Check out our latest Fleet Action!

 

Part of USS Centaur: Mission 4: Road Not Taken and Bravo Fleet: The Stormbreaker Campaign

Prologue

The Hercules
February 2022
0 likes 1108 views

The constant pulsing alarm echoing off the walls in the room was more than enough to wake up the individual that the alarm was intended for. Hell, if louder, it could wake up the whole section of the ship. Whoever designed these alarms were clearly insane, or just a prank for those who operate and fly the ship from those who spent months, years, building the ship. A hand shot out from under the blanket and smacked the button that would silence the alarm but it kept blaring in its tormenting pulses. So the hand smacked the button again, clearly it missed for the second time before it balled up into a fist and hit the button home, silencing the alarm.

Top half of the man was uncovered by shoving the blanket off of him with the use of his hands and arms. He exhaled heavily in a deep loud sigh, whether it be of annoyance of having to wake up at five o’clock in the morning every day, or because he had to leave the bed when he alone was not the only one who occupied it. To prove that, a slender, more feminine arm slid out from the blanket from the otherside of the bed and laid across his chest, the hand grabbed his side and began to pull. In this movement, a head and top half of a woman’s back slipped out from underneath the blanket, her face grew close to his, her lips locked onto their target and made contact.

The two individuals wrestled for what seemed like ten minutes when the alarm went off once again, a loud groan of frustration and a slam of the fist silence that alarm one final time. After about thirty minutes, the two individuals were dressed in their uniforms and were half way through their breakfast when a conversation finally began. “So what do you and your team think that you can get from analyzing the…what was it?” Man asked.

“A subspace rift.” She answered as she ate her bacon, her eyes watched him closely.

“Have we not encountered these things before? I mean, other vessels?” He asked her.

She shrugged her shoulders.

He raised a brow. “Is that a professional scientific response there, Major?”

She smiled, “Please, Colonel. Every time I explain something scientifically, you start to doze off.”

“That’s because every time you do, it’s later in the day when I’m ready to get off duty. Plus I need to know why it is so damn important that we had to rush out of drydock without our entire crew.” He grinned at her.

She rolled her eyes, “All right then, I’ll explain it simply. For one, we can operate and get the job done with a skeleton crew. Two, we can’t risk this opportunity or the rift may disappear. And three, unfortunately all other ships are either busy dealing with rogue elements or other missions that they can’t be diverted. So, every rift we encountered has been different in several ways. Now, for you flyboys, appearance is a few of those. Size, shape, color and intensity, whether it be gravity waves or electrical and magnetic storms, like lightning bolts and sounds of thunder in space. Which is spectacular alone. But that’s what you see and hear through your eyes and ears. What we don’t see, is what our instruments see. Gravitational forces, radiation, no radiation, temporal displacement, fluidic space, sensor anomalies and so much more. The data we gather helps us understand the universe even more and possibly discover new technologies.”

He finished his coffee and set the mug down. “You lost me at ‘intensity’.” He joked, at which she took a muffin and tossed it at his head, where he quickly deflected it with his hands. While they were laughing and giggling, the intercom on the wall by the door chirped.

“Bridge to the Colonel.”

He sighed, “Duty calls.” He said as he stood up from the table and went over to the intercom to press the button. “Go ahead, Bridge.”

“We are five minutes from the coordinates. Should I contact the Major?”

“Negative, I’ll inform her of the news. Out.” He then looked at her. “Well, Major. Your project awaits.”

As the two individuals left his quarters, they made their way to the lift. Both their uniforms were more like jumpsuits, which had a planet with two leaves around it as a flag on the end of the shoulder, the American flag on the end of the other shoulder, a tag that said U.S. Air Force over one breast, and a tag over their other breast with their last names. Her’s said Maddison and his said Ryker.

“I’m so glad the Alliance finally approved on board relationships.” Said Maddison while the lift reached its destination and they stepped off to make their way to the Bridge.

“Yeah but the guidelines are pretty strict. If the two couples cannot maintain professionalism and their duty performance declines, then one of them ends up reassigned.” He explained to her as they approached the Bridge.

“Good thing we know how to maintain professionalism.” She joked.

He chuckled before he made it to the center chair and sat down. “All right Lieutenants, where is my report from the third shift?”

“All systems are nominal, sir.” Said Lieutenant Hayes who operated the pilot and weapons station.

“Still on course and soon to drop out of hyperspace in ninety seconds.” Said Captain Marks who operated the navigation station.

“So, really no change from last night?” Colonel Ryker asked.

“No, sir.” They both said in unison.

“Well damn.” He looked at Maddison with a smirk.

“Dropping out in five…” Marks counted down to one and then the ship returned to normal space, the subspace rift in plain sight in front of them and they weren’t even ten kilometers from it. “Holding at one hundred kilometers.”

“My god, it’s huge.” Said Maddison.

“If the Jaffa vessel had not reported this into the Alliance, some one sure would have. Damn.” Said Ryker. “How close do we need to be to run your scans?”

“Ten kilometers, maybe five.” Said Maddison as she went to her station.

“Are there any disturbances that we need to worry about?” He asked.

“From a visual point of view,” Said Hayes, seeing electrical bolts flying out from random points every five minutes, “Probably those.”

“Major?” Ryker asked.

“Bring us to twenty kilometers and I’ll have an answer on those energy surges.” She answered.

“You heard the lady, but just in case, shields up.”

“Aye, sir. Shields up, thrusters engaged, approaching the anomaly.” Said Hayes as they monitor the distance reader. She brought the ship right up to twenty kilometers from the rift.

“All right. From the readings here, the energy surges from the rift don’t appear to be too powerful. The shields should be able to take any hit we receive with no issue. You may bring us closer to five kilometers.” Said Maddison.

“Sir?” Hayes asked the Colonel.

“You heard the lady. Five kilometers.” Ryker ordered and Hayes followed, only to stop the ship right at five kilometers away from the edge of the rift. “All right, Doc. Get started on your scans, I don’t feel comfortable being this close.”

She smiled at him and started tapping away at her station. This would last for like an hour with what felt like no progress to everyone but to her, a lot of data was being recorded.

Ryker got tired of just sitting there and went over to her station, “So, what have we learned so far?” He asked.

She looked at him, her smile even bigger than before. “The most amazing thing and yet the most mind boggling.”

He raised a brow, “How so?”

He didn’t think her smile would get any bigger but it did. “Look at these numbers right here. This set of numbers is something we in the Alliance have finally been accepting as the proper way of figuring out the difference between realities. See, when Command had another…unfortunate malfunction that caused a number of individuals from alternate realities to come through that they had to find a better way of sending them back home and quantum signatures was the best way of doing it. So this set of numbers here, is the quantum signature on the other side of the rift.”

Ryker blinked at the numbers then at her. “Okay.”

She smiled, “Bare with me. Let me start here,” She pointed at some data. “This here tells me that on the other side of the rift, is in the future. By almost four hundred years.”

Ryker whistled.

“Good, you can follow.” She teased. Then she pointed back at the numbers earlier. “This here would make the reality on the other side of the rift different from ours. Basically we have our own unique quantum signature, like a security code. But here is what gets interesting. This quantum signature of that reality in that rift, is almost identical to ours, down to the last digit. Which is insane! At first I thought it was impossible because no reality would have identical signatures, but then.” She pointed at a new set of numbers, just a couple digits really. “What we discovered two years ago is that this number never changes among other realities. Which means this number is a universal signature.”

Ryker shrugged his shoulders.

She grinned at him, “Let me put it this way. This set of numbers is like our universe’s operating system and the quantum signatures are the hardware and we are the software. You, me, this ship, our hyperdrive, power cores, everything. This number should never be different, at least we believed it to be impossible for it to be different.”

Ryker raised his brows, “Because…if that universe is a different operating system…if we crossed over, some things won’t work?”

She smiled at him, “Yes! You got it! Well, most of our software will work. We know each computer uses the same hardware, but certain software does not work for certain operating systems. Of course, you and I will be fine. The system that I believe that will be affected the most, would be the hyperdrive. If for some reason we crossed over, and we tried to use our hyperdrive, the math would fail because the system is incompatible with that operating system. It would basically have to be rewritten, adjust some properties and other settings…only would know what exactly if we were to be on the other side of the rift…in order to make the hyperdrive work.”

Ryker stood up straight with a hmph. “So, if we went through, we would be stranded. No faster than light capabilities.”

“Either not for a while or never. It really depends. But this is what is intriguing the most, is these two sets of numbers. Because the universe on that side of the rift is a completely different universe, which we all thought to be impossible, would explain why these numbers, the quantum signatures, would be practically identical, which is also impossible. This rift breaks the laws of physics that we know of! It’s going to blow the minds at the science institute at the Alliance Headquarters. And what is more intriguing is that it is three hundred and seventy-eight years into the future!!”

Ryker rubbed his chin, “So let me get this straight. Different quantum signatures define…different events in one’s reality?”

She could not make her smile go away even if she wanted to. “Yes! Our humanity has encountered alternate realities before, ones where Command has fallen due to the unsuspecting attack and unable to repel it. Or due to different choices having been made.”

“So then, this signature, being identical to our own, would mean certain events have played out exactly as ours have?” He asked.

“Almost identical, there is a minor variance down to the point. But yes! I think the only thing that could potentially be identical is right down to our home planet. Events on Earth must have happened perfectly the same as ours did, except for maybe what happened back in Egypt long ago.” She explained.

“Forming of Command, the missions that saved our planet countless times, then the galaxy and other galaxies.” He added.

“Yes!!” She relaxed into her seat and let out a huge sigh of relief, trying to calm herself from this discovery. “Even though these numbers are almost identical, its the two numbers behind the decimal point that are different. We’ve never had that before. Ever!”

“Sounds like your project is going to be the storm of the century back home.” He smiled.

She laughed, “Oh you bet. There are going to be scientists arguing for years about this.”

Unfortunately, what little did they know is, while they were focused on scanning the rift, they did not detect the incoming three Wraith Cruisers and their combined Dart Squadron until the first Cruiser fired and the blue bolt hit the aft shields.

When the deck lurched a bit, Ryker grew concerned. “Was that the rift?”

Hayes checked her sensors and then her eyes widened. “No, sir! We got three Wraith cruisers behind us and a squadron of Darts closing in fast!”

“Shit! Battlestations!” The main lights dimmed and then the Bridge was illuminated by low level blue lights. “Bring us about and prepare to open fire!” He ordered as he sat back down into his chair.

Hayes began to enter commands but when one of the blue bolts from the Wraith cruisers that were wildly firing at the vessel went and hit the rift, it began to become unstable. “I can’t get the thrusters to respond. In fact, we’re being pulled in!” She said as the ship lurched again from enemy fire.

Ryker pushed himself up out of his chair. “Thrusters to full reverse.”

“Already done, they’re only slowing our forward motion.” Reported Hayes.

“At least those three cruisers confirmed Alliance Commands suspicions.” Said Marks, as the ship lurched again.

“I can’t believe that a hive took the risk of a long journey between galaxies to set up base in this galaxy!” Said Maddison.

“Yeah and we need to tell Command about it. Lieutenant Patterson, can you contact Command?” Ryker asked the one manning the comm station.

“Negative, sir. I think the rift is interfering with our communications.” Patterson reported.

The ship continued to lurch from each hit it took. Ryker was given no other option. “Engage the point defense system for the fighters and divert auxiliary power to the aft shields. We don’t have the manpower to launch fighters to deal with the Darts. But I’m going to the chair, I’ll deal with the cruisers.” He was about to leave when he remembered something and turned to face Maddison. “You have the conn.” And then he was gone, bolting down the corridor to the lift to take it down to the chair. It took a matter of minutes and several more deck lurching under his feet from weapons fire before he made it to the chair, where he sat down and activated the drone system.

Outside of the ship, just behind the missile bays, a circular door opened up and dozens of large ancient drones came flying out and headed straight for the cruisers. The Darts that were still closing the distance to their ship tried to intercept the drones via kamikaze, taking some of the drones out in the process but plenty of them made it across the gap of space between them and began piercing through the hulls of the cruisers, striking the most critical sections, their power cores. This took several drones to each cruiser to eliminate them but once they were gone, he launched more drones to try to assist the point defense system in taking out the Darts.

“Colonel! We’re going to cross through the rift!”

“Is there no way of stopping our forward motion?”

“Negative!”

Ryker then saw three Darts making a run for their port hangar bay. “Shit!” He cursed loudly as he tried to intercept them with the drones. Drones were exceptionally faster but the Darts had a head start. One of them collided into the door, creating a large hole, while two of them got through and landed. He used up the remaining drones to finish the rest of the Darts to keep them from following the two that got in before shoving himself out of the chair. “Security detail, prepare to repel enemy intruders. Number is unknown! Rest of you, get to the emergency rooms or to the starboard hangar and hide in a jumper. Now!”

“Harry!” Maddison called over the intercom.

“Just do as I say, Janet.” He went to the closest weapons locker, entered his code and grabbed the energy rifle. He powered it up and switched the mode to burst fire and to kill. The Alliance had also switched their projectile weapons, like MP5s and P90s to energy based weapons for the purpose of proper self defense and to be set on stun at all times. Kill was for only extreme measures. Unfortunately with a rogue wraith group like these, it calls for extreme measures. Stunning them would be pointless, especially when their hive has refused to come to the negotiating table for years. Though they still keep their MP5s and P90s, among others, in case of one of those rare cases of replicator attacks but there hasn’t been a case for at least a decade or so.

“You can’t do this alone, Harry!” She said over the intercom.

“I won’t be alone, Janet. Now follow my orders! Please.” He raised the rifle up, butt to shoulder, ready to fire as he proceeded to head for the port hangar bay. Meanwhile, the ship proceeded through the rift and right on the otherside was a ship that no one knows about, as no one was on the Bridge to see, so they would be completely unaware of a strange looking vessel before them that attempts to make contact. The name did appear on scanners on the science station, that no one manned at this time as everyone evacuated to emergency rooms to secure themselves from the wraith soldiers or the starboard hangar to hide in a jumper. The name that appeared on the scanner display read USS Centaur.