In the 26th century a group of Tau'ri warships is sent to a newly discovered galaxy, starting a chain of events that could see the extinction of all life in the universe.
Admiral Jacob Robyns emitted a horrified gasp as he saw the barrage of plasma bolts from the pursing alien fleet impact on the event horizon of the hyperspace window. The window flashed with rainbow colour and before he could even react transformed into a glowing green vortex. He started to open his mouth to issue a frantic emergency order but before any sound could emerge his ships and Rivendell were pulled into the mutated hyperspace window.
The Achilles rocked violently as she crossed the event horizon of the mutated subspace distortion field and was immediately thrown around like a child's toy. All around the fleet the normal calm blue slipstream effect of hyperspace shattered and warped, transforming into a crackling green white and blue maelstrom of energy. Massive arcs of what looked almost like lightning leapt between the walls of tunnel through subspace and the fleet, crackling over the starships and cityship, encasing all of them in spheres of pulsating light.
Jacob gasped as he suddenly felt incredible tension and pain erupt across his whole body. It felt almost like the basic matter of which his body was composed was being subjected to intense stress, alternatively being compressed and pulled. The pain was blindingly intense, tearing at his very sanity. Faintly he heard himself screaming, his screams mingling with the screams of everyone else on the flag bridge and throughout the entire fleet as they all experienced the same unbearable torment.
Finally after what seemed like an eternity of unbearable agony the torment ended as light pulsed through the hulls of every ship even Rivendell and swept everyone in the fleet into unconsciousness.
Governor Alison Shepherd groaned as she opened her eyes, to find herself flat on the floor of Rivendell's control room. Slowly, awkwardly she sat up, her whole body was still aching from whatever that was they had passed through after the unknown alien's powerful plasma weapons had pelted the hyperspace window as they tried to leave the dark matter galaxy.
"Status report," she ordered weakly, their was no reply from anyone in the control room. Frowning Alison awkwardly got to her feet, grabbing the edge of one of the consoles for support as her legs felt like they were made of jelly.
Slowly she looked around the control room. To see that everyone was still unconscious, though one or two people were showing signs of coming out of it, though it would probably be a couple of minutes before anyone opened their eyes. Alison guessed that everyone in Rivendell was like that, badly affected by whatever the alien weapons fire had turned the hyperspace window into. Have to get a status report the other way, Alison thought with a soft sigh.
"Arwen," she called out. Immediately a holographic representation of Rivendell's A.I computer system appeared in front of her. Like its namesake the avatar appeared as a beautiful, fragile looking elfin princess with long flowing hair and dressed in a flowing white robe of intricate weave. The robe the avatar wore seemed to shimmer slightly, a purposeful feature designed to make Arwen appear almost angelic.
"Yes Governor Shepherd," Arwen asked politely.
"Status report please Arwen," Alison replied. "What is the condition of the city?"
"All systems are fully operational Governor Shepherd," Arwen replied instantly. "Many of the residents appear to be unconscious however I am reading a number of individuals moving around in the more shielded areas here in the central tower and on the engineering levels."
"What about our escorts," Alison asked. "Are they still with us?"
"Yes. I am reading life signs on all of our escort warships however most appear to be unconscious just like here in the city. Though is some movement aboard the Achilles. I believe it is only a matter of time before everyone here and on the escort squadron recover from the effects of the disturbance."
"I see thank you Arwen. Do you have any idea what happened to the hyperspace window Arwen?"
"Negative Governor Shepherd, however sensors did record a number of quantum shifts during the passage through the disturbance. Sensors are also reporting something very strange."
"What is it?"
"We are back in normal space and according to my navigational processors we are back in the Milky Way galaxy. However star patterns around us do not precisely match those in my database, quantum readings have changed, plus I am reading no subspace activity of any kind."
"None at all," Alison exclaimed shocked. Normally the Milky Way was alive with subspace activity of all kinds from Stargate activity, to ships travelling in hyperspace, to interstellar communications chatter. There was simply no way that subspace traffic could simply vanish from existence. "Recheck your sensors Arwen."
For a second the avatar was silent, giving a good impression of a person thinking. "Readings confirmed Governor Shepherd," Arwen said at last. "There is no subspace traffic of any kind though I am picking up a lot of tachyon streams and pulses travelling through a deep subspace layer. Origin and nature are unknown. Governor based on the available information and the difference in the quantum resonance frequency of the space around us I compute that we are in the right galaxy but the wrong quantum universe."
"How could that happen?" Alison demanded. "How could we cross universes, I mean it's not like anyone around here has a quantum mirror handy."
"Unknown. I can run simulations based on all available data to determine how this has occurred," Arwen suggested.
"Yes Governor Shepherd."
Arwen disappeared as a soft groan came from somewhere else in the control room. Turning in place Alison saw that some more of the control room staff were starting to come around. Smiling softly Alison moved over to the closest recovering console operator to help the young man wake up.
The feel of someone gently shaking his shoulders brought Admiral Robyns back to consciousness. Slowly he opened his eyes to find Captain Josephine Owens standing in front of his command chair, a chair he had somehow managed to stay in despite the violent shaking that had gripped the /Achilles/.
"Status report!" he faintly heard her shout.
No answers were forthcoming as he slowly rose to her feet, unable to stay up he collapsed into the command chair. Others around them were others coming to their senses, Owens had managed to bring up one of the displays near her own seat and was scanning the systems as they came back online.
"Status report Jo."
"We're alive sir, that's all I can tell, most of the internal comm. is down and the few internal sensors we have indicate that the crews' out of commission."
"Can we get anything?
"Negative, until we can get through to the other sections we're bind and deaf."
"Also offline, ship to ship communication is sketchy at best."
"Try to contact anyone you can, find Rivendell if you can. I hope she survived the jump."
The Admiral stood up unsteadily to find several more of his crew straining to pick themselves sup from their prone positions, one of the younger crewmembers was trying to wake up one closest to her.
"Crewman, are you alright."
The girl looked up at the Admiral surprised at hearing his voice so close behind her, she nodded and looked down at her companion, another young woman that held a resemblance to the other girl. One look was more than sufficient to know the young girl was dead, the pale skin and blood around her head showing that she had bled out and died from an unknown injury.
"Are you alright?"
"I think so sir, she's dead."
"I'm sorry, but we need everyone at their posts. I need you back on duty."
"Aye sir, sorry sir."
The Admiral nodded and stood back up his legs stronger and steadier than before, others were also at their stations looking haggard and bloodied. Its probably like this all over the ship, he thought.
"By stations, status report," he ordered, he needed to know what exactly was working and what systems were off line be if from the battle or the effects of the mutated hyperspace window.
"Tactical: shields are down, primary and secondary weapons systems not responding, point defence network not responding."
"Sensors down, we're blind." Blind and defenceless brilliant, Jacob thought resisting the impulse to rub his temples.
"Helm: hyperdrive is out, sub-light drives on line but the navigational computer isn't responding, looks like some of the crystals have been jarred loose."
"Communications: internal and long range down, ship to ship is active."
"Engineering: no idea in total sir I can't get any response from the upper engineering decks. Main ZPM power is off line however, looks like they need to be reset. Backup power and naquada fusion generators are online, ship power levels at sixty percent of normal. I can confirm that the sub-light drive is fully operational but that the hyperdrive is down. Until we get full power back I won't be able to tell about anything else?"
Admiral Robyns looked around the bridge, each of the stations was now manned but he was horrified to see a number of his crew dead on the fleer. Blood was pooled around each as it was on the faces of each of the crew, how the rest of the crew looked or the other ships had fared he had no idea. But if it was anything like this then they would have lost a number of people.
"Captain, have you contacted any of the others."
"We're getting calls from some of the other ships, but two of the destroyers are completely silent."
"Two million kilometres aft of the fleet, can't get anything from them either."
"Flash running lights, Morse code to all ships. Achilles active and ready, all ships reply via normal communications protocols or Morse code. Request update on all systems and combat effectiveness." The admiral turned to tactical, "Lt Thorson, How long till we get our weapons and shields back?"
The tactical officer scanned his readouts looking over the weapons status of the ship's primary and secondary weapons, the shields and armour effectiveness was next until he had finally managed to get the information needed. The loss of the major weapons systems as well as the shielding left them vulnerable to an attack, the smaller ships would possibly be worse off due to their lesser shields and armour.
"I believe I can get some of our secondary weapons systems online sir," he said at last. "Drone launchers are well but primary weapons and shields will have to wait until we get full power restored. Shield generators will also have to be repaired they took a hell of a beating against the alien's plasma weapons."
"Concentrate on point defence and secondary weapons for now," Robyns ordered. "Can we launch any fighters."
"Yes sir we can." That's something at least, Jacob thought with a sigh of relief. At least they could deploy a cap and wouldn't be completely defenceless.
"Get a cap out there as soon as possible."
"Sir we're receiving a message from Rivendell," communications reported, relief apparent in the officer's voice. Relief Jacob Robyns understood and shared, if they were talking then somebody was alive over there.
"Put it on main screen."
"Aye, sir." The main screen at the front of the flag bridge came on showing the face and torso of Governor Shepherd, she looked a little haggard but other than that she seemed to be alright. Personnel could also be seen moving about Rivendell's control room behind her.
"Admiral, good to see you alive," Shepherd said relief in her voice.
"Governor Shepherd, its good to see you too. Status report from your end please."
"All systems are operational, most of my crew were knocked out by the jump. Shields are operational at seventy three percent, some of our weapons are working we've lost the particle slicer cannons but all pulse cannons and drone launchers are operational, engineering should be up and running again within the hour. Once there back up it shouldn't take us long to bring the city back to full operational status. We were lucky Admiral."
"We don't know yet Admiral, we know there are a few fatalities aboard but a lot more unconscious or comatose. Arwen is polling the crew as we speak but it's not good, what is the fleet's status?"
"We don't know, with a few exceptions the rest of the ships are incommunicado."
"Down for the count, most of our systems are dead including weapons and long range sensors. We can launch fighters though so we'll be getting a cap out as soon as we get enough pilots. Looks like Rivendell will be our eyes and ears for a while, how are the tractor and docking systems?"
"There intact and operational I take it you wish to implement Operation Cocoon?"
"Yes, as soon as possible we need to get our ships repaired and soon."
"Alright I'll send out the Jumpers to tow the smaller ships in, the capital ships may have to wait until we get the engines back online."
"That's fine. If we can get the smaller ships inside the protection of Rivendell's shields then we can focus the repair efforts of the engineers on our larger ships." Shepherd nodded.
"I'll get it organised from this end," she replied at last. "Good luck Admiral."
"To all of us." Shepherd nodded and broke the connection from her end, Jacob sighed and returned to his command chair to think and wonder what he was going to do next.
Admiral Robyns sat in the quiet of his personnel office reading through the legions of reports that had been flooding in from all the ships in his task force as well as departments within the Achilles herself. Full power had been restored to all ships and they finally had their hyperdrives and long range sensors back, but that was all. The fleet and Rivendell were still in a poor tactical condition though at least all ships could now launch drones and the cruiser Jutland had reported that there shields and pulse cannons would be back online within another hour.
The worst news though was the casualty reports. All the ships in the task force and even on Rivendell had lost some people though the loss was fewer on Rivendell. Two of the destroyers were actually running on skeleton crews and it was only being docked with Rivendell that was enabling them to do any repair work. The crew members that had died had mostly died of some kind of neural shock that had caused intense bleeding from all the blood vessels in the brain. Others were in a comatose condition but were showing signs of beginning to recover. Amongst them was Lieutenant Stark - though his condition was different as he'd been the one the aliens had taken over and used as their mouthpiece - he was semi-awake and seemed to be badly traumatised by his experience.
Even more bad news was present in the reports. Arwen had confirmed her initial scans and confirmed that while they were in the Milky Way galaxy again they were in a completely different quantum universe to one they had originated in. The lack of any subspace activity beyond the small emissions the fleet was beginning to once more put out proved that they were on their own. It wasn't a situation Jacob liked at all, being cut off from any chance of support from home, even in the dark matter galaxy they had not been so isolated as all they would have had to do to summon aid was jump to the space between galaxies and call. A call that would bring attention from other Tau'ri starships and the Asgard. For the first time the Milky Way was worrying Jacob as while many of the stars were familiar they were now at the same time strangely hostile.
"Bridge to Admiral Robyns," Captain Owens voice abruptly said over the comm. making Jacob jump slightly, even as he touched the offending device and a holographic screen appeared over his desk.
"Sir we're receiving a hail from Rivendell. Governor Shepherd wants to have a word with you about a matter of utmost urgency."
"Put her through."
"Aye, sir." Owens image disappeared to be replaced instantly by Governor Shepherds and it was immediately obvious that she was very, very worried about something.
"Yes Governor Shepherd," Jacob asked inwardly wondering what particular additional hot potato was about to be dropped in his lap.
"Admiral we have a very serious problem developing over here," Governor Shepherd replied. "For that past hour there have been slightly fluctuations in the cities power distribution grid. My engineers have traced the problem to one of our three zero point modules. The internal crystalline structure of the ZPM has been badly cracked, we believe that it occurred during our passage to this universe. The ZPM in question is not producing as much power as we estimate that it has barely twenty percent of its original capacity left. Capacity that is being constantly drained by the fact that we're in space and have to maintain full shields around the whole city."
"Do you have any in storage," Jacob asked worried. If there weren't any in storage then it meant they would have to find a planet for Rivendell to land on as soon as possible. The cityship wouldn't be able to stay in space with just two zero point modules active, even with the backup naquada fusion generators that all Tau'ri built cityships had, it would not be enough energy. Like all cityships Rivendell was an extremely energy hungry beast.
"I'm afraid not Admiral," Shepherd replied. "When we were sent on this mission it was assumed that we would not need anymore ZPM's for at least a month. We do have the apparatus and enough materials onboard to manufacture some more ZPM's but as you know it is a very long, energy intensive process. It takes a week to make even one and the damaged ZPM wont last that long."
"Then we need to find a planet for you to land upon as quickly as possible," Jacob said. "How long until the damaged ZPM gives up the ghost?"
"My engineers estimate that it will give out within two days," Shepherd replied. "Arwen believes that she has located a suitable planet on the long range sensors. Its in a binary star system about eighty light years from our current location, however using the hyperdrive will drain the damaged ZPM of almost all remaining power. We cannot afford to jump there without confirmation." Damn, Jacob thought then thought fast. There was really only one way to get Rivendell the confirmation that they needed and that was to send one of his ships there. There was only one he could really send at the moment.
"I see," he said at last. "The Jutland will have their pulse cannons and shields back online within the hour. As there back online I will send them to investigate and see if we can get the confirmation that you require." Shepherd looked relieved.
"Thank you, Admiral," she replied genuine relief in her voice. Relief that Jacob could well understand, there were twenty five thousand people on Rivendell and with one ZPM failing on them all their lives were at risk.
"It's no trouble I will arrange it as soon as we clear down."
"Then I will let you go. Thank you again, Admiral."
"You're welcome, Governor." Shepherd smiled once then nodded and disappeared as the signal from Rivendell was terminated. Jacob sighed softly and massaged his temples for a few moments before reaching out and touching the intercom control.
"Communications hail the /Jutland/. I want to speak with Captain McKenzie immediately," he said.