Crown Infernal

Stargate - The Fifth Generation

The Storm is Come Again - Part 3

Summary: troubles rarely come singly

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


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 two Bruxans had gotten tired of waiting for their lord and had gone looking for him. Probably, they were hoping for their turn with the beautiful young lady. Maxine, hearing footsteps approaching but no voices, assumed it was her team mates returning. While she was a little surprised at seeing the two unexpected strangers, this wasn't what caused her to freeze at precisely the wrong moment.

They looked just like the two in the alley. An action replay? She'd snapped of out the shock almost immediately. Had time to stun one. The other saw her zat. Moved away from his fellow. Took her down with his own ray gun. This was the same as the ones Eneas' men used.

Theo and Luc pulled out their 9mils, and silently eased off the safety. Luc hoped the guy was reasonably sane as he really didn't want to shoot him. The noise would probably attract unwanted attention.

On his mark, the pair of them ran into the room, aiming their hand guns at the one conscious person there. Assuming he understood English, Luc told him to drop his weapon.

Unfortunately, not all the Bruxai spoke English. This one didn't. He also didn't seem to have much sense of self-preservation. He turned to see these two strangers, and was raising his ray gun in Theo's direction.

With no choice, Luc fired. The guy slumped on top of his fellow. Dark blood flowed from his shoulder. Not a fatal wound then. Probably.

While Theo ran to his cousin's side, Luc went to the doorway to turn away anyone responding to the unusual loud noise. He almost collided with Tahmuras, who was, thankfully, the first responder.

Tahmuras took in the scene with wide eyes. "He is dead? You kill him?"

"No, he'll live, but he'll need the bullet digging out." Luc mimed clawing at his own shoulder.

"Ah. Bullet. Is like arrowhead, yes?"

Luc nodded. "Yes, it's like an arrowhead," he smiled.

"I keep people away when you... when you... fix him?"

Luc gave him a thumbs up and a big smile of encouragement. He hoped Maxine would recover soon. Like now.

Theo was relieved to find that Maxine was still breathing, and that her pulse, while a little erratic, was still strong. He patted her face gently saying, "Come on, Maxine, wake up." He felt a little stupid, but the basic field medicine they'd been taught hadn't touched on alien ray guns. Next he tried rubbing her hands and arms briskly to stimulate blood flow. Or something.

As Luc returned to deal with the two Bruxai, Maxine groaned.

"Oh god, that hurt." Her eyelids flickered open. "Theo? Oh thank goodness. I screwed up."

Luc looked up from using a strip ripped off one of the sheets to pack the wound. It was now oozing sluggishly.

"No you didn't, babe. It was two on to one."

"No, I screwed up. I froze, so I only got one of them."

"Ah. You mean you had a flashback."

"Ye— How did you know?"

"Everyone gets one sooner or later in our business. Don't sweat it. And if you're up to it, I could use a little help with these two."

Maxine hid the men's weapons and comm units with the others, then dumped the bloodied shirts in one of the huge urns. Didn't want blood seeping through the sheets. Or into the fine carpet.

The other two had gagged and zip-cuffed the Bruxans and trussed them up in sheets by the time Tahmuras returned to say the coast was clear - or words to that effect.

Fortunately, the two captives were sinewy and not too heavy. They wanted to get them both locked up in one trip, preferably before they regained consciousness. Unfortunately, Frantisek had come round. He bellowed in anger when he saw Tahmuras and the Tau'ri, demanding to be set free immediately, or face dire and devastating consequences.

While the two captives were locked up in a cell apiece, Maxine faced up to their leader behind the wall of solid iron bars. "Shout as much as you like," she said in his own language. "Nobody can hear you. We're too far underground."

"My men will soon find me and set me free, and then you will suffer extremely for this act of aggression!"

"Your men will not be coming," Maxine continued solemnly, "and if you want to be given food, I suggest you aim for a little humility. Politeness wouldn't go amiss either."

She soon got bored as Frantisek continued to yell demands and curses, and so went to see his men being safely lodged in cells further along. Tahmuras had provided Luc with a sharp knife. He dug out the bullet without difficulty, the man remaining blissfully unconscious throughout.

When they were ready to leave, Maxine couldn't resist a final verbal sally at Frantisek. "You know, I have a ship in orbit over Persulis, and if you don't shut up right now, I'm going to call my commander and have him beam you out of here - and cut off the beam just before you reach my ship. Then you can scream all you want - for a few seconds. Nobody will hear you and nobody will care."

"Hah! You can't fool me! We have control of the Habbakuk!" Frantisek said smugly.

"Well, I know that, stupid," Maxine came back with an even smugger smile, "so - obviously - I wasn't referring to that old crate..."

Frantisek shut up then, just in case, and the rest returned to Tahmuras' quarters.

"So what now?" Theo asked.

"Now," said Luc with a scowl in Maxine's direction, "we call J."

As he activated his comm., J's voice cut in.

"We're on our way to join you and we've got trouble. I just got a call from Bachmann. There are a dozen guys on horseback heading our way. They're wearing baked leather armor and helmets and carrying... unusual... spears. They all have a facial tattoo, including one whose tattoo is gold..."

"What? So we've gotten ourselves a goa'uld as well?" Luc asked.

"Looks very much like it."

Maxine butted in, ignoring a squawk of protest from Luc.

"What does it look like?" she demanded. "The tattoo, I mean."

"Bachmann said it looked like three toothy mouths with wings."

"And Azi Dahaka is sometimes depicted as a winged three-headed serpent."

"Ai-eee!" Tahmuras cried, prostrating himself on the floor. "The old god returns! Forgive me, Lord!" No one paid him any attention.

"We'll come and meet you and if you need to bullshit, the Bruxai leader's name is Lord Frantisek." She spelt it out and added, "he's very foul-mouthed and grumpy."

"Yes, Lord Frantisek," J responded in a significantly louder voice, "we're on our way now, and I see Vasile and ... "

"You got company?"

"Yes my Lord. S-Sorry, my Lord. We'll all be there in double quick time. Andrei out."

"Oh, great! This sounds like fun!" Luc muttered. "Just when it was all going so well. Okay, Maxine, you take Tahmuras and go find J and Kern, while Theo and I come up with a plan."

Maxine stood over Tahmuras who was still a quivering heap of jelly on the fine Persian carpet. Probably wishing it would fly away with him, she thought.

"Come on, Tahmuras, find your backbone. We have work to do."

"No, no, no. You must go. Or hide. A long way away from here. The old god is coming! He is a harsh god!"

"Look, Tahmuras, Azi Dahaka is not a god. He's just a parasite, working a human host. The Tau'ri have defeated a whole lot of these so-called gods. I'll tell you all about it as we go and meet our companions, who may need rescuing..."

He seemed a little reassured, and also picked up on the obligation to match the rescue of his daughter with the rescue of two of his new allies. Honor demanded it.

By the time they reached the baha-zar, Tahmuras was much more sanguine if not totally convinced. This was good because, as they set off across the market place, Maxine, with her height advantage, saw her C.O. and Kern, side by side, entering the area from a street opposite. She needed to be able to focus on them, not a slightly freaked hazarapatish. They had their hands in the air.

The two Bruxai who'd accosted J and Kern mid-communication had bought the bullshit enough not to shoot them, but not enough not to take them prisoner and present them to Frantisek. In person.

Fortunately, they hadn't tried to contact Frantisek themselves. J had suggested it, saying with cocky grin that dared them to try, "Sounds in a pretty foul mood, so go ahead. Maybe you can cheer him up..."

Now, Vasile and his sidekick were walking behind them with their ray-guns trained on their backs, and carrying SG-24's SMGs casually by their straps.

Maxine approached the four head on. J looked a little apprehensive when he spotted her coming towards him. Kern's attention was elsewhere. Unsighted by the Bruxai behind her team mates, she finger-signed D.U.C.K. Keeping her eyes fixed on J's, she reached inside her robes and nodded.

"Whoops!" J, arms waving as if to maintain his balance, suddenly lurched sideways, pulling Kern down with him. He rolled on top of him. It wasn't just to protect Kern.

Under cover of the kerfuffle, Maxine activated her zat. This time, she didn't freeze and took down both Bruxai before they had time to react. The baha-zar emptied rapidly as if by magic. No one wanted to get caught up in whatever was going on.

Stowing her zat out of sight, she gave J a hand up. "Grab a bad guy each and follow us," she said while Kern was wondering how the strange turn-about had come to pass. Tahmuras had collected all the weapons and was using his robe to carry them in.

Frantisek was not best pleased to see two more of his men being carried past his cell, but looked relieved when no more were brought in and locked up. As the Tau'ri left, he snarled, "When I get my hands you, bitch, I'll make sure you suffer before you die!"

"Um, that would be psycho-bitch to you," Maxine said with a friendly grin at Kern.

Kern decided to join in with the Bruxai-baiting. "Scary psycho-bitch," he said with a knowing leer. "She can kill a man with just her finger tips. I know. I've seen her do it." Then he followed her out with a decided swagger which nearly made the others crack up.

The four returned to the small antechamber, which now contained quite an Arsenal of modern weapons.

"Looks like you've been busy," J observed. "Only two more Bruxai to go. Good work, team!"

Luc saw Maxine's stricken look. He took J's arm and led him aside. "No, there aren't," he said quietly, "and now isn't the time to go into it."

J noted the warning expression on his face and nodded. "Ok. So do we have a plan?"

"Yes. If we have time to put it into operation, I think I can make it work. We'll need a little help from the Persulians though."

Soon, there was feverish activity. Tahmuras had the satrap's servants running to and fro between the baha-zar and the front of the bab-khanah, carrying trestles which SG-24 arranged in a curved line some twenty yards away from the entrance. This was about the maximum effective range of the ray guns. The legs of the trestles were secured by piles of rocks, stones, bricks and anything else that came to hand.

Tahmuras' men were busy fetching every spear that could be found from the armory. A lot of them were not in good condition through lack of use, but for the purposes of the operation, that didn't matter. Under Luc's supervision, and assisted by Theo, the spears were leaned against the trestles at a 45 degree angle, pointing in the direction from which the enemy would arrive. They were fixed as well as possible to form a chevaux-de-frise. The colored cloths from the market tables were tacked on to each end of the trestles across the lower half of the spears, creating a rippling, fluttering barrier.

Another thirty feet beyond that, J buried three blocks of C4 under the gravel of the road, and the other two about six feet to either side of the road. Maxine had gone to Aunt Shirin's to collect her and Theo's SMGs, and to thank them.

The finishing touches were being set in place as she arrived back at the base of operations. This was just in time for J, through her, to warn the people that the approaching enemy had strange spears which could do serious damage, and therefore they were sending their helpers as far away as possible from the main gate. The area around the Rivergate would be good...

With the half the town nearly empty and the main gates closed and barred, SG-24 and Tahmuras went up to the walkway behind the protective wall along the top of the bab-khanah to await the goa'uld. They had not only their SMGs and 9mils, but also the five Bruxan ray guns. The last two they'd taken still worked despite having been zatted.

Tahmuras quickly learned how to fire one, so J decided to make him a present of them. It was small recompense and might even up the odds a little if Persulis was troubled again by 'bandits.'

Maxine kept quiet about her zat. Kern was doing his best to fit in with the team, but she still felt that the less she had to explain, the better. Luc was in charge of the row of detonators.

J had decided to take on the 'negotiations' and to impose English as the language of choice on the first prime. All the other goa'uld had spoken English, and Eneas had said it was a lingua franca on the rise. It would also be better for Tahmuras, who insisted on being present as the leader of his people, if he couldn't understand very well what was being said.

They had just gotten into position when Azi Dahaka's jaffa came into sight riding glossy black horses, two by two, at a gentle canter, and with the first prime bringing up the rear. J was pleased to see that. He didn't think Teal'c would ever have taken that position - much more likely to lead from the front if Daniel's journals were anything to go by, and he thought they were. Still, it wouldn't do to underestimate the guy.

As the first two horses approached the barrier with the cloths flapping and snapping in the rising breeze, they broke to either side despite the sharp jerking on their bits by the riders that made Maxine think of Sergeant Quinney.

The next pair pulled up too. They were used to people running away and were having nothing to do with the bizarre menace ahead of them. Luc noticed that Azi's horsemen hadn't developed the concept of stirrups yet.

One rider circled round and rode his horse at a gallop towards the barricade intending it to leap over as an example to the rest. The move did not go as planned. The horse skidded to a stop. The rider, continued his forward momentum until impaled through the neck on one of the spears.

This rather deflated the bellowed demand of the first prime, which in any case was spoken in Old Avestan.

"Say what?" J yelled. "Speak English. I know you can!"

With one man down and the rest milling around trying to regain control of their horses, his order didn't come across with nearly as much impact the second time around.

"I am Vishnasp, First Prime of Azi Dahaka. Kneel before your God!" he cried, though he didn't look totally convinced himself.

J made a show of looking all around, then shrugged. "I don't see any gods. Have you lost one? You might like to see to your minion there, by the way. He doesn't look too well."

"Respect your God or he will crush you under the heel of his boot," the first prime continued, a little half-heartedly.

"Look, you and I both know that Azi Dahaka is not a god. He - or it - is a goa'uld. We are the Tau'ri, and we eat goa'uld for breakfast. So far," J counted off on his fingers, "we've killed Apophis, Hathor, Cronos, Heru'ur, Anubis, Marduk - no, someone else got to him, Nirrti, Osiris, Baal... Need I go on? No, I don't think I do. So right now, you and your men are going to turn tail and leave. You will not return because this world is under the Protected Planets Treaty, policed by the Tau'ri."

"Or what?" the first prime demanded, recovering a little of his bombast.

"Best not find out," J called, giving Vishnasp his best crocodile smile.

This left Vishnasp in a bit of a quandary. The guy looking down on him was certainly not buying the usual propaganda, yet he could hardly return empty handed or Azi Dahaka would surely make him suffer for it.

As he hesitated, one of his men made the decision for him. Hoping to take over from this clearly weak-willed first prime, he charged his staff weapon. SG-24 had never heard the sound before, but were well aware of the import from the electrical crackle at its tip. J fired his captured ray gun before the man could aim his weapon. He and the horse both went down.

"Any more?" J asked brightly.

The first prime was not having a good day. He was in a double bind. Action might be disastrous. Inaction right now might - probably would - result in mutiny. But. There were only six of them against eleven jaffa... He gave the order, and the remaining staff weapons were charged. It was the wrong choice.

In front of them, the niftier ray guns sprayed the area with electrical fire. Behind them, the C4 exploded in a rapid ear-splitting sequence, spraying out gravel like shrapnel. The horses that hadn't been brought down by the ray guns bolted in panic, unseating most of their riders.

"Had enough, yet?" J barracked as the dust settled.

They had. This was clearly not the pushover peasantry they were expecting. Like bully boys the world over, they decided to throw in the towel when challenged.

"Ok, toss your staff weapons, armor and helmets over the barrier. Be smart. Don't try and play the hero, or we'll crush your symbiotes inside you, and you know what that means!"

They did. No one tried anything. It was a sorry band of men who were escorted to the 'Gate by SG-24 who were riding those horses that had calmed down. Half of the jaffa were still recovering from the ray gun blasts and the others were carrying the body of the rider who'd landed on the spear and bled out.

At the 'Gate, J had a little mercy on them, suggesting they might like to go to some world other than Azi's. That was ok by him so long as they played nice. If they didn't, the Tau'ri were sure to find them sooner or later, and then they would get really mad, and things could get real ugly real quick.

J had no idea where the address Vishnasp had dialed would take them. He hoped that he'd picked somewhere well off Azi's radar. That way, when the team didn't return, Persulis might be left alone like SG-1 had been told had happened to the Lok'na Kor planets when they were searching for the Harcesis child.

When the unwelcome visitors had all departed and the wormhole had collapsed, J called, "Ok, Bachmann, you can come out now."

When he appeared through the bushes, J trotted over to him on his fine black stallion and added, "Thanks for the heads up."

"Who were they?"

"You not seen them when you've been here before?" J asked from his high perch.

"Never." Bachmann looked genuinely mystified.

"Oh, and that reminds me, we came across a group of guys dressed in BDUs like ours. You seen them before?"

Bachmann feigned ignorance. "What did they say?"

J sighed. "I'm afraid dead men tell no tales. Those spear things make a real mess of a man."

"They're all dead?" Bachmann exclaimed.

"All?" J asked, playing dumb. He noted the way Bachmann's eyes slid away from his, and figured he was thinking it was a good thing Major Mitchell was so dumb, otherwise he might just have let slip information that he shouldn't have.

J screwed up his eyes and wagged his finger as if counting bodies in his mind's eye. "Well, there were seven bodies in front of the main gate. Guess they were defending the town against those other guys."

Bachmann's eyes narrowed suspiciously. "If those guys on horseback killed the - the other guys, how come none of you got hurt?"

"Just lucky, I guess," J said airily. "We were in the north of the town when you called and by the time we got to the main gate, it was all but over. The guys like us had the nous to knock down a lot of the horses. The riders were on foot and trying to find a way around the unconscious horses. We used the gates and the heap of bodies for cover and finished the job. Anyway, we have to go back and get the PATTs and the rest of our gear, so I'd like you to take cover and watch the 'Gate again till we return."

On the way back, Kern put his mount to the gallop, clearly at home on horseback even without stirrups. "Plainsman," J grinned at Theo, remembering their intell gathering before the survival weekend.

Maxine looked out for Nashak to thank him for his help, to say that their mission had prospered and that, hopefully, things might change for the better. "Oh, and your aunt and cousin are both well. Lt. Kern up ahead there gave them a little help with the washing," she smiled.

Nashak's look of astonishment made her laugh. "See, we aren't all bad."

When SG-24 arrived back in Persulis, they found the town pretty much back to normal. The chevaux-de-frise had been dismantled and the holes in the road were being filled in. The rest of the horses had been rounded up and were tethered in the parade ground. The body armor and helmets had been piled up outside the armory by Tahmuras' men. He clearly wasn't one to let the grass grow under his feet, given half a chance.

He'd had a bit of a problem over what to do with the staff weapons. On the plus side, he hadn't seen a demonstration of their power thanks to SG-24. The downside was that he had no idea what they did or how they functioned. Grandfather Daniel's journals hadn't dwelled on that part so the rest were almost as much in the dark. Not wanting to risk any collateral damage, Luc and Theo took one outside the gates to play with.

The weapon was basic and the mechanism easily worked out, so Theo fetched Tahmuras for a demonstration. Luc put the weapon in Tahmuras hands and, standing behind him with his hands on Tahmuras', he activated the staff. Together, they took aim at a sick-looking tree some forty feet away and fired. The tree blossomed in a fearful explosion of branches, twigs and splinters.

Tahmuras was amazed. "I happy them not shoot at we!"

Luc grinned. "Yeah, me too!"

The three returned to Tahmuras' quarters then to discuss the results of the mission. This was mostly between J and Tahmuras, via Maxine.

"The men with the staff weapons, will they come back again?" was Tahmuras' most urgent concern.

"Well, we can't be absolutely certain, but I think it's highly unlikely. I don't think the men we took back to the 'Gate - er, the Ring - have gone back to Azi," J said, noting the way Tahmuras winced at his casual reference to their god. If he heard it often enough, maybe he'd be a little less in awe.

"The thing is," J went on, "that the goa'uld, of which Azi is one, like an easy life - not so much sitting around and doing nothing as taking what they want without too much effort. Why waste time and resources on a world that shows some resistance when you can move on to the next one where there's little or no resistance? They also don't tolerate failure, which is why I don't think our invaders have gone back to Azi."

"They will not come back to see what happened?" Tahmuras asked.

"I doubt it. For all he knows, this world has become uninhabitable - maybe the air is now poisonous or something. Azi's just lost a dozen jaffa and his First Prime. Not that he'll care too much about that. It's just a nuisance. But he won't want to lose any more just to satisfy his curiosity. The main problem would be if you decide to go and take over some of his worlds - maybe stir up a revolution. Cause him any trouble like that, then yes, he'll be a very jealous 'god.' I don't imagine that's likely to happen though!" J grinned.

"Certainly not!" Tahmuras said, blenching at the thought.

"The Bruxai are another matter though. They will almost certainly be back. I suggest you give it out that Frantisek and his men nobly gave their lives defending the town from Azi and his men. It might be a good idea to dig some graves - plant flowers on them or something. You could say that Jahandar was killed too and named you as his successor with his dying breath."

"But what do we do with them? We cannot afford to keep them prisoners for ever."

"No, you can't, not with all of them, though I suggest you keep Jahandar. The others," J said, with a slightly shamefaced look at Maxine after his previous lofty stance on the subject, "I suggest you do to them what they would do with you, and sell them as slaves."

Tahmuras' face lit up at that. "May we keep some of the sale price?"

"My friend, you can keep it all. You can also keep the horses, the armor, the staff weapons - be careful how you use them though - and the ray guns."

Tahmuras looked overjoyed for a moment, then his face fell. "How much payment do you want for them?"

J gave him a warm smile. "Nothing. Just think of it as a very small recompense for all that has been taken from you without trade or payment. Oh, and we'd appreciate your friendship too. One more thing. I suggest you keep a couple of men on duty, hiding by the - the Ring. You could change the shift every so often, using the horses for speed. We'll leave you the Bruxan communicators, so your guards can call in and let you know who's coming. That way, you'll have a couple of hours warning if they're on foot. Finally, I would advise against going through the Ring yourself, especially if someone seems particularly insistent that you do, or you might end up like Jahandar."

Tahmuras nodded his understanding. "Thank you once again, my friends. I'll stay well away from it! I shall start a training régime for my men and recruit some more guards."

"And we will try to set up a proper trading treaty that's fair for both sides."

With that, the meeting broke up. SG-24 left by the Rivergate again as they had to return their borrowed raiment, and wanted to thank Shirin and Yazdin for their help. Then it was time to collect the PATTs and set off for home.

Of course, J got more hassle from Bachmann when they arrived at the 'Gate. He wanted to know what had happened to the horses. And the weapons.

"That's none of your business, Bachmann."

"But the President's gonna want to know," Bachmann yelled.

"Then the President can ask me. I can speak for myself. I don't need a liaison officer and if I did, I'd pick someone with a little more tact and diplomacy than you possess. Captain."

"It doesn't work like that," Bachmann ranted.

"Oh? Then how does it work? And keep your voice down. You're scaring the wildlife."

Bachmann had no real answer to that. "Not like that," he muttered.

"O-kay. In that case, Lt. Kern, would you dial home, please."

Kern, looking rather smug, did so. J wondered if there was a little bad blood between Bachmann and Kern too. He sent Bachmann through first, followed by Kern. Theo and Luc took their time to allow Maxine to scratch the Tau'ri symbol on a rock near the other scratched sign. Underneath, she placed a letter, pre-written in Romanian, recording their visit and its outcome.

There was little opportunity to discuss with Dr. Flint what was really troubling three of the members of SG-24, even though Bachmann, naturally, went to Dr. Dawson for his medical check. She was observant enough to register that something was wrong, and a bitter request from Luc for a pill that would restore his lost humanity gave her a pretty accurate idea of what the problem was.

For the time being, she agreed to provide mild medication to help them catch up on lost sleep. She also invited them round to her apartment at the weekend to talk about the 'problem' in more congenial surroundings - either together or separately. They thanked her and opted for togetherness.

The atmosphere at the briefing afterwards was tense. Bradfield couldn't quite figure out precisely why, but could hazard a shrewd guess. J reported a successful mission with Persulis, defended against hostile forces, at peace and ready to receive the Trade Delegation. Bachmann complained that proper protocols hadn't been observed.

"You mean the protocol that says you go in hard and shoot a few peasants?" Luc asked provocatively.

This earned him a friendly scowl from his C.O. and a glare from the current 2IC that said, this isn't over - very far from over. At this point, a clerical officer arrived with a written message for Captain Bachmann. Maxine, seeing the look of foreboding on his face as he read it, had no doubt about who it was from or what it said. So she was off the hook. For the time being anyway.

It was early evening when they arrived back in the Springs. Kern had been dropped off by the shift bus earlier. His mother would want to be sure he was safe, he said.

The rest decided to pig out at The Sunny Side Up by way of relaxation and collected Ash en route. It was a pleasant end to the day. The adrenaline was wearing off, and the sticky toffee pudding made them all feel pleasantly sleepy.

As they were thinking of heading bed-ward, an old man came over to them. He looked like a bit of a tramp with a silky white beard and a homburg hat over unruly white hair. Although scruffy, he looked clean though, clean enough to get served anyway. He'd come in earlier and was now carrying a second mug of coffee. He put it down on their table.

"Do you mind if I sit here?" he asked quietly, indicating the empty seat in the six-seater booth.

"Sure. We're just going anyway," J said.

As Maxine made to move, the old man grasped her wrist in a surprisingly strong grip. "No. Stay a moment," he said urgently, and moved his spare hand up to touch a milky greenish blue gem set in a white gold brooch that was pinned to his lapel.

She looked up into his face in surprise. The bright intelligent blue eyes that met hers made her gasp.

He put a warning finger to his lips, then holding her hand, sat down opposite her, next to J. Who wasn't moving. At all. Nor was anyone else. It was like everyone was in freeze-frame except for Maxine and the old man sitting opposite her.

"Um, may I speak now?" The old man smiled gently and nodded.

"Have you stopped time?"

"Not exactly. I have something important to tell you and I don't have much time, so I created a time-loop."

"A time-loop? Should I know what that is?"

"Probably not. Time generally travels in a straight line. I've set up a small tunnel through time, a bit like a wormhole goes through space, except that the time-loop branches off, loops round and will join up to the rest of the time continuum about a second or so after the loop started."

"You're not supposed to be doing this are you, Grandfather?"

"No I'm not. That's why I don't have much... time."

"So what's the problem?"

"Kyros. He's showed up on planet Earth, which is bad. Very bad."

"Um, who is Kyros and why is it bad?"

"Oh, sorry. He's kind of like me."


"Yes. Actually, he's more like Anubis. I suspect they may have been hanging out together some time back. But I digress. Kyros has spent aeons hunting for a particular artefact. The Ancients think he's getting close, but of course—"

"They won't do anything about it."

"Right," Daniel said, rolling his eyes. "If he's really as close as they think he is and he's here somewhere, this is not good."

"So what's this artefact?"

"The Stemma Dunamatelikon."

"The Crown of Ultimate Power." Maxine mused.

"Er, yes. That's right. Now I don't know much about it - what it looks like or where it is. I only know that it should be destroyed because it will be very dangerous in the wrong hands, which is most people's."

"But not yours, surely."

"Especially mine! Did you not read about the dream Shifu gave me?"

"Well of course. That was creepy, and so not like you!"

"But it showed me that I have it in me - what I'm capable of - given the wrong set of circumstances. Even with all I know, I'm far from certain that I could resist its lure. Which is why it has to be destroyed."

"And how do we do that? Drop it in Mount Doom? Um, sorry."

"Yes, well never mind that for the moment. The Stemma will only produce its greatest power when used by someone who's read the Bibliomegiston ton Gnosairapolutos ton Diabolanthropos or The Great Book of the Absolute Knowledge of Good and Evil. This is known colloquially as The Diabolikon. That must be destroyed too. Now, the Ascended Ancients slapped a megalock on it when it came into their possession. This means that it can only be opened by someone who is pure of spirit. Then they hid it in a safe place. The trouble is, that place was not safe enough. It's gone missing... Now, if Kyros hasn't gotten his hands on it yet, he's not far away - and he'll be looking for someone who is pure of spirit so that he can con him, as he conned me, into opening it for him."

As he spoke, he cast a significant look at Ash.

"No!" Maxine exclaimed. "He's been through enough already! Hang on though. Doesn't being gay rule him out of the 'pure in spirit' stakes?"

"With the Warriors, yes, but not where it really matters." Daniel looked a little uncomfortable. "I think I'd better fill in a few background details while I'm here, like how I ended up on Vis Uban sans clothes and sans memory."

"Go on," Maxine begged. She sensed a new story here as there hadn't been anything about it in the journals.

Daniel looked a little put out. "This isn't a fairy story to entertain little children. It's deadly serious."

"Yes Grandfather," Maxine responded, trying to keep the anticipatory gleam from her eye - and failing.

Daniel gave a rueful chuckle. "Well then, sometime after I ascended for the first time, Kyros approached me. Looking back, he'd obviously been biding his time until the Others had decided I'd found my feet, and left me to follow my own path pretty much. He befriended me, telling me he'd only been ascended a short time just like me. That was a lie. He was grooming me, as a pure spirit, so I would open the Diabolikon for him..."

Seeing the sad look on Daniel's face, Maxine stroked his hand gently with her thumb. "And you did, didn't you? Just to help out a 'friend?'"

Daniel nodded slowly. "Yes," he whispered. "The Ancients caught me, wiped my memory and threw me out, but not before I'd read some of it - gained knowledge that I shouldn't have."

"Did Kyros read any of the Diabolikon?"

"No. The Ancients acted before that happened and threw him out too."

"So he's no longer ascended?"

"Yes, he is. He was helped to re-ascend by a group called - if I have it right - Dwimmerlings."

Maxine's face fell. "Oh no."

"You know them?"

"We know of them. What the Ori were to the Ancients, the Dwimmerlings are to the Furlings."

"Oh, that's bad. Wait, you've met the Furlings?"

"We've met their descendants. The Furlings are known to them as the Archaioi."

"Oh? Well that joins a few dots for me," Daniel smiled. "Anyway, over time, some - most - of my memories have returned. Know this, Maxine, I cannot, must not, touch either the Stemma or the Diabolikon, because I am now... tainted. That... taint, will prevent me opening the book a second time, but the Crown will still give me unbelievable power. It draws Dark Energy to itself for the wearer to use - if he has the knowledge. I have enough of that knowledge to be very dangerous. And I'm not strong enough to resist. What?"

Maxine's jaw had dropped and her face took on an expression of sudden, and unwelcome, enlightenment. "D-Dark Energy?" she breathed.

"Yes. Why?"

"I think I know where it is - the Stemma."

Daniel instantly caught on. "It's in the S.G.C., isn't it?"

"I think so," Maxine said. "I've even had it on my own head for a while." She described to him the crown she'd 'confiscated' from King Tobias.

"I can't be certain, but it sounds extremely likely."

"So how do we destroy it?"

As she spoke, Daniel looked around in consternation. He seemed to be glowing gently and little effervescent sparkles of light broke away from him and faded into darkness.

"No! No, no, no!" he screamed, waving his arms as if fighting an invisible foe. "Not now!" He looked apologetically at Maxine, then an idea lit his eyes.

He pulled the brooch off his lapel and slapped it in her hand. "Look after this for me!" Then he was gone - jerked back into the ether by some power unknown.

Suddenly, everyone was moving normally as if the conversation had never happened. Maxine was beginning to think that she'd zoned out and imagined it. But the rest of the team were looking baffled and J was peering under the table.

"Huh? Where'd the old guy go?" he exclaimed. Then she realized she had something in her hand. The brooch! So it hadn't been a hallucination.

"I think the Ancients took him," she said. "We could have a monumental problem on our hands here and I think Grandfather Daniel expects us to fix it."

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