Disclaimer: Stargate SG-1 and its characters are the property of Stargate (II) Productions, Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Productions. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. This story may not be posted elsewhere without the consent of the author.

Spoilers: Shades of Grey, Broca Divide, and Fair Game

Rating: PG-13 (for language)

Author's Notes: The American Academic Encyclopedia, the college textbook America: Past And Present, and the National Geographic publication Builders Of The Ancient World were invaluable in writing this fic. Dedicated to our ancestors.

Once We Were Warriors



I didn't join the Marines to save the world. Or to be anybody's hero. It was the only way out of that one-horse town in the middle of nowhere where the only other options were to go on welfare and drink myself into an early grave, maybe fathering a couple of brats who'd end up even further down the hole of booze and food stamps along the way. Like the rest of the family.

The service was a chance to get out. Get an education, see the world, be part of something big. Be better than just another damn dirty 'breed wasting his life on the rez... or working hisself up to the trailer park on the white trash side of town the way my old man did.

Yeah, I know. Funny, you don't look Injun. What, you thought I was related to that British poet? Nope. The name was originally Makes Peace Pipes, according to the old man. I'm aware of the irony. The eyes... family legend has it that Great-great-great-grandma was a dancehall girl named Norway Lil. Left us Makepeace men with a taste for blue-eyed blondes. Which is why I didn't mind watching Carter's nice little six go through the gate to the Land of Light. So I'm only like one-eighth, one-tenth. Back home, it was enough.

It wasn't a heritage to be proud of. Hell, I didn't really know all that much about it. Closest thing to a cultural conversation I ever had with the old man was how those idiots who complain about the Cleveland Indians mascot need some real problems. School? Welcome to the American Public School System. I was lucky, I graduated from high school able to read.

The Corps changed me in a lot of ways. I got an education all right. I learned that to survive you got to be the biggest, meanest, best prepared, heavily armed sumbitch on the block. And I got a real education.

You want to be an officer these days, you got to go to college. Like I said, I can read. Read enough books, you get a Master's in PoliSci at the end of it. I minored in history. That surprises you? Thought I was just a big dumb jarhead? I may not be quite as well educated as Jackson, or as eloquent, but I'm not stupid. I'm a lot of things; stupid isn't one of them. I wanted these birds on my shoulders one day, and I was at a real University, not some four room cinderblock school with a teacher who was making less than the fry cook at Wonderburger and would pass anyone as long as she didn't see them cheating. Of course, she'd have had to look up from her magazine to notice.

I buckled down, I studied, and I learned. I learned a lot of stuff about my people that never made it into John Wayne movies or episodes of Gunsmoke.

There were cities here, before the Europeans came. Did you know that? Some as large as London, or Paris, with a couple hundred thousand people living in them. Cities the Spanish conquerors compared to Venice, Italy, for the architecture, and engineering. Empires down in South America that spread across countries. Three hundred separate languages.

Cortes had an obvious technological advantage. The sound of gunfire frightened the Indians. Aztec troops had never seen horses, let alone armored and carrying sword-wielding soldiers. Montezuma thought the Spaniards were gods. Sound familiar? He hesitated to strike against them, and by the time he realized what was going on, it was too late.

Same thing happened here in the states. It was booze and disease that really weakened the tribes. Y'know the reasons for Fraiser's clean-room paranoia. Stuff that wouldn't slow us down, just a cold for Christ's sake, could wipe out off-world colonies. Same thing, no natural immunity.

It was the fact that the tribes held land communally and were split into bands that really confused the white settlers. They'd just finish negotiating a treaty and another group would show up. You can almost understand why the treaties weren't worth the paper they were written on. Almost. Why bother keeping promises to a bunch of filthy savages? They started the One Big Reservation idea, herded all the tribes west of the Mississippi. Set about civilizing the Indians, teaching them to farm, to read and write. Not that it mattered to the Cherokee, who were playing by the rules when the federal government rounded them up and marched them to the Black Hills. Trail of Tears. You know how many people died on that march? A quarter of the tribe dropped dead from exhaustion, exposure.

These were people playing by the rules. Settled in one place, farming. Invented a written language, published newspapers in their own language, sending the kids to school to learn English. Everything they were supposed to do to be civilized. Didn't matter. The rules changed soon as the whites wanted their land.

Kinda reminds me of the Protected Planets treaty. Your good buddy Thor. Just loves the human race, has those pet Vikings of his protected by the 'hammer. But let the Goa'uld be willing to sign a treaty with the Asgaard and suddenly it's clear that humans exist to serve the Goa'uld as hosts and slaves, that they should have the right to limit the growth of any civilization before they become a threat to the System Lords, and the Earth Stargates should be confiscated.

You ever wake up in the middle of the night, shaking, at the thought of what they could have done to us, if that treaty had been signed? I sure as hell did. That's why when Maybourne came to me, I signed up for SG-Black Ops.

Yeah, we stole technology. If you don't know that we're in a war for the survival of the species, then you're dumber than you look. We've been lucky. Going up against aliens who think we're less than animals and can destroy us without effort? Sure, the diplomacy angle is always the first choice. That's why they let Jackson run around loose. He's got a knack for cultural diplomacy, figuring out where the ancestors of the folks we're talking to were kidnapped from, and the best way to suck up to the local politicos. Boy's got the Blarney, sweet talks the ladies and double talks the gents, and nine times out of ten we walk away with new allies, or a mining contract. You have to admit, we always let him talk first. It's that tenth time, when talking failed, when we went in.

The Tollans and their Prime Directive. Can't let their technology out into the hands of people who might misuse it in internal squabbles. Well, if the Goa'uld decide that Tau'ri is just too full of troublemakers and naqquada-nuke us all, we'll be just as dead as if a few fusion cannons heat up the Cold War. And I'm sure Tupelo would cry her heart out at the news that the Earthers were extinct. We'd still be dead and gone, dust in the wind.

The Tok'ra I trust about as far as I can throw 'em. And the Asgaard have their own agenda, Thor proved that. Push comes to shove, the best we could hope for from them is a few of those protected colonies. The grandkids can sit around listening to old men tell stories about the good old days when our destiny was in our hands, and grow up being ever so grateful for the safety so generously provided by the Asgaard, and never set a foot offworld into danger. It grinds you down, breaks your spirit, living on sufferance, on handouts from the high and mighty. I've seen what five generations of firewater and government cheese did to my family... I don't want to see it happen to the whole of the human race.

So we stole tech. Not even a fraction of our loot was returned. Area 51 is a geek joke. Go have a cup of coffee and a slice of all-American apple pie before driving out to the black mailbox to watch the test pilots wobble around in that bastardized Death Glider/Harrier Jet they've welded together.

The real stuff is scattered through a dozen skunkwork labs, buried so deep no one knows their names, being taken apart, examined, duplicated, reverse engineered, filtered through the private sector and back into the military. Seven hundred new basic patents coming up. You can expect a revolution in handheld communication devices in the next couple of years. Computers? We got stuff that makes a Pentium chip look like a vacuum tube, Bill Gates is gonna wet himself. Not to mention medical research that should eliminate four kinds of cancer and a major cause of blindness. Oh, and a nifty little atmospheric scrubber that should repair the ozone layer in ten years. You should be getting new stuff too, toys that make a za'at gun look like a cap pistol.

But we're the bad guys. Cause the end doesn't justify the means. Right. Just keep telling yourself that, a year or so down the line when you're issued the new gear. See if your principles will keep you from using it when lives are on the line.

Because that's the way it's been. Since Langford dug up that damn ring and let us loose in the universe. Reminding System Lords who have destroyed worlds in a fit of pique about the one that got away, about the Tau'ri who are too stubborn to be enslaved. Every day we breathe free since then has been a gift.

You might not agree with our methods, but we've served our country with honor. Not just our country, but our whole race. Mankind has an edge now, it might not be enough, but we're out there, we're not afraid of gunfire, we know that horses are only animals, and men in armor are still just men. And this time we won't be walking into musket fire armed with bows and arrows. We've got a head start. When the Goa'uld come, and you know it in your bones, same as I do, that one day it won't be an offworld confrontation, or a small ship we can drive off... the snakes'll return to Eden, and we'll be ready for them.

I'll serve my time. We all knew going in that if we were caught, we'd be disavowed, sacrificial lambs to the law. Rogues, acting alone. So the aliens will still deal with the SGC. I did what I could, and I'd do it again. My conscience is clear.

So now it's up to you, O'Neill. God help us all. Remember that, when you're dealing with people you meet out there. Without us doubling back in the shadows to collect what you miss out on, every negotiation is for keeps. And don't let Hammond sell our souls for a handful of glass beads and empty promises.

~ End ~

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Page last updated 8/15/03.