Through a Quantum Mirror Darkly
For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face (1 Corinthians 13:12)
Call me Ishmael. No, seriously; that's my real name. My parents were eccentric people who had a penchant for literature and a laissez-faire attitude toward my upbringing. They supported themselves though a trust fund from my father's side of the family, old money from some invention or other at the turn of the century. I never saw much of that money, as I was one generation too far removed from the main branch of the family to get a trust fund myself. My grand-uncle Jack was a decent guy, though, and put anyone even distantly related to him through college with a full ride.
While many of my friends applied for loans and scholarships or worked part-time jobs, I had the luxury of devoting my time solely to my studies. Ideally I wanted to be an engineer, but I was never great with math so I picked up the engineering classes I could on the side and devoted myself to my second passion: archeology. I got my bachelor's degree in only three years, at the age of 20, and went back for more, intent of getting my doctorate. I traveled to South America one summer, and Egypt the next. I worked hard and started planning and writing my thesis as soon as I was able. When I was state-side I continued with the engineering classes and finally overcame some of the trouble with maths that had given me problems in the past. By the time I was ready to defend my dissertation, I had my bachelors in engineering as well. I wasn't sure what I wanted to do for a career yet, but as long as grand-uncle Jack seemed content to pay my tuition and living costs I was happy to keep learning.
Throughout my life I had few friends. I guess you could say I was kind of a loner, but I liked it that way. I loved to learn, and I absolutely loved reading science fiction and watching sci-fi movies and television shows. My absolute favorite was Stargate SG-1. I ideally dreamed about what I would do if I could be a member of the Stargate program, what it would be like to journey to distant planets and make first contact with other cultures, how amazing it would try to be to reverse-engineer alien technology or to meet an ascended being. I had no delusions that I would ever get to do these things, but it was fun to dream.
My name is Ishmael Arthur Evans, and this is the story of my ascent to Godhood… or at least a reasonable facsimile thereof.
Two years after graduation, I found myself working in southern Mexico, excavating a newly discovered Mayan site. I was one of the few people there who was a full doctor of archaeology, and thus had a good deal of autonomy. After the earth was cleared I began excavating what I thought might be a simple dwelling. It took several days to finish clearing the entrance. After we were done, the crew decided to break for the day to catch some sleep; everyone was exhausted. I returned to my tent and kicked back with a beer and my iPod. That night, I had some insane dreams. I dreamed that I was falling through a void of stars and becoming darker and darker until my entire body was the same lightless hue as the cosmos.
I woke up in a cold sweat. The moon hung full in the sky, so I couldn't have been asleep that long. Still, I felt well-rested, and I decided to ignore protocol and continue with the dig by myself. I headed into the unearthed entrance of the Mayan structure. It still smelled musty, but it had been open long enough for fresh air to circulate. The walls were stone, surprisingly, and not a single one was blemished by carving or decoration. I walked down the long, bleak hall, holding a battery powered lantern in front of me. I wondered what the purpose of this building could be, as I had never seen anything like this before. Eventually, the hall ended, disgorging me into a small room facing an irregular stone arch, several inches shorter than myself. On the ground in front of it was a small object that looked almost crystalline in appearance. Ignoring all semblance of archaeological protocol, I slowly reached down and picked up the device. As soon as my fingers touched it, the device lit up. I stood still, my mind racing in excitement. I examined the crystalline device; it looked like some sort of weird alien tablet computer. I brushed it with my left hand, and suddenly the odd looking archway lit up, and settled into a picture… of space.
I gasped, my heart pumping like mad. 'What the hell?' I thought. As I stared into the archway, the scene changed… I saw a picture of a spaceship moving through the cosmos, a planet in the backdrop behind it. With a gasp, I realized that I recognized the ship… It was an X-304 from Stargate SG-1!
Wondering what kind of insane magic was causing this to happen, I stood stock still, watching the scene change once more. The X-304 lurched to a stop, and several other ships surrounded it, sleek ships with hammer-like anteriors. 'The Asgard!" I thought. Beams of brilliant white lanced out, stripping away small segments of the X-304's hull and replacing them with more advanced looking technology. Bright white light showed through the ports on the human ship, indicating the activation of Asgard beaming technology. I realized suddenly that I was watching the events of the series finale of Stargate, Unending. As predicted, the Ori appeared almost as soon as the upgrades on the Odyssey were finished, causing the Asgard to destroy Orilla.
Suddenly, the view changed, and I could see the interior of the Odyssey. I somehow knew, deep in my bones, that I was not going to get another chance. While I was watched the events unfold, I had realized what the device was; a quantum mirror similar to the one SG-1 found during the first season of that show. This one was a little different, apparently requiring no duplicate mirror to travel to. Quickly, while the mirror still showed the interior of the ship, I reached out and touched it…
I felt myself falling, and a tingling pins-and-needles feeling washed over me. I landed on something hard, and opened my eyes. I found myself, laying in what looked like one of the private quarters in Odyssey. There was an external viewport, a bed, a couch, and a small closet. And… Yes! A computer terminal. Smiling to myself, my mind began to whirl furiously as I planned my next course of action. I couldn't allow myself to be caught on Odyssey; that would be akin to a death sentence or at the very least the end of my plans. I raided the closet, and thankfully one of the USAF jumpsuits fit me, though barely.
Disguised as best as I could be, I logged onto the computer terminal, and pulled up an internal schematic of the ship. I memorized the location of the hangers and the engine room, and memorized the route between them, and the room that I was in. I hoped that I would be able to tap into the Asgard computer core from here, but if not I would have to make my way to engineering. I knew what was coming next, and I had no plans to stay onboard the ship.
Using all of the computer skills I had learned in my engineering classes and praying to whatever higher powers that may exist that the Asgard hadn't had time to setup a complex security system on the newly-installed core, I attempted to gain access. Luckily for me, the owner of the crew quarters I found myself in had left himself logged into his terminal, which made my job incredibly easier. Having no login identification for the ship's network would have required me to take one of the crew hostage and somehow get the information out of them, a plan I desperately wanted to avoid. After nearly thirty gut-wrenching minutes, I was able to connect with the Asgard core. I let out a harsh burst of nervous laughter.
I started requesting information from the core, first Asgard ship schematics. I needed a way off this ship, and on a hyperspace capable craft was my first choice. I hoped to be able to find a suitable design in the Asgard database, have the AI of the Asgard core tweak it to include their latest technology and a copy of the Asgard computer core, and use the power from the nearly fully-charged ZPM installed in Odyssey to create it out of pure energy is using the Asgard beaming technology in it's "universal constructor" mode, much as they had done to upgrade the ship I currently found myself on. It was a complex plan, but it was the best I could come up with off the top of my head… and I had nothing better right now. If this didn't work then my best bet was to stay onboard the ship and try something else during the 50 years that SG-1 would be trapped in time dilation.
Browsing through the Asgard core's database was easy; it was the most responsive computer I had ever used. I guess true AIs designed by millennia-old races were just awesome like that. I quickly found the schematics for a little ship that would just fit into the hangers of the X-304, and asked the Asgard core politely to update them to reflect all of their newest advances in technology since it was designed, as well as a human-capable control interface, voice commands, and English as the ship's primary language. I then had it add a complete copy of the Asgard computer core that they placed on the Odyssey, without the annoying flaw that was going to nearly get the ship I was inhabiting destroyed shortly. The core worked for a few seconds, then complied, spitting out a new schematic with all of the things I had asked for. I shook my head, wondering what this marvelous piece of technology couldn't do.
Next, I queried the Asgard, asking if it was possible to actually build this thing, and how much power it would consume from the ZPM. I didn't want to leave SG-1 in a lurch. The Asgard took a few seconds, and then replied that it would take under 15 minutes to build the ship, and consume less than 2 percent of the power of the ZPM. I smiled. It seemed that my little plan just might work.
I spent a few more minutes at the computer terminal, finalizing my plans and tweaking the specs of the ship just a bit. I couldn't tarry too long; the owner of the quarters I was in was bound to come along eventually. I kept glancing at the view port every few seconds, checking to see if the ship had come out of hyperspace yet. Frankly, I was surprised it hadn't. In the show, it has seemed like only minutes after the extinction of the Asgard that Sam Carter found the hyperspace problem on Odyssey and transitioned it back into normal space. I guess, though, that the directors of the show compressed time a lot due to the airing constraints of a television show.
I programmed the Asgard computer to construct me a few additional things that I might need, and beam them directly to my location. I asked for a personal shield, a voice controlled portable beaming device, and a zat'nik'tel. When they materialized, I clipped the shield generator onto my belt and activated it, causing a white bubble to shimmer around me for a brief second and then become transparent. I clipped on the transport device and picked up the "zat gun" as Jack O'Neill was fond of calling them. I would have transported myself directly to the hangar bay, but I didn't want to be anywhere near the Asgard beams while they were constructing my ship.
I finished all of the planning I could, and commanded the Asgard core to start building my ship in the port hanger bay on a 1 minute delay. At the same time, I caused the oxygen alarm in the hanger to go off, making everyone scramble to evacuate. I activated the small program I had been working on, more of a series of commands to the Asgard core, causing it to hopefully hide the things I was doing from the crew. I had little hope it would succeed, but it might buy me some time. I monitored the reactions of the crew via the internal security system, and watched the hanger crew flee and the bulkhead doors to slam down, barring anyone entry. At nearly the same time, Odyssey lurched out of Hyperspace. I began to shake with nervousness and excitement as I waited for the right time to act. I felt the ship shudder as it jinked wildly to avoid the two Ori ships attacking it. Hopefully the timing would work out for me; otherwise I would have to wait until the ship reached the planet where most of the crew disembarked to leave—a course of action which would probably lead to my death.
Finally, amidst Odyssey's wild maneuverings while firing her newly installed Asgard plasma beam weapons against the Ori capital vessels, I saw the Asgard core complete construction of my ship. I activated my personal transporter and beamed onto the ship after speedily giving the hanger control system the order to open its blast doors.
I found myself sitting at the main controls of my new ship. A feeling of equal parts dread and glee washed over me. The next part was going to be tricky. I powered up the ship, and began giving it commands. I first engaged the cloak, and then turned on the maneuvering engines. I slipped out of the hanger, and once clear, headed away from the Ori ships at best possible speed. They didn't detect me! Once I was clear, I went to hyperspace, shortly before Odyssey did. Elation surged through my chest. I was free!
The next thing I needed were raw materials and a nice, safe place to hole up for a while. Thankfully the Asgard had mapped out the Milky Way galaxy when the Goa'uld were still swimming against the current in the rivers of their homeworld. I queried the database for a planet that would meet my needs: habitable, no Stargate, and far enough from other inhabited worlds that no one would disturb me. The core showed me a few dozen choices. I selected the closest one for the sake of convenience, and set my ship on a course for it. With the intergalactic hyperdrive installed on my vessel, I would be there within an hour.
I kicked back, finally secure for the moment, and called up the schematics of my ship to go over them in detail now that I had time. The ship was apparently called a Knarr-class vessel by the database, and before my modifications it was originally intended as a lightly armed mid-range cargo ship. According to the database the Asgard had not used them in a few thousand years due to the lack of need and the advent of the replicator war. Since they had started widely using the universal constructor they hadn't needed to haul anything except rare metals like neutronium, naquahah, and trinium, and their warships had more than enough cargo capacity for that.
With the upgrades, the modified Knarr-class ship was approximately the same mass as a Tel'tak vessel, though shorter in height and around 20 percent longer, just small enough to fit in Odyssey's hanger. Like most Asgard ships, the front was shaped like the head of a hammer with the rear being rectangular, ending with the engine compartment containing the hyperspace generator, and the engine pods to either side of the back. It looked rather like a squat, more rounded Biliskner-class ship.
Before the modifications the interior was nearly all cargo space, but the upgrades had changed that. The only place in the ship that had more than crawling space was the bridge and the small combination sleeping quarters and bathroom directly behind it. The bridge had just one seat, surrounded by the Asgard computer core, just enough room for me. The rest of the ship was filled by a scaled-down neutrino-ion generator and a shield generator that was nearly as strong as those on a capitol ship. Outside, mounted along the top and both sides of the ship, was a single underpowered Asgard plasma beam weapon. I had no illusions that I could take on the Ori or the Odyssey in this ship, but I knew it would be more than a match for anyone else I might run across.
The hull was the standard alloy used by the Asgard for their O'Neill class ships, a naquadah/carbon/trinium composite resistant against energy and ballistic weapons to a degree. The computer originally designed for the ship was not installed; instead the new Asgard core took over that function. The Knarr-class also had a standard Asgard transporter beam with the new universal constructor function, a cloaking device, and their latest subspace communications and sensor suite. The core, being a complete copy of the original, also had a built-in time dilation device.
All-in-all it was a good little ship. I had big plans for it.
Author's Note: I've been thinking about it for quite a while, and I finally decided to write a Stargate SG-1 fic. I read Stargate: Galactic Imperium by VexMaster a few weeks ago, and since then I've been thinking about an idea similar to him, but without any of the universe-jumping except at the beginning. Hopefully I can do something unique with this little tale. Stay tuned for further updates, and please let me know what you think of this first chapter. Like, dislike, love hate, please review! It's the only way I can improve.