Tuesday, 31 December 2019

SG Nova Roma, Chapter 3.30


30 – Into the Unknown

(Chaser – Gate Room – Year 2, Day 38, 0918)

They had reached the border of Civilized Space. It turned out that said border was not actually a hard border. Instead, there was the official border and then a transition zone. The transition zone was not colonized by the Order of Other yet, but the local Gate capable planets had established frontier towns, farms and infrastructure. And basically, it was the Wild West of the Far Galaxy. That meant shoot-outs between outlaws and law and order were still very common.

In fact, Lieutenant Matthew Scott had just gotten in a firefight to back up the local constabulary on H5R-821. The planet didn’t have much to offer, but there was a sheep-like species that could be found in extremely large numbers on the world. Scott’s team had not only won the firefight, but had also come back with a large stockpile of meat and clothing. The natives had even thrown in some ammo for their trouble. Scott was reporting all this to Colonel Young when Chaser jumped back into hyperspace.

Young had been up for way too long, so he headed for his quarters and ordered Scott to go take charge on the bridge. When he walked onto the bridge, all three stations were manned. Eli Wallace was behind the right console, Corporal Barnes was in the middle and Sergeant Hari Poviso was at the left console. Poviso was a Nakai and a top-notch pilot. He was one of the new crewmembers that had joined them from Freedom Prime.

“So, Matt, rumor has it that you picked up some new threads for us on 821.” Eli said.

“Indeed I did. They even had some colors,” Scott said. The colors were limited to red, brown, green, purple and yellow. But he was not complaining. ~I’ll take what I can get.~

“Nice.” Eli said with a smile.

While they had been on Freedom Prime, the locals had repaired the clothes they had wearing when they had been thawed. They had also been given new clothes, with the Senate paying the bill. The civilians had each been given fours new outfits, while the military personnel had each gotten two new uniforms – the locals had managed to make perfect copies – and two civilian outfits. Scott also figured that they had enough clothes from 821 to give everybody one more outfit.

As for the new crewmembers…the Jynacko could wear the same clothes as the humans, while both the Ursini and Nakai wore costume made uniforms and civilian clothes. Like the new uniforms, they were perfect copies. They were just special sizes to fit the non-humanoids. Scott gave Eli a nod and then sat down in the command chair.

“So, what do we have on sensors ?”

“Nothing special so far, sir,” Corporal Barnes said.

“We have roughly three hours before we hit Uncharted Space, Lieutenant,” Poviso said. “According to the locals, 821 is the last settlement. We’ll pass H5R-823, which is the unofficial border of the Transition Zone. It’s been visited by colonists as a source for certain medications. But it’s a desert planet, so it’s too harsh for permanent habitation.”

“Medications ?”

“There’s a creature that sounds like what on Earth is called a scorpion. If you extract their toxins and process them the right way, you can make several anti-biotics.”

“Eli, make a note of that,” Scott said. “If we drop out in range, we might want to scorpion hunting.”

“Right.”

Eli nodded and set to making the note. As a result, he did not notice a red dot that appeared at the very edge of sensor range. It was only within range for a second before it vanished again. Eli finished making the note and went back to monitoring the sensors.

(Order Warship Yalock – Bridge – Year 2, Day 40, 1705)

Commander Rayo Gazzil was sitting in the command chair of the Yalock. The main viewer was showing the vessel they were trailing. So far, the target appeared to be totally unaware that they were being followed. ~So far, so good.~ Yalock was one of two warships the Order of Other had. She was assigned to deal with external threats. The other warship, which was called Grand Founders, was assigned to defend the Order homeworld. It had been the people on the homeworld who had labeled the ship they were following as a threat. ~After what happened on Mine 4, it makes sense.~ Now it was only a matter of time of picking the right moment to strike.

(Chaser – Bridge – Year 2, Day 50, 0800)

Matthew Scott dropped the Chaser of out hyperspace. This was the third time since they had left Civilized Space that they were taking a stab at gathering supplies. So far, they had not had much luck finding food and water. They had, however, hit upon a big stash off limestone on their second trip. Next to him, Ronald Greer was manning the weapons.

“Four Stargates in range, sir,” Scott said.

“What does our new toy say ?”

“H5X-018,” Scott began. “It should have water.”

Chaser still didn’t have Artificial Intelligence, but Eli, Rush, Park and Volker had been hard at work programming several advanced filters. They were programmed to find and highlight a selected list of elements when they were detected by the long range sensors. It wasn’t perfect, but – if they worked – these programs might increase their chances. The problem was that this was the first time they were using the filters, so the plan was still untested.

“Time to test the filter,” Young said, before turning to Greer. “Assemble a team.”

“Yes, sir,” Greer said, before turning to the third person manning the bridge, which was Varro. “You up for a trip ?”

“Always,” Varro said.

Varro and Greer left the bridge, while Young grabbed his radio. Several minutes later, Camille and Eli walked into the room. Before they had gone into stasis, Wray had never manned one of the bridge console. Which had made sense, because she was the IOA representative and the Human Resources Officer for both Icarus Base and Destiny. But Young had decided that he wanted all of the crew – old and new – on the Chaser to be rated on the bridge consoles. It was an approach developed by the US Navy for their submarines. The idea was that everybody had to be able to do every job. Wray gave Young a look, before sitting down at one of the consoles. She had barely done so, when her console beeped.

“A ship just entered sensor range,” Camille said.

“Do you have an ID ?”

She worked the console and a profile appeared on one of the screens. It was not good news.

(Order Warship Yalock – Bridge – Year 2, Day 50, 0807)

The time had come. Yalock was about to attack her target. Gazzil stood up from his command chair and looked at the main viewer. He had begun his career in Order Naval Forces as a pilot. So he would have preferred to be behind the helm at this very moment. But that was not his seat anymore. Instead, that place was held by Lieutenant Vi’Jar, a very capable Nakai pilot. As for him, Gazzil was a Jynacko-Xivolo hybrid who was no fan of the center seat. But somebody had to make the hard calls. Taking a deep breath, he turned to Vi’Jar.

“Maintain course and speed, Lieutenant.”

“Yes, Commander,” Vi’Jar said.

“Major Caross, sound action stations,” Gazzil began. “All hands, prepare to attack !”

Major Caross was the Ursini Executive Officer of the Yalock. He was also the ship’s weapons officer and the best shot they had aboard. There was a pause and then the alarms began to sound. Gazzil made his way to the helm and hit the proper keys to silence the klaxon. Then he sat down in the command chair again. The battle was about to begin.

(Chaser – Bridge – Year 2, Day 50, 0809)

Chaser scored two hits on the attacking ship, while dodging two shots herself. The Primians had not wanted to take any risks, so Chaser was fitted with the heaviest and most advanced weapons they had been able to get their hands on. She was equipped with sixteen cannons and two missile tubes.

As for their enemy, it was a Goa’uld Ha’tak-class vessel. But for some reason, it had not launched its Deathgliders. Not that Young minded. He watched as Scott threw the ship through another turn and Eli managed to score three more hits. Camille then launched two missiles at the attacker, both of which were fitted with technology that allowed them to got right through the enemy shields. The missiles hit the Goa’uld ship and its shields came down thirty percent.

“Nice shooting,” Young said.

“Coming around again,” Scott said.

“Cannons moving,” Eli began. “Firing again.”

Eli fired again, hitting the Goa’uld three times. The enemy fired back, but Scott dodged the shots. It was at this point that another ship appeared on sensors. Camille tried to ID the newcomer, but it was not in the database. What was clear, however, was that the alien vessel was a warship. It opened fire on the Goa’uld ship with all of its forward weapons. The Goa’uld ship’s shields collapsed and the vessel exploded. Then the newcomer turned around and jumped back into hyperspace.

(Order Warship Yalock – Bridge – Year 2, Day 50, 0815)

Gazzil wished he could have contacted Chaser. But his orders were clear. He was to protect the Chaser, not contact it. The Goa’uld had placed surveillance devices on Mine 4, which the Order had discovered when they had intercepted the signal from those devices. Which had triggered the alarm in Security Room Two. After Brother Xander had run this alert up the chain of command, Gazzil’s superiors had given all Order Naval Force ships orders to be on the lookout for suspicious Goa’uld activity. And when one of their ships had been detected following Chaser, Yalock had been ordered to follow them.

But the Goa’uld had been smart about their plan. They had waited until Chaser had left both Civilized Space and the Transition Zone behind. And then they had waited for their prey to be out of subspace transceiver range of the world they called H5R-821. It had been only then that they had attacked the ship. And had paid the price. He left Major Caross in charge as he headed for his office. As soon as they reached transmission range, he would report the outcome to his superiors. But for now, he had paperwork to deal with.

(Chaser – Bridge – Year 2, Day 50, 0816)

Young was glad that the Goa’uld had lost the fight, but plenty of things were not adding up. So he had assigned Rush and Brody to studying the data on the ship that had come to the rescue. He was also pondering why the Goa’uld had attacked them with just one ship. ~And where were their Deathgliders ?~

He left Scott in charge on the bridge and headed for Auxiliary Control, where Rush and Brody were working on the information on the alien vessel. While he started to discuss their findings, Doctor Lisa Park – who had been manning another console because they had gone to battle stations – left the room for her quarters. ~I need some down time.~

As soon she walked in, she realized that something was wrong. The entrance from the corridor led into her bedroom, where the lights were off. Then the automatic doors closed behind her and the lights came on. What she saw made her gasp.

“Greetings, Doctor Park,” Pelops, Supreme System Lord of the New Goa’uld Empire said. “We’ve been waiting for you.”

Pelops was not alone. He was accompanied by three Jaffa, all of whom were not wearing the traditional Jaffa armor. Instead, they were wearing black coveralls. And they were all pointing Zat’ni’katels at her.

“How did you get onboard ?”

“Well, Anubis might have been a psychopathic, sociopathic and utterly crazy monster,” Pelops began. “But he did acquire some useful technology, including Asgard teleporters. We added one to a cargo ship, which also came with a cloaking device. So, me and friends launched our little ship from the Vengeance before she proceeded to attack and teleported over while the shields were still down.”

“Why are you telling me this ?”

“Because I know all about the ninth chevrons and the signal Destiny was built to decipher,” Pelops said. “And I…,” He took out a small backpack. That backpack contained a cylinder filled with a blue liquid. And inside that liquid was a Goa’uld parasite. “….Need a spy aboard this ship. So we picked a set of quarters at random to teleport into, and you became the lucky winner.”

Pelops nodded to one of the Jaffa. The man fired his Zat and the world went black. As Pelops watched, the Jaffa put Park on her bed. They put her on her belly, while Pelops opened the cylinder. He grabbed the parasite from the cylinder and dropped it on her back. Then he took out a knife and cut a hole in her shirt. Two seconds later, Park screamed as the parasite borrowed its way into her body.

To Be Continued In Stargate Universe Season Five….

SG Nova Roma, Chapter 3.29


29 – A Miracle and a Disaster

(Destiny – Gate Room – Year 2, Day 6, 1725)

Ginn and Perry had searched all the rooms they could access. All the control consoles they could get to were dead. And they were the only people aboard. There were also some kind of uniforms all over the place. But none of them were Icarus Base uniforms or Lucian Alliance garb. Instead, they were an alien uniform of some kind. And the man in the third stasis pod was wearing that uniform. At the moment, however, the two of them were not in the corridor with stasis pods.

Ginn and Perry had had disagreements in the past, but those were behind them now. They needed to work together and they needed to plot their next move. After searching the ship, they had precious little supplies. ~One day, maybe two.~ Ginn thought as she walked into the Gate Room. And without working controls, they couldn’t dial the Stargate. But even if they had working controls, there was the issue of Destiny being in FTL. ~And that means no Stargate travel.~

“How are things looking in hydroponics ?” Perry asked.

“The main dome is filled with nothing but dead plants,” Ginn said. “And I can’t get the original bay open.”

“We need more supplies and we need answers. The problem is that we can get the answers by waking up the man in the third pod, but that would be a drain on our supplies,” Perry paused. “We need a miracle.”

Before Ginn could say anything, a small circle of green light formed on the floor between the control consoles – where they were – and the Stargate. The light rose up into a cylinder and then coalesced into a solid object. Ginn picked it up. It was a can with a label in English. The label said ‘One Miracle as requested’. She sniffed the can.

“Smells like oil.”

“Okay, you tell me you can’t open the hydroponics bay and suddenly a can of oil appears out nowhere ?”

“I know,” Ginn said. “It even comes with an injector.” There was an injector attached to the can. “But I’m not complaining.”

Perry nodded and the two of them headed for original hydroponics bay. When they got there, Ginn used the can on the door. Then she hit the button for the doors. The last time, the doors had refused to budge. But this time the doors opened. As they stepped inside, Ginn realized why the doors hadn’t opened. The plants in the bay had grown like crazy, overgrowing everything. Including the doors. The oil had lubricated the doors and dissolved the plants. It would take time to clean up the place, but something told her that their food problem had gone away for the considerable future. Which meant that their only remaining problem was the man in the stasis pod.

(Spera – Science Lab – Year 2, Day 6, 1733)

Jennifer Hailey was very unhappy, because her theory had turned out to be correct. They had checked and double checked, but the data kept saying that they were right. ~This is going to be ugly.~ Taking a deep breath, she opened her laptop and then looked at Vale. After she had stormed out, she had begun brainstorming with the people in the science lab. When Vale had seen what they had been doing, he had left them to it.

Instead of breathing down their necks, he had used the Ancient Stones to report back to Earth. And when she had called him in for her report, he had used the Stones to get General O’Neill and Colonel Samantha Carter onboard. O’Neill was in Major Levine and Carter had swapped with Alison Porter. As soon as they had arrived, she had opened her laptop.

“Okay,” Vale began. “What do you have ?”

“It’s bad, sir,” Hailey said. “I think we have a paradox here. Because Grogan was right…”

“Grogan ?” O’Neill asked. “I got shot during training, that Grogan ?”

“Yes, sir,” Hailey began. “Now, the Xivolo travelled back and created a black hole. But it was a regular black hole.” She turned the laptop around, so that Carter could see the data. Carter sat down and began going over it. “It wasn’t going anywhere.”

“She’s right, sir. That’s why there were conflicting readings. Part of the readings are on the black hole, while the rest are the anomaly.”

“But the black hole isn’t here anymore,” Vale began. “It hasn’t been here for….,” He paused. “Oh, a rift in the space-time continuum ? That’s how they are getting readings on the black hole ?”

“Yes, sir,” Hailey said. “And it gets worse , because we figured out the experiment. We wrecked their coup d’├ętat plan for Novus. This is their Plan B. They are going to try to dissolve the black hole with an anti-gravity beam. If they succeed, there will be no rogue black hole to destroy Novus. It would completely rewrite their timeline. New timeline, new chance to take over the planet.”

“But ?” O’Neill said.

“I checked their numbers,” Hailey said. “It’s not going to work. They’re the reason the black hole went rogue. That’s the paradox, they are going to cause the very event they are trying to prevent. That’s why the black hole skipped three solar systems. The ‘launch’ was so violent that it skipped a chunk of normal space.”

“Can’t we warn them ?” O’Neill asked.

“No, sir,” Carter asked. “That would alter the timeline. And we have no idea what the consequences would be if we do so, sir. We could end up deleting or killing millions of people. We don’t have the right to go messing with the timeline, sir.”

“And we tried to communicate with Charlie,” Vale said. “They are refusing to take our calls. So, ignoring the ethical issues, we simply can’t do it.”

“In fact, we need to get out of here,” Hailey began. “Because when this happens, it’s going to be bad. It’s not only going to destroy Charlie, the effects will probably ripple lightyears away from the point or origin. If we’re still here when that happens, this ship will get crushed like a tin can, General.”

“Okay, Colonel,” O’Neill said. “Take Spera into FTL. All Gate activity is to be suspended. You need to put as much distance as you can between you and here as you can before the big bang.”

“Yes, sir.”

Vale left the science lab, while Carter and Hailey started discussing the telemetry in detail. Not a fan of technobabble, O’Neill left the room as well. He was halfway to the bridge when the ship jumped into FTL and he was back in the briefing room at Stargate Command for a second. Once that moment was over, O’Neill continued to the bridge. When he got there, Vale was in the command chair.

“For the record,” O’Neill began. “Carter is right about this whole time-line thing. The Ancients got into all sorts of trouble by trying to play god.”

“I know,” Vale said. “But that doesn’t change the fact that it stinks. Because the Vicerant might be assholes, but they are still people.”

“There’s that.”

O’Neill sighed as he realized that Vale was right. And they were partially responsible for this situation. After all, it was Spera that had sabotaged their Plan A. And it had been right thing to do. But that was not making him feel better now.

(Spera – Bridge – Year 2, Day 9, 1157)

They had three minutes before the experiment began. The eggheads back on Earth had confirmed that the Vicerant plan wouldn’t work. They had severely underestimated the gravity field of the black hole. But more important, they had not properly compensated for its temporal distortion. And the experiment – which Vale had named Operation Backlash - was scheduled for 1200 hours today. As for Spera, she had done exactly what General O’Neill had ordered. They had put as much distance between themselves and Charlie as they could.

Levine and T’Zalo were doing the flying, while Hailey and Porter were on the science consoles and Colson was on the engineering console behind the command chair. Vale was in said command chair, with Grogan manning the weapons. ~Just in case.~ All of the non-essential system had been turned off, so that the power could be diverted to the shields.

“How are we looking, Alec ?”

“Shields are at maximum and we’re moving as at full speed.”

“Major, Doctor, what do we have on sensors ?”

“Nothing so far,” Hailey said.

“Same here,” Porter added.

Vale leaned back and watched as the clock ticked away the time to Operation Backlash. Then the display clock turned red and continued counting time in negative numbers. It reached minus seven minutes and twelve seconds before the science consoles began beeping with all sorts of alarms.

“Colonel,” Hailey said. “We are reading a major distortion wave. It looks like a major ripple in space.”

“Can we outrun it ?”

“No,” Levine said. “We have six minutes and seven seconds until it hits, sir.”

Vale activated the intercom and told everybody to brace for impact. As the ripple approached them, the space behind them slowly began to light up. Finally, there was a wall of blinding light as far as the eye – and the sensors – could see. And thirteen minutes and nineteen seconds after Operation Backlash began, that light swallowed Spera whole.