If anyone is interested in the Star Wars back story for this feel free to read my story Disunion for it. Everyone in this are pretty much all OC's since I'm not very confident that I can do the real characters justice as anything more than cameos. This is a bit of an anomaly as most of the POV will be from the Stargate side of things starting next chapter.
Prologue: Status Report
Onderon's Run was typical of billions of systems filling the Outer Rim. It contained no inhabitable worlds and until recently had not even been graced with a name. If this lonely star and its retinue of ten worlds had been visited in the past it would have been only by the automated mining ships that cycled through the barren systems of galaxy feeding the raw materials that kept galactic civilization running.
For this system that had changed five standard years ago. The Confederacy of Independent Systems had needed a secure research facility with access to abundant raw materials and isolation from the spies and potential victims of accidents that settled worlds had in such abundance and so a system in the galactic backwaters had been chosen and named almost at random. Now the system was filled with droid controlled mining ships steadily dismantling the asteroidal rubble of the system and bringing the raw materials to the orbit of the fifth planet from the star, a large gas giant that was on the border line between being a planet and a star.
There a cluster of impressively sized but clearly prefabricated space stations had been built. From the outside they appeared much the same as any industrial space infrastructure in the galaxy; only the large number of capital ships providing security throughout the system spoke of the importance of this new facility. Fully 40 vessels and their compliments of droid starfighters patrolled Onderon's Run, for while the Confederacy had many larger facilities scattered throughout its territory, none were as important to their future as this one. For here was where the finest minds in the third of the galaxy controlled by the CIS were attempting to tease out the secrets that had set the galaxy aflame 20 years ago during the midst of the Clone Wars. Here was where they would gain the ability to stand against the Galactic Union and Palpatine's Empire or fall forever as a mere footnote of history as they had in the Union's home.
This day there was a new arrival to Onderon's Run. With a brief flash of light one of the new Skyfury cruisers entered the system just outside the defense perimeter as it exited from hyperspace. Resembling one of the original Trade Federation Lucrehulk battleships only considerably thinner in profile and scaled up by a factor of five it was still rare to see these vessels outside of strike wings or the defense groups of major worlds. A quick burst of encoded communications passed between the disk shaped vessel and the space station at the center of the system's facilities and then after receiving a reply a shuttle and its three escorts emerged from the cruiser's forward hangar.
A casual eye would have had difficulty spotting anything out of the ordinary regarding this small convoy of ships that were in use throughout the CIS but if one had known where to look many things would have stood out glaringly. The escorts for one were the latest mark three tri-fighters with engines, shields, and weapons much upgraded from the versions that were introduced during the war. These models had been introduced only a year ago and were still not in wide use outside of elite squadrons. A closer look would have revealed that these particular fighters were upgraded beyond even that; all of the equipment in them was custom made, no expense had been spared to make them as deadly as galactic engineering could. The shuttle itself was clearly a custom model, well armed and with secondary and tertiary shield projectors. Like its escorts this vessel was packed with the best military technology the Confederacy could stuff into its custom hull while still maintaining the semblance of an ordinary shuttle used to ferry important dignitaries everywhere.
All of this bespoke the importance placed on the sole organic occupant of the shuttle by the government of the CIS for he was one of the few minds in the galaxy who had managed to win a battle against the forces of the Galactic Union in anything close to an even fight. The list of defeats and disasters from that war was long stretching from Coruscant to Muunilunst and beyond so if the military wished to keep the victor of Auric Petain and the savior of the council alive even the most miserly Nemoidian accountant would not begrudge the expense. For the passenger on the shuttle was none other than Duke Isidis, Grand Admiral of the Confederacy, and the Commander of the Special Weapons Fleet.
To most humans in the galaxy Duke Isidis looked just like all the other Neimoidians; if pressed to describe him they may have noticed the lack of mottling that showed self-indulgence among most other high ranking Neimoidians or his somewhat smaller than average stature. Those who were attuned to such things may have noticed that unlike many of the mercantile members of his race the duke held himself with a self-assured poise and unflinching bearing that was quite at odds with the stereotypes that followed them around. Very few would have been observant enough to note that beneath his ornate dress uniform Isidis was still near the peak of physical health and conditioning despite being well into middle age which was time when many Neimoidians of his social position began tending towards corpulence. Isidis' outside reflected his inside; he had no time for the indulgences and fripperies that marked so much of the CIS's leadership.
As the shuttle and its escorts passed through the void between the cruiser and space facility the interior was silent aside from the occasional mechanical sound made by the pilot droid as it operated the vessel. Isidis sat in his seat periodically glancing at a data pad that had but one piece of correspondence displayed upon its screen. As the shuttle began its final approach to the facility's main hanger he made a sour face and put the pad down while shaking his head. He glanced outside the ship just in time to see the only new construction that had been begun since the last time he was here a scant few weeks ago.
Of course that time frame was part of the reason he was feeling somewhat nonplussed at the moment, Isidis considered as the shuttle settled into place within the cavernous hanger. With the vessel settled into place, but before the pilot could even inform him of this fact, the duke was already standing though he had to take a moment to adjust the elements of his elaborate uniform to get them back into the proper order. Personally he would have preferred something more plain, but the people in charge of such things wanted the CIS to be a counterweight to the drab austerity of both the former Republic and the Galactic Union and this was one place where he was willing to put his utilitarian leanings aside to make the civilians happy.
Isidis strode to the rear of the shuttle and waited for its ramp to lower before continuing forward at a brisk pace. He noted as he reached the bottom of the ramp that the bay was filled with military droids arranged in parade ground formation serving as a sort of honor guard on either side of a clear space leading back towards the turbolifts. Nearest to him were ranks of the heavily armored B2 droids that reminded him of bipedal beetles, while behind them were their significantly more humanoid replacements the B5s. Behind them were larger support droids such as droidekas and the newer scarabs, and behind them were even a few Vulture 2's in their ground configuration. All in all it was a rather impressive sight that unfortunately Isidis had seen very recently in this very spot. The fact that such a display had been put together despite the short notice he had given for his arrival did not bode well for this visit.
The duke rapidly moved down the open aisle between the rigidly standing droids towards the only other organic being in the room other than a few Geonosians who seemed to be working on some wiring on the rear wall. This person doing their best to stand at attention despite a clear lack of military training was the administrator of the project Chi Rai. She was a Gossam who had come to Isidis' attention shortly after the war due to her success is leading the team that had worked out the theoretical underpinnings of the Galactic Union's gravity well projectors. He had recruited her to lead this project based off of her success in that, but as he rapidly approached the small reptilian administrator in her long robes trying to meet his eye despite being little more than half his height he sincerely hoped he had not made a mistake. Recruiting a new leader would take time the CIS could not afford.
"Remind me what you told me when I was here last," Isidis said as he reached her. She had been clearly about to say something, but he did not even slow down forcing here to scramble into to motion and to keep up with his longer legs.
Chi Rai had probably been about to give a rehearsed welcoming speech and it was obvious that it was taking some effort for her to get her mind into a different track.
"I said a great many things, sir…your grace," she managed.
Isidis gave her a look. "Specifically the time frame you gave me for preliminary results."
"I told you it would be at least a year before we had anything, but…"
"A year," the duke repeated as they reached the waiting turbolift, "and all of my experts backed that estimate up or said it was being optimistic. Even the Empire is at least that far away and they have that mystic weirdness helping them out." Isidis had never particularly liked or trusted the Jedi and their strange ways; the revelations that the leader of the Republic, and now Empire, was a member of some splinter faction of theirs confirmed a number of his half felt biases.
"So tell me," he continued as the nervous administrator activated the lift by waving her secure datapad over the control panel, "Why you decided to inform me of a major breakthrough after only three weeks."
Gossam faces were not normally very expressive but the confusion on Chi Rai's was clearly apparent.
"Because we had a major breakthrough," she said slowly, almost making the statement a question.
Isidis ran his palm over his face. "Look, I know that some people in the command structure need their subordinates to make major breakthroughs every two weeks according to the schedule drawn up at the start of the project. However I distinctly remember telling you that all I cared about were results. I promised you that you would have all the resources you could need, so long as you could show you weren't wasting them."
She was about to speak but Isidis forestalled it with a gesture. "I am willing to give you the chance to show that you are not wasting my time with butt-covering foolishness; but if you are bear in mind I can find someone else to fill your position. Count Sollas perhaps."
With this the turbolift slowed to a stop and opened to reveal a large conference room. A table with built in holographic projectors dominated the center of the room in much the same way that a window overlooking what appeared to be an insane tangle of wires and machinery dominated the far wall. The table was liberally strewn with datapads and small holographic schematics that projected the plans for any number of things that Isidis did not have the training to decipher. Aside from the two entering from the turbolift and a Geonosian who by the gear he was wearing was an engineer of some sort the room was deserted.
"I assure you that will not be necessary," Chi Rai said hurriedly as she rushed into the room. The diminutive administrator made a quick gesture to the Geonosian who activated the central holographic projector. An enormous mass of equations and graphs bending through space in ways that did not seem to quite fit within the real universe filled the space over the table. Isidis halted at the end of the table and crossed his arms.
"I'll skip most of the technical details since I know you don't have the time to get into them right now," the Gossam began as she hurriedly tapped at the datapad causing whole blocks of equations to vanish. "Perhaps you recall how we were preparing the preliminary breaching activities?"
"Yes, you mentioned you would be increasing the power gradually. Hence the year long timeframe and my suspicion of your supposedly rapid results."
Chi Rai commenced a rapid flurry of tapping on the datapad as she apparently searched for something.
"That is correct. We needed to take small steps when attempting to breach the dimensional barriers to prevent catastrophic issues from coming up. We wouldn't want to transition the universe to a lower phase state or cause complete protonic reversal after all."
She seemed to want a response so Isidis favored her with a small nod despite not really knowing what the outcomes of what she was talking about actually meant.
"Ah here we are," she said as a recording sprang into view above the table. "The thing is, that on our third iteration we achieved a stable connection."
The recording showed a room filled with a tangle of machinery that was immediately recognizable as the one visible through the conference room's window. Isidis could see the machinery activating as it pushed energy through the specialized devices and focused it on a point near the middle of the room. The casual voice of a technician read out the power drain and a few other pertinent figures. He heard someone else give the order to power the devices down, either a Geonosian or someone speaking their language for some reason, and the worried response form the first technician when it clearly did not work and an energetic reaction began to build in space between the pieces of focusing machinery.
The projection was suddenly filled with a bright white light as the panicked voices of the technicians rose into shouts. Then the light faded revealing a glimmering circle of what looked like nothing so much as rippling water levitating in the midst of the machinery where the reaction had been building mere moments before.
Isidis uncrossed his arms and leaned forward. "Is that…?" he began.
"A wormhole, yes."
"And how long…?"
"38 minutes," Chi Rai said as her body language indicated what would have been a smile on a human.
"And that's unusual?" Isidis was fairly certain what the response to this would be.
At this the Geonosian broke in. "You could say that. Getting a connection at all with such a low power input is strange enough," at this Isidis had to shake his head; if he had heard the recording properly they had been dumping enough energy into the machines to run a warship the size of the Malevolence. "But to get a stable connection, let alone one that size is insane."
"Admiral this is Dagan, the head of engineering for this particular part of the project," Chi Rai said.
"Of course that's not even the best part," the Geonosian continued is his language making Isidis glad he had bothered to learn it. Getting a translator droid in here would have been a pain. "After it shut down we tried to replicate the experiment. You'll never guess what happened."
"Nothing," Isidis ventured.
"Based on what we expected to happen the first time that would have made sense," Chi Rai said. "Instead we got a connection again. It was the same size and lasted just as long."
"I'm not sure I understand. This would seem to mean that this is much easier than even the most optimistic estimates proposed."
Dagan shook his head. "That's not it. The problem is it's always the same size and always appears at the same energy threshold. According to intel we have regarding both the Empire's efforts and what the Union built pumping more energy in should get a larger connection; all it does here is make it last longer. Of course that's also leaving out the fact that we got it with two orders of magnitude less energy than we should have."
"I take it you have some theories then."
"Actually we didn't," Chi Rai admitted. Isidis carefully noted the use of the past tense in this assessment. "We had almost exactly what we wanted on demand and with greater ease than even the giddiest neophyte would have predicted. Unfortunately all the math, previous experiments, and basic logic said that it could not be."
"After all," Dagan said, "If it was that easy during Auric Petain the Great Weapon should have blasted a hole into another universe and everyone would have noticed that."
"That's why we decided to do something a little reckless," Chi Rai said. "We sent some droids through since we certainly were not going to get anywhere just looking at the thing. After all it was a stable connection to somewhere and that's what droids are for."
"Just sending them through gave us some data, though all of it was weird." The Geonosian said.
"Weird in what way?"
"This thing acts nothing like the Union's wormhole. For one thing it does not like having things be only part way through."
"When we had a droid extend a probe into it the whole thing was yanked through," Chi Rai elaborated. "It shut down early and cut the cable when we sent something through tethered with a communication cable."
"Though that little precaution turned out to be unnecessary," Dagan added. "Though the strange thing is other than transmissions for some reason the connection is only one way."
"How could you possibly have determined that?" Isidis asked. This was becoming far more complex than he preferred. With all the information acquired on the Union's portal everyone involved in this project had been certain that replicating that technology would have been merely an engineering challenge, but now it was increasingly sounding like no one even had a clue about the underlying science at all. Granted it seemed to have worked out beneficially for the Confederacy this time but Isidis was not one to rely on good luck for anything this important.
"The first droid with the probe," Dagan responded. "After it was pulled through we got transmissions from it. It was intact and apparently on a planetary surface so we told it to come back. Unfortunately all we got back was a brief energy surge that was consistent with the thing being disintegrated."
"For whatever reason only energy can travel both ways," Chi Rai said. "Matter only goes one way."
"So it's completely useless." Isidis said. "We need the resources and potential allies on the other side, otherwise the Union will overwhelm us when they finish unifying their home galaxy. All this is good for is as a way to flee if nothing can ever come back from there."
"No, no, that's not the case," Chi Rai said hurriedly. "We would not have called you in so quickly if we were just giving up. Your analysis would be accurate except for what we found on the other side."
"The third droid we sent through was a probe droid and this is what it saw." She pressed something on the datapad and the image of the test chamber vanished to be replaced with a scene from a planetary surface rendered in three dimensions.
Primarily it seemed to show a group of old stone ruins of little distinction. The stones were monolithic, but from the level weathering they had been exposed to the elements for many centuries at least. The ground was covered in tall grassy cover and in the sheltered spots between the large stones shrubby trees were growing. The few that had sprouted in the open were wind twisted, all bending in the same direction shaking in a steady breeze that had continued throughout the recording.
These details were noted by the duke and filed away but there was one thing amongst the obviously low technology ruins that stood out like a battleship amongst frigates. In a central place of pride amid the ruins was a ring of clearly manufactured metal though he suspected the slight lean away from vertical had happened after the ruins had been abandoned. The strange rippling surface of the wormhole filled the interior precisely and the outer edges were divided into a number of segments each of which was marked by a glyphic symbol. Nine triangular devices were equally placed around the outside and some sort of pedestal was located in front of the slightly leaning circle, but it was the ring itself which had Isidis' attention. He had seen something like that once before though only in a now half-forgotten lecture at the academy.
"The Gree," he said.
"Ah you're familiar with those recluses," Dagan said. 'That makes this a great deal easier to explain."
"I don't think anyone is truly familiar with them, but I know a hypergate when I see it."
"I'm not surprised," Chi Rai answered. "Most courses covering the history of hyperdrive mention Gree hypergates and how much more restrictive they are compared with actual spaceships. However seeing this answered most of our questions with regards to our wormhole problems."
"These things," Dagan said gesturing at the ring, "must be attuned to spatial disturbances in order to function. So when we started poking a hole into their universe the machinery that runs the device must have detected it and for lack of a better metaphor reached out and completed the connection from that side. We basically tapped into someone else's com lines by accident while messing around with our own comlink."
"And," Chi Rai said hastily, "once we get a good analysis of that hypergate we can approximate one on this side and get a two way connection going once we replicate all this," she gestured at the equipment visible through the window of the conference room, "which shouldn't be that difficult. If those ruins say anything about who built the thing it should be child's play. The connection will be a bit small but it should be a start."
Silence filled the room as the two other occupants looked hopefully at Isidis as his mind whirled with thoughts. Already he was evaluating plans and considering potential pitfalls and opportunities.
"Proceed with your plans for exploration," he said, "though we need you to continue working on both a larger connection and continuing with the original plan as well. Even a two way connection is not good enough in the long run if all we can send are Starfighters through. And we still will need a way to connect to multiple universes in the long run."
"Of course sir," Chi Rai said nodding.
Isidis stood for a few more moments gazing at the hologram and specifically the ring and the pedestal in front of it.
"If you really can get that two way connection working I'm going to need to attach some actual soldiers to this project too," he said after a moment of thought. "If that thing is anything like a hypergate there must be something on the other side, and until we can send real starships through that will be the only way to scout out the area. We're going to need some explorers."