Two Weeks Later
The cruiser paused in its patrol route as distant subspace distortions consistent with opening hyperspace windows teased the edge of its sensor horizon. The sheer unexpectness of the arrival stunning the cruisers surprisingly small crew, there were no large group of ships in the area to there knowledge beyond the sector defence fleet and a small task group.
Confused and curious the cruiser sent a subspace communication in the direction of the distortions. No reply was forthcoming when there should have been an instant response. The cruiser sent another signal in a slightly different direction and changing course before opening a hyperspace window. Investigation of this strange occurrence was definitely warranted.
TFS Achilles, That Same Time
Admiral Jacob Robyns kept his eyes focused on the display screen as the Achilles and the rest of the fleet including Rivendell dropped out of hyperspace. He couldn't stop the startled gasp that escaped his lips as the luminous blue hyperspace tunnel evaporated to nothing.
The space they had emerged into was unlike anything he had ever seen or heard of before. There was no sea of stars standing out starkly against the endless black ocean of space, no multicoloured ribbons of nebulae, no this place was very different. Everywhere there seemed to be nothing but dark rolling cloud. It was all pervasive, overbearing in its sheer vastness. The lights shinning from the view ports of his ships and the virtual sea of light from the cityship illuminated the dark rolling cloud around them, making parts of it glow with different shades of red, blue or purple light, though the bulk of the space around them remained a black or dark grey mass. Faintly in the distance almost completely lost in distance Jacob could faintly see other area of the cloud glowing with different colours but they were few and far between. All in all this space was strange and very, very alien.
"Sensors what do you read out there," he asked wondering if this whole galaxy was like what he could see on the screen. If it were then he had a feeling that the Tau'ri Federation would be wasting its time coming here to this galaxy in large numbers. Aside from satisfying their pure scientific curiosity there would be nothing here to interest them, certainly nothing that would be of any practical use.
"Sensors report that the space around us is filled with gas and dust sir," Commander Xing responded from the flag bridge sensor station. "The dust is composed primarily of carbon and various silicate materials though it's all laced with dark matter particles. The brighter areas of the cloud appear to indicate where there are stars."
"Are there any planets? We can't stay here floating in space indefinitely. We need to find somewhere for Rivendell to land."
"I'm afraid that we can't tell from here sir. The dust and gasses around us are really messing up our sensor screens. Not even the dark matter detectors can see though it, it's just too thick. Our sensor range is limited to barely half a light year beyond that the haze filling the screens makes it impossible to see anything."
Jacob frowned not liking the sound of that one bit, as he was essentially being told that the fleet was almost blind in this place. It put them at a huge tactical disadvantage; without long range scans they wouldn't detect any hostiles till they were literally right on top of them. That was worrying, while there was little this side of an Asgard battlecruiser that could go toe to toe with a Tau'ri warship and survive the encounter Jacob knew his ships weren't invincible. In an unknown galaxy he knew to be cautious - unlike some fleet commanders he knew of.
"I see. Very well locate the closest system and relay the coordinates to navigation. Navigation as soon as you have coordinates set a course the work with communications to relay to Rivendell and the rest of the fleet," Jacob ordered.
"Aye, sir," came the replies from the respective stations around the flag bridge. Jacob turned his full attention back to the screens and the strange alien space around them. He was contemplating the completely alien nature of the dark matter galaxy, and the unknown dangers it could hold, when the sensors came to life with an urgent warning.
"Admiral sensors report a hyperspace window opening on a bearing of one zero three mark two. Distance fifty thousand kilometres," Commander Xing reported. "Reading one ship; configuration unknown."
"Show me," Jacob instructed keeping his voice calm despite feeling a sudden thrill at what was happening. The fleet had been here all of five minutes and already they were in perhaps the rarest but also most dangerous occurrences, first contact with another space faring civilisation. "Communications prepare to send the first contact package."
"Aye, sir," communications responded as the screens changed to show an image of the approaching alien starship. Jacob blinked at what he saw, he had seen many starships of various kinds in his career with the Tau'ri Defence Forces ranging from the pyramidal Jaffa mothership to Aschen cruisers and the mighty O'Neill-class Asgard battlecruisers, but the approaching ship had to be the weirdest he had ever seen. Two long projecting tendrils tapered back from the bow and merged with a V-shaped superstructure that itself merged with a strange ball structure that glowed with energy. Aside from the energy ball of energy the ship was jet black with no observable windows at all.
As the alien starship closed in Jacob felt a strange chill go down his spine. Something about that ship struck a nerve, an instinct deep inside him. Something that warned him that the approaching ship was something terrible, that it was a ship of evil, a ship of death. Jacob repressed a sudden impulse to order his fleet to destroy the alien ship, to either blow it apart with their pulse cannons and combat drones or slice it in half with their particle slicer beams. He didn't know where the sudden impulse came from but he didn't want to act upon it, the last thing he wanted to do was potentially start a war.
"Communications hail that ship," Jacob said a moment before a commotion on the other side of the flag bridge caught his attention and he looked over.
To see that one of the two ships security personnel that routinely guarded the entrance to the flag bridge slumped against the wall. The young officer's features were contorted as if he were in pain; sweat was streaming down his face and at his sides his fists were clenched in effort. To Jacob it looked like the younger man was fighting something, some invisible force that was hurting him in someway.
"Lieutenant," he asked concerned. "What is it? What's wrong?" The officers eyes flew open and even from where he was sitting Jacob could see the pain, struggle and desperation in them.
"Sir h...h...help," the lieutenant gasped out shaking like a leaf in the midst of an obvious great struggle. "There t...t...trying to take c...control of my mind. I c...c...can't fig...." The lieutenant's voice tapered off and his eyes closed again. A moment before he screamed. A scream of pain, despair, dismay and defeat, a scream that sent shivers down the spines of everyone on the flag bridge. Abruptly the officer stood up straight, his face becoming an expressionless mask as eyes opened again.
Jacob stood up from his chair as the security officer looked accessingly around the flag bridge, drinking in all the details of what was around. Based on what the younger man had managed to say he knew he was looking at whoever had taken over his officer's mind and was using him like a puppet - presumably the aliens that were on the approaching ship.
"Who are you?" Jacob asked. The officer's eyes focused straight on him and a chill went down his spine. The young mans eyes had undergone an almost indescribable transformation; something was gone from them, something essentially human, replaced by something cold and terrible.
"You are not worthy of knowing our name. All you need to know is that we are power beyond your comprehension, hunger beyond your understanding," the officer replied in a monotone voice that was colder than the space outside the ship.
"What do you want?" Jacob demanded not phased by the alien's arrogance at all. "What have you done to my officer?"
"He is ours now inferior. We want your deaths."
"Admiral more hyperspace windows opening. Six more alien starships are approaching," Commander Xing reported as Jacob looked over in response to his call. "Sir alien ships are powering up their weapons systems and are raising their shields."
"Battle stations. Raise shields and power up all weapons systems," Jacob ordered before turning back to face the alien controlled security officer. "This isn't necessary," he said. "We are all sentient beings. If we have inadvertently violated your space we will withdraw. Surely ours species can coexist without bloodshed."
"Your words mean nothing. You are no more than cattle, you are inferior you all die. Then we will find your world and destroy it. You are not worthy to exist."
"If you plan to kill us you'll find we won't go down without a fight."
"It means nothing," the officer replied the cold monotone voice sounding stressed this time as if the controlling alien was having difficulty keeping its hold on the officers mind. "Surrender and die or fight and die. We care not w...w...which." At that moment the officer's eyes rolled back in his head and he collapsed to the deck like a puppet whose strings had been cut. Startled Jacob looked at one of the display screens to see that the /Achilles /shields had just come on at full power. Somehow the force field had blocked whatever it was the aliens had been using to boost there telepathic control of the lieutenants mind. Jacob looked at the unconscious officer.
"Get a medical team up here take him to sickbay," he ordered before returning to his command chair and looking at the alien ships displayed on the screens. He immediately noticed that three of the alien ships were bigger than the others with more projecting tendrils than the others. The alien ships had deployed into an obvious attack formation with the three big ones in the middle. The energy spheres on all seven ships were glowing brightly.
"Alien vessels targeting sir," tactical reported.
"Let them take the first shot. As soon as they do open fire."
Jacob watched the alien vessels as at the tip of the closest ship a point of light appeared. It remained static for a moment then flared brighter and a bolt of energy that almost looked like a ball of molten lava came streaking though space towards them. It impacted the shields of the Achilles and exploded, the impact shaking the ship.
The Achilles returned fire immediately. Slamming a broad green particle slicer beam into the alien shields. The alien's shields glowed like a nova under the assault of an energy beam that was capable of slicing any ship in half. The beam cut off a moment before a volley of eight twin pulsed particle bolts hit the alien ship. The alien shields withstood the first five twin pulses of disruptive particles. The sixth twin pulse collapsed the alien's forward shields allowing the seventh and eighth pulses impacting on the energy globe. Massive arcs of energy crackled around the globe for a moment before giving way to a massive eye-tearing explosion that completely vaporised the ship.
For a moment the rest of the alien fleet paused, startled by the firepower they'd just witnessed and how easily one of their number had been destroyed. Then all the ships opened fire, firing multiple lava like energy bolts. The Tau'ri ships responded in kind with there own pulse and beam weapons and both fleets slammed into each other in a total free for all space brawl.
Jacob held on as enemy fire crashed into the shields of the Achilles each bolt shaking the mighty dreadnought violently.
"Report what are those weapons," Jacob asked even as he saw one of his ships the destroyer Aegis explode as enemy weapons ripped through her shields to carve her hull open.
"Sensors indicate that there some kind of directed antiproton based plasma weapon. They pack a heck of a punch. Shields are at ninety percent and falling," tactical reported.
"Signal to all ships concentrate fire on the alien's energy globes," Jacob ordered. "Do not launch fighters they'd be too vulnerable to the aliens mind control abilities."
"Yes sir. Sir one of the aliens is firing at Rivendell."
Jacob nodded he could see it himself. One of the smaller alien ships fired a series of bolts at the cityship. The spherical force field surrounding the city flashed slightly at the points where the plasma balls impacted. The cities immensely powerful shields shrugging the blasts off like mere insect bites, which to Rivendell was all they were. Rivendell's shields were easily powerful enough to withstand weeks of bombardment by weapons such as the ones the aliens were using. Then Rivendell fired back, like all cityships she was not without defences. From the tip of one of the cities piers erupted a particle slicer beam that was both brighter and broader than any the Achilles could generate. The immensely powerful beam slammed into the alien vessel that had dared to fire at the city. So great was its power that the beam ignored the alien shields to strike the alien vessel dead on the bow, the beam tore right through the whole length of the vessel to shoot out the other side, slicing the ship cleanly in half. The two halves of the ship drifted apart for a millisecond before being completely vaporised as the energy globe detonated.
Aboard the largest battleship in the rapid reaction force the Sinhindrea lord roared in rage and horror as one of the people's ships was instantly blown to subatomic particles by an energy beam of staggering power.
This fight was not going as well as the lord would have liked. The new inferior's ships had very strong and sophisticated shields protecting them, shields that were somehow blocking the subspace signals that carried the telepathic impulses of his people's minds. It took out one of the Sinhindrea's greatest advantages in battle and to make matters that little bit worse the power of the alien weapons matched the sophistication of their shields. The inferiors were also being smart with their firepower, concentrating their attack on the power nodes forcing ships to direct additional power to keep the shields on that vital area intact.
The lord watched in satisfaction as two more of the smaller inferiors ships died there shields giving way under heavy bombardment. Satisfaction turned to increased hatred as another Sinhindrea warship - a battleship this time - exploded as the inferiors beam and pulse weapons broke through its shields to tear open the power node. Simultaneously the biggest of the inferior's ships lashed out with its awesomely powerful beam again, sending another cruiser to its death in a blast of liberated energy.
Observing the swiftly cooling, dispersing plasma clouds from the destroyed warship the lord came to the conclusion that this first battle was lost. The inferiors were too numerous and they had far too many advantages for his small fleet to defeat them. The lord knew though that next time the alien inferiors would not be so fortunate. They would be made to understand that the Sinhindrea were a power beyond comprehension, a hunger beyond understanding, right before they were consumed.
The ship abruptly rocked violently around the lord creating pressure waves in the simulated aquatic environment so like the seas his kind had evolved in. Through a cyber link with the ships systems the lord knew his flagships was under heavy fire from three of the biggest alien ships, all shields facing them were down to sixty percent capacity and falling.
A transmission on fleet command frequencies appeared across the lord's consciousness even as the ship rocked with even more force, enemy fire was starting to get through to hit the hull on random vectors. Damage warnings flashed for the lord's attention but he ignored them as the communiquÃ© unfolded in his consciousness. The full sector defence fleet had mobilised and was coming here at full speed. The lord was gratified even as the ship bucked and rocked under the inferiors merciless pummelling. The shields were almost gone and the lord knew that in a moment death would come for him, but then it would come for the inferiors as well soon.
A final volley of beams and pulses from the inferiors tore through the shields to slam into the power node. The lord closed its multiple eyes as the world vanished in a blinding blast of heat and pain.
Admiral Jacob Robyns shielded his eyes as the biggest of the alien warships exploded after its energy globe was sliced open. When the glare of the ships death blast faded he lowered his hand and looked at what was left of the alien fleet. Only two of the alien ships were left and they were taking fire from every ship in his small fleet.
As he watched Jacob watched as the smaller of the two was sliced in half by one of his cruisers, the slicer beam destroying the centre sections of the projecting tendrils that seemed to serve as long barrels for the alien's powerful plasma weapon. The remaining sections of the ship drifted apart before exploding together.
"Communications hail the remaining ship," Jacob ordered while waving a hand at the thin cloud of smoke that hung in the air of the bridge from a burned out console. "Tell them to surrender or be destroyed."
"Aye, sir." As if in answer the alien warship fired two more plasma bolts at the /Achilles/. Jacob held on as the ship rocked under the impact, the almost depleted bow shields barely holding.
"Fine if that's what they want," Jacob said. "Tactical get that ship out of my sky."
A final particle slicer beam streaked forth from the Achilles and made contact with the alien ship. The alien shields were too weakened to offer any real resistance and the beam ignored them to tear into and through the energy globe. The globe detonated instantly, reducing the ship to nothing more than a plume of superheated plasma. As the glare of the ships quick, explosive death faded Jacob sighed to himself.
"Damage report," he ordered.
"Shields down to thirteen percent capacity. It's going to take awhile to get them back as several power relays to the generators have burned out. Moderate damaged in all forward sections. No hull breaches reported and all internal fires are being contained and should be out momentarily," one of the flag bridge operations officers reported. "Similar damage reports are coming in from all of our ships, save for Rivendell."
Jacob sighed again considering his options. While the damage to his remaining ships could be repaired relatively quickly he didn't really think they should stay in this galaxy at all now. He knew that command wouldn't blame him if he gave the order to withdraw from this galaxy, especially given the extremely hostile reaction of the natives. The very last thing the Tau'ri Federation wanted or needed was to get into a war. There isn't really a choice if we're to avoid a war, Jacob thought, the only viable option is to withdraw.
"Communications," he said.
"Hail Rivendell I need to speak to Governor Shepherd," Jacob ordered know that for forms sake if nothing else he should speak to Governor Alison Shepherd about their next move. Though given what had happened Jacob didn't doubt she would agree with him.
"Aye, sir." Before the communications technician could turn to the task however the sensors came to life again with urgent warnings.
"Admiral multiple hyperspace windows opening. Twenty-five more alien capital ships approaching along with a thousand smaller ships roughly equivalent in size to a Jaffa cargo ship. From the readings their giving off I believe them to be some kind of fighters," Commander Xing reported in alarm. Oh hell, Jacob thought.
"All ships come about and jump into hyperspace. We're withdrawing from this galaxy," Jacob ordered. "Rivendell and her support ships are to jump first then all other ships will follow. All warships launch drones to cover the retreat."
Jacob kept his eyes focused on the screen which had focused on the alien fleet that was bearing down on them. The aliens were approaching at a purposeful but not particularly fast pace. Probably trying to intimidate us before they destroy us, Jacob thought, not that I plan to let these hostiles destroy us.
As the thoughts passed through Jacobs head hatches opened on the outer hulls of all his ships and from each vessel came a swarm of two hundred small, glowing yellow squid-like projectiles. Rivendell got in on the act as well launching a stream of its own combat drones. Though not as lethal as the Ancient weapons they were reverse engineered from the combat drones were ferociously fast devices and their ability to achieve a partially phased state allowing them to bypass almost anyone's shields made them a lethal weapons system in their own right. Chew on those, Jacob thought as the drones streaked towards the alien fleet to sow their own unique brand of havoc.
Aboard the biggest Sinhindrea battleship the lord in command of the sector defence fleet roared in rage as the strange glowing projects the inferiors had fired reached his fleet and began sowing absolute mayhem. The yellow glowing weapons homed in on the Youngling piloted fighters, each projectile simply ignored the fighter's defensive shield to impact and destroy the vessel.
In desperation some of the Younglings began firing their plasma bolts at the incredibly fast and agile alien weapons. Most of the bolts missed their targets by a mile but even when they hit the inferiors weapons were unharmed, passing through the bolts as if they didn't exist. The lord seethed as whole wings of fighters exploded under the attack.
Understanding came as the ships sensors probed to projectiles as the rest of the crew endeavoured to help the embattled Younglings. The inferiors weapons appeared to be in a partially phased state, each surrounded by a field that put it slightly out of phase with normal matter. Concentrated energy like a plasma bolt or like the weak shields on the Younglings fighters were not an obstacle though the weapons would probably not penetrate the shields on the capital ships. As the lord watched a number of the projectiles pelted one of the smaller cruisers, each weapon partially penetrating the shield to detonate in the force field itself. The cruisers shields flashed and rippled with distortion waves that raced along the whole length of the ship, then the shields collapsed as small explosions erupted on the cruiser as shield emitters overloaded and detonated. Several more projectiles closed in on the vulnerable cruiser and ripped into the power node, sending the cruiser to its death in a blinding explosion.
The lord seethed in anger at the destruction of yet another Sinhindrea warship. Then the cyber link with the ship alerted the lord to the fact that the inferiors ships had turned away and that sensors indicated that their hyperdrives were powering up. The inferiors were escaping, that could not be allowed they had to be made to pay for all the lives they had taken.
Incensed beyond description the Sinhindrea lord ordered all guns on all ships to fire upon the inferiors. They were outside optimum range but the lord knew they stood a reasonable chance of hitting the inferiors and stopping them escaping.
Volleys of lava like plasma bolts flew from the Sinhindrea capital ships towards the retreating Tau'ri expeditionary fleet. The blasts of plasmatic death arrived just as the whole fleet was entering hyperspace, fired from extreme range the bolts missed the Tau'ri ships but impacted on the event horizon of the hyperspace window, with devastating results.
The hyperspace window flashed and rippled with rainbow colour before seeming to twist and distort before becoming a green-white funnel that first pulled in Rivendell, then the Achilles and the rest of the cityships escort/support fleet, all the ships vanishing in a flash of brilliant light as they crossed the event horizon. Then the mutated hyperspace window collapsed in upon itself and closed, a massive subspace energy wave blasting forth from its position.
The subspace wave - a rolling wave of pure power travelling at close on light speed - slammed into the Sinhindrea before they could even begin to react. The fighters succumbed instantly, disintegrating in violent explosions. The capital ships were more fortunate, their shields held off the worst of the waves destructive energy but the inertial force of the wave knocked them tumbling away out of control.
After a few moments the Sinhindrea got their ships back under control and their sensors swept the area for any sign of their prey. But their was no sign, the Tau'ri ships were gone as if they had never been.
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