Ascended (Astral) Plain

Just after the meeting

Zeus "stood" waiting for Dregefax to finish the meeting of the Ascended Council. He had left the meeting earlier when his children had made an unexpected appearance. Being ascended had its perks though, as he could still hear everything being talked about in the meeting. His two children had left on their own accord after Ares had dropped his bomb of descending to join the UEC. It didn't take too long for the meeting to conclude. Dregefax looked toward his friend as the rest of the council simply faded away.

In his mind Zeus heard the leader of the Ascended address him as he came back into the council chambers. "You have sensed the presence as well have you not old friend?" It was more of a statement but still phrased as a question.

Zeus looked at his oldest non Furling friend in the universe. "Yes old friend, I have sensed something that seems familiar yet so foreign it actually scares me. It started the instant the UEC ship entered what the humans call the Shapely Supercluster."

Dregefax looked at Zeus. "You do realize that the Destiny was an Alteran ship not UEC?"

Zeus laughed out loud. "I know it was originally built and launched by you and the other Alterans but it has been salvaged, repaired, and rebuilt by the UEC and now is the UEC Destiny II. It still has Alterans on board as some of your people Descended to continue the mission they started."

The ascended leader laughed heartily. "Yes my friend, yes I know all of that. It seems our children have at last succeeded where we had failed. They defeated the Goa'uld, the Wraith. and the Ori. They also helped the Asgard defeat the Replicators and if not for them, your grand experiment with the Children of Kobol would have failed as well. Then to top it all off, they crossed dimensions to save another civilization caught up in another failed Alteran experiment."

Zeus stayed quiet as he thought over his friend's words. Then Dregefax broke the silence for him. "And now from what I have heard, your son plans to try and shift their focus toward your home galaxy and the Reapers. But first, I need to look into what we both sensed and be ready if it is what I fear it is. The UEC has performed admirably up to now. I am not sure they are ready to take on a threat as dangerous as I believe this may turn out to be. It makes the Ori look like a Catholic school marm as the humans say."

He turned to leave but sensed Zeus moving to follow him. He looked his old friend directly in the eye. " No my old friend. This is something I must do on my own. If it is as we suspect I will need to concentrate all of my effort on saving myself. I am sorry but it would distract me severely if you were with me. If I do not return, it will fall to you to take my place on the council and continue where I left off."

He reached out and clasped Zeus' forearm firmly. When they released their grip, Dregefax turned and faded away as he headed out toward galaxy A-3559 and the Shapely Supercluster. He just hoped his worst fears would not come to pass. He just had this sinking feeling in his metaphorical gut that the fate of the universe as a whole was teetering on the edge of the abyss.

Galaxy A-3559

Shapely Supercluster

652.3 million light years from Earth

Admiral Young sat at his desk aboard the UEC Destiny II. He was going over the reports from the various stealth cruisers that were slowly mapping the galaxy. They had been scouting Imperial fleet movements and mapping strategic targets if it came to war. He knew in his gut that war with the Empire was inevitable. The Empire knew they existed now and would stop at nothing to hunt them down relentlessly. But he doubted seriously if they could find them, well Earth anyway, as it was more than six hundred million light years away. No the danger was to the forces already in this galaxy.

Scans had also shown the Empire had glassed entire planets and completely destroyed whole races to solidify their control over the galaxy. Young wasn't sure what the people of this galaxy called it but it had been designated A-3559 by the scientists on Earth. The Empire reminded him of the Ori only not ascended but something didn't sit right with him. Something just felt off about this whole thing and Young wasn't sure how to proceed so he was taking it one day at a time.

The UEC Phantom had barely escaped from what the people of this galaxy called the Maw. Scans had now shown how the defense satellites were able to detect the stealth cruiser even under full cloak. The cluster of black holes in the Maw was drawing particles of interstellar matter into themselves and the cruiser had displaced that matter as it moved through the passage. The sensors on the defensive turrets were sensitive enough to detect the slight displacement of the interstellar matter and the onboard computer must have extrapolated that it had to be a ship under cloak.

Even though the cloaks the ships in this galaxy used weren't nearly as good as the cloaking technology the UEC had acquired from the Federation. The UEC also wasn't prepared for how efficient the ion cannons of the Empire were at draining shield strength. But plus side of that encounter was that Captain Lucatero had ordered full scans of not only the shields but the weapons of the Empire. The UEC Phantom was able to get good, solid scans of the weapons, shields, and gravity well generators they used to keep the stealth cruiser from going into hyperspace. It was very similar to the hyperspace dampers the UEC themselves used.

Once the rest of the sensor data was forwarded on to UEC headquarters, Admiral Young hoped the brains back home could come up with a way to counter the shield draining effect of the Imperial ion cannons.

The Asgard core had made significant progress and Admiral Young had ordered the minor adjustment to the shields that could be done without drydock. But he still wanted breathing scientists to confirm and verify the findings. It would take them to implement the full changes anyway. Admiral Young was thankful that the UEC had decided to install Asgard cores on each Explorer and Stealth ship in the fleet. The UEC was basically still an infant in space exploration and the Core contained massive amounts of information that aided them immensely in areas they still didn't fully understand.

The Phantom had also shown its weapons were very effective against the shields of the Empire. The quantum drones were particularly effective as they phased through the shields, like they weren't even there, just as they were designed to do. And the quantum torpedoes worked well on unshielded hulls. They did severe damage to the two Star Destroyers engines and bridge once the drones took out the shield generators. Intel had now shown them to be Imperial II class.

The phasers weren't fired so their effectiveness was an unknown quantity. The scans the Phantom had taken showed the phasers may be effective but until they were fired against a shielded Imperial ship, their effectiveness was still unknown. Doctor Rush and Eli were programming the scans into the holosuite and would begin running simulations of all of the UEC's weapons to find out which ones would be the most effective.

The science team back home, Admiral Carter, Moros, Janus, Narim, Ayiana, and Ganos Lal would be doing the same thing as well. The first team to come up with the solution would immediately transmit the results to the shipyards to begin refitting the fleets as needed. The data would also be shared with all of the Allies of the UEC.

Thor and Tomin had already been informed of the situation and had both pledged fleets to the cause if needed. With the help of the UEC, Tomin and his people had completely reorganized their society and were prospering. They had not only learned to build more ships but also learned how the ships actually worked. They had even designed several ships of their own. They were now building Frigates, Destroyers, and Cruisers.

The toilet bowl shaped battleships were powerful and deadly but lacked the maneuverability of the UEC ships. They were built close to the same concept as the Colonial Battlestars. But where the Battlestars served a dual role as both Battleships and Carriers, Tomin's ships served a triple role of Battleship/Carrier/Troop transport. The data from all of the scans showed that they should be very effective against the huge ships the Empire fielded. The Star Destroyers were also used in the same triple role of Battleship/Carrier/Troop Transport. Holosuite simulations would give them a better idea before they were actually sent into combat.

The hidden base deep under the mountains on the moon below was complete and personnel had been coming through the gate for nearly a week now. The supergate at the nearby black hole was nearly complete as well. The first one had malfunctioned due to a computer error and had fallen into the black hole. That error had now been corrected so they had to start building the super gate all over again.

Currently patrolling the system was a battle group consisting of thirty ships centered around an Enterprise II class dreadnaught, the UEC Hercules. The newly redesigned Hercules had even more firepower than the original dreadnaughts. In addition to her already impressive firepower, four of the heavy beam weapons used on the LGPS satellites had been added (two on the dorsal and two on the ventral side), also four hundred dual rotary pulse phaser turrets for fighter and missile suppression had been added. A new flight II dreadnaught could throw up a flak screen like no other ship before her.

The flight II dreadnaughts were also updated with the new three layer shield configuration that all UEC ships now used. In theory there wasn't any ship the UEC had ever faced that could stand up against her in a one on one fight. But the new design had not been tested in a true battle yet. That would change much sooner than the UEC would have liked. But there was nothing that could have been done about it. The UEC had grown very powerful and their arrogance had grown right along with their power. As the Alterans and Lanteans before them, they now believed there would never be a power that could challenge them.

A large space station was also under construction in orbit of the moon the base was on. The shields, weapons, and life support were operational but not much else. A dozen LGPS satellites had been constructed around several Lagrangian points in the system. Many more would be constructed along with hyperspace dampers over the next couple of weeks.

The supergate construction method of the UEC wasn't as fast or efficient as the Ori and it took them nearly two weeks to fully build and activate a supergate. In hindsight, it might have been better to use the Ori method but the UEC had chosen not to. That would prove a fatal mistake for the Hercules and her battle group as the hyperspace sensors detected a large number of ships approaching the system in hyperspace.

As soon as the alarm sounded, Admiral Young jumped from his chair, slapping his combadge, as he ran toward the nearest transport station to get him to the bridge. "Young to bridge, report!"

"Admiral, hyperspace sensors have detected nearly two hundred ships approaching the system. And Admiral, two of them are absolutely enormous, they both are right at 19,000 meters long."

Admiral Young stood totally dumbfounded for a second thinking, "Good God, those are HUGE ships! And I thought out Enterprise class dreadnaughts were big." But he managed to pull himself together and answer. "Signal Commodore Ellis and have him form a defensive line between the satellites and the starbase using defensive formation Beta six."

The com officer on duty acknowledged and passed the order on to Commodore Abraham Ellis. Defensive formation Beta six and several other tactics had been designed by Thor and Admiral O'Neill with some input from both Ayiana and Admiral Carter. It placed the dreadnaught at the center of the formation with the two Atrox III heavy carriers to either side and behind it. Directly above and below the dreadnaught were the four Vanquisher class heavy battleships. (They had been called dreadnaughts until the Enterprise class dreadnaughts had been placed into service).

The fighter complement of the Atrox had been changed and also increased. It sill carried the Stalker class stealth fighter but only ten of them. The new Vampire III fighter was now the primary fighter of the UEC. It was smaller and more agile than the Stalker which allowed for more fighters than the original 200 the Atrox previously carried. It now had a fighter complement of 310 not counting the shuttles and other support vessels.

Spaced evenly between and around but also just slightly forward of the battleships were the eight Sovereign III classheavy cruisers of the battle group. They were placed slightly forward to provide better anti fighter/anti missile defense yet still be covered by the more powerful guns of the battleships and dreadnaught. The rest of the battle group consisted of five Akira III battle cruisers, five Defiant III escort destroyers, and five Saber III light cruisers. The full complement of the battle group was actually thirty-two ships but the two stealth cruisers that rounded out the battle group were not in the system as they were still out performing recon.

The battle cruisers of the group were positioned to the sides, behind, above, and below the carriers to protect them from being flanked by enemy ships. The Defiants and Sabers would encircle the entire group staying on the move, using their superior maneuverability and fast rate of fire to aid the heavy cruisers in taking down missiles and fighters.

As Admiral Young entered the bridge, he made a decision that he knew would not be popular with the crew. Unlike the politicians now in charge of the UEC, he was still a very practical man and knew his weakness' as well as that of the ships under his command. "Captain, I want you to beam me over to the Hercules and take the Destiny to the next galaxy on the list. Her mission is too important to risk her in a suicidal fight. I'll stay here and delay the attacking fleet until you are clear and deep into the void between the galaxies."

Captain Scott started to protest but Young was having none of that. "Matt, that's an order. As soon as you are clear, the rest of us will jump to hyperspace back to the last galaxy. We can't hold against that many ships but we will be back and I'll catch up with you when this is done. Now do as you were ordered and get the ship to safety."

Matthew Scott knew he wouldn't win the argument and he definitely wasn't happy about it. But he followed orders and beamed Admiral Young over to the UEC Hercules as the Destiny II turned her nose to the galactic rim and jumped into hyperspace. During the rebuild of Destiny, the UEC had replaced the original FTL with the most powerful intergalactic hyperdrive they had. Granted they had to almost completely build a new ship because the original space frame couldn't handle the stress of the new drive.

But the scientists and engineers had managed to keep the original build mostly intact. With the addition of a AZPM pedestal identical to the one now on Atlantis, the Destiny II could continue her mission much faster and much more efficiently. It also made her shields and weapons much more powerful.

The Beta six defensive formation was set and ready when the fleet of Imperial ships dropped out of hyperspace well outside the orbit of the red giant the moon base was orbiting. The instant the attack fleet slowed from the acceleration of hyperspace, UEC sensors detected multiple gravity distortions form around several of the triangle shaped ships and thousands of fighters launching from the enemy fleet.

The computer quickly separated the mass of sensor contacts and determined there were 18,000 enemy fighters alone. Admiral Young felt his confidence sink even lower as it meant his fighters were outnumbered nearly 19 to 1.

As the enemy fighters surged forward ahead of the enemy capital ships, Admiral Young quickly assessed the dangerous situation. The UEC had studied situations like this and had come up with a common sense counter which the Admiral decided to use now. "Implement operation scattergun now."

The coms officer immediately issued the scattergun command, recalling all fighters behind the Beta six formation and causing the heavy cruisers to fire several volleys of quantum torpedoes in a wide arc. The scattergun technique had originally used nuclear missiles but now used either photon or quantum torpedoes set for remote detonation.

On board the Imperial Super Star Destroyer

Executor

Darth Vader watched as the enemy fighters turned away from his cloud of Tie Interceptors and Tie Fighters and sprinted to safety behind the enemy capital ships. At first he thought they were just afraid of the massive numerical advantage his fighters had until he felt a heavy foreboding in the force and saw the glowing orbs launching from several of the enemy ships.

He immediately ordered his fighters to scatter but even with his warning from the force and his force increased speed, he was too late. The glowing orbs penetrated deep inside the masses of his fighters and exploded with the force of several small suns. Over half of the fighters launched by his Imperial fleet were erased in brilliant flashes of light.

When the flashes finally cleared, the remaining fighters were quickly set upon by the enemy fighters. They had used the temporary blinding of the Imperial sensors to move from behind the enemy ships and attack. Before a single shot could be fired from the Star Destroyers, Vader had lost nearly 10,000 fighters. That still gave him roughly an 8 to 1 advantage in fighters but that was quickly dwindling as well. The enemy fighters were more agile than either his Tie fighters or even the Rebel x-wings.

The enemy fighters seemed to have better shielding and firepower than any fighter he had ever heard of except for maybe the new Tie Defender. His 8 to 1 advantage was quickly shrinking. By the time his ships would be in weapons range, the enemy fighters would have the numerical advantage.

He was about to order his fighters to break off and return to their ships when another warning from the force told him the enemy capital ships were about to fire. Bright lances of energy leapt from the center ship that was smaller than the Executor but considerably larger than the Imperial class star destroyer. The other enemy capital ships targeted the Imperial II star destroyers and cruisers that were closest to them. Yellow pulse cannon fire, blue plasma beams, red lances of some other energy weapon, and even heavy metallic slugs moving just over half the speed of light reached out to destroy ship after ship. "They must be firing blindly. There is no way they can have a target lock at his range." Vader thought of the dreadnaught in the center.

Before that last thought was finished the Executor was rocked so hard most of the people on the bridge that had been standing, were thrown violently to the floor. Vader, by using the force, and a few others that were able to grab onto something were all that remained standing. Four bright green beams had struck the forward shields of his ship simultaneously. Screams of pain and fear filled the bridge as several crew members sustained broken bones from the violence of the weapons strike.

Vader was shocked at the power, accuracy, and range of the weapons but equally angered that an unknown enemy could have this kind of power. The technician manning the tactical console began reading off the results of that first strike from the enemy. "Lord Vader, that first strike took our forward shields down to forty percent. Another hit like that and we will lose our forward shields!"

Before Vader could respond, another warning from the force hit him as the enemy ship fired again. But the technician was good and had rerouted power from the aft and ventral shields to the forward shields. Again the ship shook violently as four more beams stuck the forward shields. By this time, the smaller and faster Imperial class star destroyers had surged ahead of their much larger cousins and were opening fire with their turbolasers, ion cannons, and concussive missile launchers.

The Dark Lord of the Sith watched in fascination as the enemy ships began taking hits from the heavy turbolasers and ion cannons. Interestingly enough, their flak screen was efficient enough that none of the concussion missiles made it through. The enemy shields flared but held.

Vader turned toward the technician on sensors. "Scan the enemy shields as our weapons strike them. I want to get an idea of their shield strength and effectiveness."

The technician began the scans even as he replied. "Right away My Lord, scans initiated. Their shields are holding up well under the turbolaser fire but are showing signs of strain from the ion cannons. With the smaller star destroyers surging ahead of us, the enemy can no longer get a clear shot at us. Shields are recharging and now passing seventy percent strength and rising."

Vader nodded his head silently as he continued to watch the ongoing battle in front of him. The enemy defensive formation was effective and though their shields were showing signs of stress, no enemy ship had yet to be destroyed. The same could not be said for his star destroyers though. He had lost seven to the enemy dreadnaught alone. While the shields of his flagship could withstand a direct strike from those green energy beams, the Imperial class ships were being cut to ribbons by them.

The glowing blue torpedoes of the enemy were quite effective as well. He was about to order the Reaper, one of the Executor's sister ships that patrolled the outer rim territories, to move around and flank the enemy position. Before he could, satellites shimmered into existence and speared the Reaper with six green energy beams directly in its port side. The shields of the super star destroyer flared brightly under the powerful onslaught before flashing and collapsing. All six beams burrowed deep into the unprotected hull before bursting out the other side of the ship. Massive explosions rippled all through the ship as it began to slowly tear itself apart. Several of the smaller star destroyers were hit by the residual beams and exploded as well.

The Dark Lord ordered the Executor and several smaller star destroyers to engage the now visible satellites and destroy them. By the time his flagship had shifted its position to engage the six satellites, they were already coming under fire by more than fifty Imperial II class star destroyers. The satellites shields were holding until the massive super star destroyer closed and since its firepower was roughly one hundred times that of its smaller cousins, the satellites didn't last to fire a second time.

Vader's anger became a visible aura around him as it built to a level he had not felt since his mother's death so long ago. He had lost a super star destroyer, thousands of fighters, several Tartan patrol cruisers. and twenty Imperial star destroyers yet not a single enemy ship had been killed yet. That was soon to change as the area around the enemy formation was now clogged with star destroyers. Superior numbers had allowed the Imperial fleet to push in close and now the enemies shields were starting to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of weapons strikes.

One of the smaller ships that sort of resembled the Millennium Falcon was trapped between three star destroyers (one to each side of it and one below) and exploded in a small fireball as it's shields collapsed and it's reactor was breeched. It was followed shortly by one more of its brethren and four of the other small ships. But that still wasn't enough for Vader. But he saw a possible solution.

"Order the forward most ships to concentrate their fire on one ship at a time. Overwhelm its shields then move to the next ship."

The technician on coms relayed the order and soon after one of the eight larger ships that had fired the blue torpedoes earlier lost its shields and exploded. The tactic worked but Vader also lost four more ships as well.

Bridge of the UEC Hercules

"That shouldn't have happened! Those satellites are powered by an Arcturus reactor with an Asgard shield. The Empire shouldn't have been able to destroy them that easily. And why didn't any of the other weapons fire? Why just the Alteran beams?" He turned to the tactical officer. "Did the telemetry link from the satellites to the starbase download before they were destroyed?" When he got the affirmative, he breathed a little easier. "Good, make sure you download it when you purge the main computers of the starbase. Maybe the eggheads back home can figure out what went wrong."

Admiral Young was studying the tactical display in front of him as one of the Sovereign class heavy cruisers exploded. He had already lost several fighters, two Defiants, half of the LGPS satellites, and four Sabers. He knew it was time to start falling back but he had to destroy the ships generating the gravity wells first. Until those were destroyed or disabled, his fleet was trapped here.

Making his decision he turned to Commodore Ellis. "Commodore, have the Akiras break formation and target these five ships, here, here, here, here, and here. Once those ships are destroyed or disabled, signal the fleet to break and retreat. We can't hold this system much longer. Have the fighters run interference for them."

Abraham Ellis was about to protest that they could still win this fight when one of the Vanquisher battleships died the death of a thousand stings. There were just too many enemy ships for them to fight off. For every one they destroyed, three more took its place. It was simple numbers and the UEC didn't have enough at this time. So he sighed heavily and passed along the order.

The five Akira III cruisers broke formation and accelerated very quickly away from the fur ball of ships and closed on the five Interdictor class ships. From the sensor records that Captain Lucatero got from his battle, Admiral Young knew the Akiras could disable the gravity well generators on the ships. The problem was reaching them as they were at the rear of the enemy fleet and that meant passing inside the weapons range of the remaining super star destroyer.

Thinking on the problem, he began tapping a series of commands into the tactical computer. The tactical display changed and widened to show the range of the gravity distortions. An idea began to form as he studied the display. Knowing the Vampire III fighters were armed with the quantum drones, he made his decision. But not before three of the Akiras met there doom.

"Recall the remaining Akiras and transmit this order to the CSG (Commander Space Group) of both carriers." Commodore Ellis took the pad angrily as he had just lost three more ships unnecessarily he thought. But when he saw the order on the pad, he couldn't help a little smile.

"I wish you would have thought of this earlier Admiral." He said as he passed the pad of to the coms officer. Admiral Young sighed. "I do too Commodore, I do too."

The two remaining Akiras made it back to their position in the Beta six defensive formation as twenty Vampire fighters broke off in five groups of four and accelerated toward open space. Several Tartan cruisers broke formation to pursue the fighters but red energy beams, followed by more of the blue orbs from earlier leapt from the heavy cruisers and ended their chase quickly. After a few minutes, the fighters cleared the gravitational distortion, cloaked, and immediately jumped to warp.

Admiral Young had kept the remaining six defense satellites cloaked as well after losing the first six nearly immediately after they destroyed the first super star destroyer and several smaller ones. The other super star destroyer had shifted toward them and opened fire with a massive amount of weapons before they could recharge for a second shot.

The shift in position had taken the second ship out of range of the remaining six satellites so the Admiral decided it was better to keep them safe. He sent the signal that told them to shift cloaks to the phase cloak that Merlin had invented. The same signal caused several other events to take place as well. First it ordered everyone on the space station to beam down to the hidden base. It also set the reactor on that station to overload and vaporize the station, leaving nothing for the Empire.

It also caused the partially completed super gate to self destruct and the remains of it to fall into the black hole that would have powered it. Then the underground base shifted out of phase as well, thoroughly protecting and hiding the base from any sensor or visual search.

Before the personnel from the station beamed to the moon, any surviving piece of wreckage from a UEC ship or satellite, was targeted with multiple quantum torpedoes. As the torpedoes exploded, turning any possible technology the Empire could have studied to dust, the stationed used the momentary blinding of the Empire's sensors to cover the transporter signatures of the UEC personnel beaming down. Also beamed to the base were the remaining complement of torpedoes and quantum drones from the station.

It was a last resort order and it served to tell the people in the base that they needed to shelter in place and stay within the confines of the base until reinforcements could return. They had plenty of power, plenty of food, and plenty of time now. They could sit tight and run passive sensor sweeps as well as send cloaked ships out to scout until the cavalry arrived.

Admiral Young gave the order to compress the formation so he could begin to rotate his larger ships as their shields weakened. As a ship's shields weakened, he could call up another from the rear to replace the ship with the weakened shields. That ship would fall back to take the place of the ship that had replaced it and allow its shields to recharge. Then once its shields were recharged, it would rotate forward again, allowing the ship that replaced it to rotate back and recharge its shields.

It worked for a while and the UEC fleet managed to take out several more star destroyers and cruisers in the process. But there were simply too many ships and Vader began doing the same thing as Admiral Young in rotating his ships to allow the shields to recharge. It stretched out what Vader had assumed would be a quick battle to instead a battle that had raged on much longer than it should have.

As the numbers advantage of the Empire began to take its toll on the UEC formation, a momentary flash on the sensors appeared near all five of his Interdictors. A stream of fast moving blue lights could be seen slamming into the shields of each cruiser and flashing as they passed straight through the shields then through the ships themselves. Each stream passed through the ships then curled back to dive into the ship again. Secondary explosions began blossoming from the gravity well generators as each ship began listing and drifting out of formation.

With a flash each four fighter group that had just warped back into the system to creep up on their targets at impulse, jumped back to warp now that the gravity well generators were destroyed. These twenty fighters had been able to do what no other could have since they were equipped with an AZPM. Since the battle over Celestis against the Ori, each carrier wing now carried a squadron of Vampire III fighters equipped with an AZPM. Admiral O'Neill had wanted all of the fighters to be equipped with them but the process of making the AZPM was too time consuming to make that many. Getting the twenty-four for this battle group was hard enough. So he had settled for just one squadron per carrier. It was still enough to do what Admiral Young had needed.

But during the hour or so it took the fighters to warp out of the system once they cleared the gravity well and return at impulse to attack the cruisers creating the gravity well, he had lost seven more ships to include two of the Vanquishers. So when he gave the order to jump to hyperspace, thirteen of the original thirty ships in the system managed to escape. He had lost more than half of his fleet, half of the defense satellites, the starbase, and the supergate. It was not a good day for the UEC. Not a good day at all.

The only plus side was they had been able to collect more sensor data on the weapons, shields, and tactics of the Empire. They had also destroyed over one hundred and fifty ships to include a super star destroyer. But now looking over the collected data, Admiral Young was forming a tentative strategy that should take advantage of the weaknesses he was slowly beginning to see.

Both sides had paid a high price in blood with the Empire paying a much higher price but the UEC had lost space superiority in the system and would now have to retreat to the next closest galaxy. One more week and a second battle group would have made all the difference in the world. But now that the Empire was fully aware of the UEC and its capabilities, it would be a different battle the next time. But if his theory was right, it would definitely swing things back in favor of the UEC.

A-3559 was to heavily populated and patrolled for the UEC to attempt gaining a foothold in the normal way. The cloaked base would still give them an advantage by gathering valuable intelligence but many more ships would be needed before they could retake and secure a permanent foothold in space again.

Void between galaxies

After an hour in hyperspace, Admiral Young called a halt to perform a thorough check of all the ships that remained of the battle group. He was still fuming over the defeat he had just suffered but was also trying to think of ways to turn the tables on the Empire when he returned. He had several he was tossing around in his head but decided to call a conference of the remaining ship's captains to choose the best one to propose to Admiral O'Neill once they reached the supergate. In the galaxy they were headed to, there was already a heavy UEC presence.

Shipyards, starbases, and several fleets of ships were scattered throughout the mostly lifeless galaxy. Some primitive races had been discovered and ruins from long dead races had also been uncovered but not much else. It was rich in natural resources so not only had the UEC established colonies but so had the Asgard. Over population was now no longer an issue for Earth or any race associated with the UEC.

Once the captains from the remaining ships had beamed over, Admiral Young had them all assemble in the briefing room of the Hercules. "Thank you all for coming and thank you for the effort you all put in during the defense of Yavin. I know we failed to hold the system but we were arrogant in thinking one battle group could stand up against a galactic wide empire without better knowledge of their tactics and technology. If we had more time and a second battle group, the outcome would have been much different. And if the satellites would have performed the way they were supposed to, the outcome would have been different as well."

Murmurs of agreement circulated around the table. "I have several ideas though on how to re-establish a foothold back in the A-3559 galaxy and I want to present them too you then decide which is the best to propose to Admiral O'Neill when we reach super gate twenty-seven." He paused to gather his thoughts for a bit before continuing.

"The first idea would be requesting at least two full fleets to return with us to overwhelm anything the Empire could throw at us and build up enough defenses to stop anything coming into the system. I mean look what we just did. Yes we lost ships but for every ship we lost, we killed nearly nine of theirs. Now that we have more thorough scans of their weapons and shields, I think we would do even better in the next encounter with them. But I don't think the bean counters back home will release two full fleets."

Several of the captains grimaced but agreed. "My second idea is more likely what will happen in my opinion. We have ten stealth cruisers still in the galaxy gathering more intelligence as well as the underground base still on the moon. We have already gathered some Intel pointing to a faction called the Rebel Alliance. We have some information we gathered from left over computers we found in an abandoned base of theirs on the same moon as our base. I would suggest we try to make contact with this Rebel Alliance and try to make and Alliance with them."

He looked around the table, hearing several voice their agreement or simply nodding their heads. "Another idea I was thinking of was rebuilding the battle group, getting at least one more group to back us up, gathering at least five heavy construction ships, and jumping straight back into the Yavin system. With five construction ships, we could rebuild the defensive satellites in a fraction of the time it took us last time. We could even seed some anti-matter mines in the hyperspace lanes approaching the system along with the hyperspace dampers to force ships out of hyperspace before they can enter the system. It's riskier than either of the other solutions but still doable. But again, it depends on the bean counters. Do any of you have anything to add?"

Everyone except Commodore Ellis shook their heads. "Admiral, I think option two will be the safest bet and the most likely to win the support of the bean counters back home. Option one is a really long shot as I agree they won't want to give up two full fleets right now. There just isn't enough strategic or economic value to justify that big of an expenditure right now. Option three would give us the quickest results but as you say, it's risky and may not work. Not if the current Intel on the number of ships the Empire could bring against us is accurate."

Admiral Young considered the Commodore's answer. "You're right Abraham. So the rest of you agree on option two?" It was a unanimous and resounding yes. "Ok, return to your ships and signal when you have determined they can make it to SG 27 without further repairs."

Thirty minutes later all the captains had returned to their ships and signaled that they were all good to go and could continue to SG 27 safely. Admiral Young turned to Commodore Ellis. "Take the fleet into hyperspace Abraham, I'm going to commandeer me a guest room and get some sleep after I finish typing up the report. I'll send you a copy when I'm finished so you can have it transmitted to SG 27 for them to forward on to UEC headquarters once we are in communications range."

The Commodore nodded. "Will do Admiral. I'll get my report ready to send along with yours as well." He stood and turned to his Executive Officer. XO, you have the bridge, I'll be in my ready room."

Astral Plain

Galactic Void outside of A-3559

Dregefax was nearing the edge of the galaxy that the humans had designated A-3559. The closer he got, the sense of foreboding he felt grew even stronger. He paused though as the ship his people had designed so long ago and this UEC had rebuilt, flashed passed him in roundabout route to another galaxy. It was moving much faster than it did when it was launched and Dregefax was curious to see what the UEC had done to the ship.

But he had much more important things to worry about and if he survived this encounter he was heading toward, there would be plenty of time to study the ship later. So he turned and resumed his previous course. He could have made the journey much faster and much more efficiently if he had stopped at one of the numerous super gates the UEC and some of his descended people had built. But where was the fun in that. Because of the Ori threat, no ascended being had left the Milky Way or Pegasus galaxy in over a million years.

Now that they had been destroyed, more and more ascended beings were venturing outside of the confines of the two galaxies. So he had decided to travel to the A-3559 galaxy without using stargates just to see what was out there. Being ascended DIDN'T mean you knew EVERYTHING about the universe after all.

It wasn't long after he turned back to his journey that he came across several UEC ships holding station in the empty void between the galaxies. He could sense the tension and anger even in the cold of space. He could also see the signs of battle damage on several of the ships. Even more curious now than he had been earlier, he decided to see what had happened. So he phased through the hull of the largest ship and watched. Being the oldest ascended being in known existence, he was also one of the most powerful. So hiding his presence from the humans was easy.

Dregefax watched the meeting between the captains and their Admiral with rapt attention and curiosity. He was slightly surprised that the UEC, which he considered to be as powerful or at least close to what the Alterans had been at their prime, had been defeated in battle. So he continued to watch as they made their decision to contact something called the Rebel Alliance or at least present that plan to their ranking Admiral, Admiral O'Neill.

As leader of the Ascended Council, Dregefax thought that to be a solid plan and continued watching Admiral Young and the crew until they jumped into hyperspace. He then followed Admiral Young to a set of guest quarters where he watched the Admiral type up a report of the battle and the events leading up to the battle. The technology and sheer size of this Galactic Empire was troubling to say the least. But he was confident that the UEC was up to the challenge as long as the dark presence he had felt emanating from that galaxy did not interfere with their efforts.

The UEC fleet was approaching the outer edge of the closest galaxy to A-3559. Which ironically was A-3558. They were both part of the galactic cluster the humans called, Shapley Supercluster. A-3559 was all alone out of the very edge of the cluster while A-3558 was much closer to the center with A-3556 and SC-1327-312 on its galactic right and left respectively.

Even as powerful as Dregefax was, he could not leave the ship while it was in hyperspace. Actually he could leave but then his energies would be lost in the many exotic energies that made up the hyperspace realm. So he patiently waited until the small fleet dropped back to normal space at their base by the supergate in galaxy A-3558. They had already sent their reports by the subspace communications technology they had reverse engineered from Alteran communications tech.

Even so, the Ancient Alteran was slightly surprised to see several hundred ships holding station in the system. Dregefax wasn't sure who was more surprised, him or the human Admiral at the sight of such a large fleet. But for him the curiosity would have to wait. He had much more pressing matters to attend to. So with that thought, he phased through the hull of the ship and resumed his trip back to A-3559.

Bridge of UEC Hercules

Admiral Young stood mesmerized by the large fleet of UEC, Awakened Alteran, (Commander, now President, Tomin had renamed the Ori Empire) and Asgard warships occupying the system near the supergate. "Are you seeing this Abe? This is incredible. I guess Admiral O'Neill pushed for option one instead." Before Commodore Ellis could answer, the coms officer spoke up.

"We're being hailed, Admiral O'Neill wants you two on the starbase in twenty minutes for debriefing and new orders."

Commodore Ellis smiled a bit. "I guess we're about to find out Everett. Signal the starbase and tell them we'll be there. After you Admiral." He motioned toward the turbolift for Admiral Young to go first.

Fifteen minutes later, Admiral Young, Commodore Ellis, and the captains of the ships from the A-3559 battle group were seated in the starbase conference room. There was some murmurs of small talk going around the table about what the possible new orders would cover when Admiral O'Neill, President Tomin, and Thor walked into the room. One of the captains had come from the Navy before the stargate was made public. He jumped to his feet. "Admiral on deck!"

Admiral O'Neill waved casually. "As you were people, as you were. We've got plenty of things to discuss so get comfortable and settle in for the long haul."

Once everyone was seated again, Admiral O'Neill picked up a small remote, dimmed the lights, and started the briefing. "You sure ruffled a lot of feathers back home with that report of yours Admiral. Half of the council wants to give you a medal, the other half wants to hang you for abandoning your post."

Admiral Young began to protest but Admiral O'Neill held up his hand. "I'm not finished. Don't get me wrong, I support your actions completely. You fought a delaying action that allowed the Destiny II time to get free and you provided us with some extremely valuable sensor information we couldn't have gotten otherwise. You also made the right decision in saving half of the LGPS satellites and the actual base. Granted you lost the starbase but you destroyed any piece of technology left from our destroyed ships, denying critical intelligence to the enemy."

Young was at a loss for words as O'Neill continued. "The problem is, the ones that wanted to hang you, think you could have won if you had been more aggressive instead of going on the defense immediately. You destroyed over one hundred of the enemy ships and only lost seventeen. And you might have won even with the strategy you employed if the LGPS satellites hadn't malfunctioned on you. I had to show them that and some of the other intelligence reports we are continuing to receive from the stealth cruisers still in the galaxy. Once they saw the amount of ships that could be brought against you rather quickly and the fact the satellites had malfunctioned, they begrudgingly backed down."

O'Neill could see Admiral Young was fuming. "We discussed the possible plans you added in your report and I was able to convince them that now the Empire knew we existed, they would not stop hunting until they found us. I wanted to take the 5th, 6th, and 9th fleet and crush the Empire immediately but they overruled me. So I pulled together what I could quietly and will hold station here until your option two bears fruit. Once we can contact the Rebel Alliance and establish our own Alliance with them, we'll need to establish a foothold with their help. Then we send half of this fleet in to hold and fortify that position until we can get another super gate built."

He hit a button on the remote that caused a holographic image to appear over the center of the table. "To speed up the deployment of that super gate, we have begun construction of the individual pieces that will be preprogrammed to form in the same way the Ori gate did. The pieces will be transported aboard one of the dreadnaughts, most likely the Enterprise. Once they have entered the system with a black hole, Admiral Carter will activate the central control block and open the cargo doors. The pieces will fly out of the cargo hold and form the super gate under the protection of the first half of our fleet. Once the super gate is formed, I will bring the other half of the fleet through."

Jack paused to catch his breath. "Admiral Carter has also had another one of her brainstorm ideas. And frankly I'm surprised we didn't think of it before. We are recalling Destiny to upgrade her so she can recall the seed ships to reprogram them. Before you say anything Everett, let me finish."

He had to suppress a chuckle before going on. "The seed ships find habitable planets and put a stargate on them right? So why not add a bit to their programming to have them hunt down a black hole and build a supergate there? As long as they do a thorough scan to make sure the area is safe, there should be no problem. I mean we all know that once the gate is complete it is virtually indestructible. Carter has also found a way to add shield generators to the individual gate segments. I'm not sure all of the mechanics of how it works and still be able generate a stable wormhole, but it does. With the shield generators drawing power from the black hole, nothing should be able to punch through them."

He turned and looked Admiral Young directly in the eye. "But Everett, all of this relies on you establishing contact with the Rebel Alliance and securing their cooperation in this. We could push in by force as I said previously but also like I said earlier, the council overruled me. I actually agree with them now that I had time to think it over. Yes, we could force a foothold with our superior technology but the cost in lives would be much higher if we did. A slower more methodical approach with the support of the Rebel Alliance could save tens of thousands of lives on our side. What happens to the Empire afterwards doesn't concern me at all."

Admiral Young was still not happy but he had known Jack would back him so he started calming down some. "So, you're still getting up to the minute intelligence from the stealth cruisers on the Empire's movements?"

O'Neill looked up. "Yes, they had to get creative since the Empire began an almost galaxy wide jamming effort of most known subspace frequencies. So, we've been using the Alteran communication stones to get play by play of the Empire's movements. They have moved into the Yavin system and began building their own base. So we'll have to locate another black hole then free the Yavin system as soon as possible. That means I will need you to head back as soon as humanly possible Admiral. The Nightstalker II is standing by to take you back as soon as you are ready."

Admiral Young and the others in the room looked a little confused. Commodore Ellis spoke up. "Nightstalker II?" O'Neill laughed. "Yes, it's a pet project that Admiral Carter, Lya of the Nox, Ayiana, and Ganos Lal have been working on. The cloaking system on it is the most advanced that the allied races of the UEC can come up with. It can actually cloak in hyperspace but only for a short time. The exotic energies of hyperspace still won't let the cloak stay active for longer than an hour maybe two. But it will hold long enough to get you deep into A-3559 before you have to drop out of hyperspace and then use the warp drive to continue."

Abe Ellis had a startled look on his face. "Wait, you said the Nox helped with the ship? I thought they were pacifists and didn't believe in violence?"

O'Neil chuckled. "Well, after they voted for us to become the fifth race, Lya at least decided that helping to perfect a cloak that worked in hyperspace would allow us to survive longer. In order to fulfill the roll of "assuming the mantle" of protection the Alterans no longer could provide. The weapons systems on the ship haven't changed but the power output has been significantly increased. Narim and though it pains me to say, Rodney McKay, have improved the original Arcturus reactor so the Nightstalker was rebuilt with the new Arcturus MKII reactor. And the new one makes the original look like an old style nuclear reactor from the early 1950's. Now it is the Nightstalker II. Over the next few days, they will start upgrading as many ships as they can with the new reactor. The ships of this fleet, will be the first to get the new reactor."

So for the next hour, O'Neill went over the fine points of the mission with Admiral Young and Captain Hammer of the Nightstalker II. He dismissed Commodore Ellis and the other captains so they could see to the maintenance and resupply of their ships. They were going to be reassigned into one of the fleets going back into A-3559 when Admiral Young completed his mission.

"Ok, Everett, you have your orders so unless you have any more questions, dismissed and God's speed to you. And to you too Captain Hammer."

Admiral Young paused. "Admiral, I may have another idea and it pains me to say I wish I would have known what I do now before the Empire dropped in on us. But the idea only came after I thoroughly reviewed the sensor data from the battle."

O'Neill looked Young in the eye. "Go ahead Everett, what is your idea?" Admiral Young picked up the remote to the holoprojector. "Is all of the sensor data we recorded here?" When Admiral O'Neill nodded, Young hit the power button. He scrolled through the images until he found the one he was looking for.

"Ok, if you look at the weapons fire coming from their ships, you can see that the vast majority of their weapons are placed on the dorsal and sides of the star destroyers. Very little to none are on the ventral or aft sections of their ships. Defiant class ships, operating in wolf packs while cloaked or Vampire fighters could use their superior maneuverability to stay in the blind spot and hit them using drones."

Jack O'Neill couldn't hide his smile. "Carter already picked up on that the first time she saw the sensor data. I've already passed the word to Yavin base to begin raids on any Imperial forces they in system or out. They have two full wings of the newest Vampire fighters and I managed to transfer the AZPM's for them to upgrade one squadron per wing. So again, if you don't have anything else, dismissed."

Admiral Young and Captain Hammer stood and saluted their commanding officer then left the conference room. O'Neill sighed as he watched them leave before standing and looking at Thor. "Well Thor ol' Buddy, what do you think of this, Empire?"

Thor actually looked rather disgusted as he answered. "They are without honor! If it wouldn't be considered rude and unsanitary, I would have spat on the floor in answer to your question my old friend. It will be a glorious and honorable battle to destroy them and free that galaxy from their evil clutches!" President Tomin didn't say anything but he did nod his head in total agreement.

Astral Plain

Dregefax was MUCH closer to the A-3559 galaxy than he had been when he had been distracted by the UEC ships sitting in the void. He could see what looked like a massive red force field surrounding the galaxy. It was like approaching a thick forest that was burning from plasma fire. He slowed his approach considerably and mentally erected powerful shields in front of him to protect him from the heat. He knew it was not possible to actually feel heat in the emptiness of space but none the less, he did. He could also sense an angry, malevolent consciousness emanating from somewhere behind the barrier. A consciousness he found vaguely familiar but also totally alien to anything he had ever felt.

As he continued to study the barrier looking for cracks he could exploit, he felt a sensation like, as the humans would say, someone walking across his grave. He could also sense something else very powerful but also alien and unfamiliar. He didn't sense evil from that second feeling, just a profound sense of loss and sorrow but also of hope and purpose.

So he began concentrating on that feeling and forming his thoughts into a kind of mental battering ram to attempt to open a crack in the barrier. Once he felt he had gathered sufficient power, he unleashed the blast at the barrier. It struck the barrier with enough force to shatter whole planets and the barrier wavered and shimmered but showed no signs of breaking. Breathing heavily (metaphorically anyway) Dregefax stared in utter astonishment that the barrier held. He started gathering power for another strike, when an area of the barrier began to darken and push away from the rest of the barrier.

The area began to take shape and soon solidified itself into a form that Dregefax recognized immediately. "You! This can't be possible! I killed you millions of years ago!"

The form shook from laughter. "You of all people should know that killing one of us isn't that easy. You very nearly did though. I was adrift for millennia until I was pulled into this galaxy by forces I could not explain. I grew in strength until I was able to possess a member of a primitive but mentally powerful race and turn him to my will. I molded him and nurtured him until he was powerful enough to overthrow his clan leader and become a powerful warlord, conquering most of the known galaxy. Until another race came along and destroyed them. So I possessed one of that race and moved from race to race for thousands of years. Now I am more powerful than any Alteran has ever been. It is time for you to know the pain I have felt and also time for you to finally die at my hand, Father…."

Bright and powerful streams of Red lightning shot from both hands of Dregefax's son, blasting through the shields of the Ascended leader like they were tissue paper. Dregefax had known pain throughout his long life but nothing could compare to the sheer agony that coursed through his being now. He tried to fight back but to no avail. Maybe he would have fared better had he attacked first but that was neither here nor there. He was going to die and there was nothing he could do about it.

But just as everything began to fade to a black nothingness, brief flashes from the very edge of his vision caught his waning attention. It also felt like someone grabbed him in a warm yet powerful embrace. Unsure of what it was or what it meant, Dregefax strained to see and understand but he felt he missed it then he knew nothing at all….

Well, here we are at last. Chapter 1 of Whispers of Power. Really sorry it took so long but I just couldn't get my Muse motivated enough to get back to work on it. The lock down from the C-Virus has given me the time to binge watch several shows and it also gave me time to kick start my Muse. I hope you enjoy and I'll get to work on Chapter 2. I know a lot of what I am writing and plan to write is not canon but that is why it is Fan Fiction. And if I got the color wrong of the phasers, Alteran pulse cannons, and such, I apologize. I am partially color blind and have problems indentifying some colors on a screen whether TV or computer monitor. Again, I hope you enjoy!