Spoilers: (generously estimated)
Farscape - some
spoilers for season 1 - 3.
Star Trek - some spoilers for TNG in general.
Stargate SG-1 - some spoilers for seasons 1 - 6.
Chapter 1: Wrong turn
John Crichton, an astronaut, was having one of those days. In fact, it was more like one of those years, and this was the second one in a row. First, he had been shot through a wormhole, then he had been shot at by - it seemed - almost everyone he encountered. And those who didn't shot at him, usually settled for more intimate assaults.
Somehow, he had wound up on a ship, a living ship, full of escaped prisoners. People he was now beginning to call friends. And people he was probably never going to see again. Not even Aeryn.
"Is it supposed to shake this much?" Chiana's voice cut through the noise that several warning lights and a whole lot of shaking created in the cramped module. Farscape 1 had never been designed for wormhole travel. It had in fact never been meant for anything more than a single test flight. Now it was carrying him and Chiana on its second wormhole transit. Crichton briefly wondered exactly where he would wind up this time. He did have to admit that he was partly to blame this time around. He had become obsessed with wormholes, with finding a way home.
In retrospect it seemed obvious; be careful what you wish for.
"This is only my second ride, remember," he answered quickly, raising his voice to be heard over the din. The truth was that this was a lot worse than the original transit. He was beginning to worry that the module would break up before they exited the wormhole. He should have left Chiana behind, he absently thought to himself. She and Dargo had had a fight and John had brought her along to get a little distance between them. Give the rest of the crew a small break. He shouldn't have put her in this danger.
Suddenly, up ahead, he saw the wormhole's terminus coming.
"I think this is it," he shouted, but even as he did so, something else registered. It didn't matter anymore. The module was a goner; it wouldn't last more than a minute...
Chief petty officer Miles Edward O'Brien was bored. Pretty much bored out of his skull. He had been on duty in transporter room one for three hours and nothing had happened. No malfunctions, no crisis, no scheduled maintenance. He had run a few diagnostics just to kill time but that had only occupied him for a few minutes.
Right now he was observing sensor data coming from ops. Not that there was much to see but it beat doing nothing, just barely.
Then an anomaly showed up. O'Brien had to refrain from giving an exasperated sigh. Despite over 200 years of interstellar travel and research, entirely too many things showed up simply as 'anomalies' on scanners. He'd only been on the Enterprise for three years and they had already run into more than their fair share of them.
The energy signature of the anomaly suddenly spiked and resolved itself into something that the sensors tentatively identified as a wormhole. This identification was supported by the fact that a small vessel seemed to be emerging from it. Directing his attention to the vessel O'Brien realized that it was about to break up. He instinctively locked the transporters on the two life signs aboard. Just as he was ready to initiate transport the expected order came from the bridge. "Chief," Commander Riker began.
"I'm on it, sir," O'Brien forestalled his superior; there was no time to waste. He powered up the transporters even as his scanners reported that the vessel's hull integrity had collapsed. During the short transport he checked out the readings on the two passengers. One was definitely a human male, although he did have a curious infection near his brain stem. The computer did not classify it as contagious nor harmful so he left it. The man was armed however. O'Brien prudently had the transporter disable the weapon.
The other passenger was not human, but appeared to be humanoid and probably female. She also had the same infection but again the medical diagnostic insisted that it was neither contagious nor harmful. Better safe than sorry he thought and activated a containment field around the transporter pads before the duo could materialize.
O'Brien did his best but since they had been seated in a reclined position upon transport they were in for a bit of a bump as they materialized sans any support. The human was indeed a male. Maybe a bit above average height, dark hair. He was dressed in leather with his weapon holstered at his hip. He very quickly sprang to his feet, drawing his weapon so smoothly that to O'Brien it seemed almost to materialize in his hand as he stood up.
"You're safe," O'Brien said, hoping that someone from the Bridge would get here quickly. "We beamed you off your shuttle just before it lost hull integrity." O'Brien considered for a moment, and then added "and I disabled that," O'Brien motioned to the gun pointed his way, "during the transport."
"You disabled Wynona?" The stranger seemed quite upset with that. He took two steps forward, towards O'Brien and was repelled by the force field.
"You named your gun?" The female spoke as she rose gracefully. "He named his gun," this was directed at O'Brien drawing his attention to her. She is a sight, he thought. Slim, athletic really, bluish grey skin and hair. Her clothing quite revealing. She cocked her head to one side as she looked straight at O'Brien. He felt sure that she knew exactly what he was thinking.
The human managed to compose himself after the shock from the force field. "This all looks very familiar," he said. His eyes locked on O'Brien. "You're Miles O'Brien."
O'Brien had never seen the man before, of that he was sure. However, he supposed that anyone who wanted to could find out the names of everyone serving on the Enterprise. "That's right, how do you know my name?" O'Brien asked more as a formality then out of surprise.
Just then Commander Riker and Lieutenant Worf entered the transporter room. The sight of them seemed to affect the human. "Commander Riker and," the human laughed, "Worf."
"That's right," Riker answered, "may I ask your name and how you know ours?"
The human seemed to be becoming slightly hysterical. "How I know your name?" He asked incredulously. Pulling himself together a bit, he then introduced himself. "My name is John Crichton, an astronaut. My friend here is Chiana. And the reason I know all your names is because I've seen all of you on TV."
"No John, this is not an illusion." The neural clone of Scorpious, that John had begun to think of as Harvey, seemed quite anxious. That might be an act but given the power it had at times demonstrated over him it was unlikely that it was lying. It had only two functions, dig the wormhole tech that the Ancients had buried in his mind out and, when the time was right, steer John back into the hands of Scorpious himself.
John looked around the sickbay of the USS Enterprise. Dr. Beverly Crusher had finished examining him and was now working on Chiana. Worf and a couple of nameless security guards were on hand to keep an eye on the unexpected visitors. So far everything looked almost exactly like what John remembered of the TV series. Maybe a bit more 'real'. But this couldn't be real, could it?
"I know that the Scarran device also felt very real to you but there should be no way of fooling me." To John's mind Harvey seemed to be walking about the room, examining it. John knew that THAT at least was an illusion but he still had to force himself not to track Harvey's movements. These people already thought he was mad enough.
"So I just happened to make a wrong turn at Albuquerque and wound up on a frelling TV show?" John retorted. He didn't speak aloud. The clone could hear his thoughts well enough.
"That wormhole behaved very differently from what you remember of your first trip." Suddenly John was back in Farscape 1. Harvey was in the back seat. The memory of his first trip through a wormhole in the tiny module was replaying. "See John."
"So what? We are in some alternate reality?" John exclaimed. He hated when Harvey usurped his consciousness this way.
"I've been able to access most of the information that the Ancients gave you, but I don't have the capacity to understand it. The real Scorpious would be able to do it." Harvey paused for a moment. "And you could do it."
They were now in a classroom that John remembered from sixth grade. John was sitting in one of the uncomfortable student chairs and Harvey, dressed in a stereotypical teacher's outfit right down to the tweed jacket with leather elbow patches stood in front of the blackboard. The blackboard was filled with weird formulas.
"So you want to give the wormhole knowledge to me?"
"Yes John. Stuck here there is no way I can communicate my findings back to Scorpious?"
"No, you just want me to stop fighting you so you can gain full access to it."
"John, be sensible, I've already accessed most of it, the rest is only a matter of time."
"I won't just hand it all over to you and Scorpious!"
"You don't have a choice, John. Doing this may risk exposing all the wormhole knowledge to me, but if you don't..."
"If what?" John demanded.
"If you don't, then neither of us is gets what he wants. You don't get to go back to Moya, you never see Aeryn again. And I," Harvey, whose anger had been mounting brought himself back under control. "And I'll be stuck in your head forever."
It made sense. John had come to realize that the neural clone was driven to complete its assigned task. It was unhappy about where it was. Only by completing its task could its existence be ended.
In a strange twist of fate, they now both wanted the same thing. To get back to Moya.
"Alright, do it."
Dr. Crusher was just finishing her examination of the alien female when Captain Jean-Luc Picard came into sickbay. Beverly greeted him.
"Your findings doctor?" Picard asked crisply.
"The infection that Miles detected is indeed non contagious. It's a symbiotic bacteria of some sort. They claim it works kind of like a universal translator. It lets them understand anything that has evolved along similar lines."
"Is that possible?"
"In theory, yes. It appears to be telepathic and we know that telepathy can usually cross species lines."
"Do it." The sound came from the human they had rescued.
"Do what?" Picard inquired. This seemed to shake the human from some sort of reverie.
"Huh, what? Oh, nothing, just thinking." The human pulled himself together before continuing, "Captain Picard, I'm John Crichton." He held his hand out in greeting.
Picard shook hands with Crichton firmly. "You know my name also. My first officer tells me you think that this is all some sort of archaic entertainment program?" Picard tried to keep his voice neutral, the eternal diplomat. It was hard not to let a little disbelieve show.
"I know it sounds crazy but with all I've seen in the past two years I'm willing to buy this."
"Buy what exactly?"
"That I've somehow stumbled on an alternate reality where everything out of a particular TV show is real!"
"We are aware that there are parallel dimensions, alternate realities if you will, but nothing quite so specific has ever occurred. The recorded instances all show a world clearly related to our own."
"I know," John seemed to take Picard's criticism without worry, "it's insane. But either I'm having a really bad dream or the universe is even more frelled up then I thought. That wormhole made a very wrong turn somewhere."
"I admit that I'm not an expert on wormhole physics but I don't recall anything that might indicate that they are linked to ..."
"Dimensional travel?" John supplied. "Sliding has a nice ring, but it's taken. Maybe we should call it a rabbit hole instead." This Crichton fellow seemed on edge.
"I..." Picard began but was cut off.
"Listen, Mon Capitan," Picard was momentarily taken aback by the address. The only one who called him that was Q, could this be one of his twisted little games? "I have all the knowledge of wormhole physics up here," John dramatically pointed at his head, "all I need is some time and quiet to drag it out."
"Mr. Worf," Picard turned to find that his Chief of Security was trying to tactfully disengage himself from the attentions of their female visitor, Chiana.
"Yes sir?" Worf's stressed tone bordered on comical. Picard had not noticed the interplay between him and Chiana but he knew Worf well enough to know that he was very uncomfortable with the exceedingly forward Chiana.
"Can I have this one?" Chiana's voice was soft, almost innocent or childlike. Picard also heard an edge of playfulness in it.
"Pip," Crichton spoke sternly, "remember Dargo."
"Yes," there was a mixture of emotions in the admission. Part of it was regret. Picard wondered who Dargo was. "But he's not here."
"We are going to get back to Moya." Crichton sounded quite sure of himself.
"Mr. Worf," Picard interrupted the byplay, "please escort our visitors to suitable quarters."
"Mr. Crichton, I'll have one of my people come and try and help you figure out what is going on."
Crichton nodded. "Thanks, Data should be a big help."
Crichton and Chiana left escorted by Worf and two security guards. A quiet exchange of looks from Picard to Worf told the latter to keep the visitors under observation at least.
"You should probably have Deanna look at them." Picard turned to Beverly.
"Yes." He realized that he had no choice.
"Are you sure that letting them out of sickbay was a good idea?"
"Not entirely, but if they are indeed from where they claim then we should try to help them. And if they aren't then Data and Troi will undoubtedly spot any falsehoods."
"There is one other thing. The human, Crichton, has some sort of device embedded in his cerebral cortex. It's clearly an implant of some sort, but I can't determine its function. When I asked him about it his demeanor became rather cold. He said that it was nothing but I thought you should know." Beverly sounded concerned.
"Do you think it poses a threat?"
"To us? No, at least not directly. I can't tell what effect, if any, it is having on him."
Lt. Commander Data was confused. This was not altogether unusual, being an android he lacked much of the implicit knowledge that humans and other sentients took for granted. He was intellectually aware that this failing had often made him - quite unintentionally - the subject of humor. Fortunately, along with every other emotion, he was incapable of feeling embarrassment. He was however aware that it was generally not a good idea to 'make a fool of oneself' as it was often put. While he might not feel any embarrassment, it could give people that were not familiar with him the impression that he was 'just a stupid machine.' While he had no feelings on that, one way or the other, he was aware that the impression could be detrimental to the performance of his duties. As a result, he tried not to make a fool of himself as much as possible.
Dealing with this new human, John Crichton, seemed to make that almost impossible. For one thing how should he respond to Crichton's seemingly excited exclamation "Hey, there are toilets on this ship!" Clearly sanitary facilities were an essential part of any ship carrying humanoids. It was rarely the topic of conversation.
"Yes, each crew quarters is equipped with sanitary facilities that include a toilet, a sink and a sonic shower." Data fell back on reciting stored facts. "Quarters for senior staff and high ranking visitors also have a water shower and bathtub. In addition there are restrooms near essential duty stations, such as the bridge and engine room as well as near recreational facilities such as the holodecks and Ten Forward."
Crichton had apparently been availing himself of the facilities just prior to Data's entry. "Well they're certainly a lot more comfortable than the ones on Moya."
"You will find most facilities aboard the Enterprise to be of the highest standard for any humanoid life form." Crichton seemed disinterested in this line of discussion. Data was far from being an expert at reading human body language and facial expressions, but he was fairly certain that that particular hand wave signified disinterest. Based on this Data decided not to go on to list the facilities available.
"What do you know about wormholes and wormhole physics?" Data was unsure of how to respond. He began to discuss the history of wormhole research. Crichton cut him off. "Never mind the history, stick to the facts." In response Data launched into a highly technical explanation of wormholes physics, both studied phenomena as well as the theoretical body of work available. He was aware the wormholes were not fully understood and made an effort to cover all the available theories in order of popularity and general scientific credibility.
Somewhat to Data's surprise, Crichton listened to the whole dissertation with silent attentiveness. It was highly unusual for humans to listen to such extended explanations of any subject. He might have been tempted to conclude that Crichton was just feigning attention if it were not for the occasional highly insightful questions he posed.
Finally, Crichton stopped Data's lecture. "Ok, you're going off base now. Now let me tell you how it really works." Crichton then launched into an explanation of a radical new view of wormhole physics that focused heavily on temporal causality at a quantum level and the resultant parallel dimensions. So interesting was the theory that Data did not even bother to comment, let alone object, when Crichton began using the bulkhead as a blackboard to illustrate his thoughts.
Deanna Troi had to suppress a giggle as she entered Ten Forward. It wouldn't do for the ship's counselor to laugh at the misadventures of other members of the crew. But the look on Worf's face as he valiantly tried to disengage himself from the attentions of the ships most recent visitor, Chiana, was absolutely priceless. The usually reserved Lieutenant was absolutely at a loss as to how deflect the girl's attentions. She seemed to take his rather pointed hints that he would prefer to drink alone as encouragement.
Sensing Worf's mounting anger at the unwanted attention Deanna decided to come to his rescue. She needed to talk to Chiana anyway.
Approaching the pair Deanna introduced herself. "Hello, Chiana is it? My name is Deanna Troi, I'm the ships councilor." This got Chiana's attention. Worf's relief was the empathic equivalent of a shout in its intensity.
"Yeah, that's me." Chiana turned to face the counselor.
"Counselor." Worf rather stiffly greeted her with a nod while trying to politely get out of there.
"I see you've met our formidable Chief of Security." Deanna gave Worf her warmest smile. She wasn't prepared to let him off the hook just yet. Some social interaction would do him good.
"Oh, yes." Chiana responded, her attention at least partially back on Worf. Deanna realized that while she could sense her emotions they were very difficult to decipher. It was not uncommon when dealing with aliens, but given her otherwise humanoid appearance, the gap was larger than Deanna had expected.
"Worf, please excuse us, I need to talk to Chiana." Deanna decided it was time to get to work. Worf's relief was again palpable. He quickly nodded in farewell and hurried off. "Why don't we sit?" Deanna suggested.
Once seated she went to work. "Why don't you tell me a little about where you come from?"
"What, Moya?" Deanna vaguely sensed discomfort that was in stark contrast with Chiana's seemingly bubbly demeanor. "Not much to tell, living ship, running most of the time."
Captain Picard took a sip of his tea. He'd decided to try a new blend that a friend had recommended instead of his usual Earl Grey. It was all right, but not quite as good. It was probably more a matter familiarity, he mused, briefly considering dispensing with this cup and getting some Earl Grey. No, that could wait until after this meeting.
With him in his ready room were Riker, Data and Troi. Data was, Picard hoped, just wrapping up a lengthy description of his meeting with Crichton. Judging from the android's enthusiasm for the topic Picard had gathered that Data thought Crichton's theories might at least be valid.
"Thank you, mister Data." Picard finally cut him off. He knew from experience that there was no chance of hurting the androids feelings and if he didn't stop him there was a slight chance Data would continue talking for hours. "Counselor, what are your thoughts on our visitors?"
"John is remarkably intelligent. The ordeals of the last couple of years have had an effect on his mind though. He didn't seem interested in talking about it so I didn't push, but from what Chiana has told me of what's happened to him I'm surprised that he's still coherent."
"But can we believe anything he's saying?" Riker interrupted.
"I detected no falsehood in anything he said, but at times I felt like..." Deanna trailed off.
"Like what?" Picard prompted.
"Like there was something hiding from me while I was talking to him. I wish I could explain it better. It was very vague, just at the edge of consciousness but it was unsettling." Deanna finished. Picard took a moment to read her body language. While he might not have Deanna's ability to sense other peoples' emotions, he was still able to read them pretty well. Something had upset Deanna, even if she couldn't quantify it.
"And his companion?"
"Chiana's in many ways a frightened little girl. I couldn't get a very good read on her telepathically but I felt no malice from her. Some deception maybe, even mischief, but I think that's more from a rebellious nature compounded by extended time spent fighting just to survive."
"I see," Picard replied noncommittally. "Mister Data."
"What will it take to get Crichton and his companion back home?"
"I'm still not convinced that we can trust them." Riker cautioned. Picard generally treasured Riker's zeal at protecting the ship and crew, but this time they would have to show a little faith."
"We have a responsibility to help those in need, number one," Picard reminded his first officer. "Mister Data?"
"We do not have the technology to get them home. Neither does he know exactly how accomplish it. Before we could send him home it would be necessary to build a machine to test his theory."
"What kind of machine?" Picard asked, his curiosity piqued.
"A device for artificially creating a contained wormhole. If the theory is correct a relatively small, but entirely stable wormhole should form. Measuring various aspects of it would allow him to eventually tune it to his own universe."
Picard thought about what Data had said for a minute. He could help this Crichton, but Riker had a point; was it wise to allow a stranger access to the Enterprise's technology? To help a stranger build a device supposedly capable of creating wormholes!
"Do you foresee any danger in helping him construct such a device?"
Picard watched on as Data, ever thorough, considered every possible ramification involved in creating the device before answering. "No sir. If the theories are wrong, nothing should happen. Unless our understanding of the universe is severely off a level three containment field should be more than sufficient to contain any possible release of energy that might occur."
"Do we have everything needed?"
"Yes sir, we will be able to use the holodeck to create it."
"The holodeck?" Riker sounded incredulous. In truth, Picard was also a little surprised by this.
"Yes, a holodeck simulation interacts with the 'multiverse', as Crichton calls it, just like regular matter. It is therefore possible to create the machine using photons and force fields rather than actual atoms and achieve the same result. In fact some calculations will be simpler."
"All right," Picard decided that it was worth a try. "Do it, but I want you and mister La Forge to go over it in detail before turning it on."
Holodecks were, in a word, cool. John looked at the completed wormhole machine, constructed entirely of photons and force fields.
It had been almost addictive how easily you could create just about anything the mind could imagine in here. While most of his time aboard the Enterprise had been spent building it, he had taken the time to experiment with the holodecks a bit. After all, he had always been curious as to exactly what holodeck program Barcley 6 contained.
John had to admit that he had never thought of the ship's doctor and counselor in exactly that manner. It had however been over a year, what harm could it do? He had been surprised how very real it felt.
"I think that should do it." La Forge interrupted John's reverie.
"Yes." John did not take his eyes off the machine that would - he hoped - find his way home.
The thought struck him; when did Moya become home?
The machine was a circle, about five meters in diameter. It was unadorned, all its inner working hidden. It was essentially just a containment vessel. It would trap a wormhole. The wormholes other end would remain in a state of flux. With some careful calibrations it should be possible to direct that flux. At least point it at the right universe. It wouldn't get him home, but if it worked it would justify building its big brother that would.
"I think we are ready." John turned to where La Forge and Data stood, hovering over the control console. They had been going over everything John had been doing this morning. Making sure that this would, in fact, not blow up the ship.
"Agreed," Data, concurred. "I have already notified the captain. He asked us to wait until he arrived."
"No problem." John meant it. True to form, the crew of the Enterprise had been very helpful. A nice change of pace from what he had become accustomed to over the last two years.
The wait was short since at that exact moment the door to the holodeck opened to admit Picard, Worf and Chiana. Apparently, Chiana was still making Worf's life miserable.
She was good at that. John carefully kept the thought to himself.
"Ah, captain," John greeted Picard, "welcome to the debut of the," John gestured expensively at the ring, "wormhole thingy."
Picard was not especially amused by John's attempt at humor. John realized that he had become very used to being considered so unusual that he there was no way to act 'normally.'
"Before we begin I just wanted to thank you for all your help," John quickly changed pace. "Lending me your top two engineers was most useful and more then generous."
"Not at all," Picard replied graciously. "You have some very exciting theories and we would like to do all we can to help you get back home." Picard didn't add that if John's story was true he more than deserved a little good fortune by now. John still heard it; it was a thorn in his side in so many ways. For the past two years he had had little opportunity to reflect on his situation. While he had been busy during his stay on the Enterprise, being safe for the first time in two years had given him some time for introspection. This was a topic he wasn't quite ready to address. He would deal with the chip in head and everything else if - no, when - he got back to Moya.
"Well, in that case I'm surprised you didn't lend me Wesley as well," John said light heartedly. He had never liked that character but he had supposedly been a gizmo wizard.
"Wesley?" Picard seemed confused.
"I believe Dr. Crusher's son is named Wesley," Worf dutifully supplied. "But he is not a part of the ship's crew."
"Really?" John was genuinely surprised. This was the first inconsistency from the TV shows that he had encountered. Everything else had matched up perfectly, right down to Guinan's hats. "In the show you made him an acting ensign within days of coming onboard."
"Wesley Crusher is still in his teens. I'm aware that he is quite gifted, but we would never let such an inexperienced youth act as a part of the crew." Picard was clearly uncomfortable with the mere idea. "Especially after that little incident on Rubicun III."
"Really?" John repeated himself but his surprise was fading. This universe couldn't have been a perfect replica of a TV series. Some things on TV just can't make sense in any 'real' universe. "Doesn't matter anyways. I think we are about ready to fire this bad boy up." Get back on topic.
"Data?" Picard queried.
"The machine is complete and should function as promised. We have set up a force field around the device that can be activated at a moment's notice in case anything goes wrong."
"Alright, if you and Geordi," Picard paused just long enough to get a nod from La Forge, "are satisfied you may proceed with the experiment."
"Right," John was more than ready. "Computer, run Crichton One."
Immediately the holodeck begins to vibrate softly.
"Energy output within expected levels," Data intoned as everyone else focused on the circular wormhole machine. Suddenly a blue white, irregularly shaped cone seemed to splash out towards them. It only reached about five meters before snapping back to form a shimmering surface that covered the hollow center of the device.
"That's the wormhole's event horizon. The device is holding it static, that's why it's flat instead of looking like a 'hole in space.'" John could scarcely believe it himself; he had done it. Before him was a contained wormhole terminus.
"Power levels are rising." Data cut through John's reverie.
"Cause?" Picard asked even as John hurried over to the console Data was using to monitor the device.
"Unknown," Data's voice was calm, but John knew that that wasn't warranted.
"We got incoming," John shouted even as he deciphered the readings on the console.
"Is that dangerous?" Picard's voice was almost as level as Data's, almost.
"Only if the machine isn't aligned properly for materialization," John shot back even as his hands flow over the controls. "Matter doesn't really exist inside a wormhole. When it emerges, the terminus goes through one hell of a hiccup to realign the energy into regular matter. This wormhole is being contained so it can't do that. The machine has to be aligned with the wormholes 'frequency' - for lack of a better word - or whatever is coming through will be destroyed and all its energy released explosively." John knew all that even though he had never considered it before. Clearly, the Ancients had spared no expense when they outfitted his brain with wormhole physics.
"But..." Picard began.
"Look, do you want me to recite technobabble or do you want me to fix this." John retorted. He was almost out of time and things were getting tricky. Even for someone with Ancient wormhole tech stuffed in his brain.
Everyone wisely choose to leave John to his work. From the corner of his eye he could see though, that Data was poised to activate the containment field if he did not succeed.
No chance of that, John thought grimly. There was no way that he was going to be responsible for the deaths of whoever it was that was traveling through that wormhole.
Finally, everything lined up. A split second later four people came hurtling out of the captured wormhole, landing in a heap just in front of the device. John quickly noted that they were human (or at least very close). Three men and one woman. They all seemed to be wearing some sort of army camouflage gear and utility harnesses. They were also armed with submachine guns and nine-millimeter pistols.
John turned to see Worf aiming a phaser at the new arrivals.
"Easy big guy," John was sure he didn't want a firefight breaking out. At least not until someone fixed Wynona.
The new arrivals were getting to their feet, clearly somewhat dazed by their exit from the wormhole. The leader of the group, at least John though he was the leader - it said Colonel on his uniform - looked around, somewhat confused.
"Carter," the Colonel said, "I think you dialed a wrong number."
Despite some body of evidence to the contrary Colonel Jack O'Neill was by no means stupid. Being teamed with two of Earth's brightest tended to cast you in a poor light. Nevertheless, despite his professed ignorance of technical matters, he usually knew a lot more then he let on. This time though he was stumped. Since when did the Stargate connect Earth and television shows!?! This was either the most elaborate prank ever played on him or the worst wrong turn he'd made in his entire life.
Standing before him were four of the characters out of Star Trek. Not that O'Neill was a trekkie or anything, but he had seen enough episodes here and there over the years to recognize Picard and co. The room they were in, with its yellow lines forming a grid on the black background, could only be a holodeck. The Stargate behind him didn't look a bit like the real thing either. Only its shape and size was the same. It had no markings.
"This is a joke right?" O'Neill kept his P90 aimed in the general direction of the locals. They didn't seem hostile but O'Neill knew better then to trust appearances.
"I don't think so sir."
"Carter, tell me we did not just gate onto the set of Star Trek."
Before Carter could answer one of the humans moved cautiously forward. "I think I can explain," he said. O'Neill didn't recognize him and hoped that that was a good sign.
"Ok," O'Neill conceded.
"You are in a parallel reality. We were running an experiment that went wrong and captured your wormhole. Redirected you here."
"And who are you?"
"My name is John Crichton. I wound up here by mistake also; I was trying to get home when..."
"We know alternate realities exist, we've been to at least two of them. But we've never had any indication that wormholes connect them."
"Yeah it's a little complicated," Crichton replied. "Look, why don't we all lower our weapons now and talk it over." Crichton looked from O'Neill to the Klingon security guard with the phaser.
This is just too surreal, O'Neill reflected. Still, this didn't look like a situation you could shoot yourself out of. O'Neill lowered his P90. Turning to his team, he saw Carter and Teal'c lower theirs as well. Jonas had never raised his.
This seemed to diffuse most of the tension in the room.
"Star Trek?" Jonas sounded confused. That was nothing new.
"It's a television series back home," Carter filled him in, "but there can't be a universe where everything in it exists."
"Yeah, takes some getting used to," Crichton again, "but trust me it can."
"Hi, Jack." O'Neill whirled around at the unexpected and familiar voice.
"Daniel! What the hell are you doing here?" O'Neill demanded.
"Well, ah, I've been sort of keeping an eye on you guys since, you know..."
"Yes, I know, thanks for last time by the way."
"What? Daniel? Sir, you've seen him before since he ahh..." Carter was clearly taken aback. Too many strange things were happening at once.
"As have I," Teal'c chimed in.
"What? So he's visited everyone but me since..." Since he died, ascended. Whatever you want to call it. Shame on you Daniel for not visiting Carter as well, O'Neill thought with a touch of humor. Carter was clearly a little bit hurt by that.
"Not me," Jonas, as always, a little behind on the conversation. The three other SG-1 team members gave him a look. The silence gave Daniel a chance to finally get in a word.
"When you all suddenly dropped off the, ah, universe, so to speak, I got worried."
"Can you take us back home?" Carter asked hopefully. O'Neill already knew better.
"Ah, no. I'm not allowed to interfere."
"So what are you doing here?" O'Neill demanded.
"I just wanted to make sure you guys were alright. This universe is so far removed from our own that it doesn't even entirely obey the same laws of physics."
"How's that even possible?" Sam sounded confused. That was never a good sign.
"Excuse me," Picard interrupted, "there seems to be a lot of things happening all at once. I take it you know me and my crew."
"Yes, I'm Colonel Jack O'Neil United States Air Force," O'Neill introduced himself and then "Major Carter, Teal'c and Jonas. We are an exploration team." Pause, then. "From Earth, our Earth, I think.
"And this," motioning towards Daniel, "is Daniel; he used to be on the team until he sorta died last year."
"Ascended, sir." Carter corrected him.
"Interesting," Picard seemed totally unperturbed by the presence of such unorthodox visitors.
"Really," O'Neill quipped.
"While we are nowhere near the point in our evolution where such a thing is possible we recently had the privilege of being present as the first member of an alien species ascended. John was..."
"John?" Crichton suddenly interrupted, "John Doe, as in you found him half dead, no memories and a cool glowy healing power?"
"Yes," Picard replied cautiously.
"How long have you been in command of the Enterprise?" Crichton was becoming agitated.
"Almost three years, what are you getting at?"
"Season 3, we are at the end of season 3!" Crichton exclaimed, almost hysterically.
Everyone just looked at Crichton without the slightest idea what he was talking about. Except O'Neill.
"Oh, crap," O'Neill said as the realization struck him, "the Borg."