Disclaimer: I’m just borrowing them.
Spoilers: General for seasons 9 and 10 of Stargate.
“What happened?” Dr. Weir’s voice did not waver in the slightest as the question came out quietly, but John Sheppard had known her long enough to see that, deep inside that place that no one under her command was ever allowed to see, Elizabeth was crying.
“We lost.” The dead answer came from General O’Neill, sitting on the other side of the briefing table, the remaining members of what was left of SG-1 surrounding him. The silence that followed his statement was thick and laid so heavy around those in the briefing room that one could see their shoulders bend under the weight of it.
“Well, we know that,” came the response, predictably, from Rodney, though his tone lacked his ever-present vitriol, and instead carried what could almost be interpreted as sympathy. “Could you possibly be more specific,” this asked so entreatingly, that John wished nothing more in that moment than to hear a disparaging insult from his best friend. If Rodney McKay, snark extraordinaire, was being civil, then the world truly had ended, and John couldn’t pretend otherwise anymore.
“The Jaffa High Council used the weapon on Dakarra.” Lieutenant Colonel Samantha Carter spoke up, looking like she hadn’t slept for a week. “It worked as we predicted. The Milky Way stargate system is gone and the planets…” she stopped as a quiver overtook her voice and took a long deep breath before marching on. “We’ve estimated a 99.3% destruction of all life sustaining planets occurred. Two thirds of those were planets that had stargates, and were the result of an overloading active stargate…” Carter looked down at her hands, for the first time noticing that they were trembling, “the rest were wiped of living matter by the translation of the energy weapon,” she finished quickly.
Dr. Weir allowed them a moment to collect themselves before quietly pressing, “And the Ori?”
“Oh they’re still there,” bit out Dr. Jackson so seethingly that John almost felt the need to push his chair back. “Their Priors turned tale and ran through their supergate the moment the weapon started translating through the gates. Only one ship was stationed at the supergate when it started; they made it through.” Dr. Jackson looked up from his clenched fist. “The Ori of course, are just perfectly safe and sound in their galaxy. All they’ve lost from this little excursion is some effort and a few worshippers.”
“We think they made it through,” interrupted Lieutenant Colonel Cameron Mitchell, before things got worse. Now was not the time and place for Daniel’s breakdown. That would come later, in some quiet corner of Atlantis when it was just SG-1, and after copious amounts of alcohol had been consumed. “The Odyssey’s sensors lost track of what was happening moments before the energy wave hit. We’re pretty sure at least part of the ship was through the wormhole, but we have no idea if any of it would be intact enough on the other side to report what happened.”
“Report what happened?” John queried the moment the statement was uttered. What difference did it make if the Ori…
“We saved earth.” General O’Neill spoke for the second time that meeting, life coming back into his voice. “Carter came up with a way.”
“How?” Elizabeth asked, hope starting to come back into her eyes.
“P4X-639,” Carter answered. “It’s the planet where we found the Ancient time loop device. The Ancients on that planet originally built it as an attempt to travel back in time and avert a catastrophe that wiped out their world. They could never get it to work properly; instead of going back to the key moment in their world’s history, the device created a ten-hour time loop ‘bubble’ that only those who were in the device’s immediate proximity at activation were aware of.”
“I remember that mission report,” John said, “Earth was separated from regular time for three months, right?”
“Four,” General O’Neill answered, “Teal’c and I once tried to estimate…” The general broke off and looked back down at the table.
“Not just time,” Carter brought the conversation back to the device, and away from their fallen friend, “Earth, and all the planets in its ‘bubble’, for all intents and purposes, didn’t actually exist. See,” at this several days of exhaustion seemed to melt from her face as she launched into her explanation, “time is not separate from space, or matter. It cannot exist outside ‘reality’ for lack of a better term, but matter cannot exist outside of time. When the Tok’ra couldn’t contact earth by means of the stargate, they tried to do so by traveling directly to earth. They found that a large portion of that spiral arm had just disappeared. Systems that had been hundreds of light years apart, on opposite sides of our system were suddenly less than a light year apart. That part of space had been folded in on itself, sort of like a child’s pop-up picture book being closed.”
“So you used the device, separating those stargates from the rest of the gate system, protecting earth from the translation of the Ancient weapon, and putting earth completely out of the Ori’s reach. Brilliant. Why didn’t I think of that?” Rodney jumped in, sitting up in his chair and snapping his fingers as his mind started picking up speed. “Wait, how are you going to stop it? We can’t…”
“We’re not going to stop it,” General O’Neill interrupted, “not while the Ori are still a threat.”
“It’s actually a bit more complicated than that,” Carter picked up her thread of thought once it was clear that Jack wasn’t going to elaborate and no one else had responded. “We didn’t just send someone to the planet to push the on button. First of all, if the Ori come back to find out what happened, and Earth isn’t there, they may very well be able to figure out what happened. We couldn’t have such a large portion of space just missing, and we couldn’t have someone activate it in person, or they’d be stuck in the loop.”
“Which is why you want the Ori ship to have gotten through,” John responded, “You don’t want them to come looking.” “Exactly,” Carter turned to McKay, “We had this planned for several months as a last resort. We may have only had a few hours to execute it, but we were ready. When the Ori ships headed for earth, and Bra’tac told us the Jaffa were employing the weapon, we began immediate evacuation. The earth stargate was transported in orbit around our sun, and the device was set to remote activation.”
“The sun? Why –?” McKay began, but Carter cut him off. “We were able to change the device’s function to create a sort of stall, rather than a loop. Instead of looping every ten hours, the device remains in a state of constant activation, which effectively stops time in its bubble. This requires a massive amount of power, as does maintaining an active gate for practically indefinitely. Six stargates were placed in close solar orbits of the nearest systems, and were activated simultaneously with our stargate. The device itself was transported to the Daedalus launch bay, and attached to one of the stargates before being launched in orbit around its sun. Obviously the device itself would need massive power; we’ve calculated that the sun we’ve placed it around can maintain its power requirements for only a few thousand years.”
“Only a few thousand?” John asked, even as Dr. Beckett had his own question, “I don’t understand. How can the sun die if it’s not ‘in time’ or what have you?”
“Stars are supposed to last billions of years,” Carter replied, “and as for the other,” Carter looked at Jack who had let out a groan he probably thought was quiet, “that’s actually a very complicated and involved answer.”
“And long,” this came from Daniel, who received a betrayed look from Carter.
McKay snorted. “Oh please, it’s not that complicated,” he stated superiorly to Carter.
Carter was far too tired to go into this with him, “You want to explain it?”
McKay looked over at Beckett. “Nevermind.”
“That still doesn’t explain how we turn this thing off,” Weir brought everyone back to the point.
The earth team became sober again. “We can’t,” Carter said. “Once the device is activated, it’s placed outside of standard space-time, making it completely unreachable by any means outside of its own bubble. And since it’s not a loop, but a complete stop, nothing inside the bubble can affect it either. The only thing that will turn it off… is time.”
The head members of the Atlantis expedition understood the implications immediately.
“Several thousand years,” said Sheppard as he leaned back in his chair, “that’s a long wait.”
“What in the blue blazes did you go an’ do that for, then?” exclaimed Beckett, “Never going back to Earth – what sort of plan is that?”
“A desperate one,” O’Neill responded forcefully, “One only to be enacted in a last-ditch worse-case scenario, which is exactly what happened. Our entire galaxy is destroyed, billions of people, entire races, are gone. As far as people on Earth are concerned, only a moment will pass, and the night sky will get a slight makeover. They’ll be fine; in a few thousand years, the stall will end, and they’ll get on with their lives. No stargates, no aliens, no galactic neighbors. As far as they’ll be concerned, the SGC never happened, and of course they’re alone in the galaxy.” What had started out as a rebuttal became a sarcastic mockery of the human race, and Sheppard suddenly realized that General O’Neill was pissed at himself.
“We weren’t the ones to activate the weapon,” Carter reminded him.
“No, but we sure as hell made sure we’d survive; screw everyone else,” O’Neill shot back.
“People.” Weir called out. They quieted and turned to her. She took a deep breath while clasping her hands and sitting forward in her chair. “What’s done is done, and can apparently not be undone in any way. While there will be plenty of time later to discuss what happened and why, right now there are many pressing concerns that need immediate attention, not the least of which are placing the alpha list people in temporary shelter until they can be allotted a more permanent residence in Atlantis. My people will handle that General,” Weir addressed O’Neill, “but right now you and I need to decide where we go from here.”
Elizabeth sat straighter in her chair, and John watched that fire of hers that he loved so much show in her eyes. “You are the highest ranking military commander here, and both the Daedalus and the Odyssey fall under your command. I am the only appointed civilian leader here, and the head of Atlantis expedition, which you and I both know will soon become a permanent settlement if there truly is no way back to earth.”
After a few moments, Jack realized she expected an answer to her non-question. “No. And the rest of the galaxy is uninhabitable as well, what with the Dakarra weapon doing its thing.”
The Atlantis team looked questionably at him, but Colonel Carter answered. “The Ancient weapon at Dakarra wasn’t originally a weapon. It was designed to seed life in a galaxy, and that’s what we believe it’s currently doing. The Jaffa high council had set the weapon to destroy everything even remotely organic, but we believe there was some sort of back-up program that caused it to actuate its original purpose after the weapon started, but before the gate network was completely destroyed. The Odyssey and the Daedalus are currently acting as relay points for our observations. It’s still early but we believe that at least half of the formally inhabited planets in our galaxy will be inhabitable again, though it’s still unclear whether the device was able to do all that it was suppose to before it’s destruction. But if we interfere with the process in any way, we may alter it for the worse. A process that should take several million years anyway, I might add.”
“That’s more than several thousand,” John commented.
“So no,” O’Neill said, “We’re not going back. I’m pulling the Daedalus and the Odyssey back tomorrow. We can’t afford for the Ori to discover their existence if they do come looking, and there’s nothing we can do if they realize why they can’t find Earth. As far as we know, they don’t know about the Pegasus galaxy, and if we’ve got the same deal here we had there, the Pegasus Ancients should be shielding our presence from the Ori even as we sit here.”
“About the only thing they will do.” Jackson added, still wearing that bitter expression.
O’Neill and Weir ignored him as they stared across that table at each other. John watched them, wishing he could hear the conversation going on in that gaze.
After a long moment Weir looked down at her folded arms propping her up on the desk.
She looked up everyone, and gave a long measuring look to every individual before turning back to O’Neill.
“So we start over.”
“We still have the Wraith, and the Replicators out there. And the Ori may not be aware of our existence now, but we will have to deal with them at some point down the road,” Rodney spoke up, “not to mention the Genii, or the fact that we’ve lost all our abilities production of – everything, actually. How many nukes do we have left? Wait, how much coffee is left?”
John just kept watching Elizabeth, but it was O’Neill who spoke up. “We’ll make it.”
Elizabeth smiled, and her eyes crinkled. “We’re just stubborn like that.”
She turned to everyone else and took a deep breath, “Alright people, we have our work cut out for us.”
The meeting dismissed.
Some 60 odd years later (relatively speaking, of course), a man named Zefram Chochrane would say, “Don’t try to be a great man. Just be a man, and let history make its own judgment.”
This is a one-shot and a challenge. The challenge is in my profile under challenges and is as follows: Write a story using all of, or part(s) of, my story Reboot. That’s it. If you don’t like Star Trek, you can take out the last sentence and make this a Firefly crossover, or Dark Angel, or any crossover you want really. Who made it off Earth? Are there any remnants of the SGC’s mission still around? What about the Trust? Do we even care? Will the re-seeding of the Milky Way really take millions of years? Will the time stall last thousands? You guys want answers, make your own. Have at it.