A Bundle of Arrows

AUTHOR: Rebecca Ratliff

EMAIL:  rmratliff@adelphia.net

DATE: March 2004

ARCHIVE: If I haven't submitted to your archive, please ask.  (I'll say yes, I just like to know where it is.)

CATEGORY: Angst, adventure.  AU.


WARNING: Language

SPOILERS: Shades of Gray.  Ashes arc in the Gates of War series.

SEASON/SEQUEL INFO:  Season Seven.  Gates of War series, follows Taps.

SUMMARY: Sirikat joins the warriors of Daltregon on Seshat's planet.

DISCLAIMER: All Stargate SG-1 characters are the property of Stargate SG-1 Productions (II) Inc., MGM Worldwide Television Productions Inc., Double Secret Productions, Gekko Film Corp and Showtime Networks Inc.This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. Anybody that you don't recognize is probably mine, so if you borrow them please send me an email to let me know where they are and have them home by midnight.  :)

FEEDBACK:  Much appreciated.

In a few short weeks, P8X-327 had become a very busy place.  About a thousand of Seshat's five thousand people had been relocated.  So far most of the evacuees were children and the adults that Seshat had assigned to take care of them.  Every one of the miners was on Aravis.  The remainder of her people had stayed to bring in the harvest and pack up precious belongings for the migration.

A large group of Cimmerians had come to their new home to help Seshat's folk get settled.  They were building cabins as fast as the Corps of Engineers could cut trees.  While the people left on Kalimar were using their traditional, low-tech methods to avoid tipping Anubis off that anything odd was happening, on their new homeworld they were employing all the technology they could get their hands on to provide shelter for those who would soon be arriving after the harvest was finished.  The roar of chainsaws and heavy equipment filled the air.  

O'Neill did a double-take and crossed a busy dirt street to the one dark-haired man in a crowd of red-headed Vikings.

"Hey!  Aren't you supposed to be dead?"

"Jack!"  The man turned around and looked unsure whether to be surprised to see O'Neill, or to just bolt for the treeline.  He was, however, backed up by his burly Cimmerian companions.  "Yeah, well, about that, I was, but Lya fixed it."

Teal'c said, "RobertMakepeace.  I am sure there is a tale here for the telling, O'Neill."

"Oh, of that I have no doubt."  Makepeace was a former Marine, once commander of the Marine detachment at the SGC.  He had also been working secretly for Maybourne's rogue NID operation, and had supposedly been executed for treason.

"The Nox pitched a fit when they found out we were condemned to death," Makepeace explained.  "Lya absolutely wouldn't have a part of that.  She cooked up a scheme with Thor and they beamed me out of the morgue and substituted a--well, like a clone of me, only the guy had never been alive in the first place.  Lya brought me back.  They made me an offer I couldn't refuse.  I've been on Cimmeria teaching them modern weapons and tactics.  It's home now."

"Does Hammond know about this?"

"As far as I know, only the President does.  He commuted everyone else's sentences to life.  I hope you can understand why I really don't give a shit what Hammond knows and doesn't know."

"You think you got a raw deal?  You cowboys could have broken our alliance with the Asgard when the Protected Planets Treaty was the only thing keeping the Goa'uld off us!"

"I know that now, but at the time I was following orders and doing my damn job.  Hell, yes, I got a raw deal.  I took the fall for somebody a lot higher up the chain of command and they hung me out to dry.  The only damn reason the same thing hasn't happened to you a dozen times over is the God damn luck of the Irish."  Makepeace threw a bundle of rebar on a wagon with a lot more force than necessary. "I was doing my fuckin' job, O'Neill, and don't try to tell me you don't know it."

O'Neill and Teal'c both knew it, and from the sound of things so did Lya and Thor.  "Glad things worked out this way," O'Neill said, and he was a little surprised to find that he really meant it.  He left the Cimmerians to their work and they looked around for Bra'tac.

The Jaffa was talking to Raknor, who greeted them on his way back to the Alpha Site and home.  As always it was a warm reunion, but somewhat rushed.  SG-1 had a mission briefing in an hour.  There was time for one last hug and for Sirikat and O'Neill to tell each other to be careful, then they were off in different directions.

Bra'tac showed Sirikat where to stow her gear, in a crate hidden under a layer of chunks of ore.  He buried his staff weapon in the ore as well, then they squeezed into the next cart in a crawl-space concealed under the shortened water tank.  Bra'tac slapped the side of the tank and they were off.

The trip through the wormhole wasn't subjectively any different, but hiding inside the mine cart, Sirikat was unsure exactly when they would hit the event horizon.  As a result she came out the other side more than a little disoriented and queasy.  She concentrated on controlling that and more or less had by the time the train of carts clattered into a large storage building.  Shortly the water buffalo were unhitched and they were let out of the cart.  The water buffalo were necessary, the people here still used animal power so that everything would look normal to the Goa'uld monitoring the spy satellite overhead.  On Aravis and their new homeworld, they were using whatever modern equipment they could get their hands on.

Sirikat got her balance and looked around a large warehouse.  "Well, I can't say that I'd recommend that.  What's the situation here?" She thanked the Jaffa who unpacked her weapons from the crate and buckled her sword belt while Bra'tac retrieved his staff.

"This way, my queen.  We can speak freely in the back room."

They went through a doorway which was guarded by two Jaffa and entered a large room which served as Bra'tac's field headquarters. "We can monitor the transmissions from the surveillance satellite from here, my queen.  The Tok'ra have established cloaked listening posts on both the planet's moons.  We will be warned if anything comes insystem.  The Tok'ra also provided us with tunnelling crystals.  Underground passages now provide access to most of the major locations in the town, as well as the area of the chappa'ai. Additionally, we've created a number of underground bunkers  as a refuge of last resort.  There are also deep natural caves at the far end of the valley where it would be possible to take shelter."

Sirikat nodded.  "How quickly can we conduct an evacuation?"

"We've installed a siren system.  The people know if the siren sounds, they are to take shelter in the basements of schools and other public buildings.  From there they will be taken to the real bunkers far below ground.  We've had several drills to make certain that the people understand where they are to go.  We can have them all below ground in a few minutes.  From there, if we are fortunate it will simply be a matter of taking them through the tunnels to the chappa'ai, and off-world.  If we are unfortunate we will have to defend the bunkers for approximately three hours until the Asgard arrive."

Sirikat nodded, praying it wouldn't come to that.  But if the bunkers were deep enough to survive a bombardment, then the enemy would have to come down after them--and find Bra'tac's Jaffa and her own warriors of Daltregon waiting for them in the tunnels.  They had two workable exit strategies.

Seshat took her on a tour of the city.  Most of the volunteers from Daltregon were helping with the harvest, which was now at its peak. Large creaking wagons rumbled through the city gates bringing tons of golden grain to the threshing floors and from there to the mills. Groups of women toiled in large screened in communal kitchens, processing hundreds of glass jars of fruit and vegetables.  Farm animals were being slaughtered and the meat dried and preserved with spices in traditional methods that required no refrigeration.  As the harvest ended, more civilians would be sent through to P8X-327.  The job of those left would be to convince whoever was watching that everything was business as usual.  

Meanwhile, Sirikat knew, tons of trinium ore were being taken off Aravis.  While enough made its way here to keep the smelting plant operating around the clock, most of it was being taken by Tok'ra cargo vessels to Groom Lake and from there to various Earth cities, where the mighty Tau'ri factories would turn it into ships.

Seshat's curiosity overcame her inborn reverence for a queen and she asked, "What's it like, having a harcesis host?"

Sirikat smiled.  "As compared to what?  No one on Daltregon knows any other way.  Kat-I already knew what it would be like to be blended, so I looked forward to being reunited with the other half of my soul as much as Siri-I did."

"I wish it could have been so for Talira and I.  I gave her no choice...."

"You knew no other way," Kat replied.  "Now that changes.  And that is liberty for symbiotes as well as for my human brothers and sisters."

"I know that now, my queen."

The deeper tones of Siri's voice answered, "Am I that, Seshat? Your queen?"

"Would you have me--my brother and sister and I?  Make no mistake, you will be a system lord if the Powers grant you enough time.  Would you have me serve you then?"

Sirikat turned to her and took both her hands.  "No, I would not--but I would have you sit at my table and fight at my side.  If I ever become a system lord, I will still be a queen of Daltregon!  We say that all drink from the same waters of life.  I would have you share my cup."

Seshat's fingers closed over hers.  "I will."

"There is a Tau'ri proverb that one arrow is easily broken, but a bundle of arrows is strong.  Together we are a bundle of arrows."

"Strong enough to stand against Anubis?  Because I know that he would sweep me and my people away like sand castles before the tide."

"The Powers helping us, yes, we are strong enough!" Sirikat said. "I believe that we who fight for freedom never fight alone."

Seshat said, "I do not have your faith, my queen, but my people and I will be your single arrows among many.  Maybe that will be enough."


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