STARGATE – RISE OF THE GOA’ULD
PART ONE: VIOLATION
Chapter 1: Slaughter
Cold blocks of granite stared back indifferently as the warm light of a passing torch caught their edges. The flame pushed back the darkness, growing and dying with lost breaths of air escaping the passageway ahead. Sand, kicked aside by the steady strut of sandaled feet, parted with the ancient floor and took to the air, playing in mad swirls. A luxurious length of material dragged behind. Its dye was richer than the summer sky at dusk and heavy, pulling the shoulders of its wearer back so that they stood a few inches taller.
The man’s face strained as he forced a gold bangle over his large, masculine hand. The beaten object hung beautifully against his sun-worn skin, covering a scar of pale pink that zigzagged over his veins. Another thin band, striped with Lapis, knocked against it as Atum’s arms swung by his side giving pace to his stride.
Atum’s chin and nose stood equal in silhouette. His ornately woven false beard continued the jarring line, protruding like a horn. Several layers of necklaces swung over his bare chest, the longest and most delicate reaching his waist where a tight knot of linen covered his hips.
Suddenly his cloak billowed past him and the torch flames flattened, starved of fuel. Atum heard heavy breathing but found nothing when he turned and peered into the blackness.
The temple had gone quiet.
The corridors of Heliopolis should have been lit for the meeting of The Nine, bustling with slaves – but they were not. He was near the main chamber and so hurried past the elaborate walls depicting the past victories of his rule. The bodies of Tau’ri drowned in the Nile with jewel-set eyes set into the stone.
He found the entrance to the room and waited before entering, smelling a bitter odor. What remained of the alliance lay draped over their thrones with the contents of their bloodied chests dripping into their laps. A gold artifact protruded through each member’s neck – the sacred Ank severing the Goa’uld serpents in half. Slaughtered, they watched as Atum crossed to the centre of the room, lighting each of the torches as he passed.
Soon, the room was aglow and the painted ceiling sparkled like the sky it pretended to be. Its navy expanse was held up by sixteen blushing columns, each with a swirl of gold hammered around their girth. Nine statues stood behind the thrones, some with a vague likeness to the broken bodies beneath. Three thrones were empty. His own, the meek half wit Seth’s, and that of Osiris.
“I know your shadow,” said Atum, his voice pouring from the edge of his mouth like a silken liquid. He dropped the torch in his hand, exposing the hand device snaked over his palm. The amber stone at its centre warmed. “Traitor,” he breathed, hearing the same sliding footsteps reach the entrance.
“Your time is finished,” replied the beast that had been tracking him. The words were difficult to form in the host’s primitive mouth, forced through the throat and only vaguely moulded into speech. The Unas bound Goa’uld clutched an Ank in his fist as he approached. Blood that wasn’t his stained the cloth around his waist.
“They will not give you anything, Ba’al.” Atum turned to face his executioner, ready for the fight.
500 000 years ago : PROCLARUSH, Atlantian Outpost Taonas
“Say again, say again?”
A small man with the beginning of a balding head reached over and collected his radio. Blowing a layer of dust off it, he swiped his hand over the inactive display, bringing the device to eerie blue life.
“I said, we’re going to need another ZPM. This one’s had it, well and truly.”
The lights were flickering as the power sequence weakened. By the sudden drop in air temperature inside the small outpost dome, Enrod figured he had about a day’s worth left. It was neglectful, he thought, how command had left something as important as this until the last possible moment. The outposts were an important part of their exploratory division. Sure, the signature ship Atlantis under Commander Pegasus had discovered a way to travel to an entirely new galaxy, but that didn’t change the reality in which this galaxy still had plenty to offer. They’d barely ventured into its edges, still following the old seeding line – not bothering to explore new planets and spread Stargates there.
Enrod sighed heavily. He was not an explorer, no matter how strongly he desired to be one. The lights flickered so he hit the power device with the heavy screwdriver in his left hand. Fixing things was his specialty, with brute force if necessary.
“Behave,” he growled, before he rolled off the platform and went in search of a jacket. The failing ZPM stuck out from its hiding spot in the floor, a dangerous hazard for anyone using the control chair behind. There were four potential victims working nearby. The other scientists were planted in front of their respective machinery, running a sequence of tests for the third time, confirming that their calculations were correct. Only one of them snored quietly, unconscious and curled up to an equipment container.
Three rooms away, the massive circle of stone at the centre of the gate room groaned. One of the chevrons on its uppermost arch lit up and almost at once, the inner wheel began to spin.
Enrod, now cosy beneath the extra layers of material, glanced over his shoulder. The grumble of the gate room told him that the engineering team were arriving with the ZPM early. It was the first good news he had heard all day.
A whoosh of air and quantum particles surged into the outpost as the wormhole engaged. That eerie sound of disturbed dimensions accompanied a familiar blue glow – like water in a cave as a diver prepared to surface. Enrod didn’t hear the heavy footsteps that followed, each one sliding over the smooth, Atlantianstone floor leaving a trail of wet shadows.
The creatures assembled in silence along the opposite wall either side of the entrance to the next room. As the last of them stepped through, the wormhole shut down and the blue glow was replaced by a faint white from the battery powered lighting system. A pair of eyes glowed, liquid gold, and the creature raised a finger over his horned skin to his interned lips. Follow he said silently, beckoning the others.
“Better late, I guess…” said Enrod, clearing off his work bench. Satisfied that the room looked half decent for guests, he headed straight to the kitchen where he set some mugs on a tray and tapped the ‘hot water’ option on the internal computer system. It didn’t matter that the action would drain power now that they had arrived. Besides, he’d been dying for a hot drink for days. “I’m in the far room,” he called out, figuring that they were lost. The command team always sent the newbies to the outposts, none of which had any experience.
The Unas followed the sound of the Atlantian’s voice. Hands clasped over their weapons in expectation, they reached the door of the third and final room in the outpost. Above, the domed ceiling held back the unfavourable atmosphere. The sky outside was choking as three black peaks spewed the planet’s core into the air. This outpost clung to a flat stretch of land in the centre of an ancient asteroid crater. The heavy metals in the soil were of an unknown composition – but early indications showed an energy yield higher than any other terrestrial based fuel. Naquadria would be a way forward. A refined lump of it sat pride of place in the power room, on display behind a glass and lead container.
The snake infested Unas picked off the scientists in the chair room. Their fragile necks snapped and their bodies returned to the floor. Now the intruders approached their final target, assured of victory.
Enrod, with his back turned, was unaware of the danger inching closer. It wasn’t until the hairs on the back of his neck stood up that he heard the first laboured breath.
He ducked as a blade whizzed past, clattering on the wall in front and hitting the ground at his feet. Without a chance to gasp, he retrieved it and ran toward the far kitchen door.
“What the hell!” he screamed, catching sight of one of the approaching Unas heading his way.
Enrod jiggled the handle desperately, finally opening the door and slamming it behind him, turning the feeble lock. Enrod had never seen such creatures. Their skin was horned and rough, possibly aquatic in origin. They moved with a swagger, pulling their body forward with the motion of their arms.
He didn’t have time for further thought as Enrod took off down the service tunnel, ducking his head to fit through the places where each pre-fabricated section was welded together. At the end of the hundred metre dash was a spin lock door, and behind that, a stasis chamber.
The kitchen door hit the ground, kicked in by the lead Unas. They wasted no time beginning their chase of the escaping Atlantian, touching the walls of the tunnel with both their hands as they groped along. The creatures gained ground, growling or laughing – Enrod couldn’t tell which.
Enrod reached the hatch and spun the lock. It seemed to go round forever as the creatures lumbered closer. Finally, just as he was able to make out the smell of their breath, the door clicked and swung inward. He pushed on it with all his weight and clambered into the room. It shut automatically, spinning back to the locked position. Not that it would hold those creatures for long. His only hope was the stasis pod, powered by the chemistry that made him unique. A gene bound to his blood pulsed around his body as he raised his shaking hand to the device’s control panel.
The first creature hit the door at a run, slamming into it in the hope that his force alone would crumble it inward. The door held firm, re-enforced with steel.
Enrod jumped with the sound of the creatures pounding the door. He could already hear them turning the wheel, desperate to get in. Enrod waved his hand over the control panel but it was unresponsive.
“Slowly, Enrod, slowly…” he reminded himself.
He tried again, keeping his hand steady as the wheel of the door continued to spin. The panel responded, illuminating with a surge that brought his eyes to tears. The shell of the stasis pod slid gracefully open and Enrod stepped in, seeing the door opposite click open and a hand creep around its edge.
“Come on,” he muttered, trying to type a stasis time into the panel but his hand shook so heavily he could barely make the panel. Panicing as four creatures stepped into the room and caught sight of him, Enrod slammed his hand on the ‘start’ button and shut his eyes as the freezing liquid hardened over him. The last thing he saw was a pair of glowing eyes, picking him out for death.
The pod locked itself, impervious to the beating of the creatures. A timer began at its top corner, counting down from five-hundred thousand.
Flag Ship : Atlantis
Commander Pegasus crossed the bridge of his ship which was in stable orbit around a sad looking planet. A plume of black rose, joining the clouds of the upper atmosphere above what remained of the outpost.
Someone approached and handed him the latest report on the mysterious destruction of their exploratory outposts.
“We’ve lost another one,” the young man said, clasping his hands behind his back as the Commander scanned the list.
“How many is that now?”
“Sixteen,” he replied. “All within the month.”
The Commander sighed and handed the information terminal back. “No longer accidents then, I’m guessing. And all have reportedly had their Naquadria deposits taken. Something sinister is certainly go on. You better alert the rest of the fleet. Once they’ve cleaned up here, we’ll attend to whatever’s left of Proclarush.”
“I’m sorry,” said Pegasus, lowering his voice. “I know your father was part of that expedition.”
PB2-908, Atlantian Outpost and Hall of the Five Races
The Stargate burst into life, thrusting forth until it reached the crowd of people. They spoke in rushed voices, unconcerned with the void of energy sweeping past their feet and then sucking back toward the stone circle. Personal belongings littered the floor where they were suddenly swooped onto shoulders or dragged forward toward the gate.
A thousand Atlantians left the outpost with a deep sadness. The beautiful hall had been inhabited for more than a century and over this time housed a wealth of knowledge, combining the teachings of the five great races. The books remained on their shelves and sheets were laid over the conference room. Eventually, the tame smear of blue on the horizon would edge forward, clawing at the land until the ocean waves lashed against the rocks and sucked the outpost into the ocean, burying it forever.
The thought of this place being lost was too much for some to bear. They hung onto each other, and slipped into the event horizon.
Lurking at the edge of the crowd, one of the people brushed their hand curiously along the stone wall. He had never seen a place like this. Caught in the swell of people, he soon he found himself stepping out into the open air as the crowd dispersed, crossing a small field. Past this, the beginnings of a city crawled up the rolling mountains. Feathered clouds slipped in front of the sun while a light breeze nipped at his hood.
His cold gaze shifted as he spun around, taking in the glowing symbols on the dialing device.
“So this is where they go…” he whispered, pulling the hood over his head. The Goa’uld quickly disguised himself amongst the crowd, following them to across the Earth’s fragrant field.