Crown Infernal

Stargate - The Fifth Generation

The Storm is Come Again - Part 2

Summary: best laid plans...

WARNINGS: The usual military language
A big thank-you to Coniunx for the beta reading


The youth, looking nervous - or suspicious, or both - stood up.

"You are not Tau'ri?"

"Yes, we are Tau'ri—" she began. It was enough.

Whatever the reason - an opportunity, hatred, the 'red mist' or all three - he was galvanized into action. He leapt at Maxine, attempting to slash at her throat with his curved harvesting knife.

It was no problem for Maxine. The short blade was hardly a suitable weapon in any case. The youth was on the ground before the rest of the team had time to react.

Maxine picked up the knife which had flown out of his hand. The youth shuffled away from her, one arm thrown up to ward off expected blows. Maxine didn't follow as he moved.

"Please stand," she repeated with an encouraging smile. "We are not your enemy. We are your friends."

He got to his knees, hands held out in supplication. "I sorry. Please no kill me," he begged in English.

"You are safe with me and my friends." Maxine stuck with Avestan to distance herself from the more unpleasant of her Tau'ri colleagues.

The youth, still nervous, stood up. He never took his eyes off her face, watching for signs of a sudden change of heart. Maxine took the blade of the knife between thumb and forefinger and, laying the haft across the back of her hand, presented it to him with an encouraging smile.

"I am Esther and I trust you. Take it."

The youth made several tentative movements before slowly and carefully taking back his knife. Then he stepped back as if to show that he intended her no harm. "I am Nashak."

"Greetings, Nashak, 'Friend of all'." Maxine gave him a brief smile and then continued, "We have heard that bad men have come here. They pretend that they are Tau'ri, but this is not true. They are the Bruxai."

"They speak Tau'ri," Nashak said, reverting to suspicion.

"Yes, they do," Maxine agreed, looking sad. "They want to make our world part of their empire too. We cannot tell Tau'ri from Bruxai either."


"But maybe you can help. Please tell me who has come past in the last few days."

It took a while as Maxine was by no means fluent in Avestan. If she had it right, there was a group of seven in Persulis at the moment - one big man in rich clothing accompanied by six others dressed like the Tau'ri. They came at regular intervals of three or four days, and had the people of Persulis and the outer parts of the province, named Elamedes, transport whatever took their fancy to the 'Gate. This was mostly carpets, jewelry, perfumes and fine wines.

Sometimes and less frequently, ordinary Tau'ri came, usually in groups of six and without the richly dressed leader. They usually took foodstuffs and occasionally white marble. Maxine could work out where the latter was bound for. It angered her that neither group ever gave anything in return, so far as Nashak knew.

"We hide when they come, or they will make us take our fruit to the Ring too. And it is our living. Without it, we have nothing to sell," Nashak explained. "I do not know why Jahandar - the satrap - lets them do this. He should stand up to them!"

Maxine had a shrewd idea as to why he put up no resistance. The whole story was too long and complicated to explain, so she settled for suggesting that the bad guys were letting the satrap remain in power in exchange for his co-operation. "He still has an easy life, plenty to eat?"

Nashak's eyes narrowed. "I do not know, but it is likely."

Oh shit, she thought, have I just planted the seeds of revolution? She didn't want to inspire these young men into starting a civil war they had no hope of winning.

"We have to be very careful. The Bruxai have weapons of great power, and they are very cunning."

"So we have no hope of change?"

"I do not say that. We want to set up a fair trading agreement with Persulis. The person who would not want this is your satrap."

"We should kill him?"

"I do not say that either. He is not what you think he is. The Bruxai have... changed him. He is their victim too."

"Oh. Can he be changed back? My father says he was a good man many years ago."

"It... I believe it is possible, but difficult, and may take a long time. Maybe years."

Nashak looked part relieved, part sad. "Is there nothing that can be done?"

"Well, we hope we can do something."

"Five of you?" Nashak didn't seem too impressed.

"We were told that the people of Persulis are about to rebel. Is that so?"

"There is talk - always talk - but without a leader, nothing gets done."

So this is another wild goose chase with J's life at stake? Maxine thought, then said, "In a way, that is good. Many good people get killed in rebellions."

They both sighed at the truth of that. "Anyway," she went on, "if we are to help, we'll need somewhere safe to hide in Persulis. Do you know of any such place?"

She pulled out a map of the town.

"My Aunt Shirin has a washing shop on the corner of Rudabeh Street and Abtum Street." Nashak pointed to the site on the map. "She is helped by my cousin, Yazdin. They will help you."

"They will trust us?" Maxine asked. Nashak nodded. "Like you 'trusted' me at first? We do not want to hurt them if they attack us."

Nashak seemed to be wrestling with some inner problem. He finally came to a decision and said, "Yazdin will trust you if you tell her that Nashak still keeps the secret, but that the horse's name was Veer."

"Thank you."

"Oh, and you should go in by the Rivergate. It is on the other side of the town where the bargemen unload their goods. It is further to travel, but it is less well guarded and Aunt Shirin's shop is not far away."

Maxine noticed the rest of the team standing in a row along the road watching her, all with arms folded and heads tipped to one side like birds on a wire. Hastily, she thanked Nashak and wished him good fortune. Then they were off again.

Some twenty minutes later, the warm terracotta-colored brick walls of Persulis came into sight as the road followed a gentle curve. Ahead of the team, it dipped smoothly into a shallow, flat-bottomed valley. A sluggish river meandered along behind the town.

On the farther side of the river were orchards, olive groves and lavender bushes. On this side, was pasture with numerous copses partly designed to give shelter to the animals which grazed there. Some of the trees were pollarded or coppiced, presumably to be used for charcoal or for weaving hurdles. It looked very peaceful from that distance.

The team had a break for another meeting before they were close enough for any guards patrolling outside the main gate and along the walls of the bab-khanah, or gate-house, to notice.

J was concerned to hear that there was a group of Bruxai present. "We really need more intell. on them, particularly about their weapons and military capability."

"Not to mention why they're here," Luc said.

"And why now," Theo added.

Maxine passed on the rest of her conversation with Nashak. "So if we can sneak in by the Rivergate and hide out in the laundry, maybe we can spy out the situation from there."

"Sounds like a plan," J agreed. He looked around. "If I remember correctly, there's a narrow track off to the left near here that goes down to the river. Then it follows the river to a sort of packhorse bridge, presumably near that Rivergate you mentioned, Doctor. If we follow that, maybe we can find a bit of woodland big enough to hide the PATTs in, then go in on foot. If anyone's expecting us, it probably won't be by the back door."

"And if the local guards see us, maybe we can con them that we're with the other group," Kern put in.

"Good thinking, Lieutenant," J smiled. The guy still posed a possible threat to the group, but J was inclined to down-grade it to Def-Con three.

The plan went suspiciously well. No one spotted them as the low buggies traveled towards the river. The high grasses of late summer hid them from the town. As they neared the river, the track passed through a small wood. It was a perfect parking spot for the PATTs, especially when they were covered with camouflage netting from their trunks.

From there, a brisk march took them past landing stages where the bargees were unloading a variety of wares. They paid no overt attention to SG-24. If anything, it seemed like they were hoping SG-24 would pay no attention to them. That told its own tale. There were a couple of guards with spears posted at either side of the Rivergate. The team swept past them and on into the town as if they owned the place. And went unchallenged.

Inside, the town was a labyrinth of block-paved streets between houses and business premises built of the same pinkish-brown bricks. Both the local men and women wore shalwars for the most part, with light fitted jackets and ankle-length robes over them. They were less elaborate and colorful than the terrestrial version of ancient Persian clothing, looking faded, dull and worn.

Like their owners, Maxine thought.

Aunt Shirin's Washing Shop was about another fifteen minutes away, allowing for a couple of wrong turnings owing to missing street signs. Maxine went in through the bead curtain first to prepare the ground for the arrival of four big guys in the steamy laundry.

Her own solitary appearance caused enough concern as it was, with the two women backing away from her until their progress was halted by the rear wall. Actually, terror was nearer the mark.

"Do not be afraid, Shirin and Yazdin," Maxine began. The aunt and her daughter exchanged surprised looks at being addressed in their native language, and by their names. "I come from your kinsman, Nashak."

At that, both faces fell. "He... he is dead?" The younger one faltered.

Oh, this was too bad! Was that all the Tau'ri meant to the people of this world? Thievery and murder? It was going to take more that a few well-meaning ... what were they? subversives? ... to make any sort of difference even in this small corner of the universe.

"He is very well, or was when I spoke with him a little while ago," Maxine said softly. "To show good faith, he said that he still keeps the secret, but that the horse's name was Veer. I do not know what this means but he said you would understand and that you would help us to help the people of Persulis."

The look on Yazdin's face showed that she did indeed understand. "If you are willing to help us, my friends and I just need somewhere safe to hide for a short while."

Mother and daughter exchanged looks, then Shirin nodded. "If you will help us, then yes, you may stay."

Maxine stuck an arm out through the bead curtain and gave the rest the thumbs up. The two little ladies were amazed at their large guests.

"You are disguised as the Tau'ri?" Yazdin asked.

"Ah. It's a very long story, but not all the Tau'ri are your enemy. We are Tau'ri and we wish you no harm, though there are other Tau'ri who would. The really bad men are called the Bruxai. They pretend to be Tau'ri and do evil things in our name. Likewise, there are some good Bruxai who are fighting their evil kinsfolk."

The washer women looked baffled. Maxine sighed. "Yes, it is hard to follow."

She thought for a moment, then turned to J. "They thought we were disguised as Tau'ri. Now it occurs to me that it might be easier to spy out the land if I was disguised as a Persulian."

"What, and go out alone?"

"Well, I'm the only one here who speaks the local language."

"Yes, and you'll take back-up. This is not open for discussion."

Maxine looked mutinous for a moment, then said, "Ok, I'll take Luc and Theo as the least threatening-looking of you four and if they have to bring their Calicos, they'll have to keep them hidden, otherwise my covert mission will not be terribly... covert."

J grimaced, but had to concede that she had a good point. He nodded. "Assuming you can get you hands on a suitable disguise."

Maxine turned her attention back to their hosts. "We need to find out where the Bruxai are, and also a little more about what they do here. Can you lend some Persulian clothing to me and two of my friends? We will return them or pay for them if they get damaged."

"It will be hard. You are all so tall. But I will send Yazdin to my brother. He owes me... "

While they were waiting, Theo had an idea. "You know we really ought to keep spare clothes for disguising ourselves in the trunks of the PATTs. Never know when we might need them - like now."

"Nice idea," Luc agreed. "I wonder if we could buy some here?"

Looking towards Kern, J sounded a warning note in pointing out that they didn't have any of the local currency."

"Maybe we could do some chores in exchange," Kern suggested. He really seemed to be getting into the swing of things. No suggestion that they should just take what they wanted. J was impressed. And pleased. Def-Con four and falling.

Shirin and Yazdin helped to dress Maxine and her escorts in their borrowed clothes - shalwar pants, jacket and a long robe in shades of blue, purple and green - so that they looked normal, despite the utility vests and 9mils. hidden underneath. And the boots. This was difficult with Luc who, alone of the three, insisted on taking his Calico. Yazdin also lent Maxine her own head-scarf to cover her distinctive hair.

Before they set off, Lieutenant Kern asked Doctor Pepperday if she would offer Aunt Shirin his services with the washing as they had to be running late with their work. He'd prefer to be doing something than nothing anyway.

Maxine, surprised, did so. Thus, the scouting party left with Kern using his greater strength to wring out the wet clothes, and J lurking in the shadows behind the bead curtain, keeping an eye on what was going on in the streets that met at the corner. Fortunately, the sun cast the doorway into shadow.

The aim of the scouting party was to pick up local gossip on their way to the compound of the satrap, Jahandar, and play it by ear from there. The compound was adjacent to the Baha-zar or market place. It was easier to blend in than expected. A slump in their posture reduced their significant height difference and a lot of the townsfolk had 'panda faces' too.

Theo and Maxine, posing as a couple, went ahead with Luc following them a few paces behind. Maxine heard nothing of any usefulness, just more depressing laments about the Tau'ri, and how did they expect the people to survive when they took such excessive tributes?

Tributes? So that was what they were calling their organized theft.

The trio had been ambling along in the general direction of the Baha-zar when they heard muted cries of warning. Along with everyone else, they moved aside, like the parting of the Red Sea, and turned their faces away towards the wall.

Coming towards them were two men men in green BDU-style clothing. Looking through her fingers as they strode imperiously past, Maxine noted that one had greying hair and the other had a long scar running down his left cheek to his chin.

They were gone too quickly for Maxine to catch more than a few words, but those words were Romanian: "How could we miss their arrival?" and "Maybe they're not here yet..."

Once they were out of range, Maxine dived into one of many narrow alleys that branched off the main streets. She called J while Theo and Luc shielded her from the sight of any passers-by.

Having passed on the overheard exchange, she concluded, "I suspect they're looking for us and they may be coming your way in however long it is since we left you."

"Ok, thanks. And stay out of trouble," J ended. He didn't expect her to pay much attention to that order. It avoided disappointment later.

An opportunity for disobedience wasn't long in coming, and Maxine saw no good reason to pass it up.

The scouting party had arrived at the Baha-zar. It couldn't be described as bustling by any means. The stalls had a little limited merchandise on the tops of the tables. The better stuff was probably kept hidden behind the cloths that covered the tables and hung down in front. No doubt a well-stocked stall would act as a magnet for the Bruxan magpies.

On the far side of the Baha-zar, the high wall of Jahandar's compound loomed. Luc had split off from the pair and was drifting over to the compound wall for a closer look.

Theo and Maxine were casually strolling in that general direction too, not wishing to show too obvious an interest, when there was a piercing scream from some way behind them.

An attractive young woman, who looked to be in her mid-twenties and therefore probably in her late teens, was struggling between the two Bruxai. No. These were different ones. Both had black hair and no facial scars. One was dragging the girl along by her right wrist. The other, at the rear of the group, had her left wrist in case she wriggled away from his companion.

"This one's mine," Maxine hissed to Theo as she looked around for a suitable weapon. "You look after the girl," she said and told him the local word for 'friend.'

The Bruxai and their captive were almost alongside by this time. "Lord Frantisek will enjoy you," the leading guy said with a leer, "which means a good bonus for me."

"And me!" his fellow responded with a growl.

"You'll get your cut."

"Fifty-fifty this time!"

During the incipient argument, Maxine had seized a stout wooden staff from an old man who was leaning back against a stall, trying to keep out of the way. She thrust the staff between the legs of the guy following.

He stumbled. Didn't fall. Turned to see his attacker. Got the full force of Maxine's wrath - and the staff - across his face. Dropped to his knees, blood pumping from his nose. The leader let loose his hold on the girl's wrist. Came to his sidekick's aid.

Maxine tossed the staff back to the bemused old man. He'd thought it would be the last he saw of it. As Theo dragged the girl to safety, Maxine legged it. The two Bruxai weren't far behind as she ran down the nearest street.

Luc wasn't immediately aware of what had gone down, but quickly joined Theo and the girl once he registered the mild clamor.

"What happened?"

"Maxine," Theo replied, as if this explained everything.


"She rescued this young lady," Theo said, indicating the girl who was cowering at his side, not certain what had just happened. "Friend,"he said soothingly, patting her on the arm.

"So where is she?" Luc asked, frustration building.

"She went up that street behind the blue and green stall, followed by a couple of bad guys."

Luc rolled his eyes and set off in pursuit. J would definitely have his nuts if he went back without her.

By the time he reached the turning, she was nowhere in sight. Oh, this didn't look good. On the plus side there was no sound of conflict. Or was it a plus? Heart in mouth, he ran to the end of the street and looked both ways at the junction, but found nothing. Maybe, he'd gone to far? He retraced his steps looking down every alleyway as he passed.

He was nearly back at the Baha-zar when he heard a whispered, 'Luc?' from an alley opposite the one he was looking down.

He spun round to see Maxine sitting down a little way away from the entrance to the alley. She was leaning against the wall, arms wrapped protectively round herself. Her face was blank, devoid of all emotion. No, not quite. Something was shining on her cheek. Tears?

Luc went down the alley, sat down beside her and wrapped an arm round her shoulder. There was no response.

"What's the matter, babe?"

She gave a little snort of protest. "I think I'll be joining you and Theo with Timmy," she responded dolefully.

Light dawned. "You killed them?"

Maxine nodded. "Both of them," she said, and choked back a sob. "It was so easy."

"We'd better get rid of the bodies before anyone misses them and comes looking." Luc said, looking along the alley. "Er, where are they?"

"Gone," came the wan reply, "as if they'd never existed."

"Ah. You brought your zat?"

Another nod. "I lured them down here because there was no one to see, and it was narrow. One shot took them both down. Two more shots and... and then... and then there was nothing there. I didn't even give it a second thought before I fired. They didn't stand a chance..."

"Well, I won't tell you not to feel too bad about it. I can't really." He sighed, revisiting the Mountain and hearing the screams of the Kellermanns in his mind. "But we'd better get back to Theo. He'll be worried. Do you think can stand?"

"If you give me a hand up."

Luc guided Maxine back to the Baha-zar with his arm around her waist. Theo was still where Maxine left him, along with the girl who was sitting on box behind the nearby stall. The stall's owner had given them both some sort of fruit juice to drink.

When her savior appeared, the girl stood up and thanked her profusely. It made Maxine feel a little better about killing the two men, but not a lot. Granted she'd acted on instinct to protect an innocent, but that didn't affect the fact that she'd acted as judge, jury and executioner, without leave to appeal. And didn't that mean she'd just sunk to their level?

The old man, too, was still there. He'd heard Theo say 'friend' and presumably curiosity had kept him there. He was delighted to have gotten his staff back. It was the only support in his old age, he said. Strangely, that did make her feel better in that she'd kept faith with him and shown that not all Tau'ri were thieves. Not that he knew they were Tau'ri, but still.

Prompted by Theo, Maxine asked the girl, Gulshan, if she would like an escort home. She accepted with alacrity. She was not the only one to have been seized on the streets. Several more had been dragged off, never to be seen again. That fact reconciled Maxine a little more to the killings. Her killings...

Meanwhile, J was not left kicking his heels to no purpose. While lurking by the door, he noted a couple of strident voices coming closer. He didn't understand what was being said, but the language didn't sound local - more like the way Radu spoke. The timing was about right for it to be the two guys Maxine had warned him about earlier.

As it had sounded like they were on the look out for SG-24, he couldn't very well go out and tackle them. Shirin and her daughter would probably pay the price if it was discovered that they given sanctuary to The Enemy.

Fortune favored him in that he was in the right place at the right time. The pair didn't keep their voices down. Why bother when they were in control of the town and the dumb locals probably didn't understand them anyway? So they stopped at the street corner from which to watch several directions at once. They were also about six or seven feet from where J was standing inside the shady doorway.

There was a familiar radio clunk, and the grey-haired guy began a peremptory summons. Peering cautiously through the strands of the bead curtain, he could see that they used similar comm. units to the SGC.

From the tone and attitude, whomever he was calling wasn't answering. He tried a second call, also unanswered. There followed what was probably a string of cuss words.

His colleague seemed to make a suggestion and Grey Hair made another call. In English. The conversation stunned J, even though he'd had suspicions.

"Andrei, come in, Andrei."

"Yeah, what's the problem, Vasile?" came the voice of Bachmann. It was definitely Bachmann. If there had been any doubt whatsoever, Vasile's next words banished it.

"Where's your team? I thought you said they had some fast transport?"

"They do. They shoulda reached Persulis an hour ago."

"Well they're not here. I have my men quartering the town and I have nothing."

"Maybe they've gone on a sightseeing trip along the way. Wouldn't put it past them. If they are in Persulis, they shouldn't be difficult to spot. Even the wench is half a head taller than most of the local men."

"Right. Let me know if they go back to the 'Gate. Good idea staying by the 'Gate, by the way. Vasile out."

Wench, huh? Good thing Maxine hadn't heard that one, J thought.

It was a good thing Bachmann was well out of reach of J too, as he would've been hard put to control his temper, the same way he hadn't at the marina. Good thing Linc. had caught him in time.

Of course, he now had a serious problem - what to do with the traitor? Or maybe he was an enemy agent, swapped in by the - what were they? - Strigoi? Either way, he was going to be working against them. Not that that was news; he was going to do that anyway.

J was faced with a real dilemma. Having lost one man, albeit by Beck's own actions, to 'lose' a second man would look like carelessness and cast doubt on his ability to lead. He could even be court-martialed and if he lost his command, he'd be no use to his team - unable to make any difference, however small.

On the other hand, Bachmann at liberty in the SGC could do untold damage. Nor could he charge Bachmann with treason. At the moment, it would only be his word against Bachmann's. Moreover, the accusation would alert Warren that his cover was blown, and that was not to be thought of until they had a plan for dealing with him.

Actually, it was a trilemma. If Bachmann had been switched - and when? - then the real Lt. Col. Bachmann might be a half-way decent guy, and yet another victim of the Bruxai, not one to be summarily wiped out. He had to have had some sort of merit to get a bird in the first instance. Assuming it wasn't down to meddling by Warren.

About Warren? He'd been President for - well, too long in J's opinion. He'd first been elected to that office in 2096 amid rumors of vote-rigging - not that that was in any way unusual. Many saw him as a second Melchisedec Harrington, he who was believed to have come to power by assassinating his brother, President Joshua Harrington in 2074. Hm, had Harrington been just a corrupt guy, or another Bruxan cuckoo?

Then in the August of 2104, after two terms in office, Warren had declared a State of Emergency, still extant, and postponed that year's elections. He and all his hangers-on 'necessary for the continuance of good government,' had been 'moved to a place of safety,' - off-world, unknown to most of the country.

From there, he could easily cut and run if necessary. J supposed the fact that there had been no elections, fair or otherwise, since 2100 meant that the Bruxai had effectively taken over the U.S. already. He didn't know about the rest of the world...

Back in the baha-zar, the rest of the team were taking Gulshan home. She lived in the sprawling compound surrounding the satrap's residence. There were two guards outside the postern who gave the traditional, 'halt, who goes there?' routine.

"It's all right, they're with me," Gulshan said with a bashful smile at one of the pair. The three rescuers followed her through the narrow gate and on to a parade ground. Apart from a few soldiers going about their business in a distinctly lackluster way, it was almost empty.

As they were midway across the sandy area, a man came out of a doorway on the far side. By his apparel, he seemed to be a higher ranking soldier. As soon as Gulshan saw him, she ran to him and threw herself at his feet.

"I am sorry, father, very sorry. You were right and I was so wrong."

The man bent down and took her hands. "Rise, Gulshan, and tell me what has happened."

"I broke my comb and went into the baha-zar to buy a new one."

"And you went alone?"

Gulshan hung her head. "Yes, father," she whispered. "I thought I was safe with so many people about. But two men grabbed me by the arms and dragged me away."

"More Tau'ri scum?" The question was rhetorical. He already seemed to know the answer. "So how did you escape?"

"These people rescued me."

The man had noticed their presence earlier but had been far too focused on his daughter to spare them proper attention. "You took a big risk there, and I thank you for it. But who are my daughter's saviors?"

Maxine gave formal introductions.

"I thank you all from the bottom of my heart. I am Tahmuras, Hazarapatish to Jahandar, satrap of Persulis."

"Hazarapatish? You have a thousand men under your command?" Maxine asked in surprise.

Tahmuras hung his head, looking embarrassed. "You think I should be able to take more care of my own daughter? And you are right. But times have changed. I was once a true Hazarapatish, but now I hold that title in name only."

"What happened? I mean... I am sorry, I should not ask such personal questions."

"Do not be concerned. Anyone in Persulis would tell you anyway. Several years ago, the accursed Tau'ri scum came to our world. They said they would protect us and told Jahandar he no longer needed a standing army. I argued against it, and they agreed to Jahandar's having a personal guard. I think they realized that Jahandar's life might be in danger for letting these Tau'ri scum take anything they want and leaving us powerless to do anything about it."

Maxine sighed. "Is there anywhere that we could talk privately with you. There are things I think you should know."

His face reflected puzzlement, hope, and doubt. After a moment's thought, he nodded and indicated for them to follow him.

"What's going on?" Luc asked, unable to follow the conversation.

"Talk quietly," Maxine whispered. "English may not be safe right now, but I think we might have caught a break."

"We should contact J," Luc stated.

Maxine gave a sharp shake of her head. "Not yet, not till we have something to tell him."

Luc was tempted to call J anyway, but didn't want to screw up whatever it was that Maxine was up to. Working with Maxine was frustrating that way. Strictly speaking, he was in charge, but not being able to speak whatever language it was, he had to trust her judgement until she gave him cause to doubt it. He just hoped it wouldn't be terminal cause.

Tahmuras led them to his private quarters in the large adjacent barracks. The nearly empty building echoed to the sound of their feet. Now at home, he sent Gulshan to fetch refreshment for their guests.

When the guests were seated around the table, Tahmuras began. "What are these things I should know?"

"Firstly, your main enemy are the Bruxai, not the Tau'ri. They were the ones who tried to take your daughter."

She went on to explain what they knew of the Bruxai, the Contra-Bruxai and the Tau'ri who were under Bruxan control.

"And how do you know all this?" Tahmuras wanted to know.

"I will not lie to you. I know because we are Tau'ri and we oppose the actions of those who take what they want without payment and cause distress to people such as your daughter and yourself. And this is not all that you should know."

Maxine explained as simply as possible about the Bruxai's mind-swap ability and that Jahandar was probably one of those Bruxai.

Tahmuras, alarmed, jerked to his feet. "Then he must be punished!"

Maxine grabbed his sleeve. "No! He must not be killed!"

Tahmuras scowled. "He has betrayed his people. He deserves no mercy."

"Do not act in haste. He did not willingly betray your people. He was tricked. Right now, the real Jahandar is a slave on another world, trapped in the Bruxan's body with no memory of who he is, while the Bruxan rules here."

"I see," he said, sitting down as Gulshan brought in refreshments. "You are right. I need to keep a cool head."

After the food had been eaten - basic foodstuffs which seemed to cause Gulshan some shame - and she had cleared away the dishes, Tahmuras returned to the matter in hand. What to do with the satrap.

"He is currently entertaining some of the Tau - er - Bruxai," he began, "Frantisek and six of his men. Two are still in the audience chamber with Frantisek. The other four left some time ago."

"They were probably hunting us with the aim of killing us when they got side-tracked by your daughter."

Tahmuras' face looked thunderous. "I would dearly like to kill them with my own hands!" he growled.

"You are too late," Maxine sighed. "I already killed them—"

"But that is wonderful!" Tahmuras beamed. I - we - owe you a thousand thanks!"

"Please - it's not something I'm proud of. One moment please."

Seeing the bored look on Theo's face and the increasingly irritated one on Luc's, she figured she'd better fill them in on what she and Tahmuras were considering.

"Well, it's obvious, isn't it?" Luc said. "Lure Jahandar away, zat him - once - keep him prisoner until the real Jahandar shows up and replace him with our friend here as a kind of regent."

"Zat him?" Tahmuras asked.

"Wait, you speak English - er Tau'ri?" Luc exclaimed, annoyed at having had to listen to the foreign language when they could all have used English.

"Jahandar - this one - demand we spoke your tongue. But we not get exercise so we not spoke good."

Then again, maybe not, Luc thought. "Okay, here's a plan. You fetch Jahandar away from the Bruxai. We... tie him up. You keep him prisoner. You act as satrap. Understand?"

Tahmuras nodded. "Then you do same with Bruxai, yes?"

"Yes! Finally! Something to do! First, we'd better contact J."

"I don't think that's a good idea," Theo said.

"Why not?"

"Because he's bound to come and join in," Maxine pointed out, "and there are two other guys out there looking to kill him."

"He's a big boy, Maxine. He knows the score and he can take care of himself, plus he's got Kern with him."

"Yes, but he has no disguise—"

"Definitely gonna have to do something about that," Theo muttered sotto voce.

"—and the Bruxai probably know the town way better than J does."

"And, as we're contemplating a régime change, he'll probably think it's a bad idea," Theo said.

"No. Is good idea." Tahmuras was clearly up for it, and it was his town, his country.

Luc bowed to force majeur. "Ok, let's do it."

Tahmuras went sedately into the main audience chamber and stood beside Jahandar's ornately carved chair. It was ten minutes before the satrap deigned to acknowledge his presence.

"What?" he demanded brusquely.

Tahmuras informed him that there was a young lady awaiting him in the small antechamber adjacent to his, Tahmuras', quarters. "She says she has information for you from Kashan and has also brought you a gift. Will you see her, Lord?"

"Is she pretty?"

"No, my Lord, she is beautiful!"

"Then I will come at once," Jahandar said and followed his hazarapatish through the winding maze of corridors that led to the small antechamber.

This room was a mere thirty feet long and thirty feet wide. In each corner of the room was a decorative clay urn which was at least five feet tall. Along each wall were upholstered couches with low tables in front of them bearing bowls of pot-pourri.

The young lady stood in the middle of the chamber on the center of a fine Persian-style carpet and with her back to the entrance, apparently alone. On Jahandar's entry, she turned to face him. She was holding something in her hand. It was a strange-looking thing - metallic - yet appeared to fold into three parts. The satrap had never seen anything like it before.

The next thing he saw was coruscating blue light, coming straight at him. This was followed by intense, all-pervading pain then blessed blackness.

Theo and Luc came out from behind two of the decorative clay urns. Gulshan, unaware of their purpose, had brought in several clean sheets earlier. Theo fetched one of these from behind another urn while Luc zip-cuffed the satrap's wrists and ankles and firmly gagged him. They trussed him up in the sheet to disguise their captive. Luc hefted him up over his shoulder and followed Tahmuras.

Their destination was the underground cells below the barracks. These were accessed by a stairway between the barracks and the hazarapatish's quarters. There were two sets of cells, one to the north, furthest from the satrap's residence, and one to the south with a passageway linking both sets.

These had not been used for many years. The satrap's way of dealing with criminals, and presumably dissidents too, was to hand them over to the Bruxai as slaves.

The satrap was lodged in the northern block as he was fairly light. He was thoroughly searched but had no weapons on him - probably an edict from the Bruxai - nor any keys. Tahmuras had the second of two sets. Jahandar had still not regained consciousness when Luc removed the gag and restraints. Tahmuras locked the iron-bound cell door, then led his guests back for the second part of the plan.

Frantisek and his two men had continued to tuck into the splendid feast Jahandar had laid on for them. They had not yet begun to wonder at his absence, believing that he was no doubt enjoying the young lady's charms. When Tahmuras returned to extend to Frantisek an invitation from Jahandar to join him and the beautiful young lady from Kashan, he too snapped up the bait willingly.

Unconscious, he was more of a problem to move though, being a good foot taller than Jahandar and at least seventy pounds heavier.

"I see why you didn't want this guy in Jahandar's cell block," Theo said as he and Luc struggled to strip Frantisek of his heavy, crimson brocade robe with its rich fur lining. "Guess he doesn't know the meaning of starvation!"

"I think you should have this, Tahmuras," Luc said, handing him the gaudy raiment. "It's more suitable for Persulis' new satrap. Hm, you might want it fumigating first though."


Maxine obligingly translated, then hid Frantisek's weapons and comm unit behind an urn where Luc's calico had already been hidden.

It took some time for Theo and Luc to lug the corpulent Bruxan between them to the nearer set of cells. "Two down, two to go," Luc grinned as Tahmuras locked the cell door.

As the two Tau'ri knew their way back to the small antechamber now, Tahmuras took a detour to Jahandar's personal suite of rooms to retrieve the other set of keys to the cells. It was at this point that things began to go awry.

As Theo and Luc approached the chamber, they heard a voice, a male voice, where there should have been silence. The pair exchanged looks of alarm and made haste to the room.

Peering into the room, they saw one guy in green BDUs leaning over another who was laid on the floor. He was slapping his face and saying something in a language they didn't recognize, but sounded like Radu's.

But it wasn't this pair that Theo and Luc were focused on. There was a second motionless figure laid on the carpet.

The Storm is Come Again: Part 3

Basic Information

Stargate: the Fifth Generation - Home Page


Dramatis Personnae + Glossary.

Timeline and 'Future History'

The Preludes

Prelude - I: Maxine

Prelude - II: Theo (Flashback)

Prelude - III: Coming Together

The Episodes


SG-24 Part 1
SG-24 Part 2


Crown of Steel - Crown of Night: Part 1
Crown of Steel - Crown of Night: Part 2


More Questions than Answers: Part 1
More Questions than Answers: Part 2


The Mirror Cracked: Part 1
The Mirror Cracked: Part 2


Perdition, Catch My Soul: Part 1
Perdition, Catch My Soul: Part 2


The Storm is Come Again: Part 1
The Storm is Come Again: Part 2
The Storm is Come Again: Part 3


All That Glisters: Part 1
All That Glisters: Part 2


Heirs and Graces: Part 1
Heirs and Graces: Part 2


Hitched: Part 1
Hitched: Part 2


Chaosium: Part 1
Chaosium: Part 2
Chaosium: Part 3

by Hatshepsut

Crown Infernal