|Stargate: Return of the Ancients, Season 2, Ep 7
Author: Aer-ki Jyr PM
Episode, "Learning Curve" Year: 2016Rated: Fiction M - English - Suspense/Sci-Fi - Ronon D. - Chapters: 5 - Words: 12,777 - Reviews: 39 - Favs: 26 - Follows: 20 - Updated: 03-02-12 - Published: 02-08-12 - Status: Complete - id: 7817282
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"Prefect," Markona said with respect as he met Neela at the entrance of the research facility and escorted her inside.
"I have need to consult the Oracle," the Aschen leader charged with wartime intelligence said calmly.
"Well timed," the associate researcher said as they walked through the pristine building on the planet Herdonis, one of the Aschen's original holdings before the war began. "They are in session now."
Neela nodded microscopically, but said nothing further until they reached the observation chamber. Inside was a lightly restrained Human beneath a mass of diagnostic equipment linked to a holographic display.
"We are currently probing the current location of the Alterra," Markona explained when Neela's gestures suggested she couldn't identify the images.
"You have had a breakthrough then?"
"Partially, yes. We believe he was attempting to hide this line of inquiry, but a brief slip allowed us to isolate this ship design. From there he could not resist the more exact references."
"What have you learned?"
"Our inquiry is incomplete, but it appears that the Alterra are busy conducting a war of their own, against a pair of enemies far stronger than any known in this galaxy, save perhaps for the Asgard. At present the outcome is indeterminate, though heavy fighting is ensuing."
"What is your current probability rating?"
"Over the past two months we've achieved an 83% match with the provided intelligence reports, though if these events are taking place in another galaxy, as we suspect, there is no way to corroborate."
"Suspend the current session. I have more pressing questions to ask."
Markona nodded. "What matter would you have us inquire about?"
"I will do the questioning myself," Neela insisted.
Markona inhaled deeply, but made no other gesture of discontent. "As you wish," he said, opening the sliding door into the Oracle's chamber.
When Neela entered the lead researcher halted his conversation with the Oracle and looked up at the intruder with a hint of disgust. "Prefect," he greeted her stiffly.
"I apologize for the interruption, but recent setbacks have occurred and the council needs answers."
"We require specifics for query," Larss reminded her.
Neela looked directly into the Oracle's eyes, which stared back with a pained anger. "In recent days four of our smaller colonies have been destroyed with single, large yield explosives. I need to know who is responsible."
The images on the hologram froze on a silhouette of a Wraith battleship being skewered by an Alterra energy beam. Larss noted the halt in the Oracle's far seeing abilities as a sign that he was resisting the questioning.
"Do you have any images of the planets or destruction? The Oracle requires visual stimuli for probing."
Neela pulled out a small data chip and handed it to the lead researcher. The man input it into the base of the holoprojector and cued up the images. When the Oracle wouldn't look Larss had his chair rotated to face the hologram and held his finger over the pain induction trigger should the Oracle refuse to open his eyes.
That, however, wasn't necessary today. He had learned not to resist stubbornly, but continued to thwart Larss' research whenever possible. The lead researched appreciated the challenge given to him and played their daily game of intrigue with great interest. The man's ability to see into the future defied all scientific reason, yet the results were undeniable…although somewhat uncertain. Events did not always play out as predicted, though that could be attributed, he believed, to actions taken in the interim.
However, the Oracle also appeared to have the ability to see into the past, and those results had indicated that he may have the ability to peer into alternate paths of history, for not all of the results matched with confirmed history, but the more Larss worked with the subject, the more he was led to believe that the accuracy of the questioning had a direct correlation to the correct location of applicable events, thus Neela's ad hock inquiry was problematic to say the least…but he had a duty to perform and he would, as always, perform his best.
The first image to come up was a view of the planet from space, taken by the elementals in orbit and magnified. A small explosive dot formed on the surface in the center of a large metropolis and mushroomed into an expanding explosion that encompassed the entire city.
Larss noted the small auxiliary hologram set into the console that still displayed the image of the Wraith warship.
The second image on the disc was a set of recordings from the debris strewn city after the explosion, but they also did not trigger a response. Either the Oracle was resisting mightily, or he truly couldn't form a connection.
Larss cycled through a mass of additional images on the attacked planets, the third of which finally yielded a response. He split the holographic display between the intelligence recordings and the Oracle's vision.
It was a brief snapshot of movement within one of the Aschen settlements, followed quickly by nothingness.
"What is that?" Neela asked.
Larss ignored her inquiry and reversed the recorded image from the Oracle, then advanced it to the point of blackout, which showed a few frames of a concussion wave enveloping the city and killing the observer…all of the Oracle's visions appeared to originate from the point of view of other people in the galaxy, as if he could see through their future or past eyes.
"Where did the explosion come from?" Larss asked his subject, familiar with the needed phrasing to prompt a response. "Who died first? Who died with foreknowledge?"
That last caveat prompted another image, this inside a small room with a direct view of a device and a hand triggering it. A small countdown appeared and a string of softly spoken words in an alien language were clearly audible. Just before the countdown ended the Oracle gave them a key piece of information…the person's last words, but the Aschen were oblivious to the fact, unable to translate the language.
The Oracle knew the language, however, and he unconsciously followed that strand of recognition back to the point of origin for the explosive device…some type of shipyard with dozens of workers milling about. Human workers.
"Ah, good," Larss said, praising the Oracle. He has such remarkable analytical abilities, and even small strands of recognition would lead him to further visions, even against his own will. "The origin of the explosive device. How was it transported to our world?"
The images shifted again, and Larss dismissed the intelligence recordings Neela had brought so they could see the visions at full size, this one being the interior of a small ship, visible through its pilot's eyes. The design was immediately familiar.
"A Goa'uld cargo ship," Neela recognized from the mass of intelligence data she had sorted through in recent years. "From the Jaffa?"
The Oracle didn't respond to the question.
"No," Larss said, following his own instincts. The Oracle often responded readily to peoples he had personal knowledge of, especially the Earthers. "From Earth?"
The images immediately changed, as if clarifying his inaccurate statement, and showed the view from flight, looking down on the shipyard and the world beneath with clearly identifiable landmasses that did not match Earth's profile, of which Larss had become intricately acquainted with in previous days. Much of the Oracle's insight had come from that world, used by the subject as a distraction against Larss' less poignant questions…and also as a reminder of the Aschen's failure to take the world.
"Not located on Earth," Larss continued, "but is this one of Earth's colonies?"
The images reluctantly shifted, with a brief moment of static indicative of the Oracle attempting to cloud his own thoughts, but it didn't last and the view of several distinctive black space fighters became visible, sitting on the tarmac in neat rows.
The profile of the 302s were easily recognizable to the Aschen.
"The attacks came from an Earth colony," Larss concluded for Neela.
She nodded, partially satisfied. "How did they get the explosive devices past our defenses?"
"A cloaking device, perhaps?" Larss guessed, not directing the question at the Oracle.
"Their technology is primitive. Our sensors have always been able to penetrate their cloaking fields at short range. The epicenter of the explosions was in the middle of the target cities. They could not have approached by ship in a conventional manner."
"Did they come through the stargates?" Larss asked the Oracle, without response.
He frowned, thinking around the problem. "Did anyone see the Earthers before the explosion?"
Suddenly the hologram shifted back to the view of one of the city's denizens walking through the street. A thin blue beam, typical of their defensive drones, fired over the crowd's head and hit an invisible object, momentarily breaching its cloaking field…the triangular hull of the Goa'uld cargo ship was clearly visible amidst the multi-colored mess of refracted light.
"Apparently they can now," Larss noted with some concern.
"The Sentinel's sensors were obviously able to detect the ship at close range," Neela argued. "Why not the units in space or within the city?"
"Perhaps the detection range is extremely limited due to an Earth upgrade."
"We know the Earthers have received technology from the Asgard," Neela said, thinking aloud. "Perhaps they've been slow to implement it into their designs, crude as they are. They still appear to be utilizing hybrid vessels."
Suddenly the hologram shifted to another planet, seen from low orbit, with a curved white ship with a glowing center floating nearby, ostensibly being seen from another ship or station in space.
"What is that?" Neela asked, not recognizing the design…however, the dozens of massive warships rising up from the surface she did recognize.
The Oracle smiled, looking on the holographic display of the vision he was seeing in mind's eye of the Asgard warfleet leaving their homeworld for battle.
Jonas Quinn fixed his gaze directly on Larss and laughed despite the painful headache that always accompanied his visions. "Oh, you're definitely going to get it now."