Echoes of the Bang
Task Force Rally Point, in orbit over Atlantis
The Terran and Colonial ships flashed into existence at the rally point over the new world Atlantis had moved to. All appeared worse for wear, though in three cases this was purely cosmetic as their shields began recharging. The Nemesis, Warspite and Victorious all bore visible damage, but these were leftovers from earlier engagements.
That one of their number was missing was immediately and painfully apparent. Over the next ten minutes there was a flurry of activity as shuttles and Raptors flew back and forth, moving casualties and supplies around as needed. It was evident what was going on, the Task Force was waiting for its other ships.
The Daniel Jackson was the first to arrive, dropping out of hyperspace with the badly wounded Daedalus in tow. They took up their positions in the formation and began transferring the wounded to the hospital facilities aboard Nemesis. A few minutes later the three Asgard battleships arrived, the Teal’c of Chu’lak sporting visible damage that was stunning in its severity, while the other two ships were clearly moving more sluggishly than usual.
With a handful of orders Jellicoe, Mace, and the other Captains and Commanders beamed down to Atlantis. It was time for the post-battle debrief. Weir and O’Neill joined them in one of the city’s larger briefing rooms, only for Jellicoe to ask them to dial Terra and establish holographic communications with his superiors. He only wanted to go through this once.
There was a short delay while that was done, and all the human officers took the opportunity to fix themselves a large mug of tea or coffee. Several of them held onto those mugs as if they were a life preserver thrown to a drowning man; they had all seen battle before but nothing on this scale.
Soon, holograms appeared, allowing Lethbridge-Stewart, Bill Adama and Presidents Roslin and Matthews to join them. Lethbridge-Stewart looked around and was immediately concerned when he couldn’t find one of his Captains, this didn’t bode well.
Jellicoe took a long swig of his coffee and moved to the front of the room to deliver his report.
“Mister and Madam President, Admirals, ladies and gentlemen, I am pleased to report that the operation was a success. Sensor data from the probes we left behind in the outer system confirm the ZPM bomb detonated as planned, though the effects were greater than anticipated. Lantea was destroyed, along with the system’s star. The Wraith Fleet was completely annihilated. None of them made it out in time.”
His face took on a pained expression. “That’s the good news. The bad news is the price we paid. I have to report the complete loss of the Battlestar Excalibur.” There were intakes of breath from the holograms and from Weir and O’Neill. “Before she was destroyed we managed to beam out two hundred and forty seven of her crew. Her entire Cobra complement was in the air at the time and have also been recovered aboard Nemesis. Across the entire Task Force we lost sixty-three Cobras and Vipers, four Scythe gunships and one Raptor, though Daedalus managed to save the Raptor’s pilot.” Colonel Caldwell’s face bore a mixture of pride and regret at that- he was pleased they’d saved the pilot, but aghast at the damage taken in the process.
Jellicoe continued. “I also have to report that severe damage was sustained by the Daedalus and the Teal’c of Chu’lak with moderate internal damage on the Samantha Carter and the George Hammond. The Nemesis, Victorious and Warspite have all taken mild to moderate damage as well, enough to require considerable dock time to repair. Right now only the Pegasus, Republic, Galactica and the Daniel Jackson are at full strength and combat-ready.”
The holograms of Lethbridge-Stewart and Adama exchanged a look before the former spoke. “I speak for everyone here on Terra when I say congratulations Admiral. Yes you have taken serious losses but you went to another galaxy with just twelve ships and a severely limited supply line and successfully engaged and destroyed a force over ten times your number in capital ships alone. That is an incredible feat of martial skill.”
Jellicoe sighed. “Thank you for that Admiral. I know in my head that you’re right but my heart isn’t listening right now.”
Adama spoke next. “What’s your next step John?”
“Next step is to finish mopping up Wraith ground bases and shipyards. According to our prior recon data supplied by the Asgard and Earth ships, we know that this loss represents something like ninety-five percent of the total Wraith population. After a day’s break here at Atlantis I’ll be sending my operational ships out to finish off as many of those bases and shipyards as we can. They’re all on worlds uninhabited by humans so we’re not going to be even remotely subtle. We’ll just nuke them from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure we’ve got them all.”
That didn’t sit well with either senior Admiral or the Presidents, orbital nuclear bombardment reminded them far too strongly of the Cylons. On the other hand, the Colonial-built Battlestars had all been fitted with space-to-ground missile silos for exactly this purpose, and these were worlds devoid of human life.
Adama had something to query though. “How will you manage that with the Terran-built ships? They don’t carry a missile armament except for the Warstar.”
Jellicoe smiled. “I’ll detach a Scimitar squadron to each of the Lionheart’s, they can launch a bomber and volley-fire the missiles from orbit in total safety.”
Lethbridge-Stewart nodded, seeing the logic in that. ”Very well. What about the survivors from Excalibur? What’s their condition?”
“The pilots are mad as hell. The crew…most of them are catatonic at the moment, including Arthur and his XO. It’ll take them time to come to terms with what happened. I’d like to send them back to Terra via the Stargate, having family around should help them.”
Both Admirals were relieved to learn that Captain Pendragon was among the living. Lethbridge-Stewart quickly agreed to the request. There wasn’t much to say after this so the holograms faded away and the assembled officers began to really relax. Saul Tigh had an idea and leaned over to whisper it to Lee, the younger Commander quickly nodded and moved over to Tyr to ask a favour. The Asgard and the human had become good friends over the past few weeks so Tyr quickly agreed to help. Some quiet conversations over the wireless and the plan was made.
Saul moved over to Jellicoe and quietly explained his idea. John felt this was exactly what they all needed so he gave his blessing. Another quiet word with Tyr and Commander Fischer appeared in the flash of an Asgard transporter, carrying a tray laden with glasses and a large decanter. He placed it reverently on the table before withdrawing from the room – this was for the commanding officers only, and he had plenty of other things to keep him busy aboard Pegasus anyway.
Jellicoe and Saul began pouring glasses of the vintage Ambrosia and passing them around. Once everyone present, except the four Asgard, held a glass, John once more stood.
“Technically we’re all still on duty but as Commander of the Task Force I’m waiving that regulation for the moment. Ladies and gentleman, a toast to our victory!”
“Victory!” Echoed the crowd, before a sip of the potent liquor was taken. Saul took up the challenge next, this was not the same traditional toast he Bill, Lee and Kara had shared on Olympus Base months ago, but the feeling was the same.
“To our honoured dead, may they rest in peace!”
“Our honoured dead.” Replied the group, and another sip was taken. O’Neill spoke next, as the senior Earth officer he felt compelled to participate.
“To the friends and allies who fought at our side!”
“Friends and allies.” Came the reply. Doctor Weir went last, she felt that a less martial theme was needed, especially in this group.
“To the future that is now bright and peaceful.”
“The future!” came the final reply, and the last of the Ambrosia was drunk. Jellicoe placed the glass back on the table and the group stood in silence for a few moments. The Admiral looked back up and spoke again, closing out the meeting.
“I think we all needed that, thank you Saul. Right, Wayne, see about transferring the Scimitars over to Victorious, Republic and Galactica, make sure they’re re-stocked with missiles. Same goes for you as well Lee, and you David. Everyone else, get some rest, shore leave to Atlantis is at CO’s discretion. In twenty four hours we move out to hit the last Wraith bases. Get moving.”
Various officers began disappearing as beaming systems returned them to their ships. Caldwell remained behind, as did Jellicoe. The Earth Colonel knew full well his ship wasn’t considered operational and wouldn’t be participating in these final raids; he fully expected to begin the long, slow voyage back to Earth for repairs within a day.
The Admiral, the General, the Colonel and the Doctor left the briefing room and headed up to Weir’s office. As they passed through the control room they could see McKay, Carter and Zelenka arguing over the sensor data from the ZPM explosion, while Doctor Jackson looked on in bemusement. The four wandered over and listened in.
McKay, ever the skeptic, was unconvinced that Carter and Zelenka were right, and said so repeatedly.
“…oh come on, you can’t be serious! A vacuum collapse is an absurd idea, there’s no way a bubble could nucleate, expand and then just collapse in on itself, it would keep expanding until the universe was destroyed!”
Carter was having none of that. She had realised just what the rigged ZPM had done and it terrified her. The thought that she had come so close to ending everything was deeply troubling.
“How else do you explain the data McKay? If this was just the contained energy being released why did it appear to move faster than light? And why did it then collapse into a black hole? The data support only one conclusion, and that is that we got unbelievably lucky.”
At this, Jellicoe broke in. “Hold on, what do you mean we got lucky Colonel?”
“Sir, that bomb…it should have destroyed the universe, not just Lantea and the Wraith.”
That was quite a statement, and it left the four newcomers exchanging baffled, and worried, glances. Carter pressed her advantage, explaining briefly about the false vacuum collapse that almost occurred.
O’Neill was incensed. “Ok, so we blew up a solar system by mistake and almost took out the entire universe as well? Why didn’t it do what you think it should’ve?”
“Because we stopped it General O’Neill.”
At that, the entire group of scientists, officers and diplomats spun around. Standing by the wall of the control room, in a space that everyone present swore was empty a moment before, were two figures. The male was tall, with handsome features and kind eyes. The woman was shorter, with long brown hair and an expression that was some mix of pride and censure.
Jellicoe and O’Neill both reacted the same way at the unexpected appearance of two people in a high security area. They reached for their sidearms, but neither was carrying one at the moment. They both realised this at the same moment, looked at each other and grimaced. Jellicoe looked back.
“And who are you two? For that matter, how did you get in here?”
Daniel, meanwhile, was feeling memories long suppressed returning. “I know you both…”
“Indeed you do Daniel Jackson. My name is Janus.” That drew a gasp from the Expedition leader. “It is a pleasure to see you again Elizabeth. You, Admiral Jellicoe, would know me better as Prometheus. My companion was once known to the people of Earth as Morgan le Fay, though the Kobolians would know her as Athena.”
That set everyone’s minds reeling. For Weir, it brought back sad memories from the day they found a much older Elizabeth Weir in a stasis pod and the story she had told. For Jack and Sam, it was the realisation they were facing Ascended beings straight out of Greek and Arthurian myths. For Jellicoe, it was the world-shattering feeling that he was staring at two of the Lords of Kobol, the very same Gods he had never professed much faith in.
Jack found his voice first. “You’re Ancients.”
Janus smiled. “That is what you call us, yes. We have many names. Alterans, Lanteans, Ancients, Ancestors, the Ascended, the Lords of Kobol. We are usually sworn never to interfere in the mortal realms, as you well know Doctor Jackson. This time, however, we had no choice. Your bomb would have ended everything, including us. We held back the expanding bubble, allowing the energy within to escape and letting it collapse into the singularity.”
Sam had her own question. “If it were that dangerous, why even allow it to detonate?”
Morgan le Fay smiled gently at her. “We managed to convince the others that the Wraith threat needed to be ended, and this was the best opportunity. You have also managed to finally break the cycle, something we are very pleased about.”
Caldwell asked the inevitable question. “What cycle?”
Janus answered. “The cycle of races being consumed by their own creations. We, as the Alterans, were driven from Avalon by a plague of our own making. We started over in Pegasus, only to be almost annihilated by the Wraith, while another creation, the Replicators, almost brought the Asgard to the brink. Then there were the Tribes of Kobol, a world we tried to build and protect as our legacy, a people we intended to be our successors as the protectors of Avalon.”
Morgan took up the tale. “But the Thirteen Tribes argued and war broke out, bringing devastation to Kobol and forcing you all to leave. Then came the Cylons, machines built to serve that rebelled. An endless cycle. Admiral Jellicoe, you may not be a man of faith but surely you know the first words in the Scroll of Pythia?”
The Admiral answered, his voice shaking slightly. “All of this has happened before…”
Janus finished. “…but it will no longer happen again. The cycle is broken now, the peoples of the Three Galaxies are free once again.”
Jack wasn’t entirely satisfied with that, it sounded far too much like destiny and horoscopes for his tastes.
“Why are you telling us all this? Surely this counts as interfering?”
The two Ascended Lords looked at one another and then Morgan replied. “We were allowed to give you this message, and a warning. Do not try and replicate this vacuum explosion, we may not be able to stop it next time. Admiral Jellicoe, when you return to Terra, tell your people the Lords are pleased with what they have accomplished.” John nodded dumbly, he was still amazed that this was happening.
Janus had one other thing to say. “Oh, and Daniel? As much as we enjoyed your company while you were Ascended, you can do a lot more good here. Try not to die again.” The archaeologist nodded at that, amusement written on his face.
The two beings exchanged another look, deciding that they had said what they needed to. Then, in unison, they said their final words.
“Even we cannot see the future, but we believe the Second Great Alliance will prosper. Stay true to your allies and you will endure whatever time brings. Farewell” With that, they faded away entirely.
There was utter silence in the control room for almost five minutes after that encounter. McKay was forced to admit that he’d been wrong about the data – but only to himself, he’d never say as much to Carter or Radek of course. Jellicoe was still stunned at meeting the actual Lords, while Carter and O’Neill were processing the huge implications of the message, and the warning, they had been given.
Daniel was the first to speak, his voice full of emotion; regret, sorrow, and delight vied for primacy.
“I think we’ve just been given an Ascended telling off.”
No one present felt the need to argue with him on that point. After another few moments of silence, they carried on with what they’d been doing. There were still Wraith remaining to be eliminated after all.
Thus endeth Part Three: The War in Heaven.
There will an epilogue, possibly in several parts, up next. It will probably involve a time skip of a few months, maybe a year. This will wrap up the last of the things here and set up a few other odds and ends for a sequel, IF I decide to write one.
Baltar: "I don't want to miss a moment of the last Battlestar's destruction!"
Centurion: "Sir, I really think you should look at the other Battlestar."
Baltar: "What are you babbling about other...it's impossible!"
Centurion: "No. It is a Battlestar."
Corrax Entry 7:17: So you walk eternally through the shadow realms, standing against evil where all others falter. May your thirst for retribution never quench, may the blood on your sword never dry, and may we never need you again.