Chapter17 : The Crucible
Jumper Bay on the USS Apollo
Turn it on when I say," McKay commanded. "OW! WHEN… I …SAY!"
"You enjoyed that."
"No, I didn't, sorry." Said Zelenka.
"How much longer McKay?" Sheppard demanded.
"Do you come in here just to distract me or do you want me to finish?"
"Just give me an estimate."
"This problem makes string theory look like wiring a fuse box."
"Okay, I get it, one in a million chance, yada yada yada."
Are you ready?
"I only ask because you were less than definitive in your answer."
Remember no wild parties while we are gone," Sheppard launched the PJ. "Is it online?"
"Did I mention this might not work? I mean we could spin out of control or disintegrate or blow up and burn out our power…"
"Just answer the damn question."
"Yeah, were ready."
"Okay, we activate the commands on a delay timer."
"No, we have to access their computer core from a field wide enough to encompass the jumper and the core room.
"Plug and play you think it's that simple."
"You are going to make it that simple."
"You need me to deal with the unexpected which you wouldn't know was the unexpected but I would."
If I don't calculate the power output precisely we could incinerate the moment the hyperspace window opens."
"It never ends with you," Sheppard snarked. "Buckle up we're going in."
Colonel Ellis on the Apollo opened a channel. "Ease up on the angle, Sheppard. We're coming in too steep. PULL UP!"
Deep sighs of relief punctuated the crew of the Apollo as the jumper corrected course just in time. Colonel Ellis told Sheppard, "They don't see you. We have two more Basestars that just jumped in. Plant the device and go."
"Just like the military," Rodney huffed. "They think because they gave a command, everyone can just do what is necessary at the drop of a hat."
"We hire the people who can do it at the drop of a hat, McKay or can't you do it faster?" Sheppard checked the H.U.D. to get his flight path and dropped in towards the Cylon Basestar. Cloaked, the Jumper made it undetected. McKay and Ronon had on their EVA suits. The technician made sure the seals were in hermetic. Everyone else gathered in the forward compartment with the co-pilot. Once the doors were sealed between fore and aft sections, Sheppard decompressed the cabin and opened the rear hatch. Rodney held the Life Signs Detector while Ronon had a big blaster.
"So far so good," Rodney reported looking skeptically at Ronon, who cocked an eyebrow at him. "After you, after all…" Ronon simply barreled out ready for anything.
"All clear, McKay," Ronon reported. Sheppard confirmed it. "Do your thing and let's get out of here."
Rodney walked over to the nearest biomechanical junction he could discern. He felt the tissue for a place but couldn't figure out what that could be.
"Here goes nothing." He plunged the oversized hypodermic into the tissue and depressed the plunger. Then he attached his device right into the flesh. "Readings, we're getting readings." He frantically read what passed on the screen.
"What's it say, McKay?" Sheppard asked over the com system.
"What do you mean it's gibberish?"
"I didn't think pseudo-random output would sway you." Rodney attached something else and played with the controls. "No good, I can't interface properly."
"Rodney," Zelenka called out. "We've been detected. Plant the bomb and let's go."
"I've got an idea!"
"Too late McKay, I'm pulling the plug on this one. Get back to the ship."
"Just…just…just… oh boy!" McKay heard Ronan blasting away around the corner. Quickly he unplugged the equipment and ran as Ronon came around facing forward.
Both men ran for their lives back to the ship. Two large chrome Cylon Centurions came around the corner blasting away from their hands. Ronon managed to hit one right between the red eye. McKay managed to lob a grenade. It had no effect. But they did get back to the ship. Just as the hatch closed, a Cylon metal hand held back the door. Sheppard had no choice. He sent a drone to deal with the giant Cylon Centurion as others were rounding the bend. The hatch couldn't close properly, so Rodney and Ronon had to hold on, hoping they wouldn't be spewed out as the Jumper took flight.
"It's like riding in an open truck bed," McKay exclaimed. He managed to attach the seat belt as Ronon did the same. Both men saw open space behind them as the ship tried to make it to the Apollo. At that moment, the Basestar launched its fighters.
"We have bogeys!" Sheppard said over the headset to the Apollo. "I count an even dozen."
"Is that a dozen dozen or a baker's dozen," Rodney asked in a panic?
"Shut up McKay."
"Oh right …HE'S concentrating now." Just as a Cylon fighter locked on, Sheppard made it to the shields of the Apollo. The Cylon fighter smashed into the shield and disintegrated. Two more did the same thing.
"Shields holding," Major Gant reported.
"That's interesting," McKay said as he felt the ship barely rock with the multiple impacts. He could hear some of the chatter over his headset. "I've got an idea."
Thor's Ship the O'Neill II
"So what are you saying?" O'Neill asked in irritation. He was standing outside the holding chamber with Lya from the Nox, Thor, Garshaw the Tok'ra, Teal'c for the Jaffa, and Woolsey from the IOA.
"The Nox will not kill," Lya said simply. "However, we can be of assistance should you be attacked. Our illusions can be used to shield various items. However, these machines are not life as you understand it. However, there is a consciousness that I can sense. It troubles me."
"I do not sense the consciousness from within."
"Lya, are you saying the consciousness is somewhere else but not in the body?" Colonel Samantha Carter asked respectfully.
"Is it being transmitted somehow?"
"I don't know. It is present."
"And so therefore, what Carter?" Jack was losing patience and knew he had to keep it if the Nox were to help.
"I'm not sure, sir."
"Not yet, sir."
"If I may," Garshaw interposed. "Whether the thing has an interior or exterior consciousness may have a bearing on how we fight all of them. We must find the consciousness to determine how it is linked to the rest. If we find that point, we can adopt a plan to neutralize it and then neutralize all the Cylons."
"You mean reprogram the Cylons?"
"If it can be done, possibly," Garshaw conceded. "However, we can not lose sight of the opportunity to destroy them while they don't know our capabilities."
"We have already attempted to reprogram the specimens." The little Roswell Grey shook his head. "We have been unsuccessful."
"Then we must destroy them with every means available," the Teal'c answered. "What progress on the Replicators?"
"We have identified sections of the Ancient's Library on Atlantis that deals with the base code. We are attempting to re-write it so they will attack the Wraith. It is their original purpose anyway."
"Great, we sic the Replicators on the Wraith to keep them busy. The Wraith are fighting each other, but just might… and I say might get together to fight the Replicators. Now we are trying to what with the Cylons?"
"We are trying to find an organic weakness to infect their biocircuitry," Garshaw explained to Jack.
"How's that coming? Faster than fighting the Goa'uld?" Jack referred to the two thousand year struggle which only ended recently once the humans became a factor.
"We are making every effort," Garshaw said with some pique.
"Right, like the effort you folks are trying to make with the Asgard?"
"What effort is that?"
"Oh puh-leeze, you want their cloning technology."
Garshaw turned on Thor in anger. "We were discussing this in private."
"Apparently not," Jack answered. "Oh and he didn't tell me."
"Well let's just say I keep my ear to the ground."
"Do you not get dirt in it O'Neill?" Thor asked without blinking.
"No but I hear the dirt. Look, we can't poison the Cylons or the Wraith fast enough either through programming or viruses. Oh we could get the organic Cylons but that leaves the chrome jobs. We can possibly reprogram the Replicators, but no one has a clue about the downside. Does anyone have a really GOOD idea?"
"Well sir, we know Dr. Beckett's retrovirus can be delivered in a Wraith ship and will turn the crew into humans even for a time."
"We also know it is extremely difficult to get access to the central air supply to do it."
"Has anyone taken a census of the Wraith recently?" Garshaw asked.
"Their numbers are down since their civil war began but there are so many of them."
"Indeed." Teal'c raised an eyebrow at Carter. "Then we should find out how many and where they are located."
"To do what, T?"
"To formulate a battle plan and deliver this …retrovirus."
"There's that," Jack paused.
"Sir, we know that a group of humans developed a partially successful inoculation against Wraith feeding chemicals. However there is a 50 percent mortality rate on the humans. Thor, do you think you could figure out a better version?"
"Deliver us the vaccine and we shall try."
"And how long is that going to take," Jack asked?
"The Tok'ra would be happy to assist."
"So we have two potential avenues back on the Wraith but more long term. We still haven't figured out the Cylons."
"We spoke with Admiral Adama's engineers," Carter began. "They tell us the Cylons use the same conventional nukes the Colonials do."
"They did," Thor interrupted. "Since the downloading of an Asgard consciousness, they have upgraded their capabilities."
"Okay, Carter, you find out from Thor how bad it is. Teal'c, you're with me. Garshaw, a pleasure as always." He frowned. "Lya, we are grateful for your support." She gave a short bow of her head to him. "Okay, I'm taking the baby-making Cylon with me. Thor, stay in touch."
The USS Apollo
"Will you look at that!" Sheppard exclaimed. "Better than the Fourth of July."
The Cylon Basestar exploded into smithereens. Cheers broke out on the bridge. However, Rodney McKay was chewing his bottom lip while frantically doing something to a tablet computer.
"It didn't do any good," McKay announced.
"What do you mean? It exploded," Sheppard argued.
"And every single Cylon in there uploaded to the Resurrection ship. Now they know what we did to them." Rodney moved forward to stand before the bridge crew. "I TOLDyou this would happen. But oh, right, why listen to the scientist when you can blow something up!"
"Helm," Colonel Ellis commanded. "How far to the Resurrection Ship?"
"Twenty minutes, sir."
"Plot a course and take us there. Let Atlantis know where we are going and why. Hermiod," Ellis called over the headset to the resident Asgard crewmember.
"Did you complete your analysis?"
"I did. The Cylons here do not yet possess the Asgard shields."
"Is this the only Resurrection Ship in Pegasus?"
"Unlikely, but I do not detect another. However, I do detect multiple squadrons of enemy fighter craft on approach."
"All hands, this is the Captain, battle stations. Helm take us out of here."
"No, no wait," McKay contradicted. "I want to try something first. They don't have shields. Right?"
"What's your point McKay?"
"Well the laws of physics say that anything traveling that fast when it hits something will be damaged seriously. I want to throw something at one or more of those fighters. Let's see if the impact can do some damage."
"We are not here to experiment for your curiosity, Doctor."
"Actually, you are. You see I'm here to come up with these ideas and you are here to use them. There, now, pitch some garbage or something at them… a lot of garbage… a blanket of garbage. Turn the ship so you face the Cylons and eject the garbage TOWARDS them. Let them hit garbage continuously. It will be like…like…like being machine gunned."
The Colonel ordered all the garbage ejected in the path of the oncoming fighters in a wide spread. Sure enough the fighters broke apart.
"Why, what happened, McKay?"
"The carbon in the organics heats up on impact and converts to diamond dust. We grind them like logs in a sawmill. Next time, throw some peanuts at them." He looked at the stunned faces. "Okay, so I came up with a low tech solution… just shows how brilliant I really am. One peanut at 6 miles a second is the equivalent of four sticks of dynamite."
"That's good, really good, McKay. Just one question," Sheppard asked. "How come you didn't think of this sooner?"
"I don't know. Maybe my writers were on strike."