July 11 1998, the World of the Tau'ri
Mark shut the trunk in the car, after they had finished loading all their things into it. They were going back to San Diego now - back to their house. He really wished they did not have to, but the orders had come for everyone to report to their place of residence, or their new masters would punish them severely.
He sighed and thought back to that day, about one week ago, when his father had phoned him and tried to tell him Earth was under attack. He had dropped his new sunglasses in the small pond outside the cabin, and was trying to get them back. He was reaching for them and had barely managed to lean down far enough that he could just grasp them, when the telephone had rung. He had lost the grip on the sunglasses, and was not in a good mood when he answered. He had become even less pleased when it had turned out to be his father, who sounded unbalanced and was trying to tell him some tall story about the planet being under attack.
He had hung up on him. How dared he call and bother him when he was on vacation? Okay, to be fair, he could not know that - it had been a long time since they talked - but still.
There was no television at the cabin, and only an old transistor radio, which he did not feel like going to look for. He would probably find that it needed the batteries changed anyway. He had stuffed the cell phone in his pocket and gone back to trying to get his sunglasses, and had soon forgotten everything about the telephone call.
That had lasted until late evening, when they were all sitting outside on the porch, enjoying the nice warm evening. Suddenly, several planes had flown past at a low altitude, and the children had become unnerved from the noise and had started crying. His wife had wondered what was going on, and that was when he remembered the phone call.
He had gotten up and hurried into the house, suddenly getting a very bad feeling about this. The radio had been easier to find than expected, and the batteries were still good, so he turned it on.
It had not taken long before Mark had learned that not only were all stations broadcasting the same message, but what his father had tried to tell him was true. Aliens had attacked Earth - or more correctly, were still attacking Earth.
They had spent a restless night, but had managed to not show their fear to the children. There was no reason to scare them.
Very little information came out the first couple of days, except more messages about the attack being ongoing. Now and then planes would fly over their heads at a low altitude. On the second day, they had for the first time seen the alien vessels they later learned were called 'deathgliders'. They had flown past in a small formation, following the Earth fighter planes closely, and they had quickly caught up. A battle had followed and soon several planes had streaked burning across the sky, only to crash to the ground in distant explosions.
Then, the evening of the fourth day came the news that all of Earth had surrendered to Apophis - all of Earth! Apophis would be our new leader - or 'Lord', as they called him. They also claimed he was a god.
He had talked to a neighbor who had been watching the news on television, and who had been in contact with his sister in New York the day before, using radio. The telephone network had been down for more than a day already. Most large cities in the US - and probably in the whole world - had been bombed heavily, and groups of alien warriors had shown up here and there, wearing strange armor with snake-shaped heads.
After that, they had watched the daily news bulletins at their neighbors place. There was little news, except orders for people to stay where they were, and one instance where they showed their new 'Lord'. Mark thought he looked like a medieval warlord, all dressed up and arrogant. He had also looked very human, but his voice had not been, and his eyes had suddenly flashed yellow-white. The aliens called themselves 'Goa'uld', and their warrior servants were called 'Jaffa'. Mark wondered what 'Goa'uld' and 'Jaffa' were. Except for the eye-glowing and the voice, the Goa'uld seemed human, and the Jaffa did as well.
Mark was not sure if it was safe to return to their home instead of staying here, but he also did not dare disobey the orders of those that had leveled all larger cities in such a short span of time. He sighed and turned to go inside and tell his wife and children it was time to go. Hopefully, all would be well. Somehow.
Sam looked up at the clock on the wall. Almost 4 PM, and no one had come to interrogate them yet. Perhaps they would be left alone for today? Jolinar had let her be in control, and promised only to retake it when someone came to interrogate her or otherwise talk to her. She had been very apologetic and understanding of Sam not being ready to share her body, yet.
She snorted. As if she would ever be ready to share her body. She had not exactly chosen this. Jolinar had taken her body, like the damn Goa'uld that she was! She was quiet for a moment, trying to determine if Jolinar had listened to her thoughts, but there was not even a hint that the symbiote had heard. 'Snake', Sam thought. She was sure Jolinar would have reacted if she had been listening, so maybe she was keeping her word and not listening, now when she had shown Sam how to hide her thoughts.
Or more likely she was biding her time, fuming silently, and waiting for Sam to reveal something.
Which the symbiote could just take from her anyway, so what was the use in that? Sam admitted it did not make sense. So, perhaps she could trust this Jolinar. To a degree, at least.
Mark turned onto the road towards Sacramento. Still 9 hours to go before they reached San Diego - and that was without breaks, which they would have to take several of. The children were at least being quiet in the backseat. He looked at the gauge and realized they needed more gas. Spotting a tank, he turned off the road, and in to it.
"Do you really think it's a good idea to stop here?" His wife, Marian, asked, worriedly looking out the window.
They had already driven through several smaller cities, and the two most recent had clear marks of fighting - most likely between groups of panicked, looting humans.
"I'm afraid I'll have to get some gas soon, and I'm thinking it's better here than closer to the large cities. If there's even any gas left there," Mark said, keeping his voice down so as not to alarm Lisa and William in the backseat.
Marian nodded, sighing. "Okay, but be quick."
It was about an hour later, as they were approaching Sacramento, that they saw the first real signs of fighting, that were not just local groups of humans that had raided the area. Even the suburbs carried clear marks of having been bombed, and the further they drove, the more devastation they saw. In many places rubble were all that was left of whole neighborhoods, and fires still burned here and there.
They had seen very few people, and those they spotted usually were quick to hide.
They made the decision to turn off I-80 and go around most of Sacramento, then onto I-5 and southwards. The landscape they drove through now were heavily scarred by bombardment. The attack seemed to have focused on large cities and other centres of high population. The road itself was mostly intact, but here and there they had to drive around holes and smoking car wrecks. Mark had stopped counting the number of corpses he had seen, but at least they were seeing more live people as well.
At first they had been afraid it was more gangs of looters, but most of those seemed to have taken what they wanted - or been killed attempting to do so. Mark supposed it was a good thing they had not tried to go back until now.
They were not the only ones driving - or walking - on the road. Others seemed to be going southwards as well, even if it was only a small trickle compared to the traffic that was usually on these roads.
"I'm hungry, dad!" Lisa complained.
"Me, too!" William added.
"I know, sweethearts. We'll find somewhere to eat lunch soon, okay?" Mark promised.
"What about the next stop?" Marian said. "The sign said there should be a stop in 5 miles, and since we've got our own lunch pack, one place is as good as any, and I seem to remember this actually being quite a scenic place."
"As long as there are no suspicious looking characters there, I agree." Mark sighed. "We'll try it." He turned off the road towards the hopefully scenic - and peaceful - stop.
The road went through a small forest, and exited into an open place surrounded by trees, on top of a hill. It really was very beautiful. However, they had only just left the woods when they stopped. The place was almost full of people, who were obviously building something. Getting a bad feeling, Mark was about to turn the car around, when a man in some sort of armour shouted at him. The man and a group of similarly dressed men ran towards Mark and his family, pointing at them with what seemed like long sticks with something at the ends.
Very fearful, Mark rolled down the window of his car. "Uh, I'm sorry if we're intruding. We didn't know anyone would be here, and..."
"Get out of the vessel immediately, insolent human!" The man yelled at him.
Mark noticed he had a tattoo on his forehead, a circle with a 'U' or perhaps a snake in it, and a half-circle under it. Who addressed anyone just as 'human'? He did not doubt this was one of the aliens, one of the 'Jaffa' that served Apophis. Afraid, he quickly opened the door and went outside. "Sorry."
"Kneel, ha'shak!" The alien hit him over the back with the staff he was carrying, and Mark stumbled to the ground.
"No!" Marian screamed. "Don't hurt him!"
Lisa and William began to cry immediately, and the alien looked furious.
"You pitiful humans! You know nothing about correct behaviour, and it is a wonder any of you are still alive. You will learn, though." He controlled himself with difficulty, and turned to his second in command and the two other men with him. "Jaffa, kree! Make sure this slave understands the error of trespassing on the grounds of our great Lord Apophis's future temple, and make sure they leave, then return to watch the construction workers. These humans are deplorable slaves - it is a good thing there are so many of them!" He laughed noisily. "You, human! Be grateful I am feeling merciful and have more important things to do!" He turned around and left.
Mark dragged himself back into the car, after two of the Jaffa had spent a few minutes kicking him, while the third had made sure his wife stayed in the car and did not attempt to interfere. Mark slammed the door after him, then started the car, turned it around. In the back, Lisa and William were crying, and beside him Marian was sitting, sobbing with fury and fear. "Oh, my poor Mark!" She put a hand on his leg. "How did they
behave like that!"
"I'm very much afraid they can do what they want." Mark wiped the blood of his chin with his sleeve. "I think they were Jaffa." He stepped on the speeder and they drove away quickly. He felt himself shaking with the aftereffect of the fear and anger, shaking to the point where he could barely control the steering wheel.
"Maybe you should let me take over," Marian suggested.
After a moment, Mark nodded. "I think that's a good idea - as soon as we can put some distance between us and them." He shook his head. "Oh, Marian... how could this happen to us. What did we do for these aliens to decide to take our planet and... and... enslave us. That's what they're doing. Didn't you see back there? Those people building that... temple to Apophis!" He spat the name. "They were slaves."