Project Extinction was supposed to be the end of the Wraith, once and for all. All the Atlantis Expedition had to do was fly back, activate it, and watch the fireworks. At least, that was the theory. Unfortunately for them, the wormhole drive malfunctions on the way to Pegasus. In a strange new galaxy, with a terrifying threat looming over the horizon, finding a way back home may not be so easy...
Set post-EATG, ignoring the books. I did fudge some of the positions slightly.
One of the perks of Homeworld Command was getting a spacious, basically private conference room. The table was solid, the chairs were comfortable, and it came with a projector system that worked great for movies. On one side of the table was a set of very familiar faces: SG-1. Well, technically only Lieutenant Colonel Mitchell, Daniel, Vala, and Teal'c were part of SG-1. Colonel Carter had her own command now. On the other side of the table was the motley Atlantis crew: Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard, Dr. Rodney McKay, Teyla Emmagan and Ronon Dex.
"Okay, you're all here," General O'Neill remarked. He motioned with his hands. "Your big plan. Sell me on it."
John motioned to the man next to him. "Rodney."
"Oh, why do I have to present?" the scientist objected.
"Because you're the one who discovered the damn thing," John hissed.
"Well, actually..." Daniel began. He cut himself off. "No, you know what, you go right ahead."
"Fine." He stood up, pulled out a remote and clicked a button on it. An undecipherable diagram appeared on the projection screen in front of them. "Project Extinction. The Ancients' last, best hope against the Wraith."
That got the General's attention. "I'm listening."
"Okay, this is the Ancients' top-secret, classified stuff. We only found this in the Atlantis database just now, and it was practically buried. It's almost a miracle we found it at all."
"But what is it?" General O'Neill asked.
"I'm getting to that!"
"Rodney," John warned.
"Okay, fine. Let's skip over all the interesting, important background information," Rodney huffed. "Project Extinction is a weapon that interferes with the operation of Wraith hyperdrives. As you know- or maybe not- one of the biggest weaknesses the Wraith have is the organic nature of their ships. Hyperspace radiation is harmful to them and the Extinction weapon channels that radiation and essentially rips apart Wraith ships as they travel through hyperspace."
"Hold on, didn't the Ancients have a weapon like this?" Colonel Mitchell asked. "And didn't it make Stargates blow up?"
Daniel answered, "Actually, the development of the Extinction weapon predates the Attero Device and it was a completely different group. There was some mention of the very same effect, but they were able to work around the problem."
O'Neill inquired, "I take it this thing is in Pegasus and not on Atlantis?"
Rodney answered, "Well, we need Atlantis, but yes, the rest of it is in Pegasus. So we load up the Odyssey and the Daedalus, have them close in tight with the city. Then we use the wormhole drive to make the trip back to Pegasus."
"That leaves the nearly complete Hammond and the Antarctic weapons platform- using the control chair retrieved from Taonas- to defend Earth should the need arise," John added helpfully.
"Why?" the General questioned. "Why do you need so much firepower, and why the wormhole drive?"
"Well, the firepower we need because of the Wraith between us and the Extinction device. The wormhole drive, it'll speed up the mission, sir," John answered. "It cuts down the timeframe to something the guys upstairs can live with, and it'll give us an element of surprise over the Wraith."
"I don't know, that seems a little risky," the General mentioned. "Or maybe really risky."
"Yes, strictly speaking, the wormhole drive is a riskier technology," Rodney admitted. He raised a finger. "But, when you consider the chance of a catastrophic hyperdrive failure over the several days it takes to make the trip from here to Pegasus, it's actually significantly safer."
"Statistically speaking, the wormhole drive is less likely to malfunction on the way to Pegasus," she replied before adding, "Of course, there could be failure modes we haven't considered-"
"Which is itself unlikely," Rodney objected smugly.
"Okay. So where does SG-1 come into this?"
"Actually, sir, it was our idea to come along," Mitchell answered. "We haven't been getting a lot done here in the Milky Way, and they could use some backup."
He nodded before turning to the leader of AR-1. "And your plan is..."
John answered, "Well, sir, we find the Extinction device, activate it, and... well, basically that's the plan."
"And then no more Wraith?"
"Is that just me or do the Ancients love leaving problem-solving boxes in difficult-to-find locations?" the General asked sarcastically.
Daniel and Rodney shared a look.
He leaned forward and glanced around the table. "So, what if it doesn't work? For all we know, they might never have even built this thing."
"Well, it's a short mission to Pegasus, not an expedition, otherwise we'd be taking this upstairs," Daniel answered. "Unfortunately, there's a good possibility the journey will deplete the ZPMs or even damage Atlantis to the point of not being able to return quickly to the Milky Way."
O'Neill smirked. "Alright, you have a go."
Colonel Samantha Carter couldn't help but admire the view from her commander's chair on the bridge of the USS Odyssey. They had left Earth orbit and were taking position past the moon. The graceful spires of Atlantis dominated their view, silhouetted against a barely visible Mars and the infinite backdrop of a field of stars. The Odyssey was a good ship, with a storied if not always positive history, and she was honored to command the vessel.
"Ma'am, we are in position," Major Kevin Marks reported from his station in front of her.
She nodded. "Signal Atlantis, tell them we're ready."
"This will work, right?" Colonel Cameron Mitchell, leader of SG-1, asked from behind her.
"It'll work," she said confidently.
"Atlantis reports they are powering up the wormhole drive," a Lieutenant announced from her station near the rear of the bridge.
"All hands, stand by for wormhole transition," Sam announced to the crew. She ordered Marks, "Don't wait for my order. As soon as the wormhole opens up, take us in."
Ahead of them, space appeared to tear open as Atlantis activated its wormhole drive. A pitch-black circle ringed with swirling energies flashed into existence ahead of the city before it disappeared into the "hole". The two Earth warships followed, the view through the reinforced window changing from stars to something completely different in a fraction of a second.
Stars appeared to zip by them in the wormhole, with a green tinged glowing barrier between them and real space. Many years back, a science team had created a theoretical concept of what the inside of a Stargate wormhole would look like. The wormhole they were flying through looked much like that crude 3D render, but much more intricate.
"It's something, isn't it," Mitchell agreed. He changed topics. "So, commander of the Odyssey, huh?"
"Why, jealous?" Sam prodded.
"No," he replied quickly.
"Technically, I'm only temporarily in command of the Odyssey for this mission," she told him. "I'm supposed to take command of the Hammond once-"
"Ma'am, the wormhole is destabilizing!" Major Marks shouted frantically. The wormhole around them was fading, the stars slowing and growing in intensity. A bright light began to appear ahead of them. "We will be ejected violently in a matter of seconds!"
"All hands, brace!" Colonel Carter ordered, gripping her chair tightly.
The control room of Atlantis was chaotic. Scientists and engineers darted about, frantically hammering away on their laptops still trying to process what had just happened. A few of them had been thrown around by the sudden transition, and medics were starting to rush in to treat them.
"What the hell happened?" Colonel John Sheppard shouted. He snapped his fingers at a familiar scientist. "Rodney, why did we drop out of hyperspace?"
"The wormhole collapsed!" he answered frantically.
"McKay, you said very specifically that this wouldn't happen."
"The chance of this happening are incredibly minute."
Sheppard took a deep breath. "Where the hell are we?"
"The edge of the Milky Way..." Rodney trailed off, staring at his tablet.
"Okay. We can work with that, right?"
"Oh, no, no, no," the scientist muttered. He hammered on his tablet before pushing a Swedish engineer out of the way and taking over his control console. "This is not good."
"What is it?"
"We need to land," Rodney urged. "When the wormhole drive glitched, it drained a significant fraction of our power before the overrides kicked in. When that happened, it sent a feedback pulse through the whole system, blowing out power relays and burning out conduits throughout the city."
"So, it's not a good idea to wait here," Sheppard surmised.
"No, it's not. Those busted conduits are leaking energy and continuing to drain our ZPMs," he answered. "Oh, and, need I mention that the shield draws its power through the same damaged power conduits? That means we can't isolate the leaking conduits without losing the shield, and it means that the shield could fail at any minute if a critical conduit blows."
"So, how do we land without getting vaporized?"
"I'm working on that," he protested before changing his tune. "Wait, short jumps!"
"That quickly?" the Colonel asked skeptically. He followed the scientist to a console near the middle of the room. "What kind of idea is this?"
"When the Prometheus was first launched, it used a highly unstable naquadriah-based hyperdrive. It almost exploded on the first trip, but they were able to limp their way to a nearby planet with a stargate. Comparing the first-gen Prometheus hyperdrive to the Atlantis stardrive is like comparing a Model T to a Tesla Roadster, but the same principles still hold," he explained, typing commands into his tablet. "If we do a short, slower jump, it'll put a lot less stress on the hyperdrive system. We'll be able to check out the power conduits once we land and make repairs as necessary."
There was one other thing. "What about the gate?"
He shook his head. "We don't have an accurate enough position fix."
"Right. Get everything ready. I'll get Sam and Caldwell up to speed," John told the scientist. He fired up their video communication system and delivered a brief summary of their situation.
"Is there a reason we can't conduct repairs in space?" Colonel Caldwell asked over the video link.
From behind his console, Rodney called, "It could take months, and every minute we spend out here is a minute we're using the shield and draining our already drained ZPMs if it doesn't fail entirely."
"How long do we have before power becomes critical?" Carter asked.
"Hours. Days at best."
"Okay. We're still in the Milky Way, so we'll just pick a familiar planet and land," John suggested. He stepped up to one of the displays and examined it. "The green circle is-"
"Our approximate position, yes," Rodney finished.
"This could be a problem..." John said. He turned back to the video link. "Colonel Caldwell, do you have this map?"
"Yes, Colonel, and I'm seeing the same thing you are," Caldwell answered. "What about P4Y-YJ7? It's unexplored, but it was on the Abydos cartouche so it's probably habitable. And it's only a hundred lightyears away, so if it doesn't turn out we won't have lost too much time."
"Good eyes, Colonel." John circled another cluster with his finger. "These are in the Atlantis database. They were Ancient colonies on lush worlds."
"That database is millions of years out of date," Carter pointed out. "They might not even exist anymore."
"That's better than nothing," he reminded her.
"It's worth a shot," Caldwell agreed. "Colonel Carter, we'll scout out P4Y-YJ7. Can you take a look at that cluster?"
"Will do, Colonel. Carter out."
Equipped with a highly advanced intergalactic hyperdrive originally designed by the Asgard, the Daedalus made the short trip to P4Y-YJ7 in a matter of minutes. A bright green hyperspace window crackled into existence above the planet and the angular gray ship emerged before it closed up again. Although it was an incredibly complex process that dealt with terrifying energy levels, it had become entirely routine for the crew.
"What are we looking at?" Colonel Caldwell asked as soon as they entered orbit of the planet.
"I'm picking up a single artificial satellite," Major Pat Meyers answered, examining the readouts on her console. "Some strange readings coming from it- it could be dark energy, sir."
He raised an eyebrow. "Dark energy?"
"It's hard to tell from our current position," she apologized. "The satellite does not appear to be armed. Figure a communications or surveillance satellite."
"Using dark energy?" Caldwell wasn't a physicist and only had a weak understanding of its implications. He knew it wasn't part of the usual Ancient-derived techbase, however, and that got his attention.
"It's possible, sir."
Caldwell nodded, filing away that detail. "What can you tell me about the planet itself?"
"I'm picking up several settlements on the surface," she answered. "Total population in the low thousands. They're technologically advanced and likely have some spaceflight capability. Similar energy signatures to the satellite."
"That's likely, sir," she answered before adding, "I'm not picking up a stargate."
That means they must have arrived on ships and moved their gate- or someone did for them. Ever the military man, Caldwell asked, "Have they seen us?"
"I don't believe so, sir," the Major answered.
"Let's keep it that way. Take us behind the moon."
"Yes, sir." Major Meyers pushed the throttles forward with one hand and pushed the control yoke over with the other, bringing the Daedalus onto a vector straight toward the moon. Between the massively powerful sublight engines and the highly sophisticated inertial compensators, obeying orbital mechanics was mostly optional.
Well, it's habitable, Caldwell concluded. "Open a channel to Atlantis. Let's give 'em the good news and the bad news."
"So, a sparsely populated world belonging to a technologically advanced human civilization?" John echoed from the other end of the subspace link.
"That's right, Colonel." Caldwell confirmed. "We're currently holding position behind the moon. That means they can't see us us, but it means we can't even try to intercept their communications."
"Sounds like a colony," he surmised. "How advanced are we talking?"
"While they're more advanced than we were before discovering the gate, they're pretty far behind where we are now. Spaceflight, but no apparent FTL," the starship commander answered. "With that being said, I agree that this is probably just a colony. We have no idea what else they might have."
"No, we don't," John agreed. The planet was habitable and had plenty of room. On the other hand, it was also home to part of an advanced civilization they knew nothing about. They could definitely land the city and effect repairs, and if they were careful possibly without the other civilization ever knowing they were there. But it was incredibly risky, and a hostile first contact was the last thing they needed right now. Hoping for some breathing room, he asked Rodney, "How's our power?"
"I've modified the power distribution program to draw power from the ZPMs in sequence- it'll buy us some time," he answered. "One ZPM almost depleted. The other ones are starting to drain again."
John cringed. "It's only been two hours."
"We're still trying to figure out which conduits are leaking, let alone isolate the broken ones," he answered.
"We still haven't heard from the Odyssey, and we still haven't heard back from Earth," John said, mostly to himself. Their subspace transmitters were powerful, but they were on the wrong side of the galaxy. Reaching Earth was an iffy proposition, and even if Earth could pick up their transmissions there was no guarantee their less advanced transmitters would be able to reach back.
"No," Rodney answered needlessly.
"It'll have to do," John decided. "I'll fly the city, you make sure it doesn't explode. Colonel Caldwell, give us a nice place to drop out. We're on our way."
"You know, every time I get involved with Atlantis it seems something goes horribly wrong," Daniel Jackson remarked to his friend and former teammate from behind her command chair. "The first time, we got hijacked. There was the whole business with the Vanir, and now, well..."
"What about when were hunting down Merlin's weapon?" Colonel Carter reminded him. "That turned out better than expected."
He nodded. "Okay, I'll give you that one."
All business, Carter asked the officer at the helm, "How are we doing, Major?"
"I'm picking spurious readings from the third system," Major Marks said from his station. He looked closely and blinked. "Ma'am, you're going to want to see this."
Carter stepped out of her command chair and leaned down to take a look. When she looked at the readings on the display, her eyes widened. "Dark energy?"
"Yes, ma'am," the Major confirmed.
Sam was torn. The scientist in her desperately wanted to find out what was causing the errant readings. The commander in her knew they had a critically important mission they couldn't deviate from for any reason. But maybe... "Major, what does this system look like?"
"Five planets orbiting an F-class star," he reported. "It's possible one of them might be habitable, but we can't tell from hyperspace."
"This is worth checking out," the Colonel decided. "Drop us out at the edge of the system, we'll cloak and creep in on sublight."
The Odyssey dropped out of hyperspace and immediately cloaked. If anyone was looking, they would have seen a bright bluish-green flash, a brief speck of grey, and then empty space. Once cloaked, they fired their sublight engines, quickly accelerating to a quarter of the speed of light and closing the distance between the fourth and fifth planets in minutes.
"I'm picking up one ship near the fourth planet. They're decelerating... through the lightspeed barrier," Marks reported, surprised. "Ma'am, that's-"
"Realspace FTL," Carter finished. "Wow."
"That's impossible," Mitchell said.
"It's impossible with our current technology," she corrected, examining the readouts. Judging by their readings, it was a lot slower than their hyperdrives, but it was something completely different from what they were familiar with. That in and of itself was interesting. "We haven't really explored dark energy as a technological base."
"First time for everything, eh?"
Carter nodded. She doubted the strange ship would be able to detect them, but it paid to be careful. She asked Marks, "Have they altered course toward us?"
"No, they're continuing on their current course."
"Let's get closer," she ordered. "Put us into an orbit above and behind them. Continue scanning."
Colonel Sheppard sat in the Atlantis control chair, focused intently on the task at hand. He could feel the city, its myriad sensors and systems seemingly an extension of his own body. It was an almost indescribable feeling, as euphoric as it was terrifying. Nothing was telling him they were about to drop out of hyperspace, he simply knew.
"Daedalus, be advised we're about to exit hyperspace and begin our approach," he informed over the radio.
"Copy that, Atlantis," Caldwell acknowledged from the Daedalus. "Good luck."
He replied. "Thanks. We're gonna need every ounce of it."
Though he couldn't see the city drop out of hyperspace, he could both feel it and imagine it- or maybe the city was creating the imagery for him. They retained quite a bit of velocity from the transition, but not enough to stay in orbit. That was by design. They were hurtling fast toward the atmosphere.
When they hit, the city began to shake, the inertial dampeners unable to fully compensate for the deceleration. The city's shield flared brightly as the friction of re-entry flashed the air around them to plasma. In under a minute, they'd slowed from tens of thousands of kilometres an hour to mere hundreds.
Atlantis was designed to land hard and fast. They smashed into the surface with a jarring jolt, bouncing slightly and creating a massive wave radiating outward in the deep blue ocean. The city bobbed slightly as the stardrive powered down and the stabilizers activated, anchoring the snowflake-like construct in position.
John knew that something was wrong before they even hit the surface. The city itself told him that, manifesting as an uneasy feeling in the back of his mind. As soon as he verified that the city was mostly unscathed, he jumped out of the control chair and bolted toward the control room.
"We missed," John said as soon as he made it back to the control room. "Did they see us?"
"What? I don't know!" Rodney huffed, tapping intently on his tablet. "It's possible."
The Colonel forced himself to calm down. Even though the landing wasn't a complete success, this was only the third- fourth?- time they had done it. The city was still in one piece and nobody was seriously hurt. "You know what, it was still a good landing. We can worry about the locals worry. Let's get a position fix and dial home."
"Already got it," Rodney told him smugly. He stepped down toward the DHD and quickly checked it over before announcing, "Dialling the gate."
Though the newer Pegasus stargates could operate in the Milky Way, it was somewhat awkward to do so, especially since the DHD was only designed with 36 keys. Both the Stargate itself and the DHD had changed their symbols automatically to a glowing-outline version of the familiar Milky Way glyphs, but neither could display all 39. The Stargate simply omitted the missing glyphs when it sat idle, while the DHD had several keys which displayed two symbols.
Rodney pushed one of the doubled keys twice, selecting the familiar Auriga glyph. The Stargate had no trouble displaying the necessary glyphs when dialing. The glyph appeared glowing in blue, spun around the circumference of the gate with the characteristic whirring sound, and locked on the first chevron. The next six glyphs, fortunately, were not on any doubled keys, and could be entered normally. Each one locked.
He took a deep breath before Starting from the sixth chevron, the unfamiliar symbol scrolling around the gate before reaching the top. The top chevron lit up briefly before the entire gate shut down, reverting to its gently glowing idle mode. "What? Chevron seven will not lock."
"Damn it," John breathed. "Are you sure there's nothing wrong with the gate? Our position is correct?"
"There's nothing wrong with the Stargate or the dialing computer," Rodney informed him, rechecking his tablet. "Maybe there's a problem on Earth's end, I don't know."
"Yeah, maybe," John admitted. He doubted it, but there was no sense in giving up so soon. "Let's try the Alpha Site."
The scientist hesitated before starting another dialling sequence. This one had two doubled keys, but he managed the entry perfectly the first time. Once again, the gate made it to the seventh chevron and failed to lock.
"This shouldn't be happening!" Rodney snapped. He motioned to the science team. "Check everything again, we've missed something." He turned back to John and shrugged. "We must have missed something."
"Get it figured out," John Sheppard told them. The adrenaline had long since worn off, and he was really starting to feel the fatigue from landing the city. Leaving the scientists to work, he retreated to the quieter confines of his office.
A well-worn UT-47 Kodiak drop shuttle zipped quietly through the air high above the surface of the ocean, kept aloft by tightly controlled mass effect fields and pushed forward by efficient fusion thrusters. The Kodiak was widely used throughout Alliance space and beyond and had a reputation as a tough, reliable workhorse. Aboard was the pilot, a single passenger, and a smattering of scientific equipment. They had left an hour ago to check out what they were assuming was a meteor impact. A few hikers had observed the glowing trail, and their seismographs had picked up the event itself.
"There it is, that blip again," Dr. Sara Nikolayeva remarked, pursing her lips at the strange sensor readings. She tapped the haptic holographics, trying to rearrange the data into something that made sense.
"What do you mean, blip?" Jiahao Wójcik asked from the pilots seat. He kept a light touch on the holographic controls, mostly admiring the incredible view of the ocean.
"Weren't you listening?" she chided, smacking him lightly on the shoulder. "Shortly after the impact event, there was an anomalous energy spike from this area. They keep happening, but I have no idea what they are."
"Are you sure it's not just your instruments acting up again?" he asked pointedly.
She winced. That had been an embarrassing incident. But they'd starting doing more checks after, and it hadn't happened since. "No, we checked them over yesterday. I'm positive, Jiahao."
"I don't think that was a meteor," the pilot concluded. A retired Alliance pilot who had served in the First Contact War, he was already considering the possibility that whatever hit the planet was less than friendly. "We should call in the Alliance."
"It's an unknown reading, not a slaver invasion," she replied with a laugh. She was a scientist first- a botanist with a minor in physics, but a scientist nonetheless. Her mind was set on the possibilities. "No, let's check it out."
"Your funeral." He tensed up slightly as he pushed over a holographic control and began the turn.
Colonel John Sheppard idly toyed with a pen in his office. He pondered their current situation. They were lost in their own home galaxy, on an alien planet with unknown inhabitants, unable to contact Earth. They weren't in a great position, but it could be worse. Nobody was trying to kill them yet. They'd get the city fixed, get back in touch with Earth, and either continue their mission or head back. It would be good to leave, but he did not look forward to-
"Colonel, we've got an unknown contact heading toward the city," a female voice shouted, snapping him back to reality.
"Great," the Colonel muttered, running out of his office and into the control room. He asked no one in particular, "How did they track us down?"
"They're probably picking up our energy readings," Rodney explained, joining him. "Dialing repeatedly isn't exactly subtle. That is, if they didn't just track the giant trail in the sky from where we first slammed into the atmosphere to where we landed. Provided they got a decent view of the event, it would be trivial to calculate the impact point."
"Abort the dialing sequence!" John ordered the gate controller. He turned back to the scientist. "How long before they're here?"
"It's a craft on a suborbital trajectory," he answered. "They'll be here in minutes."
"How big of a craft? Is it armed?" the Colonel asked.
"Maybe a little bigger than a puddle jumper," he answered, bringing up a wireframe of a squat, angular craft on a large-screen display. "And no, it doesn't appear to be armed."
"It's a welcoming party," John muttered. They had no idea if the unknown was hostile, but they had no idea that they weren't, either. Contact may be inevitable, but he wanted to hold off on that as long as possible. He liked meeting new people as much as anyone else, but his years on the Expedition had taught him caution. It would be better to come back and meet these people under better circumstances. He asked, "Can we use the cloak?"
"Probably," Rodney answered honestly, scrolling through a set of readouts on his tablet. "The power conduits are damaged. Raising the cloak won't consume as much power as the stardrive, but there's still a possibility of an overload."
He made his decision. "Cloak the city."
"There was something here!" Sara cried, frustrated. She doubled checked the coordinates. They were correct and well within acceptable bounds. "We should be right on top of where that thing hit! If there was something, it would be right here. Can you go around again?"
The pilot almost refused, but decided to humor her, taking the Kodiak around for another lazy pass. What the hell, any time he spent up in the air was time he didn't spend dealing with various makework back at the colony. If there was something lurking out there, he was almost excited to see what the Kodiak could do. Sure, it was a mere shuttle, but so was the piece of junk he dodged Turian patrols with. Those had been the days!
"There's nothing here but ocean," Jiahao told the scientist. It was a beautiful ocean, completely clear on a sunny day. He relaxed slightly. Had to be the sensors. If it was slavers, they'd already have started shooting.
"You saw the vid. You saw those readings. You told me that it wasn't a meteor," Sara insisted, unable to give up so quickly. She snapped her fingers. "Maybe it's a spacecraft that crashed. The blips could have been an emergency beacon."
He retorted gruffly, "I don't see any wreckage."
"We can't just leave," she insisted. Maybe she was obsessed, but she'd seen the readings. Something had to be causing them. "It could have moved. Maybe it didn't crash, it just landed and took off again! Can you take us high to get a better view?"
It would make them a bigger target, but it would also make their sensors more effective. A decent tactical compromise if there was a threat, which there probably wasn't. Maybe he was paranoid. Jiahao pushed a translucent orange slider forward. "Going up."
With the situation on Atlantis under control, the Odyssey had remained quietly trailing the strange ship. So far, their observation had revealed precious little. They were keeping the scanners at low power to prevent detection, and it seemed the ship in question was also under some kind of emissions control because they weren't transmitting, either.
"You know, I think we're missing a chance on P4Y-YJ7," Daniel mentioned, leaning against a console behind the command chair. "This is an unknown human civilization with advanced technology. We've come a long way, yes, but we could still learn a lot from them."
"Could even be the guys who built our mystery ship," Mitchell offered before adding, "I think Sheppard's right, though. There's a time for everything."
"We'll put it on the list and come back some time," Sam Carter concurred. She changed topics and asked, "Have either of you seen Teal'c or Vala?"
Daniel answered, "Well, Teal'c is kelno'reeming, and I honestly have no idea where Vala is right now."
She smiled. "Of course."
"Ma'am, I'm picking up another vessel decelerating through lightspeed!" Marks reported. "It's taking position behind the first."
"A friend?" Daniel asked.
"It's possible. The technology is similar but the appearance of the ships is quite a bit different." Carter handed her tablet to the archaeologist to take a look.
"Hmm... Normandy. Probably, but not necessarily the name of the ship. Definitely human, though. The other one, not so much." The new arrival, in contrast to the first sleek starship, appeared organic, with brown lumps around a metal structure. It was also considerably larger, dwarfing both the unknown human ship and the Odyssey. "Looks almost... Wraith."
The officer seated beside Marks told him, "We're picking up human contacts aboard the first vessel and an unknown race aboard the second... Colonel, I'm detecting high energy readings, possibly weapons charging."
Below them, a bright yellow beam lanced out of the alien vessel toward the human one. From the bridge of the Odyssey, the punishing initial impact was visible, as were the secondary explosions and plasma trails that erupted from the side of the ship.
"Tactical assessment, Lieutenant!" Carter snapped.
"Weapon is a particle beam of fairly low power. It would barely scratch our shields, and the unknown vessel does not appear to possess shields of its own," she answered, hands flying over her controls. "The human vessel is attempting evasive maneuvers, but has sustained heavy damage and is venting atmosphere."
Colonel Carter nodded, but did nothing. The alien vessel fired on the human one again. This time, the beam lanced straight through, emerging from the other side of the ship with a cloud of vapor and debris rapidly forming behind it.
"The lady just said we can kick their asses," Mitchell prodded. "Let's help them out already!"
"We don't know who's shooting at who," Daniel reminded them. "I mean, we have no idea who's the bad guy here. Remember Euronda? Do we really want to get involved in someone else's war on the wrong side?"
"You're saying we should just let those people die?"
"Believe me, this is not easy to watch, but we do have to be careful about this," the archaeologist pointed out. "Sam, is there anything else we can do without tipping our hand?"
The Colonel weighed her options. Intervening would be dangerous, and it had come back to bite them as many times as it had worked out. She couldn't just sit on her hands and do nothing, however. "Standby on the transporters. Secure Cargo Bays Delta and Echo and prepare to beam survivors aboard on my order. Humans into Delta, aliens into Echo."
They watched as the alien vessel relentlessly hammered the clearly outmatched human one. The next shot blew off one of its drive pods. Still, the little ship attempted evasive maneuvers, the pilot fighting against their failing engines. The next two shots cut through the hull, reducing the ship to a barely-spaceworthy flaming wreck.
"They're dead," Mitchell remarked, a hint of anger in his voice. As if to emphasize his point, the mysterious ship fired again.
"Is there anyone still on board?" Carter asked.
"No, ma'am, they're all on escape pods, and the alien vessel is not firing on them... wait, I'm picking up one life sign floating free and fading rapidly," she reported frantically.
"Beam them to our infirmary," Carter ordered quickly.
"What about the pods?" Daniel asked, concerned.
"Are they in a stable orbit?"
"Yes, ma'am," the Lieutenant answered. "Unknown vessel is powering engines and leaving."
As quickly as it had arrived, the strange starship left, leaving only a debris field and a smattering of tiny escape pods in its wake. Unlike their hyperdrives, the dark energy realspace FTL created no prominent visual distortion. The ship simply accelerated and vanished into the distance.
"Major Marks, you have the bridge," Carter ordered, standing up. "Let's go meet our new friend."