Chapter 19“This is General Jack O’Neill of the Picon Resistance, to all battlestars. Fallback to jump point Omega six.”
Thor’s speakers crackled, “Shield units cover withdrawals, prepare to launch viper screen.”
“Who the frak are they fighting?” Sheppard wondered, “It sounds like they're getting their asses kicked.” Starbuck shook his head.
“Thor I’ve finished entering the stargate access protocols, see if you can establish a link, there’s got to be something in there.” he turned to Sheppard. “These are transmission segments the computer is stringing together but they’re very distorted. I don’t think they are coming through a stable wormhole, but from what we can tell we’ve heard them fall back and regroup half a dozen times,” he replied from a workstation to the front of the bridge. Niam stood beside him, “The signals we have been recieving use ancient Kobollan communications protocols.”
“That can’t be from our universe, it took all our resources to mount an expedition to Atlantis.” he told Starbuck, “Coming as far as this galaxy would have been even more of a one way trip, unless someone stumbled upon a cache of ZPMs.”“This is [i]Adama.
Unbreakable, advance with strike wings, engage at range try to take out some of those gun batteries, but watch the main cannon, our battlestars can’t repel firepower of that magnitude.”[/i]
“Adama?” Starbuck frowned, “That wasn’t Adama...”
“The guy who snatched your body?” Sheppard demanded, “Who is Adama, you never answered that question.”
“I too would like an answer.” Thor said flatly, still scanning the maelstrom.
“Adama was the commander of the Battlestar Galactica
during the great exodus... or should I say... third great exodus..” Starbuck corrected himself, “What we thought to be the last Colonial battlestar escorting the survivors of the Cylon attack in a rag tag fugitive fleet in search of Earth. There is no one I trust more than that man, no one.” he turned back towards Sheppard and Thor. “Adama ascended before any of us, he had the purity of purpose and the will to do it. he did it to earn the trust of the Altairans so they would help us, there's no one I would trust more than him. What he did was to help us, we just have to figure out how.”
“Did you not already express a desire to travel to Kobol to search for your lost mate?” Niam asked speaking for the first time in a while. Starbuck’s jaw dropped and his head swong around to Niam. “Forgive me if I offended, perhaps I misunderstood Colonel Sheppard’s statement.”
“Um I said he knew a girl named Athena he wanted to search for...” Sheppard said awkwardly.”I never said she was his mate.”
“Forgive me, I assumed that to take such a long journey, she must be of great importance.” Niam replied, “My understanding of humans is limited, and somewhat out of date, I assumed she was his mate.”
“She is very important to me.” Starbuck replied, and he blinked at hearing himself say that, “She was on New Kobol when it fell.”
“Yet when we were in orbit over New Kobol you did not search for her, you followed the signal from General O’Neill.” Niam sounded perplexed.
“Hey, in case anyone forgot, that wouldn’t be my Athena down there.” Starbuck protested, taken aback, “I’m from an alternate reality, I came here to find out what the frak Iblis is trying to do in my own universe.”
“So the Athena of this universe is of no importance.” Niam concluded resuming his study of the control panel. Starbuck actually raised a hand, clenched his fist and then released it. The air seemed to quiver and Thor opened his mouth in alarm.
“Let’s all just take a break...Starbuck, Niam doesn’t know what he’s saying is very offensive....” Sheppard suggested hurrying over. Niam turned back from his work towards Starbuck and then to Sheppard, as he opened his mouth, Sheppard held up a finger, “Ah, I think you’ve said enough Niam, hows...hows the scan?”
“The cloud ionization pattern is a 71% match to that which would be produced by a Tylium drive.” Niam replied turning back to his console. “Unfortunately, with our present damage, we cannot hope to follow.”
“Our damage will soon be repaired.” Thor replied, “My ship’s self repair systems are working on restoring our armor as we speak, however there is another concern. There is a considerable amount of debris within that cloud as well as powerful gravitational tides. It is extremely dangerous for a ship of this size and mass to attempt to navigate under such conditions.”
“More so for the Pegasus
, which has several times this vessel’s mass.” Niam pointed out. Thor gave the Asuran an irritated glance.
“We do not have confirmation that they survived the journey.” Thor answered flatly.
“What about the transmissions?” Starbuck asked, “They’re distorted by the cloud, out of order, has there been any mention of the Pegasus
“My ship’s computer has been compiling a number of transmission fragments.” Thor replied, he worked at his console, he looked up, “it appears we have monitored a transmission that matches their protocols, I will play it now.”
“..This is SG-1 aboard the battle star Pegasus
, that is not a moon, repeat that is not a moon, if that thing is operational, shields won’t matter it can take out Picon itself...”
“What is SG-1?” Niam asked.
“The stories would give General Solo a run for his money.” Sheppard told him, “But I have a bad feeling I know what they are describing,” he turned to Starbuck, “Somehow Picon is under attack by a death star.”
* * *
Centerpoint station teemed with activity. Workers and repair droids swarmed over the battered hull and construction tenders hovered about. Dwarfed by the station itself, yet somehow impressively contrasted nonetheless, the Iron Fist
and her squadron of super star destroyers stood guard. Seemingly diminutive by comparison Imperial
class star destroyers and smaller support craft held formation between the behemoths. A lone dreadnought approached cautiously at a stately pace that suited its elderly nature.
“Does anyone else think trying to play mind games with Thrawn is just a bad idea?” Calrissian asked aloud. Wedge nodded. they stood on the bridge of the Harrier
. The Dreadnought’s Mon Calamari captain consulted with Lobot, who had take a station to one side. "I gated halfway across the galaxy to spend days travelling back to where I came from, just to make a guy think twice about his intel?"
“It’s more than that.” Wedge replied to Lando, “Making Thrawn second guess his intelligence about where you were and when is just icing on the cake, the real goal is not to expose any of our more advanced technology to the Empire unless we have to. Thrawn may wonder who was on Corellia, but at least he's less likely to wonder how you could have gotten there considering hyperspace was disrupted until Centerpoint shut down. The Organa was a Corellian design, the Admiral has Thrawn convinced it was just an advanced model the Cylons were working on, and we know they've used human duplicate androids before. It's a worthwhile gambit if it's plausible enough. We can't let the The Harrier
is relatively unmodified. Except the Stargate in the hold.” He added. "If there's any chance of capture, we try to evac through it, and blow the thing to hell, it's our best chance of taking out something as large as Centerpoint station."
“Great, the Admiral’s making contingency plans for our capture already.” Lando grumbled, “You know planning to fail is failing to plan.”
“The reverse is true as well Governor.” Said Wedge, “Relax, the Orion’s
also cloaked nearby, she’ll beam us out if we’re boarded or if the Empire tries to take us into custody. “
“I give the Orion
ten minutes against that fleet, and I think I’m being generous, zero point modules or none.” Calrissian replied.
“Well I’m glad the three of you are along for the ride anyway.” Captain Omos interjected nodding to the two padawans behind Wedge, “Even with a few Jedi up our sleeve and a Lantean war ship shadowing us, I feel like a jawa being dangled in front of a Rancor. Hell of a risk though as Jedi Sheppard would say.”
“if we can’t extract Jan and the Empire breaks her, the Jedi are exposed anyway.” Wedge replied, “hell Yoda wanted to come along and drop the pretense, I can feel him watching us from the Orion.
..” he glanced out a viewport wryly knowing the Grandmaster was out there not so far away.
“Vasir has positioned a number of Asgard ships off the galactic plane of the ecliptic. If our cover is suitably blown, they will aid in our extraction.” Lobot replied turning from one of the forward stations. “The Fist
has invited us to dock directly with the station.
“Can we politely refuse?” Calrissian asked rhetorically, “Fine but double security at every hatch, Wookiees obviously, no Satedans or Genii. Send word to Dathomir that we’ve arrived and will check in every hour, and broadcast that in the clear Lobot.” Suddenly an alarm sounded and a crew man turned in alarm.
“Captain, it’s the stargate sir it’s started dialing!”
“Raise shields, all hands to battle stations.” Wedge ordered stepping forward, “It’s a trap.”
* * *
“We’ve got to follow!” Starbuck told him urgently, “Iblis is close, I can feel him! Whatever he’s up to, whatever he’s been planning, it’s all happening in there somewhere.” he pointed to the swirling mass.
“If what Sheppard says is true, we cannot help them.” Thor answered shaking his head, “and it is entirely possible we would simply destroy ourselves in the attempt.”
made it through somehow.!” Starbuck protested, “And those signals must be coming from somewhere, look at that swirl, Thor, it’s a portal, there must be a stargate in there!”
“I have attempted remote access with the protocols you provided, to no avail.” Thor told him patiently, “If there is a stargate in there, it may damaged. It may also be one of unknown origin, and incompatible with our technology. Attempting to penetrate this phenomenon could be a one way trip.”
“based on the gravitational lense, I would say this phenomenon has been caused by a wormhole connection to this point in space.” Thor surmised.
“How can a wormhole be sustained without a stargate?” Sheppard asked, “I thought you needed a sender and a receiver.”
“The Stargates disassemble matter and convert it into an energy pattern which is reassembled on the opposite side.” Thor clarified, “That process is not essential to the wormhole formation itself, a process that is not dissimilar conceptually, from the opening of a hyperspace window.”
“But what opened the wormhole?” Starbuck demanded, “If there’s no gate how did the Pegasus
“There may have been once.” Thor pointed out. “The conditions of the maelstrom may have sustained an active stargate beyond the existence of the gate itself.”
“You’re telling me you don’t need a gate...to have a gate?” Sheppard asked incredulously, “I need to sit down.”
could have travelled through the Anomaly.” Niam said suddenly. “By utilizing a Coruscan hyperdive...”
“if this were a chance to save the galaxy, the universe, if this were the one opportunity to stop the most malevolent force in the galaxy, a being that has corrupted and torn down civilizations since the dawn of time, wouldn’t you take that chance?” Starbuck demanded. Thor tilted his head.
“I can find no record of this “Iblis” you have mentioned in our own database, he was not even mentioned over the centuries we allied ourselves with the Altairans, the only reference I could find was from a tribe of humans on Jedi Sheppard’s home planet.”
“Is it possible that this Iblis no longer functions?” Niam asked, “My understanding is that humanoids, not even ancients, can exist for this long without ascending.”
“He is a being of darkness Niam, a manipulative creature that predates the Asgard race as well as the Asurans,. he caused the split between the Altairans, the Kobollans and the Ori, he caused the fall of the twelve colonies of Kobol, the fall of new Kobol, the shock wave that killed the Jedi, Thor he even orchestrated the rise of both the Goa’uld and the Wraith.” Starbuck snapped. Sheppard watched the man closely.
“I am aware of General Rieekan’s comparison of the Yuuzhan Vong biote and the irratus bug recently discovered in Pegasus.” Thor replied, “I fail to see how Iblis is involved, in either that, or the creation of the Goa’uld.”
“I saw it when I was ascended.” Starbuck insisted, “Much of what I knew has been coming back to me, thanks to Baltar.” He frowned at that, “But it was part of why I was banished in the first place. Iblis had steered a cylon colony to the Milky Way, it crash landed on the planet of the Goa’uld and the survivors fell prey to the symbiotes. Without that ship, the Goa’uld would be nothing more than helpless parasites, trapped on their own world.” he shook his head, “I found the ship, the wreckage of a Cylon ship on the Goa’uld homeworld in my travels, but the Lanteans didn’t want to listen.”
“You are certain this was Iblis’ doing?” Thor asked sharply Starbuck nodded.
“I understood the Cylons to originally have been a reptillian race, yet you have also asserted that Iblis took the identity of General Garm Bel Iblis in order to orchestrate events in the Corusca galaxy.” Niam said perplexed. “How is this possible.”
“The voice of the Cylon Imperious Leader is Iblis. We encountered him shortly , after our colonies fell to the Cylons. Some of our people, terrified that after a thousand years of war, the Cylons would one day wipe us all out, struck a deal with their leader to betray the other twelve colonies to spare his own. he figured the Cylons would no longer consider humanity a threat and they would be left in peace. Instead, after they tried to kill us all, Iblis arrived in the fleet and tried to get us to worship him in exchange for his protection. When i shot him, he changed form, a horned demon form....” Starbuck stopped, Thor was shaking his head, “This is familiar to you isn’t it Thor.”
“Loki.” Thor said quietly, “One of our chief scientists became a host to a goa’uld symbiote and was subject to their influence for some time. he was infected by Skathir of the Nox, who in turn had been infected by the Tesimittel.”
“The... the Tesimittel?” Starbuck asked, the name was half remembered, Thor nodded.
“They called themselves the “Children of the sky” Thor replied, “After the fall of Atlantis, the Ancients were essentially eliminated as a power, yet their stargates remained. Though they lacked spaceflight, the stargate network connected many habitable worlds with developing species. The Tesimittel were among the first races to be subjugated.”
“They were giants!” Starbuck said incredulously, “How could the Goa’uld have managed that? The Tesmittel couldn’t even fit through the stargates!”
“The Goa’uld could.” Thor pointed out, “using the Unas as hosts, Ometol was one of the first worlds they explored. The stargate was in the possession of one called Nefekare. She struck a deal with the goa’uld, she aided them in taking her people as host, in exchange for the technology the scavenged across the galaxy. The Tesmittel revered her, first as a witch, and then as a scientist.”
“I’m afraid I see no correlation between the accusations against Iblis, and the events you discuss.” Niam interjected. Starbuck glanced at him in irritation, as did Thor.
“I think the commonality is the modus operandi.” Sheppard told the Asuran, “If Iblis operates on the level Starbuck believes he does, we have little hope of guessing at his next move unless we can understand what he’s playing at.”
“You are describing the intuitive leap.” Niam said suddenly, “The ability to acquire knowledge without inference, or use of reason!” he put a hand to his mouth, “fascinating.” the others stared at him, he gestured to Thor, “Please continue...”
“They first encountered the Nox.” Thor continued, “Members of the Great Alliance were under attack on all sides, the Furlings from the Rakata, Nova Altair had fallen long ago, as had Atlantis. Our own race was greatly weakened by the exodus of Eshka and the Vanir shortly before the fall of Atlantis. The Nox were alone, still in hiding from the Ori. It was the perfect time to infiltrate their ranks. The Nox, Skathir, believed that her people’s pacifistic philosophy would be their undoing. With the other members of the Great Alliance all under attack, she turned to the Tesmittel. Together with the Nox, the two formed an alliance and thus we were introduced to one another. Loki hosted a delegation of Nox and Tesmittel to observe the final battle between the Yuuzhan Vong and the Cylons. During this battle, my father’s ship was lost, and Loki was taken as host. The Goa’uld began to implant the members of our high council. Ultimately the attack was discovered and rectified.”
“Rectified.” Starbuck repeated, the tone Thor had used had been unsettling.
“We destroyed the Tesmittel who allied themselves with the goa’uld and aided a rebel faction, known as the Omayaca. For willfully sharing technology with a lesser race, we were likewise estranged from the Nox who quickly fell to the Goa’uld.” Thor adjusted his controls, “ The high command voted to abandon the galaxy the Altairans had ceded as well as continued cooperation with members of the Great Alliance.What was to have been the fifth race, instead brought about the end of the Great Alliance.”
* * *
“Belay those orders!” Omos shouted “Stand by.”
“Whoever’s dialing knows there’s a stargate here.” Wedge insisted, he rounded on the Mon Calamari beside him, “We don’t have an iris in place, and if that fleet attacks we won’t be able to fight the ship with stormtroopers pouring into our hold. We must raise the shields”
The captain was shaking his head “I don’t understand....”
“Get a hold of yourself Antilles.” Calrissian snapped, he grabbed Omos’ arm, “The stargate in the cargo hold is dialing, but we’re standing by as you ordered...aren’t we...” he glared at Antilles
“Sir the Stargate has disappeared from the cargo hold, technicians report seeing an asgard transport beam.” Lobot announced. Wedge cocked his head.
“They can’t have beaming technology...” he said. “The Orion
“They must have been monitoring us.” Lando said, still watching the captain. The Mon Colomari regained his bearings. “If they keep the gate in stasis it won’t finish dialing, whoever tried to dial in will get an error signal and try again. It’s a Lantean gate Wedge, The newer ones override the older ones.”
“So there must be a gate somewhere in this system, and someone’s been using it.” Wedge realized. “Someone knows about stargates...”
“But not necessarily our stargates.” Lando finished. “Good bit of intel we have now..”
“Should we continue docking procedures?” A pilot asked from up front. Wedge and Lando looked to the captain.
“Affirmative.” Omos replied, “Governor, General,” he nodded to Wedge, “Prepare to disembark.”
* * *
The bridge was silent as Starbuck considered what Thor had disclosed. Niam spoke once more.
“Fascinating.” he stated, “Intuition is a characteristic that has greatly eluded my people. It has been considered our greatest barrier to ascension.”
“How can you ascend beyond an infinite plane of existence?” Starbuck asked him, “How can you know the unknowable.”
“I believe I understand...” Niam replied, “And it is this intuition that guides you, in speculating as to the true nature of the being Iblis?”
“Sometimes you have to speculate as to the cause, when all you can observe is the effect.” Starbuck replied.
“These are the origins of religion!” Niam exclamation, “The charismatic presentation of belief by intuition, the ignorant embrace of unproven truths!” At this, Thor looked uncertain, and even Starbuck was taken aback.”
“No.” Sheppard said flatly, “The Jedi have been considered a religion, the Force an unproven truth.” he raised a hand and Niam felt himself lifted from the ground, “There is no ignorance, there is knowledge. Knowledge of the unseen, of the unknowable.” Niam was lowered to the ground, “ he turned to Thor, “You’re getting to the part that is important Thor.”
“Loki became obsessed with a race the Goa’uld had recently discovered re-evolving on Nova Terra, under the guidance of the Lanteans.” Thor continued, “ He relocated several populations to other worlds in order to study the rate of their evolution, in an effort to save our own, in doing so he broke the High Command’s edict. The Omayaca protected that world at that time. Given our continued state of war with the Goa’uld these populations were now vulnerable. When what he had done was uncovered, the high command signed a treaty with the Goa’uld protecting these worlds. The world was later lost to the Goa’uld Ra, and the surviving Omayaca retreated even further than the Nox out of phase with this reality.”
“That’s Sheppard’s world.” Starbuck replied, “Earth, and the Goa’uld seized control before I went into the gate. The Omayacans were defeated much earlier in my timeline.”
“The Nox were still around in my timeline too.” Sheppard confirmed. “And the Omayacans... I think they were a race that could transport people using a crystal skull?” Thor nodded, “We’ve met them too.”
“It seems Iblis’ tampering somehow extends farther into the past than I thought.” Starbuck pondered, “Somehow events that took place after I left Earth affected the past.”
“Elizabeth never went back in time to Atlantis.” Sheppard pointed out. Starbuck bit his lip. “Though I guess I don’t know how that would make a difference. maybe something she did, or was supposed to do during the evacuation changed the timeline in the past.”
“Or perhaps events in this universe have played out as they originally should have without her interference.” Niam pointed out, “As regrettable as the fate of the Nox and the Tesmittel have been, the future of the Asgard seems more promising than in your time. We have several likely methods of ensuring the survival of Thor’s people, because we were able to reform the Galactic Alliance.” Thor considered this. “Would you interfere with events in your own universe, Starbuck, that would cause the extinction of an entire race?”
“You pose a false dilemma.” Thor stated, “The actions Starbuck takes in opposing Iblis, will simply influence the formation of another quantum reality. My people will live, or die, in infinite variation throughout the universe.”
“Just as Athena will.” Sheppard said to Starbuck.
“But stopping Iblis in any reality saves that universe.” Starbuck insisted, “And events here have already been affected by events there.” he turned to Thor, “If we can learn what he’s doing in my universe, what he intends to do, and stop him, maybe we can defeat him here too.”
“Who is to say that Iblis intends the destruction of the universe.” Niam asked, “
“Time and again, Iblis has demonstrated a desire to corrupt people into following him, jsut so that he can watch them burn.” Starbuck replied.
“The scope of his influence appears to expand over time as well.” Thor pointed out. “As he finds new galaxies and emerging civilizations to prey upon.” Thor turned to Starbuck, “if we proceed now, we are unlikely to be able to return.” Thor warned them. “But I am willing to take that chance if you are.”
“Let’s do it.” Starbuck replied, Sheppard nodded assent. Niam appeared reluctant.
“We do not have a Coruscan hyperdrive” he pointed out.
“This vessel is quite capable of achieving the necessary speed. If you do not wish to join us, I can transport your associates with you into an escape pod.” Thor told him, “you will be able to modify it to return home.” Niam shook his head.
“No, I will accompany you.” He said quickly.
“Then let’s go.” Starbuck said eagerly, Thor nodded and began to work the controls.
“I am programming a descending parabolic course that will permit us to navigate around the debris while accelerating into the gravity well. Diverting all available power to shields and structural integrity fields.” He announced.
“Everyone hold on!” Sheppard shouted as the Beliskner
began to shake.”
“Inputting flight program now.” Thor announced. Alarms began to scream.
“Is that bad?” Sheppard asked Starbuck, Starbuck shrugged as they both clutched their consoles.
“It’s not good!” He said by way of answer, “Obviously the ship wasn't designed to do this!”
“We are encountering gravitational sheering!” Niam announced, he seemed oddly able to hold his footing, “The ships inertial dampeners are increasingly unable to compensate. We are taking damage to systems throughout the ship.”
will hold.” Thor stated, with the certainty of a captain who had commanded his ship for centuries. Suddenly another alarm sounded and tthe ship bucked wildly.
“We are reading a fluctuation in the maelstrom, there is a massive shift in it’s gravitational field.” Thor informed them. Concerned he began moving stones on his panel.
“Kriff, the transmissions have stopped.” Starbuck swore staring at his own readings, “We fracking waited too long, the anomaly is closing, we’ll never make it through!!”
* * *
“Welcome to Centerpoint Station, I am General Veers.” Lando paused in the hatchway. Over two dozen storm troopers stood ready.
“General, I’m not sure if I should run for cover or shake your hand.” Carlissian said wryly as he stepped through the hatch. “That’s quite a welcoming party.”
“Well you are something of a head of state.” Veers said stiffly. “But we will have to scan you, to confirm your identities, and for weapons.”
“What this old thing?” Calrissian handed his blaster back through the airlock to Captain Omos. Wedge and his padawan's proceeded through the lock as well, followed by Lobot. “I suppose my diplomatic staff must disarm as well.”
“General Antilles, your reputation precedes you.” Veers says with a nod to Antilles. Wedge didn’t bother to reply.
“He’s my head of security.” Carlissian stated smoothly as a stormtrooper scanned him for other weapons, “We’re here to observe a prisoner I believe?”
“This way.” Veers lead them through a gauntlet of storm troopers, which closed behind them, between them and the airlock. “I will escort you to the detention level.
“Governor Calrissian.” Omos called. “Sir we will expect a check in the moment you arrive, and every half hour following that.”
“Of course captain.” Calrissian said with a meaningful glance at Veers. “This is a touchy situation we wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong idea.”
Omos watched them go, and turned to the three men by the airlock. “Leave the outer airlock door open, and maintain visual surveillance of their side. Close the door at the first sign of trouble and inform the bridge.” He closed the inner lock and strode past the men positioned beside and the other sealed locks on the deck. The ship was on the highest alert, waiting for any signs of betrayal. Several minutes later Omos strode onto the bridge his XO turned.
“Sir, Lobot has successfully interfaced with the Communication stones.” he gestured to a viewscreen. “We can monitor them from here.”
“...Quite a place you have here.” Lando was saying to Veers, “I cam here a few times in my youth, I’ve got to say, it’s seen better days.”
“We found the station in considerable need of repair after the rebels were done with it.” Veers told him, “They lacked the proper resources to do the job right.”
“The Corellians or the Cylons.” Lando wondered, “or maybe it was a splinter group.”
“I would not care to speculate until our interrogations are complete.” Veers said.
“yes, I imagine you took quite a few people into custody when you captured a station of this size.” Calrissian commented, “You did secure it entirely didn’t you? I’d hate to think we put ourselves in danger by relinquishing our weapons.”
“This station is fully under our control. I assure you.” Veers growled, “The Emperor himself arrived this morning.”
“Well we were invited here to observe your prisoner.” Lando replied, “But if you need any help our crew has an able security contingent...”
“Don’t push it Calrissian.” Omas muttered under his breath as Veers turned to glare at the man.
* * *
“We cannot alter course, without risking a collision with debris fields.” Thor announced, “We are beginning to experience relativistic distortions.”
“What happens when we reach the center and there’s no anomaly?” Sheppard asked Starbuck,
“Splat.” Starbuck told him, “All of that matter that has been accelerating towards the anomaly for centuries is going to start to coalesce, we’re going to plow straight into it.”
“I will most likely survive.” Niam pointed out, “I am detecting a receiver capable of transferring my consciousness within range.”
“Are there Asurans out here? Can they help us?” Starbuck asked, Niam shook his head.
“The technology is unfamiliar to me.” Niam replied, “Commander Thor, you may be able to join me.”
“I will not abandon our friends to their demise.” Thor replied flatly.
“Can we miss it?” Sheppard asked, “The gravitational pull is only on one side right?”
“No longer.” Thor announced, “This entire region has attracted sufficient mass to collapse into a star. The gravitational field is no longer being projected into a wormhole and is now omni directional. Our own mass is considerably higher due to our acceleration." Thor frowned, "Our course is no longer safe, as I cannot predict the effect our gravitational pull is having on the debris in our path, yet if we attempt to decelerate the debris we are pulling in our wake will most likely collide with us." The asgard looked up helplessly, "Whatever course we take we will inevitably collide at a super luminal velocity, we will not survive."
“We shall meet our demise in the birth of a star.” Niam concluded.
“Well that’s awfully fracking poetic.” Sheppard growled and the ship groaned loudly and shook, “But can we come up with an alternative to the Carl Sagan option?”
“can we open a hyperspace window and jump out of the maelstrom?” Starbuck asked.
“We would not be able to form stable window.” Thor replied. A taring roar could be heard below them. “We were generating a counter dilation field to counter the relativistic effects of the forming wormhole, I have increased the power of that field several times over to give us an opportunity to develop a response.”
“Will that get us out of here?” Starbuck asked doubtfully.
“No.” Thor replied, it will only prevent our immediate destruction.”
“I’m vote yes.” Sheppard announced, the shaking stopped suddenly. Around them debris and energy seemed to tumble gently about. “Can we maneuver like this?”
“I don’t think so.” Starbuck told him, looking at Thor for confirmation, “This happened to me once in a Viper when the inertial dampener went haywire. Time passes normally on the outside of the field, while inside it passes faster.”
“Yeah I think I remember reading about a time you used this in my universe.” Sheppard said with an uneasy glance at Niam, “Thousands of years passed inside.”
“I have not attempted anything on that scale here.” Thor told him, “Time within the field is moving at approximately the same speed as the place you call Sanctuary.”
“OH great.” Sheppard groaned, “Another seven years and this time there’s no women?” he turned to Starbuck, “If I go mad, I’m taking you all with me.”
“I simply need time to make calculations.” Thor told him, “Which would proceed much more quickly if you would stop talking.” Sheppard closed his mouth.
* * *
“Governor Calrissian.” The most well known voice in the galaxy greeted them. “Welcome to Centerpoint station.” Veers handed him the scans taken of them. "Ah, I see we have confirmation that you are not an android."
“Emperor Thrawn, is that the correct salutation?” Calrissian asked, “I’m afraid I don’t know the proper protocols.” Thrawn’s expression was neutral.
“You may address me as your emperor of course, 'your highness' will do.” Thrawn replied, “Unless the galactic Alliance wishes to claim sovereignty from Imperial rule once again? It didn't seem to work out for you last time.”
“Well there can’t be that many extra galactic armadas waiting to sweep in across the galaxy to crush our way of life.” Calrissian replied equitably, “But no, as far as I am aware, no, we don’t have any plans to rebel.”
“Good.” Thrawn answered, “There will always be threats to our way of life, and it is only together that we can overcome them. The Empire provides the necessary leadership to secure prosperity for us all.”
Lando glanced around. “Are there...hidden holocams around here or...”
“No.” Thrawn replied with a slight grin, “This is a secure area, there is no audience, but i have found that politics is not so different from war. To defeat an army, you must defeat it’s generals. To reconcile the disenfranchised, you must persuade it’s leaders, yes?”
“I’m not as influential as you would think.” Calrissian commented, “And I’m just here on behalf of the alliance to see this prisoner of yours, is she really a Jedi?”
“She was found with a lightsaber, which she wielded most aptly to defend herself, and a review of security footage showed that she was able to penetrate security through some form of persuasion.”
“Sounds like a Jedi.” Calrissian commented, “Did she disable the station while it was in your possession?”
“She disabled it shortly after began to secure it.’ Thrawn acknowledged
“So the Empire may not have been the target so much as the weapon itself.” Calrissian, “Can’t blame her for that, I lost a lot of good friends in the holocaust, it didn’t just kill Jedi.” he turned to Thrawn, “Which makes me wonder why you would restore such a thing.” Thrawn raised his eyebrows.
“Because of course, it is the ultimate deterrent against the Ori ever invading this galaxy.” he replied.
“That does not sound like Thrawn...” Omos said from his command chair, as he watched the exchange on the viewscreen, “He has changed.”
“Sir?” his XO asked.
“Thrawn was a surgeon, not a butcher.” Omos said, “He pis known for elegant precision, yet twice now he has resorted to a blunt instrument, first the Death Star, and now Centerpoint.”
“Sir we have an Imperial agent at the airlocks asking to speak to you.”
“Stand by...” Omos put a hand up, “They are about to view the prisoner...”
Calrissian, sabacc player that he was, gave nothing away as the woman in the cell turned around. Antilles seemed somewhat off balance momentarily, as did his padawans, and Omos subconsciously noticed the Ysalimiri around the cell. he was focused on the woman in Imperial custody.
“That is not our operative.” he said flatly.
“..But this is...” His XO was looking at security camera footage of the airlock, where Jan Orrs stood in an Imperial uniform.
* * *
“That doesn’t add up.” Sheppard pointed to a calculation displayed on the screen. Thor looked at him.
“He is correct.” Niam agreed, “You have not reduced these terms.” He pointed to the formula.
“This is getting us no where.” Starbuck complained, “We’ve been at this for hours, and every way we slice it Thor, there’s no vector out of this cloud that doesn’t plow us into more debris than the shields can take.””
“There is simply not enough time to resynchronize us with the flow of space time within this event.” Niam said, “If we do not accelerate fast enough, we are pulled into the star but there is not enough space for us to accelerate to escape it’s effect.”
“Now if this were star trek, we could sling shot around it and go back in time.” Sheppard commented.
“You demonstrate a fundamental inability to grasp the nature of the universe.” Thor said, sounding baffled, “Yet you find errors in complex mathematical equations.”
“Well maybe I just haven’t had lunch yet.” Sheppard countered.
“”Thor?’ Starbuck asked staring out the window, “What exactly is going on out there?” Thor turned. The blinding maelstrom and coalescing sun was rapidly dimming as suddenly the space around the ship darkened.
“The field emitted by the Beliskner
is an incremental dialation of time that enhances the dialation of the event around us.” Thor replied, “Because time is moving more slowly, closer to the Beliskner
debris emerging from outside the field is being halted relativistically at it’s perimeter, as it begins to synchronize with our own. It is being struck in turn by material behind it, and increasing in density.”
“Just what I always wanted, a hard candy shell.” Sheppard mused. Niam looked at him. “Still haven’t eaten.”
“I have a feeling it's more of a coffin then a shell." Starbuck commented, "Why is debris moving away from our ship, towards the perimeter of the field?”
“Look we took some of it with us when we created the field, and it’s moving towards teh perimeter, that shell can’t be generating that much mass already can it?”
“I do not...” Thor stared at his controls, “I am detecting an actively modulating polar field being projected into our dialation field.” he looked up, “It is altering the field’s properties considerably, and it is growing.”
“What kind of field?” Sheppard asked running a hand over his chest, “Is this gonna give me cancer or something?”
“It is calibrated precisely to match the gradiant of my dialation field relative to the shifting gravitational forces around us.” Thor was confused, Starbuck joined him, “I have no idea how this is being done.”
“Can you identify how your field is being manipulated?” Starbuck asked. Thor looked sharply at Niam.
“It is coming from him
.” Thor declared, the others turned, at once realizing the Asuran had been silent for some time. He was standing utterly motionless at his console.”he appears to be receiving a subspace signal that is attenuating the bonds between his constituent femtoblocks.”
Sheppard had approached and waved a hand cautiously in front of Niam’s face.
“The lights are on, but nobody’s home.” he told the others. "I think his hard drive crashed."
"The magnitude of the signal likely supersedes his ability to process information." Thor said grudgingly, "It utilizes the same mechanism that keeps him together, in fact."
“Whatever that signal is, it’s coming from outside.” Starbuck determined, “Whoever or whatever Niam was talking about sensing before, can apparently sense him. How much time has passed outside since you activated the shield Thor, a few minutes? For an intelligence to have located us, assessed our situation and developed a means to help us...”
“This is helping?” Sheppard demanded. “How?”
“The kinetic repulsion being created...somehow... is repulsing the debris around us, and the signal strength is growing!” Starbuck said in amazement, “Using Thor’s bubble as an amplifier somehow,” he looked up, “Sheppard we’re caught in the eye of a storm here, something is dissipating the maelstrom! around us!”
“The gravitational field of the Maelstrom has assumed a toroid configuration.” Thor reported, “Matter is coalescing in a rotational pattern in the space around us.”
“It’s space...dougnut..” Sheppard said, no one in the control room had any idea what he was talking about, he tried again, “Can we just fly up out of the center?”
“Perhaps.” Thor replied, “But until I am certain how this is being accomplished, or at least by whom it is unwise to act hastily. We still have a considerable amount of material surrounding us forming... shell... as Jedi Sheppard called it.”
“Can you just tractor it with us?” Sheppard asked, “Use it to protect us from any debris?”
“Possibly, though we are quickly approaching the upper limits of the Beliskner’s
ability to move.”
“The gravitational field spinning around us is beginning to distort space time beyond this vessel’s ability to counter.” Starbuck pointed out. “She’s a tough ship but I don’t know how much of this she can take.”
“Indeed.” Thor replied, “In fact the principles at work are quite similar to that of a Stargate.”
“Are you telling me a wormhole is about to open up on top of us?” Sheppard demanded, Niam nodded. “Then I vote we get out of here and take our chances with whoever’s out there.”
“There’s no way this ship can survive the formation of a wormhole.” Starbuck pointed out. Reluctantly Thor nodded and began to manipulate his controls.”The question is, can it survive our escape.”
* * *
“Hands up!.” An alliance marine stated. Jan glanced at the four humans and two Wookiee surrounding her.
“Is there a reason those weapons are still pointed at me Captain?” Orrs asked as Cal approached the airlock.
“My apologies.” The captain said, “We are certainly glad to see you, however I must insist on a medical examination before we proceed, you have been missing for some time...”
“I have not been compromised Captain.” Jan rolled her eyes, “I resurrected one of my old aliases in order to evade capture. I’ve been able to examine the Jedi prisoner as well, I need to report to Admiral Ackbar immediately.”
“We cannot leave the station with Governor Calrissian and his staff aboard.” Cal replied.
“The Admiral is not leading the mission?” Jan asked, “Then I need to use a com line to speak with him.”
“A com line can be traced.” Omos replied, “We are under orders not to confirm the location of any of our assets to the Imperial fleet.”
“They won’t know who we’re calling.” Jan scoffed, “I have vital information about the Jedi..”
“Perhaps you could inform Wedge...”
“Are you listening to me Captain, I have no time to go through channels, the Admiral must be informed at once!” Jan raised her voice. Cal motioned his guards. “What are you doing?” She demanded as they grabbed her arms.
“Taking you into custody.” Cal told her, “It is clear you have been compromised.” Suddenly Orrs eyes flashed gold, she hurled the guards away from her.
“Chel nok Makko!” She raged, one of the Wookiee grabbed her by the throat and lifted her in the air. She beat at it’s powerful arm and kicked uselessly into the air.
“A symbiote.” Omos said, he turned to a marine, “Get her to the medbay for immediate extraction!”
* * *
“Can we speak to her?” Antilles asked, looking through the glass.
“She will not speak back.” Thrawn replied irritably. "She ceased cooperating days ago."
“What are those creatures Lando asked, “Why are they around that cage,”
“They are Ysalamiri.” Thrawn replied, “They have a unique ability to create bubbles in the force to hide from the force sensitive predators of their world.”
“Those predators are probably all dead from the shockwave.” Calrissian observed, Thrawn nodded.
“It is of no consequence.” He replied, “When it was determined she was most likely a Jedi, they were brought here from my command ship. She has also been implanted with a device that sends period shocks through her nervous system disrupting any effort at concentration, but as you can imagine this made her difficult to question. These were brought in this morning, so that we could interrogate her.”
“They seem to work.” Lando observed, “Has the device been shut down?” Thrawn nodded. “But she still won’t cooperate.” he commented looking in the cell. The woman utterly ignored him. Wedge moved closer, but then glanced distastefully at the Ysalimiri. “Has she been medically examined?” He asked, “She doesn’t look well...”
“We have indeed examined her thoroughly.” Thrawn replied nodding in approval at Wedge’s observation, “And she is indeed unwell.”
“Was she injured by the Ysalamiri?” Wedge with a glance towards the lizards crawling upon their nutrient tanks.
“She is a clone.” Thrawn replied, “And a poor one at that, her cells are deteriorating rapidly.”
“A clone?” Antilles asked, “Someone cloned a jedi?” Thrawn nodded,
“So we surmised.” He stated, “Your reaction suggests it was not you.”
“No, we don’t have any clones in the Galactic Alliance.” Wedge replied, “The Wraith maybe? The Vong?”
“The wraith are, to the best of my knowledge, as dead as the Goa’uld.” Thrawn replied, “The Ori are a possibility I suppose but the motive doesn’t add up, no I would not be surprised if this were simply an agent the Corellians dispatched to scuttle Centerpoint after they lost control of it.”
“You wouldn’t show your hand unless you had something up your sleeve.” Calrissian stated.
“Where the clone came from is not precisely the most important issue here.” Thrawn explained, “More to the point, where is the original. Living cell samples should have been destroyed entirely by the shockwave the same as any other, unless those samples, or more likely the host herself were protected from the shockwave.”
“The Ysalamiri.” Another voice spoke up, a young man in an imperial uniform entered the room.”Whatever planet they are from, the original could have hidden there.”
“A good idea Commodore Katarn, but we seized control of that world weeks ago during our rout of the Vong.” Thrawn told him, “If the original was ever there she’s long gone now.” he turned back to Calrissian. “She is truly not one of your people?” Calrissian shook his head, and Thrawn looked at him carefully. After a moment he relented. “You are a skilled sabacc player Governor I sense you are hiding something, but I believe you have no knowledge of whom this woman is. I am curious then, why did your admiral send you here?”
“Obviously the strengthen relations between the Empire and the Galactic Alliance.” Calrissian replied, “There’s a lot of bad blood between us if you hadn’t noticed, but we need each other.”
“Perhaps.” Thrawn allowed, “To be honest I truly expected Ackbar to come himself, to get a personal measure of me, so to speak.”
“Your highness I can assure you that the New Republic military has been disbanded.” Lando told him, “Now President Mothma would assure you at this point that we have no intention of surrendering our ideology. We still believe in democracy, fair representation, equal rights for all, but we acknowledge that your Empire is not Palpatine’s. The Empire has changed, and so must we.”
“Indeed. Well in that spirit, let us prepare for the next stage of questioning this creature.” Thrawn replied, and for a moment Lando thought he’d gone too far, but Thrawn did not pursue the obvious track, he chose to change the subject to keep Calrissian off balance. he held up a hand, “Nothing inhumane of course, though she is a clone, we intend to accord her all the appropriate respect, you are here to observe after all. We have a means of directly accessing memories we intend to employ to see if she observed anything of use. ”
“Your highness...” Wedge spoke up, “Do you refer to a Zatarc detector?”
“We have such devices, yes.” Thrawn said neutrally, Calrissian glanced warily at Wedge.
“I have a friend who was brainwashed by the wraith, is there a chance we could have a sample of this technology, to try to help him?” Wedge asked. Thrawn nodded.
“I’m sure a great many things will be possible as we continue to work together.” He replied, “Governor, speaking of the alliance, I believe you are due to check in with your ship?” Calrissian nodded. “Perhaps now is a good opportunity before we proceed further.” He smiled, “It seems we are at a crossroads for both our people, and I would hate for anything to go awry. There is a medical conference room, with a com station down the hall. Feel free to use it to report to your people privately. I will confer with the commodore and the good doctor here, and prepare for the next stage of interrogation.”
* * *
“Our engines are approaching overload.” Thor announced, “We cannot maintain velocity.”
“Systems are overloading all over the ship.” Starbuck reported he looked helplessly at the panel before him, “I don’t know what I can do!”
“We have to lose the shell!” Sheppard shouted as the ship groaned and heaved around them, “We must be out of the maelstrom by now.”
“If we disengage the tractor beams we will collide with the shell.” Thor replied,
“So shoot the damn thing Thor, come on!” Sheppard was frustrated, Thor blinked.
“Very well, I am targetting the shell...” Thor announced. Pulses of blue plasma flashed out and struck the mass before them. “It is extremely dense, using the power neccesary to crack it will likely destroy this vessel.”
“Can we beam sections away?” Starbuck asked, Thor shook his head.
“There is considerable interference, and I don’t think we would be able to disrupt so dense a material.”
“Then reverse the tractors.” Sheppard shouted as the ship heaved again. Even minute fluctuations in the inertial dampeners were catastrophic under these circumstances, both to the humans being tossed about and the delicate electronics all over the ship. “Push against the shell to make it crack!”
“The physics involved are impossible.” Thor told him, “Given the size of the shell relative to the beliskner, we simply do not have the mass to try to..”
“Size matters not.” Sheppard interrupted finally, releasing the console he steadied himself. He took a breath and he he stretched his hands out.
“What are you doing?” Thor asked sharply Starbuck raised his hand.
“Hold on...” he said as he felt something, though his connection with the force was tenuous, and growing more so every day as he moved toward ascension, he still felt the stirrings enough to earn the lightsaber he wore, and what was happening through Sheppard was something even a man nearly blind to the force could see. Sheppard simply breathed. To Thor’s eyes, he hardly even perspired, if anything he had looked more strained holding onto the console to keep from falling. Now, as the ship continued to buck and heave, Sheppard seemed as an island of calm in a raging storm. Thor glanced down as an indicator turned red, and his tiny mouth dropped.
“The Shell is distending.” he announced, his voice conveying the closest an Asgard could to wonder, “Yet I detect no tangible force acting upon it.”
“There is a Force at work here...” Starbuck assured him, yet his brow furrowed as he watched the readings, “But even so it might not be enough. Sheppard took another breath an if anything seemed to stretch his hands out further. The air seemed to ripple around them and even Thor flinched at power passing through him. Niam’s eyes snapped open,
“What...” he began, Starbuck shushed him. The shell distended even more, stretching and pulling away from the ship warping into an oblong spheroid.
“Come on Sheppard, come on, don’t doubt yourself.” he encouraged, “You can do it, remember the code, there is no passion, there is only peace. The unyielding serenity of the Force.”
“Astounding...” Thor breathed, “To think the children of the ancients could come so far...”
“We’d get a lot further if you’d turn the kriffing tractor beams to repulse and shoot the damn guns!” Sheppard erupted suddenly. Thor blinked.
“My apologies.” he said adjusting his controls, the Beliskner leant it’s flagging strength to the effort Sheppard expended, and it’s forward cannons spat fury at the shell before it.
From space, the coalescing star suddenly hurled itself outwards exploding into a rapidly coalescing ring of superheated energy. At it’s center a dark sphere sat for a moment, and then began to drag itself forth from the spinning center. the sphere stretched, distended and then with the briefest glimmer of warning, one side erupted in fire as the Asgard weapons tore through it at last. The Beliskner erupted from the shell like a bird from an egg. The center of the spinning maelstrom distended and distorted as well as the Beliskner fled, and space sunk into itself. Light burst from the center of the disturbance and matter began to spew forth faster even than the Beliskner could escape.
Sheppard stumbled as the shell burst around the ship surrendering at last. “There’s someone back there!” he shouted shaking his head, “They’re dying!”
“There is a small vessel in the stream of matter that is coming through the wormhole.” Thor confirmed, “I am attempting to transport.”
There was a flash before them and a woman in a smoldering flight suit appeared convulsing, Sheppard leaped forward throwing his outer robe over the woman to smother the flames licking at her clothes. Starbuck hurried forward as well. She was shaking, convulsing and making hoarse croaking noises, flailing with burned and broken limbs.
He seized her roughly, and focused. At the moment of neural connection he was nearly overwhelmed, but he summoned the will he needed and exerted a telekinetic effort upon her ruined body. He drew deeply on the ancient, primordial understanding, the power of influencing the basic elements of life. She healed. Her convulsions stopped, burned and blackened skin fell away before new flesh that was first angry red and the cool cream of health. She collapsed unconscious against Sheppard. Starbuck sat back, exhausted by the effort. Sheppard, still holding the woman by the shoulders reached out to steady him.
“That was incredible.” Sheppard told him, “I’ve never seen you heal anyone so badly injured...”
“We all have our gifts.” Starbuck breathed. “Can you believe she was still flying her ship around debris while it burned down around her? A woman with that kind of tenacity...”
“Who is she?” Sheppard wondered, “Where did she come from?”
“I’m afraid there is another matter at hand.” Thor announced, Sheppard and Starbuck looked up. “I am detecting a fleet of ships surrounding us.”
In the space around the battered Asgard warship, there was indeed a fleet. Vast enough that even spaced miles apart, there were enough to surround the entirety of the newly formed wormhole. Thousands of vessels sat waiting around them, all Goa’uld.Sorry for the delay in posting, there were a couple other SG fics being posts I was trying to give space to, plus it was not easy to break this chapter up. At some point I was going to have to explain what impact Iblis has had on the Asgard as well, and they came into the story pretty late. Several threads are from the other story, and from the sequel to this one but I was trying to avoid having characters stop periodically to stare at the guy in the spacesuit so to speak, if he wasn't relative to the story at hand. Whatever Iblis has his hand in, you find out after, whatever is being done about it, you'll find out later, but in the mean time, people are in danger and the galaxies need saving.
I'm also trying for a gradual evolution of the characters either into, or away from who they were when they were introduced, whether it's Starbuck's developing powers, or Sheppard's developing profanity