extended to take her weapon. He thought he had Sam over a barrel and he thought he could intimidate her, either because she had no back up or because she was a woman. Either way, it baffled her until she figured out he'd never really faced up against anyone who had comparable or superior technology or had been in tighter fixes. Not that she meant to take the time to explain she'd saved her home planet once or twice and taken out scarier enemies than Cowan's soldiers.

"Cowan — " Kolya protested.

"I'm going to die of radiation sickness anyway," Kavanagh blurted out. "They have no conception of shielding — "

Kolya snarled and backhanded Kavanagh. Sam took the opportunity caused by the distraction and raised her P90, shoving the muzzle into his gut. Cowan grunted, started to grab at Sam, and froze.

"Do that and I shoot you," she told him.

"Commander Kolya, do something," Cowan shouted. He didn't look away from the weapon still touching his flesh.

Kolya swung himself and his captive away. Maybe he took over if Cowan bought it. Sam followed Cowan with her sights and said, "Let him go and get the rest of our people." What the hell, if she was going to bluff, she might as well bluff big.

"That would take longer than you can risk staying here," Cowan replied.

Damn him for being right.

"You're coming with us then," she replied. "Stackhouse, Smitty, take him."

They sidled up next to Sam, covered by Markham and Kosciusko, and secured Cowan's hands with plastic restraints, then walked him further back among her people.

Sam met Kolya's gaze and thought again that this man wouldn't mind seeing his superior killed by enemy action. For the moment, though, in front of his men, he'd have to act like it mattered.

"We'll release Mr. Cowan at the stargate when you deliver our people to us there."

"I do not think so," Kolya told her with a cool smile.

Kavanagh gave out a small cry as Kolya twisted his arm.

"Everybody back to the surface," Sam ordered.

"You can't leave me here!" Kavanagh protested.

Sam wanted to do something for him desperately, but they were out of options. She could trade Cowan for Kavanagh, but then they would have no leverage and the Genii would have no reason not to start shooting at them. In a firefight, the marines had better weapons, but this was the Genii's planet. They had the numbers. When ammo ran out, numbers always won.

"We'll come back for you," she promised. It was an empty promise and Kavanagh knew it.

They began backtracking out of the underground cavern. There were eyes and guns on them the entire way. Up the steps and through the door, Sam kept waiting for an attack. Kolya followed. That made her feel marginally better. Friends close, enemies closer. She wanted to know what he was doing. He made her trigger finger itch; if it went to hell — further to hell — she wanted a chance at greasing him.

Up the ladder to the basement hatch was one of the iffiest points. The Genii could have an ambush waiting there to pick them off one by one.

Sam held her breath as the first marine started up the ladder. Her earpiece crackled with static and Ford's voice suddenly echoed there and from above.

"Dr. Carter? I've secured the tunnel egress. Over."

The marine on the ladder paused and ducked down far enough to yell, "The lieu's got a squad here. Exit's secured."

"Go first, ma'am," Bates advised. He jerked his head to Cowan. "We'll send him up after you and keep an eye on these guys." Another nod indicated Kolya, who still had Kavanagh in an iron grip, and his men.
Sam knew it was time to go along with Bates, whether she liked it or not. With a nod, she set the safety on her P90 and let the sling take its weight, then started up the ladder. Ford gave her a hand at the top.

"I left you in charge of getting out people through the stargate," she snapped at him.

"All done, ma'am," Ford said. "All the civilians are accounted for and on the other side. I've got a squad at the stargate, another between there and here, and men here." He looked a little hurt. Ford did the hurt puppy thing a little too well. Sam suspected he'd been skating on mistakes thanks to it all his life. It was so easy to forgive an error when it was well meant. "We stayed topside."

And risked a hell of a lot of their limited manpower when he had to damn well know she wouldn't have authorized it. Nor would Bates, who might not have Ford's rank, but definitely had more on the ground experience and good sense. Not to mention his lively sense of paranoia, which looked more and more like a survival trait in Pegasus.

"We'll talk about this later," she told him.

Cowan's restraints had been shifted to in front of his body to let his climb the ladder. Two of the marines lifted him over the edge by the shoulders.

"You know," Sam said, "I don't think Commander Kolya would mind if you didn't get out of this alive."

The furious and frightened glare he gave her confirmed he'd picked up on the same vibe.

There were Genii outside the tavern, people Sam had spoken with, shared meals with, and thought she'd known. Now they were armed with incongruous weapons in addition to pitchforks, axes and hoes. They watched with cold eyes as the Tau'ri, leading Cowan, double-timed toward the stargate.

"Stay frosty," Stackhouse said, "you can bet some of them are still out here," as they entered the trees. "And we're on their turf."

Which was likely as riddled with tunnels and ratholes as a Vietnamese jungle. Sumner had been the only member of the military with them that might have remembered the lessons taught there.

The Genii certainly had faster methods of getting to the stargate than overland. Kolya and more soldiers were waiting when they reached it, exiting the shadowed treeline into the sunshine. Clouds of insects buzzed up from the long grass as they entered the clearing.

Kolya still had Kavanagh with him. An ugly bruise was darkening on Kavanagh's cheekbone and his lip had started to split and swell.

"Do you really want a firefight?" Sam asked him. "You may kill us, but it doesn't win you anything but casualties on your own side."

She was sweating and trying to not let it show, but this was when it was all going to blow up in their faces. The Genii weren't going to tolerate being shown up like this. They couldn't stand back and let her people retreat without losing face.

"Let us go. No harm, no foul. You get Mr. Cowan back unharmed and we take Dr. Kavanagh." She didn't look away from Kolya. "Ford. Dial it up."

Ford moved to the DHD and began pressing the keys. Sam didn't care about the Genii seeing the address. They weren't staying there longer than it took to turn around and dial out to their real destination.

The rim of the stargate lit up, lights running around it and the chevrons lighting instead of moving the way the stargates in the Milky Way had. Pegasus gates were faster too. Sam itched for the chance to take a closer look at one herself.

The wormhole opened in a rush of energy and they began edging back to it. Kolya stood still, watching them with the those cold, dark eyes. Ford stepped backwards through the event horizon. The three squads he'd had with him also made it through, each of them making a soft squelch as the surface reformed after their passage.

Eventually, only Sam, Bates, and their last squad stood at the stargate. Bates had taken over the job of covering Cowan.

"Dr. Carter," Kolya said. "You're right about the casualties, but don't think you've won."

"I don't," she said.

They still had Gall, Abrams, Dumais, Kusanagi and Zelenka. Those were her people. Without them, she sure as hell hadn't won.

Sam sidled back until she could feel the surreal, cold lap of the event horizon lapping at her back. It pulled. The soft suction wasn't enough to move her weight, but it couldn't be ignored either.

"Commander Kolya," Sam said. "Why don't you send Dr. Kavanagh over here? We'll let Mr. Cowan go at the same time."

Kavanagh looked terrified. He knew something she didn't.

"No, Dr. Carter, I don't think so," Kolya said. "I believe you and our 'guests' all need to learn that one does not defy the Genii."

He shot Kavanagh through the head. The next shot was aimed at Sam. Or possibly Cowan; Bates shoved the Genii leader in stumbling front of Sam. Genii fire hit him at the same time Bates grabbed her arm and jerked her back through the wormhole.

~*~


Turned out Vala Mal Doran's al'kesh and her partner had both belonged to Ba'al. Until she had 'liberated' them, as she put it with a wicked grin. That meant the al'kesh was as state of the art as any Goa'uld technology was. Ba'al went in for more innovation than most of the snakes.

It meant Jehan was the only member of Vala's crew of cutthroats and desperados that knew anything about running the al'kesh, so they ended up working side by side. Engineers and pilots were much harder to find than thugs and goons. Mer used that to win extra crew shares and command staff rank from Vala before signing on.

Mer didn't get why Jehan had latched onto him at first, though he certainly appreciated the clear 'touch and die' message Jehan communicated to the rest of the crew in regard to hazing him. It left Mer free to call them the musclebound cretins they were when the idiots interfered with his repairs.

Mostly they didn't; the crew were on port leave, raising hell among Hebridan's brothels and bars.

Day three of putting the hyperdrive back together — what had they done, thrown a couple boulders, a Tasmanian Devil and a Slinky in there and shook it? — and Jehan innocently asked Mer, who was cursing the need to custom make a replacement part, if he was missing a flux capacitor.

Mer shot back out of the drive housing, just missed concussing himself, and went red as he sputtered, "You — you — you — "

"Me?" Jehan gave him innocent eyes.

Mer contemplated the spanner in his hand and whether it would hit Jehan if he threw it.

"Get out of my drive room!" he finally shouted and brandished the spanner.

"I'll go get some lunch," Jehan agreed peaceably and strolled out.

"Flux capacitor," Mer muttered after he'd gone. "What does he think this is, a DeLorean?" He crawled back under the housing and went back to prying out the fried components. They were lucky they'd limped into Hebridan, which had a space port and manufacturing industry that could make up a replacement. He forgot about Jehan and his comment until later that night, when he dropped his spoon into the green, gooey soup Dushka the cook had served up and stared at Jehan with his mouth hanging open.

"Something wrong, Meredith?" Jehan asked in amusement.

Mer snapped his mouth shut. If Jehan was from Earth and hadn't said so, then he obviously didn't want it known.

He dug his golden spoon back into the soup. Soup didn't taste any better on gold than silver or stainless steel and he figured Ba'al's ornate spoons and plates would be melted down and sold off to pay for supplies before they shipped out again.

Jehan continued spending time with Mer as they rebuilt the al'kesh's drives. Mer gradually realized that the relationship between Vala and Jehan didn't include sex. They were close as brother and sister, but if they'd ever shared a bed for more than sleeping, they didn't any longer.

He still kept his hands to himself, though. If Jehan came from Earth, then he might not react well to a pass from another man.

He closed up the drive housing and crawled out. One last panel to seal and Tanafriti had faster-than-light drives again. Mer patted the wall. He felt pleased with himself.

"All done?" Jehan asked, making Mer jump.

"Don't do that!"

"What?"

"Sneak up on me. I'll die of a heart attack and then you'll be stuck here forever."

"Been here the whole time," Jehan said.

Mer gave him a narrow eyed look. "Fine," he said. "Yes, I'm done. Faster than humanly possible, may I add."

Jehan tipped his head back and to the side. "You aren't human?"

Arrrgh. "Considering the difference between my intellectual capacity and the average homo sapiens sapiens, that may very well be true. I'm obviously a more advanced product of evolution."

Jehan's lips twitched but he didn't reply.

"Well?" Mer demanded. "Did you want something other than to pester me pointlessly?"

Jehan did smile this time and stepped closer. Very close. Mer had to swallow.

"Jehan?"

He held still, even held his breath, as Jehan swiped his thumb over Mer's cheek. He held it up, showing a gleam of the amber colored sealant Mer had been using.

"Grease."

"Oh," Mer murmured, disappointed.

Jehan reached for him again and Mer relaxed, thinking he was after another smear, but this time Jehan's palm fit warm and steady against Rodney's face and delicately pressed, just enough to tip Rodney's head and make him take a half step closer.

"Oh," he said again, understanding.

Jehan licked his lips nervously and blurted, "Wanna fuck?"

Mer gaped at him then asked, "That line get you anywhere often?"

Jehan flashed a rare, sweet grin. "Don't know, I never tried it on anyone before." He dropped his hand to his side though and just waited for whatever Mer would do next.

Mer finished sealing the last panel with hands that did not shake, because his hands never shook, but his pulse pounded in his ears and his mouth had gone dry. Jehan's jokes were dry and sardonic and mostly shared with either Vala or Mer and not on them. The panel went snick as it locked in place and then he had nothing to do with his hands. Jehan was still close enough Mer could pick out the lines at the corners of his eyes where they crinkled when he smiled and the scruff of beard showing dark on his jaw. His throat moved, giving away a hint of nervousness.

Mer wanted to lick the line of that long throat.

"Don't try it on anyone else."

Jehan grinned. "Yeah?" He leaned in again. Mer felt the warmth of his breath gust over his own lips. He could see the fine grain of Jehan's skin, the little uneven bump over one brow, the flare of golden brown that surrounded his pupils before the iris turned gray-green shading to a dark rim. That explained how his eyes seemed to change from dark to light depending on his mood. They were dark now as Jehan's pupils dilated. He smelled of sandalwood, leather and sweat. Mer wanted to touch him. Wanted to place his fingertips right on the soft, dry curve of Jehan's lower lip and trace it.

"Yes," Mer said and caught Jehan's hand in his. If Jehan had pulled away, that would have been it, Mer would have written the whole thing off as a joke and they would have gone on as cautious friends. Jehan closed his fingers around Mer's, though, and tugged him out of the engine room to the nearest sleeping quarters. His hand was warm and a little damp, giving away a level of nervousness Mer found endearing.

They'd slept together five times since and Mer hadn't picked up any hint that they were going to stop. Not when it kept getting better each time. At this rate of progression, Mer calculated he would die within the next six months of sexual overload. His brain would have melted out his ears before then, though, so he wouldn't mind.

Meredith let his head thump back into the pillows and tried to catch his breath. The breathlessness was a good thing. It kept him from thoughtlessly saying something like, 'Did Ba'al teach you to suck cock like that?' Which would assure he never experienced Jehan's skill again in his lifetime.

As well as likely getting his ass handed to him, because Vala had been right. Jehan was moody. Laconic to the extreme, reticent, taciturn, and, oh yes, touchy. On the other hand, he was smart, tough, and he both found them funny and got all of Mer's jokes, even the most esoteric Earth culture based ones. Meredith liked him and from the evidence of what they'd just done together? Jehan more than liked him back. Jehan preferred showing it instead of saying it, was all.

Jehan made his way up the bed and sprawled beside Mer. Turning his head was about all Mer had the energy left to do, but he managed it and took in his bed partner. Lips swollen, eyes closed, sweat still gleaming on his chest, and Jehan looked good enough to give Meredith pause. He watched Jehan's chest lift and fall to the steady rhythm of his breathing. His belly hollowed just a little with each exhalation and his hands were lax at his sides.

Mer would bet his back teeth Jehan came from Earth, but Jehan's past before falling into Ba'al's hands was off-limits. He doubted sleeping with the man changed that. Or he could be wrong. It didn't happen often, but Mer wasn't certain about Jehan, because he'd already been wrong once.

Originally, he'd assumed Jehan and Vala were sleeping together. They were both beautiful and obviously close — Vala had an entire crew of cutthroats, but she called Jehan her partner. Mer had figured that meant bed partner too. He had written off his immediate attraction to both of them, because no good could come from ticking off Vala by poaching and Vala herself was a little too predatory for his tastes.

A host of Jolinar's memories told Meredith of exactly what Jehan would have done as Ba'al's lo'taur, but survival and necessity were different from predilection. There were no silver linings to Jehan's experiences, though. It would all be trauma.

If Jehan was from Earth then he'd likely been raised to think of himself as strictly heterosexual. Mer had thought of himself as completely straight before hosting Jolinar, after all. Jolinar had preferred female hosts through most of her existence, though, and the wealth of memory she'd shared with him had changed his attitude. Expanded his skill set too; he knew a lot more about a female body from the inside than most men would ever comprehend.

At least he'd thought all that until Jehan made his move.

"You know, you surprised me," he said.

"Wow," Jehan muttered. He stretched and his calf brushed Mer's. "Thanks."

"Not that," Mer corrected him lightly.

Jehan rolled onto his side and arranged himself with his head on Mer's shoulder and a hand on his stomach. Their bodies were still over heated and sticky with sweat, but it felt nice. Affectionate. Mer hitched himself a little higher in the bed and made himself into a comfortable body pillow.

"How?"

"Just you... and me."

"Seemed good," Jehan sighed, obviously reluctant to talk about anything significant. "You were looking."

"I was not!"

Jehan laughed. "You were."

"Okay, but I wasn't going to do anything," Mer admitted. He'd thought Jehan was spoken for after all. If he'd lingered a couple of times outside his cabin door, well, that was because Jehan made him feel less like an exile. It had been relatively innocent. He hadn't wanted to endanger that.

"I know," Jehan said. "But I noticed. First time I ever...realized." He lifted his head and smiled at Mer. "Or wanted too. That's got to mean something, right?"

Mer stroked his fingers over the point of Jehan's shoulder. Jean leaned into the touch. Had he changed Jehan just by observing him? Did that make him the Heisenberg of sex? He snickered silently to himself. When his caresses stilled, Jehan made a grumbling sound and arched, silently demanding more like a pushing cat. Mer resumed the touching and Jehan went loose and pliant, practically melting into Mer.

Jehan mumbled something about 'their rules' Mer didn't quite catch as a yawn overtook him. His jaw popped. "Mmph," he agreed still mulling over Jehan choosing him over all the other options.

"Plus Vala ordered me to say something."

A chuckle slipped out and he felt Jehan shake with silent laughter in response. He'd have to thank Vala. He'd never had a boyfriend delivered to him before. Mer already knew Jehan well enough to guess she must have threatened him with unimaginable embarrassments and humiliations to get him to speak up. Mer had no way of knowing if Jehan had always been crippled on the communications front and he really didn't have a leg to stand on when it came down to it himself, but Jehan really wasn't in good shape when it came to emotions.

"She's the captain," he said finally.

Jehan turned and kissed Mer's collarbone. The tenderest brush of soft lips over skin contrasted with the scrape of beard.

"I'm crap at following orders. Barely made it through — Doesn't matter."

Officer's Candidate School? ROTC? The Air Force Academy? Mer finished in his head after Jehan cut himself off. Jehan had been military; he gave it away in a million ways. Mer felt sure he'd been an officer too. He ignored the slip so that Jehan would relax again, but Jehan had retreated into silence.

He wracked his brain again trying to figure out who Jehan had been, running through the names of the SGC's missing and dead, but he'd never paid any more attention to the soldiers than he had to. SG-1 had been atypically civilian in make-up and when O'Neill had brought along military to back them up, they'd never really integrated. Mer only memorized the names of fuck-ups so he could make sure they never came through the stargate with him again.

When he didn't prod, Jehan relaxed again and patted Mer lightly. "Wanted to," he murmured, then, "wanted you."

"Yeah, me too," Mer answered.

He wouldn't ask, but he could wonder.

Who the hell had Jehan been? He couldn't make the numbers work out. Mer frowned to himself. Maybe he'd been part of the original Abydos mission? That didn't work either. Maybe one of the Asgard had snatched him; the creepy little bastards looked too much like Roswell Greys not to have something to do with all those abduction stories. The stories themselves sounded a lot more believable after you knew there were nasty aliens out there too.

Mer scratched an itchy patch at his crotch and thought he should get up and wash, but decided to wait for early shift. The only wet patch was down where Jehan had been lying between his legs and they were both sleepy afterwards. Getting up, cleaning up and changing the sheets took more energy than he could muster. So did contemplating the mystery of Jehan abd-Ba'al. Knowing who Jehan had been before wouldn't help them run down the Lucian Alliance cargo ship and its armed escorts next shift anyway.

Mer closed his eyes and let himself fall asleep.

~*~


They kept moving after Genea. Sam visited Hoff, but while the Hoffans were more honest about their goals, they still had a whiff of crazy about them. She didn't think her people would be safe there either. Halling and Kanaan were with her and while Beckett and one of the Hoffan scientists explained what they were attempting, Sam saw both of them go grim.

She took the first chance that offered itself to ask them why.

"I do not know if what they are attempting is possible," Halling said, "but the Wraith would have no use or toleration for a population that was immune to feeding. One that actually poisoned them when they tried to feed...?"

"They will wipe the Hoffans out," Kanaan finished. "None will be left alive to spread the secret of immunity to other worlds."

Halling nodded.

"Even the Ancestors' Ring."

"Why don't they realize that?" Sam asked.

Halling sighed heavily.

"They do," he said at last. "But they no longer care."

Beckett chose to stay anyway, after Sam decided against staying on Hoff and put it to him. She wasn't surprised. The Hoffan's chief researcher was a very attractive blond who obviously had something going with Beckett already. Sam left Beckett there and hoped for the best. At least it was his choice and they could check back via the stargate. She negotiated for supplies with the Hoffan Chancellor in exchange for data Beckett couldn't offer and a couple pieces of medical equipment that were too large and heavy to heft from world to world indefinitely, and then they moved on.

Hiring out the scientists to fix or build things and the marines to shoot things kept the expedition members in basic supplies while they looked for power sources or some place to settle. The Genii weren't limited to their own planet, either, and the Athosians who had come with them picked up on rumors there were bounties on all the Tau'ri scientists. Another reason to never stay anywhere too long.

They picked up several strays along the way too, despite Bates' worries about Genii spies. The only Pegasans Bates didn't suspect were the Athosians, but Keras was smart and a hell of lot more mature than Lt. Ford, even if they were the same age.

At least they'd made a small change for the better on Keras' world. They'd never found the source of the shield that protected the tiny village and hadn't been able to offer them any alternatives to controlling their population, but the aged-out there would now have the option of leaving through the stargate rather being forced into ritual suicide or an execution. Keras and several other on the cusp had asked to go with them and Sam hadn't had the heart to turn them away. The marines were integrating them while picking up new hunting and gathering skills in exchange.

Eldon Bel was a different matter. Odd and jumpy as he was -- and who wouldn't be after being convicted of a trumped up charge and sent off to become a Wraith buffet? -- he had a knack for quick and dirty engineering. He was quick to grasp whatever any of the scientists wanted and always came up with something that would work. Without his help, Sam wouldn't have got them off the Olesian prison island and away before the Wraith showed up for the next tithe.

The rest of the Olesian convicts had poured through the gate after Sam and her people and scattered to hell and gone. She hadn't been willing to take any of them on beyond Eldon. Most of them were probably innocent at the time of their sentencing, but survival in the eat-or-be-eaten society that had formed on the island had warped them all. She felt a little bad about leaving them loose to find trouble in the rest of the galaxy. Not enough to even think about sending them back so that the rest of Olesia could go on enjoying their safe, comfortable lives.

The constant wandering was getting to them. They weren't any closer to finding a power source to use in Atlantis, there had been more casualties and they'd escaped betrayal by the Manarians by the skin of their teeth. They needed a base and one with some kind of in place infrastructure. Someplace they could set up the equipment salvaged from Athos and still cached on an empty world.

Someplace the Wraith wouldn't come.

Or wouldn't come back to, Sam thought.

"A culled world," she said to Kanaan. He'd become her defacto chief of intelligence and served as an unofficial counsellor along with Halling. Bates, Ford, Grodin and Cole filled out the other seats in the command tent.

"I'll tell my people to be on the alert." The Athosian refugees still had extensive trading contacts. Sam no longer bothered feeling guilty over taking advantage of them.

"Some place we could put in some quick crops would be good," Halling mentioned. "We can use the Ring to return here or one of the other hunting worlds when we need to, but crops need to be tended regularly." They were camped alongside a major river on a world known as Gersa. The stargate survived intact on a plain where only wind-smoothed lumps of stone remained to mark the city that had once surrounded it. Both plain and the forests beyond it were rich with game. Keras was leading the marines on hunting parties. The meat they brought back and fish they netted from the river would be brought fresh to a market world in the morning, maybe Belken, where the Athosians would trade it for goods they all needed.

"Someplace we can fortify," Bates said. "Sooner or later someone will spill our whereabouts and then the Genii or some dumbass bounty hunters will come calling. We need to be ready for them."

"I still think we should have taken over that world with the Tower," Ford muttered.

"We haven't turned into a gang of armed marauders just yet," Sam reprimanded him. She'd wanted to push the useless, backstabbing 'aristocracy' out of the Tower, and that made her a little harsher than she would have been otherwise. Maybe, if there had been a charged ZPM or the Lord Protector hadn't been able to use the weapons chair and direct drones at groundside enemies as well as the Wraith, she would have. But without Beckett or Kusanagi, they had no one with even a hint of talent with the Ancient technology, and no way to usurp the Lord Protector's control of the remains of Atlantis' nameless sister city. "Besides, the Wraith are far too interested in that world."

The Wraith seemed to be drawn to Ancient tech, whether to salvage it or destroy it, and Sam didn't want to around the day the Tower ran out of drones.

"Anybody else have anything to add?" Sam asked.

Cole raised her hand and said, "If this is a wishlist, then I wish for some place not too hot or wet. We haven't been hit with anything endemic to Pegasus that our systems can't deal with yet, but we've been avoiding jungle worlds where insects might serve as a serious vector threat."

"So noted." Sam smiled at Kanaan. "Did you get all that?"

"I did," he acknowledged.

He must have, because three days later, he brought Sam and Bates to meet with a tall, dark woman in a dingy Belken bar. She wasn't a Belken native; the worn remnants of a uniform and the tattoos on her arms and throat marked her out from the market crowd. So did the triple-barreled shotgun analog holstered at her back.

"This is Haemi," Kanaan introduced her.

Haemi looked them over. Her gaze narrowed when she spotted the P90s clipped to their tac vests and the sidearms strapped into thigh holsters.

"My people are too gutless to return to our world," Haemi said.

"Why?" Sam asked, though she already had a good idea.

"Because the Wraith broke them," she spat. "But I've been back and there's enough left. It could be rebuilt." She shifted angrily in her seat. "If they weren't all cowards who ran because Kel ordered it. They don't deserve to go back. They have no honor left."

Belken hosted a number of refugee enclaves, Sam remembered someone telling her. Haemi's people were probably among that number. Culling survivors, mostly, but sometimes the displaced came from worlds where the technological level had risen high enough to trigger the Wraith's paranoia and bring down destruction on their heads. How much destruction might depend on how long and hard the world tried to fight back. If the people had fled through the stargate before the Wraith blockaded it by dialing in? Maybe the Wraith might have left some of the infrastructure behind. Haemi made it sound like that.

And that was exactly the sort of world Sam wanted to set up their base of operations in Pegasus.

"Go back where?" Sam asked.

Haemi raised her chin and answered proudly.

"Sateda."


tbc


beta by dossier


FB for GT&T III

Date: 2009-06-16 11:24 am (UTC)
ratcreature: Squee!! (squee!!)
From: [personal profile] ratcreature
This was very cool. I love this epic, though I think once it's finished I need to reread it all to follow all the awesome subplots without missing stuff. I'm really enjoying the backstory. And the Genii sure screwed the expedition over a lot here. BTW in part a I noticed a typo "Vala sighed in relief as Vala's expression cleared" should probably be "Teyla's expression", yes?

:D

Date: 2009-06-16 05:30 pm (UTC)
queenbarwench: (friends kitties)
From: [personal profile] queenbarwench
I just love your world-building! And Novak, and John's backstory... And I have more respect for Sam now that I know how she didn't know about Rodney being alive. Hmm, all these women rock spectacularly. And I'm also looking forward to Sateda (and Ronon too...?).

Date: 2009-06-16 05:45 pm (UTC)
dossier: the ancient ancestor of Herbatus Unimoosis (Default)
From: [personal profile] dossier
last I checked this AM, your LJ post was still locked. I linked the newsletter to here on DW.

The more I think about this, the more I really love this story. Very thought provoking about the limits of human endurance, and especially the utter alieness of being a gou'uld host. I really think that was the main failing of Sam & Jacob's story lines, that they didn't seem to have their outlook completely reoriented. though with Jacob, it could all be a ruse... I think that Lantash was an effort to redact the problem. Kanan/O'Neill was a little better portrayal.

Date: 2009-06-16 05:46 pm (UTC)
history_gurl: (sga sinking)
From: [personal profile] history_gurl
Mmm, very nice. The characterisation is fantastic. As Vala says of Teyla, none of them will truly recover, but it's good to know that they will continue to survive and function.

Date: 2009-06-16 11:44 pm (UTC)
history_gurl: (Default)
From: [personal profile] history_gurl
what had warped and worn them

Oh, what a perfect image. Which, considering it is about your characters, in your story, makes sense. Probably more sense than this comment makes, anyway.

But yes, that sense of the pushing and pulling of conflicting interests really shines through in this section. As does the fatigue that is wearing at them all.

Date: 2009-06-16 06:03 pm (UTC)
lillian13: (think like a rocket scientist)
From: [personal profile] lillian13
You updated!

Bits of this made me tear up a bit--especially when Sam was told about Rodney. (Is it my imagination, or is everyone in this AU just a wee bit more self-centered than they are in canon?)

Linsday and Teyla would make *excellent* pirates. :-)

Date: 2009-06-16 07:42 pm (UTC)
lexstar29: (Default)
From: [personal profile] lexstar29
So pleased to see this! I love the world you're building here. How Mer is still the brash person we know, yet shows restraint and sensitivity in not pushing Jehan for more than he is willing to tell. It comes across as a lovely relationship. I love all the twists on canon events and characters.

Date: 2009-06-16 08:38 pm (UTC)
sholio: sun on winter trees (Tao-ouch)
From: [personal profile] sholio
Ooh, very cool to have some more of this! (Hmm, the thought occurs to me that your longer, heavier stories are actually very well suited to the serialized format; there is enough to dip my toe, but not enough to overwhelm me or take over my whole day!) Really nice to see the backstories here; the difference in how Jehan and Mer perceived events, and the SGC's perception, is really fascinating. Sam and Mer's eventual meeting is going to be all kinds of fun, I'm sure! Once again, I really love how you've woven the AU events into canonical events (right down to Ford using C4 on the Genii planet!). And I adore all the little details; the Pegasus people picking up Goa'uld slang ("Tau'ri") from the Milky Way people is an especially cool touch.

I think Rodney's characterization is probably the most fascinating for me in this story, the way that he is very clearly 48-Hours-Rodney in the early scenes at the SGC (and understandably disliked by his team) and then is reshaped by his time with Jolinar into a very different person. And his relationship with Jehan is meltingly sweet -- bonding over their status as expatriot Tau'ri, and eventually Jehan actually being able to open up to him, which is kind of amazing. At first I was a little disappointed that there wasn't anything more dramatic to their transition from awkward shipmates to lovers -- it seemed like, given the experiences that they'd both had, they really should have needed more of a push. But the more I thought about it, the more I liked that it wasn't dramatic, just getting to know each other and liking each other.

Second to that, though, I really, really love what you've done with Sam and the much more realistic take on her status as a woman on an SG team -- the way she has to choose between her Air Force career and getting to go through the Stargate, her conflicted relationship with Rodney, her position (pre-SG1-team) ruling the science roost at Cheyenne Mountain but still being unable to step through the gate. And then Sam in Pegasus, who is more like the Sam we know now, and yet different -- it's just very, very nicely done.

Date: 2009-06-16 09:18 pm (UTC)
winter_elf: Sherlock Holmes (BBC) with orange soft focus (Default)
From: [personal profile] winter_elf
totally, totally awesome! I'm loving the backstories, even if I want to give them *ALL* cookies!!! Yikes! Oh Wow, the disfunction on SG-1. Wants to shake Jack.

Loving the hard life in the pegasus as the they jump worlds. Good thing Sam got them away for the Genii.... though Oh my, Zelenka and Miko got left to the Genii! Bad Genii!

I'm especially loving Mer and Jehan's stories and how they fit now. I hope you have more following from this tentative beginning they've started on how they've become so intertwined.

Date: 2009-06-16 11:25 pm (UTC)
sqweakie: (lovesheppard)
From: [personal profile] sqweakie
You are completely made of awesome!

You definitely delivered on their various pasts. All of them, Vala, Jehan, Novak (her story caught me by surprise but I really like what you did with her character). The Genii...they stole some of my favorite scientists! Are we going to find out what happened to Miko and Zelenka?

I probably could go on and on so I'm cutting off the babble right now. This was definitely worth the wait.

Date: 2009-06-17 03:15 am (UTC)
tassosss: (awesomecakes)
From: [personal profile] tassosss
This is terrific! Not that I'm surprised because this whole thing is awesome but really - I lost half my work day reading it because I couldn't put it down.

Backstories! OMG! Vala stole Jehan! And Novak about broke my heart with how happy she is now! And Sam's in command, essentially!

So much win!

Date: 2009-06-17 04:24 am (UTC)
sundara: (John Rodney close)
From: [personal profile] sundara
I'm feeling stupid...I won't tell you when I finally realized who Jehan was...but it wasn't immediately! DUH. I'm loving this story! The characters sparkle and crackle with life and depth of their experiences. Fabulous job of au-world creation. I'm really looking forward to more.

Date: 2009-06-17 02:22 pm (UTC)
sundara: (John Rodney close)
From: [personal profile] sundara
I got it before this section (I'm commenting on the whole thing up 'till now) but...not right away. Can't remember exactly what it was that hit me on the head and made me go "OH". But in the beginning, I kept thinking, who is this Jehan? And also, wonder how Rodney's going to get hooked up with John? LOL I really do love how the characters have that sharp edge to them--you've prodded them enough that they express it in this universe.

Date: 2009-06-17 05:25 am (UTC)
seekergeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekergeek
I really liked this bit a whole bunch. The backstories of everyone were especially fascinating to me. And now I'm all worried about the scientists still stuck on Genii. How badly are they going to be damaged by the whole thing?

Date: 2009-06-18 09:46 am (UTC)
seekergeek: (Default)
From: [personal profile] seekergeek
Uhm. Cowan's dead and Kolya's in charge, what do you think?

I was afraid you'd say that! *bites nails*


Go with your BigBanging self! *\o/*

Date: 2009-06-17 11:11 am (UTC)
ext_13205: (Default)
From: [identity profile] korilian.livejournal.com
Your depiction of women in this verse is depressing, but realistic. I like that I can pinpoint exactly why the gender inequality is so much greater then it is on the show though.

In canon SG1 the biggest clue that Sam has had problems with the glass ceiling is her first angry retort that she can do her job just as well as any man.
Now canon SG has had women on gate teams all along (Carter, Cadman, the all women team. Although they seem to be the exception). Sam herself however set the precedent for women on gate teams. She's the SGC's golden girl and along with Daniel the most vital member of the entire base.

Most importantly she went on that first mission as 'tech support'. They hardly had a clue what they were getting into and going off-world might not have been classified as combat. It might still not be.
In this AU however they had a male alternative for Sam right from the start and all that never got off the ground.

I liked Lindsey's back story. I wanted to shoot Kolya in the face and then have Prometheus systematically bomb the planet until they handed over the missing scientists (Not Miko and Radek!).
Mer, Jehan and vala's stories were confirmed to be just as horrifying as I imagined (worse actually, since your mind is a far bleaker place then mine). In fact the angst is only kept at bay because they're God damn space pirates now and no one's gonna mess with them... except you brought aboard Teyla's necklace of DEATH, so people are totally gonna mess with them and how could you hurt her like that, when it inevitably comes out?!?! How?

Date: 2009-06-18 02:35 pm (UTC)
ext_13205: (Default)
From: [identity profile] korilian.livejournal.com
I'm pretty sure it's more common on Atlantis. We have seen a few more women (http://www.gateworld.net/gallery/displayimage.php?album=24&pos=396) working at the SGC (that Hathor ep rounded them up specifically), but we never learned if any of them were on Gate teams, or just SF's.

I don't think the SGA situation can be traced to S1. Cadman and Teldy and co are all from later seasons. My interpretation was that only male marines went on the first wave, since they were all picked by hard ass Sumner (if they did send women if was probably to even out the genders in case they needed to breed). I actually went and looked at the screencaps and could discern no female soldiers.

I'd say aside from Sam, who was their resident stargate expert and thus irreplaceable, the SGC had no women on teams. Hailey was being groomed to be the next golden girl and I think they were both so far above the curve, that ignoring them was impossible... Actually I checked and there was actually another girl recruit (http://www.gateworld.net/gallery/displayimage.php?album=110&pos=45) being prepped along with Hailey in prodigy.

Date: 2009-06-18 09:05 pm (UTC)
enviropony: captain flint's flag - a skeleton with a sword and hourglass (Default)
From: [personal profile] enviropony
Awesome, as usual! I love the "left behind by Earthers" theme that's going on. And it really creeps me out that Sam is all, "Well, so much for those guys. Let's go somewhere else." Different from the Sam we know, and yet not.

The meeting between Vala, Meredith and Jehan was perfect. Just the right tone, great characterization. Jehan's freak-out afterward made me feel so bad. All those years he's thought he was the last one, only to have everything he believed (and believed in) ripped apart.

This is the line that sticks with me: "He was who he had always been, though, so he used his name, given at birth, and not some made up one." That out the four of them (Teyla, Vala, Rodney and John) Rodney is the least changed, the only one who doesn't feel like he's become a different person. He might seem the most cowardly, from an outside perspective, but he's the most solid one, the strongest, of them all. One might argue that he went through the least trauma, in relative terms, but for a man so dependent on his mind to be trapped like he was, shown that his mind is not as powerful as he thought... I think that's pretty damned traumatic. He's definitely a changed man, but not a different man, and it makes me wonder if there's anything out there that can alter Rodney at the same level as the others.

Date: 2009-06-18 09:18 pm (UTC)
mab_browne: Atlantis from Stargate: Atlantis (SGA)
From: [personal profile] mab_browne
I'm really enjoying this with all its twists and turns, although you break my heart sometimes with the ruthless way you treat the characters. Still, it's a good sort of heartbreak, because I like stories that acknowledge the reality and consequences of a dangerous universe.

Date: 2009-06-19 07:15 pm (UTC)
scarletamethyst: (Default)
From: [personal profile] scarletamethyst
Oh wow, thanks for all the backstories, I especially loved how all the little differences could make such big changes, such as the sexism and how that affected Sam and Lindsey and how John got into the SGC in the first place. I hope they eventually rescue the scientists from the Genii, and maybe have Vala's crew encounter Ronon soon. Enjoyable as always, looking forward to the next part.

GT&T III

Date: 2009-06-20 02:26 pm (UTC)
springwoof: A cartoon rendition of a Woof (Default)
From: [personal profile] springwoof
After considerable thought, I've come to the conclusion that this may be my favorite of your stories, ever. May be though--both because of the awesomeness of your existing body of work and because you're not done yet with this one. But it's definitely in the running. Your plot is epic and sprawling, your prose vivid and exciting and occasionally dipping into lyrical, and the characters are complex and delightful--enough like the canon characters to be obviously recognizable but fascinatingly changed by their AU experiences.

Of all the backstories in this section, I liked Novak's the best. I like how delighted she is to be a pirate and how she trusts and looks up to Vala--how Vala, in a sense, saved her. It's an interesting flip on all the others' experiences of being kidnapped by aliens. (and I also like how Vala sees that Novak is fragile and damaged and refuses to take advantage of her. Your Vala has more morals and decency than anyone, even herself, gives her credit for.)

Date: 2009-06-25 04:48 pm (UTC)
tropes: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tropes
I realize I'm late to read, but I love love love this. So great to finally get more backstory. <3

Date: 2009-07-02 01:36 am (UTC)
rhianona: (teyla kills)
From: [personal profile] rhianona
oh this was brilliant. I love how you've given us a detailed background on our main characters in this part. By now, we know enough of the plot and the characters as they are in thi, that you going back and filling in the pieces just enhances this. Everyone is so very broken, even Sam and Lindsey, who arguably have the least trauma in the past. You had hinted at horrible the Tok'ra were to both Vala/Qetesh and to Meredith, but really that hadn't touched the tip of the ice berg. For Jehen, if one kept in mind the early view we had of Ba'al with the torturing of Jack, before he became the Taur'i's reluctantly accepted ally in later seasons, it's easy to know, even if you're not explicit, how Jehen would have been treated. And that Vala is still effected by Qetesh and will never be free of her, not because of the memories or what Qetesh did to her, but because Qetesh is so much a part of her forever.

It was quite lovely to read how Jehen and Vala became partners and then how Mer joined their crew. I loved the insight into Lindsey. I love the differences you've painted for Sam and how everything went wrong after coming to Pegasus. Great that you end this with bringing up Sateda. I look forward to that and the introduction of Ronon. This part was just so rich with exquisite detail. I'm looking forward to the next part, whenever you have the time.
From: (Anonymous)
You are made of awesome and chocolate. This story is awesome.

Date: 2009-11-29 08:22 pm (UTC)
chris_king_2005: Gibson 1 (Default)
From: [personal profile] chris_king_2005
*flails*

Oh, this is simply marvelous!

I do love me a good space opera. Well done! And I hope you keep working on it...this is addictive!

Date: 2009-11-30 02:00 am (UTC)
chris_king_2005: Gibson 1 (Default)
From: [personal profile] chris_king_2005
Another part next month?!

Cool!

*does the geriatric fangirl chairdance of glee*

Date: 2010-01-05 08:00 am (UTC)
l_jade: (McShep-C&H)
From: [personal profile] l_jade
I've just finished reading upto this.. I know I still have one more chapter to go (YAY!), but I have to sleep now ;)

Loving the story so far, I love the way you potrayed the women, they're assertive, smart & brave as the way they should/could be in the show. Your McShep is slow, a lot of pain included, stuttered but beautiful (after a few chapters). The only thing that made me go "huh?" is that Janet & Daniel didn't sat Mer down & ask outright on why the heck he didn't even TRY to contact earth at all and broke Sam's heart with his MIA. Janet just stop after "You're wrong!" and Daniel doesn't even try, which made me sad, they really really don't like Rodney in this universe :-(

Date: 2010-03-20 06:02 pm (UTC)
schneefink: River walking among trees, from "Safe" (Default)
From: [personal profile] schneefink
Backstory :D
Novak as pirate queen jr. is amusing and perfectly fitting, especially in the scene with Teyla. With Vala and Dushka she has two mentors who´re going to teach her all kinds of things - not to mention Mer.
The divorce paper scene gave another intriguing look at this universe´s SGC. (I want them all to stay in Atlantis in the end - well, except of maybe Daniel - but I do love to imagine O´Neill and Teal´c facing Mer and his new team.)
Poor Kavanagh! And the other scientists, too, of course, especially now that Kolya has taken over, but at least they get rescued eventually.
It´s also great how you show that the Earth expedition partly scattered and now also includes other refugees from other planets.
The way Mer and Jehan´s relationship started without any dramatics was sweet and strangely fitting, even though and because they´re both damaged. Of course Vala had to blackmail Jehan to get him to say anything. And their resentment of Earth makes perfect sense (as does the fact that they can´t think about it rationally.)

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