Crown Infernal


'Brane Child

Part II

Chapter 4: Piece of Cake...?


O'Neill was seriously fazed.

So far as his research had indicated, this world had only ever sent men as far as the moon - and had given up going even that far some thirty years ago. Sure they'd been puttering around sending people into orbit around the planet. They'd sent unmanned probes to the edge of the solar system too, letting them wander off unheaded into the void thereafter. But that was it as far as space exploration went.

So how the Hell had they gotten their hands on this elegant little gadget from over sixteen thousand light years away?!

From Major Bimbo's reactions, he was expected to know about this. Clearly, he'd gotten himself into something extremely classified indeed. But what?

How had they managed to make such an immense technological leap in the last thirty years? Presumably that was why they gave up on the Apollo project. And how had they managed to keep quiet about it for so long in this supposedly open society? Everything else seemed to be in the public domain. Intriguing.

"So how does it work. Sir?" Major Carter was asking with just a hint of impertinence. He was going to have to do something about that...

"I'm not entirely familiar with this form of display, Major," he temporized, "but I'm sure I can give you a demonstration shortly."

"Perhaps you'd better let Major Carter have a look at it, Colonel," General Hammond said sternly.

O'Neill sighed and passed it to the major. She gave its inner workings a casual inspection, clipped the cover back on then started tinkering with the buttons. O'Neill watched her in some trepidation. Trial and error wouldn't have been his first method of approach with unfamiliar technology.

"Be careful where you..."

A brilliant ray of light shot from the stubby projection. It struck the paper cup of water which the big guy was holding, narrowly missing him.

"...point that thing!"

The General asked if he was all right.

"I am unharmed, General Hammond, just a little wet," he enunciated crisply, his name apparently being Tilk. An unusual name perhaps but probably as common as Smith wherever he came from.

"What happened exactly?" Hammond went on.

"I am unsure, General Hammond. The cup seemed to disappear..."

"An annihilation beam, maybe," Major Carter put in - a little smugly O'Neill thought.

"I don't think so, Major," he responded curtly. No female was going to put one over on him.

He ducked under the conference table and ran his hand over the carpet tiles until he found what he was looking for.

"There," he said, laying his treasure trove on the table.

The transparent miniature copy of the paper cup threw out multicoloured glints where the light hit it.

"Wow, that's beautiful!" the major gasped, picking it up and holding to the light.

"A pretty trinket for a pretty lady," O'Neill replied condescendingly, and received a frosty look from her.

"Are you sure you're all right, Colonel?" frowned the General. "The loss of Dr. Jackson has hit us all very hard and there's no shame in admitting it. You especially, as you knew him longest. If you feel you need to take a little more time out, that won't be a problem, but please don't take it out on your colleagues. Remember they're grieving too - we all are."

"Uh, sorry General, Major. Won't happen again," he apologized.

Well, that explained the long face when he'd first greeted the major. He supposed he'd better find out what he could about this Dr. Jackson before he really put his foot in it. Major Carter looked a little mollified at least.

"So what is this, Colonel?" she asked curiously.

"What do you think it is, Major?" He inclined his head and allowed a slight smile to curve his mouth in a manner designed to convey interest in what she might say.

"It looks like diamond, but that's not possible, unless—"

"Unless it really is a matter transmutation device?"

"Yes. Have you seen one before, sir... Or Daniel maybe?"

~ Actually, I made one as a final year project at university ~

No, he couldn't really say that here, could he?

"Ah, well, I've heard of them, of course," he temporized.

"I think you have been reading too much Science Fiction, O'Neill," Tilk said with the smallest flicker of a smile.

"Er, yes. Guess I have," O'Neill agreed. Better keep quiet for a while and find out more about this world and Colonel O'Neill's place in it before the piece of cake crumbled...


Chapter 5: Up, Down and Strange...

General Hammond brought the meeting to a close, instructing Major Carter to investigate the matter transmutation device. O'Neill decided to tag along with her. Hammond seemed to regard her as the team's scientist, though God alone knew why.

Which brought him to the next question: if Major Bimbo was the scientist, what was Colonel O'Neill's role in all of this? Team leader maybe? Tilk was presumably the muscle of the outfit. He was certainly well equipped for it.

By now, they had reached a lab. Carter's? Not O'Neill's? He followed her in, then leaned against the bench, watching - waiting for her to solicit his expertise. Which she did.

"Colonel, could you pass me the multi meter? It's the... Oh. Thank you sir!"

She gave him a surprised smile. Great! She was impressed because he knew a multi meter when he saw one? What sort of a backwoods outfit was this? And yet— they had an alien gizmo... He was getting a whole load of conflicting messages here. Oh well, better go with the flow.

He hung around watching the bimbo at work, and found his self-imposed exile to the sidelines very frustrating. After a while, she left for a natural break. He pounced.

By the time she came back, he'd managed to convert a glass beaker into a small pile of sand, a couple of paper clips into blobs of mercury and the contents of a bottle of methyl alcohol into a tolerable malt whisky. The sand and the mercury puzzled her a little; the whisky was hidden at the back of the poisons cupboard for consumption later.

To give her credit, she did seem to know a thing or two and was reasonably well organized. Also, come lunchtime, she'd just about got the whole matter transmutation thing figured out. It hadn't been entirely plain sailing however, and she was much inclined to lament the iron geranium.

He accompanied her to the commissary, and was duly revolted by her selection of a dish of bright blue jello for dessert. He was also revolted to find that the macaroni cheese tasted like chicken. Tilk came to join them bringing a young man whom Major Carter greeted as Nyan.

The talk turned to the next mission. Nyan was both excited at being included in the mission and desperately sorry about the reason for his inclusion. O'Neill's three companions fell silent then, looking very sad. This must have something to do with the late Dr. Jackson he presumed and so held his peace.

After lunch, O'Neill followed Tilk and Nyan to get geared up for the mission. All he knew for certain was that it was a short recon. mission with a possible overnight stop-over. The weaponry was interesting to say the least. The M9s and P90s he recognized from his research, but the long pole-like weapon Tilk carried was something else again, as were the - what was that? - zat guns? He felt like a walking arsenal what with the grenades and C4 and all.

Next, they headed for the lift again and met up with Major Carter, also well supplied with weapons. Wait a minute. Surely they should be going up - not down! The rest of the team seemed untroubled though. Maybe they had something else to fetch.

He followed them along grey corridors and through a heavy blast door. The first thing he saw was General Hammond waiting for them.

The second thing made his mind boggle. Good grief! What the hell was that?! The big grey ring must have been over twenty feet high with a ramp sloping upwards to a platform across the inside of the ring. The inner part, which had strange signs all round it, began to rotate. It stopped. A grey wedge clanged into place and a red light came on. Bizarre...!

"Chevron one encoded," came a voice over the tannoy.

The process was repeated several more times, until the voice announced,

Chevron seven, locked."

What happened next shocked O'Neill rigid. And he'd seen a lot of very strange things in his time... An immense watery blast shot outwards above the ramp for some ten or twelve feet with a mighty 'kawoosh!' sound. Then it settled back into a gently rippling surface like a vertical fish pond. The hairs on the back of his neck stood to attention. It took all his self-control not to cry out.

General Hammond gently took his arm, making him jump.

"I'm sure I don't need to ask, Colonel, but as it's his first mission, please keep an eye on young Nyan," he said, "and good luck, S.G.-1!"

Tilk and the major were already half way up the ramp. There was nothing else for him to do but follow them with Nyan. The leading pair stepped through the shimmering surface and disappeared. Was this a variation on what had brought him here? Surely not. There was no indication that the technology here was that far advanced.

On the other hand, he and his team were expected to return which had to be a plus. It must be a two-way thing then. With Nyan at his side, he followed his companions through the ring.


Chapter 6: Anywhere But Here!

Slightly to his surprise, O'Neill managed to keep his feet on the other side of the ring. He was standing on a marble platform at the far end of a large colonnaded hall. Behind him, the watery surface within the ring broke up and disappeared.

In front of him, in the centre of the hall, was a twenty foot high statue, exquisitely carved in white marble, depicting a female clad in a classical Greek-style tunic, with a breast-plate and plumed helmet. The plinth was decorated with galloping horses in high relief.

"Oh shit, no!" he exclaimed.

Now he knew what the ring did. Suddenly it all made perfect sense.

These damn' Americans, limited as their technology otherwise was, had somehow managed to harness wormhole technology. How, for Chrissakes, when it was something that had defeated all the best brains back home? Including his own.

And why - now that he'd found himself a suitable place to stay at last - did this O'Neill have to go wandering off to other planets? What the hell was wrong with the one he had?

And of all the planets in the multiverse, why did he have to get sent to this one, for crying out loud?! He'd barely escaped with his life last time. On the plus side - if there was a plus side - they probably wouldn't recognize him. Unless...

His three colleagues, gazing round in awe, were casually walking down the steps into the hall like it was some kind of sightseeing trip.

"Come on, team, let's go back," he called, waving them back to the wormhole ring.

"But we only just got here, sir."

It was the bimbo again. Not only not much of a scientist, not much good at following orders either! Not that she would be in much danger here...

"It's not safe," he insisted, "now get us home. Er, that's an order!"

He hoped she - or one of the team - knew how to activate the wormhole. If it was down to him, then they were screwed. Well and truly. She was looking round.

"I don't see a D.H.D., sir," she said.

Ack! A D.H.D.? What in Hell's name was that?

"Well... Just keep looking, Major," was all he could manage.

It had all seemed so simple at first. He'd tracked down Jack O'Neill without too much difficulty. He'd managed to find out a great deal about him. Sure, there was a lot of stuff that was classified, so classified that even he hadn't been able to hack into.

Even so, with his abilities, it should have been a breeze. If he'd had even the merest smidgen of a clue about what O'Neill actually did in Cheyenne Mountain, he could have been better prepared. As it was, he was flying blind. And the bits he could see right now, he didn't like one bit - especially the squad of guards coming through the entrance.

They were wearing shiny blue-black armoured clothing like the exoskeleton of a beetle, with helmets like motor-cycle couriers, and were carrying automatic weapons.

"Afenor khator sas oplos!" barked the leader.

"Better do as she says," O'Neill said, laying his P90 on the platform beside him, followed by the rest of his weapons, and raised his hands.

His three team members looked back at him in some surprise, but followed his lead. They were out-numbered by about three to one, so it wasn't too irrational a decision, he thought.

Two of the guards subjected them each to a casual body search which, to O'Neill's relief, revealed nothing. At least he would be able to escape if the worst came to the worst, but he'd put a lot of time and effort into his new role. If he could avoid going back to the drawing board yet again, he would.

He also felt a slight obligation to rescue his team mates too - if he could. That was a sensation he hadn't felt for a long time. Maybe he was rediscovering his humanity at last. Maybe, if they got out of this alive...


Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Crown Infernal