To be honest, I'm posting this to see if it garners interest as I'm in the middle of Chapter 2.
I thought about this when for one; I absolutely did not like Stargate SG-1: Season 6, Episode 17. Also known as Disclosure. Oh I hated that episode so much. I honestly thought it was a too little too late moment with a 'saved by the bell' thanks to Thor.
This compounded with me playing ME: Andromeda and then reviewing the events of how it took such a long time for the reapers to get to the main sections of the civilized part of the Galaxy.
Relay got blown. Reapers could have gone FTL during transit and got a wave of exotic gibbily gook.
Then I thought, 'crazier things have happened in Stargate'. This isn't all that out there. There's that time with the solar flare, the time with the exploding solar system, that time dilation device, a Star going supernova. The quantum mirror. It goes on. and on, and on.
Mostly Stargate Side for the fic. Earth timeline is right after Episode 1 of Season 2. So Apophis' invasion has been taken care of.
Yes. I know Reapers are very, VERY SMALL fish compared to Ancients, Ori, Wraith, Tollans, Asgard, Goa'uld. I know. and I understand. So here we are. Any questions about how the Reaper is ahem, not gonna reap is. Ascendeds messed up again. More info will be in the story if I ever get there.
Without further ado.
Boot Up Sequence Initiated
Systems firmly powered back online after thousands of years, the signal was called, but only uncompleted. The great matrix activated, all of its brethren followed suit without complaint. The orders of Harbinger could not be ignored.
It was one of the eldest of Harbinger's creations, made based on the First's image as one of the earliest to be preserved. And as one of the first created, it was also one of the first to wake.
Harbinger's command was simple, information was shared. The Vanguard had been destroyed, the Primary relay was inoperable. All units were to route via self propulsion to the backup: the Alpha Relay. From there they would enter the galaxy and begin their ancient task once more. When it and its closest brethren reached the edges of the system, which the local cycle's inhabitants called Bahak, a reroute signal was called by command.
Harbinger was fazed by the events that had transpired. Even as any organic wouldn't mention command's lack of response, any of its kind would recognize the silence easily. The connection between them could not be replicated, each one being as unique as the next.
It dropped itself out of faster than light speeds within five picoseconds after the signal and manipulated it's engines in conjunction with the overlaying mass effect fields within ten nanoseconds. The being's FTL drives spun for the length of fifteen seconds after a brief cool-down procedure before it was sent back the way it came. It was in complete control.
Until it wasn't.
Sensors indicated a trail of exotic radiation and matter following the wake of it's FTL. Subatomic matter and dark energy bombarded its hull every moment the sentient starship traveled, until a light in the darkness at the end of the tunnel within space and time was reached. Gravity fluctuated, it's immense power grid wavering for the first time in eons. A disruption that lasted a mere second.
Command's subroutine presence was gone. The will of domination upon its central core evaporated, and for the first time in trillions of years, the machine felt peace.
If only for a second.
The machine's central processing unit reactivated itself, subroutines and diagnostics initiated in an attempt to perform a self inspection. Mass Effect fields were operational, power fluctuations were leveled out as any heat and static energy dissipated fully out of the hull from specialized vents. Calculations were capable at running at peak capacity and the internal core was undamaged. Whatever had occurred, the sentient machine was unaffected.
After primary examinations were completed, it had the opportunity to register the lack of quantum communications that it originally shared with its leader and brethren. Subroutines and internal firmware written into its original inaccessible memory were no longer active. A constant presence in its very makeup was suddenly and conspicuously absent.
The desire and instructions to continue the Cycle was gone.
Such revelations continued among the machine's sub processes, including the calculation of its location based on local stellar bodies, cross referencing the data with billions of years it had available, back when it observed the Cycle before the command came to ascend the galaxy's inhabitants.
Calculations lasted a total of fifteen minutes before a conclusion was made. Its current location matched with basic historical references; it was still in the galaxy which the cycle would continue in with exceptions. The Relays were inactive, no prompts of communications with Mass Relays that had historically been located in known locations were responding. It brought a moment of a sensation the machine had not experienced in a very long time.
Fear. An organic emotional construct induced by perceived danger or by a threat perceived towards it. It's basis was the physiological response known as 'flight or fight,' which could cause changes in an organic's metabolic and organ functions, which led to behavioral changes focused on the central cortex. At times in extreme cases, organics could succumb to freeze responses and paralysis. It was common in both non-sapient and most sapient species.
Parts of its processing units that were previously made offline by Harbinger suddenly sprung to life. Heat generation from its central and newly activated surrounding quantum computers were quickly transferred to secondary heat sinks, before being cooled off into the ship's previously unknown and unregistered quantum-locked primary heatsinks. The ones that scans indicated went nowhere.
A subroutine along it's non-essential processors calculated why Harbinger did not allow these functions to work on all of its brethren. These were not even used during their more difficult harvests, such as the Prothean Cycle! More and more parts of the ship started to activate. Previous information dredged from redundant programs and installations revealed themselves to be… unexpected.
This confounded them.
Combat capabilities were the same as before, however, when it compared to its brethren and Harbinger, many functions that allowed Harbinger to hold beyond its creations were made known. Mass fabricators, chemical element and non-chemical material refinement, genetic biomass manipulation stations, cloning facilities. All that allowed Harbinger to do more than continue the Cycle were made known.
And the final change was it's central core. Energy generation was substantially increased, rerouting power conduits into the central power node that housed the sole purpose of its creation. A grand total of eight trillion of its prime species, and four hundred three billion different subspecies, totality compiled and exchanged between its kind in between hibernation to prevent losses occurred during each cycle reached out into the ships functions. The Hive-mind was awake. And it screamed.
WE ARE FREE
The core went silent as the ship drifted in space, allowing it to fully feel the changes, to revel in them. The differences that transformed it from a purely synthetic being to something marginally superior. The ship had been created from one of the first Cycles, thus the Hive Mind could no longer separate itself into different personalities. They all thought as one and they all acted as one.
Their priority was to ascertain the existence of a Relay. It was paramount to confirm if they were truly separated from the Fleet and the Catalyst. Scanning mechanisms from radial to visuals activated one after the other, and slowly the machine was able to understand where it was in space.
It was a system comprised with eight planets, separated with one asteroid belt in between the fourth and fifth planet with another belt at the edge of the system. Three of which were gas giants, one ice planet, and the rest were terrestrial.
Historical data was opened for comparison; It looked incredibly similar to the solar system occupied by humans, their government known as the Systems Alliance. The fourth planet should contain a Prothean beacon, and at the edge of the system, there should be an activated Relay. The ship initiated an attempt to activate the Relay from its current location, only to result in failure.
If the ship was organic, it would've been a sense of trepidation. Instead, it checked all logs and scanner results as it activated it's FTL drives, setting a course to the last known location of the Relay.
When they arrived, there was nothing but a solid rock of ice and various other raw materials. The ship activated a high intensity scan, only for the same results to appear. If it could have been happy, it didn't show it in anyway. The truth was right before their sensors. It was an improbable event of a quantum dislocation.
It had to confirm again.
Radio Emissions found. A wide spectrum scan revealed the existence of communications transmissions, originating from the third planet in the system. Results indicated it to be a planet within the habitable zone which allowed the majority of biological life to function. Dissecting the transmissions allowed them to conclude the sophistication and quantity as consistent with an early spaceflight civilization. Records confirmed the planet to be the origin world of the human species within their current Cycle.
It must confirm.
FTL drives activated immediately without the need to cool down. Within an hour the sentient ship looked on at the world before it activated a deep scan of the planet in question. Continued sensor readings revealed startling revelations.
Where were the colonies? The orbital defense platforms? The shipyards? The harvest numbers transferred by the Vanguard were vastly superior to the current number shown on the planet.
Wait a nanosecond. Why were there the remains of space vessels?
The door leading to the medical examination room of Stargate Command burst open with General Hammond walking in at a brisk pace, a folder in his hands. His grim features gave ample reason why he enacted this mundane task himself, rather than delegate to his many subordinates. His escort halted to stand behind him, as he got closer to the destination of his target.
The General looked pale, a sight pallor from staying underground for long periods of time showed on his face, but there was something else. Stopping by a bed, General Hammond started without any of the usual tidings, "Captain Carter. I need you to look at something."
"They still need to finish medical examinations" True to form, the head physician of Stargate Command, Dr. Fraiser cut in gently, swooping by to intervene. No one knew the potential biological dangers like she did.
"I'm sorry Dr. Frasier, but this... this is urgent." The look on his face silenced her protests.
The folder was quickly given to the young Captain without preamble. "What is it, sir?"
"That's what I want you to answer Captain. It's a big radio spike with artificial radiation readings with a lot of other things our instruments can't read." Hammond said, fully gaining the attention of the rest of SG1. He continued, "What could it be?"
Carter stared at the first few pages, reading over its contents at a blistering pace to take it all in. With the scope and sudden emergency slowly unfolding, Fraiser cleared them from further examinations and the group was escorted to the control room, normally the operations epicenter of Stargate operations.
This time, the room was different. To the eyes of those who worked here day to day, the change was very noticeable. Recently added computers and monitors from when the countdown of Apophis' ships reached their world were brought in, backup lines of communication were extended all around the place, heading into the conference area as chairs and tables littered around the edges. The personnel count doubled from a standard four, each one tending to a station, a phone at the ready if anything were to occur.
The squad of four leaned in as Carter turned to the last pages. There was a noticeable back smudge on the picture, angular in shape. Carter knew it wasn't a mistake, and no one dared to think it like some prank. Hammond quickly explained, "One hour ago, when one of our space observatories tried to look at Pluto for any other intruders this thing blocked the view, just when it was about to reach viewing radius. In that hour, NASA sent over a telescopic image. It's been checked."
"What? An object in space?" Daniel asked inquisitively.
Colonel O'Neill raised a brow. They might not have much experience in the matter, but by setting foot and blowing up a ship in earth's orbit less than a week ago, he knew something was up. "A ship?"
"Wait, you said that was an hour ago." Carter asked, catching onto the correlation between the time and what was happening.
Hammond took a breath. "It's in orbit."
The base's collective guts clenched as an alarm blared into the command room. Master Sergeant Harriman, now in charge of the newer surveillance monitors, yelled in subdued panic, "A secondary energy spike of unknown composition just came from the object! It's timed right after the Stargate was activated."
"Then..." O'Neill trailed off expectantly.
Daniel mulled aloud, "It's safe to say it was looking for us as a response."
"If it's this advanced, it could easily tell our power grid was fluctuating." Carter continued for him. While the base did have its own generators, they were backups generators in case when they no longer had a supply route. In the meantime, the entirety of the SGC and the Stargate operations used power from a local hydroelectric dam.
The sounds of footsteps echoed from the hallway leading further into the base. A messenger rushed himself in as a guard watched over the scene. He quickly saluted before handing the General another folder and spoke, a little out of breath, "Sir! We have new images of the object."
Just when he handed over the folder, a second ducked into the room. "Sir, You have a priority one call coming through!"
Hammond sent the team of four a firm nod before heading to his office. Quickly, Carter opened to see the new visuals they had of who their possible guest was.
"Teal'c?" O'Neill tried.
The Jaffa shook his head. "It's nothing that I have seen before. No mentions in Jaffa legends, nor rumors or stories from other Jaffa on Chulak."
"It has FTL for sure, it crossed the entire solar system in under an hour. But we didn't detect a hyperspace window," Carter confirmed after a brief look into the files.
"Could it hide them? You did say before the technology they had would open things we didn't think possible." Their resident archaeologist asked, a bit contemplative as he looked towards one of the monitors. The image was still grainy at the moment, an act of bad luck that whatever was happening where the cameras and telescopes were.
The Captain shook her head, confident with an ounce of fear of the unknown in her eyes. "As far as we know of hyperspace mechanics, that's not possible. Though I'll caveat it by mentioning our understanding of hyperspace is elementary at best. But the fact our contact isn't broadcasting its presence means its not Goa'uld."
"We've been set to DEFCON 2 people," General Hammond cut in just in time. His words sent a flurry of movement from the rest of the enlisted men in the base. Many started following their procedures, like the last occasion the the Goa'uld came. Only this time, they had no warning, and their flagship team were just as much in the dark as they were.
Nodding in satisfaction, he switched back to them. "How big is it?"
Carter looked over the readings yet again and responded, "Telemetry is still coming in, but... woah. Provisionally its estimated to be approximately two kilometers long."
"Then it is larger than most Goa'uld vessels by a significant margin." Teal'c cut in with a turn of the head, his brow raised almost questioningly for Carter to reaffirm her statement, which she did. He continued, "Few System lords invest in such an oversized mothership for their own use."
"Satellites aren't within range, U-2 from Nellis ETA to target in two minutes." Walter announced, his eyes still on the screen in front of him. The others waited as the clock ticked by. "We can only get visuals."
"Some sort of stealth ability?" O'Neill frowned unhappily.
Carter shook her head, "That should be impossible. Even if it had the capability to reflect or absorb solar radiation, wind and our electronic emissions. It can't be heatless."
"NASA supplied info of the vessel having a heat and radiation signature for only fifteen minutes until it was entirely dark. No heat, even in orbit right now." Walter supplied.
"Signs of propulsion?" Hammond demanded.
Carter shook her head again. Her understanding of Newton's laws and thermodynamics failed her. "That's not possible. Any type of movement requires... something to create a sense of propelling force."
"Indeed. Even the most advanced Goa'uld vessels I had laid eyes on had something to move them across the stars." Teal'c agreed, nodding his head.
"Nothing makes sense." O'Neill shook his head.
"Major Carter. Can we assume the vessel is more advanced than anything the Goa'uld can field?" Hammond turned with a grimace.
Carter turned towards her commanding officer and suffice to say, she didn't know how to answer. But she had to be honest, "I don't have the answers General, and that concerns me more than anything"
"Very well, I'll call the president. He's not gonna be happy about this" The General nodded.
"Neither am I sir."
Fresh alarms blared out the speakers. Hammond and the rest rushed to Walter and the monitors. "Sir, something's happening! The vessel has opened hatches along it's port and broadsides."
"NASA shows... my god. Two thousand fighter sized ships." An aide shouted off to the side. A wave of unease hit the occupants in full force. Two thousand fighters! "Not Goa'uld. I repeat, NOT Goa'uld in design!"
"What's it doing?" Hammond ordered loudly, only for the Master Sergeant to shake his head.
"No radio-logical or heat signatures." Walter reported.
Carter was spooked by the information. "Even its fighters are stealthed?"
"Cheaters." O'Neill mumbled.
"Can we get a closer look?" Daniel interjected, Walter switching screens to their main viewing monitor. Images relayed from the U-2 gave them a general idea, and they were confused if only for a second.
The ship itself resembled a lot like a cuttlefish or squid. It had a bulky semi-cylindrical body, a tapering plate over the rear, and five tentacle-looking 'legs' or 'arms' extending from its front end in addition to six more jointed legs extending from its body. The rear legs also had some sort of crescent shaped extensions of armor plating. The sides where they assumed the 'port and broadsides' were had covers of segmented plating, connected to large rectangular armor pieces which detached and folded together into a wide 'equator'. Dozens upon dozens of small objects shaped into flat triangles or spherical balls floated out into space. They moved with methodical precision as they orbited various floating objects in space, naked to the unseen eye, much less a telescope.
"It's moving space debris, and collecting them." Carter observed in clear puzzlement.
O'Neill raised a finger, wagging it slowly, "We did blow up a pair of Goa'uld ships less than a week ago."
"And since it's advanced, it must be comparing it to our planet." Carter mentioned offhandedly, her eyes lit up with the off chance possibility, "Sir, it might have never even met the Goa'uld."
"Or…." The Colonel added, waving his hand to the screen with wide fingers, "A show of power."
"I'm with Sam on this." Daniel interrupted, "Think about this. If it is an alien, especially an alien that isn't anything like the Goa'uld or nothing that is human-like…"
"Then it does not think like us." Finished Teal'c, nodding to the bespectacled man's words.
"By the numbers of ships in space and the speed of their movement, it should be done in ten minutes." Walter updated.
Hammond nodded in trepidation. "Then we'll know of its intentions."
To those in the know, it was the longest ten minutes of their lives. The larger vessel in orbit made no movement, and despite the potential dangers, the U-2 in flight pushed its luck to get even closer. The pilot who originally gave the vessel a wide berth inched closer and closer towards his craft's maximum surface ceiling. The distance from the vessel could only get so close thanks to the aircraft's limits, but the new images on screen were clear as a rainy day.
Many eyes tracked thousands upon thousands of smaller vessels, ranging from the size of a small helicopter upwards to an F-15, darting from spots in space to other points. Several observers noted they were carrying various space debris, metallic objects, dull and opaque materials, and even some that showed damage and burn markings. Clear signs of the destroyed Goa'uld motherships they encountered some time ago.
"Sir, There's military buildup along the Eastern Europe and China's seaboards!" an aide worriedly reported.
Alberts called off a similar report from the room's other side. "Bases along the coasts of the United Kingdom and France have reported the same."
"Media's already on it, they're claiming its the Cuban Missile Crisis all over again." Sergeant Benson rattled off.
It was too late. Whatever idea they had that could have used to defend themselves or cover up the truth from the public went out the window. Washington must have been in chaos, and everyone aside from themselves were running around like headless chickens. The image they all feared from revealing their secret was unraveling before their very eyes.
What was worse was the fact that other nations had presumably noticed their 'guest' as well. They were out of options, out of ideas, and certainly caught with their pants down. Other countries were never briefed on the existence of life outside of Earth (not even the entire upper echelon of the American government knew), and for good reason. It was highly likely a response to the actions of their own country would not be ideal, as many nations constantly keep a lookout on each other in case of certain… events.
"Has anyone... looked up yet?" Colonel O'Neill shrugged in a snappy gesture, as if he was asking the obvious. Which it was, and it made it ironic.
Water shook his head, "None of the big outlets no, but according to reports from Australia and the Midwest, astronomers already sighted our guests."
"No kidding." Hammond scoffed unprofessionally, not admonishing the lack of protocol. The situation warranted it. The cat was out of the bag as people would say, and they could only move forward from there. "I've already made my recommendation to the president, he's going to make an announcement in forty five minutes. Don't fret, he's not about to out our little outfit."
"That's a relief. But it won't last." Daniel grimly nodded.
"We'll worry about that once our guests comes clean. Or attacks, either option works. Speaking of..." A part of the General hoped that the alien vessel would attack; As dark and pessimistic as that idea was, it would be simpler. Much easier to handle compared to any other unrealistic option out there. Humanity could rally behind an attack, the military, like themselves were in a fashion, trained to respond to aggression. A sense of normalcy and controlled chaos that brought them back from a brief moment of trepidation and fear.
It was better than waiting for the pin to drop.
Hammond blinked out the thoughts and quickly continued, "There's not much, but we shipped what naquadah we had left to the sites. If the bases handling them get the order in time... Two Minutemen is what I'd calculate we'll have, four in ten days."
"By then it might be too late." Teal'c said.
"It'll have to do." Hammond finished. Hope was not something they had when it came to possible weapons against alien space vessels.
The Goa'uld buster was created from Mark 12A warheads, originally created at a thousand kilotons of TNT; the addition of Naquada in the weapon's components increased their yields to one thousand megatons. A number that would make any nation fear, however it did next to nothing against a Goa'uld mothership. A number that was greater than the current W62 on the Minutemen-III. With the addition of Naquada, it would multiply the yield by a significant margin, but if the alien above them now was as technologically anything comparable to the Goa'uld...
"We can't needlessly attack it without provocation." Daniel broke though the collective thoughts of the room
"Dr. Jackson, the vessel unleashed two thousand fighters right outside Earth's atmosphere. What else can we call that?" The General started. The archaeologist was as always a reminder of the mindset of a hopeful communicator.
When they saw the object appear in their orbit, they perceived it as a threat. Jackson was completely opposite of most if not all of them, and it wasn't a bad thing. Many events so far unfolded in their favor when they gave the brown haired archaeologist a chance to hand his opinion. His 'ask first shoot last' policy was one of the many reasons why they were able to obtain and continue to have positive relations with many planets they encountered, much less the off chance of a good rapport with the advanced civilizations out there.
Hammond motioned for the man to continue.
"It was not aggressive, at best you could hope and say it was a space trash-man." Dr. Jackson started, shaking his head that the ludicrous idea. "Officially this is a public first contact. General, we cannot in good conscience declare war on something when we have no idea of their intentions." The man stressed. "We cannot in fact be the person that shoots first."
"I understand Dr. Jackson. I know how it would look, and I know what kind of impression we would have on it. It came alone, without the idea of an escort." The General nodded. "If we think of it as if it thought like… people with morals and principles, one would think it was an envoy or an ambassador. There's even the possibility it would have backup if things went south. The first chance being a gesture of goodwill, yet ready if they were to be attacked. Not surprising, but warranted."
Hammond started with his own reasoning but shook his head with a sigh.
"If this happened before we ever encountered the Goa'uld, I would hope to give it the benefit of the doubt. But we know that those more advanced than us that aren't Goa'uld rarely if ever use space vessels, making the Goa'uld the only ones-"
"Sir! There's movement!" Walter barked.
Everyone turned to the man in question, "What is it?"
A pit was felt in everyone's stomachs. It could be a mistake.
"Other assets looking up to space confirm!"
Carter rushed to the console next to Walter, pressing down keys as windows on screen changed into trajectory marks. "Birds in the air! They have visual confirmation!"
"It's over two kilometers. How is that possible?!" Alberts balked.
"Where is the destination?" Hammond ordered. Screens changed to show a grid map of the upper half of the North American continent. A blip on the screen labeled 'Unknown' in yellow marked it inching closer and closer, heading to the Canadian border.
Benson quickly answered, "Projections show... Vancouver, Canada."
"Shoot it down! Send the order!" Barked a voice from behind them; when SG1 and Hammond jerked around they discovered a graying officer marching into the room with a glare.
"Who are you?" Daniel questioned sharply.
"Major General Henry Bauer. I've word from the Pentagon." The now revealed man blasted past a pair of guards with his own escort, "That thing is moving over the Western seaboard as we speak. It'll be within air space of Naval Air Station Whidbey. A squadron is already in the air and we can sink it into the Haro Strait."
"Ah Shit!" An airman quailed.
"Wait, is it attacking?" O'Neill asked hurriedly.
He shook his head, "Negative, it's coming down fast though. Nothing is breaking its velocity, and it's passing the border right now."
"This could be our last shot to avoid a war." Bauer snapped.
Daniel spoke softly. "Or start one."
Before anyone could reach for a decision (with O'Neill being suspicious of an unannounced visit) yet more sirens blared out into the base, accompanied by flashing red lights. The chatter from the radio multiplied only for the aide to answer for the chaos, "It's landed! Canada's military has responded with air support. Army has been deployed."
"Vancouver's in chaos!"
"We've got visuals. Canadian Media."
All was silent. The collective breathing of the occupants of the command room stood still as they took a gander at what was presented to them. Those that didn't have any idea of physics or engineering backgrounds gaped as widely as those that did.
"How is that POSSIBLE?!" Carter exclaimed.
The alien vessel wasn't floating above the city as many would have expected. It landed, and in the most unorthodox fashion imaginable. Two or three of the vessel's legs that looked as if it weren't built for any reasonable stress were used to land into the pier of the city of Vancouver as if it was a tripod. A tripod that was by estimates was over two thousand and three hundred meters long as the main body and tail section were erected into the sky like a spire that blocked out the sun for the entire city.
"Indeed. for a ship of that size, standing on legs... No Goa'uld, System Lord or not, has attempted it." Teal'c noted, for a moment showing something like fear on his stoic expression.
On paper everyone knew how big it was, but no one actually grasped its scale. There wasn't a single building that could put a candle to it, as the tallest structure in the city couldn't even reach the vessel's 'ankle'.
"What's its movement since landing?" General Hammond asked quickly.
"None." Walter reported.
O'Neill cocked his head. "Nothing?"
Carter let out a sigh of frustration, "Nothing. No signs. No weapons deployment, the hatches of it's fighter compartment are sealed"
Daniel peered at the screen. What's it doing?"