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"As far as we have been able to tell, we were successful in collapsing the entire structure of Stargate Command," I say.

"So Cronus won't be able to use the Stargate?" Kawalsky asks.

"No, but the Stargate is almost certainly intact. Given time, he can dig it out - but he has to get here some other way first," I explain.

"Which he soon will," a voice says.

We all turn to look who it is that has just entered through the door.

"Who are you, and what do you mean by that?" Hammond demands.

"I am Doctor Rodney McKay, astrophysicist. I usually work at area 51, but I was sent here to Washington because we've detected what we think is a fleet of ships. Motherships."

"Motherships!" Kawalsky exclaims.

"Do they belong to Cronus?" Hammond ask.

"How should I know? They're still outside the orbit of Saturn!" McKay says, looking affronted, somehow.

"It's most likely Cronus's ships - since he's the one who has been attacking us through the Stargate," I observe.

"Who cares what Goa'uld it is! The ship will be here tonight! We're doomed!"

"Get down!" Kawalsky shouts.

A volley of staff blasts flies over our heads, just as we dive down behind some rubble.

Warren sticks his head out and makes a quick check. "Ten Jaffa in front of the door to the warehouse, five more approaching from the right - about 100 feet away."

"Damn!" Kawalsky swears. "You sure the weapon is in there, Sam?"

"Yeah, unfortunately." I look down at the MP5 I am holding. Over the last year, I have been taught how to use it - something I would have forsworn ever having to earlier.

"Okay, we'll find a way to get you in there. How long will you need to get it operational?" Kawalsky asks, as he presses the button that will blow up the claymores we have planted.

Four of the Jaffa are close enough to be thrown into the air when they explode.

"I don't know... an hour?

"You've got to do better than that! If we get half an hour before more bad guys arrive, we'll be lucky!" Kawalsky jumps up from his hiding place and fires at an approaching Jaffa. They have regrouped after the explosion, and are now coming at us again.

Warren pulls the split out of a hand grenade and throws it in the direction of the Jaffa that are coming from the right.

The weapon I am supposed to activate, is a slightly modified version of a device that has been found on another planet - I think it is called Sertes. It had been used to protect that world against the meteor swarms that are frequent there. I am not exactly proud of the fact that Earth has stolen it, nor is Kawalsky, I know, but the orders were to take anything which might be used against the Goa'uld.

I think about the handful or so of other researchers I have been working with on this project, and what might have happened to them. None of them could be contacted earlier, but I guess I can hope they just fled.

I push those thoughts aside, and think about the alien device we had worked on. We have changed it, so it no longer just functions as a deflection shield, but actually sends out pulses of shock energy - which should theoretically be able to bring down something as large as a mothership.

Of course, we have not been able to test it, since we did not have enough weapons grade naquadah to power it. Now we do. SG-2, SG-3, and SG-4 led a strike team to a downed cargo ship, and lucked out when they found a stash of naquadah.

They managed to bring back enough naquadah to power the weapon, though most of them died securing that naquadah for us. One more reason we must succeed in bringing down Cronus's mothership - so their sacrifices has not been in vain.

"I'll try!" I say, as I fire my rifle at a Jaffa, and hit him.

It was not long ago I would have been surprised by seeing the Jaffa fall, but no longer. I have gotten quite experienced at shooting at enemy soldiers - something I even a year ago would never have thought would happen.

I briefly reflect what Jack would have said, and decide he would probably have approved. He always felt everyone attached to the Stargate project should be able to defend themselves. It was one of the things we disagreed on, but now I can see it from his side.

It has been a year, but the thought of Jack dead, still makes my heart ache. The pain has dulled, especially with everything else that has happened, but it is more than I can afford right now. I need my focus clear, so I push the dark thoughts aside, and throw a look at the small anti-gravity sled with naquadah that is standing beside me, before I shoot the next Jaffa.

Beside me, Kawalsky and Warren - the two last survivors of SG-1 - each kill a Jaffa as well. We have all gotten very good at killing people, with all the practise we have gotten since Cronus attacked three days ago. There was a time, not long ago, when I was deeply affected, almost in shock by killing someone, even an enemy Jaffa. Now I just feel numb. It has been three horrible days.

I know this lack of feeling is not a good sign, and that I will probably pay for it if we survive, but right now I am grateful for it.

"Hurry up, Sam!" Kawalsky yells as he runs into the room. "We can't hold them back!"

He and Warren slams the door and bars it, hoping it will keep the Jaffa out long enough for me to finish the adjustments.

"Almost finished!" I connect a few more wires, then throw the switch. Nothing happens. Crap! I re-check the wiring. All looks correct.

Frantically, I look over the entire confused mess of human and alien components. There has not exactly been time to think of anything but functionality. Now this comes back to bite my ass.

It takes longer than we can really afford, but eventually I find what I think is the problem. I haphazardly pull two components closer together, so the remaining piece of wiring can reach between them. This time the device makes a humming sound as it powers up, and the parabolic antenna folded out.

My hands shake, so relieved am I, but I cannot relax. The Jaffa can get through that door at any time.

I quickly start to calibrate the targeting. I looked at the screen and frown. This is not good! I turn a knob and frown again. Definitely not good.


"It's ready! It's just that..."

"Fire it, then!"

I do not know how to tell them. Part of me just wants to give up. Sit down and cry, perhaps. That I cannot do. They depend on me, and I must not let them down. Besides, all is not lost.

The simplest is just to tell them as it is, and I do. "Cronus has moved his mothership - or we miscalculated the distance earlier. It's within range - but only barely. I can't be sure it'll destroy the ship."

"What! Do you mean this was all in vain?" Kawalsky stares at me, disbelieving.

I cringe. I very much understand how he feels. All the losses - and whatever happens now, we will probably be captured and killed in any case.

"Well, no, we'll definitely damage it, but I'm just not sure the focus of the blast will hit the ship - and if it doesn't, the damage may not be enough to destroy it. Incapacitate it for a while, sure, but..."

"The door is buckling! The Jaffa are coming through!" Warren shouts.

"It'll have to be enough. Fire it. Now!" Kawalsky orders.

I hesitate for a brief moment, then pull a lever and hit a button. The pitch of the sound the device makes increases. "Okay, it'll fire in one minute. We need to take cover!" I activate the control that makes the roof begin to retract over the weapon. It starts with a grinding noise.

We run to the crates that stand in a corner, and hide behind them. We have only just ducked down below them, when the large weapon reaches full power, and fires off an enormous shock wave. It is the first of several. The whole room shakes under the power that is released.

The Jaffa knocks down the door and a large group of them pours into the room, just as the weapon fires off the sixth - and it turns out last - blast.

"Kree! Surrender at once in the name of your Lord Cronus!"

The device starts shaking, and smoke erupts from it. That cannot be good.

"That's what I was afraid of..." I frown. "It's overloading. Keep your heads down!"

I have barely finished speaking, before there is a loud explosion, and the roof and wall starts to come down around us.

"Sam?" Someone says, and prods me gently.

"Yes..." I answer, opening my eyes slowly.

The air is full of dust, and there is an unpleasant, acrid smell.

"Thank god! I've tried waking you for almost an hour!"

It is Kawalsky. I feel relief wash over me that he, at least, has survived too.

I take a deep breath, and immediately starts coughing. The pain is excruciating, and I groan before spitting out a small amount of blood. I try to move, only to find I am stuck under some sort of rubble. A sharp pain tears through my left leg, and I gasp. I immediately stop trying to move.

"I'm stuck under something..." I try to turn a bit, so I can see Kawalsky, but I am unable to.

"Yeah, so am I. I think most of the roof came down on us."


"Dead. Same goes for the Jaffa, I think. At least no one else has moved in the time we've been here."

I nod. Stupid, as it sounds like he is lying with the top of his head towards mine, and can no more see me, than I can him.

I make a check of myself, moving the various parts of my body. Everything hurts, but some places more than others.

"I think I'm mostly unharmed - except that I think I've cracked - or broken - a couple ribs. Also, I'm coughing up blood. Only a little, but that can't be good. Hurts like hell, too."

"One of the broken ribs probably bruised a lung. It's bad, but if we're lucky you'll be okay. What about the leg? The one that's stuck under the rubble?"

"I can feel it, but I can't move it."

Kawalsky nods. "Can you sit up? Push the rubble away?"

"I'll try, but I doubt it. What about you?" I again try to turn and look at him, and again I give up, when the pain from my stuck leg tells me not to pull at it.

"Not so good. I've got a roof beam or something lying across my chest, pinning me down. I can't see further than that, but I think both my legs are broken by something."

I try to hide my fear that he, too, will die... that I will be all alone.

"Crap. Crap! We don't even know if we succeeded in bringing down Cronus's mothership!" I manage to sit up, and try to push at the rubble that has fallen on my leg. There is one big piece of roof, I think, and it does not budge. With an exasperated moan, I give up. "We'll just be stuck here until we die - unless the Jaffa finds us first! We've failed miserably!"

"I, for one, are going to assume we succeeded!" Kawalsky says. "If we brought down his mothership, and SG-5 to 9 manages to sabotage the other ha'tak, then we'll just have to mop up the Jaffa, and then we're rid of the snakeheads! Besides, I still got my MP5."

I snort at that. "What good is that going to do? As for the sabotaging the other ship? That's a pretty big if, you know that. Their plan was more insane than ours - and how are you going to fight all those Jaffa? Apophis got much of the planet's defences and military forces last year, and whatever we'd managed to rebuild, Cronus took out this time! Besides, the last intel we got says Cronus have got another three ships of the same size! What's stopping him from sending them here?"

"At some point I'm sure the Goa'uld will decide we're just too much trouble." Kawalsky makes a sound that seems to be a cross between a laugh and a cough. "Stop being so negative!"

"I hope you're right. I really do! It's just..."

"Kree! Tau'ri, shel-norak. Kree!"

"Jaffa. Damn it!" Kawalsky swears. "Kree yourself!" he yells. I hear him move, and he cocks his MP5. "Well, you're not going to take me alive!" He shoots in the direction the voices are coming from.

The Jaffa shout something at each other - I have no idea what - and a moment later there is an explosion of light, and a piercing sound. Then all becomes black.

"Augh! Do you have to throw me in here?" I exclaim, as I hit the wall.

"Quiet, Tau'ri slave!" the Jaffa shouts, slamming the door to the cell shut behind me.

I hear it lock, and then the rhythmic thumping of the Jaffa as they march down the corridor, then leaves the area. All becomes quiet.

I grimace as I move around, trying to find a position that does not hurt. I do not know if my ribs or my left leg hurts the most. There is an ugly, bleeding gash across my leg, but at least there is no open fracture. I guess I should be grateful for that.

When I had just woken up, I had been blind, but the effect was temporary. I already knew that, since she I had realized it was a shock grenade. While I have not been exposed to them before, I have heard about them from the various SG teams.

Kawalsky and I were transported here in some sort of vessel, but we were separated before either of us had gotten our vision back, so I do not know what has happened to him.

I look at the walls; they are golden, and fit exactly the descriptions I have gotten of holding cells in Goa'uld motherships - and palaces. Since Cronus is unlikely to have built a palace in his own style here yet, this means at least one of his two motherships is intact, or mostly so.

I feel certain the one I fired the alien weapon at would have had to have been at least severely damaged. I assume the ship I am - probably - on now is the other one, and that the sabotage mission failed. I wonder what happened to SG-5, SG-6, SG-7, SG-8, and SG-9? Were they all killed? Did some or all of them get away? Were they captured? Though, if the latter was the case, they would probably be in here with me.

It has been several hours since I last saw anyone, and in that time I have just been lying on the floor of the cell.

No one has come to tend to my wounds, or even to bring me food or water. I am starting to wonder if they do not care, or if they are doing it on purpose, hoping it will weaken me, and perhaps make me more likely to talk when they start interrogating me.

Every so often, something in the wall makes an annoying, buzzing sound, and that kept me awake for a long time before I eventually succumbed to pain and exhaustion and dozed off.

I am half-asleep, when someone suddenly opens the door, waking me. I look up at the man standing at the door.

"Kawalsky!" I gape at him. "You're okay!" I suddenly noticed the Jaffa behind him - and the strange clothes he is wearing. A colorful tunic, with an armour on over it, and wrist guards?! And a short cape?! "What is going on...?"

He smirks, an arrogant expression spreading across his face. "Stupid Tau'ri! She thinks I am her friend!" He laughs. "I am not 'Major Kawalsky'. I am Lord Deimos! Cronus graciously gave me this host - and I have acquired a lot of information from his mind."

"You're... a Goa'uld," I realize, horrified. I feel sick thinking of what has happened to Kawalsky. Is he even in there anymore?

Suddenly, I am struck by fear of what will happen to me. Will I be made a host as well? Go through life, imprisoned in my own body, while someone else walks around as me, no doubt committing atrocities...

"Yes, dim one." His smile widens, but does not become any less disturbing. "As I said, there was much interesting knowledge in my new host's mind - including the plans for some of your foolish, traitorous 'SG teams' to sabotage this ha'tak! They have been caught, and they will die. Eventually!" His eyes suddenly flash, as he becomes angrier. "You are the cause of the cowardly attack on Cronus's flagship! Because of you, thousands of your kind will die, as punishment! Further thousands will die in the mines, and during the construction of new ships for the glory of your master! You, yourself, will receive your punishment. In due time."

He turns on his heel and leave, not giving me a chance to reply. Stunned, I just stare after him. To hear such hateful words come from one you considered a friend, is shocking. Horrifying.

Chapter 3 >>

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