I do not own Stargate, Stargate: Atlantis, Halo, Babylon 5, etc., etc.
I Hate Quantum Mechanics!
Chapter 3: Meeting Between Universes
"I need a channel to Earth Central," Sheridan said quietly. "Try to find out what happened. Then I want to speak to the Prometheus, find out exactly who they are and where they stand."
"General, I'm bringing up the combined findings on the main holo projector." 1st Lt. 'Jeff' Murphy, Prometheus' current sensor officer calls out into the dimly lit bridge as the Tau'ri task force is technically still at 'battle stations' status so the normally soft white overhead lighting has been replaced with red combat lighting as to minimize the glare coming of the various solid state and holographic screens and displays, though for most of the bridge crew, the best...and the most disturbing sight...came from Earth as they orbited the planet, a dark ominous view still covering the planet, the results of the deployed Drakh weapon.
The bewildering array of data which also include enhanced and enlarge view of…whatever that black…gunk…was made of…
"Honey…" Jack calls out plaintively.
With a long-suffering sigh, Sam sums it up, "It's a nanite plague, Jack."
Jack features harden. "What kind of damage are we looking at?"
Sam gives the readings fast yet thorough look before she dumbs it down to something her husband could not complain about, "We're looking at a very, very advanced piece of technology, Jack, if I'm reading the data correctly, this stuff is fatal once you caught it…"
"Oh, this is bullshit! We kicked ass and took names, hell, we practically blew a monster hole out of a planet killer, and then the bastards pull this sort of shit!" Jack all but snarled out.
"Well, there's some good news, sort of…"
"Let me have it, honey."
"It seems that the plague has to adapt to human biology, it's designed to be a perfect killing machine but it looks like that it wasn't correctly setup. I had our embedded scientists' take a look and we've come to the conclusion that this is not their technology so the plague isn't 'set' correctly so it's not yet lethal if at all but it will be in five years which gives humanity and its allies that much of a window of opportunity to find a cure…"
"Then we help them any way we can." Jack replies without hesitation. "Comms, contact the frigates Carronade and Warblade, order them to break fleet formation and head back to the quantum gate via hyperspace, turn it on by anyway they can think of and send an encrypted message via subspace radio or message drones to CentCom and the SGC, requesting a Merlin, preferably the Florence Nightingale, a fleet or two plus a scout force to assist the locals…also have McKay and our eggheads start digging through the Atlantis database to see if the Ancients had encountered this crud or…oh, I don't know…had 'gated' to this universe and stole a basic format of this shit or something…"
"Aye, sir." Chief Warrant Officer Anatolia Zaytsev replies from her position as communications officer and goes to work, grinning as she does so, sending a verbatim recording of Jack's words rather than dictating it into text format.
Mitchell decided to add his own two cents, "Wonder if President Sheridan is going to give us a call as to where we stand?"
"General," Zaytsev calls out, "President Sheridan is asking to talk to you."
Jack merely gave Mitchell a flat look that said, 'Thanks for jinxing it."
Mitchell replies with a sheepish, "Oops."
"Put it through the main projector, Comms."
President Sheridan's face flares to holographic life in front of Jack and SG-1.
"Mr. President." Jack greets with a casual salute.
"General O'Neill," Sheridan begins.
"Call me Jack, sir. I can tell you're ex-military so we can save the fancy words for the politicians." Jack interrupts in his typical manner.
Sheridan grins broadly, "In that case, Jack, I'm call to see where you stand in all this…helping the Alliance against the Drakh."
"Not used to having help given for free, huh?"
"No strings attached?"
"Tell you what…I'll come over to your badass warship and give you the low-down of who we are and where we come from along with a database of our history and a primer to our technology, does that sound good enough?"
"Pretty good actually...and here I was, planning to invite your command group over for an old-school powwow."
Jack had to laugh at this, "Great minds think alike, Mr. President."
Sheridan only laughs back, "Indeed they do...and please call me John."
"Should I bring a case of beer, snacks and war stories?"
"Sure, why not? We can keep things informal, just the way we like it!"
"I'll even toss in a couple of Jack Daniels from my personal stash!"
It was at this point that Garibaldi decided to interrupt, much as he was enjoying the exchange, they best get back to the business at hand, "Much as I enjoy the banter of two laid-back commanders, we still have a lot of work to do…"
Jack sighs, "No rest for the wicked, I'll have a shuttle ready and loaded in a few minutes, John, think you can meet me at your hanger bay?"
John nods somberly, "I'll meet you there…and think you can pack along a couple of bottles of extra strength aspirin while you're at it?"
"I'll make it industrial-strength just to be on the safe side."
John nods to someone off screen and the transmission cuts off.
Jack looks at his Operations officer, "Ops, have one of our Puddlejumpers prepped for launch…and load a case of beer and SG-1's snacks plus two bottles of industrial-strength aspirins for the President; I'll pack the JDs."
Said officer answers with a grin, "Yes, sir."
Jack rises from his command chair, turning to look at his team, "Well, group, time for an ole' meet-and-greet."
Daniel merely sighs, "I just hope you don't shoot your mouth off like the last time we had a 'meet-and-greet' with the leadership of another race."
"Stop being such a worrywart, Danny boy, he's human, what could go wrong?"
"I shudder just thinking about what could happen…"
Minutes later, the armored doors of the Prometheus' starboard hanger bay split apart and a Puddlejumper boosts through the force field keeping the atmosphere in the hanger; the sides of the Puddlejumper extend from the hull, revealing the armored drive pods. Said pods flare to life and the jumper accelerates towards its destination, the flagship Excalibur…
The relatively tiny Puddlejumper deftly nosed through the magnetic field keeping the massive capital ship's atmosphere inside the equally massive hanger bay built into the right side of the hull. Jack and Mitchell whistle appreciatively the sheer size of the warship as they look at her through both their organic eyes and the Puddlejumper's sensors. The jumper settles on the deck with a gentle 180 spin, the drive pods retracting and the landing skids extending as the jumper completes its spin. SG-1 looks out the viewport of the jumper, looking out across the well-lit bay, now looking virtually empty with its alcoves empty of the ship's fighter wing which was currently missing, no doubt either on patrol or KIA.
"Let's go see what these people are like." Jack says cheerfully but not before pulling on a gun strap and sliding a zat into the holster. "But let's not too comfortable either." He mentally opens the rear access ramp just as the rest of SG-1 also holster and ready their sidearms. They are met outside of the jumper by two armed marines and an officer in a blue uniform, all clearly human.
"Major General O'Neill, commander of SG-1 and Prometheus of…" He paused slightly, "…the Tau'ri Federation. This is my team SG-1, Brigadier General Carter, Colonel Mitchell, Infiltration Specialist Vala Mal Doran, Doctor Jackson and Jaffa Ambassador Teal'c, requesting permission to come aboard."
"Permission granted, sir." The officer said curtly. "If you'll follow me the President is waiting."
"If it isn't too much trouble, can we bring this case along? I brought some ice-breakers."
"Of course, sir."
They were escorted quickly to what looked like a tiny subway car which instantly got Jack all giddy much like a little kid but a swift covert stomp on the foot by Sam got him to settle down. They got in and began their journey through the ship. Sam and Teal'c quietly noted the validity of this internal rail system as getting around Prometheus could be hard work sometimes and it was a fraction the size of this battleship, a miniaturized transit system would by the far the best way to get around but this problem is largely circumvented by the development of the internal transporter booth, copied directly from Atlantis' own. It came to a stop and the group moved towards a more conventional looking elevator. After a second short journey and a quick walk down a corridor, they arrived at a large room adjacent to the ship's bridge; Jack took a quick glance around as they passed and noting it wasn't all that different to his own ship.
"In here please." The officer gestured, and the six guests stepped into the meeting room occupied by a tall man with grey hair and a neat beard.
"Thank you, Commander, you can leave us." He said with a clear American accent which Jack made grin broadly as it was the same voice as he heard over the communication channels and was apparently President Sheridan. The escorts left, leaving Sheridan and SG-1 alone.
"Pull up a chair." Sheridan pointed to the self-illuminating table in the centre of the room before doing so himself. "I can see this is going to be quite a talk, and I for one would rather be sat down."
SG-1 follows suit while depositing their case on the table; this was certainly a very good sign, at least in Daniel's opinion.
"First of all, how are your ships and crew?" Sheridan asked. "Did you take any casualties? Can we help in any way?"
"They only scorched our armor, Mr. President." Jack replies with a casual air as he opens the case and start pulling out and opening containers of liquid and boxes of food. "Nothing we can't handle."
"I'll guess we'll start then, do you recognize me?"
"Your accent and tone is the same as I heard over the speaker so I'm guessing you're President John Sheridan but before half an hour ago we'd never heard of you. We have a pretty good idea how we came to be here but it looks like our timing was pretty good anyway." Jack said with a broad grin as he passes Teal'c a whole box of Krispy Creme donuts and a thermos of warm milk chocolate. "My name is Jack O'Neill; formerly a Major General in the United States Air Force and commander of Stargate Command…"
"United States?" Sheridan gasps, interrupting. "There hasn't been a United States since the formation of the Alliance over a century ago."
"What Alliance?" Daniel asks as he catches the thermos being slid to him with a glance. "Sorry, sir; my name is Daniel Jackson, SG-1's linguistics, archeological and First Contacts expert, permanently assigned to Stargate Command."
"The Earth Alliance of course," Sheridan frowns, though inwardly he was impressed by Daniel's verbal 'resume'. "It took over from the individual nation states when we started heading into space."
"Hmm…that's pretty weird 'cause I remember that humanity formally unified, after a year of cleaning up the usual mess that is the Middle East and all those jihadist yahoos, in 2015, two years after the Disclosure of the Stargate Program…" Jack mused to himself out loud as he pulls out two precut slices of Black Forest cake for him and Sam along with a can of beer and a bottle of water.
"Wait, humanity unified in 2015? Stargate Program?" John asks in a puzzled tone as he catches a plastic wrapped plate of chocolate chip cookies and another can of beer.
Daniel merely sighs in long suffering exasperation as he proceeds to explain, "Actually, Mr. President, what Jack really meant to say was that we believe that our task force has been transported into the future by roughly two hundred and forty-eight years and…" Taking a sip out of his thermos, the distinctive scent of green tea filling the room.
"You're from the past?" Sheridan interrupts in shock, chocking slightly on the cookie he had just take a bite out of. "I don't understand, your ship seems far too advanced than anything from back then, hell it's pretty damn impressive right now."
"Well, Mr. President, if you had let me finish, I would have also said that we were also from an alternate universe." Daniel replies tersely as he disliked being interrupted.
That took Sheridan aback, "What?"
Jack cuts in, "Let me explain, Danny boy…John, we, my task force and I, were enroute back to our Earth after finishing the space trails of the Archangel outside the Sol System when we were forced out of hyperspace by whatever support systems that damn gate had on it and got sucked into the event horizon and we exited into your universe; after we got our bearings, we picked up your battlefield transmissions and I ordered the task force in to reinforce your faltering battle line…and when you interrupted me, I was going to say that I'm the Commanding Officer of the entire Tau'ri military."
"What device? You are?" Sheridan asked.
Sam took that as her cue to jump in, "Sir, the device we just mention is what believe is transdimensional Stargate, albeit a very large one, designed to cross the quantum barrier between realities and other universes, though it's still anyone's guess if this device is locked in on one universe or can be dialed to connect to other universes like its much smaller cousins. We suspect and entirely possible that the device remained dormant through the millennia until its orbit and our return vector coincided which may have activated a series of command protocols that caused us to end up where we are now. And before you ask, Mister President, a Stargate is a ring-shaped device that is capable of generating a stabilized wormhole between two of them, a point of origin and a destination; it provides instantaneous travel between worlds, spanning hundreds if not thousands of lightyears in a blink of an eye, allowing anyone to simply walk from planet to planet."
Jack adds in, "And this isn't our first time in an alternate dimension or in the future or in the past, Stargate Command was and still is considered as the craziest command on Earth where the weird, bizarre and utterly insane is considered as a 'normal' day in the office."
"You guys are from an alternate universe? Really?" Sheridan asked skeptically. "Seriously? Your command has that kind of reputation?"
"We can't say for certain without examining some historical records." Daniel adding a note of caution to the developing conversation. "But judging from the extensive and distinct disparity of our technologies and your lack of knowledge of the Stargate seems to confirm it quite well."
"Well, that makes a few more pieces of the puzzle fit together." Sheridan said, taking a gulp from his beer. "So how did you get a ship like that in your time?"
"Currently the Prometheus has been refitted with a lot of tech that we developed ourselves but most of it is based on alien technology we've reverse engineered with a lot of outside help, though the core of it is 100% human tech; she's, in fact, the 'mother' of most of our ships as she was the testbed ship for most of our reverse-engineered and home-made tech." Jack shrugs. "We had been fighting to keep our world safe for nearly twelve years roughly 10-20 years ago against a variety of threats, mainly from a race called the Goa'uld, followed by the Replicators, the Wraith and finally the Ori, though the Lucian Alliance and the jackasses of the Free Jaffa Nation barely rate as irritations…"
"We've never heard of them." Sheridan answers, shaking his head. "It seems there are a lot of differences between our universes."
"Probably a lot more, considering all the random interactions that takes place to shape nature and society." Daniel states quietly.
"Right now, people, we got a much bigger problem at hand." Jack nudges Sam with his elbow, who pulls out a general-purpose data tablet from her pants pocket and slides it over to Sheridan. "This is the data from the scans we made on the Plague those aliens left in Earth's atmosphere."
Sheridan catches data tablet and looks through the data with a grimace, grabbing his beer can and guzzling down the rest in one long pull. "A lot of this is confirmed by our scans, but how do you know its nanotech?"
"Our sensors are hybrid Asgard-Ancient types, powerful stuff." Jack explains without elaborating too much. "They can find a really tiny needle in the middle of a monster haystack."
"Mind if I keep these reports?" Sheridan asked, deciding to warily trust them for the time being until they do prove to be trustworthy. (AN: In other words, Sheridan is willing to trust the Tau'ri but will be keeping one hand on his PPG until they do prove to be worthy of his trust…)
"Sure, and we can provide more as our scanners take samples to analyze." Jack states casually. "And if we get some of this black crud back to our facilities back home we might be able to provide more active help."
"Do you have a way to return home?"
"Yep, by way of the same gate that dumped us into this universe in the first place…" Jack began.
"Whoa, whoa, wait a minute, you're saying there's one of those things right here and we never noticed?" Sheridan interrupted, looking up from his freshly opened second can of beer.
"The damn thing's as stealthy as a ghost," Jack admitted. "We'd have flown right by the damn thing if our flight path didn't intersect with it."
"Well, I guess you're free to come and go as you please." Sheridan shrugs as he takes a pull of his second can of beer. "I don't think we have anything powerful enough or fast enough to fight or chase you anyway!"
"Maybe not Mr. President but as supreme commander of the Tau'ri Federation military, I'm authorized to render assistance in any and every state or form." Jack says formally.
"You already earned our thanks and trust, General." Sheridan replied. "Your actions today have proven that, I am not too proud to admit you can help us here, my only concern right now is saving Earth."
"I agree with you there, Mr. President. Even though we are from different places, we are also from the same home, if you know what I mean."
"In a way." Sheridan agreed as he finishes his beer.
"I got plenty of pull back in my home universe, hell, I practically have free reign and a free hand to establish treaties and agreements between any and every alien races me or my troops encounter out in space."
That declaration made Sheridan arch an eyebrow in surprise. "You must have one hell of a service rep to be able to get that kind of discretion."
Jack grins and pulls out a data tablet of his own, one with a personalized Simpsons shock cover, and points it at Sheridan's tablet, "I'm sending you my service file and historical data of what we did, and still do, in Stargate Command plus our own historical data along with a primer of our technology and our old enemies and their technology along with a primer to our allies and a basic starmap of our territory."
John looks down at his data tablet as it beeps, indicating that it just received a…what the hell?!
John looks up in disbelief, "You just sent me a 510 gigabyte file and it downloaded in less than 10 seconds?"
Jack grins broadly, "Our data tablets are effectively miniaturized super computers with integrated micro-subspace transmitters with a range of 150 klicks in any direction in broadband transmission or 200 klicks with direct line of sight. Oh, by the way, I took the liberty to send a couple of my frigates back to the Quantum Gate to call for back-up...I told 'em to tell Stargate Command that we need science vessels, and a Merlin-class city-ship or two plus a couple of Everest-class defense stations to guard the gate itself plus a scout force and attack fleet to assist with your search for a cure."
Sheridan smiles broadly, "Thank you." Then his mind registers the word 'city-ship', "What's a city-ship?"
Sam answers, "It's one of the ancient Alterans' highest technological achievements, Mr. President; they've essentially created a city capable of interstellar flight as well as landing and taking off from a planet."
That declaration utterly shocks Sheridan as he tries to imagine a city with such advanced capabilities, then his overloaded brain picks up a certain detail...Merlin-class...
"What kind of…city-ship…is the Merlin-class?" Sheridan asks tentatively.
Sam replies eagerly, "A sub-class of the Atlantis-class city-ship with specialized equipment for specific types of operations; for this situation, we're calling in the Florence Nightingale…"
John instantly catches on, "A medical city-ship!"
Sam nods in confirmation, "Equipped with the latest in medical technologies and the most advanced techniques combined and gathered across four galaxies."
That caught John off guard as he receives another shock, "Four Galaxies?" He croaks out in shock.
Jack merely sighs, even vets like him had the occasional 'slip-of-the-tongue' once in a while and his wife Sam was no exception, though he still tries to be as cryptic as possible, "Our FTL gives us serious reach and range for both our explorers and military units."
John simply couldn't stop himself from asking, his brain still in shock, "Just how far have you people explored?"
Sam couldn't stop herself either, "Roughly, somewhere close to half-a-trillion lightyears if not more, covering the Milky Way, Pegasus Irregular, Ida and a tenth of the Andromeda Galaxy, not counting the spaces between them."
Garabaldi, ensconced in the Excalibur's security station, monitoring the conference, and John couldn't help but think of this revelation as, "HOLY SHIT!"
John realizes instantly that an opportunity of galactic proportions just fell on his lap. "Have you encountered any First Ones?"
"First Ones?" Daniel asks.
Sheridan mentally kicks himself in the head, reprimanding himself for forgetting that these people were not from his universe. "First Ones are advanced civilizations that have been around for millions of years longer than we have...by our standards, they're so advanced that we might as well be amoeba to them."
"Oh." "Fascinating." Came the simultaneous, relatively, reply to that explanation.
"You have, haven't you?"
Teal'c finally makes his own input, in his usual blunt way. "We call what you call First Ones as Ancients…The Tau'ri are descended from an Ancient race, the Alterans; to be more precise, they are the second evolution of the Ancient Alterans. They are also the protégés of the Asgard, old allies of the Alterans."
For the third or fourth time, both John and Garabaldi's brains shut down in shock at the revelation that their cousins were essentially much higher up the technological and scientific 'ladder' than even they could hope for in a thousand years! The second evolution of a First One race and mentored by another?!
For the first time in a very long time, John really didn't know what to say...
Jack was quick to pick up on John's shell-shocked mental processes but couldn't think of anything until his data tablet unexpectedly 'pinged'.
He pulls out his tablet and taps on the flashing message icon, and grins broadly, "Mr. President, good news, the Federation Senate has given immediate approval to send both medical and military personnel to render assistance to the Interstellar Alliance and the Earth Alliance; the Nightingale and her sister, the Louis Pasteur, along with four science vessels, are enroute to the Quantum Gate along with the Federation 3rd and 7th Fleets, whose mission is to assist the Interstellar Alliance as a long-range, fast-attack force, and supported by the 42nd Pathfinder Task Force, whose mission is to act as the Alliance and Federation's long-range scouts…and before you ask, both fleets have 800 ships apiece while the task force has roughly 120 ships, most of them being light ships with a 30-ship core of heavy capital ships.
"Thank you General." Sheridan managed a smile, a real worry-free smile for the first time in a long time. "Damn this has been a long, weird but very good day."
Jack smirks, "This is just another day in the office for us, sir but yeah, this has been a very good day."
SG-1 leaves together but leaves the two bottles behind as a gift as they are guided back to the hanger bay; John opens a bottle, pours a generous splash of whiskey into his glass and downs it in one swallow, sighing in pleasure as the finely aged alcohol slowly worked its way down like good alcohol should. The door chime beeps softly as he expected.
"Come in." he calls out, and the door swished open to reveal his old friend and security chief Michael Garibaldi. "You hear all that?"
"Yeah." The heavyset bald man nods as he pours himself a shot. "Pretty tall tale too."
"You believe them?"
"Not as far as I can throw them." Garibaldi replies bluntly before downing the shot in one go, sighing appreciatively at the smoothness. "If they'd have said they were from the future, maybe, but their story is just too unbelievable."
"They did happen to destroy that planet killer though, at least it shows they aren't working for the Drakh, or anyone who wants Earth destroyed…I mean do you know anyone that have nukes of that kind of explosive tonnage on call?" John points out.
"Doesn't mean they're friendly." Garibaldi cautions. "Clark's hanger-on's and the Psicorps didn't want Earth destroyed, doesn't mean we're all on the same side…although you do have a point about their nukes."
Sheridan feels the muscles in his jaw pulling taut, a subtle sign of discomfort for those that know him best. "They came and saved Earth, we have to be extremely careful how we handle this. Lies or not, the media is going to turn them into heroes."
"Perfect way to get into our inner circle and take us down from within." Garibaldi nodding.
"Do you actually have normal thoughts like everyone else, or is everything a conspiracy with you?" Sheridan poking a little bit of fun at his old Chief of Security. "Plus if you haven't noticed, they were equipped with energy shields and long-ranged energy weapons of a type we've never encountered before; they don't need to infiltrate our inner circle to take us down...they can probably take us down head-on with little to no problem!"
"Get shot in the back once or twice and you'll be the same." He smiles back a little. "I'm telling you John, something just doesn't add up."
There was a chime, and on a display screen a message popped up for the President.
"I had the ship's scanners give them the once over," He referred to the visitors. "They're all human except for Ambassador Teal'c and Miss Doran, scanners indicate that the Ambassador came from a human baseline which pretty obvious, hell, he looked like he could give a Drazi or a Mimbari warrior a serious run in the muscle department…as for miss Doran, she's also from a human baseline but it looks like that her body's been tampered or modified in an unrecognizable manner but damn if she doesn't look good; and look at this, the types of toxins in their blood and lungs match what you'd expect to see on a planet which used fossil fuels, like twentieth century Earth."
"Or Early 21st Century," Garibaldi adds. "…could be faked."
"Maybe, but this ship uses the best scanners we have, if they can fool them it'll be quite a feat." Sheridan turns off the screen. "You also have to ask why they'd go to the trouble, although the concentrations aren't up to the levels I would have expected."
"Chaos, power, money. The usual reasons…but it could be that they only recently found their 'inheritance' and are still integrating and/or replacing their old tech with the new stuff." Garibaldi admits.
"We need to check out their story, if it's true we can trust them, at least a little." Sheridan proposes.
"How do we check it out, I mean they…the device." He realized.
"The device." Sheridan grins. "If we go out there and find something in the Asteroid field we'll know they're telling the truth, or at least part of the truth."
"Plus if we find it we can put a guard on it, just to be safe."
"Agreed, but we need their help to find this artifact or device or whatever." Sheridan states, remembering none too fondly the last dimensional portal he had discovered leading to Thirdspace. "So play along, we'll let them think we're taking their word for it until we get our own proof. Ideally we should get a telepath in to see if they're hiding anything."
"Telepaths can be fooled." Garibaldi mentions. "But if we get hard evidence, I'll be happier."
"Yeah, me too." Sheridan sighs, it had been a very long few days but the signs are there that things are starting to ease off. "Remember when we just used to sit on a station and we only had to worry about getting stomped on by Shadows, Vorlons, or our own government?"
"Happy days." Garibaldi grins broadly. "We're just getting old, I, for one am looking forward to solving this mystery though I do kinda wish that we had some of their nukes on call back then…probably would have made things a little bit easier."
"Well, if they can help us defeat the plague, I'd cut a deal with anyone for a cure to that thing." Sheridan admits. "We need to act on this right damn quick."
"I'll have the Rangers start looking through the Asteroid belt. If they know what to look for…"
"It'll still take too long, besides you heard O'Neill…the damn thing's natural passive stealth is so effective that even their sensors didn't detect it until it was too late; no, we'll have to try the direct route and take care of it ourselves." Sheridan concludes. "Okay Michael, stay on board for now, we're not done for the day yet."
"For the record, O'Neill looks like a CO I'd happily work with, my first look at the guy told me that this is a boss that looks after the troops…"
"Yeah, he gives off the impression of a laid-back kind of commander but I get the feeling he's more than capable of blowing us to kingdom come if we cross him…"
"A man after my own heart!"
"Except he's the one with the bigger guns…"
Prometheus Puddlejumper Torch
"I don't think they bought it completely." Sam says out loud as they exit the Excalibur's hanger deck.
"I wouldn't have either." Daniel agrees quietly, "But it's the way it happened, we'll just have to convince them plus they just don't have the experience we do in situations like this."
"Our primary mission just changed. We'll be remaining on station to provide the Interstellar Alliance and Earth Alliance with both medical and military assistance." Jack states in his 'I'm-going-to-blow-shit-up' tone of voice. "Nightingale, Pasteur and the science vessels should be transiting shortly along with the guard stations to protect the Quantum Gate; 42nd Pathfinders will be transiting right behind them with orders to immediate disperse and locate possible Drakh bases, judging from the President's data, that shouldn't be too hard, and staging areas while 3rd and 7th Fleets will be standing by to jump at the earliest warning from the Pathfinders, though they will be stopping over to pick up reps from the ISA and EA groups."
Teal'c adds his thought to the growing discussion, "Their technology is not as advanced as we are used to dealing with; from the weapons we have seen and scanned, they are not as powerful compared to Asgard or Alteran weapon technology…and what weapons that have some similarities to our own are too large and cumbersome to be sufficiently effective in combat against ships of our universe although I am interested in comparing how relatively powerful their individual ship class is capable of compared to our own."
Jack turns his chair around leaving the flying to Mitchell, "Command and the Senate also told me to return to favor to the Drakh for their little bioweapon...we have full operational control of three NOVA bombs and ten Horizon-IIs..."
Mitchell turns to look at Jack in surprise, "That's a lot of bang to go around, boss."
"You know our policy regarding this, Colonel."
Mitchell nods, "I know, I know. It's just...we rarely get to play with so much explosive argument!"
"Oh, you never know..." Jack smirks knowingly as Torch touches down on the Prometheus' hanger deck.
A few minutes later SG-1 resume their original positions on the bridge, Jack on the command seat, Teal'c at Weaps, Sam at the secondary sensor station, Mitchell at flight ops, Daniel and Vala...somewhere else while Earth still dominates the ship's forward view.
"I think you made a new friend sir," Lt. Zaytsev grins. "President Sheridan just sent a message, he'd like to investigate the ancient device and make sure it isn't a threat."
It made sense, it was sheer dumb luck that the Prometheus and her task force had found this device, if it had been someone else like that snake-weed Anubis when he moved into the Solar system several years ago, the story here would have been a lot different. After seeing some of the tech and races in this universe, Jack knew he would be recommending some serious fortification on his home side just like Sheridan seemed to be planning doing too…especially if it seem that some of the more advanced races here in this universe were in the mood to play and act God.
To hell with that!
"Acknowledge that transmission and give him the coordinates but also tell him that we will be also heading back to the Quantum Gate to meet up with the commanders of the reinforcement fleets and scout task force along the chief medical commanders of the Nightingale and Pasteur."
"President Sheridan acknowledges your message, sir."
"Order the task force to make a micro-jump back to the Quantum Gate but tell them to make it as discrete as possible."
Jack looks at his helm officer, "Helm, get us out of here."
"Roger that, boss."
As the Prometheus turns on her axis to align with the general direction of the Quantum Gate; Jack, however, had a couple of issues weighing heavily on his mind. First off, he technically violated First Contact protocols but given that the local forces were dealing with a planet killer, he was well within his purview as task force commander to intervene and support the locals by whatever means necessary...though even he felt that using Sam's prototype unstable-zero-point Super MAC slug was a bit on the excessive side...it literally blew a 15 km wide hole out the back of the damn thing, for pete's sake!
He wanted to help, and was convinced it would be the right thing to do, but it would come down to President Hayes in the end and the Federation Council. He needed to get some information about the history of this planet to present to his government so they could get a real feel for whether President Sheridan was a democratic leader or a despot in disguise. Earth didn't deserve to die, even if it was populated by Neo-nazis, but allying with them was another question, as was allowing them into the SGC.
"We have confirmation from the Excalibur, sir." Foster brought him out of his thoughts. "They'll make a quick jump and see us there."
"Very well, engage engines and head for the device, we could use some more information on it ourselves."
"Like whether or not it'll take us home, sir?"
Jack merely smirks, "Oh, it'll take us home, I have no doubt about that, it's the consequences to activating the damn thing that'll keep me up at night." Not that it really did, thanks to the good ole' days…
Homeworld of the Minbari Federation.
The dark robed human strode through the brilliant crystalline city exuding confidence; he had no fear of this place or the inhabitants. He ignores the dark looks of warriors as he passes them by on the street and walks quickly through the elegantly pointed doorway of the Interstellar Alliance government building. Just a few short years ago a human walking the glimmering crystal streets of Tuzenore would have been ridiculous, he'd have been lynched by warriors while the rest of the population looked on in surprise, but the last few years had changed everything on Minbar, and it had been the humans that had been the catalyst that, in the view of most Minbari, saved their civilization.
This human called Minbar his home, or at least as much of a home as he could have. He wasn't a diplomat or soldier, he is a Ranger, one of the Anla'shok, which roughly translated as 'Application of Force' established by Valen to lead the war against the Shadows. They were despised by some, revered by others but respected by all and their record of service was bordering on legendary. They are an elite force and it was a fool who tried to stand in their way, especially this particular human. He stopped only when he reached his destination, a large door which he carefully knocks on.
"Come in." A gentle voice replies from beyond the portal, and the Ranger carefully enters using a quiet grace seemingly at odds with his determined march of a few seconds ago.
"Entil'zha." He speaks softly. "We have news from Earth, President Sheridan is alive and well, and the Shadow weapon is destroyed."
For a moment the leader of his order seemed to physically shrink, her already slender frame bowing in relief as it let go of the stresses harbored within. He and his order are sworn to fight for this woman, he would lay down his life without question if she willed it; for she was Entil'zha, she was Delenn of the family Mir, and she was the greatest leader of her race since Valen. She quickly regains her composure, a calm certainty returning to her movements and expression.
"Thank you." She bows gently, her hands steepled in the Religious caste greeting.
"There is more, Entil'zha." He says haltingly. He had fought many enemies, had stared death in the face and defied the gods of old, but stood before this epitome of calm resolve he falters to complete his report. "The Drakh, before retreating…they left a poison in Earth's atmosphere…a Shadow plague."
Delenn did not speak immediately, but fixes the Ranger with a strong cold stare.
"We are still trying to find out what its effects will be, but it seems the entire planetary population will be affected."
"And the Drakh?" Delenn asks quietly, but that soft voice was hard and sharp as a sword.
"Many were killed, and many fled." He answers. "The Earth fleet and our own ships are tracking them back to their base."
"When you find their base…" Delenn continues quietly. "You will inform me, we will assemble a fleet and then we will kill them."
"Yes Entil'zha." He nods. Delenn's strength and ruthless streak were also well known to the Rangers, she was as quiet and gentle a woman as had ever walked the streets of Minbar, but she had a determination and a strength of will which had literally shaped the galaxy. "There is something else, the ships which gave us victory, it wasn't ours."
"Then whose are they?"
Delenn listens carefully to the answer with slightly wider eyes; it seems her husband had not lost his ability to attract strange fate but this case; it came in spades as the human saying goes.
"This is more than a curiosity." Shai Alyt Kathenn muses over the report from Earth. "It represents a display of how far beyond our control things have fallen."
Kathenn is an old warrior and a famed one, feared and respected in equal measure as master of the ferocious Wind Swords clan of the Warrior caste. The Wind swords were well known within Minbari society as the most warlike of all warriors and the most stubborn and reactionary. They yearned for war as if it were oxygen; it was vital to their existence and when battle could not be found they would invent it. Everyone knew they were the strongest supporters of the war with Earth, and countless lesser conflicts before, and their role in the Minbari's internal leadership crisis was the subject of much scrutiny. It was the Wind swords that broke Valen's first law; that Minbari do not kill other Minbari, and it was Kathenn who had given those orders.
"Our warriors in the battle report that the new vessels speak the human language despite their differing designs; however, our scans detected that the basic signatures of their weapons and power grids are exactly the same." His aide, a powerful female named Antai informs him. While the Wind swords would never send a ship to help Earth on principle, some of the vessels had their clan members onboard.
"Of course they did." Kathenn grunts. "Look at the designs, only humans could build something so basic and ugly."
"They outran the Ranger ships without difficulty…and the largest of them easily outran the new ships while it is also powerful enough to blast a massive hole out the back of the Shadow Planet Killer," Antai adds. "We know little else about their complete capabilities, but the speeds they achieved are cause enough for concern, the fact that they also field powerful energy shielding is also another cause for concern."
"The humans have played the Grey council, tricked us into revealing our secrets for this 'Victory' project to built new warships for the Alliance, ships that are Earth force in all but name…when all along they had the technology to build something like this." Kathenn grimaces sharply. "I always said these humans were a menace, and I am proved right."
"Perhaps now the other warriors will heed you." His aide adds hopefully.
"Perhaps, we have lived in smug complacency too long, we are so reliant on our technology we have forgotten what makes a true warrior." Kathenn stares at the image of the modest fleet. "One day soon, we must become warriors once again, and fight for the glory of our people."
The Excalibur dropped out of hyperspace in a blossom of blue light, its hull was still marked and scarred from the recent battle but the ship was still considered fully combat capable. To Garibaldi's surprise, and mild annoyance, the Prometheus and her fleet were already waiting for them.
"Sensors, begin a scan of the location we've been given." Sheridan orders tiredly, he was fighting fatigue and in no mood for a long search. Fortunately the coordinates were accurate, and a tiny return on the scans was recorded.
"Well, at least we didn't waste our trip." Garibaldi shrugs. "We just gotta see if it's real."
"Move us closer, and try to get a clear reading." Sheridan orders and the new warship glides gently closer but still maintaining a respectable safe distance.
"Whatever it's made of sir, it's absorbing most of our scans like a sponge does water." The sensor officer reports. "Only the Vorlon based systems are working, somewhat."
"Somewhat? Makes it a pretty sophisticated piece of equipment then?" Sheridan asks. "Is it Vorlon in origin?"
"Hard to say since some of the scanner pulses from the Vorlon sensors are being bent away but I don't think so, sir. I'm picking up some similar material and energy signatures from it that closely matches that of the Archangel and Prometheus."
In one respect that was a relief, Vorlon dimensional gates usually don't herald fun and games but Sheridan hadn't heard of any other race building similar devices. Whatever this was it was something totally new and never before recorded.
"We have a visual sir." He reported, and the station display altered to reveal the device.
"Big." Garibaldi comments with a touch of awe. "Very big…shiny too. Almost looks brand new."
The screen showed the bright smooth oval shaped device, giving its size as miles in diameter, easily big enough to dwarf even the Excalibur. The writing etched onto the surface of the gigantic yet elegant structure draws in Sheridan's attention.
"This writing, it reminds me of Latin yet it's not." Sheridan squinted. "Not Vorlon, not Shadow, not Minbari. IPX is going to love this."
"Mr. President, General O'Neill of the Prometheus for you."
Sheridan accepted the incoming transmission. "General, can you tell us anything about this device?"
"Not much." He replied. "Like I said, the stupid thing was never detected until our FTL course intersected with its position but I'll bet a case of naquadria that this big bastard's powered by ZPMs and since naquadah is a naturally occurring superconductor, I can safely say that this sucker can generate enough juice to power all of Earth non-stop for a few millennia."
Everyone in the Excalibur's bridge shared stunned expressions at the thought of such advanced energy sources capable of lasting for so long. "How do you plan on turning it on?"
"According to Carter's theory, a full power scan should be enough to turn it on…hopefully." Jack admits. "We're in no rush to get home, but we need to make sure that the way is open for us."
"I understand General, you want to try and open the portal?" Sheridan confirms.
"We do, everyone will keep their distance while we move up and make our usual 'leap-of-faith'...just like we used to do."
"And we can monitor the device functioning and give us a better idea how it works and why it ended up here." Sheridan agreeing. "Very well, General, we'll keep our distance too and be ready for an activation but are you sure that you should be the point man for this?"
"Yeah, I'm sure, this was pretty much routine for the team and I…besides, I'm a solid believer of 'to boldly go where no one as gone before.'"
Sheridan grins at the Star Trek reference as he ends the transmission and notices Garibaldi giving him a serious look. "What?"
"We've still only got their word on what it does or what it's capable of." The bald man states. "What if it activates and a fleet of unknown warships pour through? We're in no condition to fight off another attack."
Sheridan smiled thinly. "That's why I brought the Excalibur, if anything goes wrong we fire up the primary weapon and blast that gate to scrap."
"And hope it's enough…but do you get the feeling that the Excalibur's main gun is only going to scratch that thing?" Garibaldi comments.
"We're you always this paranoid?"
"For the tenth time, yeah." He smiles. "Comes with the job."
"Yeah, I got the same feeling too."
"Good…and not so good if our gut feeling is right on the money."
The Prometheus drew their attention as it moves forward while everyone else moves back, and then begins a series of powerful scans directed at the device, almost immediately a huge power surge begins to gather.
"What sort of scanners are they using?" Garibaldi asks as the Prometheus completes her sweep.
"Unknown sir," the Excalibur's own sensor tech replies. "They're operating on very different principles to our own but from what I can gather, they're an order of magnitude, at least, more powerful than our Vorlon ones, that's for damn sure."
"What about the device, are we getting anything new?" Sheridan questions.
"I have no idea where it's getting all that power from, sir." The officer replies. "Energy readings don't match anything we've seen before…and it just went off the scale! Sir, according to my instruments, some of the minerals in the device are definitely new to science."
"Pretty nifty." Garibaldi admits. "Maybe it is from a new universe?"
"Mr. President, the device just activated I guess a sort of tractor beam, it's sweeping the area in front of the event horizon." Sensors reported.
"What's the Prometheus' status?" Sheridan asks.
"Keeping their distance." Garibaldi answered, pointing through the bridge windows at the much smaller ship.
"Watch when they move towards the device or send a probe or message drone through the gateway." Sheridan ordered. "Anything happening in relation to the device I want to know…"
He was cut off by a violent shaking of the Excalibur. The ship's bow turned noticeably and the scenery outside began moving.
"We're caught in the tractor beam!" the sensor officer yelled. "It's pulling us in!"
"Engines, full reverse!" Sheridan roars out.
The huge warship diverted power to its drive systems, blue flame flaring from the forward thrusters but without much effect as the tractor beam was designed to deal with more powerful types of sublight drives, the wide device growing ever closer. The ship shudders violently enough that Garibaldi loses his balance and joins Sheridan on the floor along with several other bridge personnel who were not buckled into their seats.
"It isn't working!" the female helm officer shouted. "Ten kilometers to the device!"
"Sir, Prometheus is moving in off our flank, they're scanning the device, maybe trying to shut it down."
"Can we get a message to them?" Sheridan calls out.
"Communications jammed, all frequencies are flooded by this energy field!"
The ship rocks violently again as the beam intensifies as they are drawn closer.
"We can't break free of this!" Helm calls out.
"What about the main gun?" Garibaldi shouts. "Destroy it!"
"We're too close!" Sheridan yells back in reply. "It's too late, hang on!"
The Excalibur is dragged into the device, as it touches the hollow oval filled with swirling blue energy like a rippling puddle, which the ISA destroyer passes through the event horizon like a diver. It was gone in an instant, leaving the device inactive and cooling down with the Prometheus standing by, unable to do nothing but watch.
"Well, that ain't good." Mitchell loudly points out, giving voice to the entire bridge crew's thoughts.
"No shit, Sherlock!" Jack growls. "Comms, order our task force to hold position while we head in and retrieve the Excalibur… and we better tell the fleet what happened to their President."
"Think they'll be pissed at us for bringing him here, sir?"
Jack gives her a look. If the ship had gone back to his own universe it would be safe, but there was a possibility it had gone to a completely different reality, there was just no way of knowing. He hated Ancient devices, especially when the Ancients forgot to leave an instruction manual for the damn things! "Follow 'em." Jack orders, before muttering under his breath, "Here we go again…"
Prometheus sweeps the device with its powerful sensors, triggering the activation protocols once more, the event horizon flashing into existence as a rippling pool of water, the Prometheus charges into the event horizon with the rest of the fleet watching as they hold position around the Gate…
To Be Continued…