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And I thought it was satisfying watching the Princesses be the very big, very progressive gorilla in Earth politics! This is going to be even better!
Chapter 132: Spy Games Part 8
Chapter 132: Spy Games Part 8

Underground Base, Euronda, December 16th, 1999 (Earth Time)

One moment, they were talking. The next, all hell broke loose. Samantha Carter was already moving when the alarm went off. She threw herself out of her chair and dragged Entrapta to the floor.

"For the Honour of Grayskull!"

Adora's yell and Entrapta's surprised gasp were both drowned out by Isa's machine gun, followed by more shots ringing out.

Samantha Carter kept her head down and drew her zat. No one under the table - wait! Someone was on the floor! She aimed her weapon before she realised that it was a body chewed up by automatic fire. She twisted, checking the other end of the table. More corpses.

And the shooting had stopped.

"Secure that door!"

"Yes, sir!"

A moment later, something heavy slammed against something metal.

Sam got up, zat still in hand. The guards and half the Eurondans at the table were dead, cut down by Isa, Campbell and the General. Alar was on his knees, holding his bleeding right hand with his other hand. Sam caught a glimpse of two fingers on the floor.

Farrell was still in her seat, slumped over. Stunned. No, dead - Sam saw the blood dripping down the legs of the chair.

Isa and Campbell were at the door, Isa holding it closed with her sheer bulk. Daniel was getting up from under Sha're, and Teal'c was keeping watch over another surviving Eurondan, zat aimed at it.

And Catra was holding up a small device half-covered in blood. "He pressed the button on this before I could stop him."

"Oh! Looks like a communicator!" Entrapta said, peering at the device as her hair grabbed it. "Let's check!"

"That's how you return our hospitality?" Alar said, panting. "By murdering us during a diplomatic meeting?"

"You were about to attack us," Catra spat.

"I was about to order you to leave!" Alar retorted.

"Yeah, right." The General shook his head. "That's why you were triggering the alarm."

"We need to move!" Glimmer said. "The base is on alert - the guards will come at us."

"We've got the leader. Will that keep them from throwing bombs at us?" Catra asked.

"Ah… it is hard to say without knowing more about the society of our, uh, former hosts," Daniel replied. "It also depends on whether or not Alar has rivals waiting for the opportunity to remove him and blame foreigners for it."

"The people are loyal!" Alar spat. "We know our duty."

"And we know ours," the General said. "Let's get out of here before we get trapped."

"To the gate?" Campbell asked.

"No." The General grinned. "We'll need a diversion to reach it. And what better diversion than their command centre getting destroyed?"

"No! You can't!" Alar gasped. "The Breeders will murder us all!"

"We'll be back home before that," the General replied.

"We can't let them continue their war," Adora said.

Sam half-expected the General to make a comment about how they totally could, but he just sighed. "I hoped you wouldn't say that."



Adora moved to the door, and her sword became a shield. "I'll check the hallway," she said.

She had barely opened the door when Sam heard what had to be the firing noise of Eurondan weapons, and Adora's shield was hit by multiple beams. The door shook as well, cracking in several places.

"Not exactly the best shots," the General commented.

"You are trapped in here!" Alar yelled.

"Shows what you know," Catra told him. "Didn't the Russians and Chinese warn you about us?"

"They told us about your technology!"

But not their magic? Sam raised her eyebrows. Either the Russians and Chinese had been setting up the Eurondans or the Eurondans hadn't believed them.

"We need to leave, sir," Lenkova spoke up. "We can take Alar with us."

Sam glanced at the Eurondan leader, expecting him to protest. But he was grinning. That was a remarkable mood shift… Oh.

She grabbed her scanner and aimed it at the door. A glance at the screen confirmed her suspicion: "There's a force field blocking our way."

"What?" The General glared at Alar.

The man grinned toothly at him.

"They might have taken the one from their gate room," Bow speculated. "Or used another one."

"Whatever - we need to get out of here," Catra said.

Sam agreed. But how? "We could cut through the walls, but… the field is quite powerful and might expand to cover such holes in the area as well."

"Oh, yes. Depending on the projector technology, the shield could do that," Entrapta said. "We should test it!"

Catra frowned but stepped up to the wall, lashing out with her claws, then kicked the material.

A piece of the material fell back and down, revealing the round hole Catra had slashed into the wall. No shots rang out from the other side.

And when Sam used her scanner again, it confirmed the presence of a force field.

"We're locked in here," she said.



Catra eyed the ceiling. They might have set up a field to cover the walls, but did they extend it to the top? They probably had, but best to make sure.

She jumped on the table, which creaked but held under her weight - it was sporting a few new holes from the firefight - and raked her claws on the ceiling, carving out a piece of it. Catra jumped off the table a moment before the jagged mass of the piece smashed and broke it.

"That's also covered by a force field," Sam reported.

"Had to check," Catra said. "Would have been terribly embarrassing if we had missed the easy way out."

Jack snorted at that. "What about the floor?"

Catra was about to bend down, but Adora had her sword out and swung it in a circle. The cut material stayed - propped up by another force field. Or… "Is that the same forcefiled, or one each?" Catra asked.

"The spectrum of the fields is exactly the same," Entrapta replied. "That doesn't mean that it's the same field - their projectors could just have tight tolerances."

"They're massing outside," Isa reported.

"They'll have to drop the shield if they want to hurt us," Jack told her. "And if they can hurt us, we can hurt them."

"Or they try to poison us," Glimmer pointed out.

Catra glanced at Alar. The man had his lips pressed together, but she didn't know him enough to tell if that meant this was a possibility. Best assume it was - they had almost died because of Eurondan poison before, and it was obvious that they liked using such means.

"Mask up then," Jack said, reaching into a pocket of his uniform.

Catra slipped a hand inside her own uniform and pulled out her own mask - a new design by Entrapta that could be folded up until it was hardly bigger than a handkerchief thanks to new filters. It would help with a gas attack but wouldn't stop nerve gas.

So, they had to get away quickly. And since Glimmer couldn't teleport without Adora releasing the planet's magic, which she wouldn't do until she was ready to use the boost to save the world… "Walls, floor or ceiling?" Catra asked.

Adora eyed the ceiling.

"We did that in Apophis's palace," Jack said. "Let's try the wall."

The command centre was on this floor - and roughly on the way to the gate room. Catra grinned.

Adora slowly nodded. She had her 'determined face' on. That meant she wouldn't let anything stop her, Catra knew.

"You can't get through our defence field!" Alar snapped. "You should surrender!"

"You haven't seen anything," Glimmer told him.

Adora nodded again, then stepped to the door, holding out her sword. "Hah!" She swung it with both hands, striking at the force field. The blade hit in a shower of sparks, and Catra saw flickers appear in the air as Adora lifted the sword for another strike.

"Field strength is fluctuating," Sam reported. "Stabilising… at a lower strength." She moved her scanner.

"Just hit it until it breaks," Catra translated.

But Adora was already dishing out a flurry of blows, striking so rapidly that the entire door area was covered in sparks, obscuring the view of the waiting enemy.

Alar was staring, open-mouthed, at the sight, and Catra grabbed his collar to drag him out of the potential line of fire - he was, after all, a potential hostage as the enemy leader. And for later negotiations, probably.

Jack was pulling Lenkova to the side as well - judging from her earlier position, the woman probably still needed to understand that you shouldn't try to charge ahead of a princess.

Catra checked the ceiling. The field there was holding steady, no sparks or even flickers. So, different shield projectors, then.

And then suddenly, the sparks disappeared as the shield shattered. A second later, the Eurondan soldiers opened fire with their beam guns, but Adora had already changed her sword into a shield. Catra saw half the beams miss her lover as Adora charged down the hallway, straight into the enemy's ranks.

The Eurondans broke ranks even before Adora smashed into and through them, Catra noted as she sped after her. They must not have much, if any, experience with infantry combat, she thought as she kicked a dazed soldier in the head, knocking him into the wall behind him before he could reach for the gun he had dropped.

Another one was screaming and holding his broken leg - she could see parts of the bone sticking out through his pants - and Catra knocked him out as well.

She caught Daniel stunning the man for good measure as the rest of the group followed in their wake, Teal'c carrying Alar and Isa bringing up the rear and covering side alleys with Campbell.

Those two had no intention of getting ahead of a charging princess, Catra noted. Good - Jack was training his people well.

Half a minute later, they had cleared the area of any enemies and were standing in front of a big blast door.

Adora raised her sword, then hesitated. "They'll expect us to go through the door."

"And we can't count on them acting like the ones we went just through," Catra added.

She looked up at the ceiling, then at the walls.

"We need to check if they deploy poison." Before running into it.


Jack O'Neill cursed under his breath. Of course, the Space Nazis would use gas. If only they could have brought NBC suits along - but not even Carter, Entrapta and Bow working together would have been able to build protective suits that could be concealed like those new masks. Maybe he should take another look at the proposal for new uniforms for Alliance troops that doubled as NBC and vacuum suits with a helmet added, even if they looked like Horde uniforms…

But you fought a war with the gear you had, not the gear you wished you had. "Carter?" He cocked his head at his second-in-command.

"Working on it, sir. Our scanners don't show any poison gas, but given the known capability of the Eurondans to create a gas that evades detection, we cannot exclude the possibility of another such case."

Jack eyed Alar. The Space Führer looked confused for a moment, then his eyes widened. So, whatever poison the Eurondans used, they were unaware of its effect on Alliance scanners.

But that didn't tell Jack whether or not they had such poison. "No bombs?"

"No explosive devices detected in range, sir," Carter reported. "Not with advanced technology or sufficient conventional explosive filler to function as a hand grenade."

That was one worry less. Unless… "Incendiaries?" he asked.

Carter blinked, then started pushing buttons on her scanner.

As soon as Jack saw her jaw muscles twitch, showing she was clenching her teeth, he knew he had been correct.

"They are concentrating fuel tanks on the other side, sir. I expected them to use hydrogen as fuel since they have fusion reactors, but this seems to be a fuel based on ethanol - distilled from the yeast they are growing in hydroponics, I assume."

"Probably," he agreed. Not that it mattered. What mattered was that they were about to burn if they forced the door. And not even Adora's shield would keep the heat back. It was already quite the break that the Eurondans weren't sucking the air out of the rooms. Maybe their bunker wasn't set up for that - they were pretty inexperienced with infantry combat.

The others looked concerned as well. Most of them, at least.

"OK… so, no forcing the door, Adora," Bow said.

"Ceiling?" Catra looked up.

"They're moving fuel up there as well," Entrapta announced.

The bastards are learning quickly, Jack thought. Of course, they might suck at infantry tactics, but they are probably naturals when it came to poison attacks and other war crimes, he reminded himself.

"Down then?"

"The level below seems clear, sir," Carter confirmed.

"Or we unblock magic, and I port us to the Stargate," Glimmer suggested.

Adora shook her head. "Not yet. We might need that power to save the planet."

That was fine - Jack would rather avoid being too close to Adora channelling a planet's worth of magic again. He didn't want to be turned into a plant - or an alien. "We're going down, then!"


Jack chuckled at his friend's reaction, as did others. Spirits lifted, mission accomplished. "Let's hurry before the Space Nazis decide that their dear leader is an acceptable sacrifice to kill us."

Alar glared at him. "I will gladly die for my people!"

"Be my guest," Jack retorted with a shrug. The odds of the Eurondans being willing to negotiate were probably higher if they could blame everything on a conveniently dead leader. Not that Jack would trust them, anyway - after a decade or two of waging total war against 'racial enemies', their indoctrination would be hard to overcome. At least without utterly crushing their army like the Allies had done to the Nazis.

"Hah!" Adora slashed at the floor again, carving out a round section. Then she stuck her sword into it, bent down - and heaved it up with a grunt.

Alar was gaping at the display. Jack snorted - if he knew just how strong She-Ra was, he would probably piss himself. Or start worshipping her as an Aryan goddess or something.

Adora made short work of the force field covering the floor with a few more strikes, then jumped down, quickly followed by Catra.

Jack heard someone screaming, followed by a crash, before he reached the hole. He gripped the edge and lowered himself down before dropping. He wasn't some magical princess or catwoman, and his knees wouldn't stay healthy if he tried to imitate either.

He landed in a crouch, scanning the room with his gun out, but Adora and Catra had already taken down the Eurondan guards here. This seemed to be a storage room - he could see stacks of metal parts. Aero-Flyer parts, from the looks of it. No missiles or what looked like weapons, though. As far as he could tell, at least.

Behind him, Entrapta followed, carrying Carter in her hair. Then Teal'c jumped down with Alar, followed by the rest of their group.

"Which way?" Jack asked. There were two doors here. One led towards the direction of the Stargate, but that didn't have to mean anything in a bunker.

Carter and Etrapta used their scanners. "There are two lifts close to this room. One large, one smaller," Carter reported.

The large would be to transport the stuff in here to wherever they were doing maintenance of their planes. "Let's take the large one," Jack said. "Might take some of the parts here with us as cover."

"Good idea. We should…"

"Shh!" Catra snapped, interrupting Bow. Her ears twitched. Then she sniffed the air - and hissed. "They're pouring fuel into the area above us."

Damn! He had been right about those bastards! "Let's hurry - I don't want to end up in a Eurondan barbecue!" Jack clenched his teeth and rushed towards the closer door.


Adora gasped and stepped below the hole she had cut in the floor - the ceiling now. She couldn't see any liquid yet, but she trusted Catra… oh, there it was. Dripping down the hole. "It's just a trickle now, but that won't last!" she yelled. And once the Eurondans ignited it…

"Can you stop it?" Sam asked. "The fumes are explosive. If it fills the room…"

Adora drew a sharp breath - and smelt alcohol. Clenching her teeth, she quickly eyed the opening. If she changed her sword into a large shield, she could plug the hole. Most of it. It wouldn't be perfect, but it should stop the fuel from reaching the storage room. Or… She looked to the side. Yes.

She grabbed a batch of armour plates and pushed them below the hole, then grabbed the uppermost plate and jumped on the stack. The fuel was falling down the hole now, drenching her. She raised the plate above her - and pressed it against the opening.

The stream slowed down to a trickle, quickly filling the hole above her and weighing down on the plate. She could take it tough - she was She-Ra.

"Open the doors!" Jack said.

"We need to hack the electronic locks," Entrapta said. "And their systems are good - better than Goa'uld technology."

Catra sniffed the air again. "We're getting fumes inside here."

Adora bared her teeth. She couldn't help that - the plate wasn't a perfect seal. The fuel trickling in formed a growing puddle beneath her.

"Can't you just slice it open?" she heard Daniel ask.

"If we do that, the fuel will follow us through the hole," Catra retorted.

"And if it starts burning, it will suck the air from outside in," Bow added. "Or blow up."

"The Eurondans must be crazy to try this!" Daniel blurted out.

"They probably don't realise that we've cut a hole into the floor," Sha're replied. "But even so, the damage to the level above us would be extensive."

Jack cursed. "Hurry!"

"We're working as fast as we can, sir." Sam sounded stressed.

Adora felt stressed. The weight on the armour plate was growing rapidly - it was getting harder to keep the pressure on to seal the opening above her. She could take it, though. She had to do it. Her friends depended on her. She wouldn't let them down!

"There are some parallels to the software used against the Stargate Command," Entrapta said - she sounded intrigued rather than stressed, Adora noted. "But it's only superficial. I think the software there was heavily adapted to First Ones technology while this is completely native Eurondan architecture."

"Whatever it is, solve it!" Jack snapped. "If alcohol has to kill me, it should be an expensive whisky. Not some cheap alien fuel."

Adora snorted at that - and almost fumbled her grip on the shield. The puddle of fuel below her was spreading, reaching the stacks of supplies next to her. "Just how much fuel are they using for this?" she snapped.

"They're fanatics," Jack replied. "Probably everything they have."

"That might hinder their aero-fighter strikes," Bow said.

"I don't think they care about that while we're threatening to destroy their command centre," Glimmer retorted.

"Carter, how much longer?" Jack asked. He sounded urgent, and when Adora glanced at him, she saw that he was staring at the fuel that was slowly spreading.

"Help me with this!" Catra snapped. She was dragging poles - pipes - with her. To prop up the armour plate, Adora realised.

Jack and Teal'c jumped to help, dropping Alar on the ground in the process. The man hissed with pain.

"I… ngh… don't think the poles will hold," Adora said.

"If we get enough, they will!" Catra insisted.

"They will help, at least," Jack said.

Adora doubted it. But her friends did their best to jam the pipes between the stack of armour plates below her and the one she was holding up.

"They are a bit too long," Jack said.

"Not any more," Catra snapped, slicing through them.

All three grunted and pushed the first pole into place, wedging it against the armour.

Adora barely felt a change but held her tongue. She could still take it, anyway. She had to. She had endured worse.

"OK! Let's get more!" Catra was already speeding off to grab more poles.

"Carter, how's it looking?"

"We're making progress, sir."

That was good. More poles joined the first ones as Isa helped as well. The fuel puddle was still spreading, but that couldn't be helped. It was covering half the floor now.

"If only we had some sealant…" Jack looked around.

"There might be something," Catra said. "But I can't tell from the labels."

Jack turned to Alar. "If you don't want to burn with us, you better help us out."

"I will gladly sacrifice my life for the people!" Alar spat. He sounded terrified, though.

But Adora had to focus on holding up the armour plate. How much longer until they had the door open? She could still hold out, but the pressure was increasing.

"Done!" Entrapta announced.

Adora gasped. Done!

"Or not!"


"Wait - that's the command to open it!"

Adra heard metal sliding over metal, followed by cheering. The door was opening! Yes!

But Catra cursed, staring at the ceiling. "They set it off!"


"Everyone out!" Jack yelled. "Go! Go! Go!"

Adora turned to look at Catra. "Go!"

Her love wasn't moving. "What about you?"

"I'll jump once everyone is clear!" Adora said. "The poles will hold long enough."

Catra stared at her, then jumped up to her.

Adora wanted to protest, to tell her to run, but before she could say a word, Catra kissed her. "Don't die!" she whispered.

Then she turned and raced to the door, splashing through the puddle.

Adora strained. Was the armour plate growing hotter? Or was that her imagination? Could the fuel be burning that fast? Could it burn past the plate while there was still liquid above her?

"We're out!" Catra yelled. "Come!"

"Close the door!" Adora yelled. "Start to close it!"


Adora hissed through clenched teeth: "I'll make it before it closes! Start it!"

"Close the door!" Jack snapped.

Adora heard the doors starting to close. Saw them moving. Guessed the speed. And the distance. If she was wrong, her friends would die. She wouldn't let them.

A bit longer… a little bit… Now!

She jumped, clearing half the room. Metal screeched behind her as she touched down in the puddle and launched herself forward, towards the door.

Catra was in the shrinking opening, staring wide-eyed at her. The sound of roaring, falling fluid filled the room as Adora flew towards her. The doors were almost closed - she could only see Catra standing there. A bright light lit up behind Adora, turning Catra even paler.

Adora hit the door, one shoulder scraping against the metal.

She hit Catra, grabbing her, rolling over the floor, curled around her lover.

Then she heard the explosion go off.


Samantha Carter threw herself to the side when the storage room exploded, closing her eyes at the flash, waiting for the heat.

It didn't come. She looked up and saw the doors had closed completely and held. They were dented and buckled, and there was a burning patch of fuel in the middle, where the shockwave must have pushed burning fuel through the gap as it closed, but they had held.

She pushed herself up and looked at the group. Adora was up already, staring at the burning fuel, then at the doors. Catra was running a hand through her hair and frowning - both must be covered in fuel. Like Alar, whom Teal'c was dragging away from the burning puddle.

"Well, that was exciting. Let's not do it again and get back to the Stargate," the General said. "And see if we can get a shower on the way before a spark lights us up."

"Or before the fire reduces the doors' structural integrity too much," Entrapta added, looking up from her multitool.

Sam glanced at the screen and winced. The doors were rapidly heating up - the storage room must be an inferno. But that meant… "The ventilation must still be working, feeding oxygen to the fire!" she blurted out. Why hadn't the Eurondans shut that down?

It was a stupid question - they wanted to burn the group. But they risked dooming themselves. The ventilation could spread explosive vapours and poisonous smoke throughout the bunker if the filters couldn't handle it - or caught fire. "We need to move quickly!" she said.

"That's what I said," the General had to comment.

"Where is the closest bathroom?" Glimmer asked as they started moving towards the larger lift.

Sam tried to remember the floor plan she had derived from their scanners, but she hadn't paid attention to those facilities. An obvious mistake in hindsight.

"There's a toilet up ahead!" Entrapta, able to check her own screen while being carried by her hair, replied. A moment later, a projection appeared in the air, showing the layout of the floor they were on, with a blinking symbol. It was close indeed - around the next corner.

"OK! Everyone who's soaked with fuel, wash it off. The rest, move ahead to secure the lift!" the General snapped.

"That includes you, sir," Sam pointed out when he was about to move past the washroom - he had helped shore up the improvised plug Adora had used and so had been splashed with fuel, if not exactly soaked.

Before he could say something stupid, Adora reverted to her normal form, her soaked armour disappearing. Why would…?

"For the Honour of Grayskull!"

Ah. She was back as She-Ra - in dry armour. "I'll secure the lift!" she said - and sped off.

"I really have to revisit that uniform proposal," Sam heard the General mutter as they entered the bathroom.

Washing the fuel off - or, at least, diluting it sufficiently so the danger of catching fire was lessened enough - was a rushed, cramped affair. The washroom was far too small to fit everyone. Even worse, as was expected from a bunker running low on resources, they hadn't much to work with.

And the clock was ticking, as the General reminded everyone. The storage room doors wouldn't last much longer. Sure, the fire would take some time to spread through the level, but the smoke and vapours would spread quicker, and if more rooms caught fire… Sam shuddered at the thought.

Catra sliced off the sink and toilet, opening the pipes and turning the room into a fountain, and the General sent those who hadn't been splashed much with fuel in first so they could join Adora. That meant Glimmer, Bow, Daniel, Sha're - and Sam and Entrapta.

Sam hated leaving the others - she just knew the General would, given the chance, take too many risks for himself in order to keep others safer - but they had no choice.

They reached the lift, where Adora was guarding the closed doors. "Locked!" she called out.

Sam pressed her lips together. The Eurondans didn't have cameras in the bunker - as far as she could tell, another oversight perhaps, or the result of limited resources - but the electronic locks were linked. They couldn't just crack the doors open without the risk of alerting the Eurodans that they had survived the fire.

"We'll hack it," she said. Which might be easier said than done. The Eurondans weren't on the level of the Ancients, but their electronics were more advanced than Earth's native technology, and the system architecture was utterly alien.

Fortunately, she quickly discovered that this door worked like the storage room door that they had already hacked. That meant they already knew where the weak defences were. They still had to be careful, though, to avoid triggering an alert or lockdown, and checking took precious time. And they had to hack the lift as well, which was a challenge in itself.

But one Sam could handle.

Teal'c arrived, carrying Alar, followed by Lenkova. Shortly before they opened the lift's doors, Isa and Campbell joined them as well. That left…

"Where's Catra and Jack?" Adora asked, sounding tense.

"They are bringing up the rear," Isa reported.

Typical! Sam bit her lower lip. Then she froze. That sound… And did she feel the air moving, like a breeze? She checked her scanner. The temperature around the storage room was quickly rising - the doors must have failed! They were running out of time! And soon, air!

The General arrived at the nearest corner, running all out.

"Where's Catra?" Adora yelled.

"She's coming!" he replied. "She's faster than I am."

But the fire was spreading - the entire level was heating up. Sam could see it on her scanner as they piled into the lift.

Sam focused on removing the last defences of the system. And stopping the system from sounding an alert.

"Catra!" Adora yelled again.

But there she was! Sam looked up as the programs finished taking over the controls and saw her running towards them, on all fours, claws tearing up the floor.

And behind her, Sam could see flickering light illuminating the hallway - the fire was growing closer.

"Everyone aboard!" the General said. "Let's go!"

Sam pushed a button, and the doors closed.

Then the lift started moving.


Catra couldn't help glancing at the floor of the cabin - or platform; it was a freight lift - for a moment. Below them, on the level they were leaving, the fire was spreading. Sooner or later, the flames would reach the lift shaft. They had to be out of the lift by then - and as far away from the shaft as possible. If that fire turned into the thing from the Earth action movie in that skyscraper while they were in the shaft…

But there was nothing they could do about that. If only the lift were faster - Catra was sure most would be faster climbing a ladder. The more time this took, the more time the fire had to reach them - and the Eurodans above them time to get ready.

At least their group was ready. Adora had changed her sword into a shield again and was standing in the middle of the doors, ready to block enemy fire, and everyone else was lining up behind her, weapons aimed.

Or keeping their head down, in Entrapta's case.

The lift stopped with a soft beeping noise, and the doors started to open. A moment later, Catra's ears twitched as she heard several of the Eurondans' ray guns go off, and the door rang from the impacts - few, if any, hit the widening gap.

Amateurs, she thought. They had fired far too soon - and with weapons that couldn't penetrate the metal doors. Even Kyle would have done better than this.

Despite the shots, the doors kept sliding open, and more and more energy bolts were hitting Adora's shield. But that meant the enemies were exposing themselves as well. They were as skilled at taking cover as they were at other infantry tactics, and Catra saw Jack put two bullets into the head of a guard standing at a corner, not behind it, before the doors had opened wide enough for Adora to rush through.

As the Eurondan fell back, gun dropping to the ground, Isa rose, a shot bouncing off her armoured shoulder, and cut loose with the heavy machine gun.

A group of Eurondans was shredded by the bullets, bodies collapsing in pools of blood, parts blown off, as Isa swung her gun around, and Adora charged forward, Catra right behind her.

The Eurondans were breaking before Adora reached their line but were too slow to get away in time. Adora smashed into their front, shield out, and half a dozen Eurondans were thrown back, slamming against the wall with loud cracks. One tried to rally them, screaming something at the running guards, but they ignored him - and when he turned to shoot at Adora, Catra sliced through his arm and weapon with a swipe of her claws, and he dropped to his knees, staring at his bleeding stump as if he couldn't believe his eyes.

Whether he managed to stop the bleeding or not, he was out. Catra was rushing after Adora. "Next one left!" she yelled - according to Entrapta's projected map, the Stargate was about three potential choke points this way.

Adora smashed a few more too-slow guards into the wall - and the ceiling in one case - and whirled, moving her shield to block a ragged volley from a side tunnel.

"Fire in the hole!"

Catra gasped at Campbell's yell - and pressed her hands over her ears the moment a grenade shot between her and Adora, going off in the side tunnel. The explosion cleared the tunnel. Thoroughly.

They rushed on, through and past the wounded and the dead. They passed the first two potential chokepoints without any resistance - the Eurondans must have lost all cohesion. The third choke point, right before the gate room, was held by three guards.

Adora didn't even slow down for them. She charged through them and the doors in one smooth motion - and drew up to a sharp stop.

Catra sprinted after her, then veered off to the side as soon as she was in the gate room. What was…? Oh.

She stopped as well, her claws ripping the floor open, and glared at Tarlan, who was standing next to the D.H.D. - which was covered in blocks of explosive.



"Don't move, or I'll destroy the command console, and you will be stranded here!"

"It's actually called the D.H.D. - the Dial Home Device," Jack O'Neill said with far more nonchalance than he felt as he joined Adora and Catra in the gate room. If the fool blew up the D.H.D., they would be stuck on a foreign planet again. And one with far less friendly inhabitants than Etheria.

"I don't care what you call it. This is the device that controls the Stargate. Without it, you won't be able to flee," Tarlan yelled.

Jack wanted to just shoot the idiot and be on their way, but if the Eurondan had the detonator on a dead man's switch, that would be a terrible idea.

"Sir!" Carter had arrived.

Jack held up a hand. "Stand back, Carter! We don't want the nice Nazi to get nervous." More nervous, actually - the guy was already twitchier than a junkie going cold turkey. Too twitchy to bear more pressure - his eyes were already darting back and forth as he tried to keep Jack, Adora and Catra in his view. If they spread out, he might blow the D.H.D. up out of sheer desperation.

"Don't do it!" Adora said. "You gain nothing from destroying your last hope of surviving this!"

Tarlan clenched his teeth. "I heard what you told Alar - you want to destroy us!"

"We don't have any quarrel with you," Jack snapped. "We just want to go home."

"You sabotaged the agreement that would have saved us!" Tarlan was panting and sweating now.

Teal'c arrived, Alar slung over his shoulder. And stunned, Jack noted with relief. The last thing they needed was Alar telling the idiot with the bomb to die for their cause or something. Although the Space Nazi Führer hadn't seemed to be that willing to die. If he could be persuaded to order Tarlan to stand down… No, too risky - the rest of the Eurondans had had no qualms about sacrificing their leader to kill Jack's friends.

"Look, you and your people need the D.H.D. more than we do. Without it, you won't get any supplies - and can't escape the bunker when your power runs out," Jack said. "We can whip up a computer to control the Stargate with what we have with us."

"Well, it wouldn't be easy, or… Ow!" Entrapta piped up behind Jack, but Carter had that under control. Right now, honesty was the worst policy.

"You would die with us!"

"No, we would not." Adora took a step forward, and Jack held his breath. "We would restore your planet's magic, use that to cleanse the poison from the surface, and then leave this bunker."

"And we'd grab the Stargate and build a control device while we wait for your enemies to wipe you out," Catra added. "Or we construct an FTL communicator and contact our fleet to fetch us."

"You wouldn't survive!"

"We've survived worse," Catra shot back.

Isa arrived. "The fire is spreading, sir," she reported in a low voice. "It has gotten past the lift shaft."

Jack saw Catra sniff the air and then clench her teeth. Time was running out. Maybe if he shot the guy's hand off… or if he hit the detonator… A dead man's switch was one thing, but Jack doubted that Tarlan had rigged the bomb to explode if the transmission cut off or something. Still risky, but better than dying in the bunker fire.

"We all can survive," Adora said. "You, us, your people. No one else has to die. We can end the war, restore your planet, and help you set up a country for your sleeping people."

"We'd rather die than lose our world!" Tarlan spat.

"You're about to do both," Catra said. "The fire's spreading - I can smell the smoke coming closer. How much longer until you lose the command centre? And then your enemies can finish you off, and even if we all die, they can work on restoring the surface - as you planned."

"Whether you destroy the D.H.D. or not, you can't win the war any more," Adora said. "But you can still save your people - if you let us help you."

Tarlan remained silent - but as tense as a bowstring. He was looking around wildly now - at the walls and the floor, not just at Jack's friends and himself. And at the Stargate.

Jack drew a short breath through his clenched teeth. He hated trying to make fanatics see reason. Especially desperate ones. "You can't take us with you. We can escape the bunker. Your people can't."

"You're stuck here as well!"

"No, we are not," Adora said. "We have magic and much more advanced technology. We can survive here. But your people cannot. Not without our help. Let us help you, please. No one else has to die." She smiled at Tarlan. "Think about your people. They depend on you. They trust you. Do you want them to die in their sleep? From a fire your own men set? Or do you want them to live? In peace?"

Tarlan shook his head. He seemed to be crying. "We can't live in peace with the Breeders! They want to wipe us out!"

And with good reason, Jack thought. But not even attempted genocide justified a genocide.

"We won't let them kill you," Adora said. "Trust us. We can stop the war - we will stop the war. If you let us. We just want to help you."

Tarlan blinked - he was crying. "But…"


Tarlan closed his eyes, and Jack held his breath.

A moment later, the detonator dropped to the floor, and Tarlan collapsed, sobbing.

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Chapter 133: Tense Negotiations Part 1
Chapter 133: Tense Negotiations Part 1

Underground Base, Euronda, December 16th, 1999 (Earth Time)

Yes! Tralan had dropped the detonator. Adora beamed, relieved - he had seen reason! They could save this work without further deaths!

Jack was moving towards the D.H.D., and Catra had already snatched up the remote detonator and was handing it over to Entrapta, but Adora walked to the sobbing Tralan and crouched down to gently pat his shoulder. "We'll save your people," she promised.

"From themselves as well," Catra muttered before joining Jack in removing explosives from the D.H.D.

"Uh… speaking of saving people…"

Adora turned to look at Bow.

He grimaced. "We need to stop that fire. Or contain it."

"Yes!" Entrapta chimed in. "The scanner shows it's spreading on this level - and if it reaches this room, we won't be able to move in supplies or evacuate anyone. Not unless they're fire-proof."

"And if the defence shield goes down, the bunker will likely be bombed by the Eurondan Alliance," Sam added. "The fire's already covering a third of this level. Although no essential areas have been touched yet, the air quality is dropping - the filters must be straining."

Adora heard Tralan gasp. "No!"

She shook her head. "Alright. We have to stop the fire from spreading any further."

"And the rest of the Eurondans from shooting at us," Catra added.

Right. Tralan wasn't their leader. And Alar was still stunned.

"We've got enough explosives here to put out an oil well fire," Jack commented. "Just saying."

Tralan gasped again, and Adora frowned at Jack. Sometimes, like now, his jokes were a bit disturbing. At least she hoped that he was joking. "No explosives," she said. "We'll get Mermista. And Frosta."

"Oh! Good idea!" Entrapta nodded. "I thought about modifying some of my bots to shoot fire suppressants, but that would probably have taken too long."

"That still doesn't solve the problem with everyone else shooting at us," Jack said.

"Glimmer, please open a Stargate and get Mermista and Frosta," Adora said, rising. "We'll deal with the Eurondans in the meantime."

Glimmer opened her mouth, and Adora half-expected her to say that she was needed here, but after a moment, her friend nodded. "Right." She turned to Sam and Entrapta. "Dial to the forward base."

Adora was tempted to tell them to dial straight to Etheria - that would be faster; they still had to fetch Mermista and Frosta to the Stargate - but she knew the procedure. They wouldn't expose Etheria's address like that.

While the Stargate started dialling, Adora walked back to the gate room's door. Catra joined her.

"I can smell the smoke through the mask," she said. "We don't have much time left."

Adora pressed her lips together and lifted her mask for a quick check - the air was getting worse indeed. They would have to contain the fire somehow, and quickly. But they couldn't do that with the Eurondans shooting at them. Or, they could, but it would make everything more difficult and cause more deaths.

She couldn't see anyone in the hallway. Were they already fighting the fire? That would make sense - they couldn't stand up to Adora and her friends, and the fire was a much more dangerous threat. But the Eurondans hadn't struck her as very sensible. Not at all, actually - they set fire to their own bunker, after poisoning the entire planet, and both times to defeat an enemy? That was suicidally stupid!

Well, it was time to talk some sense into them. "Can you tap into their communications?" Adora asked, looking back at Entrapta. The Stargate was collapsing - Glimmer and Bow had just left.

"Can we? We already did!" Entrapta smiled. "Though they aren't saying anything interesting. It's mostly calls for help and complaints about cowardice."

"Alright. I need to talk to their leader. Their new leader," Adora said.

"Whoever that is," Catra said, looking down the hallway. "And we need to ensure that they don't set this room on fire as well."

"Isa, Campbell - secure the checkpoint!" Jack snapped behind them. "Lenkova, secure the explosives. Carter, plug those air vents or something!"

"Yes, sir!"

"Yes, General!"

"Yes, sir."

That was handled. Adora smiled and grabbed her communicator. She cleared her throat, then switched to the channel already highlighted by Entrapta. "This is She-Ra calling the leader currently in charge of the Eurondans. We have control of this planet's Stargate. The fire you set hasn't hurt any of us, nor Alar, which we took prisoner. But it's spreading and will soon reach critical parts of your installation. We want to save you before it's too late, but we can't do that with you fighting us."

Well, they probably could, but it was better for everyone if the Eurondans stopped fighting right now.

"How did you get on this channel?" a young voice asked.

"Laren! That's not the point!" another voice, slightly older-sounding, added. "And don't give them any information!"

Adora sighed. "This is She-Ra. I want to talk with your leader. If we don't do something soon, you're doomed. There has been enough loss of life - and all of it on your side. Let's end this."

"Really?" Catra stared at her.

Adora winced. That probably hadn't been the best way to word this.


"Alright! This is like dealing with a lab fire. Just a lot bigger. And we don't have a lab with automated fire-fighting systems, nor do we have bots ready to step in. And we can't just evacuate the place and let the fire burn itself out. OK, it's not like dealing with a lab fire at all."

Despite the situation - and the correct, if not very encouraging summary - Samantha Carter had to smile at Entrapta's comment. "We might still have to evacuate the Eurondans, even if we manage to get the fire under control," she pointed out. "If the reactors or their command centre are lost to the flames, the Eurondan Alliance will likely exploit this and launch strikes on this facility." It might take them a while to realise it wasn't a trap, though Sam was pretty sure it wouldn't take them longer than it would take to replace a reactor - or a command centre. Although if they just had to build an adapter and could connect a mobile power generator… it depended on the power demands of the Eurondans.

"Also, we can't seal off the burning areas and pump the air out," Entrapta added. "Or they would have done that already. Their construction isn't very optimised. We had better bunkers in the Horde."

Sam was happy that the Eurondans hadn't thought to add such features - they would have used them against Sam's friends and herself. "Sealing off the burning sections will still help. It will at least slow down the fire," she said, "even if it might not stop it."

"OK! Let's do that then!"

"Once Adora gives the go-ahead," Sam said. Adora was still negotiating with the Eurondans. Judging by her grimace, things were not going too well. "The Eurondans have to agree to stop fighting us."

Entrapta blinked. "But why wouldn't they? If they keep fighting, they'll lose the facility. They can't fight us and the fire. It's not logical."

The Eurondans hadn't acted very logically at all, in Sam's opinion. 'Suicidal' would be a more precise term. Although Tralan - who was begging the others over the comm channel to stop fighting - showed that some of them retained a modicum of common sense. Or the ability to face facts, even if they had to be shoved in their faces by a magical princess breaking through your entire force. "I think they'll see reason," she told her friends. Eventually, at least. "So, what can we do to seal off the burning areas?"

"We can't use their defence field - since the fire is spreading, it must not repel heat," Entrapta said. "That's actually an interesting weakness, though you can probably compensate by adding enough insulation, space or just armour around your projector and shield generator to avoid it catching fire. Anyway! The doors should be able to withstand the flames for some time - long enough for Mermista and Frosta to arrive - but I think the air ducts are the problem."

"I concur." Though Adora and the others smashing their way through all doors, the fire hot on their heels, couldn't have helped. "And the ventilation system is likely supplying the fire with fresh oxygen. We need to cut that." Taking out the entire ventilation system would doom the facility, with the surface and atmosphere poisoned.

"Alright - let's check the air duct layout!" Entrapta pushed a few buttons, and a holographic projection of the facility - as far as they had managed to scan it - appeared between them and Adora, who was now gesturing wildly with one hand as she glared at the communicator in her other hand.

Sam focused on the air vents. "I see the problem," she said, wincing.

"Lots of redundancy," Entrapta said. "We'll have to seal off… these, these, and these air ducts. But only if we can manage that in the next ten minutes. Or this area there will be lost as well."

Sam nodded. "And if that area starts burning, this area could be cut off." She pointed at a large section of the floor below them.

"That's… the infirmary and part of their quarters," Entrapta said after checking their scanner's result.

Sam nodded. "We might have to evacuate them soon."

And if the fire took this area, then two of the stasis vaults would be in danger next.

"Let's prepare to seal the air ducts," Entrapta said. "I think we'll have to use armour plate for that. And sealing those will be tricky."

Sam winced again. "We could ferry special equipment from Earth," she said, "but that would take too long."

"Bow's trick arrows!" Entrapta perked up. "They could seal the most crucial air ducts!" She blinked. "But he left with Glimmer."

Sam wanted to curse. That would have been a solution. Although… "We won't have time to whip up a reagent from the available resources here," she said. "We'll have to go with the armour plate, but getting that seal tight enough will be difficult. Cutting armour plate so it fit an air duct and sealed it was nigh impossible on the fly. Or in time.

"The Eurondans should have some industrial glue," Entrapta said. "And I think I know how we can jam the armour plate into the ducts."

She was looking at Adora, Sam realised. Oh. Of course.


"...no, we don't have the time to wait until you can discuss this further with your officers! You don't have the time - the fire's spreading as we speak! And we can't stop it while you're still trying to fight us - we'd have to take your forces out first! So stop being stupid and agree to stop attacking us so we can save you!"

Catra shook her head as Adora tried again to make the Eurondans see reason. Her ears twitched as she listened to the Eurondan's answer.

"We can't trust you! You're as bad as the Breeders!"

"We aren't trying to kill you all!" Adora retorted. "We're trying to save you!"

Catra couldn't resist. She rose on the tips of her toes, bent towards the communicator Adora was holding and added: "And you started the war with the Eurondan Alliance."

"They were about to destroy us!"

Adora glared at her, of course.

Catra shrugged. "Can't let them forget that," she said. If those idiots would rather doom their entire people than stop the war and accept help, then it might probably be better to wipe out their leaders.

"That was then, this is now," Adora said through clenched teeth. "You're both fighting over a ruined world - and you're losing. We're offering you a way out of this."

"We won't abandon our home world! It's ours by right!"

Catra shook her head and sighed.

Adora rolled her eyes for a moment and took a deep breath to calm down. "No one says you have to abandon your world. I - we - can restore your world. But you need to stop fighting us."

"We're only defending ourselves!"

The man was technically correct, Catra had to admit - the Eurondans were holed up at several choke points and not attacking the gate room any more. They had learned that, at least.

"You are letting the fire spread. Soon, it will become uncontrollable," Adora said.

"We're fighting the fire."

Catra looked at Entrapta and Sam. "Is the fire still spreading?" she asked. According to her nose, it was, but her friends had their magitech scanner.

"Uh… yes," Entrapta replied. "Although it slowed down a little for a while, it's spreading as fast as at the start again."

"Did you hear that?" Adora asked. Without waiting for an answer, she added: "Whatever you're doing is not enough. We're running out of time, so this is our last offer: Stop fighting us, withdraw your forces, or we'll have to take them out so we can save the rest of your people! We won't let your pride destroy your people!"

"If we have to destroy you to save you, we will," Catra heard Jack whisper under his breath and chuckled.

"Please, Kaltur. We cannot stand against them. We cannot hurt them. The longer we try, the worse we suffer," Tralan added on the comm.

"I won't listen to someone who got taken prisoner. Or worse."

Catra looked at Alar, who was still on the floor, stunned. "I guess that means their leader is now their former leader."

"This wouldn't happen if this were a kingdom," Adora muttered. Louder, she said: "Then ask your surviving troops, those who have faced us. You have no chance. The longer you refuse to accept that, the worse your situation will become - if you wait too long, you'll have to evacuate the entire facility. And not because of us but because it will be a burned-out husk!"

Catra sighed, shaking her head. "If they won't listen, we'll have to take out their troops." That might actually make it easier to stop the war. If the Eurondans had no forces left, they couldn't fight on. Though after listening to the negotiations, she wasn't sure if even that would be enough for the Eurondans or if they'd try to mobilise everyone else and send them out as cannon fodder or something. According to her research, a few Earth kingdoms had done that in past wars.

"Please," she heard Adora whisper with a grimace. She hated this, Catra knew.

Catra clenched her teeth. If they had to take the Eurondans out to save them, she'd personally take care of Kaltur. A leader who would rather sacrifice their people than their pride couldn't be tolerated.

Kaltur still hadn't answered. During the whole discussion, he had been quick to reply. Was this a good sign? She leaned closer, but her ears weren't picking up anything; they must have closed the channel.

Or they might want to leave them hanging to gain more time or something. Catra eyed the hallway leading to the 'frontline'. Were they preparing more traps? Even after their arson backfired like that?

"We're withdrawing our troops."

"Thank you!" Adora replied, smiling.

That meant they couldn't rely on help from the Eurondan troops to fight the fire. Catra didn't mind, though - she wouldn't trust them anyway.

"Alright! As soon as they have withdrawn, we'll move in," Adora told Kaltur.

"And after we have run a scan for traps," Catra added.

Once burned, twice shy or something like that.


Jack O'Neill couldn't help looking over his shoulder as he followed Adora, Catra, Carter and Entrapta to the evacuated area closest to the fire. He didn't trust the Eurondans. They might have agreed to stop the fighting and withdraw their troops from the area, but that didn't mean they had surrendered. Or agreed to make peace. It was a truce at best, in his opinion. And truces could be and were broken all the time, as soon as it was convenient for someone. Worse, Euronda wasn't Earth, where you needed at least an excuse to break a truce or you might be out of luck the next time you wanted a truce - and you might get some stern looks thrown your way by the United Nations, but that didn't really matter. The Eurondans had no reason to care for any supposed damage to their reputation. Their local enemies already hated them - attempted genocide tended to get that reaction - and the Alliance wasn't going to let them continue their war of extermination either.

So, as soon as the fire was contained, or looked contained, the Space Nazis would try to double-cross them. Maybe even earlier, if they had a death wish and decided that killing their enemies was more important than surviving; they certainly seemed to have thought so when they started the fire. Or they had been too arrogant or stupid to consider the consequences. That kind of fanaticism, arrogance and stupidity fit the Nazis perfectly.

"Please, save my people!"

Alar, dragged along by Teal'c, on the other hand, was now veering hard into playing the victim. Also something many Nazis had done.

"We're doing what we can," Adoa told him.

"And we'd already be done if you had stopped fighting us sooner," Catra added.

"That was Kaltur's ill-advised decision," Alar said. "There will be consequences for his shortsighted attempt to usurp my leadership."

Jack rolled his eyes. If Alar expected that the Alliance would put him in charge of the Eurondans so he could take revenge on his former underlings who had decided that he was an acceptable sacrifice, he would be disappointed. Probably - the Alliance might not intervene if Alar managed to get back into power since Kaltur had managed to thoroughly annoy even Adora, but the princesses weren't exactly fans of purges and bloody revenge.

"We have to focus on fighting the fire, not revenge," Adora told him.

"Of course!"

Jack rolled his eyes at Alar's toadying up. We should have left him back in the gate room with the others, he thought. But his knowledge of the bunker might be useful, and so they had dragged him along.

"And here's the storage room we need!" Entrapta announced. "We can get the armour plates here! And the glue we need as a sealant. It's too bad that you don't use this particular heat-resistant glue for everything - we would have more than enough to seal off all ducts!"

"It's an essential part for constructing new aero-fighters, and our supplies are limited, so we can't spare any of it for other tasks," Alar said.

They had been waging their world war on a shoestring budget, hadn't they? Jack thought.

"Well, you won't need more aero-fighters," Adora said as she grabbed a stack of armour plates. "That the right size?"

"Yes. Well, larger than we need, but that's better than too small," Entrapta replied.

"Adora can make everything fit," Catra added. "Brute force for the win."

Adora pouted at that. "Let's go. The fire's spreading as we talk."

"We should have enough time to get the planned fire barriers up," Carter said.

"Let's hurry anyway," Catra added. "I can smell the smoke growing worse through the mask."

They double-timed it out of the storage room, Adora leaving two cracks in the door as she manhandled the armour plates through it, and continued toward the fire.

"Are the Eurondans holding their positions?" Jack asked Carter as they approached their goal.

"Yes, sir. I am constantly tracking them," she told him.

"Good." Between her magic scanner and Catra's ears, they probably were safe enough to pull this off.

Jack would still be on his guard. It wasn't as if he had anything else to do here than watch out for his friends, anyway - he wasn't a firefighter. Nor could he lift a piece of armour plate over his head like Adora was doing.

"Good! Now bend it a little and push it in!" Entrapta told her. "Not too much, so it fits snugly."

Adora grunted a little as she bent the plate, then stuffed it into the air duct opening - without bothering to remove the grate there first. Jack winced at the sound of screeching metal and crumbling concrete-like material.

"Great! Now, let's seal it up!" Entrapta's hair tendrils wielded two glue dispensers and went to work. A few seconds later, they withdrew. "Done! Off to the next one - we've got all the air ducts we need to seal marked down."

"And then my people will be safe!" Alar said.

"Well, safe for the moment," Entrapta corrected him as they rushed out again. "Given enough time, the fire will spread anyway as the heat breaks down the glue - though I think your doors will fail first if our material analysis is correct. And it should be unless our scanners were malfunctioning, which I don't think they did."

"What?" Alar gasped and stumbled, Teal'c carrying him more than dragging him for a few steps. "But…"

"They will hold long enough for our friends to arrive and put out the fire," Carter told Alar as they entered the next room.

"Now be quiet, we're working," Catra added.

Alar fell silent. Following orders was another trait of Nazis, Jack reminded himself, though he couldn't tell yet if that was a good thing or not in this case.


"And here we are! On foreign shores, to save the day!" Sea Hawk raised his fist to the ceiling as soon as he had stepped through the portal.

"Ugh. It's not a shore - Glimmer told us explicitly that this base has no access to the ocean. Or any large body of water." Mermista scowled at him, then looked around.

"My dear Mermista! It's the principle of the thing - the symbolism!"

Adora felt relief filling her as Glimmer, Bow and Frosta followed the two down the ramp. Her friends had arrived just in time. Not that she had really doubted them, of course. "Hello!"

"Welcome to Euronda," Catra drawled behind her.

"Hello." Mermista nodded at them. She was carrying her trident. "Glimmer said you needed us urgently."

"Where is the fire?" Frosta cracked her knuckles.

"This way!" Entrapta's hair pointed towards the door. "And then all the way down the hallway. Oh, and you should wear masks - the air in the burning areas is really bad." She blinked. "But you need to wait until Adora restores magic to the planet, or you can't really do much."

"You haven't done it yet?" Frosta asked, then looked at her hands, flexing her fingers. Probably trying to use her power.

Adora shook her head. "You were told about the situation here?"

"Yes," Mermista said, frowning. "Those people here poisoned their entire world to kill everyone else because they wouldn't submit to their rule. And now they are not only losing the war they started but also in danger of dying to the fire they started to kill you." She rolled her eyes. "And we're going to save them anyway. Ugh."

She didn't mean it, Adora knew. Mermista was just a little… snarky about such things. She would do the right thing even if she complained about it. Adora was a little more concerned about Frosta. But only a little. Both were here, after all. Adora nodded. "Yes."

"Even if we have to crush them for that," Catra added with a smirk.

"Anyway," Adora went on. "Since we need to return magic to the planet and we also have to purge the poison, it'd be best to do that on the surface so I can, ah, use the magic surge for that, but the Eurondans aren't cooperating."

"They don't believe in magic," Entrapta added. "They think this is a ploy to discover their aero-fighter bays, even though we already know where those are thanks to our scans." She pouted. "We showed them the data, but they still didn't believe us."

"Charming fellows," Jack said. "They must be the life of any party."

"Anyway," Adora repeated herself. "So, we have to do it here." And she would have to channel the magic to the surface blindly.

"Just don't turn the bunker into a plant," Jack told her.


"She's only done that once," Entrapta said. "So, it's not really likely."

"Don't give her ideas."

"Let her focus!"

Adora closed her eyes and raised her sword above her head. This was it. She had done this before. Just focus and release the magic. Reach out and do it. She could feel… there!

She concentrated on the familiar feeling of the blockage. Visualised it.

And cut it.

Once again, she felt the magic surge, into and through her, filling her with power. Urging her to release it uncontrollably, on a whim.

She gritted her teeth and fought the urge, even if she felt as if she was about to burst. She would use this power, not waste it! Heal this world.

At the mere thought of healing, the magic reacted, pushing against her, trying to reach out to the others in the room - in the bunkers, seeking wounds and sicknesses.

Once again, Adora held back, groaning with the effort. The pressure was growing stronger, straining her even more. Demanding to be released. But she had to heal the world, not the people here. She opened her eyes and stared at the ceiling. Above her, five hundred yards above her, was the surface. Poisoned. Dead. She couldn't see it, not directly, but she had seen the images on Entrapta's scanner.

She focused on those pictures. The memory of the wasteland above. Imagined the poison seeped into the soil. Drifting through the air. Polluting the world.

And poured magic into it. Through her sword. Through herself.

For a moment, it almost felt as if the magic was cheering as it flowed through her, surged upwards, pushing through metal, stone and earth to reach the surface, then bursting forth like a giant fountain, magic spreading through soil and air.

Purging. Healing. Restoring. Seeding.


On and on it went. Healing. Restoring. Purging. Seeding.

Adora trembled. Panted with the effort. Grunted with the strain and pain of channelling a world's magic far longer than she had before. Guiding it to cover the entire world. Heal the world. Restore it. Purge the poison. She couldn't give in. She couldn't release the power. Not before she was done. It was too important. She had to keep going. Let the magic spread. Cover the entire world.

But she felt the magic slipping from her control. Her focus weakening. Her body shaking.

And then she felt herself falling.



Samantha Carter gasped when she heard Catra scream and saw Adora collapse. All that magic, all that power, channelled through her, through her dropping sword… Sam threw herself to the ground.


"Take cover!"


Sam clenched her teeth as the room was filled with blinding light and deafening noise, drowning out the screams from the others as She-Ra's magic ran out of control. She should have taken precautions - taken shelter somewhere else instead of staying at ground zero. She closed her eyes. They would all die. Or worse. And just because she had been too stupid to take basic precautions. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid!

The noise cut off. She opened her eyes a tiny little bit, squinting. And wasn't blinded by magic.

"Anyone dead? Sound off if you're dead!"

The General! He was alive!

Sam raised her head and looked around. The General was just getting up.

"You idiot!" Catra was kneeling on the floor, Adora in her arms. "You idiot!"

"Whoa! Half my sensors are fried - Adora released so much magic, the sensors couldn't withstand it! We completely underestimated the stress from prolonged channelling of magic on that scale! Note to myself: Upgrade sensors!"

Entrapta was obviously fine, Sam noted.


"What a harrowing Adventure!"

Mermista and Sea Hawk were fine as well.

Sam turned and checked the rest of the room. The Stargate was fine - as was the D.H.D. It looked like the magic surge had…

She blinked and brushed some hair from her face.

…completely vaporised the ceiling. And everything above it - she could see the sky above them. She-Ra's magic had created a huge shaft reaching the surface. No - a huge crater. Sam shivered. If that had happened with the sword pointed in their direction…

"Adora?" Glimmer asked.

"The idiot's still alive. But exhausted."

"Are you sure?" Bow looked concerned. Sam felt concerned as well.

"She hasn't transformed back. And I know how exhaustion looks on her," Catra replied.


Right. Sam nodded and didn't think about the implications. There were more important things to focus on.

"Oh! Let's check the surface! And the atmosphere!" Entrapta beamed.

"Check for poison," Glimmer added. "And keep your masks on!"

Sam quickly picked up her scanner and had to scroll through several notifications about damaged systems. The magic sensors were out. That was… not ideal, given that they were now exposed to the planet's atmosphere.

But the working sensors didn't detect any of the poison they had scanned before. "It seems that Adora managed to clean at least our immediate surroundings of the poison," she reported, turning to the General. Who was, she noted, staring at her. "Sir?"

"Carter? That haircut isn't regulation."

She froze for a moment, then reached up to her head. And then behind her back.

Her hair had grown. A lot. It now reached down to the small of her back.

"Oh! That must have been a side-effect of the magic used to restore the surface. Or maybe a stray strand when Adora fell unconscious," Entrapta said, cocking her head as she ran a scanner over Sam's head. "Can you manipulate it?"

"No," Sam replied.

"Too bad! We could've been hair buddies. Hair science lab buddies."

For a moment, Sam didn't know if she should be happy or disappointed. She settled for being happy.

"So… anyone else got some rapid hair growth? Or some additional limbs? Or got turned into a plant?" the General asked.


"Just asking. Magic is unpredictable."

Sam clenched her teeth again and quickly and discreetly checked herself. She should have noticed any change to her body, but she had missed her hair growing, and with magic on such a scale, anything was possible. Relieved, she confirmed that she didn't have any appendages that she hadn't had her whole life.

But she would get a thorough medical scan as soon as they were back on Earth. Just to make sure she hadn't suffered any less obvious change.

"No change here… I think."

"Not here either."

"As far as I can tell, I am fine."

"I can scan you!"

"You've doomed us all!"

What? Sam turned. Alar was staring at the sky, pale and shaking. Tralan didn't look any better, Sam noted.

"Oh, don't worry - the air and ground above us are safe. I will need some larger sensors - probably hooked up to Emily, once she arrives - to check how much of the planet was affected, but I think we're pretty safe from contamination - Adora channelled the magic for a long time. Relatively, of course," Entrapta tried to reassure them.

"No! We're doomed!" Alar retorted, shaking his head - and crying. "The Breeders will not miss this - our base is completely open!"

"You still got your fancy defence field," the General said.

"No." Alar sank to his knees. "There were at least three projectors above us… the field won't be able to last like this. We're doomed!"

Right. The Eurondans were at war. A war fought in the air. And they just created the perfect bomb trap right at the planet's Stargate. While a fire was still raging inside the facility, drawing resources and threatening their military facilities.

"Oops!" the General said, and Sam winced.


Catra was going to kill Adora. After she made sure her love was alright. To exhaust herself like that, channelling enough magic to fry… a small fleet, probably. She glanced up at the sky visible above them. Clearly and easily visible thanks to the crater Adora's magic had created.

Then she looked at Adora. She was limp, laid across Catra's lap, eyes closed, mouth half-open, breathing steadily.

"You idiot," Catra whispered, pulling her closer for a quick, squeezing hug. As much of a squeezing hug as she could manage with Adora still being She-Ra. That, at least, was a good thing - if Adora had really hurt herself, she would have changed back, wouldn't she?

Catra didn't want to know. She just wanted her love to wake up so she could properly scream at her for being stupid.

"You've doomed us all!"

And she wanted to claw Alar's face off to stop him from whimpering and crying. But she would have to drop Adora for that. And her friends wouldn't like Catra killing a prisoner.

So she turned her head instead and spat: "Shut up! You aren't doomed. You just lost the war - but you were losing it anyway!" Really, as if he was the first leader of an evil horde finding themselves in the ruins of their headquarters with the enemy at their gates! Catra knew exactly how that felt, and she hadn't been such a whimpering mess when it had happened to her.

"But he's right - if the Eurondan Alliance forces know what they are doing, they'll spot this little hole quickly and will attempt to capitalise on the opportunity to finish off their enemy for good," Jack said. "And this is one nice bomb trap - even some old World War 2 bombers couldn't miss such a target."

"We're doomed!"

Someone shut him up!

"Although unless they already have a force close by in the air which they can reroute on the fly, we have some time left to fix this. Somehow," Jack went on.

"But… they surely will notice that the poison's gone? And attempt to investigate first?" Daniel said.

"They have been fighting for their lives for decades," Glimmer told him. "I don't think we can count on them stopping their attacks to investigate what they might assume was a reactor blowing up in this base or something. They won't want to give their enemies time to fix things."

Catra nodded. She wouldn't do that either in their place.

"And they might not even notice that the poison is gone," Entrapta added. "If their sensors are not significantly better than the Eurondans', and I don't think they are, or the air battle would probably have been won by them much earlier thanks to superior sensor ranges, they can't detect poison from afar - or its absence."

Right. Catra looked up. The fact that the crater was perfectly spherical might catch the attention of a scientist, but a military pilot would just see an opportunity. And speaking of the crater… She narrowed her eyes. "How stable are the crater walls?" she asked. If the walls started coming down, the Stargate - and anyone around it - would be buried under tons of stone and earth.

"Good question!" Entrapta beamed and looked at her tool. "Oh."

"The crater's surface wasn't hardened in any way, as far as we can tell," Sam reported.

"That means?" Jack asked.

"The top parts will start to crumble very soon, and the material sliding down into the crater might destabilise some of the material forming the lower parts, sir."


"Creating the world's worst landslide. Great." Jack shook his head.

"And it's starting!" Catra hissed - she could see the crater's surface moving. Dirt was starting to loosen and roll down the crater. Taking more dirt with it.

"That's… Something's moving inside the crater walls!" Sam exclaimed.


"Yes - the entire wall is… on top of the surface as well," Entrapta confirmed. "That's… Oh."

Green spots appeared above them, rapidly spreading across the bare earth and stone walls.

Green plants, Cara realised. Growing through the walls, covering them. She almost checked if they had taken Perfuma with them - this looked like her going all out. But this was Adora's doing. Shaking her head, Catra smiled at her love. "Showing up the other princesses, huh?"

A clump of Earth hit the ground nearby, followed by another. And more, smaller specks fell down.

"Sir. While the plants are stabilising the crater walls, their rapid growth has shaken loose a lot of material," Sam said. "And it's all coming down."

"And She-Ra can't plug the hole because she's still out," Jack summed up. "Well, we…"

"...don't need She-Ra." Frosta raised her arms, and a pillar of ice rose in the middle of the room, covering the hole. Grinning smugly, she announced: "Problem solved!"

"Until it melts," Catra said, earning her a scowl.

"I'll just maintain it!"

"And, speaking of melting ice… don't we have a fire to fight?" Mermista said.

"Right." Glimmer nodded. "Follow me. Both of you."

Catra watched them leave. Between Frosta and Mermista, they should have the fire covered. And the ice here would hold long enough for the princess to get back and fix it. The sight of that had shut up Alar, too - the man was staring at the ice as if he had gone crazy. Crazier. Probably the straw to break his back after Adora's display. And the Eurondan Alliance might not have advanced sensors, but they wouldn't miss the plants growing in the crater. That should keep them from bombing it.

Should. Catra wasn't entirely sure she could trust anyone on this planet to have a little bit of common sense left. "We better contact the Eurondan Alliance," she said. "And quickly. We can't wait until Adora wakes up."

"Yeah," Jack agreed. "Daniel? How do you feel about arranging a truce between two blood enemies?"

Daniel winced. "Ah… I'll see what I can do?"

Chapter 134: Tense Negotiations Part 2
Chapter 134: Tense Negotiations Part 2

Underground Base, Euronda, December 16th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"No pressure," Jack O'Neill told Daniel. "You just have to get them to put the war on hold for a while so we can let the diplomats hammer out some armistice."

Judging by the way Daniel frowned at him - mirrored by Sha'Re - Daniel didn't really feel reassured. "I have to get people who have been fighting for their very lives for decades to stop the war right when they are about to win."

"Yep." Jack shrugged with far more nonchalance than he felt. "Maybe focus on the fact that the Eurondans are already beaten?"

"I'll have to get them to listen to us first. Convince them we're not the Eurondans - or their allies," Daniel retorted. He turned to Carter. "Can we communicate with the Eurondan Alliance?"

"We are tapping into their communications," Carter replied. "Their encryption is not as good as the Eurondan's, but they seem to have compartmentalised their communications."

"We've hacked their aeroplanes' comms, but we're still working on the link to their headquarters," Entrapta added. "Their planes are headed this way, by the way. They probably saw the magic surge and want to investigate."

"Or they noticed that the Eurondans' defences are in shambles and want to exploit that," Jack pointed out. He looked up at the ice shield sealing off the big-ass hole in the ceiling. "I don't think that's bomb-proof."

Daniel nodded. "Alright. Let's hope the plants give them pause." He didn't sound very optimistic.

"Here! We put their aeroplane network on channel two!" Entrapta's hair tendrils handed a communicator to Daniel.

"Thank you." He cleared his throat. "Eurondan Alliance forces! This is Daniel Jackson speaking. I am a representative of Earth and Etheria, two powers from outside this solar system. We have arrived in the Eurondan Nation through a Stargate to investigate an attack on us and have taken control of the Stargate the Eurondan Nation has been using. We would like to talk to your leader."

"They've cracked our encryption!"

"Communications are compromised. Continue according to protocols!"


"Uh…" Daniel winced and looked at Jack.

Jack sighed. It looked like the Eurondans - the Eurondan Nation - did enough hacking that the Eurondan Alliance had standard operating procedures for that. Which was kind of a problem right now. "I guess they aren't changing course?"

"No, sir," Carter reported. "They are still flying directly at our current position. At their current speed, the estimated time of arrival is five minutes."

"Please. This is no joke. We are from the stars. We have defeated the Eurondan forces in their base and are currently securing the defence complex. We aren't your enemies," Daniel pleased. Please halt your attack for the moment, and let us talk to your leaders."

Jack pressed his lips together. This wouldn't work. After decades of war to the knife, the Alliance pilots wouldn't stop but press the attack. He knew how pilots thought.

"We have restored plant life to the area and are taking measures to restore the biosphere of your planet. Please stop your attack and let us talk."

Once they saw the plants, they might stop their attack. Might. They might not even notice the plants if they were focused on their sensors and instruments. Jack cursed under his breath. This wouldn't work. They needed something not even a pilot with target fixation could miss. Something to give anyone seeing it pause.

"Keep talking!" he snapped. "I'll get help!"

"What? Jack? Wait! What are you doing?"

Jack ignored him and switched channels on his radio. "Frosta? We need you back at the gate at once!"

"Frosta?" Sha're asked.

"We're busy fighting the fire!" Frosta sounded annoyed.

"Let Mermista take over for a while. We need you to stop the Eurondan Alliance from covering us in bombs!" Jack retorted. "Glimmer! Get Frosta back to us at once!"

"What? What did you do?" Glimmer cut in.

"Nothing. But the Alliance pilots won't stop," Jack replied. "We need her to make a sign even a blind man can't miss!"


"What? Hey!"

In a shower of sparkles, Glimmer and the struggling Frosta appeared next to the Stargate.

"There you are!" Jack felt relieved. "Create the biggest ice sculpture you've ever done - right on top of us!"

Frosta stared at him with wide eyes. Then she grinned. "Alright! Glimmer, take us up to the surface!"

"Try not to kill off all plants!" Entrapta yelled.

"Bombs will kill them as well!" Jack yelled back.

Glimmer and Frosta disappeared in another cloud of sparkles.

Jack turned to Daniel. "Tell them to watch out for ice sculptures!"

"I'm not even sure if they are listening to me," Daniel replied. But he did as asked.

"Now we can just hope for the best," Jack said. "In case this doesn't work…"

"Dialling to forward base, sir," Carter anticipated his order.


Jack looked at the ice above them. It must have started to melt, but that wouldn't be a concern for a while. Nothing Frosta and Mermista couldn't handle. As long as his idea worked.

"What's Frosta doing?" Catra asked behind him.

"Oh! Let me check with the scanner!" Entrapta replied. "I should be able to get good visuals of it…"

Jack looked over her shoulder. And blinked. That was…

"Did she just create a sculpture of herself the size of an iceberg?" Daniel asked.

"Yep," Jack said.

"Almost the size of her ego, I bet," Catra added with a smirk.

Behind them, the wormhole stabilised.

"It's still growing," Entrapta reported.

Well, the Eurondans wouldn't have to worry about water for a while, Jack thought.

"The Alliance Aeroplanes are slowing down."

It was working. Jack softly sighed.


She had to keep channelling the magic. Purge the poison. Heal the land. Purge. Heal. Endure. She had to… She had failed!

Adora woke up with a gasp and sat up. Or tried to - a hand on her face stopped her.

"Don't!" Catra hissed at her. "You've been out for hours!"

Adora was in Catra's lap. Well, her head was. And they were…

"Actually, less than an hour - forty-one minutes, to be exact."

That was Entrapta's voice! Adora turned her head. Entrapta was sitting on the ground, beaming at her while her hair kept pressing buttons on her tool. They were in the Eurondan gate room. She could see Campbell guarding the gate at the D.H.D. But where were the others?

"Close enough." Catra scowled.


"It doesn't matter," Catra interrupted Entrapta. "The idiot here almost got herself seriously hurt trying to save another world!"

Trying? "What happened? Did I fail?" Adora asked. She had failed - she knew it! "I tried to heal the world…"

"And you did purge the poison from most of the landmass we're on," Entrapta said.

"You also vaporised half of the Eurondan defence complex," Catra added.

"Fifteen per cent, actually."

"Oh." Adora blinked and looked at the ceiling. "Is that… ice?" It looked like ice. A huge patch of ice covering most of the ceiling. No, replacing most of the ceiling.

"Frosta plugged the hole. And then created an ice statue of herself the size of Bright Moon," Catra explained. Or not.

"She did what?" This time, Adora managed to sit up.

They explained. Properly, this time.


"...and that's why Mermista had to move the water so the melting sculpture won't fill the crater with water - Frosta already had to reinforce the ice cover here, but the water pressure could make that worse. We really should repair the ceiling here, but we don't have the material to do that."

"We've created a new lake?" Adora asked. That was… OK, not as bad as turning a spaceship into a plant, but it wasn't very responsible. You didn't rearrange the geography of a foreign world like that!

"They're still working on that. But it won't be a big lake," Catra said. "Anyway, that's why Glimmer and the others are up top, trying to prepare a canal for the water before the ice melts."

"They are digging a canal? How?" Adora asked.

"More like blowing a canal," Catra said.

"Jack is using explosives to remove an obstacle between the crater's edge and a ravine."

That made more sense. "And what about the Eurondans?" Adora asked. "You managed to stop the war, you said." Thanks to Frosta.

"The Eurondan Nation has a truce with us. The Eurondan Alliance hasn't agreed to a ceasefire, but they have stopped trying to bomb us," Catra said. "Daniel's trying to get them to parlay, but they're stubborn, and I think they don't really believe we're aliens even after they saw Frosta's ego trip up top and you rejuvenating the continent." She shrugged. "He's still talking in the next room."

Adora nodded. If the Eurodans were talking instead of shooting - or bombing - each other, then that was a good thing. Still… "I should talk to them."

"You need to rest! You exhausted yourself - you exhausted She-Ra!" Catra snapped.

Adora winced. Even She-Ra's power had limits. No, she had limits. If she had been ready for this… She got up. "I'm fine."

Catra narrowed her eyes at her, and Adora half-expected her to try to trip her to claim she wasn't fine, but her lover muttered something under her breath - probably 'idiot' - and got up as well. "Well, let's tell Glimmer that you're awake." She used her communicator before Adora could stop her.

Glimmer appeared with Bow a second later. "Adora! What were you doing?"

"I am fine," Adora told her friends while they hugged her. "Just a bit tired."

"Exhausted," Catra added.

"Well, you're not hurt according to my scans," Entrapta said. "Though I don't have enough data about She-Ra's power when restoring magic to a planet to be a hundred per cent sure. However, I could compare your hair growth when you change into She-Ra to Sam's recent hair growth and conclusively prove that they aren't the same."

"Sam's what?"

"You made Sam's hair grow. A lot," Glimmer told her.

"It's not magical, though," Entrapta added with a pout. "That would have been nifty."

Adora suppressed a groan. What else had she done? And how could she fix things?

Well, first, she had to end the war. Then, she could tackle the rest of the problems.


Surface above the Underground Base, Euronda, December 16th, 1999 (Earth Time)

Samantha Carter was a physicist. Not a landscaper. Not that she would say that out loud and invite the General to make a Star Trek reference. She had some experience with demolitions, though not as much as the General himself. A combat engineer would be better here. But they didn't have a combat engineer to deal with what was effectively an iceberg on land, so it fell to her.

"That should do it!" The General sounded pleased. "The charges are set. Now, everyone, get back so we can blow this joint as soon as Carter gives the word!"

The others did move away from the patch of land that separated the base of the colossal ice sculpture Frosta had created - in her image, Sam couldn't help adding to herself - from the closest ravine. She used her scanner again. If the explosives weren't enough, they could probably have Adora dig now that she was awake. Or, as an alternative, have Mermista control the water to carve a deeper canal to the ravine, though that was not too practical.

Neither would be necessary if she did her job well enough, though.

"To stand on the surface again… It's a dream come true."

"Our world, restored. A paradise."

"I've only ever seen it from the air. I've been to other planets, of course, but… it's not the same."

"It isn't. This is our home. Our world."

Tralan and Alar's awed conversation behind her wasn't helping, though.

"To see rivara plants grow again… I've only ever seen them in pictures."

"We have seeds stocked in our vaults, but… It's incredible to see plants as far as we can see."

"And you have She-Ra to thank for this," the General added. "Without her, this would still be a poisoned wasteland."

"And we shall not waste her gift!" Tralan said.

Sam winced as she re-ran the last scans and recalculated the yield. That sounded… not quite as bad as Priest, but there was a touch of fervour in the man's voice that bordered on the religious. She hoped it wasn't the start of another branch of the Church of She-Ra; Adora wouldn't like it.

And it would complicate the peace negotiations they were still trying to start.

"Don't forget Entrapta, who's busy restoring your life support systems back down the hole," the General said.

Systems that had been partially wrecked by Adora's magic, Sam mentally added.

"Of course." Alar didn't sound very grateful about that. Then again, that was 'merely' engineering and repair work. Not the restoration of the world's biosphere by magic.

Sam pushed the thoughts away. The calculations and scans were done, and nothing had changed. She looked at the General. "We should be good, sir."

"Great, Carter." His grin made him look twenty years younger. "Here we go!" He held up the remote detonator.

A moment later, the ground in the distance vanished in a cloud of smoke and dust. Sam saw various earth clumps and rocks hitting the ground around it - pretty much where she had predicted. That didn't matter, though. What mattered was whether or not they had blown a big enough crater to reach the ravine.

And according to her scanner, they had. It wasn't quite perfect - the section that had blown open was a bit smaller than calculated - but it would be enough to keep the Eurondan bunker from getting flooded by Frosta's work.

"So, Carter?"

"It's done, sir."

"Huzzah!" Sea Hawk cheered.

"Looks like you don't have to stay and keep the statue frozen, then," Mermista told Frosta.

"Don't blame me; Jack said to create a huge sculpture."

"He didn't tell you to create a huge statue of yourself."

"Ice is ice and melts the same."

Sam rose from where she had been sitting, the movement making her feel the unfamiliar weight of her hair as her new ponytail slapped against her back. Maybe she should just cut it off with her knife? She could have it trimmed properly back home; according to all the scans they had done, it was normal hair. Magically grown, but not magical itself. Which was a relief.

But Glimmer wanted Castaspella to take a look at it 'before doing anything drastic', and even the general had agreed that they should get an expert's opinion before cutting it. 'You can't be too careful with magic, especially magic on this scale', he had put it. She could bear it until then. She might even take a picture before cutting it back to regulation length.

Sam grinned as she looked around. She-Ra's magic had turned the whole area into lush, green fields and hills. No wonder the Eurondans were impressed.

The General joined her. "So, that's one problem solved. Too bad we can't solve the diplomatic problems with explosives."

"I am sure that the Eurondan Alliance will agree to peace talks once they confirm the extent of the changes Adora has wrought," Sam pointed out.

"They still suspect a trap."

She frowned. "That makes no sense. How do they explain this?"

He shrugged. "They don't have an explanation. And that makes them more suspicious. But I'm sure Daniel will convince them."

Sam hoped he was right.


Underground Base, Euronda, December 16th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"...and yes, we are aliens - humans, but from other planets."

"A likely story."

"But a true one. And as you have already seen, we also have other species here with us."

"Tricks. You cannot fool us so easily."

Catra snorted. "So much for showing off me and Isa, huh?"

Daniel turned to pout at her. "I didn't expect that to convince them that we're aliens. Not by itself. But put together with the other evidence we can produce, it should convince them of the truth of our claims. Eventually."

"'Eventually'." Catra snorted again. "Before or after we arrive with a fleet?"

"No fleet is on the way," Adora cut in.

"Not yet." Catra grinned. "It might be faster to send a fleet than talk sense into them."

Daniel turned back to the communicator. "We can meet in person, and you can have medical personnel examine them."

What? Catra frowned at him. Getting her examined by some weirdo medic from a backwater planet? "That's a low blow!" she hissed.

Daniel ignored her, but Sha're made a sound as if she was suppressing a giggle.

"A meeting would be the perfect occasion for an ambush."

"They're paranoid." Catra shook her head. "Just send some expendable soldiers," she said, loud enough to be picked up by the communicator.

"Catra!" Adora hissed.

"What?" Catra frowned at her. "They're fighting a war. They're sending out people to die with every sortie." Unlike the Eurondan nations' aero-fighters, the Eurondan Alliance's aeroplanes were not remote-controlled, as they had found out earlier.

"Every soldier is crucial for the war!"

"You've seen the ice sculpture we created - you've seen it as it was grown. You've seen the crater we blew into your enemies' base. Isn't that enough to at least meet with us to verify our claims before you attack us and risk similar repercussions?" Daniel pleaded. "If this were a trap, what would be the point?"

A different voice replied: "To get us to lower our guard and then do to us what you did to our enemies so you can conquer us both!"

That was… actually a new twist, Catra had to admit. Still paranoid, but it made sense in a warped way.

"If you think we want to conquer both you and your enemies, does that mean you accept that we aren't part of the Eurondan Nation trying to fool you?" Daniel asked.

"You could have couped the old leader in a brutal civil war. And now you're trying to deceive us before we finish you off."

"Well, that's not an entirely unreasonable assumption," Catra commented. "They know their enemies." A group that would set their own base on fire or wreck their own world to destroy their enemies wouldn't hesitate to attempt such a ploy. And they had been suspiciously quick to sacrifice their leader in the process.

"How could we do that in a meeting far away from either your or your enemies' base?" Daniel sounded exasperated. "You have seen how we restored life to your world. Do you really think that we would need to trick you if we can do that?"

"Then what do you want?" Another new voice. Older.

"We want to end the war," Adora spoke up. "Stop the dying. Restore your world. Help you."

After a pause, the same voice asked: "And why would you do that?"

"Because it's the right thing to do," Adora replied.

"Because we have the power to help you, and you need help," Daniel added. "We're not here to conquer your world."

"But we could if we wanted to," Catra whispered. It would be easy - the Eurondans of both factions had spent decades underground. Even with the restored plant life on the continent, they would be hard-pressed to launch a guerilla campaign. And even if they managed that, the best they could do was hide in the new wilderness. The Alliance could easily take and hold any base, and they could detect and track down any base the Eurondans built anew. Sooner or later, the guerillas would run out of supplies to wage even a limited war.

"Catra!" Adora hissed.

"Just saying."

"That's not helping!"

"Nothing seems to be helping," Catra retorted.

"Some people mistake kindness for weakness and restraint for incapability," Sha're commented in a low voice. "If all the Eurondans have ever experienced for a generation is all-out war, they might not understand that we won't use our power as much as we could."

"And demonstrating our power will be seen as a threat," Adora added.

Catra snorted again. It was a threat. But maybe a threat was what was needed to get the Eurondans to agree to a meeting.

"What do you have to lose?" Daniel tried again. "Even if you don't trust us to honour a truce, at worst, you would lose a few soldiers. And in exchange, you stand to gain more information about us."

The older voice replied again: "And what do you have to lose? You do not seem to be concerned about potential treachery on our side."

"No, we are not," Daniel said.

Take that however you want, Catra thought with a grin.

A few seconds passed.

"Very well. We agree to a meeting under truce."


Restored Zone, Main Continent, Euronda, December 16th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"We should have brought a chopper," Jack O'Neill commented as they approached the location for the meeting. "Would've been faster." Certainly faster than the skiffs they had brought through the Stargate as transports. They had been driving for hours - technically flying, but it felt like driving since they had to stick so close to the ground.

"We couldn't have managed to get it up and running in time," Bow disagreed, glancing back from the helm of the skiff for a moment. "With all the preparations needed."

Jack grunted. He knew that - he had checked the facts himself. The gate was large enough to fit a transport chopper through, but the logistics for the trip would have been too much. They would have needed extra transports for the fuel - forget setting up in-air refuelling on a foreign planet without an air base!

"The skiffs will look both less aggressive and more impressive, Jack," Daniel argued. "The Eurondans have nothing like this."

"They don't have choppers either," Jack shot back.

"But they understand the principles. This, though… Magitech is new for them." Daniel smiled. "And the skiffs don't look like military craft."

Which was part of Jack's problem with them - he felt too exposed on the skiff. It was like riding a bus into battle. A strafing attack by an Alliance fighter would… well, the shield projectors would stop it, but Jack would still prefer something visible around him.

"We don't have any advanced transports that fit through the Stargate, sir. They weren't a priority." Carter sounded slightly reproachful. As if Jack had been the one to refuse that project!

He had wanted the things! They were perfect for special ops missions! But the Alliance Command had decided to focus on shuttles. Compared to the proposed 'Gate-capable Advanced Transports', shuttles could haul a lot more cargo or troops, could go much faster - all the way across a solar system - and were much tougher and better armed as well. The Alliance needed shuttles far more than they needed special transports. Especially since most of what the special transports could do could be done with ground or conventional air transports. Unless you needed a space-capable transport that could fit through a Stargate.

"I'll bring it up again," he said.

"Entrapta proposed to modify Death Gliders for the purpose," Carter added.

Jack winced. Those things were barely-decent fighters. To change them into transports… He shook his head.

"We're about to reach the meeting spot," Bow reported. "It doesn't look as if anyone else is present."

They only expected the Eurondan Alliance delegation. "Carter?"

"Linking to Entrapta's scanner… there is an unknown aircraft circling about five miles out, sir. Similar design as their bombers."

Was that a trap? A bomb attack on them? Emily's shield might not be able to withstand that, but the bot supposedly had enough AA-capability to shoot down bombs. But if it were, wouldn't the Eurondans have sent more craft?

In any case, the skiff Adora and the others were on was already setting down, followed by the one transporting Entrapta and Emily. That one wobbled a bit; it was slightly overloaded with the big bot.

"Alright. Let's get ready for diplomacy," Jack said as Bow set down their own skiff.

And find out if this is a trap, he added to himself as he grabbed the tent they had brought with them.

Five minutes later - they had just finished setting up the tent - Catra called out: "They're coming!"

"Yes. They are on a course towards us," Entrapta confirmed.

Jack stood - his back didn't protest at all! - and grabbed his binocs. Indeed, the other craft was coming in low and slow. Not a bombing run, then. It wasn't a big transport - not even close to a C-130. Maybe as big as a C-47. And probably as capable of landing on an improvised runway. Also known as a field. Maybe they should have asked if they should prepare a runway for their guests, unless…

Yes. The plane slowed down even more until it came to a stop, hovering in the air about a hundred and fifty yards from their position, then descended straight down. Like an Osprey, but with jet engines. Jack wondered how they avoided FOD. And how fuel-efficient the thing was.

The plane set down, and the engine noise faded. A moment later, a door in the side opened - like a C-47, Jack thought - and two armed soldiers stepped out, followed by four more soldiers. Probably officers, Jack thought - they were in uniform but didn't carry longarms.

Behind them, two more guards climbed out of the plane but stayed back while the six approached their position.

"Showtime," Jack said. "Let's see if you can do your magic again, Daniel."

"I'm no diplomat, Jack. I'm only here because I made first contact with them."

His friend was too modest. Jack would trust him over any career diplomat from Earth. Or any princess from Etheria, actually. He clapped Daniel on the back. "Just do your thing. No pressure."

"Tell that to Adora," Daniel whispered back.

Jack glanced at her. Yeah, Daniel was right - Adora looked tense. But that couldn't be helped now.

He put on his best smile as the Eurondans reached them.



Adora was used to Catra's antics, so her smile didn't slip as Jack greeted the Eurondan Alliance delegation far too casually. They didn't know Earth or Etheria, so they hopefully wouldn't realise it, anyway. "Hello," she said with a nod. "I'm She-Ra, princess of Power and Supreme Commander of the Alliance against the Goa'uld."

"I am Captain Akon," their apparent leader, a middle-aged man, said with a rather brief nod. He also focused on her while the others with him stared at Catra and Isa.

Unlike Alar's people, who all looked similar to each other, the delegation showed more diversity, Adora noted. In skin tone and height, at least - all of them were men, and all had dark hair, though while Akom's hair was curly, one of the guards hanging back had straight, long hair.

Catra rolled her eyes at the scrutiny. "No, you don't get to pull my tail to check if it's real," she said.

Adora cleared her throat as two of the younger Alliance soldiers blushed. "Anyway, this is Queen Glimmer of Bright Moon, Princess Entrapta of Dryl, Princess Frosta of the Kingdom of Snows, General O'Neill, Major Carter, Dr Jackson, his wife Sha're, Tech-Master Bow, Catra and Emily," Adora introduced her friends.

"Lieutenants Kels and Pers. Liou." Akon curtly nodded at the three others with him. He didn't bother introducing the guards. Both Kels and Pers were younger men. The former had darker skin than Bow, and the latter looked like he would fit in the Eurondan Nation if he dyed his black hair. Liou was another middle-aged man with a skin tone similar to Frosta's, but he was rail-thin and taller than anyone else here except She-Ra. He was also focused on Catra and Emily, so he might be a scientist.

"We've prepared a tent for the meeting," Adora said, pointing at it. "And we brought some refreshments and snacks." She was sure that if they had been forced to eat yeast-based food like their enemies, they would appreciate it.

"It should be safe for human consumption - at least Alar's people wouldn't have any problems," Entrapta added. "We can scan you to check if you want to be sure."

"I think…" Akon started to reply, but Liou interrupted him. "How is your hair moving?"

Akon glared at him - scowled, actually - but didn't tell him off, Adora noted. So, Liou might be in charge of the delegation.

"It's my magic power," Entrapta told him with a smile - and demonstrated how she could control her hair to hold tools and operate computers. "All princesses have a magic power."

"Yes!" Frosta nodded and took a step forward. "I control ice." Before Adora could say anything to stop her, Frosta moved her hands, and a pillar of ice rose from the ground near them.

"And I can teleport," Glimmer added while the delegation stared at the ice. Then she disappeared and appeared on top of the ice pillar.

"Show-offs," Catra commented. Adora didn't have to look at her lover to know she was rolling her eyes.

"It's the quickest way to prove we're not from this planet," Glimmer retorted as she reappeared next to Adora. She turned to face Liou. "Do you want to examine our powers more closely?"

"I think so, yes." Liou smiled at her. "Although while unprecedented, such powers wouldn't prove that you're from another world."

"Magic powers. Advanced technology." Glimmer gestured at Emily. "Catwoman." She nodded at Catra. "And the plant life of most of a continent restored."

"A compelling collection of arguments in favour of your claim, indeed." Liou nodded once more. "Still, to have come through a 'gate' from another world…"

"Where else would we have come from? Do you think we are from the Eurondan Nation?" Catra scoffed.

"No, I don't think so," Liou replied. "As you might have found out, they consider anyone not conforming to their ideals, both biologically and philosophically, unworthy of living - they started a war over this stance. And most of you would not pass muster."

"We're aware of that," Jack said. "We had a disagreement over that, which led to the big honking hole in their bunker."

"But I think we should discuss that in the tent," Adora added. "After you finish your examination, of course."

"This shouldn't take long," Liou said. "I only brought a rudimentary set of tools." He went and took a probe from the ice pillar, then peered at it through some sort of scanner.

"Oh! Spectral analysis!" Entrapta smiled.

Liou let a piece of ice melt in his hand and tasted it, ignoring Akon's grimace. "It seems to be ordinary water," he said. "Of course, given your demonstrated powers, that could be wrong." He looked at Catra, who rolled her eyes again, though, despite her earlier words, she stretched and moved both her ears and tail.

"Intriguing. This is not your 'magic power', is it?" Liou asked. "You were not named as a princess."

"No." Catra smirked.

"And we're all grateful for that," Adora heard Glimmer mumble next to her.

She cleared her throat again. "So, shall we sit down? We have a lot to discuss."

"We shall." Liou's smile didn't change. "Such as the question of why you seem intent on protecting the same people who wanted to murder us all and would see you dead if they could."

Adora suppressed a wince and kept smiling politely at him. "Yes, that."


They were off to a good start, in Samantha Carter's opinion. Liou had - as far as she could tell - accepted that they were aliens. Or, at the very least, not from the Eurondan Nation. That he was testing the facts more than any preconception was very promising, as was the fact that the obvious scientist of the delegation was apparently in charge.

Of course, that didn't change that the negotiations would be very difficult. Sam didn't have to be a trained diplomat to realise that ending the war while the Eurondan Nation and its people still existed wouldn't be popular in the Eurondan Alliance. Liou's comment, pointed if politely said, made it clear that they saw any interference that hindered their continuation of the war as help for their enemies.

Or so it seemed. As they took their seats, Sam reminded herself that they didn't know anything about the Eurondan Alliance that they hadn't been told by Alar and his people, who had every incentive to paint the worst picture of their enemies. And even that information had been very scant with regard to their society and culture. Mostly vague propaganda about the Alliance 'breeding uncontrollably'. Even if that were true - Sam doubted it - decades had passed since the war had started. Their society would have changed massively since then.

"Thank you for meeting with us," Adora told them.

"And have some tiny food!" Entrapta added, hair tendrils offering plates with finger food courtesy of Stargate Command's mess hall and a selection of all the drinks of the bases' vending machines to the delegation.

The three others glanced to Liou, Sam noted. Taking their cues from the scientist. Smart.

Liou himself looked at the food, then started sampling it. He hadn't attempted to check for poison, as far as Sam could tell. Perhaps he didn't have the means to do so quickly and in the field - Earth technology was limited in that are as well, after all. Though that was speculation. They might have deliberately held back their best scanners.

"Oh." Liou's eyebrows rose after a fist bite from an egg salad sandwich. "This is food from your home?"

"Yes," Daniel told him. "We brought it through the Stargate in preparation for this meeting. It was made by the cooks on our base."

"Ah." Liou nodded. "This is the food your soldiers eat?"

"Sometimes," Daniel replied. "It was specially prepared, but in a military base. Civilian chefs would have made better food, but the logistics of transporting such food in time for this meeting were too challenging. I hope it's still sufficient."

Liou slightly tilted his head. "Are your civilian chefs more skilled than your base's cooks?"

"It depends," Daniel told him. "Their general skill level varies, of course. And some civilian chefs are, well, not very good. But the best chefs are civilians."

"It's kind of hard to hire the best cooks when we can't pay them more than a fraction of what a five-star restaurant can offer," the General added. "But we manage."

"Ah." Liou exchanged a glance with Akon. "You call yourself the 'Alliance against the Goa'uld'. Are you fighting a war?"

"Yes." Adora nodded firmly. "They are an alien species that can take over a human body as a host and rule an Empire based on enslaving humans."

Adora and Daniel briefly explained more about the Goa'uld Empire.

Liou and the others listened, but Sam had the impression that they were not convinced. She couldn't really hold that against them; without proof - and personal experience - Sam would be doubtful of such claims as well. But it would make negotiations more difficult.

That was for the others to handle, though.

"...and that's how we arrived here," Adora finished their very brief explanation of how they had reached Euronda.

"I see. So, the Eurondan Nation allied with your rivals and supplied them with poison to attack your base?" Liou asked. "This sounds familiar."

Akon snorted at that.

"In hindsight, yes. At the time, we didn't know what the Eurondan Nation had done to your world," Daniel said.

"And then, when you met with them under the flag of truce, they betrayed you and attempted to murder you all," Liou went on.

"Yes. After they realised that we, ah, didn't share their views about eugenics and procreation, things deteriorated and escalated," Daniel said.

"We can see that." Liou nodded at Bow, Glimmer and the others. "It's remarkable that they allowed you to visit their base in the first place. They must have been more desperate than we thought."

"Desperate enough to ignore their own ideology and attempt to reach an agreement and trade deal," Daniel said.

"Temporarily," Liou corrected him. "They attacked you anyway."

"Through treachery," Akon added with a deep scowl. "When you had brought civilians to the meeting."

He glanced at Sha're, Sam noted. And at Glimmer. And at Entrapta. All members of the delegation were doing that, actually. Even the guards were doing it. Did they think everyone who wasn't in uniform was a civilian? They had been told that Adora was the military leader of the Alliance, though. And would they realise what was a uniform and what was the personal outfit of a princess from the few samples they had?

No, she realised - Sha're was wearing the same fatigues as Daniel was, and they were looking at her. They were also looking at Sam herself, she realised. And she had been introduced with her rank.

Oh. She pressed her lips together for a moment, trying not to scowl when she recognised what they were doing.

They were staring at every woman.

Chapter 135: Tense Negotiations Part 3
Chapter 135: Tense Negotiations Part 3

Restored Zone, Main Continent, Euronda, December 16th, 1999 (Earth Time)

Catra leaned back and stretched her arms over her head. The Eurondan Alliance delegation stared, as expected. But they were staring at everyone - well, almost everyone. That they would be staring at Adora was expected. Who wouldn't, whether she was She-Ra or not? But they were also staring - openly or with an attempt to be not obvious - at the others.

And something was odd.

Catra frowned a little, trying to spot the pattern.

"Do you have many civilians?" Sam suddenly asked. She was leaning forward and looked… annoyed, Catra noted. Which was a surprise.

Liou tilted his head at her. "Why do you ask?"

"You seem to be surprised by the presence of women at this meeting," Sam replied.

Oh! Catra rolled her eyes. That again!

"It's unusual for us," Liou told her. "Our circumstances must be very different, I suppose."

"Don't you have female soldiers?" Sam raised her eyebrows. Definitely annoyed.

Daniel blinked, then slowly nodded. He must have just got it as well.

And Adora was frowning.

"The idea to send women into war, risk their lives, is anathema to us," Liou said. His group looked pretty uncomfortable to Catra.

Sexist, then. Probably thought women couldn't fight, like some idiots on Earth. I wonder if they also have some stupid religion favouring men, Catra thought.

"Why?" Adora asked. "We can fight as well as any man."

"Better," Glimmer muttered under her breath. Louder, she added: "We've proven that in the war against the Horde."

"Yes!" Frosta added with a sharp nod and a scowl.

At least they haven't called her a kid, Catra thought. That would have set the princess off.

"As I said, our circumstances must be very different," Liou said with a polite smile that was about as sincere as Horde Prime.

"You don't have many women, do you?" Daniel asked.

Liou merely turned his head to face him, but the other three at the table visibly tensed. "What makes you say that?"

"Ah, it seems the most logical explanation," Daniel explained in his lecturing voice. At least he didn't raise a finger for each point. "You were fighting a war for your very survival, against a genocidal enemy. Usually, nations mobilise all resources for that. And since the war has been mostly fought in the air, with advanced aeroplanes, one would have expected you to recruit your women as well, so the most talented pilots could be used regardless of their gender. Even if you had strong traditions against such a move, the threat of genocide would likely have outweighed those - as happened to the Eurondan Nation when they made a deal with others not conforming to their ideals. And yet, you apparently didn't even think about this. So, there might not be enough women in your country to risk any in combat."

Liou's smile turned rueful, and he slowly nodded. "Your analysis is correct."

"Ah?" Daniel perked up but quickly schooled his features. "Sorry. I got a bit carried away."

"So, what - you don't have enough women to keep your population up?" Jack asked.

Oh. That was… Catra winced.

"You don't have artificial wombs?" Entrapta cocked her head at them before smiling widely. "We can help you out there!"

"'Artificial wombs'?" Liou looked intrigued.

The other Eurondans looked queasy, Catra noted.

"Well, there's also magic alternatives, but artificial wombs are the easiest way to have kids without a woman," Entrapta said.

"My dads used them," Bow added with a smile. "I've got twelve older siblings."

"Your dads had thirteen kids?" Akon shook his head. "That's… No wonder you risk women in combat if you can replenish your numbers so easily!"

"Ah… I'm the only soldier amongst them," Bow said, frowning a little. "They didn't have kids to 'replenish' our army."

"You shouldn't have children just to turn them into soldiers!" Adora blurted out.

"We were almost wiped out!" Akon protested. "The Eugenists struck at our civilians first, killing most of them!"

"They deliberately hit civilians over military targets?" Jack asked. He was almost as tense as the Eurondans had been.

"Yes," Akon said.

"Few civilians were able to reach a shelter when the poison was released," Liou said. "The military did what they could, but they could barely protect themselves - and had to defend against the Eugenists' attack at the same time. Civilian casualties were… crippling."

"What did you do? To deal with that?" Daniel asked a little hesitantly.

"We fought them however we could!" Akon said. "And slowly, with great sacrifices, we drove them back! And now that we are on the brink of final victory, you interfere!"

Daniel winced but didn't relent. "I meant, how did you handle your, ah, population crisis?"

"We ensured that most of the children conceived after the war had started were female," Liou said. He glanced at the two younger Lieutenants. "Young men are also rare in our country, though not as critical for our survival as women since they aren't required to be present - or alive - at conception."


Catra wasn't the only one who winced at that.


The Eurondan Nation had started by going after the civilian population? Jack O'Neill winced. In hindsight, that should have been obvious. It was a logical move - for genocidal scumbags waging a war of extermination - and they already knew that the Space Nazis had poisoned the entire planet to get at their enemies. Still…. Sick.

Maybe we should let the Eurondan Alliance finish them off, he thought.

"I see," Daniel said. He looked shocked as well. "That's quite an extreme measure, although the circumstances were extreme as well."

The scientist, Liou, frowned. "It was a logical response to the loss of most of our civilian population."

"Most of your military was male, then?" Glimmer asked.

"Yes," Liou replied.

"That had always been the case," Akon added. "Why would we risk women in battle?"

"Because we can fight!" Frosta said.

Liou frowned at the man, Jack noted, if only long enough for the officer to notice and wince. "There were movements to recruit more women, before the war," he said. "Partially in response to the Eurondan Nation recruiting women. But after the war had started and we had lost so many people…" He shook his head. "Our leaders agreed that we could not afford to risk women in combat. Not if we wanted to survive as a people. Even so, many succumbed to hunger and sickness as lost medical infrastructure and food production took their toll, and we struggled to defend ourselves and build the means to sustain our lives in shelters."

Yeah, that would have been horrible. Losing most of their population and their food production? Jack didn't even want to imagine how bad things must have been if they had been caught unaware by such an attack without sufficient food in storage for the population. Every lost soldier probably was also a boon since that meant the food supply would last longer…

"So, the current absence of women in the ranks of our soldiers is a result of our situation in the past," Liou went on.

Jack suppressed a snort. Liou was smart, but his attempt to pander to the Alliance led by a woman was a bit too obvious. By now, Akon's attitude was probably entrenched amongst the entire Eurondan Alliance.

Catra didn't suppress her snort.

"Well, that's no longer necessary. We can supply you with artificial wombs, and you can recruit women into your army again!" Entrapta told them with a smile.

Jack winced again - she had completely misread the room.

"Anyway, you won't have to recruit more soldiers once the war's over - and it effectively is over," Adora said. "The Eurondan Nation can no longer wage war against you."

"So you say. And their last bunker did suffer obvious damage. Yet, even our most optimistic estimate of the extent of their defensive network puts their bunker as far too large that such damage would have annihilated their production capacity," Liou retorted. "Left alone, they will recover."

"And they'll renew their attacks on us!" Akon said. "We cannot let them threaten our people ever again - we have to wipe them out for good!"

"We do not condone genocide," Glimmer said with narrowed eyes.

"You obviously have never suffered as we have!" Akon spat. "Or you would not say this!"

"We have fought for our very lives as well!" Glimmer retorted. "But we didn't 'wipe out' our enemies when we won!"

"You don't have to destroy your enemy to be safe," Adora added. "They can't hurt you any more - we won't let them."

"As long as they are around, we'll be in danger. They see us as subhumans and claim our very existence threatens them," Liou pointed out. "You cannot trust them to keep the peace."

"They tried to exterminate us and almost succeeded. Our soldiers threw them back at great cost!" Akon almost yelled. "How can you expect us to let them live after all they did to us? They do not deserve any mercy!"

They weren't entirely wrong, Jack had to admit.

"All of them? Even their civilians?" Adora shook her head. "Their children? Those kept in stasis?"

"Stasis?" Liou leaned forward. "What do you mean?"

"They keep most of their civilians in stasis, cryogenic sleep," Entrapta explained. "They don't have the supplies for them."

"Ah, I see." Liou nodded. "That answers a few questions we had, thank you."

"You're welcome!"

Jack suppressed a sigh. At least it was intel about the Eurondan Nation and not about the Alliance.

"Anyway," Adora spoke up again, "We won't let you kill the Eurondan Nation. They cannot hurt you any more. And we'll ensure that they cannot hurt you in the future either."

"And how will you be doing this? Will you remove them from our world?" Liou asked, tilting his head again. "Will you take them to your own worlds?"

"That would be ethnic cleansing," Daniel pointed out with a frown. "It is frowned upon on Earth."

"So, you expect us to share our world with the very people who tried their hardest to ruin it only so they could murder us all?" Liou shook his head. "That is unacceptable. We have lived too long in fear of them. We have suffered too much to forgive them."

"One way or the other, they have to be removed from our world," Akon added.

Once again, Jack couldn't help thinking that they had a point.


Adora clenched her teeth. She understood the Eurondan Alliance's views. They had lost so much! Suffered for so long!

But they were still wrong. And she said so. "You're wrong." Akon and the two lieutenants openly glared at her. Liou was a bit less obvious, but he still frowned. Adora shook her head at all. "You can be safe without removing them." They were already safe - they just didn't accept it.

"No, we can't!" Akon disagreed. Vehemently. "You can't live under the same sky as those who murdered your family!"

"If you murder their families, does that make you any better than they were?" Adora asked.

"Yes! We didn't start the war! We didn't try to murder civilians!" Akon retorted.

"But that's what you are trying now," Daniel pointed out.

"What?" Akon spat.

Daniel pushed his glasses up. "You are trying to kill all of the Eurondan Nation's population. Most of them are held in stasis, helpless - civilians."

"They tried to kill us all! Our families! Our world!" Akon shook his head.

"And all of them went along with it!" Kel added. "They are all guilty!"

Pers nodded in obvious agreement, his lips pressed together.

"And we are not arguing for their deaths - merely for their removal from our world - the world they attempted to ruin to kill us all," Liou added in a - in Adora's opinion - deceptively mild voice.

"That is only an option because you now know about the Stargate," Glimmer retorted.

"And removing people from their homes is still ethnic cleansing," Daniel said. "Some consider it a form of genocide. But it is generally agreed that it is not lawful."

"A general agreement amongst your people, maybe," Liou retorted. "My people differ."

"We will never accept that those monsters remain on our world!" Akon said.

"We're here to discuss a truce," Sha're cut in. "We can discuss terms for a peace agreement with your leaders at a later date."

Right. Adora pressed her lips together and hoped she wasn't blushing. They were not talking to the leaders of the Eurondan Alliance. Just to their delegation sent to check if Adora and her friends were liars. Perhaps their leaders would be more reasonable. "Yes," she said. "You've seen that we told you the truth. Do you accept a truce?"

"A truce at this point would seriously hinder our efforts to end the war," Liou said.

"You've already suspended your attacks," Daniel pointed out.

Liou nodded. "Yes, we did. This was a decision that was not taken lightly and has, undoubtedly, allowed our enemies time to recover. Agreeing to a longer truce would compound this."

"Continuing your attacks will endanger our own people currently providing humanitarian help here," Daniel said.

"And we won't let you do that!" Frosta spat with a glare.

"You're helping our enemies!" Akon blurted out. "Do you expect us to ignore that?"

"We're helping everyone here," Adora corrected him. "We've restored a lot of your world already." She pointed at their surroundings.

"So you claim!" Pers retorted. "We haven't seen proof for that!"

"Do I need to create another statue?" Frosta asked, ice forming over her hands. "Maybe of you looking stupid?"

Catra snickered next to Adora.

Liou studied Frosta. "Perhaps not quite as big. But it would be illuminating."

"What?" Pers gaped.

But Frosta was already moving her hands, and a statue formed and grew right next to her. It was a passable portrait of the Lieutenant, in Adora's opinion. It also was forming inside the tent. Fortunately, Frosta stopped when it reached the ceiling.

"Intriguing." Liou peered at the ice.

"It's my magic power," Frosta told him with a smirk.

"Magic?" Akon scoffed.

"Yes, magic," Glimmer told him. "We've restored magic to your world as well. Those amongst you with the talent for it will be able to work magic."

"But we're here to focus on a truce," Adora reminded them. "This is just proof that we are already helping your world - all of your world."

"By introducing magic to the world?" Liou raised his eyebrows.

"By restoring what was destroyed during the war," Adora told him, narrowing her eyes a little. "We're here to help you - all of you." Why couldn't they see that?

"And yet you wish to protect our enemies. Enemies that conducted a genocide, which you claim not to condone. I think this is a slight contradiction," Liou retorted.

"We do not condone genocide," Glimmer told him. "No matter the victims."

"You would protect the murderers from the consequences of their own actions?" Akon scoffed.

"We'd also protect you from becoming murderers." Glimmer bared her teeth at him.

"Defending ourselves and avenging our deaths is not murder!" Akon mirrored her.

"That is a false equivalency. If your enemy is helpless and you keep attacking, you're no longer defending yourself," Daniel objected. "And vengeance is not justice."

"We will not allow them to endanger our people again!"

"They won't," Adora told him. "You don't have to murder them for that."

"After all they have done, we cannot trust them!" Akon shook his head almost violently.

"You ask a lot of us," Liou added.

"We just ask you to let us help," Adora told him.

"Yes." Liou nodded. "That requires trust - and it is hard to trust someone who seems more concerned with protecting our genocidal enemies than our own people."

Adora clenched her teeth. They did not understand! Why didn't they understand?

"Well, it's not just about trust," Catra said. "It's also about risks." She leaned forward. "Do you really want to risk waging a war against us? All that you've seen here?" She cocked her head at the statue. "The plants outside? She gestured at the tent entrance. "That's just a very small part. You haven't seen our spaceships. Or our armies."

"Do they fit through the Stargate?" Liou asked. His smile wasn't very smug, but a little was there.

"Some actually do," Jack said. "But that's beside the point."

"We're here to help you - we've restored a lot of your world already," Adora repeated herself. "We can offer even more help."

"Artificial wombs! And specially designed plants to finish the planet's restoration. For starters," Entrapta added.

"Yes." Adora nodded.

"Trust me, you don't want the Alliance as an enemy," Catra said with a smirk. "You really don't."

Liou glanced at the others. "I think this meeting has run its course. We have to inform our leaders about everything we've heard."

"Please do." Adora smiled. "And tell them that we would like to meet them."

They had to talk to their leaders to sort this out.

Liou nodded again.


Eurondan Nation, Euronda, December 17th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"Yes, I see it. Yes, I can change the plants to adapt to that - and filter out the poison. Maybe I should have them deposit the poison in some outgrowths for easier disposal? Then the rest of the plant could be used as feed or base for fertiliser…"

Samantha Carter nodded at the suggestion even though she didn't think Perfuma was talking to her right now. Watching the princess work with plants was still slightly unnerving - even more so after working with Loki in Alpha. Perfuma could alter a plant's genetic makeup with a thought. Drastically alter it - creating new plant species was child's play for her. What even a team of scientists with Ancient technology took weeks to months to achieve, she could do in seconds. Without any tools, just her magic power. And within her area of effect, fortunately limited, she could use her magic power to make the new plants grow as fast as Frosta could create ice.

Sam didn't want to imagine what Perfuma could do with the power of She-Ra at her disposal. She couldn't help doing it anyway, of course. And she was very grateful that Perfuma was such a nice person.

"Alright, I think that's it!" Perfuma turned and beamed at Sam. Next to her, green plants shot from the ground, wrapping around each other to form a trunk on top of which a slightly red fruit - or berry - formed, quickly growing. "The plants will spread out and focus all the poison into the fruits here. Once you remove the fruit, the plants will wither and turn to fertiliser! Same as when they run out of poison to filter."

"And the fruit?" Sam asked.

"Oh, that won't wither or decay. It will keep so you can collect them - which you should. They're very poisonous, after all." Perfuma frowned. "I tried to find a way for the plant to filter the poison out and turn it into something useful or at least inert, but I didn't manage." She bit her lower lip. "The poison is too powerful for that, sorry."

Sam was almost happy to hear that Perfuma had more limits. She didn't let that show, of course. "The Eurondan Nation is very skilled at creating poison," she said instead. "It's a great thing that you managed to create a plant that can handle it in the first place."

"Oh, that was nothing. Just some adaption of the plants I created for the Fright Zone. Once you have it worked out, you just have to adapt the biological filters for other substances." She nodded, then blinked. "Speaking of that… Have you heard anything about my proposal to create filtering plants for your oceans? They could deal with the plastic and pollution!"

"The United Nations are still discussing it," Sam said. And would likely keep doing that for some time.

"Ah." Perfuma nodded with a sigh. "I hope they'll accept my offer soon."

Sam managed not to wince. Even several of the members of the Alliance were loath to allow genetically engineered organisms into the wild, much less on such a scale. And other nations hated anything that was related to magic. Or just hated the Alliance and objected to any proposal supported by them on principle.

She changed the subject. "Did you look over the seed samples from the vaults?"

"Yes!" Perfuma perked up. "I can make them grow easily! Although it will take some time to figure out where each species would do best. I don't think we'll be able to recreate how things were before their war even if we had perfect records. With the loss of plants, the climate changed, and reintroducing plant life will cause new changes… adapting the restored plants will take some time."

"And that's not going to cover animals," Sam added. The Eurondans had kept genetic samples but hadn't been very thorough to begin with, and they lacked the technology to grow animals from those samples. And they had focused on livestock, not on all the species crucial for a balanced ecosystem. "We'll have to import several species from Earth."

"Yes. The filter plants can pollinate using wind, but other plants need insects. I could change them, but I think the Eurondans want their original plants back." Perfuma looked around. "Well, I think we're done here. The plants will spread from here to the rest of the contaminated zone on this continent but probably not to the other landmasses. We'll have to drop seeds there."

Sam nodded. She was done with her scans as well. And the sensors she had planted were working as planned - if the Eurondan Alliance sent aeroplanes this way, they'd get advance warning.

They walked back to the skiff, where Emily was waiting for them. The skiff would be overloaded with the two of them and the bot, but it was manageable. And Emily's shield generator made it worth it. Entrapta was planning to adapt similar generators to their skiffs for tomorrow's truce meeting but hadn't managed to finish in time for this trip. Sadly, the shield generators they had installed around the defence complex were too large for the skiffs.

Something they had missed when constructing the things - they fit NATO standards for transportation, but the Etherian skiffs didn't conform to those specs. Logistics wouldn't be pleased.

But that was their problem, not Sam's.


Restored Zone, Main Continent, Euronda, December 18th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"So… any bets on whether or not this is a trap?"

Catra rolled her eyes at Jack's question. If he really thought that this was a trap, he would have argued against everyone else coming along. Even though they should be able to spot a trap thanks to their scanners - and, between Emily's shield and Glimmer, could safely evacuate everyone. This was just small talk, Jack-style.

"I don't think it's a trap," Adora replied honestly. "They seemed to believe us - and they have seen more of what we're doing yesterday."

"Oh, they do believe us, or they wouldn't have stopped their bombing runs and stuck to recon flights," Jack said. "But they want to continue the war."

No surprise there, Catra thought. The Eurondan Nation had killed most of the Eurondan Alliance's civilians. And deliberately, not as collateral damage or something. Not that that made much of a difference for the dead. She clenched her teeth, remembering Thaynor. She had flattened the village as her first mission as Force Captain. She couldn't even tell herself that it had been a mission to root out Alliance soldiers hiding there or to draw out nearby Alliance forces to defend the village in order to engage them. Those were just excuses. They had struck the place with overwhelming forces right away. Well, overwhelming forces until She-Ra had appeared…

She shook her head, trying to force the memories of that confrontation away. She hadn't gone for murdering all civilians. Just let her troops run wild and looked away when needed. But 'not as bad as the people who ruined an entire planet and murdered most of its population' wasn't anything to be proud of - it was up there with 'not as bad as Horde Prime'.

Fuck it. Fuck herself.

She stepped out of the tent with a mumbled 'checking the perimeter'. The air outside was clean, according to the sensors, but she still smelt a hint of… something that reminded her of the Fright Zone. Or that was just her memories.

She stared at the horizon. Hilly country, there. No mountains - it wouldn't really stop armoured warfare, but it would slow down advances and channel thrusts, allowing defenders to use artillery from cover on choke points and kill zones. Would have to use air or aerospace forces to suppress the artillery and send in light troops to recon and screen the heavy armour. And to clear out any settlements of enemy infantry, of course…

She gasped when she felt an arm wrap around her shoulders. How had Adora snuck up on her without Catra noticing? Because she had been lost in her guilt.

"You're not like them."

Not any more, maybe, Catra added silently. Would she have gone for genocidal attacks like the Eurondans had? Deliberately trying to exterminate the entire population of the Princess Alliance? She hadn't done it. Not even when she had been at her lowest point. But if she had thought it was the only way to win, would she have done it? The Horde propaganda had claimed they were fighting against evil princesses to free the people, but everyone - except for Adora - had known that was a lie. A lie that had gotten some lip service in the field, at most. What if the Horde propaganda had been different? Made the enemy out to be all fanatical, treacherous foes who would never stop fighting and so must all be killed?

"I could have been like them," she whispered. She had risked the entire world to win, after all.

"But you weren't," Adora retorted.

She was so confident. Trusting. Loving.

Catra sighed and leaned into her lover a bit more. "I feel bad about telling the Eurondan Alliance to stop fighting their enemies." Selfish. Like a hypocrite.

"We're saving them from becoming as bad as their enemies," Adora said.

"They don't see it like that."

"They're wrong. No matter what was done to them, murdering people in return is wrong. Vengeance won't make anything right." Adora nodded firmly.

Catra sighed again. Vengeance might be wrong, but she knew how tempting it was to strike back at whoever hurt you - at whoever you thought had hurt you. To make them hurt in turn. To make them suffer. To make them pay.

She understood them.

"They won't thank us for this," she said in a low voice. The Eurondan Alliance might end up hating them. Easily. Catra understood that as well.

"I know. But we can't let them murder helpless people. That would be wrong."

And that was what it boiled down to, in the end.

Catra nodded. "We won't."

No matter what it took.


Another day, another meeting. That summed up Jack O'Neill's life as a general. Granted, it was a meeting under truce to negotiate an armistice, on an alien planet, and he was with his friends and not in Brussels meeting with fellow generals, politicians or contractors, and if things went wrong, they'd have to evacuate under fire and try to find a way to save this world and their lives. So, it felt more like a Stargate Command mission with SG-1.

But he still felt ill at ease. He wasn't a diplomat. He was a soldier. And he wanted to remain a soldier. He was good at soldiering. He wasn't that good at diplomacy.

And he really sucked at trying to protect Space Nazis from suffering the consequences of their actions.

He still smiled when the transport plane of the Eurondan Alliance touched down, and a larger group than last time got out. Those weren't the Space Nazis, after all - those were the people who had fought years, decades, against the Space Nazis. And this time, they were meeting their leaders.

Jack wasn't surprised to spot Liou amongst the delegation. Just from the way everyone else had deferred to him, It had been rather obvious that the man hadn't been a low-ranking, expendable scientist. But Jack focused on the new faces. All of them were in uniform, which was expected. All of them were men. That was kind of a surprise - he would have expected them to bring at least one woman with them now that they knew that the Alliance was represented by Adora and the other princesses. On the other hand, they might have realised that just bringing a token woman along would only highlight that the Eurondan Alliance was run by men - and by soldiers.

The apparent leader was in the centre, a step ahead of the rest. Old but still spry - he walked briskly and sure-footed - he was tall, thin and bald, with a wispy moustache, and reminded Jack of a Japanese veteran from the Pacific War whom he had met on leave in Japan when he had been a fresh-faced Lieutenant. Liou was on his right side. To his left walked another old man. This one was stockier, with a bushy mane of white hair, and looked more like someone from the Middle East. Two more middle-aged soldiers walked behind them, and Jack tagged them as officers. They had that vibe. Unlike the two middle-aged guards bringing up the rear.

"Hello!" Adora greeted them with a wide smile. "I'm She-Ra, Princess of Power, and I represent the Alliance against the Goa'uld." She gestured at the others and introduced them.

The Eurondans nodded, and Liou introduced the new people in turn. "Commander Lan, a senior member of our Council. General Faisa, member of our general staff. Majors Kele and Janis, their aides."

Or spooks posing as aides, Jack thought. Analysts, probably - they would be useful for the negotiations and for gathering general intel.

"Please step inside the tent. We've prepared more diverse food than last time," Adora told them.

Liou perked up at that, and his polite smile grew more genuine. Or that was what he wanted you to think - whether he was a politician or a spook in addition to a scientist, Jack didn't know, but he would have to be skilled at hiding his emotions either way. As a scientist as well, of course - the stories Daniel had of the academic scene sometimes made the Pentagon look like it was staffed by straight shooters, and Liou was a soldier and a scientist.

Adora was right about the food. They hadn't pulled out all the stops, but they had ordered this food from actual caterers. High-class caterers.

Jack smiled widely as he snatched some choice snacks for himself.

Lan nodded in apparent appreciation and smiled at Adora after his first snack, but that didn't mean anything in Jack's opinion. Faisa grunted, still looking stern. Liou appeared to enjoy himself - and commented about the new selection - and Kele and Janis seemed to spend as much time looking at the food as they spent actually tasting it.

Jack was leaning more strongly towards both of them being intel analysts. On Earth, those could be, and not too rarely were, former field agents. Euronda might not have had much use for recon and spying on the enemy with their atmosphere being poisoned to the point of rendering field ops impossible, but any country at war would have had spooks watching their own people - especially their soldiers.

Jack kept an eye on both. And the guards, of course. They had been betrayed and ambushed by one group of Eurondans before, and he'd be damned if he'd let it happen again.


As expected after their first meeting, the Eurondan delegation liked the food. They even made some small talk about the different dishes. And Adora didn't have to tell Catra not to hog all fish sandwiches. The Eurondan leaders were smiling - except for General Faisa, but he hadn't smiled at all so far, so he probably didn't count. All in all, they were off to a good start.

However, the real challenge was to get the Eurondan Alliance to agree to an armistice and then negotiate a peace treaty. Adora had no illusions that that would be easy. But they were talking, at least.

She cleared her throat when everyone seemed to have had their fill - with the exception of Catra, who just grabbed another salmon toast, and Jack, who probably thought he was sneaky by snatching bowls of dessert. "So… shall we start the talks?"

Everyone grew serious at once. Liou was the only one to keep smiling but switched to doing so politely rather than genuinely.

"Yes," Commander Lan said. "And first, I want to protest your interference with a matter limited to Euronda."

"Our intervention was a reaction to the Eurondans supplying weapons that were used to attack us," Adora retorted. "We could not ignore that."

"According to your own claims, you stopped that. So, there's no longer any reason to meddle in this conflict." Lan leaned forward. "You achieved your goals."

"Our goal is to protect civilians," Adora told him. Did he just try to use their own argument against them? "Any civilians."

"The Eurondan Nation has no civilians. All of them are soldiers."

"The majority of their population are in stasis, not fighting," Daniel cut in.

Adora nodded. They had gone over that already.

"That doesn't make them civilians - they are held in reserve," Faisa spoke up. "They're soldiers."

"Even the children?" Glimmer scoffed. "If you declare every potential recruit a soldier, that would make any civilian a valid target."

"They tried to murder all of our civilians," Lan said with narrowed eyes. "And they almost succeeded. We are merely retaliating in kind."

"That doesn't justify attacking helpless civilians," Adora objected. "Two wrongs don't make a right."

"Do you really want to stoop as low as your enemies?" Glimmer added. "That would make you no better than them."

"We didn't start this!" Lan protested with an open scowl. "We are just defending ourselves. As long as the Eurondan Nation exists, we're not safe. They will try to exterminate us again!"

"That's not true!" Adora shook her head, "People can change!"

"We have had similar conflicts in our past - on Earth - and the nation that waged a war of extermination did change profoundly. It happened within living memory." Daniel nodded at the Eurondans. "They were actually quite similar to your enemies in that they, too, had an ideology of racial purity. And they murdered millions of civilians."

"Damn Nazis," Jack muttered near Adora.

"But they changed," Adora said. The Germans were good friends now - and good allies. "Everyone can change."

"Not the Eugenists." Faisa shook his head. "They have done too much."

"And just because there's a potential for change doesn't mean that change will actually occur," Liou said. "When pressed and desperate, people can claim and promise anything, only to go back on their word once their situation improves."

"The Eugenists cannot be trusted." Lan nodded slowly. "Nor can they be forgiven."

Adora pressed her lips together. That attitude was wrong!

"Because they did something unforgivable, you will do something unforgivable to them?" Daniel pushed his glasses up.

"It's not the same. We need to do this so our people - those amongst them who survived - can be safe again," Lan insisted.

"Though we do not need to kill the remaining members of the Eurondan Nation," Liou added. "As I mentioned before, exile from our world might be enough, provided that they are deprived of any opportunity ever to return."

"As we mentioned before, that would be ethnic cleansing - something we do not condone on Earth," Daniel said.

"Euronda is not Earth," Faisa spat.

"On Earth, we consider human rights universal - applicable to any human and arguably any other sapient being, anywhere," Daniel retorted.

"That's your opinion, not ours," Lan said. "Are you going to attempt to force your laws on us?"

"We won't let you commit genocide," Glimmer told him.

Adora nodded.

"Would you protect murderers even if it meant fighting their victims?" Lan asked.

"We will do what we have to to protect civilians." Adora stared at him. He had to understand that they wouldn't let them murder the Eurondans. Or drive them from their homes. That would be wrong no matter what they had done.

"But we won't let them hurt you either," Daniel said. "You will be safe."

"So you say." Lan scoffed. "And we should trust you? Trust the safety, the lives of our people, to you?"

"Yes." Adora nodded firmly.

Daniel cleared his throat. "Not blindly. When our, ah, version of the Eurondan Nation was defeated, they were disarmed, and their country was occupied. A coalition of their enemies controlled their territory until they were deemed trustworthy again."

"You offer to let us occupy their territory? Which we would take anyway without your interference? How generous!" Faisa snorted.

"Without our 'interference', meaning, without us wrecking their base, you would have to struggle to take their territory," Jack cut in. "And without us, they might have found new resources to turn the tables on you before you managed to defeat them."

"That's speculation," Liou pointed out.

"They had already made deals with some of our rivals for the resources they needed," Jack retorted. "You'd have a costly war to fight in either case."

"We only have your word for that," Lan objected.

"You also have a crater in the Eurondan nation's base - and a restored continent," Glimmer said, rolling her eyes. "And we offered you artificial wombs to help you restore your population. What else do we have to do to make you trust us?" She leaned forward. "We don't want to fight you. We just want to protect the civilians."

"You've won the war," Daniel added. "And you will be safe from them. You can focus on rebuilding your world instead of on the war."

"For how long?" Lan shook his head. "We need more than your word to accept an end to the war without the complete destruction of our enemy. We need proof. Guarantees."

"And you'll get them," Adora said. "You can watch as their weapons are destroyed."

"And I guess we can send a squadron of frigates over," Catra commented with a shrug. "To keep everyone honest."

"Cheaper than an occupation force," Jack said.

Adora nodded. They could do that. They would have to protect the planet from the Goa'uld anyway.

"And we want those who attacked us and murdered our people," Lan said. "They aren't civilians. They have to pay for what they did to us."

"Our dead demand justice," Faisa growled.

Adora winced. That would complicate things.

Uh oh, the other side just might be as bad as the space Nazis that's not a good sign.


How wonderful that the other faction is sexist.

I think just as bad is a very very high bar. I don't think it's likely.

It's clear that there's some sexism but how deep that goes is unclear.

Yeah. This isn't a "OK, both sides are bad, let them fight" story.

I'd take blatant sexism over eugenics any day of the week. In the words of one particular fictional Nazi-disagreer: "I'd take that deal. Damn good deal!"

Yeah. I'm not fond of "it's not a world of black and white but shades of grey" when it comes to Nazis.
Good chapter.

The things they went through are horrific and of course they want to make sure that can never happen again. But also genocide isn't the right answer.
And we want those who attacked us and murdered our people," Lan said. "They aren't civilians. They have to pay for what they did to us."

"Our dead demand justice," Faisa growled.

Ah, yes, Space Nuremberg Trials. Honestly might be a good idea, for more than one reason. It might mean the Eurondan Alliance ends up learning about the Nazis, and the end of the Second World War, and hopefully makes them able to conceive of a world where they are at peace with the Nation. If they accept an end to the war akin to the Nuremberg Trials, then the Earth concept of universal human rights (something they debated in the meeting) might seem more legitimate.
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Chapter 136: Tense Negotiations Part 4
Chapter 136: Tense Negotiations Part 4

Gate Room, Euronda, December 18th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"You want us to betray our soldiers? Those who fought the hardest for us? Stab our own in the back after all they suffered for our sake?"

Samantha Carter was glad she wasn't standing too close to Alar - the man was literally spitting mad.

"The Eurondan Alliance wants to try the ones responsible for the genocide of their people," Adora told him. "They insisted on that."

They also insisted on complete disarmament of the Eurondan Nation, but Alar either had missed that or didn't care as much about his nation as he cared about his own fate - his name was almost at the top of the war criminal list that Commander Lan had handed over - obviously prepared in advance. Sam wasn't quite sure how much of his insistence had been simply posturing to improve his position in the negotiation, but the man was a shrewd negotiator, and they had already said that this was just their condition to start negotiations, not the sum of their demands.

Of course, Sam perfectly understood and supported his demand for justice. Letting Nazis go free just to facilitate a peace treaty… Well, the United States had done worse in the past, but that didn't make it right.

Alar shook his head. "And you agreed to that? You could easily stop them! Crush their forces as you crushed ours!"

"Well, you see - they didn't supply poison to our enemies and then tried to kill all of us." The General shrugged. "Call me petty, but I think that's a kinda important difference."

Sam did neither smile nor roll her eyes at his comment. But she did smile at Alar's gasp - the former and possibly present leader of the Eurondan Nation seemed shocked.

Unfortunately, he quickly rallied. "But you said you would protect us! We're helpless in the face of your enemies - most of our people are held in stasis!"

Adora nodded. "And we will protect your people. We won't let them kill you."

Alar looked relieved, but before he could say anything, the General added: "That doesn't mean we won't let you get punished for your crimes. The death sentence might be off the table, but prison isn't."

Alar gasped again. "But… it was war! We only defended ourselves against a threat to the very heart of our nation!"

"By starting a war." Mermista rolled her eyes. "That's a very active defence."

"We had no choice but to launch an attack. If we had waited any longer, we would not have had any chance at victory!"

"Well, you can tell that to the judge," the General said.

"We won't accept such a treaty!" Alar shook his head almost violently. "We'd rather fight to our last soldier!"

Glimmer snorted at that. "I doubt that. Your former subordinates were quick to abandon you in order to kill us. I'm sure the first ranking officer not on the list of war criminals will quickly hand you over rather than die for you."

Alar seemed to have no answer to that.

"How did they know our leaders, anyway?" Tralan spoke up. He hadn't commented until now. "I didn't think they had captured any of us. How would they know our names?"

"They didn't. They asked us," the General told him.


Adora cleared her throat. "They had the names of your leaders at the start of the war. And they also asked for their successors."

"And we told them," Glimmer added. "We're not going to lie for you, and it would have come out anyway - as soon as your next subordinate wants to replace you."

"But…" Alar blinked and then looked around in the gate room.

Sam didn't look away when he met her eyes. By any reasonable standards, the man was a genocidal war criminal. And his people had tried to kill her friends and herself.

"We'll ensure you will get a fair trial and that you won't get executed if you're found guilty." Adora smiled encouragingly at him.


Daniel was smiling as well. "You were ready to die for your people, right? To give your life to save them? Losing your freedom instead of your life to save them should be a better outcome."

"Yes!" Entrapta nodded several times. "Because you'll be alive. And prisons aren't that bad - I spent some time in a cell as well. Just don't break out; they don't like that."

Alar stared at her in apparent bafflement.

"And if you ask nicely, we'll build you a pretty prison with all the best cells." The General bared his teeth at Aral. "It'll probably be more comfortable than spending your life in this bunker. At least as a common soldier."

He had been sarcastic, but Entrapta nodded eagerly. "Oh, yes! We can do that! We have to rebuild much of your planet's infrastructure anyway, so adding a nice prison won't be much more work! Oh! Do you want to stay on the surface? We could build a prison in space!"

"If you're found guilty. You weren't in charge when the war started, were you?" Glimmer asked.

"No…" Alar slowly shook his head. "No, I wasn't. That was my father."

The man looked entirely too relieved for Sam's taste.


Gate Room, Euronda, December 19th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"All of the Eurondans responsible for the attack that wrecked the planet's biosphere are dead already?"

Catra snorted - even Adora sounded incredulous.

Alar, though, nodded. Almost eagerly. At least, he managed not to appear smug. "Yes. My father ordered the attack as a preemptive strike. He died ten years into the war - the stress of leading our people through such an ordeal was too much for him. I asked him to step down and go into stasis years before that, but he wouldn't listen. He said that would be like abandoning his duty to our people."

Oh, yes! Catra could totally see Alar asking his dear old father to step down and let him take over. For his own good, of course. She scoffed. The man was a schemer, like many of his subordinates - who had quickly accepted his leadership once again after hearing that their enemies wanted to try their leaders for their crimes.

Alar glanced at her for a moment, then turned back to look at Adora.

"He wouldn't have acted alone. He had others to plan and launch the attack," Adora said.

"Subordinates following his orders," Alar retorted. "Although most of them are dead by now as well, so whether or not they would have been able to stop him is moot."

"'Most of them'?" Adora frowned.

"One is in stasis, though his mental health had deteriorated to the point of being unable to fulfil his duty - he was in charge of our aero-fighters and personally led many strikes. Too many." Alar sighed far too theatrically. "I fear he is not fit to stand trial."

"I think that's what the court will have to judge," Catra commented, earning another glance.

"Yes," Adora agreed. "Whether or not he can stand trial will be up to the Eurondan Court of Justice."

An important-sounding name. It was too bad they hadn't been able to agree on anything else regarding the court.

Alar frowned some more. "Taking him out of stasis will endanger his life."

"We can heal him," Adora said.

"And we can't let him remain in stasis forever anyway," Catra added.

"You can heal him?" Alar didn't sound as happy as Catra had expected. Even counting the fact that he was charged with attempted genocide as well.

"I think so," Adora said. "It won't hurt to try, in any case."

"Healing him only so the Breeders can execute him seems cruel and unusual," Alar pointed out - probably misquoting the law books they had given the Eurondans.

"He won't be executed," Adora said. "We won't budge on that. The death penalty is barbaric."

"I was under the impression that the death penalty was still in use on Earth." Alar looked confused.

Catra snorted. Had the Eurondan expected to understand Earth after an evening reading a few law books? She'd spent months on Earth, immersed in its news and media, and still didn't really understand most of the planet. Then again, Earth had billions of people - magnitudes more than any other planet they knew - and hundreds of countries and distinct regions.

"Some of our allies still have the death penalty, yes." Adora frowned deeply. "But not the military code of justice for the alliance."

"We're supposed to kill the Goa'uld, not each other," Catra added.

"We're supposed to defeat them," Adora corrected her.

Catra nodded, even though she was sure that the Jaffa - the rebels amongst them - wouldn't want to spare any of the snakes. And given that they still hadn't found a way to provide the Goa'uld with artificial hosts that didn't degrade their minds, she wasn't sure if killing them wouldn't be kinder than keeping them in tanks and lobotomised for the rest of their lives. And keeping them all in stasis would only kick the whole thing down the road.

Still better than letting them breed, though - if they didn't eat their young, they would quickly outnumber everyone else. You'd probably needed a von Neumann Swarm, as Entrapta called them, to keep up with making tanks for so many snakes. But that was a problem for the time after the war against the Goa'uld.

"Speaking of the court… We still protest being judged by foreigners and Breeders," Alar said.

Someone should tell him that using slurs like 'Breeders' won't make a good impression on others, Catra thought.

"We haven't finalised the curt's makeup yet," Adora said.

"But since you refused to allow us on the court, it's clear that it will be made up by the Breeders and you," Alar retorted. "At least, I hope you will not break your word and hand us over to our enemies."

"We won't," Adora said. "But letting you judge yourself is out of the question. We'll be using Alliance laws for this."

"Laws neither we nor the Breeders had ever adopted," Alar protested.

"That's why it's fair," Catra said, flashing her fangs at him.

"If both you and the Eurondan Alliance agree that something shouldn't be punished, we will defer to that," Adora told him.

Alar scoffed. "Even if there is such a case, I doubt they will be honest enough to admit it!"

"We'll see," Adora said. "Earth has a lot of experience with such trials."

That was… not lying, but not entirely accurate either. But Earth certainly had more experience with such trials - or any trials - than the Princess Alliance, much less the Horde. Etheria would still have to send a judge or more, depending on the final numbers, of course. Couldn't completely leave this up to Earth.

But as long as it didn't directly involve Catra or her love, she was fine with that. They had spent too long on this planet already, in her opinion.


Restored Zone, Main Continent, Euronda, December 20th, 1999 (Earth Time)

As Jack O'Neill glanced around the landscape, waiting for the Eurondan Alliance delegation to arrive, movement in the air caught his attention - was that a bird? There weren't supposed to be any birds on the planet. Entrapta and Carter were still working on picking which bugs to introduce to the Euronda, and the team on Alpha had barely begun to study the gene samples from the Space Nazis' vaults to clone animals from.

He narrowed his eyes, trying to track the thing. It wasn't flying like a bird… Oh. Jack snorted - it was a spy bot. He should have realised that at once - they had been spreading them out over the planet. Soon, they'd cover the system as well. And the squadron of frigates making their way over here was dropping spy bots along their route as well. Once the system was linked to the network, they wouldn't need to open a gate to communicate.

But that was for the future. They still had to end the war here. Formally. The Eurondans had stopped fighting, the Space Nazis because they had lost the capability to hold their enemies back, the Eurondan Alliance because they didn't want to attack Earth and Etheria, but Jack was sure that left alone, they'd pick up where they had stopped as soon as they thought they could get away with it.

"Incoming transport," Campbell reported.

Ah. The Eurondans were arriving. Finally. And the others were stepping out of the tent to welcome them.

Jack joined them.

"Let's hope they'll be reasonable," Adora commented as she watched the plane transfer from flight to hovering.

"They are reasonable - from their point of view," Daniel pointed out. "They have different standards and customs."

"And they were almost wiped out by the Space Nazis," Jack added. "They don't want to forgive and forget." Which he fully understood. Hell, in their place, he'd feel and want the same.

"And they don't have to. That's what the trial is about," Adora said. "But executing people is wrong."

They had talked about that before. And he disagreed. "Depends on the crime. We executed the Nazis for what they had done." That was a precedent he could live very well with. And that hadn't been a miscarriage of justice, either.

"That was fifty years ago," Daniel retorted. "Since then, most countries have abolished the death penalty."

"America hasn't," Jack replied. The transport had landed, and the door was opening.

"Actually, the Supreme Court had it suspended for a time in the 1970s."

"And that didn't last." Some crimes deserved the death penalty. What the Nazis had done - and the Eurondan Nation here - certainly qualified.

"And that was wrong." Adora shook her head. "That the United States is the only country in the Alliance with the death penalty still in effect should show you that."

"We're kinda bad about following others' leads," Jack told her.

"That kind of 'American exceptionalism' is not necessarily a good thing," Daniel, of course, had to say that right before the Eurondans were close enough to overhear any response Jack would have.

So he smiled through the greetings and then followed the others into the tent. At least the food was great again.

The discussion afterwards, though, not so much.


"...why are you protecting those murderers?"

"We aren't protecting them. They'll be tried as you demanded."

"But you won't allow us to execute them. You are still trying to deny justice to our dead!"

Jack had to stop himself from nodding along with Lan's snapped statement. You didn't stab your own side in the back. Even if you disagreed with them.

"Killing people isn't justice," Adora disagreed. "Two wrongs don't make a right."

"Shouldn't the punishment fit the crime?" Liou asked. "You do not treat the thief as you treat the murderer, nor should you treat the murderer as you treat the thief."

"That doesn't mean you should kill people." Adora shook her head. "The death penalty is wrong. Dead people cannot change and become better. Nor can they make up for what they have done. That's not justice."

"What those monsters have done is beyond the pale!" Lan thundered. "And even if they wanted to, they could never make up for their crimes - you cannot bring back the dead!"

"Killing them won't bring back the dead either," Daniel said.

"But it will give us justice," Lan retorted.

Sha're nodded at that, Jack noted.

Daniel didn't seem to have noticed, though. Or, more likely, he was deliberately ignoring it - Jack was sure that Sha're had told him what she thought about the death penalty already if in private.

"You're wrong." Adora wasn't moved. "We're not going to let you kill people just to feel better. That's wrong."

She and Lan stared at each other for a moment. Then Lan slowly tilted his head to the side. "That will make it harder for our people to accept any peace agreement. They have lost too much to forgive easily."

"We're doing what we can to restore what was lost," Adora retorted. "We're going to heal your planet and will help with rebuilding."

"And yet, you will also force us to keep sharing the planet with the people who tried their worst to ruin it and kill us all," Lan said. "It seems as if you're treating them the same as you treat their victims."

Adora frowned, but before she could say anything, Daniel leaned forward. "Is there anything we can do, except for letting you kill or displace people, that would remedy that?"

Lan slowly nodded. "Yes. Without the unprovoked war, without the ruin of our lands, we would have advanced a lot over the last decades. We would have developed better technology and improved our standards of living. All that was lost to us due to the Eugenists. We don't want our world to be merely restored to the status quo, but advanced to the point where we should be."

Ah - they wanted more tech and help as the price for saving the lives of the Space Nazis. A little transparent but not easy to refuse, at least for the Etherians.


Adora frowned. That was… Well, it sounded logical, but it felt wrong to her. "You want us to 'compensate' you for what the Eurondan nation did to you? Beyond restoring the planet's ecosystem and the artificial wombs we promised you?"

"Yes." Lan nodded firmly.

"Just so you won't commit genocide in revenge or execute criminals?" Best to make sure she had understood them correctly.

"So my people will accept the leniency you demand," Lan replied. "We have lost too much otherwise."

"And there's the question of magic. You unilaterally decided to change our world not just once but twice," Liou added. "Without consulting us."

Adora blinked. That was…. "I had to restore magic to allow us to save the Eurondans. And that always comes with a surge of magic power, which I have to direct into something like healing. Otherwise, the risk of magic going out of control and causing potentially catastrophic consequences is too high. In this case, I filtered out the poison and restored life to your world - at least, to a big part of it - with the magic power."

"I don't think you can honestly claim you mind this," Daniel said. "While restoring the world could have been achieved without magic, it would have taken - would take; we're still not done - a lot longer."

"But it was done without asking what we thought about it. You decided to add magic to our world for your convenience without caring whether or not we wanted this," Lan retorted. "That was wrong."

Adora blushed a little. They were correct - she had acted without thinking about their opinion. She had been sure that what she was doing was right. And it hadn't been wrong - it had probably been the only way to save the Eurondan Nation's people from dying. And it had been the best, surely the fastest, way to heal their world, though she had underestimated the difficulty of controlling the magic.

But, yes, she had to admit that she had gone over the heads of pretty much everyone who actually lived on this world. And that wasn't right. "I'm sorry about that," she said.

For a moment, no one said anything, as if they waited for her to add something else. Then Lan spoke up. "Saying you're sorry doesn't change what you did - or make up for it."

"No, it doesn't." Adora agreed.

"But trying to get free technology as compensation for getting your world healed just because we didn't ask you if we should save you is a bit much," Jack said. "Sounds a bit greedy."

"Greedy?" Lan glared at him. "My people were almost wiped out! My world was almost ruined! And you want us to accept that those responsible for unspeakable crimes will not be punished according to our laws!"

"Yes." Adora nodded again. "Because your laws aren't just."

"How dare you insult us like this!" Lan stood up to glare at her.

Adora met his eyes. She knew she was right here.

"Genocide, ethnic cleansing, the death penalty - Earth, Etheria and the Eurondan Alliance, we all feel strongly about all of it," Daniel quickly said with a placating smile. "Very strongly," he added with a nod to the Eurondans. "But we can discuss this and find common ground."

"We are talking about millions murdered in cold blood," Lan spat. "Poisoned and starved, often dying right under the eyes of those who barely survived. If you want us to come to an agreement that will hold, you cannot expect us to bow to your demands without getting anything in return."

"Not counting your world restored and the war ended," Jack said.

"Something we would have achieved ourselves without your interference," Liou countered. "Without your, ah, rivals, our enemies wouldn't have found resources to continue the war for much longer."

"We're also doing what we can to restore your world completely," Adora said. "And we will listen to you about that."

"And protect your world against the Goa'uld," Catra spoke up.

"Both goals would be served better if we had the technology to do so ourselves," Liu said. "Allowing you to focus on your own worlds and allies."

Adora shook her head. "We only share that kind of technology with our allies and friends."

"And we don't trust you not to take the technology and then use it against the Eurondan Nation as soon as we're gone from your world," Catra added.

"You doubt our word?" Lan had been about to sit down, or so it had seemed to Adora, but he kept standing and glared at Catra.

Catra, as Adora should have expected, was entirely unimpressed. She shrugged and nodded. "You've made it clear that you answer to your people, so if they think you're too soft, they'll replace you with someone else."

Lan clenched his teeth at that. "That is why we need an agreement that will be accepted by my people."

"And why we need a squadron of frigates in orbit," Catra muttered at Adora's side.

Adora shook her head. This was wrong - they shouldn't use force, or the threat of force, to make the Eurondans agree to their demands. But giving in to their demands wasn't right either.

"Well, I am sure we can reach a compromise," Daniel said. "I doubt you can honestly argue that you would have achieved the technology to build spaceships that can travel to other solar systems if the war hadn't happened. Or our weapon technology. But there are examples of advanced technology we could share. Namely, the artificial wombs we mentioned before. And food production. Construction. Media. We can boost your standard of living significantly."

Adora nodded.

"What exactly are you offering?" Liu asked as Lan sat down again.

Adora smiled and tried not to sigh. This would be tiring. Such negotiations always were. But as long as they reached an agreement in the end that they could live with, it would be worth it.


Gate Room, Euronda, December 20th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"...so, we'll still share our technology with them as long as it's not weapon technology? Even though they're not in the Alliance?"

Samantha Carter nodded at Entrapta's question. "Within limits. Mostly the artificial wombs and technology to support their reconstruction and agricultural efforts."

Entrapta cocked her head to the side. "Ah. So, nothing really new."

"Not for us," Sam confirmed. "But we have to ensure it cannot be used to develop weapons before we hand anything over." Daniel had been more than a bit hasty in his attempt to continue the negotiations.

"Ah." Her friend pouted for a moment. "That's going to be hard. You can turn a lot of advanced technology into weapons. The artificial wombs could be used to breed creatures that can fight if you repurpose them. And any construction technology can be used to build fortifications. And any bioreactors could probably produce bioweapons instead of food."

Sam suppressed a wince. Entrapta was a great friend and an incredibly nice person. But she also had a sometimes scary talent for building weapons. That she didn't always understand when one should construct weapons and when not didn't help. "They can already grow bioweapons, I think - they must have bioreactors to feed their people - and they can construct bunkers. New technology would only speed either process up and not add new capabilities. And I don't think we'll have to worry about animals bred for war."

"Are you sure? When I talked with Loki and the others on Alpha about the genetic samples of Eurondan fauna we've sent them, they noticed that we lacked sufficient predators to keep all the fast-breeding herbivore species in check, and they had several ideas about making a few of the animals we do have samples of into more effective predators to compensate, and some of those would make them good at fighting soldiers as well. Like paralysing tentacles and adaptive camouflage. Or glands to produce aerosolised venom."

Maybe Sam shouldn't have focused on expanding the sensor net on Euronda and restring the life support systems in the Eurondan Nation's defence complex for so long. "I don't think the Eurondans have the capability to genetically engineer species to that degree," she said. I sure hope so, she added to herself. "But we will make sure to install safeguards."

"In the artificial wombs? I thought we wanted to let them build them," Entrapta said. "And given the Eurondan Nation's skills with software that we saw after analysing the programs used to hack Stargate Command, and which the Eurondan Alliance should have as well, or they would have lost the war already, right? - I think they would detect any such programs."

"Yes, that wouldn't work," Sam agreed. "But we can monitor the wombs and the Stargate with our scanners. Though I think they will focus on restoring their world before starting another war."

Entrapta looked sceptical. "Are you sure? It would be logical, but people aren't often logical. The Eurondan Alliance don't seem to like us even though we restored most of their world and ended the war."

"We were a bit heavy-handed," Sam pointed out. "We started altering their world without consulting them. And we returned magic." And stopped them from finishing off their enemies.

"But we're helping them! Their world was dead!" Entrapta protested. "And magic is a natural part of their world!"

"Not everyone likes magic," Sam said. And she couldn't help suspecting that part of the reason for the way the Eurondan Alliance had reacted was that their leaders weren't used to dealing with women in positions of authority. Especially young women. But that could just be Sam's own biases, based on her experiences on Earth, influencing her.

"That's stupid." Entrapta pouted. "That's like not liking science."

Sam agreed, though she was aware that many students didn't like science, at least in school. And the less said about the religious zealots on Earth and their issues with science (and logic and reality itself), the better. "Yes, it is. But that's what the Eurondan Alliance thinks about it." Or claimed to think - the General was quite convinced that a significant part of the Eurondan Alliance's complaints were just to support their negotiations. "Anyway," she went on, "we're supposed to go over what kind of technology we can safely share with the Eurondan Alliance to help them recover."

"Hm. We need to know what they already can do," Entrapta said. "So we can cover the gaps."

Sam almost snorted at the thought of asking Lan about their technology and how the man would react. "Even if they already have the technology, their production capacity is almost assuredly very limited, so providing them with tools and machines would still be very helpful." And, a cynical part of her added in the back of her mind, it would allow some of Earth's industry to offload soon-to-be-obsolete products on the Alliance's pay.

"Right!" Entrapta nodded. "And we can check with our scanners where they have the worst deficits."

That was essentially spying on the Eurondan Alliance, but Sam didn't mind doing it if it helped them reach an agreement. They would be spying on the Eurondan Alliance anyway to ensure that they would not attempt to restart the war.


Royal Palace, Bright Moon, Etheria, December 20th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"Why do we care what those Eurondans want, anyway? We saved their planet, and as thanks, they make demands of us? We should just finish fixing their planet and then leave!"

Frosta had a point, in Catra's opinion. Not that she would ever say so, of course. And the princess was still wrong, anyway.

"We can't! If we leave, the Eurondan Alliance will kill the Eurondan Nation's people!" Adora blurted out.

"Then we evacuate them to another planet," Frosta retorted. "They tried to kill the Eurondan Alliance first, and almost succeeded, so they can't complain about having to move."

"That wouldn't be right either," Adora told her. "Ethnic cleansing is wrong."

"And it would put a strain on our logistics," Mermista added. "We couldn't just drop them on another planet - if we find one, anyway - without any infrastructure. Even if we limit our investment to the bare minimum for them to live, we're talking about building an entire country from scratch - including transportation and industry."

"If we use the Tok'ra's technology, we could quickly build up underground bases for everyone," Entrapta cut in. "That would be much faster than building on the surface. And we could duplicate their bioreactors to produce food." She looked at her multitool. "That wouldn't be a heavy strain on our logistics, actually."

Adora looked taken aback for a moment.

Frosta nodded with a smile: "That would leave them like they were during the war. They're used to that."

Oh, for…! Catra snorted. "And you think they'll change like that? No matter how good their new planet might be, they'd still prefer their own world. And they'll blame us for losing their world." And without any help and support, they would be stuck living as if they were still at war for a long, long time. That kind of life would only make them even worse.

"So?" Frosta shrugged and narrowed her eyes. "They started the war."

Catra clenched her teeth. She knew what the princess was hinting at. The Horde had started a war as well. But…

"And we ended the war," Adora said, frowning at Frosta. "We can't turn our back on them. They need our help - both the Eurondan Nation and the Eurondan Alliance."

"Then they should act like it! Show some gratitude!" Frosta snapped.

"They're trying to milk us," Glimmer added.

"We did act a bit… high-handed, I think," Bow said.

"Yes," Adora agreed.

"We didn't have much choice," Glimmer retorted. "And we did the right thing. They're trying to make us reward them with the threat of sinking as low as their enemies did. And that is not acceptable!"

"But we need to help them!" Perfuma protested. "Without our help, it'll be decades, possibly centuries, before their world's ecology recovers."

"We will help them." Adora shook her head. "But we can't just leave them be, or they'll never change for the better."

"We can't exactly make them change," Mermista said.

Catra wasn't so sure about that. There were ways to change a culture - the Horde had done that to the Scorpion Kingdom. Even now, the new Scorpion Kingdom was very different from the kingdom that Scorpia's ancestors had ruled. It was heavily influenced by the Horde survivors living there. So much, Catra wouldn't want to live there - she would constantly be reminded of her past.

"That's another reason why we shouldn't force the Eurondan Nation off their world; if they learn to live together, they'll change. Both sides," Glimmer said.

If, Catra thought.

"So, we'll bribe them with our tech?" Mermista asked. "And station a task force there to make them play nice with each other, all for their own benefit?"

"Essentially, yes," Adora told her. "If we share our technology, they can rebuild on their own. Mostly - we still need to help with restoring their world's biosphere."

"And Earth will support them with tools, machines and other stuff that is going obsolete but will still work perfectly fine," Bow added.

Perfuma nodded. "That's a good thing - otherwise, they would probably throw away all those things, and that would cause a lot of environmental damage." She frowned. "Earth really should stop being so wasteful."

"That's how they do things," Mermista said with a shrug. "Anyway, what about the proposal for tomorrow's meeting?"

Adora frowned a little - she was in charge of the meeting, and Catra knew that her lover didn't like it when others tried to do her job for her - but nodded. "Yes. We've collected a list of supplies and technology that we think can be safely sent to Euronda. Mostly old agricultural and industrial tools and machinery from Earth and our artificial womb technology. We'll have to build the wombs first, though, until the Eurondans can build their own."

"And what about magic?" Scorpia asked.

Adora winced.

Glimmer scowled. "We don't have enough teachers for our allies; we surely can't spare them for the Eurondans."

Catra agreed, though she was sure that the Eurondans wouldn't like that. Although she wouldn't put it past them to be glad that no 'foreigner' tried to teach them how to work magic on their world. Actually, that would be a good way to make them refuse such an offer - make it patronisingly enough, and Lan would probably refuse out of principle just to avoid more 'foreign meddling'.

Which brought up another question. "What about religion?" Catra asked. If the task force sent there came from Third Fleet - and they were closer than Second and First Fleet - then that meant Priest would send his best, so to speak.

Adora grimaced. "I'll tell them that they can't proselytise."

Everyone nodded, but Catra was sure it wouldn't help much. Priest was good at getting around such orders. Probably by avoiding open proselytising but having the Clones 'honestly answer questions' or something like that.

And then Adora would frown but accept it.


Restored Zone, Main Continent, Euronda, December 21st, 1999 (Earth Time)

Jack O'Neill was really sick of these meetings. To think a few of his fellow generals, and a number of people from the State Department, were complaining about him 'involving himself with diplomatic ventures that aren't the concern of the military'! It wasn't as if he wanted to meddle in these affairs.

But he wasn't about to leave it all to the Etherians and Daniel. They were both a bit too idealistic and a bit too… nice was a good word, in Jack's opinion. Sometimes, you had to be a bastard if you wanted to do your job as a leader. Every officer worth their salt learned that. And Jack would rather take that role than foist it on any of his friends.

And he had grown to dislike the Eurondan Alliance. At least their diplomats. They weren't as bad as the Eurondan Nation, not that that was hard since Alar's bunch were genocidal Space Nazis. But Lan was, as Cambell had put it, 'a right sort of prick', and Liou was far too smooth and smug for Jack's taste.

Sure, they had more than enough reasons to want the Space Nazis gone - something Jack agreed with - but the way they went about it was annoying. It was as if they were using their dead as arguments to get more technology. Like selling out, in a way. If they couldn't get justice, then money would do nicely.

"Let's hope they never meet an ambulance chaser," he muttered as he studied the horizon.

"Hm?" Catra made a questioning sound next to him.

"Nothing," Jack replied. "Just thinking out loud."


They stared at the hills in the distance in silence for a bit. Then Carter reported that the Alliance transport was approaching, and Jack sighed. Time to deal with the pricks again.

And to try to ignore all the 'concerns' and 'suggestions' he had heard in all the meetings he had had to attend back on Earth when he should have been taking care of his unit instead. It was kind of fitting that actual combat missions and operations didn't draw a tenth of the attention from that crowd compared to the hint of potential profit for their lobbyists.

On the other hand, that was actually a good thing. If they tried to interfere with the war, it would be a debacle.


"Those designs do not look very advanced. We had similar machines before the war," Liou complained.

"They aren't advanced at all, so your people won't need a lot of training to use them."

Jack O'Neill grinned at Glimmer's reply. It was evasive and misleading but technically correct. "We can't exactly send an army of instructors while we're waging a war against body-snatching aliens," he added. "We need them ourselves." Hell, sparing the ships and Clones to watch over the planet and keep the Eurodans from genociding each other would already be a bit of a strain. Tough just a little bit, as long as the Alliance didn't actually occupy the planet. That would be a mess.

"So you foist your outdated equipment on us?" Lan scoffed.

"You can use it, can't you?" Glimmer's smile showed all her teeth.

"We could use more advanced machinery as well," Liou retorted. He made a point of looking at Emily standing guard in the back. "Especially if they were autonomous."

"You'd have trouble maintaining, much less replacing them," Jack said.

"They look rather rugged. By the time they would need replacement, I think we would have learned how to maintain and build them." Liou smiled. "Our weapons are more advanced than the tools you offer, after all."

"As I said, we need the advanced technology ourselves," Jack repeated himself before Entrapta could offer to build some agricultural bots that not even Etheria had yet.

"So you say," Lan said. "Yet you can spare the time and supplies to save our enemies."

"And your world," Glimmer said. "We prioritise saving lives."

Daniel nodded. "And with your war won, you can focus on rebuilding. You won't need to concentrate on military industry any more."

Lan scoffed. "With an Empire of hostile aliens waiting in the skies, who, as you told us, would turn us into primitive, uneducated slaves? We need advanced weapons more than ever!"

"We'll station a task force in your system to protect you," Adora told him.

"And what if that's not enough to defend our world?" Liou asked.

Glimmer shrugged. "Even if we handed over all our technology to you, by the time you could manage to build enough spaceships and advanced weapons to actually make a difference, the war will likely be over."

Lan ground his teeth at that, but Glimmer was right. Earth, with magnitudes more industrial potential and people, was already struggling to catch up. Euronda wouldn't meaningfully contribute to the war against the Goa'uld in time to matter. Not even if, by some miracle, all the survivors on both sides decided to unite and work together with all their might.

Of course, they couldn't be trusted anyway.

"That seems optimistic," Liou said. "Wars rarely go according to plan, as our enemies found out. Wouldn't it be wise to at least have contingency plans in case your war will last for several decades?"

"Yes," Glimmer told him with another toothy smile. "But if the war lasts for so long, then the last thing we would want was to send your people to the frontlines. You already suffered so much and barely survived your own war."

"We could still provide you with war materials if we had an automated industry set up."

"Oh, we can do that ourselves," Entrapta cut in with a wide and honest smile. "We've been working on automated production facilities, like for our spy bots. Don't worry about that. In the long term, our main bottleneck is manpower, though, in a pinch, we can ramp up cloning, I guess."

The Eurondans didn't like hearing that. Not at all. Hell, Jack wasn't sure he liked it, though for different reasons - more Clones? Or, even worse, cloning humans? That was a can of worms he'd rather shoot into the sun.

Adora nodded. "So, thank you for your offer, but we won't burden you with such demands. You can focus on rebuilding your world with our help."

Her smile wasn't as smug as Catra's, Jack noted, but she was clearly - at least in his impression - at least a little glad to tell off the Eurondans.

As was he. Though not as much as he was relieved that with this done, he could finally focus back on his actual job.

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Good chapter.

The things they went through are horrific and of course they want to make sure that can never happen again. But also genocide isn't the right answer.

Indeed. But the Etherians are a bit too naive - the Eurondan Alliance is very unlikely to follow their example and trust them as easily as they expect.

Ah, yes, Space Nuremberg Trials. Honestly might be a good idea, for more than one reason. It might mean the Eurondan Alliance ends up learning about the Nazis, and the end of the Second World War, and hopefully makes them able to conceive of a world where they are at peace with the Nation. If they accept an end to the war akin to the Nuremberg Trials, then the Earth concept of universal human rights (something they debated in the meeting) might seem more legitimate.

Yeah. But the Eurondan Alliance has fought a war for their very survival for decades, only to have the Alliance step in and end it, and then tell them they can't finish it. They are not going to take that well.
Indeed. But the Etherians are a bit too naive - the Eurondan Alliance is very unlikely to follow their example and trust them as easily as they expect.

Yeah. But the Eurondan Alliance has fought a war for their very survival for decades, only to have the Alliance step in and end it, and then tell them they can't finish it. They are not going to take that well.
Oh absolutely. I am by no means a fan of the death penalty but if there's ever a time it could be justified it would be for war crimes.

Also... they don't really seem to have a plan for actually getting the Eurondan nation to change. Sure getting them out of their bunkers will help but there's decades of propaganda to overcome. Destroying the environment of the planet is nobody's first choice.
"Are you sure? When I talked with Loki and the others on Alpha about the genetic samples of Eurondan fauna we've sent them, they noticed that we lacked sufficient predators to keep all the fast-reeding herbivore species in check, and they had several ideas about making a few of the animals we do have samples of into more effective predators to compensate, and some of those would make them good at fighting soldiers as well.

Typo: replace "fast-reeding" with "fast-breeding."

Another entertaining chapter. Keep up the good work.
Chapter 137: Holiday Season Part 1
Chapter 137: Holiday Season Part 1

Gate Zone, Euronda, December 22nd, 1999 (Earth Time)

"So, you have sold us out."

Adora wanted to sigh and roll her eyes at Alar's words, but that would have been… not appropriate for the occasion. Which didn't stop Catra from doing exactly that, of course, but Adora was She-Ra, and she had to maintain her dignity. This was, after all, an official meeting. And she had to set a good example for the Alliance soldiers guarding the gate room and the rest of the defence complex. Even though, or perhaps especially, since most of them belonged to Jack's command.

So she slowly nodded instead of telling Alar that they didn't owe him anything in the first place. "Yes. We've finished a treaty with the Eurondan Alliance. In exchange for various concessions from the Alliance against the Goa'uld, represented by us, and the complete disarmament of the Eurondan Nation, they have agreed to end the war with the Eurondan Nation without forcing you off-world. They have also agreed that the death penalty will not be available in the trials of suspected war criminals. Trials which will be conducted by a mixed court with judges from the Eurondan Alliance and the Alliance against the Goa'uld."

Alar looked relieved for a moment - had he expected them to sacrifice his life to placate the Eurondan Alliance? But he quickly scowled and sounded even more defiant. "We fought a war. You kill your enemies in war. If what we did was wrong, then so was what the Breeders did."

Adora narrowed her eyes at him. "You don't murder civilians - not even in a war! That's a law that applies to everyone." She walked up to him and leaned forward, looming over him. "You attempted a genocide!"

Alar cringed, taking a half-step back, but then straightened. "We struck at our enemies! If we hadn't struck first, they would have attacked us sooner or later under a pretext to erase us and our culture!"

"Come on, save this for the judges," Jack said. "They might buy it."

Alar glared at him. "As if the judgement wasn't decided already!"

"You'll get a fair trial," Daniel told him. "We've had such trials before, trust us. We'll ensure that you receive a skilled defender and that everything follows procedure."

"Your laws and procedure!" Alar shook his head. "Why bother with this farce? We all know how this will play out."

"That's how we do things," Jack said with bared teeth. "Even genocidal Space Nazis get their day in court."

Daniel cleared his throat. "Well, it's not as cut and dried as you claim. If you weren't in a position of authority - if you had no part in the decision to launch a genocidal attack against the Eurondan Alliance - then you will not be held responsible for that. There are many precedents in our history. We don't punish people for merely waging war."

"So, you come and crush us, hand our enemies the victory in our war, and then expect us to be grateful to you for not letting the Breeders murder or exile every one of us?" Alar scoffed, but he sounded closer to crying. "What did we do to you to deserve this?"

"Well, for starters, you supplied our enemies with weapons to attack us," Jack said with a shrug. "We take a dim view of such things. And then we found out that you tried to murder everyone on your world who disagreed with your customs. That's kind of a red flag for us. That you also ruined your planet is kind of just gravy."

Adora nodded. The Eurondan Alliance was annoying with their wheedling and demanding more concessions - though Adora and her friends had stayed mostly firm and wouldn't hand over weapon technology, magitech, or advanced aerospace technology - but they hadn't started this war. Or tried to kill her friends. "We'll take you and the others on the list in custody now."

"But… that will leave our people leaderless!"

"I'm sure someone else will step up and take over," Jack said. "They've probably been preparing for that ever since they heard the news from us. It's kind of what Nazis do."

Alar shook his head but didn't say anything else. Not even when two soldiers stepped up to him and cuffed him before leading him to the Stargate. He and the others would be held in a prison on Earth, to keep them safe from revenge.

Jack watched him go and sighed. "We really should install a democracy here. If we let them continue with their system, they won't change."

"We're not here to force your system on them," Glimmer disagreed. "Or ours," she added. "We're just here to stop them from destroying each other and their world."

"Then this won't be peace but just an armistice for twenty years," Jack retorted.

"We'll see." Adora knew people could change. And the Eurondans had to change, anyway, to adapt to the end of the war and the restoration of their world. "At least they won't have to fight a war any more. Both the Eurondan Nation and the Eurondan Alliance can now focus on rebuilding their countries in peace."

"Lan didn't act like it," Glimmer pointed out. "He kept trying to get more weapon technology from us. What did he think, that we would give him more weapons so he could launch an attack on the Eurondan Nation as soon as we turn our back to them?"

Daniel cleared his throat again. "I don't think it's that - or just that, I suppose. The Eurondan Alliance was fighting for their lives for decades, knowing that if they lost, it would be the end for their entire people, culture and history. That kind of conflict would have shaped their Society. It's quite understandable that they will want to arm up until they feel they can fend off any attacker."

"We will protect them. We told them so," Adora said.

"But they don't trust us. Which is also understandable - from their point of view, we protected their enemies," Daniel said. "It will take time for them to come to terms with the situation."

"Whatever!" Glimmer scoffed. "Let's leave now. We've ended the war and restored most of their world. That's enough."

It wasn't, not really. There was so much still wrong in this world. But they had far more worlds to save than this one, worlds far worse off than this one, too.

And they hadn't finished restoring the world's biosphere yet. But that was not something Adora could help with.

"Yes, let's go."


Stargate Command, CFB Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Canada, December 23rd, 1999

Samantha Carter watched as yet another transport carrying a standard freight container drove up the ramp of the Stargate. The transport used an electric drive - the ventilation of the base could have handled the exhausts from internal combustion engines, but it would have been an additional strain on the system, and the engines could just be hooked up to the base's reactors to be recharged, which was both easier and safer than refuelling outside or transporting more fuel into the base. Less fuel meant a lessened fire risk - something she could appreciate after her visit to Euronda.

Even with the additional security added after the attack by the Russians and Chinese, the whole process went smoothly - as one transport drove through the gate and vanished, the next one lined up behind it. Optimising the gate schedule for efficiency and costs, taking into account the space available for parking and storage and leaving enough windows for other gate missions - both planned and unplanned, was a challenge, but the best logisticians of the planet were working on it and had it down to science.

Sam had checked. Just in case. There wouldn't be another sabotage attempt on her watch. And this was an Alliance mission, anyway.

"Carter! There you are!"

She turned around and straightened. The General had arrived! "Sir. I thought you were expected in Washington." She had checked his schedule, as usual. She wasn't his Second-in-Command any more, but old habits died slowly.

"Ah, the meeting had to be cancelled so the general responsible could do his Christmas shopping." He grinned, and Sam couldn't tell if he was serious or not.

So she nodded. "I see."

"So, I decided to check up on our latest deployments," he went on. "Make sure everything's alright on our favourite new planet."

She frowned at that. With the holidays coming up, and after he had been absent for so long from his command to deal with the Eurondans, the paperwork must have been piling up on his desk.

He snorted. "I'm up to date on paperwork, Major."

She managed not to blush; he knew her too well after years of working together so closely. "Of course, sir."

"I've got actual aides for that, you know? Perks of being a general."

"Yes, sir."

"Anyway, I'm just going to hitch a ride on the next transport for a surprise inspection." He hesitated a moment. "Want to tag along and check up on the restoration stuff?"

She was tempted. Only to check that the team headed by Perfuma didn't need any technical assistance, of course. They were supposed to call either Entrapta, Sam or Bow if they had trouble with the bots helping them deploy the next wave of plants. The animals were still being cloned in Alpha, but the first batch would be ready before the new year.

But she had her own tasks to deal with - and she didn't have an aide to handle her paperwork. So, she sighed softly and shook her head. "I'll have to pass, sir."

"Alright. See you in an hour or so?"

By then, she would still be here, handling the bits of advanced technology they were shipping to the Eurondan Alliance. "Yes, sir."

He smiled, waved, and then stepped forward as the next transport drove up to the ramp. As soon as the transport stopped for the go-ahead from the traffic controller, the General opened the door and slid inside with smooth grace befitting a man twenty years younger.

She suppressed a sigh and turned back to her scanner. The artificial wombs were not yet ready - construction facilities had still to be set up, and since several countries were very interested in hosting those, and even more in the products, things had been delayed a bit. But the advanced bioreactors they had promised the Erondans to increase their food production were ready; Priest had delivered a few spare units from Third Fleet. He had also sent a team of Clones to install them and instruct the Eurondans in their use - and to spread the word of She-Ra or something on the sly. Not that Sam really cared. A number of Eurondans converting might make handling the whole planet easier, especially if people from both sides converted. On the other hand, that might create the first schism in the Church of She-Ra…

But that was a problem for Priest and Adora. And probably Daniel. Sam had to ensure that the safety features on the bioreactors were intact. No one wanted the Eurondans to use the reactors to manufacture bioweapons. Not after seeing first-hand what Alar's people had done to their world.

But so far, all the systems checked out. She signed the forms for this batch and then watched as they were packed into containers. As they were loaded on the next transport, she noticed General Hammond walking toward her.


"Major." He smiled. "Everything alright?"

"Yes, sir."

"I guess I missed General O'Neill?"

Sam nodded. "He just went through the gate, sir."

"Ah. Well, I can ask you, I think."

She wasn't in the General's chain of command any more, not officially. But she probably could answer what question General Hammond had anyway. "Yes, sir?"

"Will SG-1 - well, the former SG-1 - attend Stargate Command's New Year's Party?"

Ah. Sam blinked. Right. The holiday season meant parties. Christmas and New Year's parties. With the Eurondan Affair, she hadn't even thought about that. And neither had her friends, she suspected. "I don't know yet," she said. A safe answer.

"Well, you're certainly invited." General Hammond beamed at her. "We all owe you for saving our bacon once again."

"Thank you, sir."

Sam was already trying to remember which parties she could miss and which she couldn't. Between the General and her Etherian friends, she probably wouldn't be able to skip as many as she would prefer. But she knew she didn't want to miss Stargate Command's New Year's Party. That was a tradition, after all. Even if she had been dragged to most of them in the past.


Bright Moon, Etheria, December 24th, 1999

"It almost looks like we're on Earth," Catra commented as she walked at Adora's side towards the palace gates.

Adora looked around, frowning a little in that cute way of hers, then shook her head. "On Earth, the whole street would be decked out in Christmas decorations. Not just a few shops."

It was more than a few shops, actually - about every third shop was sporting tinsel and green and red ribbons or plants. And all of those shops had displays like on Earth. "Close enough," she said.

Adora nodded. "It looks like we missed a big smuggling ring."

"Those aren't wares from Earth," Catra corrected her lover. "Those are 'Earth-style goods'. Copies made here." One of the shops even advertised as that. Although she had no doubt that the shop would sell actual contraband under the table if the owner had access to a smuggler. Not to them, of course - the clerks would know that Adora would report them. But if Catra were alone… Hm.

"Well, it's only natural," Adora said. "Earth media are very popular, and people watching the shows and movies will see a lot of Earth products. Of course, they'll be curious about them. Daniel said similar things happen on Earth all the time."

Catra knew that Etherian goods would fetch a premium on Earth - and did whenever someone managed to smuggle something through the Stargate, though that would be even rarer after they had improved security. But she'd never seen - or heard of - a similar 'Etherian-style goods' fad. "What does Glimmer think about this?" she asked as they passed a bakery with 'original French croissants' that looked pretty similar to the ones she had eaten in Paris.

Adora winced a little. "Ah, she said she wanted to look into encouraging local businesses."

"So, she's not happy with everyone being crazy for Earth stuff." Catra snorted. She could understand that - if she were a princess, she would be a bit worried about that as well.

"It's not that," Adora said. "It's the whole difference between our population and Earth's. That's why the trade deals are stalled as well."

"Well, duh." Catra scoffed. "If we opened trade, the Stargate would be blocked for years with all the stuff Earth would ship to us." Most of it junk or obsolete stuff, but it would still sell.

"Yes. But they are pushing - and complaining about, well, that." Adora pointed at a shop advertising Earth media and assorted merchandise. "They still want us to 'respect copyright'."

"Good luck with that." Catra shook her head. Etheria didn't work like that.

"Some of the princesses were debating whether or not they should agree," Adora said. "But mostly because the don't like Earth media being so popular and think by cracking down on smuggling, it would become more expensive and less common."

Catra snorted. That wasn't how things worked. You couldn't stop smuggling, not even the Horde had managed, and media wasn't bottlenecked by the Stargate's capacity. You could transport a whole library on a single memory crystal.

"Mermista didn't think it would work either," Adora said.

"She would know." Both from Sea Hawk and her experience with smuggling on the sea. "Well, it's not our problem," Catra said. She narrowed her eyes at Adora to remind her lover of that.

"I know!" Adora blushed a little. "Though cultural exchange is."

Catra rolled her eyes. That again! The Asgard's visit had been bad enough, and Earth's would be worse - a lot of Etherians were crazy for Earth culture, especially their artists. "You'll have to assign a company or more for crowd control once the stars arrive," she said.

"That's up to the ruling princesses," Adora said. "Not all of them were, ah, enthusiastic."

"I bet they're just jealous they are less popular than Earth artists." Catra grinned.

Adora cleared her throat and didn't comment.

Catra's grin widened. "Well, you don't have that problem. You're the most popular princess. Here and on Earth."

That earned her a frown. "I don't care. I just… oh, no!"

Catra quickly followed her lover's gaze. "Oh!" She chuckled. "Priest must have taken notes."

In front of another shop, three Clones stood in a booth with a life-sized cardboard cutout of She-Ra, sword raised and shining with blinding light. Next to it, they had placed a box for donations and stacks of flyers, books and crystals. "It's really like Christmas on Earth. Be glad they didn't dress you up as Santa," she said.

Adora muttered a curse under her breath.

"Cheer up - it means Etheria has at least one celebrity who's popular in the rest of the Alliance," Catra told her with a snicker.

"I'd rather see Sea Hawk become a star on Earth with his shanties," Adora snapped.

Catra laughed as they took a detour so they wouldn't pass in front of the stall. Then she frowned as she had another thought. "If they're doing that on Earth, that could cause trouble." Earth took their weird religions seriously, and it was holiday season for the Alliance.

Adora sighed.


Pentagon, Washington D.C., United States of America, Earth, December 24th, 1999

"That's very interesting, General. I'll be sure to keep that in mind when we're training in Germany."

As an example of how not to conduct a landing operation on another planet, Jack O'Neill added to himself when he turned away to refill his glass. That was an insane proposal, and from a fellow Air Force officer to boot! Really, it sounded as if the man had never considered that a planetary invasion was focused on securing the orbitals. You couldn't establish air superiority if the enemy could bomb you from space no matter how daringly you dropped on the planet. And if you had control of the orbitals, you did the same to the enemy.

With people like that working at the Pentagon, it was no wonder that the Navy pukes had won the battle for the US space forces!

Besides, Jack ran Alliance Special Forces Command, not the Space Marines. He wasn't in charge of invading planets, he was in charge of taking out key objectives for invasions, running ops behind enemy lines, search and rescue and all the fun stuff SG-1 had gotten up to in their days.

His glass refilled with excellent whisky - the Pentagon didn't skimp on food and drinks for their general staff mixers - he made his way to the corner of the room closest to the door. He had been here for almost an hour; it was time to slip out as soon as the opportunity presented itself. Before he drank too much and started to hurt some of the idiots here.

Like Admiral Kearsy. Jack hadn't forgotten the debriefing of the Saqqara mission. The man was talking to the Secretary of Defense near the other end of the bar. Jack considered cutting in if only to see if he had to heed off another blatant powerplay by the Navy to cripple the funding for the rest of the branches so they could design another death trap to show off the limeys.

He decided against it. If the Navy tried anything, it would go through Alliance Command, and Adora would inform him. And they could get Carter to dissect the latest issues with the Navy's ship design.

At least the British ships were coming along according to schedule. If the Navy pukes kept messing up their homebrewed all-in-one-designs, the Marines might be ferried to the first landing zones on British transports escorted by British corvettes.

Which wouldn't be all that bad, actually, in Jack's opinion.

"General O'Neill!"

Damn! Jack forced himself to smile. "General Naird."

"I was wondering if you knew if Major Carter was going to attend this mixer."

Jack narrowed his eyes. Why did Naird want to speak to Carter? At a mixer? The man was married! "Unfortunately, she is busy with critical work for the war." Also known as doing science with Entrapta instead of suffering here with him.

"Oh." The man's face fell. "I was hoping to discuss a few things I discovered. As you certainly know, I was assigned to command our Space Signals Corps, and since that relies heavily on the spy bot network Major Carter and Princess Entrapta have developed…" He trailed off with a hopeful smile.

Jack was tempted to mention that 'Space Signals Corps' basically was just handling the interface with said network. But everyone knew that, even Naird. And it was Christmas Eve. So he shrugged. "I can't help you there - I just push the button on the radio. And if it doesn't work, I call Carter."

"Err, yes, that's basically the problem. It works, but we - that is, my command - don't have the capability to fix anything if it doesn't work. My aide and my technical advisor have, therefore, formulated a plan for a backup system in case the main network is damaged."

Ah. Tech talk. "Oh, just mail her your proposal. She will get back to you."

"We did. Two weeks ago." Naird pouted. "But we haven't heard back."

Really? "Well, I can't speak for Major Carter, but between the attack by Russia and China and then the mess with the Space Nazis, I think she might have been a bit too busy to give your proposal the attention it deserves."

"Ah. Maybe I should send a reminder." Naird nodded.

"Yes." That wouldn't endear him to Carter, but that wasn't Jack's problem. On the other hand… "Or I could do it. Communications are a critical part of modern warfare, after all, and it's always good to have backup systems. In fact, I think I'll go call her right now. Merry Christmas!"

"Ah…" Naird opened his mouth, but Jack was already finishing his drink on the way out.

An excuse to leave the mixer early and to call Carter? That was almost a Christmas present in his book.

But just as he reached the door, it was opened by a concerned-looking captain - Air Force, Jack noted - whose eyes widened when she saw him. "General O'Neill! Captain Brown. We've got a situation."

Damn. Well, he hadn't heard any sirens, so it couldn't be too bad.

"There was an altercation involving several Clones and Alliance soldiers."

Scratch that thought.


"So, fill me in?" Jack O'Neill asked a minute later as they walked through the hallway - toward the exit leading to the landing pads, he noted.

"At the Christmas Party at the Washington Navy Yard, a religious dispute occurred between a group of Clones and Navy personnel. The dispute escalated to violence," Brown replied. "All involved are now either in lockup or in the hospital."

A brawl between Clones and Navy pukes? So, none of his people were involved? "And I was the only general available, I guess?" he half-joked.

"The Supreme Commander is not on Earth nor on duty. The leader of Third Fleet was already informed, and Admiral Brown-Emerson requested your presence since you are on location."

"Ah." That explained why Jack was left holding the bag. Not because he was already in Washington, of course - Priest could probably arrive faster at the Naval Yard from orbit than Jack could make it through Washington D.C.'s traffic. But Jack was a close friend of Adora and so the wily Brit probably figured he could handle Priest. Well, he wasn't entirely wrong. Jack certainly could think of worse officers being involved in this.

He narrowed his eyes at the thought. "Was Admiral Kearsy informed?" He was the ranking US Navy officer on the council. And he was in Washington as well.

"I don't know. I received a direct call from Admiral Brown-Emerson and immediately went to fetch you, sir. Should I call him?"

"Let him enjoy the party," Jack said as they left the building. "Ever flown in a shuttle?"

"Yes, sir."

"Ever flown in a stealth shuttle?"

"No, sir."

"It's like a shuttle, but better." He grinned again. "Although we won't be using the stealth generator this time."

"Yes, sir."

Jack refrained from making a comment on being too formal. The captain wasn't one of his people. And when working in the Pentagon as a junior officer, especially as a young woman, it was better to be as formal as possible when interacting with your superior.

"Strap in," he told her as they boarded the shuttle, followed by the bot guarding it - the encrypted locks on the shuttle had been built by Carter and Entrapta, but you couldn't be too careful with your personal stealth shuttle around other generals. Doubly so in Washington.

He quickly ran through the pre-flight checks. "So, how bad are the injuries? And how much alcohol was involved?"

"None of the injuries were reported as life-threatening, sir," Brown replied. "No alcohol was served at the party."

Jack snorted. "Blood checks on all."

"Yes, sir." She made a note on her pad while Jack informed air traffic control of his flight

As soon as he got the clearance, he took off. Five minutes later - mostly because he had to avoid a police chopper - they touched down at the Naval Yard. Next to another shuttle with familiar markings. Third Fleet.

Jack was pretty sure he knew who had arrived with that shuttle.

He was proven right five minutes later when they reached the area where the uninjured participants of the brawl were held in detention. "Hello, Priest. Lieutenant." He nodded at the Navy officer next to Priest.

"General O'Neill!" The Clone smiled at him. "Merry Christmas, and may Her Divine Highness's grace bless you as well. And to you," he added with a nod at Brown.

Ah. Jack was starting to get an inkling of the reasons for the brawl. "Thanks, I guess," he replied.

"Sir." The Lieutenant looked as tense as you'd expect from anyone in his position - Priest commanded a fleet with enough firepower to turn Earth into a wasteland, after all.

"So, I heard a couple of people got into a brawl at a party," Jack said. "I guess someone broke out the booze early."

"We're still investigating," the Lieutenant said. "NCIS was informed. A special agent is on the way."

"NCIS? Really? Do you do that every time there's a drunken brawl?" Jack raised his eyebrows. Someone was escalating. Sure, technically, this could be worth a criminal investigation, but generally, people didn't want to escalate from a disciplinary matter to a criminal one. Especially if it involved foreign service personnel. It looked like someone was playing games here. Wait - he had his own special agent on call. Sort of. "I guess we'll cooperate on this, then."

"Sir?" The Lieutenant looked confused for a moment.

"In investigating this," Jack said. "I'll call my team."

"Special Agents Wilkinson and Paris?" Priest smiled.

The Clone was well-informed. Jack reminded himself not to underestimate him. Religious fanatics could be quite subtle and sly. "Yes. I guess this is straight down their alley. They can talk shop with their colleagues from NCIS."

"Third Fleet will, of course, lend any assistance you need," Priest said.

At least he didn't offer to add his own people to the team. Good. If Jack could keep this from escalating further, he should be able to settle things without too much trouble.

"So, what exactly happened?" Jack asked. "Getting into a brawl on Christmas Eve isn't exactly in the spirit of the holiday, is it?"

"We're still investigating, sir," the Lieutenant replied stiffly. Stalling?

Jack cocked his head. "Exactly. And what do you have so far?"

"We're waiting for NCIS, sir."

Someone really wanted to escalate this. But who? "Let me call my investigative team, then," Jack said. And inform them that they were his investigative team, of course.

He'd get to the bottom of this. And if anyone was playing games involving Third Fleet, he'd take them down. Some things were off-limits. Especially during a war.


Washington Naval Yard, United States of America, Earth, December 24th, 1999

"No, that's alright. Merry Christmas, Agent Paris!"

"Merry Christmas, General."

Jack O'Neill sighed as he switched off his comm. Apparently, Wilkinson and Paris both had plans for Christmas Eve. He could have pushed - not quite ordered; they were still ironing out how exactly the two would officially fit into his command; the FBI was proving a bit obstructive - but he hadn't. Getting his own special agents would have been a nice way to show up the NCIS special agent, but Jack didn't really think he'd need them to settle a drunken brawl. He'd let the Navy pukes ruin their own holidays instead.

Besides, he might not have two special agents on the way, but he was in charge of Alliance Special Forces Command. That gave him a lot of clout. Hell, if the Navy felt uppity, he could just mention, casually, that the shuttles assigned to his unit had more firepower than the entire Navy, at least until they managed to convert their squadrons to space fighters. Of course, Priest had an actual fleet in orbit…

"So, when will you let me talk to my men? I was under the impression that anyone detained in your country had the right to arrange legal representation and contact their embassy if they were a foreigner," Priest asked.

"I'm sorry, sir, but I don't have the authority to decide that. That is under the purview of the NCIS special agent assigned to this case," the Lieutenant in charge of the detention area replied.

Jack suppressed a snort at the officer's expression. You had to be a screw-up or terribly unlucky to get assigned to this post on Christmas Eve, and he wondered which was it here. "And when will the special agent arrive?" Jack asked, leaning forward and putting his hands on the man's desk.

"He's on his way," the Lieutenant replied. But traffic is bad at this time of day."

"We can fetch him with a shuttle," Priest offered at once. "Just give us his location."

"Ah… that's… not my call, sir," the Lieutenant not-quite-stammered.

Jack frowned. Someone must have given him instructions to stall. But who?

"What's going on here?"

Ah. Jack had his answer. Probable answer, at least. He smiled - politely - as he turned. "And good evening to you, Admiral Kearsy. Fancy meeting you here."

The Admiral gave him the barest of nods. "I came as soon as I was informed that there was an incident involving my men."

"You could have called us, Admiral. We would have sent a shuttle to pick you up." Priest beamed at him.

"Or you could have flown with me," Jack added. It was a good thing that Brown wasn't here, or Kearsy would probably try to blame her.

"Whatever. What's the status?" Kearsy barked, glaring at the Lieutenant.

"We're waiting on the NCIS, sir." the young man looked even more nervous.

"NCIS? Who called them?"

"That's standard procedure, sir. Especially if it involves foreign soldiers."

Kearsy scoffed. "That's a waste of time. Why run an investigation when the results won't matter?"

Jack narrowed his eyes. "Really? What are you insinuating, Admiral?"

Kearsy scoffed again. "As if you have to ask. No matter what they did, your aliens won't be punished. Politics will ensure that!"

"I can assure you that my people will be punished for any rules they broke, Admiral," Priest said. "Whether they actually broke any rules in the first place has yet to be determined, of course."

"Punished by you." Kearsy shook his head.

"With Her Divine Highness's permission, of course," Priest said. "We all follow her command. If she desires differently, then we shall obey."

"The United States Navy is not in the habit of idolatry!" Kearsy spat.

Damn! Jack clenched his teeth. What was this fool thinking? Was he drunk? The last thing Jack - or Earth - needed was Priest starting a brawl because an idiot insulted Adora. Or a crusade.

But Priest smiled. "I was talking about the fact that as officers of the Alliance against the Goa'uld, we both answer to the Supreme Commander of said Alliance, Admiral. Though, as far as I am aware, the United States Navy is, like the United States as a country, not beholden to any religion, so I do not quite understand why you are stating the obvious. Even if a majority of your soldiers should decide to follow Her Divine Highness's teachings, that would not change. Our church perfectly understands and supports this policy."

"You…" Whatever Kearsy had been about to say, he managed to stop himself.

"Yes. We're all very tolerant of each other's faith here," Jack said. "And we have a drunken brawl to sort out."

That NCIS special agent couldn't arrive too soon, he thought. If only to distract Kearsy.


Washington Naval Yard, United States of America, Earth, December 25th, 1999

Jack greeted them on the landing pad - which was a bit crowded, Adora noticed, with three shuttles parked next to each other, including the one that brought Catra and her here. "Supreme Commander." He saluted.

"General." She nodded at him.

"Sorry for ruining your holidays."

"Don't worry. We're not celebrating Christmas," Adora told him.

"Not yet," Catra added with a grin. "But we're working on it."

"Oh?" Jack looked surprised.

Adora softly sighed. "Several shops in Bright Moon have Christmas decorations."

Catra nodded. "Earth cultural imperialism is making progress."

Adora frowned. She knew Catra wasn't serious, not really, but some princesses were concerned.

"Soon, the entire galaxy will know the joys of Christmas shopping!" Jack commented as they walked into the building.

"So, where are our missionaries?" Catra asked after she stopped giggling.

"They weren't actually missionaries," Jack said. "According to the interviews I saw, the Clones didn't try to convert anyone."

That was good to hear. Adora had feared the worst when she had heard about the 'altercation'.

"I sense a 'but' coming." Catra cocked her head to the side.

Jack sighed. "Yep. While the Clones weren't trying to convert anyone, neither did they hold back when a drunk sailor asked them what they thought about Christmas. And they didn't back down when challenged, so…"

Adora winced. "'Be polite but don't lie'."


"That were their instructions when asked about their… faith," Adora explained, clenching her teeth a little. "According to Priest."

"Who wouldn't lie to his goddess?" Jack looked at her as they waited before the lift.

"He wouldn't lie," Adora told him with a firm nod.

"He would interpret orders to suit him and be vague when necessary, like any good subordinate officer showing initiative, but he wouldn't lie to Adora," Catra confirmed.

Jack snorted, probably at her view of what made a 'good subordinate officer', when the lift arrived. As soon as the doors closed behind them, he said: "Someone's playing games. They called in NCIS. The Navy Criminal Investigation Service."

"Yes?" Adora frowned. "Several people were hurt in the brawl, weren't they? And hurting people is a crime, isn't it?"

"Yes, but there's a certain leeway. This kind of incident is usually handled without calling in NCIS," Jack explained. "I wouldn't say it's normal for sailors on leave to brawl, but it's not exactly rare. And we have a lot of sailors."

"And who's playing games, and what do they want?" Catra asked. She looked alert now - tense, even.

Of course, Adora thought, that would remind her of Horde politics.

"Ah, that I don't know. Not yet." Jack frowned. "With the brawl happening at a party, news spread quickly."

Adora nodded. Then the lift stopped, and she straightened and raised her chin a little. This was serious.

"Your Divine Highness! Your most faithful servant is at your command!"

Adora pressed her lips together. Priest didn't have to bow - they were on duty. Not that he had to bow even if they were off duty, anyway. "Greetings, Priest." She nodded at him. "Admiral Kearsy."

The Admiral saluted her with a deep frown and a glance at Priest. Almost a scowl, actually.

Adora wasn't surprised - Priest could be annoying. Very annoying. She looked at the middle-aged man in a suit next to the Admiral.

"Adora, Cara, that's Special Agent Banks," Jack said. "Special Agent - Supreme Commander of the Alliance Princess She-Ra. And Catra."

"Ma'am." He nodded at her.

"Special Agent." She smiled at him. "So, you've interrogated the people involved. What happened?" Straight and to the point. Get the intel you needed to make a decision, as she had been taught in cadet training.

"Ah, we're still at the start of the investigation," Banks said. "We have wildly differing testimonies that we need to sort out and compare with other pieces of evidence. I cannot yet say with any certainty what exactly happened last evening."

"We do have records from security cameras, though, that show that my people were attacked and defended themselves, Your Divine Highness," Priest cut in. "As befitting your faithful, they did not escalate what might have been a mere cultural misunderstanding to violence."

"So, the sailors threw the first punch, huh?" Catra asked.

"They were provoked!" Admiral Kearsy blurted out. "You cannot fault a man for losing his temper when his religion is insulted on the eve of our most holy celebration!"

Adora winced. So, it was about religion.

"Actually, you can," Jack cut in. "I do remember orders to that extent. And laws."

"I find that claim implausible, Admiral," Priest said in a mild tone. "As Her Divine Highness taught us, other religions are to be respected. Even if their adherents might not respect ours."

"Your people claimed that the birth of Christ was made up!" Kearsy bellowed.

Adora winced again.

"That is incorrect. My people merely remarked that it was unlikely that Christ was born on this exact date but that it was claimed so by the early Christian Church to coopt another religion's holiday," Priest retorted. "Which is generally considered a smart move for spreading the faith, as far as I understand, and, therefore, could be considered a compliment, provided your faith, unlike ours, does not stipulate honesty."

"Don't mock my faith!" Kearsy spat. "Your people were also comparing your…" he trailed off and glared at Adora. "...your commander to Jesus our Lord and Saviour!"

Adora froze.

Priest didn't. "Yes?" He cocked his head in apparent - and fake, Adora knew it! - surprise. "Why wouldn't we?"

"You cannot compare our Lord to… a mere person!" Kearsy bellowed.

"Please do not insult Her Divine Highness," Priest said. "Her Divine Power and Grace has been proven countless times. In living memory, no less."

"I'm no goddess!" Adora blurted out.

"And her humility is without equal as well," Priest said.

Adora closed her eyes so she didn't have to see Catra's wide grin.

Oh absolutely. I am by no means a fan of the death penalty but if there's ever a time it could be justified it would be for war crimes.

Also... they don't really seem to have a plan for actually getting the Eurondan nation to change. Sure getting them out of their bunkers will help but there's decades of propaganda to overcome. Destroying the environment of the planet is nobody's first choice.

Yeah. On the other hand, they don't have the resources to do that right now anyway. So, they resorted to "let's just keep them from killing each other and deal with it later... much later."

Typo: replace "fast-reeding" with "fast-breeding."

Another entertaining chapter. Keep up the good work.

Thanks, fixed!
Welp, that was more or less inevitable. This Admiral is probably going to have some serious egg on his face and of course this it's gonna ignite some serious discourse.

Ostensibly the US has religious freedom but well... the freedom of Christian sects have always been a bit more protected than other faiths.
Chapter 138: Holiday Season Part 2
Chapter 138: Holiday Season Part 2

Washington D.C., December 25th, 1999 (Earth Time)

The house hadn't changed since Samantha Carter had visited the last time. Which had been quite a while ago, before her father had been healed by Adora, actually. Before they had made up. Sam was happy about that, of course. Her Dad was alive, and the rift between them had been healed. And they could celebrate Christmas together. Which also is a good thing, Sam told herself firmly as she walked up to the door.

Unless there was an emergency, she wouldn't be able to spend Christmas in her lab, anyway. The General would probably check on her. Not that she wanted to spend Christmas in her lab. Not really.

Taking a deep breath, she rang the doorbell.

"I'm coming!"

She blinked. That wasn't her father's voice. That was…

The door was pulled open, and Sam found herself looking at her niece, Lisa. "Aunt Sam!" Before Sam could say anything, the girl turned her head and yelled: "Dad! Gramps! Aunt Sam's here!"

Her brother and his family were here? Sam blinked.

"Come in!" Lisa grabbed her hand and started to tug on it, and Sam followed her inside.

"Aunt Sam! Did you bring us presents?" David, her nephew, asked.

"David!" Mark's wife appeared in the door leading to the kitchen, an apron covering her front. "What did I tell you about being good?" Then she smiled. "Hello, Sam. Merry Christmas!"

"Hello, Marian." Sam nodded at her. "I didn't know you were visiting Dad."

"Oh! You don't have presents, then!"


"We'll take money, too," Lisa said, smiling impishly. "You have money, right? Dad said you live for your work, so you can't be spending much, right?"

Sam raised her eyebrows. "He did?"

"Hello, Sam!"

And there was her brother, standing in the hallway leading to the backyard. Behind him, just closing the door, was Dad. Both were wearing winter jackets.

"Sam!" Dan beamed at her. "You made it."

"It's a Christmas miracle," Mark commented.

Sam frowned, and he grimaced. "Sorry."

"'Christmas miracle'?" David asked in the sudden silence.

"Nothing," Mark told him. "Just a stupid joke."

"Yes. Very stupid," Marian told him.

"Anyway," Dad said. "Come, join us in the living room!"

Sam was tempted to comment on the fact that Marian was going back into the kitchen, but like her and Dad's military career, that was a touchy subject.

"So, do you have money?" Lisa apparently had clear priorities.

"I already sent your parents the money for your gifts," Sam told her. "I didn't know you would be travelling to Washington."

"It was a rather spontaneous decision," Mark said as he sat down on the old and worn couch in the living room. Next to it, a Christmas tree with familiar decorations stood. It was a bit too tall for the room's ceiling, and the tip was bent to the side, the star meant to be mounted on its top dangling from it instead.

Sam joined him on the couch while her nephew and niece sat down on the carpet, grabbing the toys spread out there.

"I told Mark that both of us would be in Washington for the holidays," Dad added as he sank into his favourite seat. "Barring an emergency."

Mark snorted. "And it might have been the last opportunity to catch a flight on an aeroplane. I didn't want David and Lisa to miss out on that experience."

David nodded. "We watched 'Star Princess and the Snake Empire' on the flight! We wouldn't have had the time to do that on a shuttle!"

Sam nodded, suppressing the urge to correct her brother about the odds that commercial travel would switch to shuttles in the next few years.

"Have you seen the movie?" Lisa asked. "Dad said you live it!"

Sam narrowed her eyes at her brother, who grinned in response, before smiling at her niece. "No, I haven't seen the movie. I rarely have the time to watch movies."

"Ah!" Lisa nodded and smiled at her, sitting cross-legged in front of Sam. "So, the movie starts with the Star Princess and her friends on their planet, Eternia. They're having fun with all the animals, but then the Snake People attack, and the whole forest - they have a magical forest where the trees have chocolate fruits - is set on fire! But Star Princess's friend Aqua can control water, and so she…"

Sam felt her smile freeze a little bit as she realised that her niece apparently was going to tell her the entire movie's plot - a plot that sounded very much like it was 'inspired' by the Horde War, with the Horde replaced by obvious Goa'uld expies.

Someone at Disney must have commissioned that movie as revenge for the Etherians' refusal to respect their copyright, Sam thought. She could only hope the General didn't hear about this - he'd use it for a mandatory movie night.

Why did she decide that she couldn't spend the day in her lab, anyway? Because she hadn't seen her family in months, she reminded herself.

"...and then Star Princess rode her pegasus to the Horde sky fortress, and…"

"It's actually an alicorn," Sam said before she could help herself. "Sorry," she quickly added.

Mark snickered. "You'd know the difference - you met the real thing, right?"

Both Lisa and Davis gaped at her.

"That's classified," Sam said, frowning at her dad. He was the only one in the family who was aware that she was a close friend of the Etherians. Of course, her friendship wasn't that much of a secret, considering how many knew about it…

"Classified?" Lisa asked.

"That means Aunt Sam goes to prison if she tells us," David told her.

"I didn't spill," Dad claimed.

"I figured it out from how often you were in the news," Mark said with a satisfied smirk.

Her brother wasn't stupid, Sam reminded herself. She sighed. "It's classified. We're at war."

"Oh! Are you going to ride alicorns into battle?" Lisa asked.

"Or dinosaurs?" David added.

"No," Sam said. "That's just the show, not reality." Riding Swift Wind into battle? She wasn't Adora. And she doubted Adora would ride him into battle, either.

"Aw." Lisa pouted. "And will you attack the Horde Sky Fortress?"

"The Etherians already defeated the Horde, duh," David said. "Now they are fighting snakes!"

"The Alliance is engaged in a war with the Goa'uld Empire," she corrected him. A war that the Goa'uld were not yet aware of, actually.

"Yes, the snakes!" David nodded.

"A war that keeps your aunt very busy," Mark added. Sam could hear the 'too busy to visit her family' clearly even though he didn't say it out loud.

And so could Dad. He frowned. "Sam's essential for the Alliance."

Sam, not her work, Sam noted.

Fortunately, Mark didn't pick up that nuance. He slowly nodded. "But at least you managed to visit over the holidays." He tilted his head and frowned slightly. "You're staying over the holidays, aren't you?"

"I'll visit in my free time," Sam told him. "But I don't have leave over the holidays." And she didn't want leave anyway. She had too many projects to tend to, and her friends needed her.

"You have to work on Christmas?" Lisa stared at Sam as if she had heard that Christmas was getting cancelled.

"We're at war," Sam said.

"And you're doing your duty," Mark said.

Sam ignored the familiar hint of bitterness in his voice. She wouldn't start that old argument again.

Fortunately, neither did Dad. "Well, at least you can travel around the world faster than you can drive through Washington these days."

"What?" Mark looked surprised, even though he had commented about shuttles rendering planes obsolete before.

"Shuttles are far faster than planes," Dad said.

"I didn't know they were that fast…"

"I don't have a personal shuttle," Sam pointed out.

"General O'Neill does, though." Of course, Dad would have heard those rumours!

"Which he uses," Sam said. She didn't bother denying the rumours. That would only make her brother tease her. Or make assumptions that were completely inappropriate and wrong.

"Who's General O'Neill?" Lisa asked.

"My former commanding officer," Sam told her.

"And you can use his shuttle?" Lisa looked impressed.

"If I need it, I can require a shuttle for transport," Sam said. She needed one every time she visited the Spacelab in person or had to move between different bases.

"To visit us?" Lisa asked.

"That wouldn't be a need," Sam corrected her. "But if my duties lead me to Washington, I will visit. You're staying the whole holiday?" she asked Mark.

"Yes. Marian's family was not amused, but since we stayed with them every year…" He shrugged. "They can't complain."

Neither Dad nor Sam commented on the reasons why Mark and his family had visited Marian's parents every holiday and not them.

Sam tried to change the topic again. "I might need to get a copy of that movie," she said. And watch it so she would know if it could cause problems with the Etherians.

"Can we have it when you're done?" Lisa looked hopefully at her.

David nodded with the same expression.

"Well… it's a bit too late to get a copy today," Mark said with a glance at the clock on the wall. "But we can get one tomorrow. And watch it together. Consider it a late Christmas present, Sam."

"Yes!" Lisa cheered.

"Yay!" David nodded so rapidly, Sam was briefly worried for his health.

She thought about bowing out - she had only planned to visit today for the big dinner - but faced with her niece and nephew's beaming faces, she couldn't disappoint them.

It really is a potential problem for our relations with Etheria, she told herself to soothe her guilty conscience.

It didn't quite work.


Pentagon, Washington D.C., December 25th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"So, has the special agent finished their investigation yet?" Catra asked as she leaned back in her seat and put her feet on the table.

"Catra!" Adora hissed next to her.

Catra rolled her eyes. "It's not as if this is a serious matter," she said, loud enough to be overheard by the others in the meeting room. "Someone just wanted to feel important."

"This is a serious matter!" Kearsy bellowed, as expected.

Catra snorted. Really, didn't the man realise that he had been set up? A bunch of soldiers brawling was a matter for their officers to settle. It wasn't as if anyone had died - they hadn't even been hurt seriously. Not enough for needing Adora's healing magic, at least - which disproved Catra's earlier (and far-fetched) suspicion that someone suffering from a disease or whatever had arranged that to get Adora involved, hoping she would heal them. In any case, Kearsy shouldn't have become involved in the first place or, at least, should have dropped the matter when the Navy police had taken over. He should have followed Jack's example, who had dropped the thing on Adora as soon as he had an excuse and must be enjoying the holidays right now.

"I fail to see why this investigation should persist," Priest cut in. "The records we saw were clear - your sailors attacked my people first. And since I, following the example Her Divine Highness set, agreed not to pursue punishment of the attackers, the matter should be settled already."

Adora nodded. "Yes. There's no need to punish anyone if their victims forgave them."

Catra doubted that any of the hurt Clones would have dared refuse to forgive their enemies when Adora asked them, but that wasn't her problem.

"We still don't know the exact circumstances of the brawl, so any assumptions about guilt seem premature," the base commander, Admiral Jeffries, apparently called back from a vacation with his family, said, glancing back and forth between Kearsy and Adora. The guy didn't want to be here any more than Catra did.

"As my people told me, they merely answered honestly when asked about their opinion of this holiday," Priest said. "All in accordance with Her Divine Highness' orders," he added with a deep nod toward Adora. "That this was taken as an insult by your sailors was not their fault. But even if it were, that would not excuse an assault on them."

"You cannot expect a man to suffer such an insult without reacting!" Kearsy snapped.

Priest tilted his head slightly in apparent - and, Catra was sure, fake confusion. "I was under the impression that this was a core tenet of your religion. To turn the other cheek instead of defending yourself, much less counter-attacking, even when you are physically assaulted."

Kearsy ground his teeth. "That's not what it means!" he spat. "And they attacked their faith, not the sailors themselves!"

"I bow to your expertise," Priest replied in a mild tone that left Kearsy even more furious. "My own faith does not require us to react with violence when questioned - quite the opposite, actually."

Admiral Jeffries cleared his throat. "I think that a thorough investigation would help us to decide what punishment is appropriate for the attack on your soldiers."

"And you are free to do so," Catra said. "But that doesn't mean we have to stay involved with this. We've got better things to do." Hell, even watching paint dry would be better than this - at least she'd be able to take a nap without Adora feeling embarrassed.

"We trust that your judgement in this matter will be fair," Priest added with more fake sincerity that once again riled Kearsy up.

"Do you expect us to sacrifice good sailors for politics?"

Catra couldn't resist. "Isn't that a tradition for your country?"


"What? I've read their history," Catra said, shrugging. "They sent their Navy to open other countries for their trade."

"Are you insulting the US Navy?" Kearsy glared at her.

Admiral Jeffries cleared his throat again. "I think we should focus on the matter at hand. Which is, if I understand your stance correctly, a disciplinary matter left to the involved sailors' commander."

"Yes," Adora said, nodding emphatically.

"As Her Divine Highness mandates," Priest added.

Kearsy managed to nod without blowing up.

"Great. The matter's settled then," Catra said, taking her feet off the table and standing up to stretch. "Let's go back home."

But as they filed out of the room, an aide approached Admrial Jeffries. Catra's ears twitched as she listened to their whispered conversation.

"Sir, there's been a complication."


"The press is covering the incident."


Catra muttered a curse under her breath. "Someone must have leaked this to the press." This would greatly increase the pressure on anyone involved.

Then again, that was probably their goal, she added to herself with a glance at Kearsy.

"What are they saying?" Adora asked.

The aide winced. "Uh…"

"Spit it out!" Kearsy growled.

"Most call it 'the Christmas Brawl'," the man replied. "But some of the more conservative media are calling it an 'attack on Christmas'."

Catra could imagine what those news agencies said about this and clenched her teeth. She was really, really sick of that part of Earth's media. "So much for this being settled," she said.

They had to discuss this with Jack and the others.


Alliance Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, Earth, December 25th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"...and while the Pentagon refuses to comment on the issue and the Alliance spokesperson has claimed that an investigation is still underway, sources usually in the know claim that the Supreme Commander of the Alliance herself, She-Ra, Princess of Power, was called to heal the personnel involved. That means this wasn't merely a brawl amongst drunken soldiers, something anyone living near a base is probably familiar with, but a serious fight. James, what do you think the consequences of this will be?"

"Well, Bob, such a bloody, if you'll pardon the pun, altercation means that there's serious tension between the different factions of the Alliance."

"Which factions do you mean? We've heard allegations that many Earth soldiers resent the Etherians for their favourite treatment. Some claim that Earth soldiers are used as cannon fodder on the ground while the Etherians stay safe in orbit."

"Ah, I cannot comment on the validity of such claims, but given the technological and population difference between Earth and Etheria, it's only natural that we - Earth - would mainly fight ground battles. Don't forget that Etheria in total has less than a fifth of the population of the United States."

"But that's math. For the soldier on the ground, sitting in the trenches while others stay safely aboard spaceships, that won't mean much, will it?"

"Indeed, Bob, while that perspective is limited, and possibly misleading, it's still a valid point to be taken into account."

"And there's more. While it would be reaching to claim, as some of our less integer colleagues do, that Etheria is waging a 'War on Christmas', it is commonly known that the Etherians are rather aggressively spreading their religion on Earth and in space. I could imagine that such proselytising would not be received well by devout Christians."

"Once more, I have to agree. There's a saying that there are no atheists in foxholes, as you might know."

"I didn't, James, but it's kind of fitting, isn't it?"

"Yes. Anyway, we've heard complaints about Etheria's religion spreading on Earth for months now. While most of its followers are, unsurprisingly, located in India, the Church of She-Ra is also growing in the West, and that causes tension. This incident might just be the tip of the iceberg, so to speak, an indication of a lingering and growing rift inside the Alliance."

"That sounds daunting, James."

"That's because it is daunting, Bob."

Jack O'Neill switched the TV off and turned to look at the others in the room. "Sounds like a bunch of hot air to me," he said. "Just people stirring up emotion for ratings."

Catra nodded, but Adora was shaking her head. "Admiral Kearsy seemed to share this view."

"Kearsy is an idiot," Jack said. "And he'll probably be removed from his post over this." Someone had to take the fall for this, and Kearsy was the most exposed - and the most expendable - amongst the higher ranks involved here. Although the yard commander might be sacrificed instead, if Kearsy managed to shore up enough support. Unless Adora personally intervened, which she wouldn't do. Probably not.

"Do you think someone set him up?" Catra asked.

Jack shrugged. "Someone used the opportunity to let him step into this, at least." Staff politics, how he loathed them!

"So, someone's risking the Alliance to get rid of a rival?" Catra asked.

"Or someone's trying to prevent Kearsy from risking the Alliance for his beliefs," Jack said. "You met the man - he sounded like he was all-in for the whole 'fire and brimstone' stuff." Hell, Kearsy had made Priest look like a moderate or sceptic.

"'Fire and brimstone'?" Adora asked.

Daniel pushed his glasses up. "It's referring to the threat of hell and damnation in Christian dogma. Jack is, I believe, using it to refer to more extremist churches and views."

"Yes." Jack nodded. "People who talk about your immortal soul being in peril whenever you do something they don't like."

"Idiots and bigots, you mean," Catra said.

"Well… mainstream Christianity focuses on love and compassion, both divine and, ah, mortal," Daniel said. "But there are extremists in every religion."

"Like Priest." Adora sighed.

"He's actually quite… restrained for the leader of an expanding religion," Daniel said. "Or maybe diplomatic would be more precise."

"Smooth," Jack said. Priest knew how to play others and exploit the rules and regulations. Jack couldn't even tell if the Clone was sincere in his belief or merely used the adoration people held for She-ra for his own goals. Though even if he were, there were worse messages to spread than 'be more like She-Ra'. Far worse ones.

"So, what do we do about this?" Adora asked, pointing at the TV.

"Nothing," Jack said.

"Nothing?" She frowned at him.

"Ah, you think this will blow over?" Daniel asked him.

Jack nodded. "It's a bunch of hot air," he repeated himself. "There's no such 'rift'. Soldiers complain all the time, and everyone thinks the other branches have an easy job. You know, like they call us the Chair Force?"

Catra snickered.

"Anyway, I like to think I know my soldiers, and they don't have a problem with each other like those idiots claim," Jack went on. And, of course, anyone who actually fought on the ground knows you were in the thick of it." That meant a lot more than what some idiots said on TV or preached in church.

He didn't miss how both Adora and Catra looked at Daniel.

"Yes, I would concur. While there are bound to be some religious tensions, that's nothing unusual for such a large force as the Alliance. And, so far at least, the media attention focused on this seems limited to the United States—none of the European news agencies is paying a lot of attention to the entire affair. So, I think this is an isolated incident and not indicative of a larger problem."

Adora seemed relieved. The girl really needed to stop feeling responsible for everything, in Jack's opinion. It wasn't as if she were an actual goddess.

"So, you see, there's no need to worry about your faithful," Catra said with a grin.

Adora frowned at her in return.

"Indeed," Teal'c spoke up. "On the contrary, your church has great potential for turning the false gods' followers into our allies. Its ideals may appeal to many amongst the Jaffa who would scorn your other religions. If you have the time, a visit to the Jaffa currently held by the Alliance could prove helpful."

Adora blinked.

Jack looked at his friend. "Is there something you'd like to tell us, Teal'c?"

"I have been working with the captured followers of the false gods, as have members of your church," Teal'c replied. "We have made inroads with many of them, especially after you released the synthetic symbionts. That you visited daily before that to ensure those who had lost their symbionts didn't die also left a favourable impression on many."

That was good news, Jack decided. Even if the image of a bunch - or an army - of Jaffa fanatically devoted to Adora was a bit concerning as well. "Merry Christmas?" he said with a wry grin.

Adora didn't grin in return.


Royal Palace, Bright Moon, Etheria, December 25th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"...and that's why we aren't going to visit the prison camp this week."

Adora frowned at the grinning Catra. It wasn't funny at all! She looked at her friends for support. Bow winced and avoided meeting her eyes. Either he was embarrassed or felt guilty, which wasn't good. And Glimmer…

…stared directly at her with a serious, determined expression. "You should visit them. They're your people."

"What?" Adora blurted out. "They aren't! I am no goddess!"

"But they follow you and look to you for guidance," Glimmer, standing behind the desk in her office, told her. "And you have visited the prisoners before."

"When I had to heal the wounded and Haken," Adora retorted.

"And they worshipped you back then already," Bow pointed out. "Teal'c didn't tell you anything new."

"Yes, but…" Adora trailed off. What could she say? That she had hoped they would stop worshipping her if she stopped visiting? That if she hadn't wanted to deal with them? "I didn't think it would spread."

"But it did." Glimmer shook her head. "And you can't ignore that."

"You don't owe them anything," Catra said, sitting on the edge of Glimmer's desk. She put down one of the crystals serving as paperweights that she had been playing with. "If they decide to worship you, that's on them. It doesn't make you responsible for them!" She turned to glare at Glimmer. "That's not how it works."

"I wouldn't turn people away who wanted to become my subjects," Glimmer told her. She frowned for a moment and added: "Not unless they were dishonest or tried to use me or something, of course. But people honestly wanting to join Bright Moon?" She shook her head.

"I'm not a ruling princess," Adora said. "I don't have a kingdom."

Catra nodded.

"You don't have a kingdom, but you have people who follow you," Glimmer retorted.

"That's not your fault or responsibility," Catra said. She didn't look amused any more.

Adora bit her lower lip. "I'm no goddess. But they won't believe me."

"And that's their fault," Catra said.

"It doesn't matter whose fault it is," Glimmer said. "The fact is that people follow you. If you don't lead them, others will - and in your name."

Priest. Adora clenched her teeth. The Clone was… infuriating was the word. He claimed to worship her, to obey her every word, as he put it, and yet he wouldn't listen at all when she said she wasn't a goddess!

"You could disavow them," Catra said.

She could. She might not be able to convince everyone that she wasn't a goddess, but she could convince people that Priest or anyone else claiming so didn't speak for her.

"You should only do that if they betray you," Glimmer objected. "Not if they're just annoying."

Adora looked at her friend. "I don't want to be worshipped."

"There's a lot of stuff I don't want to do or deal with," Glimmer said. "But I do it because someone has to, and I am the Queen of Bright Moon, so it falls to me."

"You aren't the queen of Bright Moon," Catra pointed out to Adora.

Bow cleared his throat. "But is it that different from being the Supreme Commander of the Alliance?" He held up a hand before Adora could tell him that people didn't worship a commander as a goddess. "You do give orders and lead people, and do your best to fix things if they need fixing and that people do the right thing. Whether they call you commander or goddess doesn't really change that, does it?"

Adora opened her mouth, then closed it again. That… wasn't wrong.

"And Priest and his people would answer to you anyway as the leader of the Alliance," Glimmer added.

Adora pressed her lips together. Would Priest actually be in the Alliance if he didn't worship her? Sure, WrongHordak and his people didn't worship her and had joined the Alliance, but that didn't mean every other Clone would act the same. Like Hordak, who led First Fleet's remains, WrongHordak had his own reasons for joining the Alliance. Reasons Priest and others might not share.

On the other hand, letting people worship her as a goddess so they would help you fight the Goa'uld felt wrong. It was like exploiting their faith - like something the Go'auld did! "I don't want them to follow me because they think I am a goddess!" she blurted out.

"But they do think you're a goddess," Glimmer retorted. "That's not your fault - you never claimed to be a goddess. But it's a fact we can't just ignore. Not without serious repercussions."

Bow nodded. "I've looked into Earth's religions. All of the major ones have had problems with their followers becoming radicalised. And the most radicalised are often those who converted from another religion."

Oh. "Like those who start worshipping me?" Adora asked.

Bow nodded with a grimace.

Catra hissed a curse.

And Glimmer nodded.

Adora sighed. She didn't want this, none of this, but she couldn't ignore it. If she left her… followers to their own devices, who knew what they would end up doing? And in her name? Unwanted or not, it was her responsibility. She couldn't, wouldn't run from that. "I won't act as a goddess," she said. "I won't lie to them. But I will visit them." And keep a close eye on Priest. A closer eye.

Catra sighed as Glimmer and Bow nodded with sympathetic smiles.

The sudden silence was broken by the guards announcing that Entrapta had arrived.

A moment later, Entrapta entered the office with a wide smile.

"Hey!" Entrapta beamed at them, holding up a disc. "Sam just told me that Earth made a movie with us!"



Royal Palace, Bright Moon, Etheria, December 26th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"No! I can't end like this! I was so clo…AARGHHHHH!"

"Let that be a lesson to you! Love, not might, conquers all!"

"Yes, meow love!"

Samantha Carter winced while the ending credits scrolled over the holoprojected screen, and everyone else in the room turned to look or glare at her. In hindsight, she should have called Daniel and told him about this movie so he could handle breaking this to her friends instead of sending a copy to Entrapta.

But after a whole day at her family, being badgered by her niece and nephew with questions about 'the real star princess', demands to meet 'the real alicorn' and wide-eyed pleas for stories about space and trying to ignore her brother's passive-aggressive sniping at her career and the duties that entailed and her sister-in-law's questions, encouraged by her traitorous dad, about her love life, she hadn't really been thinking clearly.

And now she was facing a bunch of magical princesses and former alien warlords who didn't seem to be enamoured by their portrayal in the movie.

"I do not have horns or a tail. And I threw Horde Prime into a shaft - I didn't fall into a shaft by tripping over a cat-shapeshifter!"

"I am a cat - I don't change into a cat! And I would have kicked you down a shaft."

"I don't sound like that at all! And I cannot fly, whether it's the full moon or not!"

"I don't have a curse that makes me burn if I cover up my chest - I just like having my midriff free!"

"I didn't conquer Etheria! Much less the galaxy! And I don't want to!"

The only one who didn't seem to be annoyed by the movie was Entrapta, Sam noted. A silver lining, at least.

"Being a bot would be so cool! I think I could adapt metal tentacles like that!"

Or not. Sam winced. "I don't think you should replace your body with a bot body," she said. "And I think your hair already does everything the tentacles in the movie did."

"Oh, right." Entrapta pouted. "Forgot about that. But I could build a bot that looks just like the movie-me!"

"Ah… that might violate copyright," Sam said.

"Copyright?" Glimmer snarled. "What about our copyright? Whoever made this movie…"

"Disney did," Catra cut in.

Disney distributed it, but it had been made by a new and nominally independent production firm, Sam knew. Probably in an attempt to shield the corporation from any backlash. Or to reduce taxes somehow. But this wasn't the time to bring that up.

"...Disney used us for their movie!" Glimmer went on. "Why didn't we hear about his before… this?" She gestured at the screen, which was fading to black. "Someone should have told us about people making a movie like that about us."

Sam winced again. "It's not the first such movie or series. It's just the most successful." Thanks to her niece and nephew's enthusiasm, she now knew far more about cartoons than she had ever wanted to know. "And probably the one that is the most obvious about its, ah, 'inspiration'."

"Really?" Adora frowned.

"And no one stopped them?" Glimmer glared at Sam as if that was her fault. "And what did Julie and Mr Brown do? They're supposed to help with our image!"

Sam was a scientist, not a PR specialist. And the relations between the Etherians and their PR consultants were none of her business. But she spoke up anyway: "The movies and series are quite popular amongst children." At least amongst the children in her family. "They probably didn't think that this would hurt you."

"It hurts my image," Hordak complained. "I was a competent warlord, not such a clumsy oaf! And it claims I was Horde Prime!"

"And it claims I defected over a can of tuna," Catra added.

"Well… you love fish?" Adora smiled weakly.

"Not the point."

"It takes a lot of liberties with what actually happened," Bow said. "I know it's not meant to be a documentary, but they could have stuck a bit closer to the real story."

Glimmer turned to frown at him. "They should have changed more things! They made me out to be a figurehead! All I do is fly in the moonlight and hold speeches! And I get shot down in every battle so Adora can rescue me!"

Catra shrugged. "Someone paid a lot of attention to our history," she said with a grin. "They even have the cat defect and sneak into the prison to save you."

"Could we have a leak?" Adora asked.

"None of the, ah, information in the movie was classified," Sam said. She had checked.

"It's still a lot of detail," Adora retorted. "Someone must have collected a lot of information for this."

"Disney is a big corporation. And they might have wanted to make a point," Sam suggested.

"Do they really expect that we agree to protect their copyright claims on Etheria if they stop this movie?" Glimmer scoffed. "So, what do we do about this?"

"Can we do something about this?" Bow asked.

Sam wasn't a lawyer, but she doubted that. As persons of public interest, her friends were, as someone had called it, 'fair game' for the media.

"Why would we want to do something about it?" Entrapta asked. "It's a fun cartoon!"

If Sam liked such cartoons. And hadn't been forced to watch it with two enthusiastic kids commenting on every scene.

"But it makes it look as if I - as 'Star Princess' - saved Etheria by myself," Adora said. "That's wrong."

"Well, Priest will love the movie," Catra commented. Then she blinked. "Wait a minute…"

"...do you think he had something to do about this?" Glimmer sounded sceptical.

Sam doubted that herself. If Disney were working with aliens, that should have been noticed by someone. People were supposed to keep an eye on such 'business ties'.

"Oh, his book." Catra sighed. "The writers must have read his collection of She-Ra's heroic deeds."

Adora groaned. "Does that mean the movie's protected by religious freedom? I mean, I don't think we should try to ban it anyway, that would be wrong, right?"

Glimmer's expression made it clear that she disagreed, but the others nodded, to Sam's relief.


Royal Palace, Bright Moon, Etheria, December 27th, 1999 (Earth Time)

"We were aware of the movies inspired by you, yes."

Mr Brown smiled as if there was nothing wrong with that, Catra found. And unlike Julie, who was wincing a little, he was unfazed by the frowns from the princesses present.

"And you didn't tell us?" Glimmer asked.

"We thought you knew about them," he replied. "Etheria seems to be importing all mainstream media from Earth - at least based on the complaints about copyright violations we passed on to you."

They hadn't seen those shows and movies, though. At least Catra and her friends hadn't. She really needed to check the black market herself to see if there were other things they were missing. Stuff that many might not dare to mention to them, but others might want to use against them.

"Why would you get complaints? We have diplomatic channels for that," Adora asked, interrupting Catra's plans.

"And we get complaints there," Glimmer added. "They don't seem to understand that we don't have any copyright on Etheria."

"Oh, they understand that," Julie said. "But they don't accept it. It's why we have been 'finalising the last details' about the cultural exchange program for so long. Pressure from the labels and studios on the actors and performers."


Well, that made sense. "Sounds like Horde politics," Catra commented.

"What?" Hordak seemed surprised.

Catra sighed under her breath. "If the Force Captain in charge of supplies wanted a favour from you, you helped them out if you wanted to get your supplies on time."

"That's… corruption!" Hordak shook his head. "Sabotage and treason, even!"

Catra shrugged. "That's how things worked for those who weren't in command of the Horde." Like she had been, or Shadow Weaver. And Hordak, of course.

"Are you sure? I don't think I ever had to deal with stuff like that," Scorpia said with a frown. "And I was a Force Captain for years. They never said anything about that in Force Captain Orientation, either."

Catra snorted. "That's because you always did whatever favour people asked for."

"Well, we were all on the same side, so why wouldn't I help the other Force Captains out if I could?"

Glimmer cleared her throat. "Can we talk about the corruption problem in the Horde later? We have a problem at hand."

"Do you mean the copyright complaints or the movies?" Mr Brown asked. "Because the movies and assorted media aren't a problem for your reputation. All the movies and series that we watched display you in a very positive light - and we watched a lot of them with the kids. We would have to spend a lot of money to get that kind of coverage."

"'Positive light'?" Glimmer spat. "I look useless and clumsy!"

"I sound like a fool," Hordak joined in.

"They wrecked my outfit. Have you seen the action figures? That bow would never work!"

"They make me look like a goddess!"

Those were all perfectly on the nose, in Catra's opinion. The speech impediment she had in half the series was a bother, but at least all cast her as a cat. And teasing Adora about the cartoon series where she was a tiger Adora rode to battle hadn't gotten old yet.

"They styled a bot and an octopus after me!" Entrapta, of course, was happy with the media featuring her.

"I think I'm far too scary in the shows," Scorpia said. "My stinger doesn't have deadly poison!"

"I remember you throwing tanks at us," Adora told her.

"Well, yes?" Scorpia tilted her head. "I didn't hit anyone, did I?"

Catra rolled her eyes. "Anyway, I gather the copyright violations are the real problem?"

"Yes." Julie nodded. "And they are the reason that even if we wanted to stop such 'inspired media', we wouldn't succeed. Even if the shows hadn't changed the characters modelled after you significantly, at least where their visuals are concerned."

"There's also the fact that as persons of public interest, you wouldn't have good chances to win a court case even if the media used your likeness and names - at least with the Saturday morning cartoons we saw," Mr Brown added. "Adult entertainment would be different, of course."

Catra clenched her teeth and hissed. She hadn't thought about that. That changed things. If anyone tried to…

"'Adult entertainment'?" Scorpia looked confused.

"That's media aimed at adults, usually with sexual content!" Entrapta cheerfully explained before anyone else could say anything. "Also known as porn."

Scorpia blinked. "Oh. Like the dirty pictures soldiers hide in their barracks?"

"Yes. And movies. And I guess some live performances qualify as well."

"Is there porn with us?" Glimmer looked shocked.

As did Adora and most of the others, Catra noted.

"We haven't seen any such, ah, productions related to your likenesses," Mr Brown quickly said. "If we would encounter any, we would take measures to stop it." He smiled weakly. "And while there are strong precedents against censorship, at least in the United States, we're all too aware that the crews of the fleet protecting Earth hold you in high regard and might not react well to any such media."

Right. The Clones would not like porn featuring Adora. Not at all. And they wouldn't really care about any anti-censorship laws at all. At least Priest was unlikely to react violently, but Catra had a feeling that that might not help whoever might be responsible for such media much.

That Clone was a bit too sneaky for her taste.

Welp, that was more or less inevitable. This Admiral is probably going to have some serious egg on his face and of course this it's gonna ignite some serious discourse.

Ostensibly the US has religious freedom but well... the freedom of Christian sects have always been a bit more protected than other faiths.

But there's also the "don't piss of the religious fanatics crewing the ships in our solar system" angle to consider. And yes, Kearsy is in a pickle here.
Scorpia blinked. "Oh. Like the dirty pictures soldiers hide in their barracks?"

"Yes. And movies. And I guess some live performances qualify as well."

"Is there porn with us?" Glimmer looked shocked.

As did Adora and most of the others, Catra noted.
So Catra never showed off the stuff the stuff she "Confiscated" then.
Chapter 139: Holiday Season Part 3
Chapter 139: Holiday Season Part 3

Alliance Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, December 28th, 1999

Jack O'Neill stared at his friends. He couldn't have heard correctly, could he? "Cartoons nearly caused a diplomatic issue?"

"Those are cartoons 'inspired' by the Etherians," Carter explained. "The Etherians have recently become aware of them."

"Ah." That made sense. Sort of. "And they don't like them?"

"Most of them disagree with how they - well, the characters inspired by them - are portrayed," Daniel said. "Even though the portrayal is very positive, especially considering that the cartoons are meant for children."

"Entrapta likes them. Though she might consider them as inspirations for new projects," Carter added.

Jack winced. He wasn't an expert on cartoons - except for The Simpsons - but he had seen enough Saturday morning cartoons as a kid to know that could be a problem. But the others? "You said 'nearly caused a diplomatic issue'. So, they calmed down?"

"Yes, sir." Carter nodded. "Although there are concerns about porn using their likeness."

Daniel nodded as well. "There already is, ah, erotic fanart found on the internet, although it has been more or less limited to a subculture. And unlike porn with actors, it's rather hard to find the creators of such pictures."

"We could probably track down individuals if we tried, but it's not worth the effort."

Carter's pride must have been stung by Daniel's comment, Jack noted.

"And it would break several laws," Daniel added with a frown. "Though I assume that the potential problems with Third Fleet such, ah, oeuvres could cause would have to be taken into account."

Jack winced. "Right. The religious fanatics crewing spaceships with big honking guns orbiting Earth might take offence to porn depicting their goddess." God knew that religious fanatics had killed people for less on Earth.

"They haven't actually complained about the, ah, erotic art," Daniel pointed out. "So, they might not care about porn either. But if they think Adora hates it…"

Jack frowned. "Why hasn't there been such porn, anyway? Don't they love making porn parodies or something?" Noticing the looks he got from everyone - even Teal'c and Sha're - he quickly added: "I am commanding a multi-national unit of special forces. What do you think I find when I inspect their quarters?"

Teal'c, Daniel and Sha're nodded, but Carter was still frowning. Well, it was the truth!

"Anyway," Jack went on, "I would have expected some of that stuff to appear by now."

Carter switched from frowning at him to staring at her laptop. Which probably had more computing power than the SGC main computer by now if the glimpse of glowing crystal stuff Jack had caught once when she had opened the frame was any indication. "Carter?"

"One second, sir… It seems that there was a recent crackdown on porn studios in Los Angeles. Several porn studios and independent producers are under investigation for various crimes. A number of them were known for producing 'porn parodies'." She grimaced at the words, Jack saw. "I would have to verify the information, though - this was only a casual search. And I haven't investigated foreign countries."

He snorted. "Someone probably tipped off the cops." And Jack would bet a week's worth of jello that this was the NID at work.

"Do you want me to investigate this further?" Carter asked.

Ordering her to investigate porn studios? Jack shook his head. If that ever got out, his fellow generals would try their damnest to get him relieved for that. "No. It's not a problem, is it?"

"Not currently, sir," she replied.

"Though it could become a problem," Daniel objected.

"Didn't Adora impress on Priest that there wouldn't be any orbital bombardments without her explicit permission?" Jack asked. "Do you think he'd disobey her?" The Clone was too smart to try anything like that, at least.

"I wasn't worried about the Clones, Jack. But the Church of She-Ra is growing on Earth. And also in regions where religious riots have broken out in the past," Daniel said.

"Then Adora should address that," Jack said. "Unlike other gods, she can tell her followers that violence isn't the answer in this case."

"It's not a joking matter, Jack!" Daniel blurted out.

"Who said I'm joking?" Jack tilted his head at his friend. "People worship her as a goddess. So, why not use that when needed?" They were at war, after all. And it wasn't as if She-ra would make a worse goddess than any other god or goddess. Quite the contrary, actually.

"It feels a bit manipulative," Daniel said.

"That's religion for you, Daniel." Jack shrugged. "Now, is there anything else we need to discuss before we talk about our holiday plans?"

Daniel blinked. "What do you mean?"

"I believe this is a reference to the holiday events we are planning to attend," Teal'c said.

"Yep." Jack grinned. If he had to mingle with generals and politicians, then he needed some help from his friends to endure that. You couldn't always count on an emergency to get you out of such parties, after all.


Alliance Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, December 31st, 1999

Adora wasn't exactly an expert on parties, but she had attended her share over the years, both on Etheria and on Earth, and the Alliance New Year's Eve Party wasn't a fun event. Sure, lots of generals and politicians attended, and a lot of her friends from the Princess Alliance and the Alliance, but… It felt more like the Princess Prom when Catra and Scorpia had shown up than a real party. More like work. Duty.

"You're worrying again. Stop that."

Adora turned to frown at Catra. "I'm not…" she pulled her head back when Catra pushed a pastry to her face.

"Try that! It's an éclair - you'll love it!" Catra grinned at her.

"You said that about Vegemite." But Adora still took the pastry - carefully, though she got cream on her fingers anyway - and then carefully bit in it. "Oh!"

"See? It's great! And so's Vegemite - you just have no taste!" Catra scarfed down another éclair.

"How can you say that I have no taste?" Adora pouted before she grinned. "I do love you, don't I?"

Catra blinked, apparently surprised for a moment, then grinned. "Well, I'll chalk that up to dumb luck."

Adora snorted and finished off her own pastry.

"But seriously, just enjoy the food and tell the idiots off if they bother you."

Adora drew a sharp breath. "I can't! I'm the Supreme Commander, and those are our closest allies! We work with them!"

"All the more reason to tell them off if they annoy you - they have to work with you, not the other way around. Besides, as a goddess, you outrank them."

"I am not a goddess!" Adora hissed.

"Well, Priest disagrees." Catra shrugged. "Anyway, just enjoy the party for another…" She checked the clock on the wall. "... twenty-eight minutes. Then we're off to Stargate Command for the real New Year's Eve Party!" She grabbed another pastry, something fluffier, and swallowed it whole. "Mhhh. Until then, we can enjoy the food here. Get our money's worth."

Right. The Alliance budget was paying for this party. Adora nodded. "So we should…" She trailed off when the Secretary General of NATO approached her, glass in hand. "Have you tried the wine yet?"

"Ah…" Adora smiled a little weakly. "I…"

"Adora's more of a champagne girl," Catra said. "You know, blonde and bubbly."

"I'm not!"

But the Secretary General laughed. Was he a bit tipsy? Probably. He was usually such a serious man. Although with almost all of NATO in the Alliance, his position was… Adora wouldn't call it redundant, but it was not as important as it had been in the past. And as Catra had said, it hadn't been all that important in the past either, what with the US calling the shots.

"Well, the food's great," Catra said. "Better than Princess Prom."

"Ah, I've heard about that." He nodded. "The most famous diplomatic event of Etheria. Limited to princesses, though, right?"

"Yes. And their plus ones," Adora said. Those were the rules.

"No Disney Princesses allowed, though, right?" He laughed again, as did Catra.

Adora frowned. "They're not Etherian princesses," she said. Even if Disney weren't lobbying hard to get some sort of copyright protection in Etheria, they wouldn't be allowed to attend the Princess Prom.

"Right." The Secretary General nodded, growing more serious. "At least, that's a trade dispute and nothing that affects the military."

"Yes." Adora frowned again. Was that a subtle hint? Disney wasn't involved in the military.

"Well, not unless smuggling grows even worse," Catra said. "So far, we haven't found anyone trying to replace military supplies going through the gate with contraband. But I think it's just a question of time before it happens. We couldn't even stop that stuff in the Horde."

"Well, that was the Horde," Adora pointed out. There were a few reasons that the Horde hadn't won the war against the Alliance even before She-Ra had appeared.

Catra snorted.

The Secretary General slowly nodded again. "Well, as long as this stays a trade dispute…" He trailed off.

Adora narrowed her eyes. That definitely wasn't just a random comment. "What do you mean?" she asked.

"Ah, well, I've heard that there are efforts to bring up such matters in the Alliance as part of the military technology transfer." The man shrugged. "I don't think I agree that intellectual property is the same whether it's about media or weapon designs, but some people think so. Or claim to think so."

"What?" Catra blinked. "They want to spread our military technology unless we agree to protect their copyright?"

"We've covered technology transfers in the Alliance treaty!" Adora snapped.

"Yes, of course. But many think any treaty can be renegotiated."

"Over Disney?" Adora shook her head. That was… crazy. Meddling with the Alliance in the middle of a war?

"Disney is merely the most famous such firm, but all media companies have voiced concern over the lack of a treaty regulating intellectual property. And they have the ears of many politicians who depend on their support for their reelection, especially in the United States."

"Back home, we'd call that corruption," Catra commented.

Adora nodded.

"Here, it's politics." The Secretary General shrugged. "In any case, I wanted to let you know, informally, about this."

"Thank you." Adora smiled. She wasn't sure if this was a friendly warning about a potential problem or an attempt to influence her, but now that they knew about this, they could plan how to deal with that.

She looked around for Glimmer and Bow. Ah, there. They were talking with some European politicians - Adora recognised the German and French foreign ministers. Well, she didn't think Glimmer would mind getting dragged away from the talk there - her friends didn't look like they were enjoying themselves too much.


Stargate Command, CFB Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Canada, December 31st, 1999

"We made a treaty, and they are trying to go back on their word already because of their elections! That wouldn't happen on Etheria!"

Samantha Carter took a sip from her glass while Glimmer complained. So much for escaping the politics by skipping the Alliance New Year's Eve Party in Brussels. The General must be feeling smug about this.

"Actually," Bow started, "princesses going back on their word isn't unheard of."

"Not when you have a formal treaty!" Glimmer disagreed.

"Well, not on the letter of the treaty, although there are several accounts of treaties being dissolved after the circumstances that caused the treaty to be made changed significantly during the rule of the princesses who made the treaty. But there's often quite the squabbling over things that were not clarified in a treaty," Bow said.

"We made it very clear that our technology was going to be restricted to the Alliance!"

That was true. Sam had studied those parts very thoroughly.

"Well, it's not as if they can actually share our technology," Adora said. "Everyone we talked to in Brussels was clear about that. It's just a way to put pressure on the Princess Alliance about copyright."

"It's the principle of the thing!" Glimmer shook her head. "They shouldn't even try that! We're in an alliance - a military alliance. We didn't agree anything about trading."

Daniel cleared his throat. "Well, while that's technically true, trade is happening - albeit limited to smuggling at the moment. And a lot of the, ah, contraband is media. It's not surprising that the owners of intellectual property would attempt to stop what they see as theft. You would do the same if, say, stolen goods from Etheira would be sold on Earth, right?"

"Only Earth thinks that copying media is stealing," Glimmer retorted.

"It's not like you lose the data you share," Entrapta chimed in. "Information wants to be free!"

Sam winced. Her friend sometimes picked up the wrong things, or things missing their context, from Earth's culture. "But not everyone wants to share their data," she pointed out.

"That's selfish of them, though." Entrapta pouted. "I mean, I understand that we can't share military technology or secrets, but this is media - everyone on Earth has access to it!"

"In theory, maybe," Daniel retorted. "But not everyone can afford all the media they want."

"Just like not everyone can afford all the food they need?" Glimmer scoffed. "It's not a good argument for having copyright. Or for messing with the Alliance to get copyright. Etheria doesn't do things that way."

"But Earth does," Daniel said. "And our system is built on intellectual property being protected - in principle, at least - and copyright protection varies across the world, but a lot of the Earth media wouldn't be produced if there was no copyright. The investments wouldn't work out." He grimaced slightly. "If we returned to the patronage system that we had in the past, we would see a drastic loss of variety in media content. Many patrons also would only support media that appealed to them or furthered their interests - not an altogether positive change, I think."

That was putting it mildly, in Sam's opinion.

"I've heard complaints that this is happening already as studios and companies limit the creativity of the artists working for them," Bow objected. "And I don't see a significant difference between patrons paying artists for their works and people employing artists to work for them."

"Well, that might have been the case in the studio system in Hollywood, in the past," Daniel said. "And arguably, that is still a valid point for parts of the media business. But not for everyone - between movies, TV shows, literature and music, and arguably video games, you cannot assume everything works the same. Those are different markets."

"And yet, that's what people claim - they say without copyright, everything would crumble," Bow said. "That artists couldn't profit from their works."

"Artists? Disney is a business, not an artist. They just want to make more profits," Glimmer said with a scowl.

"Ugh." Mermista scoffed. "I don't see their problem, anyway. Etheria has fewer people than most of the countries in the Alliance. Why do they care so much about our market?"

Sam took another sip from her drink so she wouldn't correct Mermista. The majority of the Alliance member states were smaller than Etheria's population.

"Fifty million people are still a significant market. And, well…" Daniel smiled. "It's a new market, not saturated, and Earth media is very popular on Etheria."

"And they want magic and magitech," Catra added.

"So, it's just greed?" Entrapta asked. "They have enough money but want more?"

If the General were here instead of talking with General Hammond, General Haig and General Petit, he would likely make a comment about communist magical space princesses, Sam knew.

"I wouldn't say that it's just about money," Daniel said. "If they tolerate the proliferation of their media on Etheria, some countries on Earth might do the same."

"Aren't they doing that already? At least according to what we heard," Adora asked.

"But in negligible numbers," Daniel said. "Although that could change now following the development with Russia and China. Trade is one area where both countries could still put pressure on the Alliance - especially if other countries outside the Alliance support them. Such a move could hurt many businesses in the Alliance."

"Ugh!" Mermista huffed. "If Disney and other businesses try to put pressure on us to avoid pressure from hostile countries, then that sounds like treason to me."

"I don't think that would be treason," Daniel objected. "Certainly not in the USA."

"Whatever!" Glimmer scoffed again. "It's clear we need to do something about that. Any ideas?"

Sam winced when she realised that she was being roped into a political planning session. If the General again complained about office politics because of his promotion…


"Ugh. We should ignore it. They can't actually force us to do anything; this is just posturing. A tempest in a teapot."

Mermista had a point, Catra thought. But not much of one. Sure, the Princess Alliance could ignore the complaints from Disney and the other media companies, but as Catra had found out the hard way, ignoring complaints and using force to get what you want was going to end up with you abandoned as soon as people saw an opportunity. "In the short term, yes," she said. "But what happens once the war is over and Earth has adapted to advanced technology?"

Most winced. Entrapta looked confused. "What do you mean?"

"If the threat of the Goa'uld is the only thing that holds the Alliance together, then once that threat is gone, so is the Alliance," Bow said.

"We already knew that," Frosta chimed in. "And if they don't want an Alliance anymore, so what? The Goa'uld will be done by then."

"And we're faced with a planet outnumbering us more than a hundred to one. Half of them already don't like us," Glimmer added with a scowl.

"That's the half that hates the other half, the one in the Alliance, though," Bow said.

Adora nodded.

"There are enough people in the Alliance who dislike us and only go along with the Alliance because the Goa'uld are a threat, and we have the technology they want," Catra said.

"Yes. And we can't count on personal ties to their leaders because they'll be replaced by the next elections," Glimmer added.

"Well, countries often change their leaders without changing their foreign policies," Daniel spoke up. "The United States proved that during the Cold War."

"But they change their policies in response to lobbying and bribes," Catra retorted. "And when it comes to trade, a lot of money is involved." She might not be an expert on democracy, but that much was clear to anyone who followed Earth news.

"Err, yes, though it's not as clear-cut, and there are many different interests influencing government policy," Daniel replied.

"And how many of those interests are already unhappy with us?" Bow asked. "The bigots. And the religious extremists."

"Those are the same," Glimmer interjected.

"There is some overlap," Bow agreed, "but they are diverse groups."

"And we shouldn't bow to such pressure!" Frosta cut in. "We didn't when we made the Alliance - we drew a line, and anyone who wanted to join us had to respect it! We shouldn't give in now! We have our standards!"

"That was about respecting rights and ending discrimination," Perfuma retorted. "This is just about money. Is that worth making people hate us?"

Adora shook her head. "We can't assume that people will hate us. Many love us."

"Some people worship you. But some people hate us," Catra pointed out. "They just are too weak to hurt us." You couldn't win everyone over.

"Do you honestly expect the rest of the Alliance to turn on us after the war?" Adora asked.

"Attack us? No. But they won't play as nice as they have been playing so far once they don't need us as much any more," Catra replied.

"But we're friends!" Entrapta protested. "Friends don't attack each other. Right, Sam?"

Sam winced at that. "We're friends, yes. But we're not leading our country."

"Your leaders are elected. That's why we've hired Julie and Mr Bown," Glimmer said. "To show your people that they don't have to fear us."

"Yes!" Perfuma nodded emphatically. "And we'll help Earth with their other problems!"

"Past favours don't translate into future friendship," Sha're said. "Once you are no longer essential to their survival, you become a rival."

Daniel cleared his throat. "Earth countries don't really act like the Goa'uld, dear."

Sha're shrugged. "Close enough. Who said that countries have interests, not friendships?"

"Probably a democratic leader," Glimmer muttered. "Freshly elected."

Catra snickered at that.

"But the Etherians are very popular in key demographics," Daniel objected. "Even a new government could not ignore that - especially after a victory against the Goa'uld."

"How many movies with evil princesses will it take to change that?" Catra asked. Propaganda was a thing, after all.

"They wouldn't go that far, would they?" Perfuma asked, biting her lower lip.

"Not all the way. But a more critical portrayal could be easily done," Daniel said.

Glimmer scoffed in return. "Whatever. The thing is, we can't count on the current situation to stay the same. So, we have to do something about this. Preferably before it turns into a problem."

"Well, the first step to reconcile differences is to talk to each other, find out what everyone wants and see if there's a possible compromise," Daniel said.

"You want us to talk to the media businesses?" Frosta scoffed. "Visit Disneyland?"

"They don't actually do such business in Disneyland," Daniel said. "I think."

"It wouldn't hurt to talk to them. Explain why we don't have copyright," Adora said. "And we need to settle things for the cultural exchange anyway."

"Invite them to a frigate in orbit," Catra said with a grin. "Let them talk to Priest!"

"Catra!" Adora pouted at her.

Catra shrugged. "Not Priest. But they probably haven't been to space yet. It might impress them. Or invite them to Etheria."

"That might set a precedent - annoy us enough and you get preferential treatment," Bow pointed out. "Do we want to risk that?"

"If we start negotiating with Disney, that precedent will be set anyway," Glimmer retorted.

"To be fair, that's a pretty normal thing in business and politics," Daniel said. "The squeaky wheel gets the grease."

"Whatever!" Glimmer repeated herself. "So, we'll talk to a delegation of them, I guess."

Adora nodded, as did the others.

"So… let's rejoin the rest of the party?" Perfuma asked.

"Good idea," Catra agreed. The food wasn't as good as in Brussels, but it was good anyway.


"It seems our Etherian friends have finished their impromptu meeting," General Haig commented.

Jack O'Neill turned his head and saw that the man was correct. The Etherians, who had secluded themselves with Carter, Daniel and Sha're in a corner of the mess hall in Stargate Command - far more fitting for such a party than the one in Cheyenne Moutain had been, if he was honest - were spreading out again, most of them heading to the buffet. "Looks like it," he said.

Carter and Entrapta were talking animatedly, but judging by their expressions, it wasn't about some new technological marvel (or terror). Entrapta looked upset, and Carter looked guilty, so it was probably something about society - probably Earth's.

Better you than me, he thought as he turned back to the Stargate Command Council. It still felt a bit weird to have the same rank as Hammond. Sure, Jack had thought - with apprehension - about the possibility of ending up in charge of Stargate Command, sometime in the far future, shortly before mandatory retirement, when he wasn't fit to run missions any more, but that had been under the assumption that Hammond would have retired or been promoted away. Not that he minded how things had turned out, of course.

"I wonder what this was about," Petit mused. Though his raised eyebrow clearly showed that he expected Jack to know.

"I wonder why you weren't in the middle of that," Hammond added, rather bluntly, staring at Jack as well.

Because I had the good sense to hide with you lot when everyone was being gathered up, Jack thought. Out loud, he replied: "It's not about military matters, so I wouldn't have been any help." That was his story and he was sticking to it.

"What was it about then?" Haig asked.

"Cartoons," Jack said. "They found out that Disney made a movie about them."

"Ah." Haig nodded

Hammond sighed. "Ah, yes. My grandchildren love it."

"And they probably keep asking you to sneak them to Etheria?" Jack grinned.

Hammond snorted. "They tried to sneak into my shuttle when I visited."

"Bold of them." It seemed his grandkids were quite determined. They might make good special forces recruits in a decade or two, not that Jack would voice that thought. Damn, I shouldn't be thinking about recruiting kids for the military! he added to himself when he saw Frosta grab a drink at the bar. Jack hoped people were, as ordered, watching the teenager's intake, or they might end up with ice sculptures on the runway again. Though, to be fair, with the Russians and Chinese off Stargate Command, traffic to and from the base was dominated by shuttles these days, and they didn't need a runway. Though if she blocked the railways and streets to the port…

Well, it wasn't his problem. He wasn't responsible for drunk princesses. Or for Stargate Command. Just for Alliance Special Forces Command and the war against the Goa'uld.

"I am fortunate that my own family is not quite as brash," Haig said. "Though that might change as they grow older."

"I wouldn't be able to tell." Petit shrugged and glanced at Jack.

Jack returned the shrug. Technically, he had nephews and nieces, but he wasn't really close to his family. 'Don't need an excuse to skip the holiday visit'-'not close', actually. And that was perfectly fine. They had their lives, and he had his.

"Good party," he commented to change the topic. "Really pulling out all the stops."

"Within our budget," Hammond said. "I don't doubt that the Alliance party was more impressive."

"It was certainly stuffier," Jack said. "Too many politicians." At least he hadn't had to deal with Kinsey. Apparently, the senator was too busy shmoozing in Washington to attend.

"We answer to them," Haig said. "So, a good relationship is crucial. Though, as far as I heard, the Tok'ra didn't attend the party?"

Was everyone pumping him for information? Well, that the Tok'ra were relocating their main base, again, was classified. But there were things he could share. "They had other concerns but sent gifts." Official ones for the Alliance leadership. And a personal one for him. From Anise. Jack would have to have that thing scanned by Carter to check for anything shady.

"Ah. That was that special delivery, then." Petit grinned. "Our people scanning the contents looked surprised."

Jack suppressed a wince. The official gifts had been quite normal - food and artwork. Maybe he should reconsider letting Carter scan his gift. If it was something spicy rather than shady, she might not let him forget it for a long while.

"Aliens have different standards," Haig said. "Though not too different. Stargate Command received a small sculpture, a carving representing all three of our countries. Quite appealing."

If you liked wooden animals, Jack thought. They could probably drop it on some display stand in a corner without causing a diplomatic incident. Maybe he should return the favour. Give the Tok'ra something weird that they had to honour lest they insulted their allies…

"It has a certain style," Hammond politely disagreed. "Although…" he trailed off, frowning. "Are they eating flowers?"

Jack turned and frowned as well. Next to the buffet, a bunch of soldiers were indeed eating flowers. Flowers that Jack was sure hadn't been present a few minutes ago. But then. Perfuma hadn't been at the buffet then either, and now she was, beaming at the soldiers.

Soldiers who were quickly going from hesitantly biting the large flowers to enthusiastically munching them. And the flowers kept multiplying.

Jack sighed. He didn't know what exactly those flowers were, but he knew it was going to be a problem.


"What did you do?" Adora asked, looking at the brightly-coloured flower in front of her face.

"I changed the flowers here!" Perfuma beamed at her.

"Yeah, we noticed," Catra commented. "Earth doesn't have such flowers."

Adora agreed. The flower was moving, matching her head's tilting, but that was normal - for an Etherian plant. What wasn't normal was people were eating those.

"It's a shame, yes. But maybe we can change that as well." Perfuma took a bite from the flower she was holding and pouted, then tilted her head, and the flower changed colours. Another bite later, she nodded with a wide smile. "Better!"

"What did you do?" Adora repeated her question. "I mean, what exactly did you do?"

"I made them edible!" Perfuma replied. "And I added all sorts of flavours - colour-coded!"

Catra bit into the yellow flower wriggling next to her, chewed, then blinked. "Beer?"

"Yes! A very popular flavour here!" Perfuma bopped her head.

Adora looked at her friend, then at the various flowers slowly filling the corner next to the buffet - and the soldiers eating them. "How many of the flavours are alcohol?" she asked with a sinking feeling in her stomach.

"Many!" Perfuma was still smiling brightly - and took another bite of her own flower - which had changed colours again when Adora hadn't been paying attention. "Drugs are illegal, but alcohol isn't!"

"Hey!" Scorpia approached them, pincers holding a massive flower with a barrell-like blossom. "This is great!" She tilted the flower, and red liquid sloshed inside. "Fruit Punch Flowers!"

"Are there any flowers that aren't alcoholic?" Catra asked with a snort.

"Yes! I made a soda flower as well! But I can't make most flavours since those are copyrighted." Perfuma pouted. "But alcohol is fine! It's natural!"

Adora took a bite from her flower. It tasted like… whisky. Strong whisky - she coughed.

Perfuma held out her flower - now white - to Scorpia. "Check it out! I made an Ice Liquor Flower!"

"Really?" Scorpia took a bite. "Oh, perfect! Did you show it to Frosta?"

"Not yet! Let's go find her!"

The sinking feeling in Adora's stomach, temporarily replaced with the booze she had eaten, returned with a vengeance. Drunk Frosta? They would be lucky if they could recognise the base in the morning! "Wait!"


Stargate Command, CFB Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Canada, January 1st, 2000

Samantha Carter had expected to spend January 1st dealing with obsolete computer systems suffering from the Y2K 'bug'. A lot of effort had gone into identifying and fixing such systems, but you never got all of them, and the military was rife with old machines that had been kept far longer than expected when they had been installed decades ago.

She hadn't expected that she'd have to delay fixing computer systems in favour of fixing damage to Stargate Command's main base because the New Year's Eve Party had been wilder than expected. A lot wilder.

Apparently, Perfuma had been holding back a lot during her previous visits. And Plumeria's reputation for partying wasn't overblown at all. And Sam had to remember that while Frosta might have been the most obvious concern when it came to drinking due to her age, her temper and her stunt at Thule, she wasn't the only concern when it came to drinking and powers.

"I'm really sorry. It sounded like a good idea at the time."

Sam nodded. Entrapta had meant well. But she had been drunk. "Drinking and science don't mix well."

"So the data indicates. Though we didn't run a blind test."

And they wouldn't do that. Trying to understand what Entrapta had coded after eating half a dozen plants from Perfuma was worse, much worse, than dealing with legacy systems from the 60s. Old computers didn't control construction bots.

As a silver lining, if Sam managed to sort out the coding, Stargate Command's security would be significantly improved. Provided the Generals in charge approved - some of them had looked a bit wary of the automated defences when Entrapta had demonstrated them last night. Even though that had also ended the question of whether or not they should preserve the flowers Perfuma had created.

"What's done is done," Sam said. Perfuma could recreate the flowers anyway. However, her plans to help Earth by changing plants to improve food production would likely suffer a setback after this.

As would the careers of several soldiers who had started the whole thing by asking Perfuma about parties in her kingdom - Sam was quite sure that they had already been aware of her kingdom's reputation.

But she had a job to do. Sighing, she focused on the screen in front of her again.

"I'm really sorry."

"I know."

At least Adora had taken care of any headaches.


Washington D.C., United States of America, Earth, January 3rd, 2000

"…and as you can see, protecting intellectual property is the key to ensuring a wide range of creative, diverse media. Just as no one would invest in a factory if they could not be assured that its output would not be stolen from them by anyone, no one with a modicum of sense would invest in the production of media if they had no assurances that they would reap the profits of a potential success. Who would spend years working on a book if they would have to watch others steal their work and publish it without remuneration? Intellectual property is property, and violating copyright is theft!"

"We really should have invited them to a frigate in orbit," Catra muttered as Disney's lawyer - Mr Patridge or something - rambled on.

"I don't think that would stop them," Adora replied in a whisper before she winced a little.

She is probably feeling guilty about not paying complete attention, Catra thought.

"Yes, yes, we've gone through that before. Multiple times," Glimmer replied. "Etherian legal tradition doesn't agree with that stance. We don't consider it stealing if someone performs a play written by someone else. Or a song. Certainly not if they don't claim to have invented the play or song. The actors and musicians still have to perform."

"But that leaves the author out in the cold!" the other lawyer protested. "How can they make a profit if everyone can copy their work?"

"Authors generally are paid by their patron," Bow cut in before Glimmer could snap at the man who had interrupted her. "Some also run plays themselves."

"Like in the dark ages," Catra heard the first lawyer whisper. "Shakespeare would feel at home in their world."

"And as we heard, the publisher or the studio generally profits the most," Glimmer said.

"They take the financial risk when creating movies and TV shows, so they should also be able to get their fair share of the rewards." Disney's lawyer smiled. "It's the cornerstone of our industry."

"Your industry." Glimmer snorted.


Disney's leader - their CEO - cleared his throat. "I think we've gone over the legal differences more than enough to know where we stand."

"We knew that before we met today," Catra said. Why was she here? Except to support Adora and watch Glimmer fume, this was pointless. It wasn't even amusing.

"It is always useful to lay out exactly where each party stands during negotiations," the first lawyer added.

"Sometimes that's counter-productive," Glimmer retorted with a toothy smile.

The CEO met her smile. "Indeed. In any case, I don't think we can change our respective legal systems - both seem too entrenched in our respective cultures. But different legal traditions have not been an impenetrable barrier to trade and cultural exchanges on Earth. We have found ways to reach fair agreements despite such obstacles."

For certain definitions of 'fair', Catra thought.

"And you adjusted your own copyright laws when it profited you," Glimmer said.

"Special cases deserve special treatment," the second lawyer said. He winced a little when the CEO frowned at him.

"So, what do you have in mind?" Adora asked. "You must have some ideas since you agreed to this meeting."

"And have yet to offer any sort of compromise," Catra added under her breath.

"Indeed. While you do not have copyright in Etheria, I believe you do have royal charters and monopolies in many of your kingdoms," the CEO replied. "For various ventures."

"Yes." Glimmer glanced at Adora, Catra saw. That was something they had been discussing. "Like a royal charter to operate certain services. Though while that might be applicable for theatres, it wouldn't help with limiting copies of your media being distributed."

"We're aware of that. But we have such piracy on Earth as well."

"Don't let Sea Hawk hear that you call sharing songs piracy," Catra said. "He might take offence."

The CEO laughed at that. He obviously didn't know about Etheria's pirates. Some of them might consider this an insult worth drawing steel. Well, not her problem.

"We can tolerate a certain amount of such piracy," he went on, "as long as it's not too much."

"The way your media is spreading, I think we're past that point," Glimmer said. She didn't seem to be sad about it.

"That depends. You mainly consume our media on tablets like this one, right?" the CEO pointed at Bow's tablet.

"Yes?" Bow tilted his head.

"While certainly a fine piece of technology, the experience it offers is still somewhat… limited compared to a theatre or a live concert."

Ah. They had gone over that in preparation for this.

"You want a monopoly for such concerts and theatres?" Glimmer asked.

"It would be one way to provide us with fair compensation. Though we do not need a monopoly as long as we're allowed to operate - I am confident that we can provide experiences that will outshine any competition." The CEO smiles. "Our parks and other venues are quite unique."

"That would help Disney, of course, but many of my clients would not profit from that," the second lawyer objected. "Authors and songwriters, for one."

"Well, those could be compensated by a copyright collective collecting and distributing tariffs on certain media or devices. We have such collectives in many countries to handle similar situations - it's one way to counter the effects of piracy."

Glimmer frowned. "You want to tax our people?"

Catra whistled. That was a hot button for any princess. Well, for Earth as well - they had started revolutions over that.

The CEO raised his eyebrows, seemingly surprised by her reaction, then glanced at the wincing lawyer once more.

"I don't think 'taxes' would be the best word for it. It's more like an additional cost added to devices that facilitate the sharing of copyrighted media," the lawyer said.

"That's effectively a tax!" Glimmer retorted.

"Or think of it as the kingdom paying a flat sum to the authors and musicians whose works are shared freely amongst your people - like a patron supporting an author," the other author suggested. "Just many authors in this case."

That was a smoother way to word it, but it didn't change the proposal - Disney and the other firms involved wanted someone to pay for the media everyone back home was sharing.

"And in exchange, you would officially void any further copyright claims?" Glimmer asked.

The CEO inclined his head. "We wouldn't pursue further financial claims, provided we can get a fair agreement."

"That's just one part of the issue," Bow pointed out. "What about our artists using copyrighted media?"

The CEO didn't wince, but his expression grew rather stony.

Catra sighed. This was going to take a while.

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Honestly I think the only way to make square the peg of copyright issues is to go right down the rabbit hole of personhood. If a work belongs to a person and that person isn't recognized under Etherian law then it's unowned. Force Disney the company to nominate actual authors of works that can then be paid by the crowns of Etheria. From there they can back end it into a traditional patronage system.

I.E this work is well loved by the people here is a royal gift to it's authors for services done for the people.

If the government is responsible for buying the licensing rights it should be able to give enough lucre to Disney's people that it undercuts the theft argument in media coverage while also allowing etherian citizens to retain their own normal ways of engaging with the mediums.

Export of Etherian cultural works back into Earth though, that's going to be very fraught
Chapter 140: Holiday Season Part 4
Chapter 140: Holiday Season Part 4

Alliance Headquarters, Brussels, Belgium, January 4th, 2000

Jack O'Neill frowned at the 'no plants allowed' sticker on the door to his office. "Someone's trying to be funny," he muttered while he ripped it off. He wasn't planning to have plants in his office - he wasn't the kind of officer who would have his aide water his plants as part of their duties, and he couldn't bother with caring for plants himself. But this was about the Stargate Command New Year's Eve Party.

Shaking his head, he entered.

"Good morning, sir!" His aide nodded at him.

"Morning, Brown."

"The urgent paperwork is on your desk, sir."

Jack frowned and suppressed a sigh. "Anything important?"

"General Naird wanted to know what measures are being taken to, I quote, 'prevent another drug-fuelled diplomatic incident'," Brown went on.

"Tell him that that is up to Stargate Command. The Alliance isn't responsible for the Stargate."

"Yes, sir. Admiral Kearsy filed a complaint about the incident as well."

The jerk was probably just jealous that he hadn't been invited to the party. Jack knew those hypocrites too well. "So, he's even dumber than I thought."

"Sir." Brown's slow nod showed he didn't quite agree with Jack's comment.

"I am aware that he's trying to save his butt by blaming me for everything that went wrong, Lieutenant," Jack told him. "But this is stupid. I am not a member of Stargate Command any more. I was just a guest at their party."

"He is blaming Major Carter, sir."

"What?" Jack narrowed his eyes. That idiot was going after Carter? Jack would bury him. Alive, if he could pull it off.

"He claims she was present in an official capacity since she was helping with their computer systems, temporarily dispatched, and so should have upheld regulations." Brown handed him a file.

"The guy's losing it. Blaming a major for not doing a general's job?" Jack shook his head. "That's not how we do things in the Alliance."

"Should I schedule a meeting with the Supreme Commander?"

"What? No, no! I'll handle that myself." They couldn't have Adora squash every petty officer plotting against them. That would only give more ammunition to such people. And she was busy supporting her friends with that copyright stuff. No, Jack would have to do a little character assassination himself. Fortunately, he knew where a number of bodies were buried. "Hold my calls for a while unless it's an emergency."

"Yes, sir."

Jack nodded again and entered his office. The coffee maker was, as expected, running already, courtesy of Brown. Jack took a cup and sat down at his desk. First, do the urgent paperwork so his people were taken care of. Then he'd deal with Kearsy.


"...and yes, I agree that Admiral Kearsy's behaviour has cast doubt on his ability to fulfil his duties," Jack said. "Though I wouldn't presume to judge the impact of his appalling attitude on our diplomatic relations with our allies, I can say that he seems to have trouble respecting our chain of command," Jack said.

"I see. I'll look into this. We can't have our officers overreaching like that - it's already incredibly difficult to run the Alliance! Thank you, General."

"Yes, sir."

"Have a nice day, General."

"You too, sir."

Jack leaned back and stretched his arms while he sighed. That had taken longer than expected. Mostly because everyone he had called had used the opportunity to discuss something else. But between the brawl incident and Kearsy's doubling down on his religious attitude and the recent attempt to attack Carter - Earth's best scientist, which meant the moment she quit the service, she could write her own ticket pretty much everywhere, including Etheria - the idiot's career should be done for. And Jack hadn't even had to use some of his blackmail material.

He grabbed a soda from his fridge and switched his TV on - he had earned a break before he dealt with the regular paperwork.

"...and, and I am just speculating here, mind you, but… What if the pagan religions weren't the only religions founded by aliens, Joe?"

"Ah, Frank, I don't think it was established that the Goa'uld founded the Egyptian religion. Dr Jackson was clear about that - they might have impersonated native gods; we just lack documentation of that time period."

"We can ask the Goa'uld who were around back then."

"I don't think we can trust them."

"Good point. Anyway, it doesn't matter since we have records going back two thousand years. And we know there's some Goa'uld masquerading as the devil out there. So, what if Jesus was a Goa'uld as well? What he did in the Bible could have been replicated by alien technology.

"But the Goa'uld were driven out thousands of years before Christ, Frank!"

"I guess the snakes that were captured on Earth didn't get the memo, then, Joe."

"Those are rumours, Frank."

"They were confirmed by our Supreme Commander, She-Ra."

"She said she couldn't comment."

"Exactly! If there were no snakes captured on Earth, wouldn't she have said that? You think that woman can lie worth a damn?"


Jack turned the TV off and cursed. He really didn't want to deal with this right now. Or ever.

Before he could finish his soda, someone knocked on the door. "Yes?" Jack asked. This better be good.

Brown stuck his head inside. "General, the Tok'ra have contacted us. They claim to have crucial information that requires urgent action."

Jack blinked before he grinned. If the Tok'ra wanted urgent action, then it had to be good.


Stargate Command, CFB Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Canada, January 4th, 2000

The soldiers standing guard in the gate room snapped to attention when Adora walked down the ramp, and General Hammond saluted her. "Supreme Commander, welcome to Earth."

"General." She returned the salute. The troops guarding the Stargate were not in her chain of command, but that was rapidly becoming a technicality, now that they were exclusively made up of American, British and French forces - all members of the Alliance. "Have the Tok'ra arrived yet?"

"Not yet," he replied as he fell in at her side. "It seems you've beaten them here."

"Hah!" Catra snorted behind her.

"We can't exactly start without them, so it's meaningless if we're here first," Glimmer said.

"But they could start without us. Don't tell me you'd like that," Catra retorted.

"If they're early, Anise will just spend the time trying to convince Jack to donate his genes," Glimmer shot back.

General Hammond looked surprised - and perhaps concerned; Adora didn't know him well enough to tell. She cleared her throat. "They're joking about that. Anise has accepted that Jack doesn't want to, ah…"

"...make a baby with her," Catra finished for her.

"That's not an euphemism for sex, by the way!" Entrapta chimed in. "They could have a baby with one of our artificial wombs if they wanted. Which Jack doesn't."

"And Anise does," Catra added.

They reached the meeting room reserved for the Alliance. Isa and Campbell were standing guard outside, Adora noted. Both stood at attention as well, though Isa's stinger almost scratched the ceiling as she did so - the base wasn't really built for people her size.

Inside, Jack and the others - Daniel, Sha're, Teal'c and Sam - were already seated at the table, together with General Naird and Admiral Brown-Emerson. There was no sign of Admiral Kearsy, even though Adora hadn't spoken to anyone yet about the man.

"Sam!" Entrapta pushed past her and beamed at her friend.

"Supreme Commander." Naird nodded at her. "We've received a message from the Tok'ra about wanting to meet us earlier today for an urgent matter. They didn't choose to add any specifics."

Adora knew that already. And she had received the message on Etheria through the network, probably before Naird had. But it would be rude to point that out.

"Yeah, we've already been informed." Catra, of course, had no such qualms. She sat down in her usual chair next to Adora while Naird seemed to deflate.

"Yep," Jack added. "So, anyone want to bet on what it is? Rescue op, sabotage or planetary invasion? I've got five bucks and a jello riding on rescue op."

"General!" Sam hissed.

He grinned in response while Naird looked shocked, and Brown-Emerson… barely reacted. The British officer remained unflappable.

"Whatever it is, the Alliance Navy is ready to do its duty," he said. "Though if it's a planetary invasion, we will have to do with repurposed Horde frigates as transports since our dedicated transports are not yet ready."

"We'll manage," Jack replied.

He was pretty optimistic, Adora thought. Then again, they had liberated one planet already, so they had done this before. Still… She couldn't help worrying a little. They were still building up various units and weapon systems. They could launch an offensive, of course, but they would have to rely on the Horde fleets and NATO ground forces almost exclusively. And that would mean more weaknesses to cover. More casualties being taken.

"I think it's a sabotage mission," Glimmer said. "Probably another research station we need to take out and blame someone else for."

That sounded plausible as well.

"Naw. They could do that themselves," Catra disagreed.

"Do you think it's going to be a bigger operation?" Bow asked. "An invasion?"

Catra shrugged. "Could be anything - the Tok'ra are good at spying, but they don't have the numbers for anything bigger. But if it's urgent, I think it's not going to be an invasion. On the other hand, any raid runs the risk of exposing the Alliance, and the Tok'ra are big on secrecy."

"We don't have enough data to tell!" Entrapta piped up.

"Whatever it is, we can handle it," Glimmer said.

"And it's going to be easier than dealing with copyright and media corporations," Catra added with a snort.

"Whoever gave businesses the same rights as people made a huge mistake!" Glimmer muttered.

"Well, it's actually…" Daniel began before he was interrupted by General Hammond escorting the Tok'ra into the room.

Garshaw of Belote/Yosuf, Anise/Freya, Lantash/Martouf and Jakar/Mats.

Yes, this was going to be big, Adora knew.


"After his humiliation at the hands of the Alliance, Apophis is trying to recover his standing - but so many rivals are moving against him, his forces are stretched thin. And the loss of his queen has hurt his reputation even more, as he needs a new source of Prim'tas for his Jaffa."

Samantha Carter glanced at Sha're when Garshaw mentioned Amauntet. The woman was staring straight at the screen in the meeting room, but Sam could see that Daniel was squeezing her hand. Sam knew exactly how the other woman was feeling - Lantash/Martouf's presence reminded her of her own possession.

"And to snack on," the General added with a scoff.

Sam didn't know if he had said that to draw attention from Sha're - Sam hadn't been the only one looking at her - but if he had, he had succeeded; most of the room was frowning at him.

And Catra made a retching noise.

Garshaw cleared her throat and continued the briefing. "Yet, according to our best operatives, Apophis has already managed to replace his queen. He struck a deal with the Goa'uld queen Taweret."

Sam clenched her teeth. That was bad news - she had hoped that Apophis would take longer to replace his queen.

"What kind of deal did he offer her?" the General asked. "Did he make her an offer she couldn't refuse?"

"We don't know the details - that was between him and her, apparently," Garshaw replied. "But we do know that he has, despite the pressure on his realm, dispatched a sizeable part of his reserves to serve and protect her while she is building a new base in secret."

"And you found the secret base?" Glimmer sounded eager.

"We have operatives in that fleet. As soon as they manage to report back, we'll know where Tawaret is hiding. We do know the general area in which they departed, though."

A map appeared floating above the table with a highlighted section near Apophis's realm.

"That could be a ruse, though," Catra said.

"Yes, it could. But Apophis is under great pressure. He cannot waste too much travel time."

"It seems strange that he would send so many of his ships to protect a secret base," Teal'c commented. "It would be more effective to keep her at his side and have his personal guard protect both of them. Doubly so with his rivals coming at him from all sides."

"Exactly," Garshaw said. "While this could be an attempt of Tawaret to emphasise her worth to him, she would be aware of his current circumstances and know that those would weaken her new partner. So, whatever they are planning likely goes beyond mere protection and is worth the risk of losing more worlds."

"He could be using this to make his rivals fear a deep strike into their territory," Adora pointed out.

"That is a possibility, but given his enemies' past behaviour, they are more likely to retaliate with such strikes themselves. And some might think it's a bluff and test him if they hear about it. Our operatives believe that we cannot ignore the potential threat of this secret operation."

"Great. Even when he's losing, he's making trouble," the General muttered.

"Do you have an estimate on the composition of this force?" Adora asked.

"Predominantly Ha'taks in sizeable numbers," Garshaw said. A moment later, more data appeared on the screen.

Catra whistled. "That's enough to take a planet."

"Indeed. But it is not a raiding force," Teal'c added.

"Yep. So… we need a bigger task force. Just in case," the General said.

"We don't need to match them ship for ship, though, not with the gap in capability," Admiral Brown-Emerson pointed out.

"Overwhelming force reduces our own casualties, though," Naird objected.

"That depends on the operation's goal," Garshaw said. "Each world we liberate risks exposing the Alliance to the Goa'uld Empire."

"And you just want to wreck whatever they are planning and take out Taweret," Catra said.

"Yes. If we can destroy both the fleet and the queen, Apophis might not recover from the blow," Garshaw said. "And if he loses a costly project…"

Catra flashed her teeth in a grin. As did the General, Sam noted.

"Unless it's a bluff, and he's just setting up his new queen on a deserted planet in the middle of nowhere while everyone prepares for a sneak attack that never launches," Glimmer said. "How many of his rivals will risk being left open to such an attack by striking first?"

"Heru'ur would," Jakar cut in.

"Indeed. Though since he would be leading the attack, he would not be at as much risk as a System Lord staying in his capital," Teal'c added. "Something Apophis will take into account."

"And their shared defeat during their false flag operation has made all System Lords involved more cautious," Anise added.

"So, we need to send a task force to Apophis's realm so it's ready to strike as soon as we get the word," the General summed up.

"Yes," Garshaw said. "The sooner it's in position, the smaller the chance that we lose our window of opportunity. Our people are risking their lives for this."

"And we won't let them down," Adora said, nodding firmly.


Earth Orbit, January 7th, 2000 (Earth Time)

"I feel guilty for not helping with the Earth media companies. If only the cultural exchange program weren't stalled! The artists we contacted must feel so disappointed by us; all that talk and planning, and now it's not going forward until we've sorted out the copyright issue."

Looking through the shuttle window down at Earth below them, Catra rolled her eyes at Adora's comment. Leaving that mess to others - not that it was Adora's mess to begin with, anyway; she wasn't a ruling princess - was a great thing in Catra's opinion. "You've slept maybe ten hours in the last three days organising this deployment," she pointed out. "If anyone has no right to feel guilty, it's you."

"I wasn't alone!" Adora protested. "Jack and the others worked as hard! You didn't sleep much either!"

Catra shrugged. "I could take naps anytime I wanted." One of the perks of being a cat. Next to looking hot, being agile, flexible and graceful, and having claws to rip anything short of a spaceship to shreds.

"That's not enough to replace a good night's sleep," Adora retorted. Catra lifted her eyebrows at her lover, and Adora blushed in embarrassment in return. "I'm the Supreme Commander. The buck stops with me, as Jack said."

"He said that about himself when you asked him to take a break," Catra corrected her.

"The principle is the same!"

Catra snorted. Adora was a work in progress. Too responsible for her own good. At least Catra had had the good sense not to take an official position in the Alliance. She could help out where she was needed without being bogged down by duties.

And she had had to help out a lot during the last three days. Moving an entire landing division's worth of troops and Jack's Special Forces on a moment's notice had thrown the Alliance staff into chaos. For all the Earth armies' training, they hadn't been quite ready for such a move. Jack had called it a 'learning experience'. Next time, things would be better - provided they could keep a reaction force ready to get going at all times. That kind of readiness would tie up a decent chunk of their forces, including logistics, and affect training times as well - the time a unit spent getting ready for instant deployment to relieve the current reaction force was time spent not training other things, after all. On the other hand, it was good training for their logistics…

Adora was pouting, Catra noticed. "Hm?" she asked her lover as innocently as she could - some lessons had to be driven home, after all, if she was to keep Adora from working herself sick.

Adora frowned at her in return. "I also feel it's a bit unfair that we won't be travelling with the task force."

"We'll join them through the closest Stargate once they are in the area of operations," Catra pointed out. As they had agreed to days ago.

"But the entire force will be stuck in the ships for weeks while we just… skip it all."

"And we worry about the war, politics and the economy while they get to laze around in their transports," Catra shot back. Then she cocked her head to the side and grinned. "You know what? Going along with the force sounds like a great idea!"

"Catra!" Adora frowned at her. "It's not about that! We can't just leave for weeks. But those people won't be able to visit their families for months!"

"They knew that when they signed up for this." And the soldiers were volunteers. At least the American and British troops. The French and Germans still had conscription, but they were still better motivated than the average Horde troops, in Catra's experience.

Meanwhile, their shuttle had reached the task force gathered in orbit and was flying past the rows of frigates towards their flagship.

"Still…" Adora glanced at the pad in her hand.

"You don't have to read the whole speech," Catra told her. "Just tell them to do their best or something." Adora was best when speaking honestly, anyway.

"But my staff worked hard on this."

"And you don't feel comfortable reading it. So don't." Catra shrugged. Adora needed to be more selfish - and more honest - to be happy.

Adora frowned some more, then slowly nodded. "You're right."

"Just blame me when the paper pushers complain," Catra told her with a grin.

"Catra! I won't let you take the blame for my decisions!"

"I told you to do it, didn't I?"

"But it was still my decision! My responsibility."

Never change, Adora, Catra thought as they set down in the frigate's hangar, where the commanders of the various units making up the task force were already waiting for them. Well, for the Supreme Commander of the Alliance.

Catra thought about taking a nap in the shuttle, but only for a moment. She wasn't going to leave Adora alone here.

Besides, hearing her improvised speech should be interesting.


Stargate Command, CFB Goose Bay, Newfoundland, Canada, January 15th, 2000

As he stood in the lift carrying him down inside Stargate Command, Jack O'Neill couldn't help feeling a little conflicted about the whole situation he found himself in. On the one hand, it was a good thing that the Tok'ra had come through with more intel - an actual breakthrough - so quickly, barely a week after their first revelation about Apophis's mysterious troop and queen movement. Thanks to some careless Goa'uld underling in charge of logistics who had been a bit too clever with anticipating supply runs and had tried to pre-position a freighter for the fleet before Apophis had squashed that and the underling, they now knew the task force's destination: PU-9624. Apparently, not even the Goa'uld had named the system yet.

On the other hand, the Alliance task force would take a few more weeks until it could reach the planet. Jack would have really preferred if they could actually act on the so conveniently actionable intel they got. They didn't even have spy bots in the system yet, though those little buggers were closer than the flotilla and should make contact in ten days.

Then there was the fact that the system wasn't as close to Apophis's realm as they had expected - it was pretty far away, actually. Past the fringes of the Goa'uld Empire, in what had been a buffer zone between the snakes and Horde Prime. There was nothing about it in the data banks of all three former Horde fleets in the Alliance, but that didn't have to mean anything; Horde Prime apparently kept far too much information to himself. For a ruthless dictator with an army of clones made in his image and conditioned from birth - if you could call popping out of a pod birth - to be utterly loyal to him, the man had been very paranoid. Not unjustified, given Hordak's example, but still.

In any case, it meant that the closest Alliance assets to PU-9623 were actually the combined First and Second Fleet forces on Etheria, a mere two weeks away from the system. Which was good for a rapid reaction, but entirely too close to Etheria for Jack's comfort.

However, that also meant that they could wipe out the entire snake force and have decent odds that Apophis would blame it on some Horde attack and not the Alliance and hopefully stay away from the former Horde Empire, which was good news. And yet, that the damn snake risked a sizeable part of his fleet in what the analysts agreed was an area of space the snakes generally avoided was not good - Jack wasn't an analyst, but he was sure the snake hadn't picked the system just because it was obscure and his rivals might be scared off.

There was something there. Something important. But not important enough to have a Stargate, apparently - Carter had looked through all their data and hadn't found an address. So, the Alliance scouting force would have to travel to the system by ship from Etheria.

And without much ground support. In theory, they could send another division through the Stargate to Etheria and load it up in the frigates there. But just transporting everything to and through the gate and then loading it all up in ships and flying to another planet would take so long, the force already underway would reach the system faster than that.

The Alliance really needs more fast reaction forces at brigade or division size, Jack thought as he stepped out of the lift and saluted the guards there. The Navy pukes had been quick to propose stationing marines on all ships for such situations, but Jack had managed to shoot that stupidity down. This wasn't 1812 any more; soldiers needed far more supplies and support on the ground to be effective in war. Light infantry wouldn't cut it - and for situations where light infantry was good enough, they already had Jack's people who could be deployed through the Stargate and on any ship that could carry them. All the Navy's proposal would do was waste manpower by having marines twiddle their thumbs on Horde frigates on the off-chance that they might be needed one day.

He entered the gate room. The sight of the Stargate brought back memories. Once more, Jack and his friends would step through the gate and risk their lives scouting alien planets and foiling the plans of snakes. But this time, it wouldn't just be SG-1.

"Jack!" Daniel smiled at him. Sha're and Teal'c both merely nodded. "We're ready. Sam's already on Etheria."

He knew that already. Carter was helping to set up the transports on Etheria - and, most importantly, the stealth shuttle they would need for the final leg of the mission.

"General." Burke's grin turned the rank into a slight tease. He was standing with his team - Jones, Müller and a new guy, Dupont. Good people. Jack had trained them personally. They would do well.

But Jack wasn't quite so sure about the other addition to this mission. "Jakar." He nodded at the Tok'ra spy.

"General O'Neill." The snake smiled at him and nodded back.

At least Jakar wasn't Anise. That would have been creepy.

Jack looked at everyone, then nodded once again. "Alright! Dial Etheria! We've got a mission to run for the Alliance."


Outside the PU-9623 System, January 28th, 2000

"...and our spy bots have tracked the enemy ships. Their numbers closely match up with our intel, though we're missing one Ha'tak in the system - it's not on the planet, either."

Adora nodded at Sam's explanation as she looked at the holoprojection floating in the middle of the briefing room in WrongHordak's flagship. It was a simple system, as Entrapta called it - three planets, one of them habitable, the other two gas giants. No pretty rings around either of them, though they were useful to gather resources to build spy bots here

"But! There are a few debris fields in the system," Entrapta cut in. "We haven't run detailed scans yet to check if one of them matches the missing ship's mass since the spy bots couldn't get close enough without showing up on the Goa'uld sensors. We really should have covered this with stealth bots, but they wouldn't have arrived before us, so it was deemed pointless to re-route the closest ones."

"Debris fields?" Jack asked with a frown. "Multiple ones?"


"Potential remains of a space battle, General," Sam said. "Though we don't have enough data yet to tell how old they are."

"We have no records of this system in our memory banks," WrongHordak said. "But it's close to the border of Horde Prime's old empire, so it should have been visited at least once by a scouting force."

Adora nodded. And couldn't help thinking that it was nice to talk to Clones who didn't literally worship her.

"Yes," Entrapta said, frowning. "Horde Prime really should have shared all his data with all of you. That was very inconsiderate of him!"

"Never expect your enemy to be stupid," Jack commented. "So… any signs of battle damage on the rest of the fleet?"

"Nothing that we could detect, sir," Sam replied. "Although there seems to be exotic radiation in the system that degrades the performance of our long-range sensors."

"That might be the reason - or one reason - that Apophis picked this system," Bow speculated. "It would make detecting his fleet even harder."

"It also makes detecting enemy scouts harder since his sensors would be affected as well," Sam objected.

"What kind of exotic radiation, Carter? I am not looking forward to becoming a mutant," Jack joked. Probably joked.

"We have yet to identify the radiation, sir."

"It's a mystery!" Entrapta beamed. "We need to get closer to get better readings, anyway - of the ships and the radiation. So far, we've only managed to confirm that it exists because of its effect on our sensors, but no direct readings."

"So, we could develop mutant powers if we fly into the system?" Jack asked, raising his eyebrows. He was still looking serious, Adroa noted.

"That is very unlikely," Sam told him. "Apophis's fleet would have been exposed for weeks, and his Jaffa should have been affected by it."

"Maybe that's why he sent them here." Jack grinned. "Create mutant super-Jaffa."

"Apophis would not risk a sizeable part of his fleet for such an experiment, though," Teal'c spoke up. "He would send chosen volunteers to be exposed and withdraw his ships to wait for the results."

"And he wouldn't risk his new queen like that," Sha're added. "He would not want to have offspring with mutations."

"We'll still proceed slowly and carefully," Adora said. "Send in a stealth shuttle with more sensors first to take detailed scans. Without a crew," she added. WrongHordak's fleet wasn't worshipping her, but she wouldn't put it past some of them to volunteer as test subjects, so to speak, if it meant they could distinguish themselves.

"Yes!" Entrapta nodded. "The stealth system will affect the readings, but we're still going to have more data!"

Everyone seemed to agree, so Adora finished the meeting and let her friends work. Or nap, in Catra's case.


An hour later, the stealth shuttle was approaching the first gas giant with its scanners primed and its stealth system active. Bow, Sam and Entrapta were practically glued to the screens linked to the sensors while everyone else watched on the big screen in the briefing room.

"Still no sign of the missing ship. But we're closing on the first debris field! Scanning!"

"It looks like… Yes. Those are processed materials. Although they do not match a Ha'tak's hull - they match a Horde frigate's hull."

"So… how old are they?" Jack asked.

"Several hundred years at least. With the system's background radiation, anything more precise will require physical samples," Sam said.

"And what about the radiation?"

"Checking!" Entrapta grinned. "Oh… interesting readings! Very interesting. Oh! We've got a match! A partial match! It's…" She trailed off, and Adora saw that she was biting her lower lip.

"What's it?" Catra asked.

Entrapta looked actually embarrassed. Or guilty. "It's the same, well, same-ish, kinda, radiation left behind by the portal experiment we kinda tried back in the Horde."


Adora heard Catra hiss under her breath.

And Glimmer had grown very tense.

The portal experiment that had almost destroyed Etheria, back in the war. The experiment that had needed Queen Angella's sacrifice to stop.

"It looks like this was the site of an interdimensional displacement," Sam said, breaking the sudden silence.


Samantha Carter focused on the screen in front of her. She didn't have to glance at the others in the briefing room to read the mood. She wasn't privy to every detail involving that particular incident, but she had caught enough from Entrapta's casual remarks, and from her friend's silences and changes of topics following any such remark, to know the gist of it.

Queen Angella, Glimmer's mother, had sacrificed herself to seal a dimensional portal that had been meant to reshape reality and had ended up threatening to destroy it. It had been a Horde Wunderwaffe, not quite a Hail Mary attempt to win the war - the Horde's position hadn't been that bad yet back then - initiated by Hordak, finished by Entrapta and pushed ahead by Catra, who had been so fixated on it that she banished Entrapta to some death prison island for refusing to continue.

Catra very obviously blamed herself for it, but Entrapta blamed herself for not stopping it (or managing to convince Catra that it was too dangerous), and Sam suspected even Hordak felt guilty about starting the whole project to contact Horde Prime, at least in hindsight.

But she was sure that Adora blamed herself for not stopping the project before someone had to sacrifice themselves to seal the dimensional rift. Even though she probably hadn't had any realistic chance to know, much less reach it in time. Sam hadn't asked - she knew better than poking at such topics - but she was also sure that Adora felt guilty for not sacrificing herself in Angella's place.

And Sam knew that Glimmer's relationship with her mother had been what most people would call 'complicated'. Not too unusual for a teenager, but add the war and survivor's guilt to it…

It was a huge mess, and Sam really didn't want to discuss it. But there was no choice - they couldn't continue with the mission without talking about this. And leaving Apophis to dabble with such forces was entirely out of the question.

She cleared her throat. "We have no idea yet what kind of dimensional displacement, and if successful, took place here. The readings are similar to those gathered by Entrapta in the past, but this might be typical for any such event."

"It doesn't matter," Adora said. "Just the risk that Apophis is building a reality-altering portal is too much. We have to stop him."

"Yeah," the General agreed.

Neither Catra nor Glimmer said anything, nor did Entrapta comment on the science involved - she must be feeling even worse than Sam expected about this. Suppressing a sigh, Sam went on: "We need to gather more data to pinpoint potential sources of this radiation."

"Can this dimensional radiation thingie affect combat operations in the system?" the General asked.

"Not the residue we're picking up," Sam replied. "But if Apophis's forces are running an experiment that tampers with dimensions, then they might attempt to use that in battle."

"Like we did," Catra muttered.

"So, we need to wipe them out before they have the chance to do that - or anything like it," Glimmer said with a grim expression. "Attack them with overwhelming force."

Bow cleared his throat, then smiled almost sheepishly. "We should gather more intel first, I think. So we know more about, ah, our targets."

Glimmer glared at him. "We just crush everything."

"We should at least find out where Taweret is before we launch an attack," Sha're added. "We came here to deal with her."

"That was before we found out that Apophis is trying to mess with dimensions," Glimmer retorted. "This is more important."

"We, ah, don't know yet if he's actually experimenting with that technology," Daniel pointed out. "This might have been an accident or just a coincidence."

An accident wasn't impossible - hyperspace travel was distantly related to dimensional displacement technology - but unlikely. And the odds of a naturally occurring event that spawned such radiation? Sam wouldn't bet on that, either. Though it would be a fascinating discovery - akin to a weakened spot in the dimensional fabric some people had speculated might exist.

She nodded. "I think we should gather more data before we proceed with any action. We have the enemy fleet under surveillance, and I believe that with the sensors we have in place now, we should detect any dangerous experiments in time to intervene." Probably.

Glimmer didn't look convinced. "It's still a dangerous risk."

Catra nodded.

But Adora shook her head. "We can't just rush in. We might make things worse by accident. Let's gather more data."

"Alright," Entrapta said. She didn't sound as enthusiastic as she usually did, though, and Sam bit her lower lip.


Outside the PU-9623 System, January 29th, 2000

Samantha Carter glanced at the clock on her screen. It was past midnight. Technically, a new day. And they were still at work. If they were back on Earth, at Stargate Command, the General would check in and tell her to get to bed.

But they were on a mission. A mission that had turned out to be a bit more dangerous, at least potentially dangerous, than they had expected.

And also far more personal than they had expected.

Sam glanced at Entrapta, who was still uncharacteristically silent and serious. She clenched her teeth—she couldn't let this go on.

"So…" she started to say, then trailed off for a second when Entrapta didn't react. "You know it wasn't your fault, right?"

"What wasn't my fault?" Entrapta asked without taking her eyes off the screen.

"The portal on Etheria."

"I built it - well, I finished it after Hordak designed the concept. But I made it work."

Sam shook her head. "But you realised the danger and tried to stop… others from using it."

"But I failed! I couldn't convince Catra how dangerous it was."

"I don't think anyone could have," Sam said. Not according to what she had heard.

"I should have sabotaged the portal in advance! I should have considered this!" Entrapta finally turned to look at Sam, blinking rapidly. "It was my fault."

You didn't understand people well enough to know that. Sam didn't say that. That would be unfair. That wasn't Entrapta's fault either. People without her… issues… were routinely fooled by unhinged but charismatic leaders. That was a common foible of humans. "You did what you could. I doubt anyone else could have managed it either," she said instead.

Entrapta shook her head. "I'm still responsible! I…"

A beep interrupted her.

Both of them turned to look at the display. New data from a stealth shuttle. Flagged as important.

Sam quickly checked it - and drew a sharp breath. There were large concentrations of Naquadah on the planet. A ship that had landed or crashed? No - all of them were underground. A hidden gate site? But the amount of Naquadah was far too large for a gate.

Sam pressed her lips together and quickly checked other sensors. Power readings. Ground density.

The data matched.

"There's a base on the planet. A large one. And it's active."

Honestly I think the only way to make square the peg of copyright issues is to go right down the rabbit hole of personhood. If a work belongs to a person and that person isn't recognized under Etherian law then it's unowned. Force Disney the company to nominate actual authors of works that can then be paid by the crowns of Etheria. From there they can back end it into a traditional patronage system.

I.E this work is well loved by the people here is a royal gift to it's authors for services done for the people.

If the government is responsible for buying the licensing rights it should be able to give enough lucre to Disney's people that it undercuts the theft argument in media coverage while also allowing etherian citizens to retain their own normal ways of engaging with the mediums.

Export of Etherian cultural works back into Earth though, that's going to be very fraught

That would certainly be favoured by the Etherians. Still, such negotiations are messy and usually take a long time.

Typo: replace "champaign" with "champagne."

Thanks, fixed!

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