Episode Six- The West Pier- Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Thirteen

A small part of space suddenly becomes anomalous. A cloud blooms with strikes of lightning lashing out from it and the Earth ship Daedalus comes out of the hyperspace window. It heads straight for the planet the Atlantis Expedition has designated PWW-014. It’s a jewel from space. Spherical and a breathtaking mixture of emerald and sapphire and pearl. Just like Earth. And just like on their home planet, sometimes the help comes from the skies.

 

 

The Daedalus’ bridge, once illuminated by semi-bright lights set to sunset conditions have been tempered down to practically obsolete by the overwhelming red lights of the alert conditions status she’d travelled here under, creating an unusual blend of lighting situations, is abuzz with activity. Men and women uniformed in khaki green jumpsuits rush around. Everyone making sure to get where they need to be when they need to be there with everything they’re supposed to have at their disposal. Final preparations underway. Heading into the final stages. From here on out the only thing expected of this tightly run crew was nothing short of the best it could give. Surprises were going to be the only thing out of their control and even then it wasn’t going to be for long. Colonel Steven Caldwell once again presides from his command chair, eyeing the planet out the windows of his ship’s bridge.

“Status update,” he demands.

Lieutenant Stuart answers, “Doctor Zelenka says they still aren’t getting the plasma beam to accept the anti-virus program.”

Caldwell sighs, “Patch me to him,” then, “They’ve had the whole trip over here,” he complains under his breath.

“We know that, Colonel,” the Czech scientist’s irked voice comes over the bridge’s speakers, “That is why we have come up with a backup plan.”

“Which is,” Steven demands.

“You have to take the Daedalus into close stationary orbit over the place where the ship’s scanner’s detect the Stargate is and usek a shield burst to transmit the anti-virus down to the planet’s Stargate.”

That’s not going to work, Steven frowns, “How? Even in orbit we’ll still be too far away for the burst to have enough strength to reach the planet’s surface with any force.”

“That is why we are going to upload the anti-virus into the shielding and connect the three generators as well as rely upon the Daedalus’ own abilities to power its shielding at maximum. That should give the burst enough strength to allow the anti-virus to reach the Stargate and download into it at the same frequency as one of the Stargate Network’s systems’ update programs.”

Steven starts nodding, Okay, now that sounds like it might work. “Get on it, Doctor,” he turns to Bishop, “Establish a stationary orbit close to the planet directly over where the Stargate is.”

Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Bishop nods, “Yes, Sir.” The dark-skinned man quickly goes to work on his console.

 

 

A surge of its thrusters propels the Daedalus gently forward. Closer to the planet. Then its forward thrusters engage and the ship brings itself to a controlled stop.

 

 

Patrick looks over at the Colonel and nods.

Caldwell opens the radio link to Zelenka back up, “Doctor Zelenka, we’re in position. Waiting on you.”

Frustrated sounding Czech comes over the bridge speakers at a mile a minute. Even though he doesn’t speak the language, Steven’s pretty sure from the sentiment that there’s undoubtedly curse words being flung around all over the place down there. Steven stays silent, but with a lopsided smile on his face while Doctor Zelenka puts his frustrations to good use like usual. After a few more minutes of sputtering in his native tongue, the good Doctor regains himself enough to speak English again.

“It is done. Please power up the shields, Colonel.”

Caldwell refocuses his gaze out the windows ahead of him again. Zeroing in on the planet so close below them.

“You heard the man,” he tells his crew, “Raise the shields to full power and transfer control of them over to Doctor Zelenka and his team. Doctor, it’s up to you now.”

There’s more Czech. Most likely all of it curse words. Then…

“Thank you, Colonel.” Spoken in a thickly accented, tight and terse voice.

Caldwell nods as his eyes remain trained out the windows in front of him. His smile becomes a little less lopsided.

 

 

An oval of multi-colored, multi-hued light quickly shimmers into existence around the Daedalus.   The shields’ intensity starts growing brighter and brighter as the power builds in them. When the shielding becomes so bright that the ship is barely visible inside of the artificial ellipse of peacock-colored light anymore, it explodes. Bursting away in a brilliant shockwave. The frost of pastel iridescence quickly travels down to the planet’s surface. Dissipating back to invisibility as it goes. Losing itself in the heavy puffy cloud cover of the world’s atmosphere.

 

 

Still sitting, waiting, in his command chair, Colonel Steven Caldwell gets restless at the fact that he can’t see the shield’s shockwave anymore. He tries hard not to appear too itchy to his subordinates. Too cracked in the façade of command. But his fist hits the control panel on his chair’s armrest, radioing Zelenka.

“Did we succeed?” He asks and masks the urgency in his voice with stern demanding.

He get’s nothing except for the crackle of radio silence.

“Doctor Zelenka. Was the plan a success?” He orders and the man better give him an answer this time. The scientist won’t like what’s beyond stern orders. Steven’s never had to get mad at his crew. The Atlantis bunch, sure; his anger is always palpable with them. As far as he’s concerned they have no respect for their Chain of Command and that has always resulted in them butting heads on basically everything, of course he’s gotten mad at them before. He refuses to do it again. This time he’ll be more than just mad. And that’s a dangerous thing only opponents in hand-to-hand combat have seen from him…

There’s coughing over the bridge’s speakers. Radek Zelenka’s coughing.

 

 

Radek tries in vain to swat away the dark putrid smoke filling up the small cramped room as other Atlantis personnel behind him struggle to get the room vented properly by keeping every door open until the fire suppression system kicked in and sucked all the smoke out for them. It’s a decent effort, but there’s too much smoke and it’s resulting in a pitifully slow vent. To add emphasis to the smoke and the futility of the swatting and venting, the naquadah generator plugged into one of the Daedalus’ computer walls right in front of the gagging scientist sparks brightly. Spewing another fat puff of black acrid smoke into the air along with a quick firework burp of golden sparks. As if not to be left out, the other two generators lined up next to it spark, sputter, and spew as well. Radek shrinks away from the fire spitting as do two other members of his team, one temporarily holding back the use of the fire extinguisher in their hands until their done wincing away from the vomiting of the generators. When it’s safe, he stands back with his back to the opened door to the room and let’s his extinguisher’s contents loose at the generator farthest away from Radek as the science team leader finally answers the radio.

“Yes, Colonel, it did. But we have overloaded the shield generators. I am afraid that we are defenseless until we can fix the problem.”

 

 

Steven fights the sigh in his throat. He has to roll his head a little to shake out his tension kinks, but he reigns himself in quick enough. “What’s the damage down there, Doctor? Can you start getting the shields back online right away?” At least he won’t have to get dangerous on the seemingly hapless Czech scientist. No combative opponent here yet.

There’s more coughing for an initial reply.

 

 

Radek starts nodding at the intercom, “I really cannot tell right now. There is too much smoke. Everything appears to be well within our capabilities to repair, Colonel, and we are already trying to do what we can.”

 

 

Caldwell nods. They’ll just do as they normally do and take the problems one at a time like usual. “Thank you, Doctor. I’m sending you all the engineering teams I have.”

Steven turns his chair and looks over at a technician standing by behind him and nods at her waiting eyes. She immediately turns toward the computer panel beside her, opens an internal communications line, and starts issuing the order for all engineering teams to report to the shield generator room as soon as possible. She repeats it again, adhering to the strict protocols of urgency and efficiency. Repetition ensures that no one misses the call to duty.

Suddenly the lead communications technician announces, “Sir, we’re receiving a transmission from the planet’s surface. It’s the gate team.”

“On speakers,” the Colonel demands, turning his command chair back around to face the bridge view of the planet.

Mark does as ordered and the voice of the gate team leader fills the bridge in mid-sentence.

“…ine. I repeat, this is Major Ray Urbaniak. If anyone is out there getting this, we are all fine. I repeat, we are all fine down here.”

“Major Urbaniak, this is Colonel Steven Caldwell onboard the Daedalus. It’s good to hear your voice. How about the Genii?”

The team leader sounds relieved, “We and some of Ladon Radim’s Genii took out a group of rogue Genii led by a man named Taryi who were holding us hostage. All we needed was an opportunity to act and thanks to you guys we got it. Taryi’s guys detected the Stargate coming back online without their ordering it to and us and Radim’s men got the drop on them because of the confusion. Thanks.”

Steven smiles, “Always ready to lend assistance, Major. How are the villagers doing?”

“They’re doing great, Sir. They stayed out of the way and kept their heads down while we did what we needed to do to regain control of the situation. Everything is going great down here actually. The people are grateful to us for defending them from Taryi’s Genii and are eager to establish further friendly relations with Atlantis. They’re also grateful to Radim’s Genii for the same thing and are agreeing to give them part of their harvest regardless of protection from the Wraith.”

Caldwell doesn’t like hearing that. It’s always rattled him the way situations involving Ladon Radim and his Genii always ended up benefiting them, but with what’s happening on the other planets with downed Stargates, beggars cannot be choosers.

“Sounds like you’ve got yourself a win-win there, Major,” he comments while keeping the unhappiness out of his voice.

The team leader laughs a little and Steven’s glad the Major hadn’t picked up on any disappointment or aggravation from him, “Yes, Sir, I think we do for once.”

Yes, you do for once…  “Well, I guess all that’s left is to ask if you guys want to hitch a ride back home or walk?”

There’s another little laugh, “If it’s all the same to you, Sir, we’d rather take the ride.”

Steven smiles broadly and breathes easily, “Understood, Major. Standby,” he turns his chair towards another technician, “Beam up the team as soon as you can.”

The tech nods at him and taps his radio earpiece to get that specific area of the ship to work getting the once trapped and stranded two men and two women team up on some place other than a planetary surface among villagers that didn’t really help them or a bunch of frien-nemies that could turn on them as soon as helping them proved to be antithetical to their own personal motives. Caldwell taps a button on his armrest, radioing Zelenka again.

“Doctor Zelenka, how is it looking for making the trip over to M1W-001 then back to Atlantis?”

 

 

Radek straightens up from pulling the plug from the last generator. Two of his team’s members take the cooled and dead energy device out of the thoroughly ventilated room alongside a couple of Caldwell’s people doing the same thing with one of the other generators, “Let me check, Colonel.”

He walks over to the nearest computer console, sits down, and starts bringing up the information he needs. He does a quick double-check then nods at the screen.

“We are fine for both jumps into hyperspace, Colonel, but we should control our speed so as not to push the stress on the hull,” Radek taps at the controls again, “And it is imperative that we make the journey in two jumps. One prolonged jump is simply not safe with the repairs we have made to the shields so far. All the Daedalus can sustain safely is short-term, not long.”

 

 

That’s all he needed to know, the Colonel in the big chair nods, “Understood, Doctor.”

He turns his head towards Mark’s general direction, “Lieutenant Stuart, send a message to Atlantis informing them of the mission’s success as well as the Daedalus’ status and where we’re going next. As soon as we have the gate team onboard and the message sent, let’s go save another team then head back, people.”

Lieutenant Mark Stuart and Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Bishop nod and go to work at their stations with smiles on their faces. Like everyone else on the bridge of the Earth ship.

 

 

The BC-304 designed ship stays still for a few moments then the electric cloud of a hyper window opens a small distance away from it. The Daedalus starts moving, smoothly angling her trajectory towards it, and plunges into the cloud’s center.

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