I own neither Stargate nor the X-COM franchise. No infringement is intended, no profit is to be made and I'm just not worth the hassle of suing anyway unless you want a share of the wages of an underpaid Civil Servant.
Hyperspace – Pegasus Galaxy – May 2005
'This wasn't the plan' Major Sheppard stated, trying not to sound too angry. The Tollan tended to regard humans from less advanced worlds as being barbarous and he certainly didn't want to help confirm that opinion among the bridge crew of the Tollan warship.
Sammin the officer commanding the cruiser Sher-Mal
held the rank of Trierarch, another Greco-Roman linguistic holdover which indicated the origin of at least some of the Tollan population. As such he outranked Tesserarius Travoc who was stood on the other side of the captain's chair looking none too pleased himself although marginally less surprised. 'These are the latest orders of the Curia' Sammin told Sheppard, 'they supersede my prior instructions and I will follow them' he said.
'But you could be throwing away the opportunity for a decisive strike on the enemy fleet' Sheppard argued. 'The more of them we kill here the less we'll have to face later' he said.
'I know that your military regards us as being less than adept at tactics or strategy than you are but we aren't stupid Major' Sammin responded curtly. 'If the Wraith don't respond to our ultimatum then we'll still engage them' he continued, 'it's just that my government regards the idea of the Sher-Mal
simply attacking them without warning, or even an attempt at negotiation, as being uncivilised at best, murderous at worst.'
'You and the Curia do know that the Wraith are heading to Atlantis to murder us so they can continued eating the population of this galaxy right?' Sheppard asked rhetorically, now attempting not to sound too sarcastic as well as calm.
Sammin sighed. 'Major if they weren't self-evidently despicable as they are the Sher-Mal
wouldn't be on this mission at all' he replied. 'The fact that the Curia is fully willing to support Earth in a war against these things if necessary
, despite our general reluctance to get involved in events occurring outside out territory, proves we understand the gravity of the situation' he said. 'All we want to do is satisfy in our own minds that we've exhausted peaceful options before we resort to force.'
'The plan was to blow up a few of them and then
see if they'd talk' Sheppard replied. 'Trust me, the Wraith won't take you seriously unless you kick their ass.'
'Major, based on what I know about the Wraith I don't believe peaceful coexistence is an option myself' he admitted. 'I fully expect to order several of their ships blown to atoms' he continued, 'but I obey my superiors and they say try talking, then
demonstrate our firepower, and then try talking again
' he said. 'If the Wraith still don't see sense after we beam warheads aboard a few of their ships then I'll kill as many more as I can with a relatively clear conscience.'
Sheppard took up a rest-easy stance with his hands behind his back, attempting to appear more authoritative. As the only member of the Atlantis expedition aboard apart from Travoc he was duty-bound to point out the arguments against the Tollan's intended course of action. 'You'll be throwing away the element of surprise' he pointed out. 'Once they've got their shit together you can't possibly take on that many ships' he said. 'Remember we've got Asgard beaming technology too, I know it'll take a while for the sensors to get a proper lock onto the destination coordinates and send over the warhead and you can't sit there and get hit by Wraith capital-ship guns very long.'
'Major, I haven't got enough warheads to take them all out anyway' Sammin replied. 'We'll do what we can then disengage from combat' he said. 'It's not like they can pursue, we're orders of magnitude faster in hyperspace than they are.'
'I just hope we don't live to regret this' Sheppard replied.
'Isn't that a better option than not
living to regret it?' Travoc queried.
'Okay, you've got me there' Sheppard conceded. 'But the best option has no regret at all' he added, hoping that the Tollan were advanced enough technologically to compensate for their cultural bias against shoot-first-and-ask-questions-later.
In Tollan mythology, dating back to when they didn't believe you could explain everything in the universe with equations, a Sher-Mal was a beautiful being that would take you to her home in the stars when you died. Naming a warship primarily designed to deliver obscenely powerful WMD "Angel" wouldn't have necessarily been an Earth thing but Sheppard had to concede it was a very attractive vessel and it had internal and external aesthetics which made it looked far more advanced than the blocky BC-303 and 304 class capital warships of Earth. The ship being heavily automated, the crew of the Sher-Mal
numbered less than a third of the complement of a Daedalus Class vessel despite being larger and the temporary quarters Sheppard had been assigned were better than he had on Atlantis if anything. Tollan "Ghostriders" as the Tau'ri nicknamed them seemed almost more like cruise-liners than cruisers in some respects, given the attention paid to the comfort of those aboard and their looks. They were like someone had mounted the armament of a Kirov Class battlecruiser and the battleship USS Iowa onto the Queen Mary and sent it out to bust heads while the passengers drank champagne and listened to soothing classical music.
With the Atlantis Sensors feeding the position of the Wraith Fleet to the Sher-Mal
via an encrypted subspace communications link the Tollan warship had reduced its speed to their relative crawl and for the last hundred and eighty light-years had been shadowing them, waiting for the armada to drop out of hyperspace. As soon as they did so Trierarch Sammin ordered his ship to re-enter normal space several million kilometres behind them and then the Tollan warship cloaked and began to accelerate towards them on sub-light engines.
Since her construction the cruiser had been upgraded several times as new technology became available. Originally fitted out for a Tollan designed shield, that had been quickly replaced by an Asgard one taken from a scrapped Beliskner Class ship, her hyperdrive had once been a back-engineered Goa'uld model provided by Earth but was itself now also Asgard while Hebridan Ion Engines had superseded her original sub-light propulsion. Initially armed only with six Ion Cannon for self-defence, three on each flank, the upgrades Anubis made to his Ha'tak shields necessitated the addition of a single Heavy Ion Cannon in a fixed forward-firing mount to cope with more dangerous opponents. More recently, and subsequent to the Tollan intervention against Loki, the Sher-Mal had then been outfitted with some twenty-five point-defence turrets armed with an evolved laser weapon they called a "Tracking Tracer Cannon", however at this moment it was an original feature of the cruiser rather than any upgrades which was proving itself most useful as shifted slightly out of phase with normal space it stalked the unsuspecting Wraith fleet.
As they neared the hives Sammin requested a holographic projection of their formation and an image of the seventeen hives and their cruiser escorts formed up into a huge V shape almost like a flock of geese appeared on the bridge. 'Bring us up directly behind the lead hive so that we're between the two trailing behind on either side' Sammin ordered.
'You'd better raise the shield as soon as we de-cloak just in case they're trigger-happy' Sheppard warned.
'He's right' Travoc agreed, Sammin giving the order to do so but telling his crew not to charge weapons until he gave the order.
The immense size of the Hives meant that even when she was close enough to appear in the holographic projection too the scale representation of the Sher-Mal
was utterly dwarfed by the vessels of the armada. Itself roughly five-hundred metres in length the Tollan ship was nonetheless small compared to the Wraith cruisers
let alone the eleven kilometre long leviathans they escorted and Trierarch Sammin was only glad these monsters lacked shields because otherwise he wouldn't dream about doing this.
Becoming an invisible part of the grand formation the Sher-Mal
pulled up behind the lead Hive twenty-five or so kilometres behind and flanked left and right by the next two Hives in the fleet. 'You know we're going to take one hell of a broadside from either direction if they open fire' Sheppard pointed out.
'That's what I'm hoping for' Sammin replied, smiling as he prepared to decloak the ship and transmit the communication the Curia had prepared.
To an outside observer the Sher-Mal
would have seemed to shimmer into existence, visible now not only to the naked eye but also the sensors of the Hives and Cruisers. Her Asgard shields snapped up just as she broadcast her warning to the Wraith not to open fire or continue their course towards the Lantean System.
'They're charging weapons' one of the bridge crew, Sheppard thought of her as being the Tactical Officer, reported.
'Charge ours and target the lead hive' Sammin responded.
Another Tollan was watching her own sensors. 'Wraith Darts are being launched from all hostile vessels'
'They keep a few dozen permanently crewed and ready to scramble on each hive' Sheppard noted. 'Give them a few minutes to get their asses into gear and we'll be knee-deep in thousands of them' he said. 'You going to shoot?' he asked.
'Them first' Sammin replied.
'Hives have opened fire' the Tactical Officer said, hoping she sounded calmer and more professional that she felt. This was actually her first time being shot at outside a simulation.
'Return the favour' Sammin responded.
The range was frankly pititful, merely tens of kilometres, but while the Wraith had fired first the fact the Heavy Ion Cannon of the Sher-Mal
struck its mark before the first massive plasma bolts lashed against her shields proved just how slow their velocity was. What they lacked in speed they made up for in fury however and the shields were knocked down by an appreciable amount although the lead Hive clearly suffered the worst of it.
The Heavy Ion Cannon was intended to smash down goa'uld shields that could easily absorb the energies of naquadah-enhanced nuclear weapons. If it struck an unshielded Ha'tak it would blow the six-hundred metre diameter mothership to fragments and although the Wraith Hives were far, far larger than a mere goa'uld capital ship having a Heavy Ion Cannon bolt shot directly into one of their massive main engine thrusters was frankly going to smart.
If it had been a Earth crew aboard Sheppard might have been tempted to make a few crude jokes about the Sher-Mal
firing its load up the Hive's ass but restricted himself to a grinning exclamation of "Squeal like a piggy Boy" as a titanic secondary explosion triggered by the Heavy Ion Cannon blew the entire back of the Hive off, debris and atmosphere venting into space.
'We're being hit hard Trierarch' the crew member monitoring the shield reported. 'The closest cruisers have manoeuvred to add their fire to the Hives already engaging us and four more hives are coming about.'
'Shields are holding but when we start taking more fire we won't be able to recharge the capacitors fast enough to keep them up' the Tactical Officer added.
Sammin nodded. 'Time to demonstrate that the Tollan don't use the type of cloaking devices they're used to' he said, an evil smile unbefitting his people's civilised ideal spreading across his face.
The Hives were firing in salvos, massive broadsides from their main guns with pauses between as they recharged. Just as two volleys from either direction were about the strike the Sher-Mal
it seemed to distort and as the bolts reached her this time instead of the plasma splashing against her shields it simply passed right through and kept going, or to be more precise it kept going until it struck the hiveship on the opposite side of the Tollan warship. Watching the wraith weapons pass through the ship and himself en-route was extremely disconcerting to John Sheppard but he figured it would make for a good story later.
Though they liked to consider themselves far more civilised than the bloodthirsty humans of Earth the Tollan were not humourless like the Aschen and as the two hives managed to put a second broadside into the other before they stopped firing the bridge crew of the Sher-Mal were desperately trying not to laugh. Hulls already weakened by hyperspace travel the damage the hives wrought on each other was considerable and small secondary explosions wracked the sides of the vessels as the now fully-cloaked Sher-Mal
'Pity we can't beam warheads over to them when we're out-of-phase' Travoc observed as the holographic projection of the armada showed their once neat formation becoming a lot less ordered.
'They're circling the wagons' Sheppard observed. 'Probably orientating themselves so they can support each other but not get hit by crossfire' he reasoned.
'They're not stupid unfortunately' Sammin replied regretfully. 'Alright, bring us five hundred kilometres off from the hostiles, deactivate the cloak again once we're clear and we'll transmit our second warning' he ordered. 'Make ready to beam over the first warhead as soon as we're in phase and can get a target lock with the Asgard Sensors.'
This time the Wraith responded to the transmission from the Tollan ship but in the form of an attempt to transmit a computer virus which the firewalls of the cruiser blocked and swiftly disposed of. 'I think we can take that as another "No" Travoc suggested to Sammin who couldn't help but agree.
'We're under fire again' the tactical officer noted. 'Wraith Darts are also heading towards our position, accelerating hard.'
'Turn us so we can bring the starboard Ion Cannons to bear on the darts' Samin ordered. 'Fire at will and when they enter effective point-defence range engage with the lasers' he said. 'As soon as we can get a sensor lock beam the first warhead to one of the undamaged hiveships' he continued. 'Let's see if this gets their attention' he added.
Inside one of the hives a wraith saw a bright flash behind him and span around to find there was now a silvery-grey device sitting there which hadn't been there before. From its design it was clearly not manufactured by his people and he had just enough time to think he should investigate, or at least raise the alarm, when a considerably brighter flash rendered his thoughts on the matter moot.
Equivalent in explosive yield to roughly eight-thousand Tau'ri Mark VIII naquadah-enhanced warheads going off at the same time in the same place the Tollan device was truly massive overkill, even against a ship three times as long as Atlantis was wide, but as a display of sheer military might it was certainly attention getting. Instantaneously converted into an expanding plasma fireball tens of millions of tons of hiveship blew outwards, incinerated two nearby cruisers and scorched several other vessels.
Making sure to get the message across this was not some freak occurrence shortly afterwards the second warhead the Sher-Mal
beamed over turned another hive into a short-lived miniature sun as did warhead number three which vaporised another of the now scattering armada.
The three Ion Cannon emplaced on the side of the Tollan Cruiser facing the Wraith fleet had been rapid-firing for some time, each bolt effortlessly destroying a dart as the next shot cycled. Now they were closer the much smaller Tracking Tracer Cannons opened up and simply cut a swathe through the veritable cloud of darts inbound. Lacking shields and so fragile even a bullet could bring one down it took only a fraction of a second's worth of laser fire to destroy a dart and the TTC's quickly racked up hundreds of kills although the darts kept coming heedless of their losses.
'Think they'll surrender?' Trierarch Sammin asked Travoc.
'No, but if they've got any sense they'll run' Travoc replied, shaking his head sadly at the slaughter.
The tactical officer looked at her display and frowned. 'We are no longer able to get a Sensor Lock on the Wraith ships' she told Sammin. 'They are generating a jamming signal that prevents us beaming any more warheads' she told him. 'ECCM cannot break the jamming.'
'Damn' Sheppard responded glumly. 'I thought it was going too easy.'
Sammin shrugged. 'Three hives destroyed outright plus two cruisers' he said. 'One more hive crippled and two more badly damaged' he noted. 'I think that makes for a successful mission.'
'We could play hit and run, try and knock a few more out with the guns' Sheppard told him.
'Maybe next time Major' Sammin replied, his primary duty was now to get his ship and crew out of here intact. He knew even the phasing cloak wasn't completely foolproof, it could be tracked at least in theory, and if the Wraith could jam Asgard beaming technology they were too capable to take lightly. 'Set course for Atlantis, prepare to engage hyperdrive.'
As the Sher-Mal
opened a hyperspace window and jumped away the Wraith started to count their losses and began to analyse what had occurred. Whoever these "Tollan" were they were clearly highly advanced with several technologies even the Lanteans hadn't utilised. They had effective, long-ranged and accurate high-yield energy weapons, terrifyingly powerful
explosive devices, some kind of teleportation technology which didn't require a mechanism at both ends of the transmission, advanced cloaking technology which brought you far enough out of phase for matter to physically pass through and vicious close-in anti-fighter defence.
These Tollan, self-stated allies of the Terrans according to their transmissions, were the embodiment of the worst fear of the Wraith. Such a people could simply not be allowed to control Atlantis, who knew what they might be able to do with the knowledge to be found there? They were a nightmare made flesh, the most horrible thing the crews of the hiveships could conceive of, a culture technologically far ahead of the Wraith who actually used that technology intelligently. Atlantis must be destroyed before these interlopers from another galaxy could unlock its secrets.
The last thing the Wraith needed was an enemy all too much like the Lanteans ... minus the near-total military incompetence.Cheyenne Mountain – Earth – May 2005
If he had been hoping to traverse the distance from the Mess Hall to his office without being intercepted on the way Brigadier-General Jack O'Neill was sorely disappointed. So far he had been subjected to a rant from the usually relaxed Doctor Bill Lee regarding the failure to hire additional research staff then after he managed to escape the scientist Colonel Rundell, the base's typically underworked Public Affairs Liaison, insisted on discussing the forthcoming visit by the UN Secretary General for five long minutes. After managing to extract himself from a discussion of suitable bunting, directing Rundell in the direction of Daniel who judging by the decor of his house had a "flair for that kind of thing", O'Neill had nearly reached his office when Colonel Ferretti caught up with him waving a copy of the new orders.
'This is a joke right Sir?' Ferretti asked curtly, the man looked peeved O'Neill decided.
'No Colonel, those are the orders from on-high relayed down to you via me' O'Neill replied. 'Come inside and close the door' he told him, continuing the short distance onto his office and going inside.
'You're taking us out of the game' Ferretti protested as soon as they were able to talk a little more freely than they could in the corridor.
O'Neill sighed. 'SG-2 is an Exploration Team not a combat one' he pointed out. 'The galaxy has gone totally nuts the last couple of weeks, in case you haven't noticed, and we're not in the exploration business for the foreseeable future' he said. 'We're concentrating on the all-out war business.'
'Come on Jack' Ferretti protested. 'SG-2 has seen as much action as any other team here' he argued. 'I remember covering your ass plenty of times when you needed backup' he reminded his commanding officer.
'It's not just you Louis' O'Neill replied. 'I've already heard the same thing from Carter' he said. 'SG-1 isn't going out either you know' he told the commanding officer of SG-2. 'This is no time to have physicists and archaeologists running around battlefields' he continued. 'Just because she's a small target it doesn't make it any smarter to have Hailey out there serving as infantry as it does Sam Carter, face-it they're a lot less replaceable than we are.'
Ferretti thought about that, it was hard to argue the point. The fact was that since she had joined his team SG-2's compact and "feisty" answer to Samantha Carter had made it very clear just how damn smart and capable she was. Getting those particular brains blown out in a firefight would be a criminal waste of talent. That was what X-COM Troopers and the Marines were for. 'Okay, I can see how our usual work is low priority right now, and I've got team members best kept off the front line, but I can still be out there doing the job' he maintained.
'And if you get killed permanently who's going to boss SG-2 when things are sane again?' O'Neill asked rhetorically. 'Or at least as sane as they ever get' he added. 'You've been in this since we first went to Abydos and kicked Ra's ass and you've dragged your team around the galaxy and racked up more missions through the gate than just about anyone else' he said. 'Face it, reputation counts and you're one of the old-guard, someone that the rookies and replacements have faith in because you've done it, seen it and kicked the crap out of the goa'uld that owns it.'
'I just don't want to be sat on the bench when the game is warming up Jack' Ferretti replied.
'Welcome to my life' O'Neill responded wryly. 'At least you know you'll be out there having fun again eventually, all I can look forward to now is another promotion' he said with obvious distaste at the idea.
'Commander Sharp outranks you and he still gets out there' Ferretti pointed out.
O'Neill smiled. 'He doesn't have to account himself to the Joint Chiefs of Staff' he replied. 'And a lot of the time he acts like he doesn't think he needs to account himself to God either' he continued. 'I just don't have that much leeway.'
Ferretti looked thoughtful. 'So what exactly do you want us to do?' he asked.
'I might still need you to get out there at short notice so I can't just say take a few days leave' O'Neill replied. 'Carter is going to Area 51 to play with alien gadgets and I can see that being Hailey's idea of fun too so she could join her, it's only seconds away by transporter platform if we need them back, as for you...'
'I'm not doing any of your paperwork Jack' Ferretti said quickly, as usual there was a pile of documents and files heaped on the general's desk awaiting his attention. He knew Carter sometimes found herself helping their CO with that, after unfortunately setting the precedent that she would when the backlog got bad enough, but he didn't plan to make that mistake himself.
O'Neill frowned. 'It would be good development for when you get your first star' he suggested.
'Oh yeah because I'm really going to be trying to get above Colonel after hearing how much you like it' Ferretti replied sardonically, rolling his eyes.
'Damn, I need to start planning these talks ahead so I don't paint myself into a corner' O'Neill responded glumly before checking his watch. 'Sorry Louis I'm expecting another appointment. We'll talk again afterwards' he promised.
'I'll be around, it's not like I'm going anywhere Sir' Ferretti replied.
After Ferretti left O'Neill had a couple of minutes to hide the paperwork on his desk so his next visitor couldn't peek at or swipe any of it, he wouldn't put anything past the man.
'Hey Jack' Harry Maybourne said brightly as his smiling face poked around the open door to O'Neill's office. 'I hear it was your idea to bring me out of retirement?'
'We've got a problem with scheming, amoral, sneaky ex-NID people' O'Neill responded. 'Who better to send after them than the man who is basically the epitome of all that is worst about the NID made flesh?' he asked rhetorically. 'Lots of flesh' he added.
'That's not fair Jack' Maybourne replied, entering and sitting down uninvited, the armed Marine who had accompanied him from the gateroom remaining outside. 'At least not the bit at the end' he said. 'I've lost a few pounds recently and it looks like you're gaining a few yourself thanks to the desk job' he observed.
O'Neill shifted position in his chair, straightening up. He had put on some weight now his lifestyle was less physically active and he kept meaning to put in more time on the treadmill so the comment stung. 'Nice outfit' he said sarcastically.
Maybourne shrugged. 'King Arkhan remember' he said, removing his leather "crown". 'I'm going to need another set of clothes if I'm going to get out there and track down the bad guys.'
'We hauled your stuff out of storage for you' O'Neill replied. 'Everything except your uniform which I don't think you deserve' he said.
'You wound me Jack' Maybourne responded, feigning hurt. 'Here I am, voluntarily returning to aid the country of my birth and my home-planet and you still cast aspersions against my character.'
'Harry, it's the defects in your character that make you so damn valuable and you know it' O'Neill replied.
'Yeah' Maybourne conceded. 'It is nice to be in demand for my talents' he admitted, grinning.
'I wasn't sure you'd come, you do have a pretty sweet deal on that planet you set yourself up as ruler of' O'Neill told him.
'Well the offer of formal recognition was nice' Maybourne replied. 'I might be able to wrangle a good aid and development package from the UN for my world once that goes through.'
'So the poor deluded saps that made you King love you even more?' O'Neill asked.
Maybourne shook his head sadly. 'I wouldn't expect someone of your suspicious nature to believe that their well-being really matters to me so maybe you'd accept it's just easier to be a self-serving absolute monarch when I keep the guilt of exploiting them to a minimum?'
'That I can buy' O'Neill agreed.
'Anyhow, just when I thought I was out they pull me back in' Maybourne said, trying to do an impression of Michael Corleone. 'So who am I working with?' he asked.
'The NID are assigning you to an agent named Barrett' O'Neill replied.
Maybourne laughed. 'I know him, one of those goody-goody sanctimonious types' he said. 'He'll definitely need my help if we're going to achieve anything.'
'And I'm assigning you Sergeant Andianov' O'Neill told him.
'Your pet Russian gunslinger?' Maybourne responded quizzically before smiling. 'I guess the idea is that she'll shoot me if I step too far out of line?'
'Officially she's there to represent X-COM and keep you alive, seeing as how you're a visiting head-of-state' O'Neill replied. 'And yes she'll shoot you if your allegiances wander again' he added.
'Where's the trust Jack?' Maybourne asked sweetly.
'I might have found myself liking you Harry, despite my best judgement, but trust isn't on the cards' O'Neill replied honestly.
'I guess I can live with that' Maybourne said. 'By the way, Aikaterina said to tell you that you're welcome to visit whenever you like' he told him. 'She's got it into her head you're my best friend' he continued. 'She thinks I'm here visiting you for a few weeks.'
'Lying to your wife is not a good habit to get into Harry' O'Neill warned.
'She'd worry if she thought I was doing something that might be dangerous' Maybourne replied. 'Oh and she's also got this idea that since you're my best friend and you're not married she needs to find you a wife' he said, trying not to laugh. 'She's already putting together a short-list of suitable girls from the local villages.'
O'Neill groaned. 'Couldn't you tell her I'm engaged or something?' he asked.
'I could but a trusted advisor told me that lying to my wife wouldn't be a good habit to get into' Maybourne replied, just about able to keep a straight face.
'And once again something I said earlier in a conversation bites me on the ass before the end of it' O'Neill complained to the universe.Interstellar Space – Pegasus Galaxy – May 2005
It had taken the wraith fleet days to recover from their encounter with the Sher-Mal
. Even among those hives which hadn't been directly struck by weapons fire hulls already damaged by hyperspace flight had in some cases been badly scorched by proximity to the massive explosions which had incinerated several of the huge vessels and regeneration took time. When they finally got underway again, now making even shorter hops than before with pauses between to allow ships to repair themselves to full capability, the wraith were badly behind schedule and paranoid about what they might run into next as they gradually made their way to Atlantis.
Possessing much faster vessels the humans opposing them could dictate when the next battle would take place and it was decided to confront the wraith just after they arrived in normal space during what would likely be their final stopover before the Lantean System. Although the short hops the wraith were making would mean their radiation-damaged hulls weren't quite as weakened and vulnerable as they usually were after a hyperspace journey they would still be less able to absorb fire from directed energy weapons if you hit them at the optimum moment and with everything you had.
Colonel Steven Caldwell had counted himself lucky when they gave him command of Daedalus
, the first 304 class battlecruiser to be built at the Cydonia Shipyards. After the Ha'tak Enterprise
had been lost under his command he wasn't sure if they would ever give him another vessel but the fact that Enterprise
had dished out plenty of hurt herself before succumbing to a foe vastly superior in number looked good enough in his résumé to get him another ship.
Unlike the two ships of the BC-303 class which preceded her the Daedalus
was designed to incorporate Asgard and other advanced technologies from the beginning. Whereas the Prometheus
were largely cobbled together from what was available "off-the-shelf" the same was not true of the Daedalus which was technically superior in all respects, as well as somewhat larger. You could put this ship up against three goa'uld Ha'tak motherships at once and it would pound them to scrap Caldwell thought with confidence as he sat in his command chair on the bridge, the problem right now however was that he wasn't quite as sure how it would stand up to a fleet of enemy ships that were larger than Mount Everest.
Even the Sher-Mal
which was somewhat larger than the Daedalus and had entered normal space beside her was tiny compared to the ships lying hundreds of kilometres away they were about to engage and they themselves vastly outweighed the two flights of five Avenger Corvettes apiece that had formed up alongside them. While it was true that the little ships punched well above their weight this wasn't so much David versus Goliath as it was an ant versus a tyrannosaur Caldwell thought as he ordered his sixteen F-302X fighters to launch. At least they were assigned the task of taking on craft in their own weight-class, the tiny wraith aerospace fighters known as "Darts", although being outnumbered hundreds to one wasn't exactly ideal.
'Sir, the Sher-Mal
is transmitting to the wraith fleet warning them that unless they surrender they will be fired upon' Captain Meyers reported from the pilot's position.
'I'm sure the wraith are terrified' Caldwell replied wryly. 'Weapon's Officer, what's our status?' he asked.
Captain Kleinman looked up from his console momentarily. 'Primary Plasma Beam Cannon is charging, Rippers are spinning up' he reported first. 'Secondary Plasma Beam cannons one through eight are all showing green and ready, Laser Anti-Aircraft and Point-Defence turrets are charged and ready, all VLS missile tubes ready to fire, bow torpedo tubes ready to fire.'
'I want the shields given priority for reactor power, I'd rather take out a few less of them this time around and live to fight another day than go down in a blaze of glory surrounded by a couple more knocked-out enemy vessels' Caldwell said. 'I was told if I went home without my ship again they'd take it out of my pay and I bet they'd use a sarcophagus to keep me alive and in the service long enough for me to do it too' he added in a slightly uncharacteristic joke which caused some laughter on the bridge. Sometimes it helped to lighten the mood he knew.
'The wraith vessels are manoeuvring' Meyers informed the rest of the bridge.
'Sensors showing that they are charging weapons, I don't think they're taking up the surrender offer Sir' Kleinman added.
'Well it would have been an anti-climax to travel three million light-years getting here if they had' Caldwell replied.
is firing missiles' Kleinman reported. 'Missiles have now disappeared from sensors' he added.
'Beaming over the warheads might have been cheaper but I guess the Tollan want to show the wraith they've got more than one way to deliver their ordnance' Caldwell surmised as the phase-shifted missiles hurtled towards their targets.
'Wraith have opened fire on us' Meyer announced. 'Sher-Mal is providing us with sensor data and suggesting targets.'
'Take evasive action, prepare to launch torpedoes at closest suggested target' Caldwell ordered as the bolts of wraith plasma streaked towards them. 'Tell the Avengers and the 302's, engage at will and happy hunting.'
The first of the two missiles the Sher-Mal
had fired shifted back into normal space just before it ploughed into the side of a hiveship and contact-detonated. Rendered invisible and immune to interception by it's phase-shifting capability these weapons were Tollana's ultimate in ultimate deterrents against the System Lords and the knowledge of their mere existence had frightened even Anubis enough for him to keep well clear of the Tollan. Not exploding in the heart of the hive like the warheads beamed over in the previous battle had been much of the energy released by the detonation was lost to the vacuum of space but the remainder which the hive did absorb was more than enough to destroy it utterly in a now almost familiar plasma fireball.
If the Tollan were hoping that the wraith might surrender now they were very much mistaken. The Sher-Mal
carried more missiles but only had two launch tubes and she reloaded them as she now additionally opened up with her Heavy Ion Cannon and the two standard models that could be fired forward while her bow was pointed at the enemy.Daedalus
now fired her own first salvo. The Mark 1 Fusion-Torpedo was the successor to the original "Fusion Ball" weapons carried by the BC-303's in an anti capital-ship role which had been basically just scaled up versions of the hand-held "Blaster Bomb" guided mini-nukes Loki issued his troops. In fact the front end of the Fusion-Torpedo was much the same weapon, it was just strapped to the front of a much larger first-stage consisting of the gravity/induction drive from an F-302. The first stage provided the weapon with a much greater effective range and meant the elerium fuel of the second stage could be used for manoeuvring and avoiding point-defence fire rather than simply getting the warhead to its target.
With the range only measured in hundreds of kilometres the first stages of the four Fusion-Torpedoes the Daedalus fired from her bow tubes burned up all their fuel at maximum rate, built-in afterburners opened up all the way and swiftly accelerating their payloads to a huge velocity. Once the first stages ran dry the second stage separated and accelerated away before starting a series of rapid and random manoeuvres, jinking to throw off the fire coming from the myriad darts now desperately trying to shoot them down.
Three of the warheads reached their targets, the darts had been lucky to hit one of them, but the remaining ones that got through reached their mark and contact detonated. The twelve-hundred megaton naquadah-enhanced warheads were nothing compared to the Tollan UFT Bombs but they still blasted three massive holes you could fit a Ha'tak into in the side of the hive, crippling it as a wave of secondary explosions both inside and across the surface of the ship began.
As the Sher-Mal
fired its next phase-shifting missiles the the Tollan Cruiser detected that the wraith ships were now broadcasting high-powered energy on a new frequency. They realised what it was when the missiles they had fired got within a hundred kilometres of the nearest wraith capital ship and suddenly became visible again both to sensors and the naked eye.
'Sir the Wraith are broadcasting some kind of energy like a Transphase Eradication Rod puts out' Meyer informed Caldwell. 'It's letting them target and engage the Tollan missiles.'
'How the hell are they doing that?' Caldwell asked in astonishment. 'How would they even know what to try
?' he queried in confusion.
'No idea Sir, in any case it's working for them' Meyer replied. 'The Tollan missiles aren't all that fast or manoeuvrable' she said. 'The wraith are using their darts like a defence screen.'
'Wonderful' Caldwell responded sardonically. 'We wouldn't be able to get our tactical missiles through either' he complained. The cost of a Mark 1 Fusion-Torpedo meant that most of the warheads carried by Daedalus
were mounted on cheaper conventional missiles fired from her VLS tubes. 'Alright we've got twelve more torpedoes, so we'll use them up and then see what we can do with the guns' he decided.
Her missile armament rendered ineffective the Sher-Mal
still had plenty of punch and bolts from her Heavy Ion Cannon were already cratering wraith hives and blasting huge chunks off the smaller cruisers when the wraith discovered that the tiny Avengers they had been ignoring until now were more of a problem than they might have thought. Armed with a pair of elerium plasma-beams that could each one-shot a goa'uld Al'kesh at over fifty kilometres and with a rotary-staff-cannon mounted in the rear bay firing forward over the cockpit the corvettes targeted wraith cruisers, concentrating their fire at points at which they knew thanks to the study of the cruiser found on the Lantean ocean floor were the weakest. Faster than the darts, at least as long as their elerium fuel held out which wouldn't be too long if they had to keep evading them, the Avengers kept moving so they wouldn't be overwhelmed and they slashed at the smaller ships escorting the hives inflicting what they hoped would accumulate into the death of a thousand cuts.
As for the sixteen F-302X fighters their pilots were soon overjoyed to find out they could accelerate marginally harder going in reverse than a wraith dart could forwards. This soon developed into a mad dash with Grim Reapers going backwards at full throttle picking off the squadrons of darts pursuing each of them one by one with the front-firing lasers mounted internally in their wing-roots. Every time the wraith realised the apparent futility of it and broke away, the F-302 pilots would head for the nearest wraith capital ship and fire the plasma-beams slung on the inner pylons under their own wings at them until the darts gave chase again.Daedalus
picked a wraith hive as a target of its own and closed to where it could accurately put down fire on the weaker points of the hull with its secondary armament, including the dart launch bays and weapon emplacements.
As the Daedalus
moved to within fifty kilometres from its prey the eight beam turrets on the 304 began to fire, each beam cutting deep into the hull triggering internal explosions as the beam of superheated relativistic plasma chewed through the organic hull. The same weapons as were carried on the Avengers and Grim Reapers the beam cannons could recharge and fire again every twelve seconds and they hurt, though not as much as the main gun did when Colonel Caldwell ordered Kleinman to unleash it.
With over six times the raw firepower of the smaller plasma beam cannon and designed to have a longer beam duration the main gun lanced through the armour on the hive almost like it wasn't there and cut deep into the heart of the wraith vessel. Meanwhile the twin rotary-staff-cannon mounted to its left and right began to fire continually, the relentless pummelling sending pieces of the hive spiralling into space.
Closing in meant that Daedalus
was taking more fire itself however. At long range the relatively low velocity of wraith bolts meant you could avoid them by making random changes in position but at this range even though the battlecruiser wasn't being stupid enough to stay still the Deadalus
was nonetheless being struck increasingly often, Asgard shields straining to recharge between each blow, sucking all the energy they could from the ships naquadah reactors.
The second shot from the main gun on the BC-304 hit something vital and not only did the hive stop manoeuvring all its own guns fell silent. Colonel Caldwell didn't have the luxury of finishing it off, he was now surrounded by a swarm of darts and he wanted to try and cripple another hive before he had to flee. Turning the nose of the Daedalus
about the bridge crew cheered when they almost by complete accident blew twenty or more darts in tight formation to pieces with the still firing twin rippers and then shot a hole right through a wraith cruiser with the main gun when they found themselves lined up with the unfortunate vessel.
In addition to the eight plasma-beam turrets the Daedalus
also carried twenty-four laser cannons intended to deal with enemy fighters and these had been firing continually ever since darts entered their effective targeting range. Set to fire rapid pulses they weren't as effective as the more advanced and power-hungry Tracking Tracer Cannon that made it near-suicide for a dart to get near the Sher-Mal
but they were still doing a sterling job of bringing down wraith fighters until the wraith realised that the number of darts already lost in the fight was well over a thousand and climbing fast.
With the Sher-Mal
now acting as long-range fire-support, a Heavy Ion Cannon bolt smashing the nose off a cruiser which was trying to bring its guns to bear on the Daedalus
, Colonel Caldwell engaged another hive with his beam weapons for a short while before he realised that with less darts about it might be worth trying to salvo off his VLS batteries. Launching missiles from all sixteen tubes at once most were still intercepted but the ones that got through hit the target hive hard enough to cause its reactors to breach and as the hive exploded in a blinding flash Daedalus
turned about and using her Hebridan supplied Ion Engines accelerated away from the fight.
The F-302X fighters were already fleeing for the safety offered by the gun batteries of the Sher-Mal
, afterburners kept on as long as possible as their pilots tried to judge how much elerium they could afford to use up. Most of the Avengers had already left the fight, they only carried a hundred shots worth of elerium for their plasma beams and once that was used up they followed their standing orders and accelerated away, jumping into hyperspace once clear of any darts and heading back for Atlantis.
'He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day' Caldwell quoted as the F-302's came back aboard. Those wraith ships which were still capable of entering hyperspace had begun to leave themselves after taking on as many darts as they could. There were still a few crippled Hives and Cruisers left behind and the Sher-Mal
put another well-placed Heavy Ion Cannon bolt into each of them to ensure they would stay crippled for a good long time before the two human warships set course for Atlantis themselves.
Caldwell would have finished the Wraith off personally if it had been his call but Sammin on the Sher-Mal
had considered that just a little too much like murder for comfort and the Daedalus
couldn't do it on her own.
Six hours later the refuelled and re-armed Avengers returned on Colonel Vaselov's order and shot the disabled wraith ships up again just in case they were faking.
Note from the Author:The Daedalus used Asgard Transport Beaming to teleport nuclear warheads onto Hiveships and destroy them in SGA episode 2:01 The Siege (Part 3). The Wraith quickly managed to jam the beams so it couldn't be used to destroy all of them but it was a very effective tactic while it lasted. The ability of the Tollan to phase through solid matter was first seen in SG-1 episode 1:17 Enigma. Similar technology (of de-ascended Ancient origin) was later used as protection against Ori weaponry (you vanish from sight and the weapon-fire simply goes right through without causing damage). Having the two hives either side of the Tollan Cruiser put a broadside into each other was pure comedy gold to my way of thinking. Cloaking devices are not perfect in stargate. TER's could be used to detect Nirrti's personal cloaking devices. The upgraded sensors Anubis introduced on his ships could detect other vessels through goa'uld cloaks and the Superhive in SGA episode 5:20 could even detect Puddle-Jumpers (previously undetectable). Tracking Tracer Cannon are the final stage of laser development in X-COM: Interceptor. Rather than pulses they fire a lower-powered but continuous beam which cuts through shields faster than they can re-charge. Thanks to advanced targeting systems, gimballed mounts (and of course being lasers with beams travelling at 186,000 miles per second) they also never miss as long as you're in range. The Tollan have the power-generation and other technology needed to take the original X-COM lasers and improve them to the point they would be death-incarnate for something like a Wraith Dart. If you want to know how I see the Sher-Mal this picture is about right by the way!Louis Ferretti, commander of SG-2 which is an exploration team like SG-1, was with O'Neill on Abydos during the very first mission, I've had him stick around the stargate program longer than he did in canon. With the messy multi-sided war going on there isn't as much call for the kind of non-combat-heavy missions SG-1 and SG-2 get involved with so Ferretti and Carter are "grounded" for now. Putting Jennifer Hailey on SG-2 seemed like a good place for her, it gives Ferretti his own Mini-Carter. Harold Maybourne, AKA "King Arkhan", is back to help deal with the problem they're having with rogue NID agents (specifically in the aftermath of their attack on a Tok'ra base using a ship they obtained from Loki). Malcolm Barrett is a "clean" NID agent featured in a few episodes.Colonel Steven Caldwell, now Commanding Officer of the 304 Class ship Daedalus was captain of the captured Ha'tak Enterprise during the attack Anubis made on Earth (XSGCOM: Goa'uld Defence chapter 52). Captains Meyers and Kleinman were on his bridge crew when he first brought Daedalus to Pegasus. The main gun on the Daedalus is basically a scaled up version of the standard elerium Plasma Beams carried in her secondary turrets and on smaller XSGCOM craft. I've pegged it at about the same firepower as a Base-Defence Plasma Beam Cannon from the first X-COM game and it far eclipses the combined power of the two cannons taken from Sectoid Battleships that arm the Atlas for example. In canon the 304 Class carries 32 railguns and 16 VLS missile tubes. Here the railgun turrets are replaced by 8 plasma beam cannon and 24 laser cannons (all similarly sized to a stargate railgun) but the VLS battery is the same. The four bow-mounted torpedo tubes (firing naq-enhanced Fusion Balls stuck on a gravity/induction drive) provide a more effective (and more expensive) missile armament which along with the main beam and the "rippers" (as mounted on the 303's) mean that the XSGCOM version of the 304 is actually capable of taking on large enemy ships until the canon version (before it got Asgard Plasma Beam Weapons). In X-COM: Interceptor if you're flying a high-performance fighter with good engines against older, slower enemy designs you can gain yourself time to line up shots by going backwards while they gradually gain on you. The F-302X here is just about able to outrun a Dart going backwards although it's using up a lot of fuel doing so. Elerium powered fighters are very fast but they burn very expensive fuel very quickly. In a long engagement the Grim Reapers would be running on empty tanks long before the Darts were out of power. It's a nice trick the 302's were pulling but it only works for a short while. The Transphase Eradication Rod was used by the Goa'uld to detect the phase-shifted Reetou. As to how the Wraith were able to do this... well you'll have to wait and see!Oh, one of my readers over at Spacebattles Forums (Judge King) has started an XSGCOM Wiki for the series. It's only got a few articles so far but there's plenty of storyline to fill it up methinks if anyone feels like contributing!Finally I'd like to thank everyone that voted for XSGCOM: Goa'uld Defence in the Best Non AtS/BtVS Crossover Category in the 2010 Crossing Over Awards... it won!Hotpoint does the Dance of Joy