April 10th, 2022
"Colonel John Sheppard." Janssen eyed the man himself over the top of the report. Seated across from him at the desk, Sheppard was dressed in a set of clean green fatigues, complete with rank insignia. He sat quietly, eyes watching the General across the desk from him expectantly. The General's office was tidy, the transparent star-map behind Sheppard having been replaced. Some semblance of normality had returned to the SGC, and it was a welcome change.
"I've been over the reports," Janssen continued. "All of them. Yours, Captain Bowers', Doctor Jackson's and even the one Valkas wrote, which was about as understated as you'd expect it to be. He has a surprisingly good grasp of English idioms, nonetheless."
"I guess cable television is good for something, sir."
"That may be so." Janssen set the papers down before him. Elsewhere, the clean-up within the SGC was near complete. Even the conference table had been replaced, although the table in question was very much identical to the old one. It looked newer, certainly, with a factory-fresh sheen upon it and that 'new item' smell that was likely to fade after the first few weeks. The gate-room was also clean, the walls patched and repaired, the bloodstains scrubbed away. Nary a trace of the battle remained.
"The situation was resolved as well as could be, I'd say." Janssen's face remained stern, as if he was not quite as pleased as he said he was. "The IOA has seen fit to redirect some funding back our way. As for the other projects that had been getting what was supposed to come to us, well, I'd wager that whoever's in charge of them isn't too pleased. Money is money, after all."
"As my dad used to say," John stated.
"The recent public revelation that alien life is indeed a very real thing has certainly shaken things up," Janssen continued. "They know of our starships, and the reverse-engineered alien technology used to build them. The fallout will continue for some time, but for the bulk of the human population, life should continue as normal."
John was not too sure about this one. Before this meeting, he had caught part of a news report on the television inside the cafeteria. The Pope had made a statement from the Vatican, declaring it well within reason that God had created the many races among the stars as he had the many species upon the Earth. Not to mention the interviews with scientists, politicians and the like which had been clogging the airwaves, with just about every man and their dog giving their opinion on what had happened. And the President, giving an admittedly well-written speech about this being a 'new dawn' for the human race, the beginning of a new era of cooperation between nations. A speech that had been repeated multiple times over the last few days on the media, and again just about everyone wanted to voice their opinion on it as well.
The world had changed and was still changing. It would be a long time before the final results became apparent. According to polls, trust in the government had dipped to an all-time low. Understandable, in a way. Worrying as well.
"Thing is," Janssen continued, "The stargate itself remains a secret. And I suspect it will stay that way for a long time to come. Ships are one thing, alien terrorists another, but a portal to other worlds? Even other galaxies?" He slowly shook his head. "The general population can only take so much crazy at any one time."
"So, this additional funding, General? Does that mean…?"
"It means we will be back in full operation, or at least close enough to it," Janssen finished. "That means we will need more teams. SG-teams, to be exact." He paused, briefly, allowing this statement to hang in the air between them for effect. John suspected he knew what was coming next, but despite his feelings on the matter he retained a level exterior.
With one hand, Janssen pulled open a drawer at his desk, and from inside he retrieved four distinctly circular patches backed with Velcro. Familiar patches at that, John realised, as the General placed them upon the desk before him.
"We know there are new threats out there, Colonel," Janssen said. "Perhaps even one we cannot properly comprehend, if that 'Nomad' is telling us the truth. We need a new frontline defence, a new spearhead for offence. For several years, the title 'SG-1' was put aside, as the team was no longer in operation. They had all gone their separate ways, and my predecessor thought it inappropriate to create a new team with the same name. When I took this job, our funding was already being reduced, and in turn the number of SG-teams in active combat roles. With this new lease on life for the program, and with what we've experienced recently, I think now is as good a time as any to finally bring back 'SG-1' as the first of the new guard. And for team leader, you are my first choice. I will leave selecting the other members for you, but I think you and I both know who you're going to choose."
Sheppard looked at the arm patches, a moment's hesitation before he picked them up. This was not quite the way he had envisioned it, and it was far from the triumphant return to the Pegasus galaxy he had wanted. However, if the main threats were here in the Milky Way, then he would gladly take this new role. Earth was their home, and the likes of the Calsharans and the ancient 'enemy' could very well strike at it at anytime. One foe already had, and the Field Marshall and his people had almost succeeded in creating the chaos they desired. In a way, the Field Marshall had won, in the end; he had changed the world, even if it had not been quite the way he had intended.
"I don't expect you to come back to work straight away," Janssen continued. "You've been through a lot, as has the rest of your team. Take a week off, even two, then report in for your first assignment as leader of SG-1. Both Valkas and Captain Bowers are already on vacation."
"Valkas is on vacation?" John frowned. How could they get away with letting an alien go on vacation? That said, just where had he gone on vacation to?
"Within our reach, of course." Janssen gave a shrug. "If they're taking time off, then you should do the same. You've done enough already, Colonel."
John nodded in understanding. They were just getting started, really, and now was not the time he would have chosen to go on leave. Still, the General had a point. If things were as bad as they seemed, then now would probably be the last real chance he had to go on vacation.
"I appreciate this, General. Really." John rose to his feet, arm-patches in hand. Going headlong back into the action, he would not have had it any other way.
"Send confirmation through once you've chosen your team," Janssen ordered. "In the meantime, enjoy your time off. I suspect you'll need it."
It was not the most romantic location, but for Joanne Bowers, it was adequate. The room's interior was cool, the air bearing a slight musty smell, some surfaces within covered with a layer of dust. Such was the nature of a cheap motel, not that it mattered. She was not entirely the picture of perfect health, as her face was still bruised in places and a few small bandages covered the worst of the cuts on her face. Regardless, Valkas had been able to help her forget all about the aches and pains her injuries brought, and how unsavoury they made her appear. Somewhere nearby, the Calsharan's personal playlist, plugged into the tablet computer on the nightstand, shifted onto a strangely familiar song, just one of many the alien had taken a liking to.
Joanne was pressed up against the muscular bulk of that very Calsharan, lingering in the afterglow of a very intimate cross-species encounter. With the bedsheets drawn up over both of them, she found herself rolling onto her side, feeling the heat emanating from Valkas' smooth, scaly skin. He turned to face her, offering her a smile, one hand wrapping itself around her waist, pulling her in even closer. Their mouths met in a deep, extended kiss, before he pulled his head back and reached up with his hand to trace the errant srands of hair that had fallen over her forehead.
"Is this how humans spend their holidays?" He asked her, his voice playful.
"Sometimes." Joanne smiled back at him. It was about as private as it could get in here, the blinds drawn and the door locked. Valkas had snuck into the room wearing a hood and sunglasses, and once inside he had promptly stripped her and himself. They had both known what they wanted, and they had wasted no further time in getting it.
"I think I could get used to it," Valkas replied. Again, he kissed her, and she returned the gesture strongly. Then he was pressing his weight against her, pinning her to her back, before hovering over her with a predatory glint in his amber eyes.
Somewhere far away, behind closed doors and security checkpoints and countless armed guards, a man by the name of Holt came before a large table occupied by another, older man whose face was hidden by shadow. Wood-paneled metal walls surrounded them, blue light seeping off of exotic wall fittings, setting a subdued glow over most of the room. It was large, occupied by a central conference table that was surrounded by about eight seats, seven of which were vacant. Holt had not normally come here, rather his communications to his superiors were via radio or other non-direct means. Anything that prevented a face-to-face meeting. So, to be here now, with the Old Man right before him, was unnerving and worrisome. Yet still, he could not see the man's face. A deliberate arrangement, no doubt.
"There's no telling what got out on that subspace burst," Holt explained. He clasped his hands behind his back, hoping his uniform was as immaculately set as he had left it before walking in here. "The whole project could be compromised. As for the people at the SGC, they have won over much of the IOA. Funding is being redirected."
"How much will this set us back?" The Old Man's voice was raspy, a result of decades spent smoking regularly. Holt saw his hands, the fingers slim and spindly, wrinkled and weathered with age. They were set calmly upon the table before him, interlocking somewhat.
"Some months, maybe. Unless we can procure funding from other sources."
"And our man on the inside?"
"Disposed of, as you ordered." Holt had seen to this personally. "He was compromised. Now, if you allowed me to make a go for Janssen…"
"No, no. That will not be necessary." He could see the shape of the Old Man's balding head slowly shaking, his face still cast in darkness. "We cannot overextend ourselves. Not yet. Allow this new Stargate Program to go on, as I feel it may net us some useful results. It has in the past, and none of what we have achieved these past years would have been possible without it."
"The recent alien attack has more people clamoring for security and protection. Perhaps, if given enough time, those running the stargate program will further this situation to such an extent, that when we make ourselves known, the people will want us in their lives. I, and others upon the committee, agree that it is best that we adopt a 'wait and see' approach at this stage. In the meantime, continue operating as normal. The Project is close enough to completion that we can afford some leniency on these things."
Holt did not entirely agree, but he was not being paid to argue with his superiors. He nodded his head in understanding of these instructions, keeping his mouth shut in the process. As he watched, he heard the unmistakable sound of a lighter being ignited, and a flame appeared amongst the dark, casting the bottom half of the Old Man's face in wavering orange light. Wrinkled and weathered, like the rest of him. A man well on his way to his final years, yet still clinging on to life, likely through some unnatural means of alien origin.
"We would not want to draw any further attention to ourselves, after all." Putting a cigarette to his mouth, he lit the tip, grey smoke pluming forth. And then the flame was gone, what little insight Holt had received on the man's identity going with it. For a moment, Holt thought he heard a whispering in the dark, faint and easy to miss, a noise gone in seconds. Then he heard it again, but it sounded more like a chittering, as if an insect scuttled in the shadows. Nothing more was said between them and Holt, feeling distinctly unnerved, swiveled about on his heels and strode out of the room.
Aithris, custodian of the secrets of the remnants of the people of Varalan (colloquially known to many as 'Nomads'), sat quietly within the cell that served as his accommodations within Stargate Command. He was dressed in a set of dull grey coveralls, the drab colour scheme going well with his dark blue skin. Deep underground as he was, it was hard to determine exactly what time it was, save for the old analogue clock that sat on the wall outside his cell. And even that seemed to lie, as it did not feel like ten o'clock in the morning.
He had been asleep, dreaming dreams that consisted of memories of his childhood, albeit hazy and warped and likely far removed from what had really happened. A high-pitched whine woke him up then, and a piercing pain worked its way through his skull as a long dormant implant kicked into life after so many years. He woke up with a start, his eyes going towards the far corner of his cell where the air appeared to warp and wobble. A blue shimmer appeared, flickering sporadically, gradually forming the shape of a person. Several seconds passed as the image took form. Before he knew it, a partially transparent image of an old acquaintance of his appeared, wearing the grey uniform and deep blue coat of a member of the ruling council of his people. Red eyes locked onto his own, and Aithris felt a growing sense of irritation at the interruption. He rubbed his aching head, the pain subsiding for now. Even so, brainwave transmissions were prone to causing some discomfort, especially if the incoming signal was powerful. And with the vast interstellar distances involved in this one, the transmission was definitely a strong one.
"You are calling me, after all these years?" Aithris snorted in derision. "How touching."
"No games, Aithris." His elder and former superior narrowed his eyes. "Exile or not, you are in the best place to serve our order. This is important. Listen carefully."
John had expected to find Daniel in his study, and that was indeed where he was. Doctor Jackson had made himself at home here, much in the same way he had years before when he had first joined SG-1. Bookshelves lined the walls and documents were scattered over the central table and nearby desk, with the man himself seated at the computer in the middle of it all. As John walked inside, Daniel looked up at the intrusion and slowly rubbed his eyes underneath his spectacles. He was tired, and knowing of Daniel's reputation, he had likely gone without sleep for some time.
"You wasted no time settling in," John said, as he walked inside.
"Most of this stuff was in storage," Daniel replied. He picked up the mug sitting upon the desk by him, intending to sip whatever coffee was inside. Unfortunately, it was empty, and he put it back down with a disappointed grimace. "I just had to have it brought out. They weren't doing much with my old room, so I was able to make it my own again. Just like old times."
"Just like them." John walked up to the desk. Daniel had been hard at work, this much was clear, and he had all manner of documents open before him. Photos of obscure stone carvings and texts, each covered in notes written in hurried handwriting that John himself could not properly decipher. The handwriting of a man in search of answers, aware that time was not on his side.
"Any luck?" John asked him.
"No." Daniel's reply was short and succinct. "There's no mention of this 'valley of darkness' in any of the Ancient texts we've encountered. And it stands to reason they'd be the ones who created it. They shut out an entire section of the galaxy from the stargate network. Why would they do that? There's got to be a good reason."
"What about the 'enemy'?"
"The one Aithris mentioned?"
"The one and only."
Daniel sighed. He shook his head, before leaning back in his chair and taking his glasses off. As expected, he appeared shockingly different without them on.
"It's as if they don't exist," Daniel said. "But they have to. There's a reason why a whole swathe of the galaxy is without working stargates. There has to be."
"I'm sure the answers will come eventually," John said. What else could he say? This kind of intensive research was not his thing. Doing what Daniel did, for the hours he did, would have been likely to send him insane. "In the meantime, I think I have something that may interest you." He pulled one of the SG-1 arm-patches out of his pocket and dropped it upon the desk, where it landed face-up right before Daniel.
There was a noticeable pause as Daniel looked down at it, a look of surprise briefly crossing his face. He picked it up in one hand, turning it over and then back again, examining it with a careful eye with his glasses now back in place. The eye of an archaeologist, as if the arm-patch was some kind of ancient artefact unearthed from the depths of some pit somewhere.
"Is this…?" He began, but John was quick to interrupt him.
"Reinstatement," John said. "I can think of no one better suited for it."
Daniel nodded his head, even if his expression suggested some degree of uncertainty.
"We cut it pretty close," he said, as he set the arm-patch down. "With the Field Marshall. The bomb, the transmission. Everything."
"And we're going to make sure that it won't happen again," John countered. He put out a hand, an offer to shake, something that he had neglected weeks before when they had first been brought together after so many years apart. Here and now, Daniel took the offered hand, shaking it firmly. It was all the confirmation John needed.
April 27th, 2022
John found himself once again in the embarkation room. The stargate's inner ring was spinning at its usually steady pace, one chevron locking into place as he watched it move. Hydraulics hissed and white smoke billowed forth. Behind him, Daniel was doing one last check of his equipment vest, making sure that everything, including his energy bars, were where they should be. Joanne was to his left, standing with her MPX submachine gun relaxed across her chest, eyes set on the stargate ahead. Her left hand carried only a small bandage over where her little finger had been, but the lack of that particular digit had made little change to her overall hand dexterity.
"Chevron five encoded." The chief technician's voice sounded throughout the room's PA system. The stargate's inner ring began to spin once again, moving onto the next chevron.
"Where's Valkas?" Daniel asked suddenly, looking about the room. Aside from a few soldiers standing guard, the Calsharan was noticeably absent. John turned around at Daniel's question, and as if on cue, the burly alien came striding in through one of the nearby doors. He was in full combat gear, a combat shotgun slung around one shoulder.
"Sorry I'm late." He offered the Colonel a nod. "I had to use the bathroom." His eyes drifted to Joanne, and he smirked. She returned the gesture, ever so slightly, before shifting her gaze away from the late team member.
"Chevron six encoded."
The first proper mission with the new SG-1. A reconnaissance trip to an unexplored world, with a breathable atmosphere and a whole lot of rainforest. To John, it felt oddly surreal to be here again, after all that had happened. It did not feel right, being 'SG-1'. Yet someone had to be in the team, and John supposed it best he be in it instead of someone else.
His eyes drifted up to the window at the control room, and there General Janssen stood watching the group. The man gave him a slight nod, one that John returned. A routine mission. Yet, how could any of them go back to 'routine' after what they had been through? He supposed it would be 'routine' until the next world-endangering crisis, anyway.
"I hope this place isn't too dull," Joanne remarked.
"Dull?" John shook his head. "Knowing our luck, we'll probably run into some alien monstrosity."
Was he about to step right back into the same kind of chaos as he had often done so, back in the Pegasus galaxy? It occurred to him that for all the dangers, all the brushes with death, he liked it. More than he would probably admit.
"Chevron seven locked." The stargate's vortex exploded into life, the plume of swirling energy falling back in upon itself before settling into the water-like standing pool that served as the wormhole's entrance.
"SG-1, you are a go." Janssen's voice echoed throughout the chamber, sounding out of the PA system.
John offered one last, parting salute to the General, who was up in his perch in the control room. With that done, John turned around and began striding up the ramp. The rest of the team followed. As a whole, they stepped on through the wormhole together. Somewhere out there were the answers they sought, but before then, there was a long road ahead. And by the end of that journey, none of them would be quite the same.
END (for now)
Note: A 'new' team, new enemies, new status quo and a new beginning. Because, really, this story was always simply the start of what I have planned. Consider this only the first 'volume'. And even if only a handful of people join me for the whole journey, then I feel it will have been worth it. As for Volume 2, it'll come when it's done. The rapid updates on this one were a result of having the story practically done when I started posting, and given it's length I felt three chapters a week would work well.
As for things such as the current whereabouts of other TV show characters and the state of Earth's defences (ships and the like, even the city of Atlantis), those are things I intend to explore in further volumes, and in ways you may not really expect. For the first 'volume, however, I thought it best to keep things relatively 'down to Earth', and even that ended up a 250,000 word story.
Nonetheless, I appreciate all comments, and I hope you enjoyed the story. I also hope that you'll stick around for what comes next, whenever that is.