Arin thrust his arm forward, palm up, and released a telekinetic blast toward Ryan's tumbling form. The Alterran flipped backwards onto his hands, his back bending at an impossible angle for a Human, and whipped his legs up over his head and into Bret's chest, knocking him backward as Arin's invisible blow sent him half tumbling to the side.
Ryan had felt the energy building in Arin and had produced a negation field around himself in time to absorb part of the blow, but not all of it. He fell onto his right knee and tumbled over laterally until he landed on his chest, momentarily knocking the wind out of him.
Even without breath, he glanced at Arin and pulled his feet out from under him. His cloned brother backbent and caught himself with his hands on the ground then whip kicked his feet up over him and back around to the ground where he took a guard stance, forearms out in front of him.
Ryan sucked in a quick breath and stabilized himself. He rolled up on his right shoulder and pushed himself up onto his feet one handed. He twirled about, arms spread, just in time to hit Bret squarely in the chest as his other brother tried to catch him off guard with his own telekinetic blast.
As Bret flinched backwards from the impact, Ryan bent down, gathered his knees beneath him, then launched upward in a massive jump…
He caught the railing of the catwalk above them in the Alterran-only training chamber and easily wicked himself up and over the edge where he looked back down on his twins as they came together, shoulder to shoulder beneath him, and telekinetically picked up and hurled several heavy, but soft cubes scattered around the chamber at him.
Ryan half extended his hand and stopped them midway…his energy-based skills were far beyond those of his clones and the rest of the Alterra, but even with his advantage he was having a hard time keeping his two opponents at bay.
Arin was the clone dedicated to studying and improving his hand to hand combat, while Bret had self-assigned himself to developing superior personal armor and weapons…the likes of which he now used on Ryan.
The original Stevenson dropped to a knee on the catwalk as he was caught by a widespread stun pulse from Bret's wrist blaster. The disabling energy fought to interrupt and overwhelm the impulses of his nervous system in a tug of war with Ryan's own internal purging wave. His body, ever more attuned to the flow of energy with each passing day, absorbed and flushed the stun blast in a cascade of static electricity redirected into the metal grating of the catwalk beneath him.
In the four seconds the process took, Arin had leapt up onto the catwalk and kicked into the side of Ryan's chest. He fell onto his side and suddenly found Arin on top of him, wresting for leverage.
A moment later Bret joined him and they pressed their elder brother to the ground…pinned. A second stun blast made sure he'd stay put.
Arin stood up and smiled above Ryan's prone form. "Five/seven now."
"Two beats one any day," Bret said, fist bumping Arin.
"Ah," Ryan moaned, purging the second stunblast and sitting up beneath their proud gazes. They were catching up.
"Round 13," Ryan said, focusing hard. He lifted both of the clones off their feet and threw them over the edge of the catwalk…where they nimbly regained their balance midair and landed on their feet.
"What are you doing here?" McKay asked Zelenka as he slipped into the seat in front of Rodney.
"The same reason you are, I imagine," the other scientist replied pithily. "Mereiov is instructing us in the basics of hyperspace travel."
"Even Lanteans," McKay said, crossing his arms and leaning back in his 'desk.'
Zelenka frowned. "What is that supposed to mean?"
"Don't you just download everything you need," McKay said, pointing his index finger at his temple.
"Actually no," Zelenka corrected. "We have to earn those first."
"Really…and what do you have to do for that?"
"Prove a basic understanding of the underlying principles. Without them, the knowledge downloads would only allow us to reciprocate the data."
"I thought that was the whole point," McKay argued.
"Actually no…at least not how it was explained by Janus. In order to be able to one day go beyond the Ancient knowledge, we must first understand it. Apparently you can't download comprehension."
"But isn't that exactly what our beloved master Ancient had done to him?"
Zelenka shrugged. "Perhaps…but he isn't technically a scientist, just knowledgeable. Janus heads our department, and he's said that that he also had to master the basics in order to be able to fully process the knowledge downloads."
"Guess your transformation wasn't that useful after all," McKay grumbled.
"You'd be surprised," Zelenka said evenly. "My mental processing power has increased greatly…and I don't require as much sleep, meaning I can work longer hours and the all-nighters aren't as debilitating," he said as three more individuals entered the room. They were also candidate scientists, two from the Traveler fleet and one from the Genii that had arrived less than a month ago when Sheppard arranged for their membership in what he jokingly referred to as their 'Federation.'
"I always wondered what it'd be like to go back to kindergarten," McKay half whispered as the others found seats in the enlarged, semi-circular briefing room.
"I hope you don't plan to be rude when Mereiov arrives."
"Or what?" McKay scoffed.
Zelenka frowned. "If you're not here to learn…"
"Oh, I'm here to learn," McKay clarified. "It's either this or sit in my quarters twiddling my thumbs. Weir won't let me go back to working on the city until I pass baby boot camp."
"You know, the Alterra are far more knowledgeable about Atlantis than we are," Zelenka whispered as more candidates arrived.
Rodney leaned forward. "We took care of this city for six years on our own. Don't you think that should count for something?"
"You think it hasn't?" Zelenka asked, somewhat surprised.
"If it did, we wouldn't be stuck back in school."
"Well, I for one look forward to the studies. We'll probably learn more in the next three hours than Earth could have in 3000 years without outside help."
"Thank you, Mr. Positive," McKay snided as Mereiov walked into the room and up onto the central podium that had been adjusted for his diminished height. He activated a holographic map of hyperspace around 'Dune.'
"These sensor readings," the Asgard began, "are being taken from the vicinity around Atlantis and will be updated continuously as the city's sensors sweep the system. This is the dimension known as Nifleheym by the Ancients, but most species refer to it as 'hyperspace' due to the rapid transit it allows due to an absence of matter of any kind."
"Tell me something I don't know," McKay whispered behind Zelenka where the Asgard couldn't see his lips.
"Interstellar travel through hyperspace," Mereiov continued ,oblivious, "is achieved through a variety of means, all of which create an interference field around the matter of the craft in question, allowing it to transition into the alternate dimension and remain there for an indefinite amount of time. However, if this field is deactivated, or dissipates below sustainable levels, the matter is automatically reverted back into the dimension from whence it came. This aspect of hyperspace allows for the inertia misalignment achieved during the initial transition between dimensions to be reversed without additional power output."
The Genii raised a hand.
"Yes…" Mereiov asked monotone.
"My knowledge of hyperspace is still theoretical, and basic at best, but are you saying that whatever speed a ship achieves in hyperspace is instantaneously negated when it returns to our dimension?"
"Provisionally, yes," Mereiov answered. "If such speed was attained through the transition between realms, it will be reversed upon any exit from hyperspace. If the acceleration was achieved once inside hyperspace, that inertia will not be negated and it will carry over into realspace…which the Ancients refer to as Midgar."
"Whoa…whoa…wait a minute," McKay interrupted, snapping his fingers to get the little alien's attention. "You can't accelerate inside hyperspace. All the speed comes from the dimensional cheat."
"That may be true of some hyperdrive engine designs, but it is not an absolute rule," Mereiov explained patiently. "Most primitive technology uses thrust-based engines to achieve acceleration and maneuvering, which cannot pass beyond the interference field without reverting to realspace. When such matter connects with the field, it destabilizes it proportional to the mass and velocity of the thrust, resulting in a collapse that automatically takes the ship out of hyperspace. This makes any thrust-based engines nearly inoperable within hyperspace…however, other non-matter based engines can be used without jeopardizing the integrity of the field."
"Interesting," McKay mused. "What level of matter interference are we talking about?"
"A single thruster burst from your Earth designed ships would be sufficient to jeopardize the weaker fields produced by your hyperdrive technology."
"Our technology? We got it from you," he pointed out.
"Yes, but it had to be downgraded in order to accommodate your lack of necessary support systems, composite materials, and power generation."
McKay's eyes widened. "Are you saying you gave us junk hyperdrive technology?!"
"I've reviewed the designs you were given," Mereiov said, refusing to be angered by McKay's thinly veiled insults. "They are as advanced as were possible given the construction of your ships. The hyperdrives on our vessels are based on similar principles, but the application is far superior due to the technology of our support systems."
"Isn't the hyperdrive technology independent from other systems?" the outspoken Genii inquired.
"What he said," McKay added.
"Partially," the Asgard stated, "but power generation is independent from the hyperdrive, as are the navigation and computer systems. A standard Asgard hyperdrive requires more power than naquada generators can provide, better sensors for accurate navigation at higher speeds, and more advanced processing capability in order to operate the device properly."
"So the starship is an integrated technology," the Genii said reflectively, "not just a frame with separate components attached."
"Correct," Mereiov said with just a hint of satisfaction.
"Show off," McKay mumbled. "So…how fast are your ships anyway?"
"Faster than Earth's…slower than the Ancients'."
"Gee, thanks," McKay mocked. "Care to narrow it down a bit more."
"No?" McKay half laughed. "What, are you afraid we'll steal your secrets?"
"I doubt you have the mental capacity to profit from any such theft."
Zelenka stifled a laugh, but McKay caught it anyway.
"Asgard humor, no doubt," he said, glaring at the back of Zelenka's head.
"There are many hyperspace applications," Mereiov continued, ignoring the jest. "We will study two today. The basics of the most primitive hyperdrive engine…and the mechanics of the stargates."
McKay perked up at that. "Really?"
Zelenka half turned around. "Rodney, please shut up."
"How about you make me, raggedy Andy."
"Perhaps you would like to explain the function of the stargates?" Mereiov offered.
"What's the point," McKay said, sighing. "You're just going to disagree with whatever I say anyway."
"Probably," the Asgard confirmed.
McKay threw him an annoyed glance.
"Alright then...Stargates 101. You have an entry gate and an exit gate. They establish a wormhole through subspace between the two that transmits a deconstructed matter stream."
"Incorrect," Mereiov noted.
"How?" McKay asked. He'd tried to simplify it beyond disagreement.
"What you refer to as 'subspace' is a mathematical fiction. The stargates operate as a portal into hyperspace."
Rodney's jaw dropped. "How?"
"Makes sense, actually," Zelenka finally spoke. "That's why the Attero device affected the stargates."
"Indeed," Mereiov confirmed.
"What's the Attero device?" one of the Travelers asked. "That wasn't in our notes."
Zelenka glanced at Mereiov then turned toward the woman to explain. "The Attero device was the Lanteans' attempt to defeat the Wraith by tampering with their hyperdrives across the galaxy simultaneously. The device produced a disturbance in hyperspace that affected only their type of hyperdrives, causing the destruction of their ships whenever they attempted to use them. Unfortunately, the technology also disrupted the function of the stargates, causing them to overload when used."
The Traveler's eyes went wide with comprehension. "That's what destroyed our colony?"
"Unfortunately yes," Zelenka confirmed.
"Who used it?" she demanded.
"Our little grey buddies," McKay said, smiling.
"You did!" the Traveler demanded.
"It was not me," the Asgard said unabashedly. "But we must all pay the debt of those who did, no matter how unenviable the task," Mereiov said, looking directly at McKay.
"How do the stargates attain the nearly instantaneous transit times across galaxies," Zelenka asked, both interested in the topic and in changing the subject, "when a ship cannot?"
"The stargates create a super-accelerating conduit," Mereiov was glad to explain, "that has an internal, oscillating structure that drags an energized matter packet through an isolated region of hyperspace…observe," he said, using remote controls on his dais to activate Atlantis's stargate.
The holographic image of hyperspace was streaked by a long thin line emanating from the point where Atlantis rested and off the map to the destination.
"The conduit is not a fixed route," Mereiov explained. "Fluctuations within hyperspace will cause the route to meander, but the polarity of the energy matrix keeps both ends secured to the pair of stargates. Transit time will vary slightly, dependent on the length of the conduit during these fluctuations."
"Interesting," the Genii muttered.
"Hold on a minute," McKay interrupted again. "If it's a polarized conduit, and not a traditional wormhole, how can we receive EM against the flow?"
"The oscillating nature requires a reverse flow around the perimeter of the conduit in order to keep the entire matrix self-contained. Certain types of energy can be carried along this backflow, but matter cannot."
"Like how a waterslide recirculates the water uphill through the plumbing," Zelenka said, thinking aloud, "but the person can only go downhill."
Mereiov's eyelids rose. "Waterslide?"
"I'm sorry," Zelenka said, shaking his head. "It's a type of amusement ride on Earth. A small amount of water is run downhill through a half tube to provide lubrication for a person to slide down."
"Sounds fun," the Traveler woman said.
"So I've heard," Zelenka said.
"Wait a minute," McKay interrupted. "You've never gone down a waterslide?"
"No," he admitted.
McKay shook his head. "Why am I not surprised."
"Your analogy is sound," Mereiov approved, "if the water is recirculated."
"It is," Zelenka confirmed.
"How is your initial speed obtained?"
Zelenka shrugged. "The friction of the moving water, I suppose."
"That and you push off with your hands," McKay added.
"Then in this analogy," Mereiov continued to explain, "the stargates provide the initial 'push' as you suggest. The flow of the conduit completes the acceleration, as well as insuring that the object is insulated against disruptive factors within hyperspace. The receiving stargate slows the object to a stop where the energy stasis is reversed."
"What is this energy stasis?" the Genii asked.
"Any object passing through the stargate has to be capsulated in an energy stasis field in order to be transported through hyperspace, much like a ship must be engulfed in a similar interference field to allow its passage."
"I thought the traveler was disassembled at the molecular level?" Zelenka asked, confused.
"Such deconstruction would be fatal," Mereiov noted.
"Then how do your transport beams work?" McKay argued.
"They also engulf the target in an energy stasis…but they do not break the molecular bonds."
"Then our entire understanding of stargate technology is flawed," Zelenka announced, then caught himself. "Earth's I mean."
"Mine too, apparently," McKay said, his sarcasm momentarily gone. His scientific curiosity had just exceeded his ego. "Am I safe in assuming that the acceleration and deceleration of the stargates is also due to an inertial cheat."
"You are," Mereiov confirmed.
"What about the rest of the inertia?"
"The nature of the stasis field allows for extreme deceleration through energy-related means. The matter remains unaffected until the stargate removes the stasis."
"Interesting…"McKay mused. "I assume this stasis acts like some sort of inertial dampening field?"
Mereiov made a sound similar to a meek grunt. "That is a crude metaphor, but it will suffice for the moment."
McKay thought quietly for a moment, but the Genii had a question. "What is it that we're seeing on the other side of the event horizon? I mean, before we're completely inside."
"It is an artificial pocket of a hybrid dimension…part realspace, part hyperspace. This is where the object is applied with a stasis field, and likewise where that field is removed prior to exiting the target event horizon."
"There was a mishap on Earth," McKay explained, "where a person traveling through the stargate was stuck inside when the entry stargate was destroyed during transit. If the matter of the traveler isn't deconstructed, where was he held?"
"Was there something anomalous with the receiving stargate?" Mereiov asked.
"Not that I recall," McKay said, his tone civil. "The only extraneous factor was on the other end."
"The dialing device prevents such mishaps from occurring," Mereiov explained. "The stargates have many safety protocols imbedded within them. If those fail, backup protocols within the dialing device assess the nature of the problem and correct it. It is highly unlikely that such an error would bypass both layers of safeguards."
McKay tilted his head to the side. "Well, Earth doesn't use a DHD…dialing device. We built a custom one when the stargate was discovered without one."
"I see," Mereiov said, unimpressed. "Was this person recovered?"
"Yes…we had to borrow another dialing device and get some intelligence from a captive Goa'uld, but we managed to save him."
"In that case, the person in question was most likely held in stasis within the hybrid dimension. If the event horizon is not activated, then the stasis will not be repealed."
"Because it would kill the person," McKay said, beginning to make sense of things. "How come we don't explode from decompression on the other side?"
"The hybrid dimension is configured in such a way to mimic the conditions of the environment affecting the event horizon. This includes pressure and temperature, but not gravity."
"I was wondering about that too," McKay said, nodding. "Whenever I go through the stargate I feel constrained for a split second. I expect my foot to drop off into nowhere but it never does…I also can't exhale."
"Such is necessary to register your entry velocity and trajectory. Gravity on the other side of the event horizon would skew this, as would a solid surface beneath your feet. A long object entering the event horizon from an angle must be allowed to fully enter the dimensional pocket before encapsulation. This means it must be allowed to extend beyond the ring. For this purpose, the pocket dimension is designed to be enlarged as necessary to accommodate any and all objects that will fit through the ring."
"What about a puddle jumper?" McKay asked, dominating the class, but too interested to notice or care. "Why do the pilots undergo stasis before the craft does?"
"They are not connected to the craft, therefore as soon as their bodies fully pass through the event horizon they undergo stasis. If they did not, they could be asphyxiated before the entire craft entered if it was moving very slowly."
"True, true," McKay noted. "Please continue."
Sitting in front of McKay where he couldn't see, Zelenka smiled at his friend's sudden change of demeanor.
On Dakara the stargate activated its end of the conduit through hyperspace and deposited two travelers from Earth safely onto the desert world. Moments afterward a transport beam plucked the men off the surface and set them down inside the bridge of one of the Jaffa's new H'tels.
"Bra'tac…" one of the new arrivals greeted the System Lord seated in his command chair.
The Alterra nodded his respect. "O'Neill."
"We're good to go," the General said positively. "There'll be hell to pay back on Earth, but we've got to nip this in the bud while we still can."
"Indeed," Bra'tac agreed, turning towards his helmsman. "Set course for Osser."
The Jaffa did as bidden and opened a hyperspace window. The scattering of air molecules high above Dakara's atmosphere impacted the window and were repelled, but the H'tel with its interference field fully deployed around it passed through into a narrow hybrid dimension. There the full power of the ship's engines were applied and created the dimensional 'cheat' where the ship entered into hyperspace with an inertial momentum far greater than it had in realspace.
With the power generation capabilities of the Jaffa's new technology, that 'cheat' was in excess of any other ship within the galaxy…not to mention greater than that the Asgard and the Furlings were capable of generating. Due to such extreme engine power, the H'tel would arrive at the Chinese-held world, a quarter of the way across the galaxy, within the hour.