Alternative Destiny series
Title: The Return That Wasn't Series: Alternative Destiny Fandom: Stargate SG-1 Genre: Time Travel / AU Rating: PG Summary: Destiny touches off a string of events that spells big changes for its chosen commander and the rest of mankind. In the end, Jack really only has himself to blame.
The Return That Wasn't
Outskirts of the Sol System, 1994 CE
For five thousand years, the systems of Destiny had been patiently waiting, and now the ancient vessel's computers began to wake up, its long dormant systems turning on one by one. Its long range sensors focused on the third planet of the star system, and its gate dialed the familiar address of home.
A far less wait preceded the incoming wormhole from Earth a few days later. Internal sensors activated in time to scan the first humans to set foot upon the ship in a very long time. The modified scanners perfunctorily verified that there was no sign of parasitic possession or chemical control; more importantly, it immediately recognized the genetic profile of the first person who stepped through the gate.
Destiny's commander had returned.
"What a rush!" Major Louis Ferretti crowed as he jumped out of the open stargate. He blinked in the sudden brightness as overhead lights suddenly turned on. "Whoa!"
"Yeah, out of this world," Colonel Jack O'Neill agreed sarcastically as he scanned the room for threats. Seeing none, he turned a critical eye over the female officer that he'd been forced to take along on the trip, who appeared to be either hyperventilating or trying to throw up. "You ok there, Captain?"
"Ugh... yessir," rasped Captain Samantha Carter.
"Shouldn't have had that big lunch, huh?" Major Charles Kawalsky joked as he patted her on the shoulder, receiving a baleful look in return.
Jack's radio squawked and the familiar voice of General West could be heard over the line. "This is Earth Base to Portal Scout, do you read?"
Turning to look at the shimmering portal, which was still in the process of regurgitating the rest of his men, Jack pressed down on the button of his radio and responded. "This is Portal Scout. We read you loud and clear, sir."
"What's your condition, Colonel?"
"The ride was a little bumpy, and some kind of automated lights turned on when we got here," Jack reported, "but other than that, we're not seeing anything more than what the probe picked up. No reception committee of little green men or anything else." He turned back and did a quick head count to make sure that all of his men had arrived safely. "Everyone is here and accounted for, sir. We're ready for the next phase of the mission."
"Roger that, Colonel. We'll be shutting down this end of the portal. Next scheduled contact is in 24 hours unless you figure out how to get back before then."
With that, the light of the gate winked out. The silence that came over the radio only reinforced the fact to the team that they were on their own, god only knows how far from the Earth.
Taking a deep breath, Jack O'Neill took charge. "Alright, folks, let's secure the room."
With long practice, Jack and his men split apart and covered the room. There wasn't much to see, except for the single door and the control panel containing various symbols, some of which matched the ones on the Earth portal.
Lt. Derek Brown looked up from his hand scanner at the door and reported his findings. "Sir, this place seems to be made up of some alloy that's partly the same kind of metal that the portal artifact was made from. The conditions outside the door to this room read similar to what's inside."
Jack nodded, and turned to Captain Carter, who was still engrossed in the control panel they'd found. "Captain Carter, start working on activating that portal back home. I want us able to get our way back within the hour."
"Uh, yes sir, but it might take longer than that," Sam told him. "Some of these symbols are completely different than the ones on the artifact from Earth. I'll need to set up some kind of interface to the control system and see if I can access it. If it's anything like the program it uploaded into our dialing system, there should be records of what it used to open the first portal to Earth--"
"Captain," Jack interrupted the spiel impatiently. "Can you do this or not?"
Sam straightened and looked back at him with a challenging look on her face. "Yes, sir."
"Good. Get to it." Jack dismissed her and looked over the rest of his people. "Reilly, Porro, set up base camp here and secure the door. The rest of us are going to have a look around to make sure we don't get any surprise visitors."
With that, he led the rest of the team out the door of the Destiny gate room into the corridors beyond.
Had Destiny's computer been self-aware, it would have waited with bated breath for the commander to take control, to give command. But advanced as it was, Destiny could only wait patiently as the humans only spoke to each other. It waited as they dialed back to Earth, and later returned with even more humans, setting up primitive telescopes on the observation deck. It waited as the explosives that the first team had brought onto the ship were cast aside to an empty storage room near the gateroom, once the humans had explored enough of the ship to deem it likely uninhabited. It waited, and eventually, the original team of humans entered the interface chair room. Inevitably, the commander sat down on the innocuous chair in the center of the empty room, and then Destiny sprang into action once more.
In the blink of an eye, it linked to the neural pathways of its commander, inducing the rebuilding of the biological interface in his mind, without any curiosity at wondering why the structure it had placed upon the commander the first time was no longer there. In the next instant, it began to download the information package that was specifically marked for the commander of the vessel, at a much slower pace than the interface was originally designed for, all as the commander himself had specified five thousand years ago.
Seconds after the download stream had initialized, internal sensor picked up the moments of the other humans in the room. Pre-programmed security protocols all over the vessel activated, and as well as the specific protocols that called upon Destiny to unlock and retrieve the necessary packages from the vacuum vault...
"What the hell?!"
One moment Major Charles Kawalsky had been joking around with his fellow soldiers on whether the room they were scouting was the bridge of the ship, and the next moment he nearly jumped out of his skin when the restraints sprang from the chair to lock his CO into the seat.
"Jack!" Kawalsky rushed forward at his friend and CO, only to be suddenly knocked back onto the ground by a flash of light and something tingly and hard.
"There's some kind of energy barrier!" announced Lt. Derek Brown, poking more cautiously at the sparkling shield that encased the control chair and its victim. "Colonel O'Neill, can you hear me? Colonel? Can you move?"
"He looks out of it," noted Major Louis Feretti, "and it doesn't look very pleasant either."
"How do we stop it?" Kawalsky demanded, his finger twitching to pull his gun from his holster. It was a pity they had left their heavier ordinance at the gate, having becoming complacent in that there was little danger in an apparently abandoned ship. Now it appeared that complacency might have gotten his friend killed.
"I can't see what's generating the field," Brown said as he carefully circled the perimeter of the shield. "It could be the generator is on the inside. I wouldn't advise shooting either. If it can get past the shield, it'll hit the Colonel. More likely it won't get past the shield, and there might be ricochet--"
His analysis was suddenly interrupted by a bright flash of white light from one side of the room. With battle-trained and already twitchy reflexes, the soldiers turned as one toward it, weapons out and ready. But all they saw was a pile of carefully wrapped objects in that area of the room which had been empty just a moment ago.
"What now?" growled Ferretti after a moment of confused silence.
Kawalsky exchanged a look with the other man, and waving for the others to remain ready where they were, he slowly made his way to the pile of objects. Some of them looked like books, and binders of all things, as well as some long tube-like containers, all wrapped in some kind of thick protective material. But it was the post-it note that was stuck on top item of the pile, reading "Watch me first" in perfect handwritten English, that made Kawalsky feel as if he had just stepped into the Twilight Zone.
Then, as if on cue, the force field surrounding Jack suddenly disappeared, followed by the retraction of the chair restraints, leaving behind one unconscious colonel to go along with the surreal things that had gone wrong that day on-board the ancient spaceship of obvious alien design.
"You gotta wake up now, Jack. You're gonna give Charlie a heart attack."
It was like looking into a mirror, made all the more surreal by the fact that he was standing--floating?--while surrounded by blank whiteness. Jack had the urge to pinch himself to make sure this was all real, except for the fact that he couldn't feel his limbs to do so.
He could still apparently speak, however. "I'm talkin' to myself. This is insane."
"No one ever called your subconscious sane." The look-alike in front of him said.
"What, you're my conscience?" When in doubt, always fall back on the good ol' O'Neill sarcasm.
"To be technical, I'm the left over traces of your neural link with Destiny, Ducius O'Neill."
It should have seemed strange that Jack could automatically translate the unfamiliar language to 'Commander O'Neill', but it wasn't, and that was even more worrying.
"Damn, I was hoping for Majel Roddenberry."
The double shrugged. "Destiny only had three people to work from. Carter never did well using the neural interface, and it's not like you're going to listen to Danny at this point."
"The freaky thing is I actually understood what you said," Jack groused. He could feel a headache building, and he couldn't even feel his hands to rub at his temples.
"You need to wake up."
"Yeah, and I bet it'll hurt more when I do."
"If you don't, they're going to ship you back to Earth."
"And? So? Therefore?"
"Then they're going to stick you in a MRI, and they're going to find all sort of funky weirdness going on."
"Ah. That's bad?"
"NID? Human guinea pig?"
"Right. How do I wake up?"
"Don't look at me. Think hard?"
"Lotta help you are."
"Well how about this? Remember your son's death? Time's a-tickin' for you to change that."
"Whoa there, Jack!" Kawalsky hurried to his friend's side where Jack had suddenly jerked awake from the hands of the two men that were dragging him back to the alien vessel's gateroom and tumbled to the ground. He helped the other man into a sitting position and patted his face. "Jack, you okay? Talk to me."
"Indeo dormata," muttered the man in question.
Jack shook his head, and then immediately regretted it. "Ego sum euge," he tried again, raising a hand to his temple.
"That sounds like Latin," noted Lt. Freeman.
"Jack doesn't speak Latin," Kawalsky protested.
"So he's speaking in tongues?" said Freeman, sounding just a shade hysterical.
Ferretti frowned in disapproval at the tone. "Calm down, Airman," he told the younger man.
Jack sighed as he struggled to separate the Ancient language from English in his mind. He clamped a hand down on Kawalsky's shoulder. "Kawalsky." Well, at least proper names weren't being automatically translated between his brain and mouth.
"Yeah, Jack?" The men relaxed minutely when it appeared that the colonel was at least able to recognize them.
Battling his migraine, Jack managed to get the words out in English, one by one. "Help. Up." Once up and leaning against the bulkhead, he tapped a finger against the pocket that he knew Ferretti liked to keep pain relievers on hand.
"You sure that's a good idea, Jack?" Ferretti asked even as he complied with the pills. "We don't know what that machine did to you."
Jack swallowed the pills without bothering for water. He took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and concentrated on forcing the pain in his head back by sheer force of will. Whether due to the medication, its placebo effect, or simply time, the headache seemed to ease a bit, and there weren't any more sharp spikes of pain when trying to think English. "Gate," he informed the men curtly, and proceeded to take his own shaky steps in the direction of the gateroom.
His men followed after their commander hesitantly. But soon, their worries were diverted when they arrived at the gateroom into a scene of utter cacophony.
"What the hell?" Kawalsky muttered at the sight of so many scientists running around like headless chickens.
"Colonel O'Neill!" Capt. Samantha Carter hurried up to the group. "Sir, I'm not sure what happened, but halfway through our resupply, some kind of energy barrier suddenly activated right in front of the wormhole. We were lucky that it was only equipment that were lost in the wormhole and not people..."
"Quietas," Jack muttered, rubbing at his temples from the resurgence of his migraine at the noise level of the room.
Sam looked at him in confusion. "Sir?"
"Uh, something happened," Ferretti told her. "Some kind of chair grabbed him and did something to him. He's, uh, not been making too much sense since he woke up."
"There was an energy barrier that stopped us from removing the colonel from the chair too," Brown put in, "but it went away after a while."
"Oh." Sam looked at the man in question, who was giving a rather unfocused look around the room, with wide eyes. "Wait, when did this happen?"
"About five minutes ago," Kawalsky replied after a short consultation of his watch.
"That's about the time the energy barrier on the portal appeared," Sam realized. "You must have triggered some kind of defense system on the alien ship."
"Fatium," Jack suddenly said, absently correcting the reference to the ship.
"What?" everyone stared at him with worried looks.
"Destiny," Jack enunciated carefully, waving a hand as if to encompass the room.
"You're saying the name of this ship is Destiny?" Sam asked slowly, trying to put together what her CO was trying to communicate.
Jack snapped his fingers at her.
"That's amazing," Sam breathed. "Uh, do you happen to also know how to turn off that energy barrier, sir?"
Jack rubbed his temples again, then pushed his way through the various scientists to stand right in front of the ramp leading to the stargate. He raised his voice as if addressing thin air.
"Destiny, stand down from security protocols!"
The force field in front of the startgate winked out. The room descended into silence with everyone staring at Jack in surprise. The man in question turned around and raised an eyebrow at the looks directed his way, as if daring anyone to comment.
Kawalsky and Ferretti exchanged worried glances. This was going to be one hell of a report.
The Pentagon, A week later
The President of the United States looked around the table at the bemused faces of his Joint Chiefs of Staff, recognizing the expressions there as the same that he wore when he first had his world tilted on its side.
"I trust everyone has reviewed the details of General West's report and the... articles retrieved from the alien vessel?"
There was a general series of nods across the table. The Secretary of State spoke up on behalf of the table. "Yes, Mr. President, though I have to admit that if it weren't for the fact that we have American soldiers currently on that spaceship on the far end of the Solar System, I would've suspected this to be one big joke."
"Certainly, the reports written by -- General O'Neill, was it?" added the Secretary of Defense, looking like he couldn't believe the words coming out of his own mouth, "--of the alternate future, read like they could be right out of a science fiction show."
Chuckling ruefully, the President had to agree. "Yes, as odd as the whole thing is with the alien artifact millions of years old and the ancient spaceship on the edge of the solar system, it's still the actions done by humans that are the hardest to believe. Unfortunately, the very outlandishness makes it less likely that this story is a hoax. So the question is, what should we do about it?"
A short silence permeated the room before the Secretary of State expressed the reluctant conclusion that was on everyone's mind. "Do we really need...want to do anything at all, Mr. President? Despite the fact that there are many planets out there with transplanted humans living in slavery, the fact is that Earth does not currently have the capacity to defend itself against the dominant hostile powers of this galaxy. In the other timeline they didn't have a choice about engaging in galactic war and politics, but we do. Our first priority should be to the safety of this nation--of this planet."
Seeing the reluctant nods and looks of agreement across the rest of the table, the President sighed. "I'm afraid I have to agree with that assessment. To that end, I will inform General West that the other aspects of Project Giza will be shelved for now. The stargate will only be used to maintain contact with artifact vessel Destiny."
"In the meantime, we should redirect the funding to Project Destiny," suggested the Secretary of Defense, "as well as Area 51, to begin working with the scientific data and schematics that was left for us. Even if we're not going to look for trouble, the threat is still out there and we need to be ready to defend ourselves."
"General West already requested the same," said the President, "and I see no problems in green-lighting the project." He stopped and looked around the room, and seeing no further suggestions or comments, nodded and moved toward dismissal.
"Gentlemen, we're entering a new era of human science and history, and I've no doubt that there will be plenty of surprises in store for us up there. In a strange sort of way, we've already got a glimpse of our future, and I have every confidence in our people to meet the challenges ahead. Let's make it happen."
Notes: 1. The date 1994 is a reference to the movie, even though in TV continuity, the first trip to Abydos took place in '95 or '96. I'm just also assuming that by '94, the equipment at Cheyenne was good enough be re-written into a working DHD. 2. Kawalsky and Ferretti were ranked Lieutenant in the movie, and Major in the TV show. I'm going with TV continuity here. The rest of the team mentioned from the movie will remain lieutenants. 3. Even though domivaitus is a known Ancient word for 'master', I felt the Latin word dux/ducis for commander/leader/guide would fit the captain of Destiny much better. Doctored, of course, so it's pseudo-Latin like the rest. 4. The words/sentences in Ancient/pseudo-Latin means "I need sleep", "I am good", "Quiet", and "Destiny" (the name of the ship).