Exploring the galaxy – WWA short story

WWA-based one-shot.

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On the mainland of Copelandia the sun was rising, making the Gate and the DHD sparkle with millions of tiny dew drops. The air was clean and fresh and Vincent inhaled deeply, watching his breath form little clouds in the cold.

Cloud, he chuckled to himself. Vera had called him that, and he liked it. The insubstantial shapes dissolved in the breeze and Vincent thought ‘Cloud’ was a fitting name indeed.

Checking back with his handheld data tablet to make sure he got the right address, he pressed the buttons of the DHD and heard the familiar and reassuring whirring that accompanied the gate’s activation. Seven chevrons locked and the wormhole burst into existence.

Time to go exploring! This morning he wanted to see a part of the galaxy he hadn’t been before, a solar system with at least one inhabited planet. The database entry was very vague, either the system was of no interest or it was for some reason too dangerous to travel there – which was exactly what he wanted to find out.

He closed his eyes and breathed for a last time, enjoying the sensation before releasing the energy that kept the atoms of his physical appearance together. A white glow surrounded him, growing brighter and brighter, and he became a cloud of energy.

Coming to terms with this condition had taken some time but it was freedom in its purest form and out of sheer joy he flew a looping on his way to the gate. He had no use for a body where he was about to go.

 

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The gate travel only lasted the blink of an eye and he was floating in space, infinity stretching out in all directions. Not far away was the central star of this system, a small yellow gas globe, casting light on its necklace of planets and their moons. Vincent took his time to examine the star and its planets, skimming their atmospheres and zooming around planetary rings. There was nothing unusual here and he saw no reason why this system had not been cartographed correctly. He’d saved the highlight for last – the presumably inhabited planet.

As he approached the planet, he noted it looked like a typical inhabitable world. There was a fair amount of green, indicating plant growth and the climate seemed to be moderate as there were no large ice caps. Even though the system’s gate wasn’t planetary, this world surely looked like a planet the Ancients would have chosen to seed with human life.

Upon his entry into the atmosphere he thought he felt some kind of presence – nothing tangible and definitely not wraithy. Layer after layer of atmospheric gases rushed by. Breatheable and fit to support human life, Vincent decided. But there were no cities to be seen; if this planet was inhabited, its people would live in small settlements or be nomads.

Something flashed to his left and a massive burst of energy hit him, throwing him off course and nearly disintegrating him. Lightning was crackling all around him and he was trapped! Of course he could not die but for a moment he panicked and wanted to get away from this thing, whatever it was! It hurt like hell and he gave a thunderous non-corporeal roar, intensifying his own energy field until he was glowing an angry red, sparks shooting from his ribbon-like limbs.

The pain subsided and the strange apparition backed off, radiating confusion and anger. It had feelings? Only now realised Vincent what, or better who his attacker was. The presence he’d felt could have been no other than this one – an anscended being.

What are you? The question was directed at him, impatience and confusion mingling in equal measures, as the being drew back its lightning tendrils, and its form rippled and calmed until it resembled Vincent. Its voice was that of a female.

Well, I’m an ascended being, like you. Nice to meet you, he offered. And thanks for the friendly welcome, he wanted to add but thought better of it. He had only met one other ascended being so far – Oma Desala who was the one who ascended him. But she had given him a very stern advice to not anger the other members of the ascended community, so he stayed polite.

I felt you trespassing on my planet, you are Wraith. How is this possible? Impatience again, and annoyance, even arrogance. Her attitude was clearly that of an Ancient.

I apologise, it was not my intention to trespass on your territory. I didn’t even know this was someone’s territory! Yes, I’m a Wraith but I’m just a peaceful explorer– before he could continue he was interrupted by cold, harsh laughter.

Peaceful? You have the nerve to use the words ‘Wraith’ and ‘peaceful’ in the same sentence? Your kind has never brought peace, only on your own terms. The other being flashed deep purple.

If he’d had a body he would have snarled at her; this being had something about her that made his proverbial hair stand on end. He forced himself to remain calm. You will understand if I disagree with you. Besides, as you can see we are of the same kind now, you and I. Maybe it would help if we talked about this in a more civilised manner?

The purple faded until she was back to glowing white, her ribbons floating about indecisively. Well, she began after a moment’s hesitation. If you give me your word to not bring any harm to this world and its inhabitants you may come with me. Remember, you will be bound by the rules of the ascended community. Her stance had altered, she was still wary and confused but also curious.

It was not my intention to bring anyone harm right from the beginning, Vincent replied, waving his ribbons in what could only be described as an ascended shrug.

Your word, she insisted.

You have my word, and be assured I would have kept it even if I was still in my mortal form.

Her form flickered in the equivalent of a blink. Follow me, she said. Without waiting for his answer she streaked off towards the surface of the planet, already but a small gleam in the distance.

You want me to race you? Very well, Vincent decided. I will show this arrogant Ancient girl that I am her equal.

The landscape raced past as he chased after her. Snow-tipped mountains grew to meet them the closer they got to the surface. Lush green forests and endless fertile plains stretched underneath and Vincent couldn’t help but admire the beauty of this world.

The Ancient had not bothered to slow down but was still flying at high speed when Vincent closed in on her. When he had almost caught up, her form became streamlined, resembling a glowing arrow, and she sped further away.

Recognising a challenge when he saw one, Vincent accelerated with an insubstantial grin. The landscape became indiscernible, was rendered to coloured blurs streaming by – green, ochre, grey, blue. Then it became dark as they entered the night side of the planet, and their glow was the only light in the darkness. Tiny pinpoints of light indicated settlements, sparsely spread about the land.

Vincent had caught up with the Ancient again; this time she remained at his side – even ascended beings had a speed limit. Despite his rude traveling companion, Vincent was enjoying himself. Alone for this race the trip had been worth it. He felt observed and knew she was watching him closely, no doubt expecting him to do something dastardly. Like summoning a thunderstorm and wiping out one of the settlements, for no other reason than being a Wraith.

Ancients – they were like that. Always fast to jump to conclusions, relying on their intellectual superiority. But maybe that was a prejudice. Could he judge her by her origin while sneering at her for doing the same? They were both ascended so all bets were off.

A sliver of light on the horizon came closer – the gleaming frontier between night and day, and finally she slowed down. Vincent could see they were flying low above a vast ocean and the first light of dawn was touching the wave crests, luring him down until his reflection set the water on fire.

Skimming the surface, his ribbons made contact with the waves, causing white glowing spray to follow in his wake. The sensation tickled his ethereal body and he chuckled.

He could tell the Ancient was confused; she had slowed down further and lost altitude. He could almost feel her frown as she watched him.

A spark of mischief ignited in him and he scooped up some water, then zoomed upwards – towards her. Gaining speed quickly, he wound around her in a glittering helix, spraying the sea water as he overtook her, so it hit her in a constant bright drizzle.

She shrieked and for a moment Vincent thought she might attack again, but she simply stopped, hovered in mid-air and shook, like a dog would shake his fur after a bath.

You didn’t see a dignified ascended Ancient behave like that every day and Vincent began to laugh softly at her bewildered appearance.

She still hovered, curling her ribbons inwards in a gesture of determination, then suddenly she lunged forward, missing Vincent by an inch and whipping one of her light tendrils forcefully through his body in an ascended backhand.

Vincent yelped in shock and turned to face her. Light, tingling laughter filled the air – apparently she was delighted to have gotten a revenge. I probably deserved that, Vincent realised sheepishly.

The Ancient resumed her original course but this time she didn’t try to race off, and Vincent followed her at a respectful distance. The tension seemed to have gone and they continued their flight without further incidents. Although Vincent could still feel her watchful eyes, she was growing more curious.

The light of dawn was fully upon them as she banked to the left, passed over a sandy shore and headed inwards on the continent. A stone structure came into view, a house of sorts. On this world it was probably considered a palace, compared to the wooden huts and the tents he had seen. Flags and banners decorated the spacious building and plants grew everywhere, carefully cultivated and arranged with taste. Whoever lived here liked a sense of freedom and nature.

Vincent followed his guide into one of the atriums. She sank down next to a cheerfully gurgling fountain and gathered her energy in preparation to solidify. Already Vincent could see the shapes of her arms and legs emerging and he followed suit, harnessing his energy into a physical form, transforming the atoms around him into solid flesh and bone.

Curious, he examined her and she him. She was like most Ancients, beautiful by human standards. Her hair was the mellow colour of autumn leaves and her eyes were a matching hue of warm caramel. A long, flowing dress adorned her slender body; it was the colour of pale forgetmenots and partially translucent.

Her gaze was fixed on him and Vincent could tell that now, as she saw his true wraithy self, she had to struggle to hide her disdain and keep her face neutral.

“So it is true, my sense of alert did not betray me,” she said thoughfully. “Long did we think we would be safe from your kind on the higher planes of existence, but now you are intruding even here.” Her features hardened and her stance became haughty.

Vincent took his time, eyeing her cautiosly, before he answered. “Your hatred of my kind must be deep if you spend your time attacking them, thus interfering on lower planes. I thought ascended Ancients had better things to do.”

At that she averted her gaze, drawing in a sharp breath. “What I do with my time is not your concern. But do tell me, how is it possible that someone like you could have ascended with the consent of the Others?”

“Do you not think that every living creature has the right to develop themselves and become one with the universe?”

“This does only apply to beings who live to do good and seek truth and tranquility, not to a predator like you,” she shot back, fury glinting in her eyes, as she took a step towards Vincent who was close to losing his temper.

“Sure. Truth and tranquility, doing good – like the arrogant, indifferent Ancients who interfered with human cultures, created the Asurans and brought misery and fake hopes everywhere they went, leaving their human fosterlings alone to save their own skin. Of course such noble beings have every right to ascend by birthtright.” He spat the last word and narrowed his eyes.

Hissing sparks surrounded her as she advanced on him, her hands curled into fists. “The Wraith are cruel and unprogressive, they refuse to develop, clinging to their policy of cullings and spreading fear instead of using their technological assets to research alternative ways of feeding. You should not have been allowed to ascend!”

Briefly, Vincent wondered what it would be like to feed on an ascended Ancient, but he kept his right arm close at his side and flexed his fingers to release the tension. This time he remained calm when he answered. “One of your kind did not share these sentiments. It was an Ancient who helped me ascend. Her name was Oma Desala.”

That stopped her dead. Her eyes widened and she sagged. “Oh no, not again. You would expect her to learn from her mistakes after that sad episode with Anubis.”

“I do not think ascending me was a mistake,” Vincent objected. “She was truly wise and said everyone deserved a chance. Not every Wraith is cruel and backwards. In fact, I could prove to you that there are Wraith who do not cull anymore and who can feed without killing humans.”

Her glare had lost some of its intensity and she had retreated. Leaning against the fountain she crossed her arms over her chest and continued to watch Vincent, apparently deep in thought, processing what she had learned. “I do not believe you.”

“You can come with me and I will show you an alliance of hives who live in peace with humans from Pegasus and the Milky Way, even with the new Lanteans – your inheritors.” Vincent spread his hands in a gesture of invitiation.

“I do not trust you. What if this is a ruse, to lure me away from my homeworld so your kind can attack here?” She mused.

Vincent sighed. “You have my word, remember? I will not bring harm to your world.”

She bit her lower lip, indecisive but also curious. “Very well, I will come with you. I trust you speak as an ascended being, and not as a Wraith.”

“Why can’t I be both?” he asked, smiling a wraithy smile. “By the way, what is your name? I will have to introduce you to my friends.”

“Chaya,” she replied. “You can call me Chaya.” As an afterthought she added “If I am to go with you I need to know what to call you, too.”

“You would not be able to pronounce my true name, but my human friends call me Vincent.”

Chaya’s eyes widened at the mention of ‘human friends’, then a small, rather mischievous smile tugged at her lips. “I would not have expected a Wraith to answer to ‘Vincent’. It appears to be a rather… mundane name.”

Vincent shrugged nonchalantly. “Well, mundane it may be, but it works nevertheless. Shall we?” He motioned at the blue sky above.

Straightening up, she closed her eyes and dissolved in white glow. Vincent smiled. Now this is definitely different, he thought as they both zoomed upwards.

I still think a Wraith should not be ascended, she stated, a tad miffed.

Naturally, he replied good-humoured as he guided her towards the stargate. Using his telekinetic abilities he dialed Copelandia. I bet Vera will be curious when she sees a second Cloud, he grinned to himself.

 

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Note for everyone who isn’t familiar with SG-1: Anubis was a Goa’uld systemlord – a powerful, ruthless being all by himself. But Oma Desala in her unshakeable belief that there is good in everyone had ascended him, thus effectively creating the biggest nemesis the humans of Milky Way had ever known. Unnecessary to say, the other ascended beings were not happy with the situation and tried to de-ascend Anubis but failed. The attempt rendered him half-ascended, half-mortal and double-evil, and it took the Tau’ri a long time to bring him down.

 

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