Chapter 1 – Unending
Travelling through subspace in a seemingly endless swirling blue and purple tunnel generated by itself, the two hundred and eighty meter, blocky, utilitarian Earth Starship Odyssey, cruised at a one point six light years every second by means of its Intergalactic Hyperdrive. The ship, having none of the elegance or finesse that other races seemed to incorporate in their ship designs, nor the teeth to compete in a stand-up battle, could boast as now being the most advanced in terms of power generation and stealth. After all an enemy couldn't hit what it couldn't find.
The Odyssey was powered by a Zero Point Energy Module, the most powerful energy source known, created by the Alterans – the Gatebuilders, or as they were commonly known, the Ancients, in addition to her standard Fusion core. She could also know render herself invisible and completely undetectable to any form of scanning device in existence, with a technique learned just a few months earlier.
The ship and its crew, was on a long journey, which despite their seemingly unbelievable speed, had taken just under three weeks, and was now finally nearing its end. It was understandable though, one did not travel to another Galaxy a few million light years away on a whim. The time spent meant however, that the crew needed to find something to occupy their time. Odyssey, whilst operating at optimum efficiency with a crew, could be piloted by a single person…with the amount of automation it had.
In one part of the ship, that was seeing frequent use, were two men fighting each other with training staffs. Both were tall, well built, one more so than the other, and sparring with well practiced proficiency. The differences in the two combatants were glaring though; the bigger one, dark skinned, and showing experience in such fighting, against the fair haired and skinned opponent, who made up for his lack of experience with enthusiasm and determination. They were sparring on a cushioned mat, surrounded by gym equipment of all kinds.
Finally, they paused in their spar, their staffs locked together, an impasse.
"This vessel does not have a pool, Colonel Mitchell," rumbled the dark skinned man with the golden symbol of a stylized snake on his forehead.
"I was talking about the gambling variety, Teal'C," replied the dark blonde haired, Air Force Lieutenant Colonel.
Both men were dressed in green BDU pants and black tank top shirts, and Teal'C suddenly spotted a gap in the other's defenses, lashed out with his staff against Cameron 'Cam' Mitchell's back.
Cam winced and stepped away, Teal'C retreating to allow his team mate to recover from the hard blow.
"I do not wish to speculate," Teal'C said evenly.
"He only said it was something important."
"Indeed. But I would not risk a wager." Teal'C abruptly swung at Cam's head, who ducked with a yell, and their bout resumed.
Dr Daniel Jackson, walked thoughtfully down one of Odyssey's corridors, in his hand reading a book as he walked, whilst keeping an eye out for crew members so as to not bump into them. He was a seemingly ordinary man, average build, with thin framed glasses, and short dark brown hair. If, however, anyone back on Earth was to know of his accomplishments, Daniel would be nothing short of an instant celebrity, he already was famous amongst the community of the Stargate Program…as the person who had provided the final puzzle piece to unlocking the famed instant transportation device for Earth. The consequences to Earth, and the nearby Galaxies of that feat, was not lost on him, yet he kept his humility firmly…showing to anyone with the eyes to see that despite his intelligence, that he had an amazing character.
The far reaching consequences of his achievement spoke for themselves though. The way to the Stars opened for Humanity. An entire Galaxy delivered from the parasitic Goa'uld domination, a new star nation formed by the formerly enslaved Jaffa, and countless humans on planets across the Galaxy free to determine their own destinies. In another Galaxy, the race that had defeated the Ancients was a ruin of their former selves, embroiled in a civil war. Daniel would look forward to the day when the Wraith was no longer a threat.
Yet he also felt a heavy irrational guilt. He had two years ago in eagerness to find something new to explore, managed to discover a secret beneath Glastonbury Tor in England. A vast treasure filled with gold, artefacts and more importantly, Alteran technology. One of which was a Long Range Alteran Com device, and in their eagerness to possibly talk to an Alteran race that was still somewhere among the stars, they stumbled upon an enemy that made the Goa'uld look cuddly.
The Ori. A contemporary race to the Alteran's, who had also ascended into beings of pure energy, except the Ori were corrupted by greed for power, power that they sapped from the lower planes of existence from all sentient beings that worshipped them. Daniel had unknowingly let the cat out of the bag to the Ori about sentient life in the Milky Way, and the result was a near unstoppable crusading Ori army marching across the Galaxy, forcing the newly free humans and Jaffa to worship the Ori or die.
Daniel sighed in sadness. Earth and its allies had done their best to clean up the mess. Daniel himself had launched the weapon capable of killing Ascended beings to the Ori Galaxy, and he had seemingly been successful, but it still didn't mean that Ori's fanatic followers would stop as their 'gods' weren't exactly around anymore to tell them. He shook his head to clear it and walked up to the Mess hall door and it opened up.
The room beyond was packed with crew members, surrounded by balloons, streamers, and on table a cake with sparkling candles burning on it. Standing on another table, wearing a party hat, was someone who most, humorously considered the 'Bane of Daniel'.
The attractive dark haired woman, dressed in black BDU's, with a face that while beautiful had a perpetual mischievous look smiled brilliantly at him. The rest of the jumpsuited Air Force crew laughed, pushing the balloons around and directed similar thousand watt smiles at Daniel.
Daniel only smiled mildly in return, not phased by the 'surprise' at all.
"It's not my birthday." Seeing that he was not going to get the quiet space to read his book, he turned on his heel and swiftly walked down the corridor, and to his irritation was promptly followed by his 'Bane'. Vala Mal Doran was called as such, because of her 'accidental' and purposeful antics that had at every turn prevented Daniel from getting to the City of Atlantis, in the Pegasus Galaxy – where Earth had an outpost within the Alteran Capital City – which was actually just a gigantic ship masquerading as city.
It had taken just over two years and numerous failed attempts before Daniel had finally set foot inside Atlantis. A place that was in Cam's words 'Daniel Disney Land'.
"Hey! We made a weird cat pinada thingy." Vala complained, catching up to him. This illustrated her other characteristic that drove Daniel up the walls in frustration. Though he couldn't really blame her for not knowing Earth culture – as she was technically an 'alien human' – she derived great satisfaction from using those very cultural mores for personal amusement. It also ranked right up there with her sexual innuendo and her ability for obfuscation.
Whenever he was tempted to snap at her, he would forcefully calm down and remind himself – She's a teammate, a former host to the Goa'uld Quetesh, a rogue, a thief. But all her circumstances in life, that molded her into what she was, were forced on her. She was selected from her homeworld because of the curse of beauty to become a host, and then when the Tok'ra captured her and removed Quetesh, she had been cast about on the tides of a chaotic galaxy and had to learn to do whatever it took to survive.
Calmed down, Daniel turned to face her. "I told you to bring something to amuse yourself. I didn't mean me or the crew."
"But they won't believe that it's my birthday…again." She complained with a near pout – it was an occasional childlike moment like this that made her…disturbingly adorable.
"Not my problem." Daniel said shortly and hoping to get some distance from her before he could succumb to her latest scheme in entertainment.
"Being stuck on this ship is worse than being stuck at the SGC. I-I-I tell you, the last time I was this bored, I took hostages!"
She was referring to the time when she had hijacked Earth's first starship Prometheus, and intended to use it to make a trade with the criminal Lucian Alliance syndicate. It was her first circumvention of Daniel's attempt to get to Atlantis, since the ship had been on its way to Pegasus to determine the fate of the Atlantis Expedition, who had at the time, not reported back to Earth yet.
"I was there." He called and swiftly vanished down another corridor, leaving her still pouting.
The nerve center of the Odyssey was located on the dorsal side of the main body of the ship, where it met with the large flat upper platform of the starship, which served as a massive plate of extra armor to protect the vital engineering areas of the ship underneath, both port and starboard hangar decks, and mounted the huge quantities of offensive rail gun turrets and sensor dishes. It looked over the forward thick neck of the ship which held the sixteen fore VLS missile silos for firing the ship's arsenal of naquadah enhanced nuclear warheads.
The Bridge was a design compromise of sorts. Its position selected because many of the Air Force brass had flown the venerable B52 bomber and the human necessity to want to look over the battlefield…or in this case, battlespace through forward facing forcefield enhanced windows. Its interior on the other hand was pure military functionality of dark and light grays.
A central, not too comfortable chair, set between the Helm and Operations Station, intended for the Commander of the ship, dominated the central area. To the left and right of the fore windows, were Science and Weapons Consoles, respectively. Whilst on the left wall was a large LCD screen with a tiny keyboard mounted in a pedestal, which would allow for visual communication and tactical battlespace displays to be seen by the crew.
The current Commander of the ship, only for the duration of this specific mission, was none other than the Commander of Stargate Command, fifty two year old Major General Hank Landry. He was responsible for overseeing the operations of twenty SG teams, and participating in diplomatic relations with other worlds. He was a straight talker, never one for beating about the bush and was a relatively small man, slightly overweight, well styled dark brown hair in the first stages of receding, but no one who knew him ever thought he was a pushover…you didn't make it to Major General in the US Air Force by being a pansy.
He walked onto the Bridge, followed by Air Force Colonel Samantha Carter. A woman with an intellect that anyone would give an arm and a leg for, and was near singularly responsible for the scientific advances that allowed Earth to field ships like Odyssey. Her numerous official degrees and doctorates in Astrophysics, was simply the tip of the iceberg. The blonde haired 'Sam' as she was called by her close friends, could probably have won the Nobel Prize a few times over with all the advances she had made to Earth's science.
She along, with Daniel and Teal'C were part of the original pioneering SG1 team over ten years ago, literally a name feared and revered across the Galaxy. Sam was in standard BDUs, but for the occasion, Hank Landry had decided to don his formal Air Force blues. The newer members of the elite team, Cam and Vala, in addition to the old, strode onto the Bridge.
"Major?" Hank prompted the Odyssey's Ops Officer, as he sat down in the big chair.
Major Marks, one of the ship's veterans, despite being only in his late thirties, promptly reported knowing exactly what the General wanted. "We're approaching the coordinates, sir."
"Drop us out," ordered Hank.
The endless blue tunnel of hyperspace shifted slightly, distorting until abruptly the Odyssey squirted out of a hyperspace window, decelerating an insane amount of relative velocity in an instant thanks to the ship's inertial dampening systems. Marks smoothly guided the ship into a stable orbit over the bright planet that was their destination on this journey.
"We're being hailed." Marks reported tapping on his console's touchscreen and its surrounding buttons. "The Asgard are requesting permission to beam aboard."
Barely a few moments later a musical ringing and a flash of white light on the empty forward area of the Bridge deposited a very familiar Asgard to those of SG1. The Asgard, a diminutive race, with large bulbous heads to house a very large and smart brain, thin arms, legs, and tiny gray asexual body – since they were essentially a race of clones – were a stalwart, if somewhat distant ally of Earth. The power of the Asgard had been all that stood between a defenseless Earth and Goa'uld reprisal for years – via the Protected Planets Treaty.
Since the demise of the Goa'uld System Lords, the Treaty was pretty much only technically in effect, and the Asgard had shared a number of technological advances with Earth – remote Beaming transport, Shields, Sensors and more significantly Intergalactic Hyperdrive, all of which were part of Odyssey.
Now standing in the Bridge was…
"Greetings and welcome to the Asgard homeworld, Orilla."
"Thor!" Sam grinned happily and stepped forward. Thor, Supreme Commander of the Asgard Fleet and member of its High Council, had saved SG1 on numerous occasions, and been saved more so in turn by SG1. You couldn't sneeze at doing that, and a strong friendship and alliance had been developed.
"Hello, Colonel Carter. It is good to see you." Thor droned in his characteristic Asgard inflected voice.
Vala, not having much experience with Asgard, in a whisper asked Daniel. "Out of curiosity, how can you tell the difference?" All Asgard looked the same to humans, though anyone observant enough could spot little differences between individual Asgard, there was one thing that always remained unique.
"The voice," he replied shortly.
"It's good to see you too, Thor. This is General Landry, Colonel Mitchell and Vala." Sam gestured to each in turn.
"Greetings." Thor bowed his big head slightly.
"So, Thor, how you been? Haven't heard from you in a while." Daniel commented, trying to get the purpose of their long journey going.
"I am sorry. I have been otherwise occupied. As mentioned in our communication, the High Council wishes to meet with you, to explain in greater detail, but there is not much time. General, with your permission, a number of Asgard are prepared to beam aboard immediately to begin installing various technological upgrades to this ship."
Cam whispered to Teal'C. "I hope its ray guns; I've got ray guns in the pool."
"What is it you're planning on giving us?" Hank said, wondering what the Asgard had up their sleeve this time.
"Everything we have…and know."
"By that, you mean…" Vala's eyes widened.
"Everything. All our most current technology. All our knowledge." Thor's tone was near reverent.
The entire Bridge was shocked into silence.
"Sorry, we're just a little stunned. I mean, why are you doing this? You've always resisted in the past. You always said we weren't ready." Daniel hastily explained trying to catch his breath and steady his mind on the implications. The Asgard had been a space faring race for a just short of a few million years, not as long as the Ancients, but nothing to take lightly…to have that knowledge base at Earth's disposal…in addition to the Alteran Database in Atlantis…
"Indeed," Thor nodded. "Many Asgard still believe that."
"So what's changed?" Cam asked bluntly.
"As a race, we are dying. Very soon, we will all be gone."
Another shocked silence settled.
The week that followed was a time of blistering work and change for the crew of Odyssey who were working alongside Asgard technicians that were crawling over every inch of the ship and turning it into something completely different. The general outward hull and appearance of the ship would be the same, but within…
The first thing to go had been the relatively 'primitive' Fusion core (according to Asgard standards) and replaced with two state-of-the-art Neutrino Ion Generators and its accompanying power distribution system, that had been used in the latest O'Neill Class Asgard Battlecruisers. Combined with the Zero Point Module, this gave the ship an unheard of power generation profile, which had all sort of knock on effects.
The Shields of Odyssey now had triple its previous damage threshold. The Hyperdrive would reach a speed of eleven and a half light years per second. The journey back to Earth could be done in just over three days!
Weapon array emitters for a special system (especially when it came to Ori motherships) were installed in every firing arc, so the ship could lash out in a full 360 degrees by 360 degrees in an instant. The Asgard also overhauled the Earth's ship standard weapons with their technology. Rail guns could now fire at an appreciable fraction of the speed of light, instead of just at two kilometers per second. With the sheer kinetic energy of the rail round (never mind its naquadah/potassium explosive potential) it could wear down any Goa'uld type shield and perhaps even with enough time the famed impenetrable Ori shields.
The missiles on Odyssey had their solid rocket motors removed and replaced with a form of gravitic propulsion, in addition to a tiny force field emitter – this effectively made the VLS weapons almost impossible to intercept by removing the two weaknesses the enhanced nukes had, slow propulsion and fragility. The targeting software had also been improved to be adaptive, and would steer the missile to avoid any obstacles in its path.
Finally, the computer systems were totally overhauled, as they would carry the sum knowledge of the Asgard within them. The central processor or 'Core' was located in the Engineering command deck of Odyssey.
A large Asgard style neo-Nordic workstation had been added to the deck, and Sam was sitting in front of it, fiddling with its touch controls and jewels, next to her was Thor as he explained its workings.
"The Asgard computer core is equipped with its own power source that will not infringe on your ship's ZPM or the NI Generators. However, when the upgrades are complete, the core will be fully integrated into all the ship's systems."
Sam sighed and turned to face the small alien. "There must be something more you can do."
"I assure you, we are providing you with all the latest Asgard technology, as well as a knowledge base, including our entire recorded history." Thor said insistently, cocking his head at her.
"That's not what I was talking about," Sam said, feeling her eyes begin to moisten.
Thor saw the display of emotion and understood. "Everything that can be done has been done. The final attempt to solve our physiological degeneration has left each of us with a rapidly progressing disease."
The Odyssey Briefing room was room modeled on the SGC version in Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado. The room had a rectangular table seemingly molded right out of the floor, with various high tech functions to it, and on one wall was another large LCD display, and defaulted to show the Odyssey's ship crest. To one side was a set of windows that looked out onto the Asgard homeworld.
SG1 minus Sam, listened to Daniel and General Landry talking about their conversations with the various Asgard of the High Council.
"It really wasn't an option for them. They made the choice to extend their life through science generations ago. Took any natural physiological evolution necessary for ascension out of the equation." Daniel shook his head sadly.
"They're planning on ending their lives before the degeneration they're suffering from goes too far." Hank said grimly.
"Mass suicide," Cam's tone was flat. He clearly didn't approve, but he could see where the Asgard were coming from. There had been brief moments in his own physical rehab after getting shot down in the Battle of the Antarctic against the Goa'uld Anubis – that he had considered it – when the pain was just too much…but the Asgard were staring death in the face either way and were going out on their terms.
"They don't want any of their knowledge and technology falling into the wrong hands." Daniel in a way wished that the Ancients had had foresight to do the same; the Goa'uld would then still be nothing more than moronic parasites swimming in the waters of their ancestral homeworld.
"And they want us to witness the event." Hank explained.
"So, everything they've installed on this ship…" mused Teal'C becoming silent as he was moved by the enormity of it all.
"Is going to be their legacy," nodded Daniel somberly.
In the Engine Control Deck, Sam looked at the large schematic of the new and improved Odyssey, displayed on a large Asgard holograph screen.
"If you like, you'll be able to interface with the core using a holographic representation of me, or any other Asgard on record in the knowledge base." Thor continued.
"I'm sorry, but that won't just be the same," Sam shook her head, emotionally.
"I have been working on this for better part of a year, Colonel Carter," Thor intoned looking somewhat hurt.
"And we appreciate it, really!"
"Many on the Council did not believe we should be imparting such advancements."
"Well, I promise we will do our best not to let you down." Sam vowed with intent.
"You are the Fifth Race." Thor said, referring to the Asgard belief that the people of Earth would become the Fifth Great Race of the cosmos – the others being the Alterans, Asgard, Nox and Furlings – of which only the Nox were still left, but were content to stay pacifist and hidden. "Your role is clear. If there is any hope in preserving the future, it lies with you and your people."
"No pressure, huh?" Sam asked rhetorically.
"You have earned my respect and my friendship."
"Well, the feeling is mutual," Sam was openly crying now and wiping away silent tears.
"Please do not be sad. The end of my people has been a long time coming. We have made too many irreversible mistakes in our development. Hopefully, you can learn something from it. My only regret is that our physical weakness has left us incapable of helping you further."
Sam could do only one thing, and carefully hugged Thor…words were useless in this situation…
Alarm klaxons wailed throughout the ship, the signal for General Quarters. General Landry and SG1 rushed into the Bridge moments later from the adjoining Briefing Room. Hank sat down in the big chair and calmly awaited Major Marks.
"Sir, three Ori motherships have just dropped out of hyperspace and are approaching the planet."
The Odyssey was abruptly hit by a main gun discharge from one of the Ori ships that had just entered range. An Ori ship was a one thousand one hundred meter long behemoth, and had been a specter of death to Earth, Jaffa and the other free races in the Galaxy, ever since the Battle of P3Y-299. It was capable of destroying a Jaffa Ha'tak class ship with a single blast from the main cannon, a dish like weapon mounted on the front of the ship. Earth and Asgard ships fared little better, able to take three or four shots, before the shields collapsed. The Earth ship Korolev was destroyed in that battle. It also mounted pulse weapons on its perimeter that was designed for point defense, but could also destroy Ha'taks with enough consecutive hits. It carried five hundred Ori space superiority fighter craft that was used in planetary assaults. And if that wasn't bad enough it had the capability of carrying thousands of Ori soldiers and followers for use in their crusade.
Many on Earth referred disparagingly to the ships as 'toilet bowls of death'. As their design resembled a bowl-shape from a forward view, but from above looked oval in shape, with a large ring, that glowed with an eerie white light, and two hull segments ran back to meet with the ship's engines.
The difference now, was that instead of critically draining the shields from the hit, the Odyssey's defenses held initially.
Hank tapped on the intercom mounted on his chair's armrest. "Colonel Carter, this is the Bridge, we have three contacts. Ori motherships bearing down."
'Sir, the Hyperdrive is still offline. Diverting power to shields.' There was a pause. 'Sir, the Asgard has just disembarked. It'll take a few minutes to get the Hyperdrive back on line.'
"Full sub-light, get us clear of the planet." Hank ordered intently to Marks, knowing what was coming.
The Odyssey abruptly banked, breaking orbit smoothly and accelerated to its full relativistic speed of seventy five thousand kilometers per second. The action caused the next Ori beams to miss completely. Two of the ships headed toward Orilla, clearing trying to invade the planet, but were heading unknowingly to their own deaths.
The third gave chase to the Odyssey, sending beams of destruction chasing after it.
"Shields are down to eighty three percent." Marks reported calmly, putting the ship through as many evasive maneuvers as he could without compromising their speed in getting clear of Orilla.
This was another Earth system that had been upgraded, using gravitic pulses instead of standard RCS thrusters, the Odyssey could pull some pretty impressive stunts at high speed now.
"How the hell did they find us?" queried Cam rhetorically, holding onto the seat of the helm station, to keep himself steady as another blast rocked the ship. "Some reason we're not jumping to hyperspace?" He asked the question Marks could really answer.
"Carter's working on it." General Landry said as he stared at the tactical screen, and the scrolling distance ranges. The Ori ship pursuing them was matching their sublight speed and keeping that bloody beam weapon in range.
"Sir! Sensors are detecting a massive energy buildup from the planet." Marks snapped quickly.
"Everyone hold on tight!" Hank barked into the intercom, steeling himself in his chair.
Odyssey and the Ori ship were by then just under a million kilometers away from the planet, as numerous massive detonations rocked it's surface, fracturing the crust and mantle of Orilla in a catastrophic cascade of destruction until reaching the crescendo of a massive explosion that obliterated everything. The planet broke apart into massive chunks and the two Ori ships attempting to invade were simply vaporized like two dead leaves in a firestorm.
The shockwave of the explosion emanated in an ever expanding sphere and reached both fleeing vessels still engaging in a death dance with each other. It washed over the Ori ship, flaring its shields and damaging it, but the Odyssey was not to escape unscathed either.
"Shields are down to fifty percent," Marks grimaced.
"Colonel!" Hank prompted into the intercom with urgency.
"Sir, the hyperdrive is now online, but we have to get clear of the radiation caused by the explosion before we can make the jump safely."
"How about the Asgard energy weapons?"
"They haven't been tested yet, sir."
"At maximum sublight we're forty seven seconds to get clear," Marks did the math quickly, as the Odyssey was rocked by another weapon discharge.
"We're not gonna make it at that rate." Cam shook his head.
"Let's see what these new Asgard upgrades are made of. Come about."
The Odyssey abruptly pulled itself into a tight 180 degree turn, banking sharply and bearing to the port side of the Ori ship.
"Power up the weapons!" Hank ordered.
"Energy weapons are online."
From two fore emitters, a near constant stream of hyper-energized destructive blue plasma lanced directly into the dorsal section of the Ori ship. The beam petered out, but another forward emitter sent another beam. The shields of Ori ship flared brilliantly under the strain.
"Sensors indicate enemy shields are fluctuating."
Another two shots lanced out from Odyssey, this time from the ventral emitters as the ship passed the Ori mothership. The first was deflected, but the second broke through as the shield finally couldn't keep up under the strain and the plasma beam tore into the hull of the Ori ship. The oxygen was flash ignited inside and the destructive plasma continued to shear through the ship. Another beam from Odyssey directed at its enemy's power core…and with a massive energetic explosion the entire vessel was obliterated.
"I'll be damned!" Hank exclaimed in triumph. After the horrendous losses to the Ori and their seemingly invulnerable ships, it felt damn good doing that.
"We got em." Cam smirked.
"Get us into hyperspace," Hank didn't want to linger, Orilla was clearly compromised and who knew how many more Ori ships were on the way.
Odyssey swiftly powered away and a minute later squirted into a hyperspace window, leaving Orilla and the Ida Galaxy, former home of the now extinct Asgard, behind.
A day passed, and the Odyssey crew effected minor repairs to what systems they could whilst the ship was in Hyperspace. Which thanks to the upgrades now made the list of things that could be patched up rather long; the shield matrix was restored, burnt out crystals from energy fluctuations replaced – which could be manufactured from scratch on board thanks to the Asgard matter-energy constructor.
Hank had been taking a tour of the ship and getting a feel for her new capabilities – as it would rapidly change the way Earth fielded and commanded its ships in the near future. The operational endurance of the ship had practically been turned from a few weeks before a resupply was necessary to conceivably years, possibly decades if the crew could harvest raw materials or energy sources. The new NI Generators used any solid matter as fuel, meaning that they could literally chuck garbage into the damn thing and get energy from it.
He walked down another corridor and spied Colonel Carter speaking to a ship technician. "Run another diagnostic of the data." The tech nodded and hurried off tapping on his tablet PC. She spotted him and fell into step.
"Colonel, how's that report coming? I want to be able to brief the President as soon as we get back. He's gonna want to know how quickly we can duplicate this new Asgard weaponry and other related technologies." Hank knew what this could mean for Earth – true homeworld security, that didn't depend on the whims, troubles or foibles of any of their allies. Heck, those same allies, like the Hebridians, Orbanians and the like (all relatively more advanced human societies) would soon be approaching Earth for help.
"I'm working on it, sir, but something else has come up. The hyperdrive diagnostic is spitting out some data that's concerning me." Carter explained steadily.
"We took some damage that we can't fix in flight, that's the problem?"
"I think we need to drop out and run a few tests just to be sure," she advised.
Odyssey emerged from subspace in the void between the Ida and Milky Way Galaxies; they still had another million light years to go before reaching home. Hank was in the command chair again, just in case, the starless void was technically supposed to be empty, but that was not a guarantee. And it immediately proved prudent when he saw Major Marks at the Helm station give a start of surprise as he stared at his screen.
"Sir? Two contacts just appeared on sensors. Motherships. Ori. Closing fast."
Hank inwardly swore. How the hell did they track us? He tapped the com to Engineering. "Colonel, given we've already taken damage, I'd rather not take on two more ships."
Odyssey was rocked by beam blasts and Marks began a set of rapid evasive maneuvers, a few agonizing moments later.
"Sir, the hyperdrive is back on-line."
"Get us back into hyperspace." Hank ordered tensely.
Odysseysnapped forward swiftly into a hyperspace window, leaving the two Ori ships behind.
Odyssey Briefing Room
"It's a hell of a coincidence, don't you think?" Cam began, staring grimly out the windows to swirls of hyperspace speeding past it.
"Well, unless they were tracking us and just waiting for us to drop out," Sam reasoned.
"I thought that a ship couldn't be tracked in hyperspace," Hank raised an enquiring eyebrow at Carter. He had only been in the Stargate program for two years now, but he had attended a basic Interstellar science and starship ops 101 course - and it firmly stated that an approaching ship nearing emergence from hyperspace could be detected up to an hour before it arrived with powerful enough sensors, but it could not be done by ships passing each other in space.
"Unless it was the Ori themselves, tipping off the Priors," Vala suggested. Which was a disturbing possibility; that the Ori were dead had been confirmed somewhat by the Goa'uld Ba'al when he had taken the leader of the Ori Armies, the extremely powerful half-human/half-Ori Adria briefly, as host. But Ba'al was not exactly a trustworthy source of information.
"Even so, we've already passed back into the Milky Way. As far as we know, the Ancients should have a problem with the Ori using their ascended powers right under their noses." Daniel pointed out.
"As far as we know," Carter qualified grimly.
"At least we now have weapons that we know will destroy an Ori ship." Cam was visibly trying to point out that the glass was half-full too.
"Well that's not gonna do us any good if they can track us wherever we go. I mean eventually, the Odyssey's gonna come up against more than she can handle."
"Is it possible the Priors can detect the new technology given to us by the Asgard without the help of the Ori?" Teal'C suddenly spoke to the last and most frustrating possibility.
"I suppose the Asgard core power source could be giving off some sort of unique energy signature that's detectable from sub-space. However without further experimentation, the only way to find out is to shut it off and see if that stops the Ori from following us." Carter theorized with visible frustration, because if this was the case, it meant that it would delay the implementation of the technologies until a work around could be found. A delay that Earth and the rest of the Galaxy could not afford.
"Do it," Hank ordered after a moment's consideration.
"The problem with that, sir, is that the new Asgard core is currently tied into every system on this ship. We would have to drop out of hyperspace and isolate the core from the hyperdrive controls, and that could take some time."
Odyssey, now well into the Milky Way, emerged from Hyperspace. Hank seated again in the commander chair looked to Major Marks, and sure enough…
"Sir, two contacts just appeared on sensors…"
"Son of a bitch!" Hank cussed, practically hitting his intercom with a fist, as the ship was hit hard by an Ori beam cannon.
"Shields are down to eighty percent!"
"Evasive, fire at will!"
"We already took out one ship, what's another two?" Cam exclaimed sarcastically.
"Colonel I need the hyperdrive now!" Hank snapped.
Again another agonizing couple of moments passed.
"Go ahead, sir. Hyperdrive's on-line."
The nimble Odyssey charged around an Ori ship, before leaping into Hyperspace.
Odyssey Engineering Control
"We're gonna need at least half an hour to separate the hyperdrive system from the core." Carter informed everyone assembled in the room grimly.
"We must assume that the Ori ships will continue to engage us whenever we stop." Teal'C jaws were visibly flexing in his restrained anger.
"Is there a planet with a Stargate nearby?" Hank hated to do it, but he couldn't see any other options. Carter walked over to the nearby Asgard panel, and consulted with it briefly.
"Yes, sir: P3X-474. It's uninhabited. We should get there in just under an hour."
"And then what?" Daniel said potently, clearly sensing the military minds around him were up to what he considered no good.
"Beam to the surface and gate home," Colonel Mitchell said matter-of-factly.
"We can't let this ship fall into enemy hands," objected Sam firmly.
"That's what the self-destruct is for," Hank said practically. Either way with the Ori tracking the ship like bloodhounds, it would either be destroyed in battle or by self-destruct.
"Whoa, wait a minute, sir." Daniel's eyes were blazing. "If-if you're talking about destroying this ship… We can't sacrifice the knowledge base of the Asgard. They trusted us with their legacy."
"Doctor Jackson," Hank said gravely. "This is not something I'm considering lightly, I know full well the implications of this course of action." He turned to Sam. "I'm assuming we can't take it with us?"
"No sir, the core is too big to fit through the Gate," Sam shook her head regretfully. She dearly wished the Asgard would have had the foresight to realize that the Core would have this problem.
"Well, I for one am willing to stay and put up a fight! I think it's worth it." Daniel insisted strenuously.
Hank looked at the options and finally decided on a middle path of sorts. It galled him to throw away the technological equivalent of the Holy Grail for Earth, and he knew that they would be raked over the coals for just abandoning the Odyssey to destruction. He had read enough mission reports to know that many times SG1 and various other SG teams had been in similar situations…opportunities to gain valuable intel and technology lost because of dire circumstances and doing the 'right' thing, instead of the 'smart' thing.
"Get us to '474. We'll beam the crew down to the surface. Hopefully there'll be enough time for them to gate home before the Ori attack."
"And then what? I've said it before, I am for fighting to the death, but we need a plan, preferably one that avoids the 'to the death' part." Cam said steadily.
"We have an hour to come up with one." Hank was firm.
"I think I may have a way of buying us a little more time." Sam had that thoughtful look on her face that promised a miracle was in the works.
Odyssey exited hyperspace directly in mid orbit and beaming range of the planet known in the database only as P3X-474. It was utterly unremarkable and had been probed by the SGC a few years ago. It had a Stargate, a nice ecology, no significant naquadah deposits and nothing else. It would probably make a nice colony world for Earth in the future. The two hundred strong crew of the ship had been gathered and were beamed out en masse in two groups of a hundred (the maximum amount of people that could be transported at a time).
Hank was in his rightful seat, whilst Daniel now occupied the Ops station, and Cam took the Helm. Teal'C manned the rear area of the Bridge so he could access ship control panels and do damage control. Sam and Vala were both in Engineering.
And right on schedule, the two Ori warships that had been hounding Odyssey appeared from their own hyperspace windows.
"Here they come!" Daniel tapped steadily on the controls, bringing Odyssey's beam weapons to bear. He obviously had none of the finesse of Major Marks, but none was required in this situation.
"Shields at max! Evasive! Concentrate fire on one target at a time, Doctor." Hank ordered.
Odyssey jinked and weaved under the combined fire of both Ori ships, guided expertly by Cam with his years as a fighter pilot. But unfortunately, Odyssey was not a fighter, and would inevitably…
The three men were jolted in their seats as the ship was struck by a beam.
"Okay, that was not good," winced Cam, furiously pushing the ship into another L4 evasive.
"Shields are down to twenty eight percent," Daniel reported – there had been no time to restore the shield matrix on this occasion, and so the damage was cumulative to the previous battle.
"We're hitting it with everything we've got! Bring the new Rail guns to bear as well!" Cam snapped.
Odyssey swooped down relative to one of the Ori ships, bearing for the dorsal profile, blue plasma beams hammered into it, and now thin streaks of light joined the onslaught as the small high density kinetic explosive rounds sped at a third of light speed to aid in the destruction. The Ori shield was breached and immediately died a massive fiery death under kinetic, explosive and plasmatic firepower.
Cam threw the Odyssey into more evasives, but the remaining Ori ship had used the death of its comrade to take the time to get proper bead on the smaller ship.
Those on the Bridge were nearly thrown out of their chairs as inertia of the weapon impact carried through to the ship because…
"Shields are off line!"
"One more hit will take us out!"
"Colonel Carter!" Hank shouted desperately, as the world suddenly became all white…there was a bright flash and…
…it died down to show that the Bridge was intact, a glance to his left and right showed Daniel and Cam blinking to get rid of the strobe effect. Hank glanced at the tactical screen…the planet was there…but the Ori ship was…gone.
"Status report?" Hank asked quietly.
"I'm not reading anything on sensors," Daniel shook his head in puzzlement. "Our shields are still down, but luckily Sam's plan seemingly worked meaning that's all the damage we have."
"Uh, sir. I think something went hinky."
"Define hinky, son."
"We're still moving, the planet is still rotating. And…I can't get a fix on our position in space any more, sir."
"The navigational computer says the stars don't correlate to known patterns from our current position. I'm letting it run a search." Cam explained with a frown of worry.
"Uh, guys, where's Teal'C?" Daniel sudden question caught them off guard and both turned in their seats to see that indeed, the stalwart Jaffa had vanished.
"Colonel Carter...?" Hank thumbed the intercom.
"Sir…I'm sorry, something has gone wrong, I'm still not sure what…but somehow…Teal'C appeared right in front of me and stopped me from activating the Time Dilation field and gave me a program that isolated and stopped the problem of the Asgard core instantly. Teal'C is also…visibly older, sir."
Hank shook his head from all the puzzle pieces rattling around in his mind. "Carter, bring Teal'C to the Briefing Room, we need to figure out what just happened, we've got our own sudden mysteries up here."
Odyssey Briefing Room
Hank stared at the veteran Jaffa for a brief moment of amazement, there were visible streaks of gray in the big man's hair, and he looked a little bit saggier in his muscle tone than was normal. Teal'C looked at them occasionally as if he was experiencing some heavy emotion, happiness and sadness…especially the latter when he looked at Hank.
"I come from a time fifty years in the future," Teal'C explained. "Originally, Colonel Carter activated the Time Dilation field as planned, and as the energy from the Ori cannon was a mere .9 seconds from hitting the vulnerable Odyssey…Time was stopped. From that point she endeavored to find a solution to the problem, initially intending to take the ship out of phase."
"That would work," Sam nodded, well used to discussing things about alternate-hers, or future-hers.
"Unfortunately, you determined that the phasing process wouldn't have enough time," Teal'C continued. "In addition, evacuation via beaming and F302s had the same problem."
"So we were basically stuck on the ship," Cam deduced.
"Indeed," nodded Teal'C, "however, Colonel Carter continued in her endeavors to find a solution. Of the events of the past fifty years that I have witnessed on this ship, I will relate at another time, because it's a long, long, long, story. In the end after a near lifetime of work Colonel Carter managed to reverse time within the Time Dilation field."
"Wow, I figured that out?" Sam grinned looking impressed.
Teal'C only nodded. "However, there was a problem, after fifty years of operation, the ship had very little power left…the ZPM was near depletion. No power was available to implement the very solution you had spent so long perfecting."
"There's irony for ya," Cam snorted.
"It was Colonel Mitchell who came up with solution," Teal'C grinned at his team mate.
"You happened upon the idea of using the very energy from the Ori beam weapon to fuel the time reversal. Colonel Carter saw the possibility of its success and rerouted power conduits to channel that energy directly into the Asgard Core."
"Wouldn't that still destroy the ship?" Hank puzzled.
"It would indeed General Landry," nodded Teal'C. "It didn't matter, the Asgard Core survived long enough to reverse time, as my presence indicates. Something went wrong though, according to the future Colonel Carter, time would only reverse to the point where the original time dilation field was established. We should still have been under threat from the Ori ship, yet it is clearly not there anymore."
"Not to mention the hinky stars around us, the nav computer is still working on determining our position and it's been almost twenty minutes." Cam stared at his watch.
Everyone turned to Sam as she abruptly gasped, a light of realization entering her eyes. "Oh my goodness!" She abruptly got up walked over to the small keyboard podium next to the large LCD screen and after a few taps of the keys, it changed to show the nav-comp display…still scrolling and analyzing visible star patterns.
"What is it, Colonel?" Hank asked.
"Just bear with me, sir, I have a theory…" Sam trailed off and began typing in commands. The nav-comp abruptly stopped searching, and the star field it was analyzing changed. Finally, after a few minutes of working, the screen flashed 'Position verified'. No one celebrated, for Sam's shoulders had slumped and she looked like someone had punched her in the gut.
She didn't answer and walked over to her chair and collapsed into it.
"I can't believe I thought it would work," she said shaking her head. "Using such powerful and unstable energy…"
"Colonel Carter!" Hank snapped.
Sam snapped upright in her chair. "Sorry sir, I believe I know what happened. I don't know how it happened, but…sir, there's no easy way to say this but, some form of glitch or catastrophic malfunction must have occurred in the Asgard Core when all that destructive energy was dumped into it…" She saw the impatient expressions of her fellows and sighed. "The reason the stars are different is because we have somehow been displaced in time and possibly Universes…" She pointed out to the windows. "The nav-comp could only match our position based on 474's position in the Galaxy, when I ran the clock forward, so to speak."
"All right, let's have it, if this is the future, how far did we go?" Cam smiled sarcastically.
"By the Earth calendar, it is February…2152."
There was simply silence as they comprehended or tried to comprehend that.
"And the Universe thing? Why do you say we've left…"
"There is no Stargate on the planet below us any more."