Battleship Strike Group 10

A ST:TNG/Stargate Crossover

Chapter I

August 17, 2366 – 0907hrs
USS Enterprise , NCC-1701-D (Galaxy-class Battleship)
Battleship Strike Group 10

"Report," Rear Admiral Jean-Luc Picard said as he strode up the steps just behind the operations and helm console, to take his command chair. The bridge, fully manned including the newly installed console tiers on the port and starboard sides of the bridge, was on a state of heightened alert.

"Sir," Captain William Riker answered promptly. He was leaning over the free-standing tactical and communications console having been assisting the tactical officer, Lieutenant Tasha Yar. "Sensors have picked up an energy fluctuation directly in the path of the strike group."

"Sir," Yar stated. "The fluctuation is fading…" Yar allowed her voice to trail off as she checked her latest readings. "It appears to have disappeared."

"Is it a wormhole?" Picard asked as he glanced up at the deceptively peaceful view of the two Nebula-class cruisers on the bridge viewscreen. For the past few days, the battleship strike group had been on course for Nerendra III; the location where the Romulans had fired the opening salvoes in the Second Romulan War twenty-two years ago, destroying a Klingon farming colony in the process.

"That is a possibility," the golden-skinned android, Commander Data, answered from his operations console. "Several extremely unstable wormholes have been mapped in this region over the past forty years alone."

"Sir," Riker said looking up from his post. "I recommend we alter our course. It could reappear at any moment."

"Agreed," Picard said, turning to the dark blonde haired lieutenant at the helm. "Lieutenant Munroe, alter course-"

He broke off.

Something was happening.

"Picking up another energy fluctuation," Yar called out. "Directly ahead of the strike group."

Visible on the viewscreen, beyond the Bronchune and the Honshu, Picard saw a thin horizontal line of bright white light appear out of nowhere. As he watched, it quickly grew in length, and then began spinning around its centre point creating a perfectly circular fissure in the fabric of space. "Evasive manoeuvres!" He snapped.

However, the fissure was just too close. At the helm, Lieutenant Jana Munroe watched as the Bronchune and Honshu made contact with the fissure, disappearing in a momentary flash of light. "It's too late! I've lost contact with the Bronchune and Honshu." The fissure was growing in size as the Enterprise continued to move towards it.

"General quarters," Picard announced, as he activated the ship-wide intercom. "All hands, brace for impact!"

On the viewscreen, the fissure had grown so large that its edges could no longer be seen. The ship lurched momentarily as an intense white light pervaded the bridge, only to fade a moment later, revealing the two cruisers and a very different view of space. "Contact re-established with Bronchune and Honshu," Munroe reported.

"Aft view," Picard stated.

The image on the viewscreen blinked out, and was replaced by a view of the fissure as the rest of the strike group started to come through; each ship being heralded by a flash of light. First through, were the two Intrepid-class fast-attack cruisers Intrepid and Bellerophon followed by the five Ambassador-class battleships Roosevelt, Valley Forge, Illustrious, Grissom and Midway with the Excelsior-class destroyer escorts Lakota, Robinson and Gorkon. Bringing up the rear was the third Nebula-class cruiser Leeds.

"Admiral," Riker said, indicating the viewscreen. "The fissure; it's collapsing."

On the viewscreen, the fissure could be seen to be fading, allowing the stars it was blotting out to become visible. "Merdé," Picard quietly swore. "Well, where the hell are we?"

"According to stellar cartographic sensors," Data answered factually. "We are in the Pegasus Dwarf Galaxy. I am still working to determine our precise location."

"Sickbay to bridge," Picard glanced up as he heard the voice of his chief medical officer, Doctor Beverly Crusher. "I'm getting scattered reports of minor injuries throughout the ship. What just happened?"

"The strike group just passed through some type of spatial fissure," Riker answered.

"Is everyone all right up there?" Crusher asked.

"There are no injuries," Riker reported back.

"Acknowledged," Crusher answered. "Sickbay out."

"Strike group status?" Picard asked.

"All ships present and accounted for," Munroe answered from the helm.

"All ships reporting in," Ensign Sito Jaxa, a young blonde haired Bajoran female manning the communications station at the head of the bridge's starboard console tier, spoke up. "No damage. At least no damage that wasn't already present."

"Shields and weapons are fully operational," Yar reported after a moment.

"Engineering, bridge," the ship's chief engineer, Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge announced over the intercom. "Warp and impulse engines are undamaged."

"Not too bad," Picard said thoughtfully.

"We could be in worse shape," Riker said in agreement.

"Mister Data," Picard asked. "How long would it take us to get home?

"At the strike group's maximum sustainable warp," Data said swivelling his chair to face Picard for the moment. "Seven thousand six hundred and forty-one years, one hundred and twenty-seven days, twenty-one hours, and five minutes."

Picard suppressed another urge to swear. He knew the Enterprise could get back to Earth quicker than that. But, that would mean leaving other ships in the strike group behind, and it would still be nearly a two thousand year trip. No, he thought to himself. I will not do that. "Helm," Picard ordered. "Hold position."

"Aye sir," Munroe stated, entering the commands into her console. "Holding position. Strike group copies orders and are assuming standard escort formation."

"Stand down general quarters," Picard said rising from his command chair. "I'll be in my ready room. Captain Riker, you have the bridge."

1200hrs
USS Bellerophon , NCC-66705 (Intrepid-class Fast-Attack Cruiser)

"What have you got for me?" Captain William Ross asked, looking over his science officer's shoulder at the science station on his ship's bridge.

"Sir," the science officer, Lieutenant Ronald Moore stated. "Sensors indicate there are one point two thousand stars within a sixty light year radius of our position. At least seventy percent of them appear to have planets within their respective habitable zones."

"Are there any indications of advanced civilisations?" Ross asked.

"I'm not picking up any…" Moore's voice trailed off as the readings on his station changed suddenly. Turning in his seat, he made eye contact with Ross. "Sir," he resumed. "Subspace sensors just picked up a massive subspace pulse."

"How massive?" Ross asked.

"Eighty-three point six-eight gigacochrane pulse," Moore stated. "Sir, sensors indicate that it was an explosive device and not of natural origin."

"Someone's throwing around tricobalt devices," Ross said darkly.

"Looks that way," Moore remarked.

"Keep me apprised," Ross ordered as he turned away from the station, moving over to the operations station. "And put me through to the flagship, I want to talk to Admiral Picard."

Same time…
USS Valley Forge , NCC-26251 (Ambassador-class Battleship)

"That can't be right," Lieutenant Jennifer Clancy murmured as she studied the information being displayed on her operations console. "XO," she said more loudly. "I think we might have a problem."

"What's not right? Lieutenant, the ship's executive officer, Commander Chakotay, said from where he sat in the command chair, looking over at the young officer.

"As you know," Clancy stated. "We, along with the other ships in the strike group, have been working on trying to determine exactly where we are within the Pegasus Dwarf Galaxy." When Chakotay nodded, she continued. "Well I think I've found out why we haven't been able to do so. We weren't just displaced in space, but also out of our own universe and into another."

"Care to explain," Chakotay prompted.

"Sir," she said. "Everything in the universe resonates at the same quantum frequency. This frequency is a constant; it can't be changed by any known process. I just performed a quantum resonance scan of this region of space. The quantum frequency is not in sync with our own."

"Meaning," Chakotay finished. "That if your theory is correct, then our chances of getting home just became slim to none."

"Yes sir," Clancy said. "Sorry sir."

"Keep looking into it," Chakotay said. "I'll inform the captain."

Leaning back in the command chair, he tapped his combadge. "XO to Captain."

O-O-O

One deck down, Captain Julia Sumner was reading over reports detailing the Valley Forge's status after their unexpected transit through the spatial fissure. It seemed as if the ship had come through pretty much without a scratch. Probably because I managed to get the shields up on time, she thought. If she hadn't, the forty year old ship may well have been seriously damaged or even destroyed.

"XO to Captain," Sumner looked up from the reports, relieved to get a momentary break from the mind-numbing activity. It was Commander Chakotay.

"Captain here," Sumner said. "Go ahead."

"Captain," Chakotay said. "I just spoke with Lieutenant Clancy. She's saying that we may not only have been displaced over space, but also displaced from our own universe."

"Tell her to do a quantum resonance scan," Sumner told him.

"Already done," Chakotay said. "The frequency of the surrounding space is not in sync with our own."

"Verify her results," Sumner said. "Have her repeat-"

"Captain," Chakotay broke in. "We just received an 'all ships' message from the flagship. Admiral Picard is holding a commanding officers briefing aboard the Enterprise in twenty minutes."

1220hrs
USS Enterprise , NCC-1701-D

"As you are no doubt aware," Admiral Picard began, looking over the assembled captains seated around the conference table in his ship's observation lounge. "The strike group has been displaced over three million light years to the Pegasus Galaxy. What you may not be aware of, and Captain Sumner has only just notified me of this, is that we have also been displaced to another universe."

Around the table, the expressions on the faces of his captains ranged from shocked to disbelief. It wasn't surprising though since he'd just told them their situation was even worse than they had already thought. Only Captain Koss seemed unaffected, but then he was Vulcan and his emotional state was hard to decipher at the best of times. "Sir," Captain Erika Benteen asked. "Do we have any more information on what the phenomena was that brought us here?"

Picard looked up at her. Benteen was the commanding officer of the Lakota and the twin sister of Doctor Leah Brahms, chief designer of the Enterprise's warp core. It was a fair question, and one he'd been looking into himself. "Not much," Picard answered. "But, there are some obscure references in the library computer to race called the Iconians. It is said they were once referred to as 'Demons of Air and Darkness' because they supposedly had had the ability to appear at will on far-flung planets without the use of starships."

"But," Benteen countered. "What you said suggests that this technology, if it exists, was limited only to planets. Clearly that's not the case here."

"No it is not," Koss said from the far end of the table. "Logic suggests that if they could do it on planets, then they may also have been able to do it on a larger scale in space." Koss paused for a half second. "Were these references ever investigated?"

"Not officially," Picard stated. "But, about a year ago the USS Yamato, under Captain Donald Varley, was sent on a lone recon mission to a world inside the defunct Neutral Zone that was believed to be Iconia. She was never heard from again, and it was long believed she had been attacked and destroyed by the Romulans. Now though, I'm not so sure."

"You believe the Yamato may have encountered one of these 'Gateways' and been transported elsewhere in space or even to another universe," Koss surmised. "It is possible that the same thing has happened to us."

"Yes," Picard nodded. "I do."

"Sir," Koss resumed. "While my crew aboard the Bronchune were trying to determine our position within this galaxy, we stumbled upon a rather startling discovery. We found that the positions of the other nearby galaxies, including our own, were out of position for the current date. However, by checking historical records, I have determined they are correctly positioned for the year 2005 on the Earth Gregorian calendar."

"Are you saying we've been displaced in time also?" Captain Ross asked from where he sat next to Benteen.

"No, Captain," Koss answered. "I do not believe so, since we could detect no chronometric radiation. However, quantum theory provides any number of possibilities. Such as this universe forming at later date than our own, or it could be that time runs at a slower rate in this universe. Unfortunately, there is no way to test either possibility. In fact, the Vulcan Science Directorate had believed that it was impossible to travel between universes. It wasn't until Captain Kirk encountered the Terran Empire in 2267 that they were proven to be in error."

"Meaning," Ross said, finishing Koss's statement. "That while only two hours have passed here, more than a year may have passed in our own universe."

"Precisely," Koss finished.

"Any indication as to what the exact date is here?" Ross asked.

"According to the Bronchune's scans," Koss stated. "Today would be March 17, 2005."

"Merde," Picard swore softly. "Over three and a half centuries."

"Yes," Koss nodded. "I need not tell you that the prime directive would seem to apply."

"Not necessarily," Sumner cut in. "It only applies if our actions could affect our own time-line. If, as you said, we are in an alternate universe, it would not as our actions could not affect own time-line."

"Captains, please," Picard said, breaking into the developing argument. "We can save this discussion for a later time. What I'd like to know, is if any of you have had any ideas as to how we could get back."

Around the table, there was a collective shaking of heads.

The briefing went on for sometime after that as they discussed the status of the strike group and the resources they had at hand. In the end, it was decided that they needed to launch a series of class-9 probes to learn more about the local star systems than they could with just their shipboard sensors. It was also decided to dispatch the Lakota under cloak to investigate the suspected tricobalt detonation and see if it was indicative of a civilisation that could have the technology or knowledge to help them find a way home.

17 March, 2005 – 1545hrs
City of Atlantis, Planet Lantea
Pegasus Dwarf Galaxy

"What are those blips?" Colonel Steven Caldwell, the older, balding commander of the USAF Daedalus asked as he stared at the large plasma screen that had been placed on a trolley in Atlantis's main conference room. Visible on the screen, was the display of Atlantis' long range scanners that they had been using to highlight the discussion of the twelve Wraith hive ships that were expected to arrive over Atlantis in just over a day.

In the upper left of the display, the Wraith fleet was shown as multiple red dots with Atlantis visible as a friendly icon in the lower right. Between them, the projected course of the Wraith fleet was indicated by a broken line with their expected rest points highlighted.

Seated at the large self-illuminated horseshoe shaped conference table the city's chief scientist, the Canadian Doctor Rodney McKay glanced at the display, noting the very faint yellow dots representing thirteen unidentified ships parked in the vicinity where they expected the Wraith to make their last stop before reaching Atlantis. "The yellow indicates that they are unidentified, as in no information in the Ancients database."

Seated next him, was Major John Sheppard, the thirty-something, dark haired, slim and visibly fit acting military commander of Atlantis. "Who do you think they are?" Sheppard asked.

"What part of the word unidentified', do you not understand?" McKay answered sarcastically. "They're an unknown. The only way to find out who they are is to actually go there and see for ourselves."

"Well why don't we?" Sheppard said bluntly.

Seated at head of the table, the leader of the Atlantis expedition, the dark haired Doctor Elizabeth Weir looked up from her notes. "What do you mean?"

"I mean," Sheppard said rising from his seat. "That I'm sick of this. Sitting around, waiting for things to happen. I say we find out who they are, then deal with the Wraith."

"We've got one ship, Major," Caldwell answered, giving a shake of his head.

"One ship with an Asgard shield," Sheppard countered. "An armoury full of nukes and beaming technology. Fourteen ships if we can get those bogeys on our side."

"Twelve ships and their escorts," Caldwell said, still not liking the idea.

"I'm telling you," Sheppard said. "If we can get some friends out there, then we've got a better chance of sending the Wraith a message. We're not like the Ancients, and we're not gonna sit and wait. If they don't back off, we have the capacity and will to kick their asses for a change."

"Doctor Weir?" Caldwell asked.

"It would feel good to have some allies at our back for a change," Weir told him thoughtfully, looking at both Caldwell and Sheppard.

"All right then," Sheppard said decisively. "Let's do this."

Weir nodded. "You have a go."

1911hrs
USAF Daedalus , 02 (Daedalus-class Battle Cruiser)
Hyperspace

Leaning back in his less than comfortable command chair, Colonel Caldwell made a visual survey of his bridge. To his immediate left and right, were two very similar workstations; the left being the helm where his executive officer, the brown-haired Major Emma Cooper was piloting the ship. While on the right was the weapons workstation manned by Captain Dave Kleinman. Behind him, the rest of the bridge crew worked at their respective stations.

"Sir," Cooper announced. "We're approaching the coordinates of the unknowns."

"Very well," Caldwell acknowledged, turning his gaze upon the wide view port at the fore of the bridge where he could see the bluish blur of hyperspace speeding by them. "Drop us out of hyperspace."

"Yes sir," Cooper acknowledged tersely as she worked her console.

In an instant, the ship decelerated from travelling, relatively speaking, at nearly a hundred and forty-nine thousand times the speed of light to only half of light speed. Visible beyond view port, the blur of hyperspace faded rapidly into the darkness of space and the view of a planetary system in the near distance.

"Weps," Caldwell stated, leaning over slightly to get at look at sensor display.

"Scanners are clear sir," Kleinman answered unhesitatingly. "No contacts."

"I hope we're in the right spot," Caldwell said thoughtfully as Major Sheppard approached the command chair.

"I'm sure they're here," Sheppard answered confidently. "I've learnt to trust Rodney about these things. It's possible they could be just out of the Daedalus's scanner radius."

Caldwell nodded, thinking the same thing. "Novak, this is Caldwell. Is there any way you and Hermiod can boost the range of our scanners?"

O-O-O

Standing at his Asgard control station in engineering, Hermiod, the ship's resident Asgard observer was already working to the problem Colonel Caldwell had asked him to solve. "This is Hermiod," he stated in English. "I and Doctor Novak are already working to do precisely that. I should have them boosted in two of your minutes. Quicker, if you do not interrupt me." He directed his gaze over at the human female, Doctor Lindsey Novak who was assisting him at the human designed engineering control station. "Suoivbo eht od ot em ksa snamuh eseht od yhw," he muttered in his native Asgard, after ensuring the intercom had been closed. "Ecnegilletni fo eerged llams a sah Kavon Yesdnil Roctod tsael ta."

"Hermiod," Novak said suddenly, coming over to his station. "You know, you'd get on a lot better-"

"Doctor Novak," Hermiod interrupted, narrowing his eyes as he spoke. "As I said to Colonel Caldwell, this will be done a lot faster without interruptions." As if to emphasise his point, he moved a couple of the stones on his console and glanced at the schematic of Daedalus's sensors on the large display behind him. "Reh tuoba, gnorw neeb evah thgim I niaga neht."

O-O-O

Back on the bridge, Caldwell was frowning. He didn't like the Asgard they'd been assigned. He was rude, big-headed and clearly had a chip on his shoulder about something. If Hermiod had been a part of the Air Force, he'd have told the Asgard to deal with it. Unfortunately, he couldn't. He'd have to wait until they got back to Earth; only then would he be able to talk to General O'Neill about it, and ask if he could in turn talk to Supreme Commander Thor.

"Sir," Kleinman said suddenly. "Scanners just picked up an unknown contact on bearing zero-three-five. Range: fifteen thousand and holding." He paused briefly as yet more contacts appeared on his screen. "We also have twelve additional unknown contacts on bearings zero-three-two through zero-three-seven. Range: twenty thousand, also holding."

"No hyperspace window?" Caldwell asked, glancing at Kleinman's screen.

"No sir," Klienman answered. "It's almost like they just appeared there out of thin air."

"Colonel Caldwell," Hermiod announced over the intercom. "This is Hermiod in engineering. I have been monitoring the sensors and I believe the reason we did not detect any hyperspace windows is because they were not travelling in hyperspace."

Caldwell frowned again. "Are you saying they were cloaked?"

"No Colonel," Hermiod answered sighing. "I am saying they did go faster than light, but in normal space."

"I didn't think that was possible," Caldwell stated.

"It is," Hermiod said bluntly. "It can be achieved through the use of a spatial distortion drive. In essence, it uses a pair of subspace field generators to wrap a starship in a subspace bubble that distorts the local space-time continuum, enabling the starship to move faster than light in normal space. My people used such a drive system before we discovered hyperdrive technology. When compared to a hyperdrive, it is very slow and would take many decades to traverse this galaxy."

"Understood," Caldwell answered.

"Sir," the communications airman answered. "The lead unknown is hailing."

Caldwell nodded. "Put it up."

"Yes sir," the airman replied from his post.

Rising from his chair, Caldwell took only a couple seconds to cross the few steps it took to get an unobstructed view of the large monitor mounted in the port bulkhead of the bridge. A moment later, it changed from showing the status of the Daedalus, to giving him a view of what he thought was the bridge of the ship.

"That looks like the bridge of the Enterprise," Sheppard commented from where he stood beside the vacant command chair.

Caldwell looked sharply at Sheppard, ready to tell him that this was no time to bring up his love of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but the words never came out. Instead, he began looking closely at the image. In an instant, he realised that Sheppard was right. It did look like the bridge of the Enterprise.The shape and general structure was about right, but there were differences.

It was darker. The panelling and furnishings were in a dull grey, giving it an almost foreboding atmosphere. There were more computer installations as well; not just the usual bank of consoles along the rear of the bridge's upper level, but additional consoles flanking the sides of the bridge, with crewmen and women standing vigilantly at their posts. He watched as the bald man in the centre seat rose, coming forward to stand just before the steps that led down to what he presumed were the counterpart consoles to the Daedalus's flight control and weps stations.

The uniforms were as familiar as they were different. These uniforms had black cuffs, black shoulders and v-yoke with an enclosed collar that seemed to be cut uncomfortably high; the sleeves and torso were coloured red, blue or gold.

The rank and insignia, he saw, was unchanged – a stylised silver triangle over a gold oval on the left breast, with rank apparently being donated by a series of pips worn on the right side of the collar. The bald man's uniform, seemed to be wine red, with his rank being two gold pips within a gold bordered black rectangle worn either side of his collar. He began speaking; his authoritarian voice being broadcast over the speakers in the bridge. "Unidentified starship, this is Admiral Jean-Luc Picard of the Federation Battleship Enterprise. Please respond."

"No way," Sheppard remarked, glancing at Caldwell. "Did he just say his ship was called the Enterprise?"

"He did," Caldwell remarked as he turned away from the screen, accompanying Sheppard to the forward view port. "Bring the ship about. I want a look at the lead unknown."

"Yes sir," Cooper said turning her flight yoke slightly to the right. "Coming about to zero-three-five."

As the lead unknown came into view, Sheppard's jaw almost dropped to the deck. The ship had the same lines as the Galaxy-class starship from Star Trek: The Next Generation. Everything was as he remembered it from the show; except for the hull looking somewhat darker and dirtier, just as the Enterprise's bridge was. "Open a channel," Caldwell ordered going back to the screen.

"Channel open," the airman at the communications station answered. "You're on."

"Admiral Picard," Caldwell answered, putting all thoughts of Star Trek: The Next Generation aside. "This is Colonel Steven Caldwell of the USAF vessel Daedalus. We are receiving your transmission five by five."

"Colonel Caldwell," Picard stated, his eyebrows creasing into a frown. "Does USAF by any chance stand for United States Air Force? Moreover, if it does, might I enquire as to just how you came to be in the Pegasus Dwarf Galaxy? I was under the impression that Earth did not have interstellar capability at this point in time."

"It does stand for United States Air Force," Caldwell answered. "And in answer to your second and third questions, we do have interstellar capability as well as intergalactic. Our reason for being here is to protect our scientific and exploratory outpost on the Ancient city of Atlantis from the Wraith, a hostile race in this galaxy."

"Colonel Caldwell, this is Novak in engineering," Novak announced over the intercom. "The modifications to the scanner arrays are coming online now."

"Standby Doctor," Caldwell told her.

"The Wraith?" Picard asked.

Caldwell was silent for a moment, trying to think of the best way to put it. "They've got Atlantis under constant siege. While we've neutralised the threat momentarily, more are on their way. We're in this system to try and intercept a Wraith battle group on route to Atlantis."

"When do you expect them to arrive?" Picard asked.

"They should drop into the system within the hour," Caldwell informed him. "I can't give a better estimate than that. Daedalus doesn't have the ability to track ships in hyperspace."

"I see," Picard said diplomatically. "Is there anything we can do to help?"

Fight the Wraith for us, Caldwell silently thought. "Our chances of stopping the Wraith fleet from reaching Atlantis would be greatly increased if we were to combine forces." Caldwell paused for a moment, trying to picture how Admiral Picard would respond to that. "Look," he resumed. "I know you have no reason to help us. But, I can assure you that the Wraith will see you as a threat to their control of this galaxy. They'll want to eliminate that threat."

"If what you are saying is true," Picard said thoughtfully. "Then perhaps it would be better if the Wraith did not know we were here."

"What do you mean?" Caldwell asked.

Picard turned away, apparently giving a couple of orders to his bridge crew.

"Colonel," Sheppard said from where he still stood next to the forward view port. As he watched, the ships beyond the Enterprise seemed to shimmer for a moment as they faded into invisibility, leaving the Enterprise as the onlyremaining visible ship. "Those ships have cloaking devices."

"Sir," Kleinman commented. "All contacts, barring Enterprise just vanished."

"Yes," Picard stated, once again giving Caldwell his full attention. "Yes we do. Ensign Sito; you can instruct the strike group to drop their cloaks."

"Sir," Kleinman commented as the ships became visible again through the view port. "I'm picking up the other ships again."

"Admiral," Caldwell said thoughtfully. "Would you and some of your senior officers care to come over? I think we have a lot to discuss."

"Agreed," Picard said. "Myself and a small party will beam over shortly. Enterprise out."

"Sir," the communications airman stated. "They've closed the channel."

"Understood," Caldwell acknowledged as he returned to his command chair, reopening the intercom channel to engineering. "Doctor Novak? You had something to report?"

"Yes, Colonel," Novak answered. "As I said the modifications to our scanner arrays are now online."

"Is that all?" Caldwell asked, his eyebrows creasing in a frown.

"No sir," Novak went on. "The boosted scanners are picking up what appears to be a single contact approximately two point two-five light years away on course for Atlantis. At their present speed, they'll be there in approximately five days."

"Five point two-six days to be precise," Hermiod reported. "Its subspace emissions are a close match to those of the group of ships that we have just communicated with. I should also point out that the ship is indeed being propelled by a spatial distortion drive and that it is considerably more advanced than the Asgard version." For once, Hermiod actually sounded impressed.

"Is that admiration I hear in your voice," Caldwell said rising from his chair, as he joined Sheppard at the view port to gaze out at the Enterprise.

"Indeed it is ," Hermiod said. "I would not have thought it possible…"

USS Enterprise , NCC-1701-D
Battleship Strike Group 10

As the image of Colonel Caldwell and the Daedalus's bridge winked off, an image of the USAF vessel floating in space took its place. "Commander Data, Lieutenant Yar," Picard stated as he turned from the viewscreen. "You're with me."

"Yes sir," Data and Yar acknowledged, departing their stations and allowing their replacements to take over.

"Sir," Riker stated, joining Picard. "I don't need to remind you of General Order 15. Might I suggest that I go in your place to determine if it's safe. If it is, then you can go."

"Captain," Picard said as he made his way towards the aft turbolift with Data and Yar in tow. "It's my prerogative. Besides, when was the last time we had a genuine first contact situation?"

"Can't remember," Riker stated flatly.

"Too long ago," Picard told him. "I need to do this myself. I'm the only officer in the BSG with any real first contact experience. But, if it will make you feel better, I'll take a couple of marines with me."

Riker nodded. Mollified, but not satisfied. "I'll give the order myself."

"Just remind Colonel Sisko this is a first contact mission," Picard said as he stepped into the turbolift, but holding the doors open. "I don't want them to be in full battle dress uniform."

"Yes sir," Riker stated. "Any further instructions to be carried out while your gone?"

"Bring the BSG to full combat readiness," Picard told him. "But do it slowly. I don't want appear too threatening to the Daedalus. And initiate full sensor sweeps. Let's not be caught flat footed the way we were when that vessel…" Picard looked pointedly at the viewscreen. "…appeared."

"Yes sir," Riker answered. "Should I have the Lakota turn around?"

"No," Picard decided. "If these Wraith are due to arrive within the hour, Captain Benteen could never get here on time. We'll be beaming from transporter room one." Taking his hand away, he let the doors close. "The ship is yours," was the last thing Riker heard him say.

Turning away, he tapped his combadge. "Bridge to Colonel Sisko…"