Category Archives: Stargate

Why does everybody in the galaxy speak English?

Epistemic status: Really silly headcanon. Total retcon. Not to be taken too seriously.

Attention conservation notice: This is probably the nerdiest post I have ever written. It is only of interest if you’re a Stargate nerd like me.

I make no secret of the fact that I love Stargate. I can take or leave Atlantis, and I’m mildly hostile towards Universe, but Stargate SG-1 is one of my favourite series. One of my most read pieces ever (top 10 certainly, maybe top 5) is a piece of Stargate fanfiction about software testing.

But lets be honest, Stargate makes no sense. It’s ridiculous and it knows it.

Not that that stops me trying to make sense of it.

One of the things I have never ever been able to come up with a convincing explanation for (and as far as I can tell neither has anyone else) is why everyone in every galaxy speaks English. On the long list of things that make no sense about Stargate, this is basically top of the list. To the best of my knowledge nobody has ever even tried to explain it in series (though I think it gets lamp-shaded once or twice).

I think I finally have a headcanon that explains it. It’s not even too much of a stretch.

Here are the things we have to explain:

  1. Almost everybody speaks linguistically modern English.
  2. The people on Abydos had to be taught English.
  3. Almost everyone everywhere else spoke it automatically.
  4. Many non-English words are used and have to be translated, especially early on in the series.
  5. There are many languages that most people don’t speak (Goa’uld, Ancient, Russian).
  6. When people who went through the stargate come back to Earth they do not magically acquire fluency in any other Earth language.
  7. The written language is typically not English
  8. People far away from stargates still speak English (I’m reading the Stargate Atlantis Legacy series at the moment, which is actually pretty decent, but at some point they posit that the stargate is doing translation. This is manifestly not a sufficient explanation)
  9. When people come to earth, they are still speaking English, even when talking with people who have not been through the stargate.

This rules out all sorts of explanations. Here are some non-explanations:

  1. “English is actually the shared language of the human race”. No. Just no. No I don’t care about your clever theory about how Merlin did it. Setting aside all of my aesthetic objections to this theory, the English they speak is much too linguistically modern given the isolation of earth.
  2. “The stargate is translating” fails to explain both how people communicate when on a ship far away from a stargate, and also how people speak non-english (e.g. Goa’uld) around it.
  3. “Translator microbe plague”, again fails to explain how people speak non-English languages without being understood and why people who have been through the stargate .
  4. “Daniel taught them all the universal language based on ancient Egyptian that everyone speaks”. Implausible given timeline, doesn’t explain people in Pegasus who are very unlikely to speak the same universal language even in the unlikely event that they did before they became isolated populations. Also doesn’t explain how alien visitors to earth speak English to people who have no reason to know about the stargate. Also language acquisition is hard, especially for people who aren’t used to it.

The core problem is that what we have is non-universal translation. If everyone understood everyone all the time, sure translator microbe plague, whatever, but we have to explain not only why people understand each other most of the time but sometimes they speak a completely different language and aren’t understood.

At this point the sensible thing to do would be to shrug and say “Eh it’s a TV series. It doesn’t have to make logical sense” but no I demand an explanation.

And finally I have one.

In this explanation I posit two things:

  1. The fact that everybody “speaks English” is a translation convention for the sake of TV. Everyone is speaking a common language, but it is often not English and it would be too tedious for viewers to subtitle everything so this just gets rendered as English in some cases where they’re actually speaking some other shared language. So although we must still explain why they share a language, we need not explain why it is English.
  2. The stargate can rewrite the genetics of people who travel through it on the fly. Given the other things we see ancient tech do, and given that it is canon that the stargate does dematerialise and rematerialise you rather than just physically sending you through, I do not feel this is too much of a reach.

Given these two assumptions, we can explain everything.

We know that the ancients can encode memory in genetics. After all, they created the Goa’uld (I acknowledge that this is technically not canon, but it makes so much sense of everything that I just consider it canon now, sorry).

We also know that the Stargate is a horrible bodge of a project subject to massive feature creep and poor quality control at the whims of its committee, so what’s one more feature? (same)

So, at some point, the committee had a problem: It’s really annoying to travel somewhere and not speak the language. To solve this, they had the following bright idea: Why not have the stargate preload everyone who comes through it with a primer pack for the local language? What could go wrong? Stargates are perfectly reliable technology after all, and it sure would be convenient.

This feature was made with the following cultural assumptions:

  1. Everyone who matters already speaks Ancient
  2. Planets are long-term homogenous stable civilizations, so only speak one language. Linguistic isolation is only possible between different worlds between which, prior to the invention of the stargate, communication and travel between was much slower.

As a result, every Stargate has a language pack associated with it. All (well, almost all), incoming travellers  to that gate automatically acquire that language pack on arrival.

These language packs obey the following rules:

  1. They will never teach you Ancient, because you either do or should know it already.
  2. Being loaded with a language you already know is confusing, so if you seem to already know it they won’t give you the pack. Also if you have already been through a stargate (in either direction) that stargate will avoid giving you a new language pack, for the same reason.
  3. If enough people going out through a stargate don’t speak its currently configured language and do speak some other common language, the stargate will build a language pack from modelling them and eventually sets its current configuration to that pack.

I believe this explains everything.

The overwhelming majority of stargates in the milky way galaxy are set to the common Jaffa dialect, as they are the primary users of the stargate network, and this system has a rich get richer phenomenon: If people learn Jaffa automatically, it becomes a lingua franca and people will tend to learn it even if they don’t go through the stargate. Thus when they first enter a stargate they already speak Jaffa and do not trigger the check for whether an outgoing traveller does not speak the local language.

This knowledge is genetically encoded, so even if the local population are not stargate users (most aren’t in the Milky Way), the Jaffa language becomes essentially heritable. Therefore almost everyone in the Milky Way is in fact speaking Jaffa, including the people from Earth who come through the stargate. There may be local dialect differences and loan words, but the language people are speaking is overwhelmingly a Jaffa dialect, and regular infusions from outside keep it fairly stable as such even when there are no outgoing travellers to reset the local stargate. Unfortunately Jaffa has no written form (all official Jaffa documents where such exist are written in Goa’uld), so the stargate doesn’t teach anyone that.

In Pegasus people are very regularly travelling between worlds using the stargate network and have been doing so for a very long time. This has resulted in a shared Pegasus trade dialect that serves much the same role as Jaffa. There is a written form, but most significant local civilizations also speak and write at least one local language and most of their documents are written in that.

The earth stargate on the other hand has primarily been used by the USA military and its civilian contractors, and on the first time out none of them speak Jaffa, so it is configured to prime you with English. Non-native English speakers do not get any extra grasp of English from this because they have inevitably been through the outgoing stargate. Thus, anyone who comes to Earth through its stargate automatically speaks English. Even once the stargate program becomes more international, the overwhelming majority of people leaving through it speak English, so no single other language manages to unseat it.

The Abydonians do not speak Jaffa because Ra has kept them a deliberately isolated and subservient population (and Abydos was not configured to Jaffa at the time they got there).

The initial confusion over some words (Chapa’i) is because the concept of a stargate was not yet routine enough to have become embedded in the core English language that the stargate network picked up. Now people are much more familiar with stargates and stargates are much more familiar with English, so the problem doesn’t crop up so much.

One thing this doesn’t explain is why we don’t see people deliberately switching languages more – stargate teams could speak in English when on other planets and not be understood, or in Jaffa when on earth similarly. I’m going to cop out and explain this as it happening occasionally but we mostly don’t see it on screen, and where we do it’s just covered up by the translation convention.

I’m sure there are some edge cases in the series that this doesn’t cover. There’s a lot of it, and I don’t remember every part, but nevertheless I think this so much more sense than everyone speaking English that I’m happy to provide some elaborate explanation for special cases that this doesn’t cover. Also note that if someone comes to Earth the long way, you can just round trip them through the Alpha Site (which of course is also set to English) and they get the English language pack.

So, there you have it. This is why everyone speaks English. It’s not just bad world building for the sake of story telling convenience, it’s because A Stargate Did It. Now we can all rest easy at night.

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Stargate physics 101

This is a piece of actual Stargate fan fiction I wrote (as opposed to the previous pieces which just sketched some things out). However some testing on a focus group (my flatmates), it appears to be perfectly comprehensible and entertaining if you’ve never seen the series. You’ll miss a bunch of the in jokes, but there are enough out jokes for you to get. Because what it actually is is a sci-fi comedy about software testing.

The main things you need to know from the series are:

  1. The system described is in use as the still functioning artefacts of a lost civilisation millions of years later.
  2. The majority of the ridiculous behaviours described are both still present at that time and believed to be fundamental features of wormhole physics.
  3. About half of the scenarios described occur at some point in the series.

Note: The story used to be here, but has now moved to AO3. Go read it there.

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What I would do with the Stargate program

Advance warning: This post was written while not entirely sober and consists entirely of extremely nerdy overthinking of a weird 90s/early 2000s TV series. If you haven’t watched stargate you don’t care. If you have you probably still don’t care.

People seemed to like my competent Stargate season 1 and there was some demand for me to write a season 2.

I’m not massively keen on the idea. The problem is that it just starts to diverge too radically for my tastes. Season 1 I could more or less do along the lines of “I wonder how this would happen if they didn’t mess it up completely“? and basically play the initial conditions forward.

The problem is that at this point earth is in a much stronger position, all the rules and players are different, and I’d have to actually start making serious decisions about the universe and the consequences in it.

And at this point you run into the fact that the universe doesn’t actually make much sense. The rules are inconsistent and the simple fact is that the Goa’uld level of technology and industry makes absolutely no sense. You simply cannot perform the level of construction that they routinely perform with the industrial base they have (maybe this is addressed in some of the RPG materials? I haven’t read them).

So basically this all requires a level of universe building in order to rationalise it that a) Takes us significantly away from the core concept of “What would happen if people were competent?” and b) If I were going to do I’d actually write my own fiction instead.

I also don’t like that the requirement of competence basically means that Sam and Teal’C can’t be on SG1. Aside from the fact that I’ve removed everyone from the team who isn’t a white man, I really like them as characters and it would be a shame to not have them on the team.

On the other hand, I really cannot justify a competent version of the universe where the foremost expert on the Stargate and the person who is a hugely valuable source of intelligence and will routinely get you in trouble on every world you go to because he’s got “I am a bad guy” literally tattooed on his forehead.

So basically although I stand by the idea that I think this is how it would have played out, it doesn’t really put the story in a position I’d want to write about.

All that being said, I do have some interesting ideas…

This post is about one set of those ideas: Suppose you gave me an R&D budget and the ability to make strategic decisions. What would I do to the Stargate program?

All of this is stuff that could have been figured out fairly early on and mostly does not depend on detailed semantics of how the stargates work.

My plan basically consists of two complimentary parts:


OK. So “seeing the thing someone else is dialling” is a known security vulnerability where you can totally figure out where someone who has gone through the stargate went. This happens literally all the time in the series.

Even if we’re not in competent verse where no-one in the Goa’uld knows the address for earth, we still don’t want the knowledge to proliferate.

So, rule 1 is: You never, ever, dial earth from an insecure location.

An insecure location in this case meaning “Any Stargate not enclosed in a building surrounded by soldiers”.

i.e. we establish off world bases today. The stargate program does not operate out of Cheyenne mountain. The stargate program operates out of multiple off planet bases. At least two, ideally three or more. Ideally you’d follow the “Stick the stargate deep in a mountain” approach that both earth and the alpha site use in the classic series, but for starters you’re still better off just sending a bunch of marines through the stargate and having them stick a tent over it. We can improve from there.

Obviously you never gate directly to any of these worlds either. That would be silly. You’d be revealing your bases.

No, your route home is always that you gate to one of the dozen worlds that you have been specifically tasked with memorizing and not allowed off world before you’ve passed a test proving you’ve memorized them. These are allocated to you at random from a set of worlds that have been explored and designated really really boring (ideally uninhabited, certainly with no permanent Goa’uld presence). You then gate to one of the established bases. If you need to get back to earth you gate to earth from there.

Obviously the gating to earth process is not automated and the coordinates are not stored anywhere.

Equally obviously, none of the people you regularly send on expeditions know the coordinates. I mean why would you do anything so stupid as sending someone who knows the address of earth into enemy territory?

As soon as is feasible, every offworld base is equipped with an ultrasound scanner. All incoming travellers are given an ultrasound scan to determine whether or not they carry a Goa’uld.

(Depending on whether we know about Cimmeria or not, and whether we’re in competentverse, anyone detected as infected is sent there. Obviously in competentverse we weren’t stupid enough to send Teal’C there and destroy Thor’s hammer as a result, so that’s still a viable solution)

As a result the chances of anyone discovering your off world bases is low (they’d need a watcher on the planet you were on) and the chances of getting to earth from there is even lower.

You also don’t gate out from earth to anywhere except one of these bases. This is less mandatory, but signals are bidirectional through a stargate, so if I were being security conscious I sure wouldn’t want to give people the ability to fire a beacon back through the world I gated to.

As a bonus, the offworld bases act as a firebreak. If, for example, we bring back a bomb, a plague, gate into a black hole, etc. worst case scenario is you lose the base and the couple of hundred people you’ve stationed there. You don’t lose your entire world of billions of people and the war to save humanity from enslavement.

At this point we’ve been minimally paranoid. Earth is probably not going to get invaded any time soon because they don’t know where we are. Now it’s time to proceed to the technical solutions that will be used to help us take the galaxy from the occupying force that are literally too incompetent to be allowed to live.

Technology to develop

All technology I’m going to suggest is technology that I believe could be developed by 90s era engineering without having to figure out alien super science. This has the advantage that it does not require any knowledge of the details of gate mechanics. All technology I’m interested in here is dumb, mechanical, and is not useful unless we can mass produce it for cheap.

There are basically three pieces of kit I consider it essentially mandatory to develop.

How fast and cheap can we build and install an iris?

In the series the answer is always “super fast, very  not cheap”. The super fast is ludicrously unrealistic and I’m going to assume that there’s lots of behind the scenes prep to which we are not privy because it makes for boring TV. The very not cheap is obvious when they’re talking about precision engineering and extremely expensive materials (some of them literally not available on earth). We don’t want to do that. We want to be making hundreds of irises. If we explore a planet and it has people and doesn’t currently have Goa’uld on it, we want to stick an iris there.

I’m not interested in “we have fancy dilating titanium shield which can withstand an arbitrary number of assaults”. I’m interested in “it might take us ten minutes to undo the iris but that’s OK because the gate stays open for half an hour, and if there’s a major assault we might have to replace it afterwards”. The point is not to be impervious to harm, the point is to have something we can easily install that will be vastly better than not having it there.

This is the sort of solution I’d like to do better than:

  1. Put the stargate on a hinged mount allowing it to rotate forward
  2. Place this arrangement on a concrete platform
  3. Tilt it slightly forward, suspended by cables on a winch
  4. When you get an incoming wormhole drop the stargate. It’s now flush with the concrete (if you’re feeling fancy you can even stick a concrete plint there which perfectly matches the stargate position). Sure, people might half rematerialize on the other side but they won’t actually be able to get even fully out of the wormhole. When the wormhole disengages there will be bits of them to clena up.
  5. If you get a valid GDO signal, winch the stargate up and signal when it’s ready for incoming travellers.

This solution is OK but it is too slow to install. I’m sure a team of military engineers can do better.

Portable dialling devices

It is well established that you can manually dial a stargate if you just provide it with energy. I want a device I can clamp to the side of a stargate with an electric motor and a power source  that can power a stargate for a couple minutes.

We want this for three reasons:

  1. Emergency procedure for when an SG team is stranded due to an issue with the DHD (this happens several times)
  2. Earth needs a DHD (sure, we have the antarctic one, but in competent!SG1 we never find that because why the hell would you dial back to earth when under heavy fire?) and we want a way to take one
  3. The following complete dick move that will bring the Goa’uld war machine to a stand still

Once we have the dialler, people will practice the following operation:

  1. Send a lovely handfull of flash bangs through the stargate
  2. Send an extremely grumpy set of marines through the stargate
  3. Kill or incapacitate every readily available guard
  4. Steal or destroy the DHD
  5. Take it back through the stargate with you
  6. Leave the autodialler behind to self destruct, leaving a pile of meaningless slag
  7. Giggle as you’ve just cut off a Goa’uld world from greater galactic civilization

How effective this is depends. The Goa’uld may or may not be able to build DHDs, but they can certainly ship them in from other places. This will take time and ships, and basically have them running around wasting most of their ships on transit power. In the meantime you have the ability to lock down a substantial proportion of their forces.

Automated DHD covers

The DHD is in almost all ways 100% better than the system that earth has built. It’s easier to use, faster to dial, draws less power, etc.

There’s one way in which it is much worse: It is entirely manual, with no capacity for automation.

Oh, in canon inside it there’s all sorts of fancy computing going on inside it and the stargate network that people eventually figure out how to use. We don’t need any of that.

We’re going to stick a physical cover on top of it with motors that can push each button. We’ll use what we’ve already figured out about the stargate to tap into some basic diagnostics, but worst case scenario we can probably get by with “how much energy is currently flowing through the thing”.

There are a number of use cases for this, most notably that it lets us handle our own infrastructure much better. It also gives us much faster dialling, which is a significant tactical advantage.

It can also be used offensively. Oh so offensively.

Basically, the Goa’uld are going to figure out irises at some point. We can only steal so many DHDs in surprise raids before they realise that maybe they should take a leaf from our book and start blocking incoming travellers.

They’ll probably do something fancy and hard to mass produce like a force field.

Once this start being widespread, we giggle at how annoyed the pompous little megalomaniacs are going to be and turn on the war dialler program.

You see, all you need to permanently shut down a stargate in a way that makes it permanently inoperable is two stargates and good automation. I think with decent scheduling you can shut down n stargates with n + 1.

Here’s how it works:

A stargate can’t dial out when there’s an incoming wormhole. The only defence against this is to dial out faster than your opponent can dial in.

So you dial in and set a timer. Meanwhile your second stargate dials the first 6 symbols. As close to exactly as you can make it, when the timer goes off the first stargate shuts down the wormhole and the second stargate presses the seventh symbol. Voila, new incoming wormhole faster than you can ever dial out.

And what do we do with all this?

Oh that’s policy. I don’t set policy.

But on this front I’m mostly in agreement with canon. Starting with the currently most annoying system lord and killing your way downwards seems like a pretty good strategy.

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An alternate timeline for Stargate SG1

Advance warning: All my non-fiction-writing brain is taken up by writing documentation for Hypothesis, so instead you’re getting teased with another piece of fiction I’ll never actually write.

So I watch actually quite a lot of TV. I rarely sit down and watch TV, but it’s great background for while I’m doing other things – cooking, cleaning, doing exercises, etc.

One of my all time favourite TV series is Stargate SG1. It’s goofy as hell, but it’s a lot of fun and I love the characters.

But… you know, every now and then they have these episodes where Evil Civilian Regulators come in and point out that actually Stargate Command is pretty incompetent and look at all these things they did wrong and maybe there should be some competent people in charge instead?

Obviously these people are civilians and thus secretly evil and a suitable deus ex machina like the thunder god thor descending from the heavens and telling them to back off (this is not a hypothetical example) occurs and the evil civilian attempt to instil some competence is thwarted.

As you can tell, I think the evil civilians have a point. For example, it does not occur to anyone until they nearly unleash a devastating plague that could wipe out all of human civilization that maybe they should have quarantine procedures in place for people coming back from human populations that have been isolated from earth for thousands of years. This takes precisely 4 episodes to bite them.

So I’d like to propose a Stargate AU. Competent!Stargate you might call it. No-one has had a massive intelligence upgrade, the whole thing is not a massive game of Xanatos speed chess, it’s just… everyone behaves at a level of competence and strategic thinking that you would expect from their character and role.

Oh, that and nobody off Earth speaks English because argh seriously?

It’s similar to this alternate starting point for Atlantis, but not compatible with it.

Why is it not compatible with it? Well, easy. Stargate Command couldn’t possibly spare Doctor Weir from her role as head of the civilian half of Stargate Command, a position she’s held since Catherine retired from it.

Uh, let me start from the beginning.

It starts with a very simple point of departure. A conversation between Colonel O’Neill (the actual point of departure is that he’s had two ls from the beginning which put him in a much better state of mind) and General West.

O’Neill: General, we detonated the bomb and eliminated the threat, as per orders.
West: And is the Stargate on the other side destroyed?
O’Neill: Well, no.
West: All right, we’ll send through another bomb.
O’Neill: You can’t do that, General.
West: And why not exactly?
O’Neill: Well because on the other side there’s no threat, but there are an awful lot of innocent civilians. Oh and also a large quantity of the mineral that the Stargate is made out of which by all accounts is an amazing power source.
West: Hmm. A power source you say?
O’Neill: Ra said it would enhance our nuke by, uh, a lot.
West: I do like enhanced nuclear weapons…

An expedition is sent back through the gate, where they’re met by Daniel Jackson and a bunch of the Abydonians. It is politely explained to them that while they are welcome guests they are on the Abydonians’ land and will not be allowed to just start mining Naquadah. Daniel requests Catherine be involved in negotiating rights.

Between Daniel and Catherine they negotiate a deal for a provisional survey in exchange for food, medicines and a variety of other things that the Abydonians could really use from modern earth civilizations. Captain Carter comes through the gate and is so ridiculously excited by the Naquadah that she talks general West, and through him the US government, into realising they basically have to have these mining rights.

Daniel Jackson is not very keen on the military at this point, so part of the bargaining is that he really wants to deal with civilians, and preferably ones he trusts. Eventually a compromise agreement is reached where Stargate Command will be a join military/civilian operation with Catherine in charge of the civilian side, especially focused around coordinating the scientific and archaeological research teams on Abydos and liasons with the Abydonians.

The US is leased mineral rights to mine for Naquadah, plus the assistance of several Abydonians who are experienced in its mining, in exchange for a merely extortionate fee and assistance with converting that fee into personnel and goods.

So they get cracking on this. Carter heads up a team researching the various applications of Naquadah. Daniel assists with the archaeologists investigating the pyramid.

After some months of discovery they discover the Abydos cartouche and Sam rapidly figures out the program she wrote in canon SG1 to convert these into coordinates they can dial. The SGC’s exploration program begins 8 months early, long before Apophis has discovered the coordinates to earth or Abydos.

Colonel O’Neill asks to head up SG1 as he’s really bored with the military side of the SGC – it’s all depressingly quiet, and he wants to see the universe. Several members of his old team join him. Daniel Jackson and Sam Carter are way too busy doing important research and it’s not like they’ve been incompetent enough to get anyone they cared about be abducted by aliens, so why would they come along?

After a planet or two of cautious exploration, they discover that basically Goa’uld is the lingua franca of the galaxy. It’s not that far from the dialect they speak on Abydos, but none of the US military personnel have bothered to learn more than a couple words like “moonshine” in it, so this doesn’t go so well.

A new plan is formed: There are enough Abydonians who speak tolerable English and who want to see the universe who are more than happy to go exploring. Each SG team is equipped with one of them as a translator. Additionally, the SGC puts on regular classes in Goa’uld. Everyone who wishes to go offworld is required to attend these classes – the translators are a sufficient solution for now, so exploration continues, but being in an SG team and not trying to learn to speak the language is not an option.

Jack picks it up surprisingly quickly, with help from Skaara (they play baseball together on weekends), though his accent is and will remain atrocious.

After some months of exploration and talking to people they learn about the Goa’uld in more detail. They’ve yet to actually encounter any, but have figured out that Ra was definitely not the last of his race and that they should be prepared.

As part of this preparedness they realise they need better security to prevent invasion through the gate. The SGC installs Irises on both the earth and Abydos gates (the latter under the control of the Abydonians – they insisted, and Earth was keen enough to protect their Naquadah mine that they didn’t really have the option to say no).

After some less than responsible behaviour from people when confronted by natives who think they are gods, the SGC institutes a program of extremely strict psychological screening for teams. Jack is raised as a potential issue but persuades the psychologists that he is dealing well with his grief. Jonas Hanson is flagged as unsuitable for first contact situations.

Carter and her team meanwhile are making extremely good progress figuring out Naquadah power sources, given the ample supply of raw material and Goa’uld technology left on Abydos. She does miss being in the field but it would be cutting into way too much valuable research time. She’s the leading expert on this stuff.

Daniel on the other hand feels that the rest of the archaeological team has the study of the history of Abydos well in hand and requests to join SG1 with Jack. Jack is enthusiastic about the idea and his membership is accepted.

The SGC exploration teams discover Avnil and its abandoned Naquadah mines. After the aforementioned entirely psychologically stable team comes through, informs the locals that they are not gods, and does some investigation they find the radiation shield and turn it on (ably assisted by Carter’s team of scientists and engineers who while they haven’t yet got the underlying principles very clear yet are more than capable of finding the on switch). The locals are ridiculously grateful and are more than happy to let them set up a modern mining operation here. The mine is pretty close to depleted, so it’s not a patch on the Abydos mining operation, but the SGC are keen on having a redundant operation which they have much less ambiguous rights to.

They install an iris on the Avnil stargate and declare it to be their beta site. A garrison is established there and SG teams are routed through it when exploring so as to provide a secondary quarantine measure.

Apophis finds Ra’s cache of hidden addresses and dials both earth and Abydos. He does not have the relevant codes, so the Irises do not open and he concludes the gates must be buried.

The SGC encounter Apophis’s forces. They attempt peaceful negotiation, but Apophis is having none of these uppity humans who thinks they are his equal.

A Guerilla war between Apophis’s forces and the SGC begins. The SGC’s goal is generally to avoid conflict, but generally speaking where conflict occurs they wipe the floor with Apophis’s forces. They’re better at tactics and have better weapons (it’s basically canon that Earth projectile weapons are vastly more effective than the staffs the Jaffa are typically armed with).

Teal’c and Bra’tac hear word of the fact that there is a human force out there engaged in regular stargate travel and capable of taking on the Goa’uld. They start quietly sounding out people for starting the Jaffa rebellion. They gradually grow their network, with instructions to try to make contact with anyone from the SGC they run into.

However first, SG1 are met by a man with glowing eyes who tells them that not all Goa’uld are as they think. Although some are parasites, others achieve true symbiosis – the host and the symbiote sharing the body and making decisions together. They speak with both the host and he confirms this story.

That Goa’uld’s name? Ba’al.

Obviously they’re not stupid enough to do anything that would give Ba’aal the coordinates of earth, but they set up yet another off world base with an iris and give Ba’al the access codes for that. This becomes their point of coordination for the new offensive against Apophis.

Assisted by Ba’aal who provides them with ships and technology while they provide the manpower, Apophis is rapidly put on the defensive.

Jack O’Neill leads the final invasion of Apophis’s palace. There he faces Teal’c, who tells him that he has important information about their new “ally” Ba’al, and surrenders to O’Neill. Teal’c is taken back to Earth to be debriefed.

Apophis however is nowhere to be found, having escaped through the Stargate before the invasion.

Meanwhile, Ba’als forces have successfully invaded Apophis’s private sanctum, where they find, among other things his private stash of Stargate addresses, including the ones he obtained from Ra.

Acting on this information, Ba’al and his servants add these addresses to their program of exploration. They are particularly interested in this one for the Tau’ri given their interesting new allies with the remarkably populous planet.

Season 1 ends.


  • I really like Sam as a character, but it just makes no sense at all for her to be on the front line given her expertise.
  • Daniel on the other hand actually is a field researcher, so has reason to join SG1, he’s just got not quite as strong an incentive as in canon
  • In Competent!Stargate it’s really hard to get Teal’c into contact with SG1, which is why it takes until end of season 1.
  • Ba’al’s appearance is brought forward four seasons. This is partly because he’s the only actually credibly competent threat amongst the Goa’uld and partly because as a competent Goa’uld there’s no way he wouldn’t take this opportunity to cement his power amongst the system lords (in canon the year after Ra’s death is basically one giant power struggle amongst the system lords, with Ba’al, Apophis and several others coming out on top).
  • Technological advancement proceeds a little faster than in canon because of the much greater availability of Naquadah and Goa’uld technology from Abydos, and later from Ba’al. Also because we actually have Sam Carter and her team working on it as a full time job. It doesn’t proceed ridiculously fast though because they’re still trying to reverse engineer a vastly more advanced alien technology – e.g. it will probably still take contact with the Orbanians before there are portable Naquadah generators.



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