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Chase the Morning

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Book One

Prologue

Invasion

On December 27th, 1999, at the dawn of the new millennium, the First Wave came without warning. Not even the most sophisticated long-range satellites picked up on the ships' approach. Billions of humans and their Tok'ra allies died in the initial onslaught, and millions more in the secondary and tertiary Waves. Those who survived were hunted for both food and sport at first, but soon mainly for food. A few managed to evade capture and gather together in small communities hidden deep in the forests and woods that grow unchecked, now that the logging companies no longer cut them down. These are the stories of the survivors, the ones who escaped the Wraith's Hunts, and who fight back as much as they can.

Part One: Hidden City

Chapter One: Captured

Date: March 28, 5 A.I (After Invasion) [2005]

Location: Colorado, USA

The rain poured down intermittently, soaking the ground and turning it into a muddy morass. The water made the flames of a fire lit underneath a large pine tree spit and dance, the embers crackling. Four figures sat around the fire, two of whom were tied to the sticky trunk of the evergreen. Their hands were bound in front of them, and a rope wrapped around their torsos, just tight enough to restrict any sudden movements but not enough to make breathing hard. One of the captives, a stout man with thinning hair and a perpetually sour expression on his face, was taunting their Wraith captors, as he had been ever since his capture somewhere in the panhandle of Oklahoma.

His companion was a younger woman of about thirty-five with black-brown hair that fell in damp waves to her shoulders and tawny brown eyes, which were half-closed but still watching the Wraith. Wraith Goon #1, as she and her Tok'ra symbiote had taken to calling it, had an irritable scowl on its tattooed face and kept grumbling under its breath while it poked at the fire with a stick. Goon #2 was watching him, his stunner lying across his lap.

Goon #1's patience finally snapped. It picked up a hefty rock and threw it at the tree, meaning to hit the trunk to the side of the man, but instead hit him right in the middle of the forehead. With a muted crunch, his neck snapped from the force of the throw and he slumped against the tree, his body going limp like a marionette with all its strings cut. The woman's eyes widened in shock, and she let out a strangled gasp. 'Johnson!' she exclaimed as Goon #1 gaped in shock. The Tok'ra had held little love for Johnson, but hadn't wanted to see him killed.

Goon #2 had looked up when the woman gasped and jumped up in anger, his stunner snapping up towards his fellow Wraith. 'You idiot!' he hissed, pointed teeth gleaming in the firelight. 'The meat was supposed to be delivered alive!'

'I didn't mean to!' Goon #1 whined, backing away from the fire. 'He moved at the last second!'

Goon #2 lunged around the fire towards #1, the stunner dropping to the ground in front of him. While they fought, the Texan woman was struggling to get away from Johnson's corpse, but her movements only caused it to shift and lean against her. She struggled against the ropes, panicked squeaks emerging from her throat.

Jess, calm down! Her symbiote, Anora, said urgently.

He's dead and he's dripping on us! Ohgodohgodohg-

Suddenly, the sound of automatic gunfire, intermixed with the deep-throated bark of a hand gun, split the air, and the two Wraith jerked and writhed as the bullets thudded into their pale blue-white flesh. Jess cried out, and pressed herself against the tree, not caring about the fact that Johnson's body was bleeding gently onto her dirty and ragged shirt.

The sources of the gunfire came into view, holding P-90s and nine-mil Glocks. One of them let his P-90 fall to his side, hanging by the shoulder strap, and hefted a sword. He reached the fallen bodies of the Wraith, and with two swift strokes, beheaded them, kicking the heads far away from the corpses. He had thick dreadlocks and dark-colored skin that Jess associated with those of Samoan or Pacific Island descent. He and the only woman of the group dragged the bodies over to the fire and dumped them onto the logs, not paying attention to the blue-black ichor dripping onto their clothes.

The other two quickly buried the heads a few hundred feet away from the makeshift pyre and then went over to the pine tree, where Jess was staring at them, wide-eyed with shock and fear. Her breath was fast and shallow, and she was on the verge of either hyperventilating or fainting. Anora was working on getting rid of the excess adrenaline, but it would take some time before Jess would be completely calm.

'Hey, there,' one of the men said, his dark green eyes reflecting the smile on his face. 'You okay?'

'That's an idiotic question to ask, Colonel. She's a Tok'ra, by the way, or at the very least, was a host at one time.' The second man snapped, producing a pocketknife. Jess whimpered, her eyes focusing on the sharp blade. The Colonel noticed her reaction and laid a hand on her shoulder. She flinched violently, trying to shrink against the trunk.

'Please don't hurt us,' she whispered, her Southern accent heavily flavoring her words. 'I swear, we'll do anything you say.'

'Don't worry, we're the good guys.' The other man said distractedly, slicing through the ropes with ease. They fell slack, and Johnson's corpse fell across Jess' lap, its head lolling grotesquely. Wrinkling his nose, the man with the knife dragged the body a few feet away, handing the knife to the Colonel so he could cut the rope binding the woman's hands.

'Got a name?' The Colonel asked, freeing Jess' hands. She hissed in pain as the blood rushed back into numb fingers, and then nodded, breathing deep.

'Well, my name is Jess Connor, and my symbiote's is Anora. We were an engineer, and have a Doctorate in electrical engineering. Of course, that was before the Invasion.' She replied, her accent not as thick now that she was calmer. 'Who're you guys, anyways?'

'Colonel John Sheppard, US Air Force.' Her rescuer said, grinning once more. 'The sarcastic ones are Doctor Rodney and Teshryn McKay; the one with the sword is Ronon Dex, and our fourth member is Teyla Emmagen, one of the best fighters I know.'

'Thank you, Colonel, for rescuing us.' Jess said, returning John's smile with a shaky one of her own. 'It's been a hell of a long time since we've seen a friendly face. How'd you find the camp?'

'We've been tracking the Wraith for a few days now.' Rodney said, returning to the shelter of the tree after hiding Johnson's body in a nearby thicket. 'They left a trail a blind man could've followed.'

'Right. Well, we'd better get back to Atlantis and take care of Doctor Connor here.' Sheppard said, holding out a hand for the Texan to take. She did so, swaying gently as she stood up.

'How are we getting to- Hold on, did you say "Atlantis"?' Jess asked uncertainly after Anora prompted her to ask.

'Sure did. It's the name of our base, and it's not too far from here, actually. Funny thing is, the Wraith have passed it by without knowing it's there so many times, it's hard to count.'

'Really? Huh.' Jess said, impressed.

Very nice. Anora noted. It seems as though we've fallen on our feet.

Yes, it does, doesn't it? Jess replied with a mental sigh of relief.

'Let's get moving,' Sheppard called, catching the attention of Teyla and Ronon. 'I want to get back home before dawn.'

After carefully banking the pyre to ensure that it wouldn't spread the fire to the trees around it, the small group set off, guns at the ready and alert for any trouble.