Several million years ago, the sky was much brighter and the worlds were much closer. But there was trouble like no one could imagine in these darker, more distant times. The race who ruled most high in the galaxies, they were the Ancients, though they didn't call themselves that. And they were dying. Earth was becoming overrun and they couldn't control it or protect it anymore. So they all joined together in their great city, Atlantis, and they lifted it from the waters of Earth and flew to another galaxy, Pegasus, where they landed on a planet almost entirely covered in water. And they thought they were safe.
But in their weakened and unprotected state, they had no idea that they were in for much worse.
*Present Day, Antarctica, Earth*
Doctor Tina Cohen-Chang had made it, in her opinion. Her life of international diplomacy, language-learning, traveling… well, it seemed so small now. It had been so little time, and the world of real travel, of real diplomacy, well, it was only just beginning. The Stargate Program had seen to that.
She looked around her, at all the gadgets that before a few months ago she had no idea existed. Some glowed blue, but most remained dormant, and she was getting restless. The Ancients, well, they'd learned so much about them, but how far could they get if they couldn't access their databases without their minds being overloaded and their deaths a distinct possibility? Luckily, they had figured out the gene that allowed them to use this technology. The problem was finding people who had it.
A crackle of a radio. "Dr. Cohen-Chang, General St. James is en route."
She pressed the side of her radio and responded. "I'll be there shortly. Thank you, Rutherford."
As she headed toward the elevator to greet the General, she passed by a chair where a severely blonde man was complaining, his Scottish accent thick as he did his best to push free. She smiled. "What seems to be the problem, Evans?"
"The problem?" he said, his eyes widened as he sat up in the chair as another man tried to get him to sit back down. "The problem is that Dr. Hummel won't let me leave!" He stood, motioning wildly at the other man, who rolled his eyes.
"Sam, get back here," Dr. Kurt Hummel said, voice stern.
"Kurt, I can sit in that chair all bloody day long and nothing would happen. It's a waste of time! Excuse me, Dr. Cohen-Chang," he said, finally getting free and walking off.
Dr. Hummel turned to his superior. "He's not even trying!"
She cocked her head. "But he's the one who discovered the gene that the Ancient technology responds to."
"He said he wished he never had it," Dr. Hummel said with a mocking tone, shaking his head.
"I know! Can you believe that?"
Dr. Cohen-Chang smiled, giving Dr. Hummel a knowing look. "We could always test you a third time, Kurt."
He was clearly annoyed. "Ha, you're so very funny."
Dr. Cohen-Chang got back down to business. "Well, in any case, there are only a handful of people with this gene that we've found on Earth, and every one of them has to sit in this chair, including Dr. Evans, if we ever intend to use any of their technology."
Dr. Hummel rolled his eyes. "He's scared of the thing."
"This interface chair controls some of the most powerful weapons ever known to humans. Hell, I'm scared of the thing too. But we are learning so much… Dr. Evans should be proud to be genetically advanced."
"It's not… he's not more advanced! It's-It's just a random characteristic." Dr. Hummel did not just pout…
At that moment, the goofy anthropologist Blaine Anderson walked by. "Just the people I need to talk to. Follow me."
The two followed after without much of a word.
Dr. Cohen-Chang couldn't focus much on what Blaine was saying, but he summed it up pretty well. She repeated, to be clear… "we can dial the Stargate to go to another galaxy?"
"Pegasus Galaxy, yes," Blaine said, clearly excited.
Dr. Hummel's eyes lit up at that. "You mean… you mean Atlantis!"
The two were both very excited about this, but noticed their superior wasn't as excited. "Atlantis?" she said. "As in ancient myth?"
"No," Blaine clarified. "THE Atlantis. Ancient texts found in Egypt, Greece, Rome, everywhere, they all document a great city that until recently we thought didn't exist. That is, until we found Ancient technology and writings that stated it was in fact a real place, and not just any place. It was the central hub for all Ancient activity here on Earth!"
Dr. Cohen-Chang squinted her eyes. "And we can go there. Through the Stargate?"
"We couldn't before," Blaine smiled politely. "But I think we can now. We didn't know we could dial more than seven symbols. The eighth could take us there. Yes."
At about the same time, a helicopter was flying to the Antarctic base. General Jesse St. James looked over his pilot with much curiosity as he rambled off all the training he's had, with Apache, Black Hawk, Cobra, Osprey… St. James cut him off.
"That's a lot of training to just go to Antarctica."
David Karofsky turned and smiled, the goggles covering his eyes and giving him a weird steam punk look. "It's the only continent I haven't set foot on."
St. James' face twisted. "It's probably my least favorite continent."
"I kind of like it here," Karofsky replied.
St. James was almost taken aback… almost. "You like it here?"
"Yes, sir." Karofsky checked his instrument panel. "We'll be there in about ten minutes, sir."
Back at the ancient outpost, Dr. Hummel was once again pushing Dr. Evans back towards the interface chair.
"I told you already, I'm not your man!" he tried to protest.
"But I'm a doctor… a medical doctor!"
"There's nothing to be afraid of," Dr. Hummel tried.
Dr. Evans sighed dramatically. "Kurt, you don't understand, I break things like this!" Dr. Hummel wasn't hearing it and pushed him into the chair. He sat there for a second before trying to stand. "See, nothing…"
"Sit!" Dr. Hummel barked. Dr. Evans complied. "Now, this time, try to imagine where we are… an image of where we are in the solar system."
Dr. Evans sits back. He then perks up. "I think I feel something…" he looks at Dr. Hummel. "It could be lunch related."
"Concentrate, will you?" Finally, Dr. Evans settled in and did as he was told.
Across the room, a scientist was probing at a yellow squid like object. They called them drones here, and once before, they'd seen them at work. They were a powerful weapon—nuclear in strength, but it used clean energy, and substances not found on Earth. They hadn't been working since. That is, until now. The drone on the table started to shake, and then glow, before it shot off the table, flew around, and flew up the elevator shaft. Everywhere, people were screaming, and scrambling for cover.
Dr. Evans sat up, eyes wide. "What did I do!"
In the helicopter, the radio cackled to life.
"Inbound craft, we have a rogue drone down here, be on the lookout," came a voice that was clearly trying to remain calm.
Before they could ask questions, the yellow dart of an object barreled toward them. St. James shot up. "Bank right."
Karofsky banked to the left, the drone just missing them.
"I said right!"
"Getting to that, sir." He banked right and once again nearly missed getting hit by the drone.
"I told you I was the wrong person!" Dr. Evans said, nearly hyperventilating.
"It doesn't matter now, just do something, Sam!" Dr. Hummel hollered.
Dr. Cohen-Chang leaned close to Dr. Evans, trying to calm him. "Sam, listen, concentrate on shutting down that drone before it hurts someone. Concentrate."
Dr. Evans closed his eyes and concentrated.
Karofsky had just landed the helicopter. "Sir, what the hell was that!"
St. James watched out the front. "Wait for it…" the drone swung around in the sky and came back towards them.
St. James yelled "get out!" and jumped out the side of the helicopter as the drone came ever closer. Karofsky jumped out and landed hard on the packed snow.
The explosion never came. Karofsky turned and saw the drone drop from the air and scuttle like a jellyfish against the snow, stopping a few inches from the craft, all color and light drained from it.
Karofsky breathed. "That was different."
Jesse St. James smirked, even though he wasn't feeling very amused. "For me, not so much."
Lieutenant Finn Hudson ran into the room where Dr. Evans was freaking out. "Major Karofsky reports that the drone is incapacitated and they are unharmed."
Dr. Evans sat up. "I did it!"
Dr. Cohen-Chang let herself breathe. "Thank God."
Dr. Evans fell back down against the chair, and sighed. "Holy crap!"
Shortly afterwards, everyone convened in the outpost. General St. James walked in, arms out wide, as if for a hug, but no one was going to give him one. "Blaine! Warm welcome."
Blaine looked up and smirked. "Jesse! Hey, it wasn't me… how'd you… not get blown up?"
Jesse clapped the awkward-looking man beside him on the back. "The exceptional flying of Major David Karofsky." He smirked. "He likes it here," he said, the sarcasm noted by all.
"Exceptional," Blaine said, turning to Karofsky. "You like it here?" Karofsky shrugged, and Blaine and Jesse started walking away.
"Okay," Jesse said, stopping. "Let's skip to the part where you start talking real fast."
"Sure. Dr. Cohen-Chang's right in here," Blaine motioned.
St. James turned and spoke to Karofsky. "Don't touch anything," he said, before following Blaine into the other room.
"Yes, sir," Karofsky said to his retreating back. He stared, standing in the middle of the room, bewildered.
"The ancients left Earth in their… flying city?" St. James said.
"Yes," Blaine responded.
St. James smirked.
"What?" Blaine said, looking confused.
"Hey, keep in mind, this is the race who built the Stargate system. They did everything… big." Blaine motioned with his hands.
"Why'd they leave?"
Blaine shrugged. "Who knows—plague, wanted to start over—the point is, we know where they went. Pegasus. A dwarf galaxy in the local group."
Dr. Hummel interjected. "But after all this time, is there actually any chance of meeting them?"
"Who knows, but isn't that enough of a reason to try?"
St. James shrugged. "Good enough for me. Have fun."
"It's not that easy," Blaine continued.
St. James groaned. Of course it wasn't. "What's the problem."
"We need a ZPM… a zero point module," Dr. Hummel said. "That's the—"
"Yes, I know what it is, the ancient superbattery, la-de-dah, okay. And I know you're gonna ask for the one that powers the defense outpost. Which is stupid. It's for our defense, remember? The answer's no."
Karofsky was wondering around, looking at everything, marveling. He heard some excited chatter and went over to what appeared to be a complicated and uncomfortable looking armchair, where a blonde guy was talking animatedly to some curious looking scientists.
"I shut my eyes, and I could see," said the blonde with a heavy accent. "And I could feel power like I've never felt before. It was magical, it was like I had it dancing all across the sky…" he laughed. "They were lucky I concentrated and shut it down in time." He laughed again.
Karofsky walked toward him. "So you're the one."
Dr. Evans turned, looking frightened. "Me?"
"You're the one who fired that thing at me."
Dr. Evans swallowed. "You see, we were doing research is all, and this is technology way more advanced than we, and we make mistakes, and I'm terribly, terribly sorry…"
Karofsky offered a bit of a smile. "Next time just be a bit more careful, 'kay?" He looked around, then back at Dr. Evans. "What was that thing, anyway?"
"What, the drone, you mean? It's a weapon created by the Ancients to defend this outpost."
Dr. Evans looked him over, a suspicious arch in his eye. "You do have security clearance to be here, right?"
"Yeah, General St. James just gave it to me."
The doctor's eyes widened. "Then you don't even know about the Stargate."
"Jesse, you know powering the Stargate already takes a lot of power, and it will take even more to get to another galaxy…"
"Yeah. Well. Find another way."
"There's no other way!" Blaine cried, exasperated.
St. James gave him a look. "You think there are more ZPMs in Atlantis?"
"Yeah, and who knows what else! This isn't just some random civilization, Jess, this is the gate-builders we're talking about here…"
Back by the interface chair, Karofsky felt overwhelmed with all that he'd just learned. A gate that connected to other gates with a stable wormhole all over the galaxy… it was too much to take in… and Dr. Evans was still talking.
"And they think the Ancient gene was used like a sort of genetic key, so that only they could use the weapons and other technology and things. Protective measures and the like."
"So some people have the same genes as the Ancients?" Karofsky asked, poking at the arm of the chair.
"The specific gene is very rare, actually… please don't sit there, Major."
Karofsky had started to sit, and froze. "Come on, what are the chances I have it, huh?" He sat in the chair.
And it immediately started to glow and recline. Dr. Evans eyes shone in amazement. "Quite slim, actually. Don't move." And like that, he was gone. Karofsky sat there nervously. A minute later and Dr. Cohen-Chang was jogging into the room.
"Who is this?" she said, eyes tight.
General St. James walked in after, sighing and looking down at Karofsky. "Didn't I say don't touch anything?"
Karofsky shook his head, eyes wide. "I—I just sat down."
Dr. Hummel was immediately by his side, standing over him. "Major, think about where we are in the solar system."
Karofsky thought for just a fraction of a second, and then, above them, a light show erupted, showing detailed maps of the galaxy and the solar system, along with labels in Ancient writing and other descriptions and notes. Karofsky tilted his head to the side, marveling. "Did I do that?"
Dr. Cohen-Chang was walking around the outpost with General St. James at her side. "We are branching out to places we've never even dreamed about, General. Best case scenario, we'll find the Ancients, but even so… General, we need him."
"Don't you have other people with this gene here? I've checked into his record, Doc."
"Yes, we have others with the gene, but they aren't nearly as skilled as the Major is. He's a natural. And yes, I know all about the whole supposed black mark in Afghanistan, but he was trying to save four of his fellow soldiers."
"And he disobeyed a direct order in the process!"
Dr. Cohen-Chang smirked. "I've read your file too, General. Please."
St. James let out a breath. "Right. Fine, it's your expedition. You want him, go ahead and ask him."
"That's the thing, I already have."
St. James went out to the helicopter and saw Karofsky doing his pre-flight checks. He slid in beside him and sighed. "This isn't gonna be a long trip, so let me be frank."
"Well, that's pretty frank."
"I told Dr. Cohen-Chang I'd think about it."
"So? And? Well, what then?"
"All due respect sir, but we were just attacked by alien technology and I found out I have a mutant gene and just found out about the Stargate systems and all those missions to other planets…"
"It's a lot bigger than you, Karofsky. It's not about you."
"Whether or not I decide to go sounds like it's about me. Sir."
St. James sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. "Why'd you become a pilot, Major?"
"I think people who don't want to fly are off their rockers, sir."
"Yeah, well, I think people who don't want to go through the Stargate are equally as nuts. You know what… if I can't convince you to go by the time we reach McMurdo, I don't even want you on my team."
(Not much time later, in the Cheyenne Mountain Complex, home of the Stargate Command)
Lieutenant Hudson was walking around the complex that had suddenly been packed full of people from all over the world, as well as all their belongings, which was mostly lots of computer equipment that Hudson couldn't have named if he had tried. Someone came up to him and started yelling in a foreign language. He just stared, wide eyed, before turning. "Does anyone know what this guy is saying!"
Other people were having similar problems. Dr. Evans was being scolded by a military type to get his act together, and that if he didn't get his stuff in three minutes, they were leaving it behind. When Evans told him that he didn't have to answer to him, the military man offered to let his gun do the talking. Dr. Evans scampered to gather his things.
Blaine stood in the control room with Dr. Cohen-Chang, Dr. Hummel and General St. James, discussing the technicalities as the scientists and soldiers milled and argued below. They watched as one of the computer technicians connected the gate to the ZPM. When it connected, the ZPM lit up, and Dr. Hummel cheered. "Oh, yeah! Look at that!"
Major Karofsky, in full gear, walked into the gate room, eyes still tentative. He'd decided it was worth it, really. I mean, he was getting the chance to go to not just another planet, but another galaxy. Who gets to do that? Well, apart from most of the people here… he shrugged his vest up a bit higher, toying with the Kevlar nervously.
Dr. Cohen-Chang went down and stood in front of everyone, her presence commanding the attention of all quite easily. "Okay everyone, here we go. We're going to send a MALP—that's a camera we have, mounted on a robot—to see if the way is clear. When we get the okay from that, we will be going through as quickly and as efficiently as possible. Now. Everyone here, you all volunteered for this, and you represent dozens of countries. You are the best and the brightest, and seeing as we have so little information as to where we're going, you're also the bravest. I'd like to offer you one last chance to withdraw your participation in this endeavor." She waited, watching. Not a single hand raised or foot shifted. She smiled. "Very well." She nodded up at the control room. "Begin the dialing sequence."
As each chevron encoded on the Stargate, everyone waited with anticipation. Eventually, it connected, and the MALP was sent through. A video feed showed up on the screens.
Dr. Hummel looked at the screen intently, which was dark until it was set to zero lux. "Radar indicates a large room."
"Is it structurally intact?" Blaine questioned to no one in particular.
"Signs show there's oxygen, no measurable toxins… we have viable life support." He stands. "I guess we're not getting out of this." He smirked.
Dr. Cohen-Chang stood properly, turning to General St. James. He smiled back. "You have a go, Doc."
"Thank you, sir," she replied, trying not to smile to broadly but failing. She and Dr. Hummel headed down to the gateroom.
Blaine watched them go. "Jesse, it's not too late for me to—"
"But I can grab my stuff and—"
"—go." Blaine's head fell and he sighed.
The first people had gone through the gate. A colonel radioed back. "All clear. Move in."
Karofsky moved up nervously with Hudson and paused. He turned to Hudson. "What's it feel like?"
Hudson's face was morose. "It hurts like hell, sir." Then he smiled, and let out a little whoop as he jumped through. Karofsky took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and took the biggest step of his life.