- *No Site Warnings Apply
- Alternate Universe
- Time Travel
The command crew of both the Orion and the Icarus assembled in the Captian’s Office. Rodney eyed the Icarus crew with both sympathy and suspicion. It looked like they’d had a rough time of it, but the questions were stacking up.
“Thank you again, Major Sheppard,” Col. Chekhov said when everyone was settled. “I honestly do not know what would have happened if you had not arrived when you had.”
“Well broadcasting in the black is never a good idea,” John chided gently. “Especially when you don’t know who your neighbors are.”
“Speaking of neighbors,” Col. Mitchel said. “Who were those guys? Wraith you said?”
“Yeah,” John nodded. “You need to be brief on them before we go any further, because w
“Would you like to explain the wraith to the Icarus crew, Dr. Biro?” Rodney asked.
“Certainly, Dr. McKay,” she said and stood. “The wraith are a sapient life form that were created in the galaxy as a result of the Ancient’s experimentation with ascension through accelerated evolution and genetic manipulation.”
“Oh that’s just great,” Col. Mitchel groaned.
“The Wraith feed off of life energy,” Biro continued. “A process which leaves the victim in a state of extreme old age if they survive. Though most die if the process is not interrupted. The Wraith’s primary food source is human beings. Though we have evidence that shows they will also turn cannibal if they run out of humans to feed on.”
“They are extremely hard to kill with conventional weapons, a single wraith can take more than a dozen rounds to the chest and will still keep moving. If they have recently fed, they can regenerate faster than you can shoot with a semi-auto or a hand gun. If you allow them within hand-to-hand combat range your chances of survival reduce dramatically. If you are taken by the wraith or culled, as the locals call it, they might feed on you immediately, or they may place you in their own versions of stasis pods and hold you until they feel like having a snack.”
“They are at least as strong as a Jaffa, stronger if they had fed recently. Many also possess powerful mental abilities that can produce illusions to confuse and frighten their targets. They can also communicate with what seems to be a collective hive-mind though we believe that is becomes more difficult through distance and isolation. The more wraith that are together in one place the stronger they are mentally.”
The expressions on the Icarus crew’s faces were disbelief, horror, and consternation.
“Thank you, doctor,” Rodney said. “To add to that, they are as advanced as any space faring race in the Milky Way, but they are limited by what they can grow. The cruiser you saw is organic, grown to specification, but it is not the largest ship. The largest are what are called Hive Ships, which are roughly four times the size of a cruiser and can actually act as a carrier to two cruisers at a time. A single Hive can hold ten thousand wraith in hibernation. We found a derelict ship that had been a supply transporter. There had been thousands of stasis pods with human corpses inside.”
“To be very clear,” John said as Rodney indicated that he was finished. “The Wraith are the reason Ancients returned to the Milky Way with their tails between their legs ten thousand years ago. We are out-manned and out-gunned and our only advantage is that the Wraith do not know we are here.”
“Thank you for your candor, Major Sheppard,” Col. Chekhov said, his stoic expression giving nothing away. “We had no idea what you were facing here.”
“There are other issues we are facing, but the Wraith is our greatest threat,” John replied. “Now we have another few hours of flight time before we reach the Lantean system. I thank you all for taking the time to visit our infirmary. The rest of your crew are being evaluated as we speak.”
“Not like we had a choice,” Col. Mitchel said.
“True,” John shrugged. “But we have our reasons for this.”
“The shot wasn’t much fun either,” Mitchel replied, rubbing his arm.
“Kersan fever is nothing to mess around with,” Dr. Biro replied. “It is a childhood aliment to the native population, but we have no immunity. We had several people develop near complete amnesia before we were able to create an effective treatment and an inoculation for everyone else.”
“Now that sounds terrifying,” Flight Officer Nolan said. “I’ll take a needle in the arm to avoid it.”
“Agreed,” Col. Chekhov replied before he turned back to John. “I’m sure you have questions.”
“We have a few hundred,” John admitted. “But the most pressing is why can’t we dial the gate to Earth?”
“There was a security breach, not long after the expedition left Earth,” Chekhov said. “A religious fundamentalist group, one with ties to white supremacists and a new Earth First movement.”
“What did they do?” Rodney asked.
“They attempted to either destroy or the Gate,” Mitchel replied. “I wasn’t on active duty at the time. I was doing rehab for some injuries I sustained when my F-302 crashed.”
“That’s where I know you from,” Dr. Biro said suddenly. “You where the squadron leader that fought Anubis’ fleet at the Antarctica battle.”
“Guilty,” Mitchel acknowledged.
“I was there as you know,” Chekhov said. “I was with the DHD the IOA loaned to allow the public departure of your expedition.”
“I remember,” John nodded. “We met briefly.”
“So the gate was damaged?” Rodney asked worriedly.
“Yes,” Chekhov replied.
“Superficially,” Col. Chekhov said. “At least that is what we thought at first.”
“What happened?” Rodney demanded.
“A scheduled dial-in failed,” Col. Chekhov said. “I was told that the several key crystals within the fabric of the gate were damaged. The gate could dial out, but no gate could dial in.”
“That’s bad,” Rodney said. “How long after we left did this happen?”
“Four months after you departed,” Mitchel said.
“Four months?” Rodney squawked, outraged. “What they hell is taking so long to fix the gate? Are they trying to grow the crystals themselves?”
“That I couldn’t tell you,” Chekhov said. “All I know is that the F-304 fleet was given top priority. The Daedalus, the Apollo, and the Icarus were completed in less than six months. The Prometheus was sent out to harvest gate crystals and retrieve several gate teams in the mean time. Unfortunately, the ship was waylaid by pirates and in the attempt to repel boarders, Col. Carter was critically injured and had to be placed in a stasis pod.”
“General O’Neill was promoted to head of Home World Secretary,” Mitchel added. “And General Landry was assigned to head the SGC.”
“Right,” John tapped his fingers against his desk. “So what are you doing all the way out here looking like you barely managed to get out of a fire fight?”
Chekhov and Mitchel exchanged a look. “We can not tell you that,” Chekhov said. “We are under orders to report to Dr. Weir and Col. Everett directly.”
“Right,” John replied. He stood from his desk. “Sir, then I guess this conversation is at an end for now. I offer you the hospitality of my ship until we reach Atlantis.”
“Thank you, Major,” Col Chekhov replied as he and his officers stood as well.
“We’ll try to get the sub-light engines functioning before we reach the city,” Rodney said. “But from what I saw it doesn’t look promising.”
“Again, my thanks,” Chekhov replied. The door to the office closed as the Icarus crew was escorted to the mess by security personnel.
“So,” John said. “What do you think?”
“It’s all bullshit,” Dr. Biro said. “I don’t know what happened on the trip out, but the crew all look like they have been on rationing for weeks.”
“I need to look at the engines myself again,” Rodney said. “But story about the gate being damaged that badly is questionable. The ship’s general construction is shoddy at best. While they admit it was a rush job, I seriously doubt they should have let that ship out of the space dock in that condition.”
“I agree,” John sighed. “They’re hiding something.”
“No signs of Goa’uld infestation,” Dr. Biro offered. “Though that doesn’t mean anything really. The crew all looked weary. Several flinched at the sight of the medical scanner.”
“They all seemed skittish,” Sgt. Markham said. “I saw one of the engineers, she had her jacket off, I swear I saw what looked like track-marks on the inside of her elbow.”
“I saw several of the crew with the same scars,” Dr. Biro said. “But I doubt it wasn’t from drug use. Those scars are the kind people get when they do a lot of blood tests or donations.”
“That’s odd,” John said.
“Maybe they needed to do blood transfusions for the wounded?” Sgt. Markum suggested.
“I don’t think so,” Biro shook her head. “There would be more bruising. The ones I saw looked a few weeks old.”
“We’re not going to get any answers until they get to Atlantis,” John said. “You saw their little exchange.”
“It concerns me more than a little that Col. Mitchel and Col. Chekhov are on the same ship,” Rodney said seriously. “General O’Neill never liked Chekhov and handing him command of a ship, even a piece of crap like that one… Something isn’t right.”
“Sgt. Markum. Post guards on all the sensitive areas of the ship,” John said. “I don’t expect anyone to try anything, but lets not take any chances.”
“Yes, sir,” Markum said with a salute before leaving the office.
“Rodney,” John turned to him. “I want a deep scan done on that ship, every inch.”
“On it,” Rodney agreed. “I’ll hack into their computers as well. They might have some files, even old recorded news feeds that might give us an idea about what happened on Earth.”
“Dr. Biro,” John turned to her. “See if you can get anything out of the injured crew, but be gentle.”
“I’ll see what I can do,” she replied.
end part 4