Season: season 4
Series: Stargate SG-1
SG-1 pass through the wrong side of a stargate and find themselves stranded 70,000 light years from home.
No dough, no foul.
Your duty has taken you far from home. You live in constant uncertainty - always watching your back, never sure when or whether you'll see Earth again. In such circumstances, you rely more than ever on the solidity of the command structure. You have to know that your fellow officers are behind you one hundred and ten percent - not distracted by personal issues like fraternization.
But it's not easy. The longer you work together as a group, the stronger the bonds between individuals grow - stronger, perhaps, than your loyalty to the chain of command. In normal circumstances, officers would be rotated out to prevent such problems, but yours are not normal circumstances.
Years pass as you struggle on through constant battles, emergencies, deaths and, sometimes, resurrections. You're no longer quite sure where your allegiance lies - with shadowy figures back on Earth or out here at the far side of the galaxy, where young civilizations and new feelings struggle to be born. You've pushed your own feelings aside so often that you're not even sure what they are. When you look in the mirror, you don't recognize the steely eyes staring back at you.
It was one of those days. Death gliders swooped over the mountainside like angry hawks, ripping up the low foliage around the Stargate with staff cannon fire. Daniel choked at the smell of ozone and burnt vegetation as SG-1 ran for the gate. Jack and Teal'c were exposed; they circled around the gate to the rocks behind it.
"Dial, Daniel," Carter shouted as she laid down fire to cover him. Half of SG-3 retreated to the sparse cover behind the Stargate, while the other two marines held their ground just beyond the splash radius of the opening wormhole.
"Down," Carter said, and dragged Daniel behind the DHD as the sleek forms of the gliders came around again. The ground shook beneath them and they grabbed the lip of the DHD. Carter was still shouting, but Daniel could make nothing out over the roar, all out of proportion to the gliders' weaponry.
"What was that?" he shouted back at her; she couldn't hear him either. The ground had stopped shaking but the wind was roaring in their ears.
"--have pulled back," Sam shouted in his ear. Daniel caught only the end of the sentence. "Wind," was all he heard of the next one. When he could finally see through the dust, he couldn't believe his eyes. The whole side of the mountain had sheared away in front of the Stargate, presumably under fire from the death gliders. There was no sign of the two marines who had been standing there a minute before - only the DHD remained on this side, slightly to the right of the gate itself and cut off from the mouth of the wormhole by the new cliff.
Something hit him in the back; he turned to strike it away, but Sam had grabbed the rope and was already tying it around his waist. O'Neill and Teal'c held the other end. Rocks from the mountainside above thundered past them, some passing through the Stargate itself and disappearing through the open wormhole.
Sam had clipped her belt to the rope and was already climbing through the barrage of rubble towards the Colonel's position thirty meters behind and above the gate. The last two marines slid down the dissolving slope towards the wormhole, aiming for home.
"No!" Daniel shouted, but only Sam heard him. She turned around, still climbing, and watched the marines pass through the gate. She scanned the sky, but the gliders were still out of sight. Daniel choked on the dust and could say no more.
They reached O'Neill and Teal'c behind their sheltering rock, facing the gate. Sam asked Daniel, "What is it?"
"We're on the wrong side."
O'Neill ran the rope through a clip on his own belt. "There's only one side now, Daniel." He tied if off around Teal'c's waist. "One side, no waiting."
"But we've never gone through the wrong side of a stargate." Daniel hoped Sam would back him up.
"Theoretically, it shouldn't matter," she said. "The event-horizon only has one side, like a 4-dimensional Klein bot--"
Teal'c interrupted, pointing up the mountain. "O'Neill, the gliders are returning."
"Right," O'Neill said. "Everyone runs for the gate. Spread out as far as possible until you reach it."
"But--" Daniel said as Jack pushed him. He slipped and slid down to the gate like he'd seen the marines doing. "This is not a good idea," he added, though no one was listening. He tried to stop himself at the base of the gate but his momentum carried him right through the wormhole.
It was very, very cold.
It was one of those days. The starship Voyager had taken a small detour off its route home to investigate a Borg debris field. Tom Paris was at the helm; his feeling in the matter was that where there was smoke there was fire - or in this case, where there were Borg bits there were Borg. The long-range sensors indicated the wreck of an entire unimatrix.
Harry was at Ops; he read out the latest sensor reports. "We're approaching the debris field now." He put the new images up on the main viewscreen. The wreck of countless cubes and other Borg stuff was a gratifying sight, though Tom felt there was something off about the picture. He hoped it didn't mean the return of Species 8472 to the Delta Quadrant, but who else could have done so much damage to the Collective?
The ship shook. "We've fallen out of warp," Tom reported.
"Structural integrity down to 30%," Harry said. "Hull breaches on decks five and six have been contained. Repair teams are on their way."
Janeway hit her comm badge. "Bridge to Engineering."
Lt. Torres responded. "Engineering here. The warp field just collapsed."
"Was the core damaged?" Janeway asked.
The disembodied voice of Tom's wife hesitated. "Not that I can tell, Captain," she said, "but I can't restart it. The field just won't form."
Tom had a bad feeling about that, but Tuvok had found no signs of subspace mines or other weaponry. Janeway ordered him to continue under full impulse. Without warp power, the debris field had gone from moments away to hours. Janeway and Harry left for engineering; Tom twiddled his thumbs and listened to damage reports.
He had slipped into a daze by the time his screen went dead. "Damn," he said, "not this thing again."
Tuvok had remained alert at the conn for the past hour. "Lieutenant Paris--" he said automatically, but his Vulcan chastisement ended prematurely as he looked at his own console. "Yes, this 'thing' again," he said. "Perhaps it explains the destruction of so many Borg vessels."
Tom hit the dead helm controls in frustration. "It certainly explains the failure of the warp field."
All the bridge consoles displayed a single symbol: omega, the final letter of the Greek alphabet.
By the time SG-1 tumbled through the stargate, Lt. Morrison and Major Warren had already set up a perimeter. Teal'c, bleeding from a gash on his head, undid the rope around his waist. Daniel rubbed his arm as he stumbled away from the gate to join the others. His own end of the rope had been severed somewhere along the way.
Sam was lying on the sand with O'Neill kneeling beside her, holding up her head. In the twilight, Daniel could just make out a bruise on her throat. The moonlit landscape around them was composed of rolling hills, or, judging from the dry air and the grit beneath Daniel's feet, sand dunes.
"This is not Stargate Command," Teal'c said. Daniel just shook his head.
"Dorothy," O'Neill said softly, "we're not in Kansas anymore."
Sam sat up. Her voice was hoarse as she said, "Maybe we've found another Earth gate."
"Moon's the wrong size," O'Neill said, pointing at it.
Sam squinted at the reddish sky. "It could be atmospheric distortion."
O'Neill pointed again. "Other moon's the wrong size, too."
She leaned back and closed her eyes. Major Warren had been listening in; now he said, "Colonel O'Neill?"
"Have you ever seen a red wormhole before?" he asked.
Daniel plopped down on the sand with an audible sigh.
"Get up and start dialing, Daniel," O'Neill ordered.
He hauled his butt back up again and trudged over to the DHD. Behind him, he heard Jack ask Sam, "Did he dial that right?"
"Yes, sir," she said. "I watched him do it."
Daniel looked down at the DHD and tried to blink nonexistent sand out of his eyes. Try as he might, he couldn't focus on the glyphs. When he did, he looked up at the gate itself. "Jack?"
"What do you mean, you can't?" O'Neill jumped up and joined him beside the DHD. "Do I have to do it myself?" He reached for the first glyph, then slowly drew his hand back.
"See what I mean?" Daniel walked over to the gate for a closer look.
Teal'c remained beside Sam, but he watched his companions with interest.
"What's wrong with the glyphs?" Jack asked. When Daniel didn't answer, he raised his voice. "Daniel! What's with the glyphs?"
"I don't know!" Daniel tried to make out the lower glyphs on the stargate. They were hard to see by moonlight. "I told you not to go through the wrong side of the gate."
"Right," Jack replied. "Next time we'll just stay behind and be snake-bait."
Sam struggled to her feet. Teal'c, having failed to restrain her, aided her as she limped over to the DHD to see for herself. She leaned against the dial and stared at the glyphs for a long time.
"This is amazing," she finally said. "See how some of the symbols are inverted or reversed, and most of them are rearranged?"
"No," Jack said.
Sam gave him that look. "Well, they're our glyphs, but not in the right arrangement."
"Can we dial Earth anyway?"
Daniel shook his head. "I'm not sure which one is the planet of origin. That glyph has moved, too."
Sam agreed. "We'll need to study this, sir," she said.
When she saw the Omega on all the engineering consoles, Janeway entered her security code to unlock the main computer, then sent Ensign Kim to Astrometrics with orders for Seven of Nine. Visuals of the Borg debris field filled the viewscreens, and Seven of Nine was pacing from console to console. "Time for Plan Omega," Harry said.
"I must analyze this data further," Seven insisted.
"You can analyze it after we're done." He stepped up to a console and began to prepare the deflector array.
She argued with him. "We cannot proceed on insufficient data."
"I know it doesn't make much sense," Harry said sympathetically, without stopping his preparations, "but we have to comply with the Omega Directive. Subspace has already been permanently damaged in this area."
He had entered the iso-frequency before she made her next protest. "It is physically impossible."
"You've seen the Omega particle and the destruction it can cause. You said the Borg were looking for it." He moved to another console to verify the density of Omega molecules in the debris field. "Apparently they found it."
"The Borg seek perfection. These cyborgs, however, found it long ago."
"You talk about them as if they weren't Borg." As far as Harry and the sensors could tell, the debris field contained the remains of a typical Borg unimatrix, except for the traces of what the Borg called Particle Zero-One-Zero.
Seven placed a hand on his arm to restrain him. "The Borg first heard of the Particle Zero-One-Zero 229 years ago when Species 262 was assimilated. These cyborgs, however, isolated the Omega particle four hundred years ago. This unimatrix used it as their sole source of energy."
"And look where it got them," Harry said, his mind on ways to amplify the harmonic resonance from the deflector array. Then her statement sank in. He put the deflector on standby and turned to face her. "What do you mean, four hundred years ago?"
"As I said, it is impossible. The Collective did not even exist then." Despite her four years of life aboard Voyager, Seven seemed stunned by this flaw in the logical perfection of the universe. "More data is required."
His expression softened. "Well, let's concentrate on the possible for now." He superimposed his Omega particle readings over the image of the debris field on the main viewscreen. The beautiful but deadly molecules were represented as points of blue light.
Now that he saw them this way, he had to agree with Seven - these Borg were not merely experimenting with Particle 010. The blue glow appeared exactly where power matrices and transwarp drives would have shown up in a normal unimatrix. In the more scattered debris from cubes which had been blown apart, the remaining Omega molecules followed a trajectory that indicated they had been thrown out from the very center of the explosion.
He put those thoughts aside for the time being. "Fortunately, most of the particles seem to have been destroyed in the explosion."
"They caused the explosion," Seven said.
It seemed impossible that the power grid of an entire unimatrix would explode simultaneously that way. She was distracting him again - Harry tried to make his point. "Therefore, the density of molecules is low enough for us to attempt to destabilize their atomic bonds by using the iso-frequency you discovered the last time we encountered Omega. But I'd like to modify the deflector array for more harmonic resonance. Otherwise, we'll have to chase every one of these particles down on impulse power."
"We would never succeed."
"My point exactly," Harry said, grinning.
Seven began to enter equations into a console. "I can increase the resonance by 32%. Even so, we will require at least twelve hours to neutralize the Omega particles."
"Thank you, Seven. I'll tell the Captain."
They set up camp some distance uphill from the stargate. Lt. Morrison took the first watch, scanning the horizon with a pair of night-vision goggles. O'Neill directed his own digital scope at the sky.
"I told you not to go through the wrong side of the gate."
Jack didn't move a muscle as he said, "Put a sock in it, Daniel."
Daniel was obligingly silent for a while. He lay under an emergency thermal blanket, staring up at the unfamiliar stars and wondering what had so fascinated the Colonel. Eventually, he couldn't help asking, "Is everything OK up there?"
"Ah." Daniel looked for signs of mayhem in the skies, but without a death glider, pyramid ship, or black hole bearing down on him, he didn't know what to watch out for. A disturbing thought came to mind, and he asked, "We are still in the right galaxy, aren't we?"
"Yes," Jack said slowly, "we're in the right galaxy." He paused a beat. "We're just in the wrong universe."
Daniel propped himself up on one arm. "Uh, maybe we should wait for Sam to wake up before we rush to any conclusions."
Jack gave him a pitying look. "If it makes you feel better," he said.
"No, not much," Daniel replied.
Jack handed him the scope. "Take a look at that," he said, pointing at a bright, blurry star.
Daniel found it. "That's a galaxy, right?"
"It's nice," Daniel said. "So what's wrong with it?"
"See the spiral arms?"
"They're going the wrong way."
Daniel handed the scope back. "Are you sure?" Jack just looked at him. "I mean, a change in chirality is big. Really big. I'm not sure it's even possible."
"Things spinning in the opposite direction," Daniel explained.
"That's what I said."
"Well, chirality usually refers to massless particles like neutrinos, not galaxies." Daniel paused. "Galaxies...well, that's big."
Jack put the scope to his eye again. "Yes, galaxies are big."
Two shifts later, Tom was back at the helm. The cubes came out of nowhere, spouting green phaser fire and threats of assimilation. The Captain leaned forward in the big chair. Chakotay stood in Harry's place at Ops, the sensors still reporting conflicting data about the Borg debris field they'd come here to investigate.
"Evasive maneuvers," Janeway ordered.
"Aye, Captain," Tom said, his voice barely carrying over damage reports already streaming in. He thought he smelled smoke, but maybe he was just imagining the worst already.
"Transferring power to aft shields," Chakotay said. "Shields are down thirty percent. Inertial dampeners are failing."
Tom ducked and weaved from one end of the ruined unimatrix to the other. Without warp power, evasion could only last so long.
"Firing photon torpedoes," Tuvok said. Tom couldn't tell what he was aiming at until it exploded.
"Direct hit on Borg debris." Chakotay sounded pleased with his readings. "Munitions explosion in the Borg debris. The cube has been damaged. They're falling back."
"Only three to go," Tom muttered as he twisted Voyager around the skeleton of a tactical sphere.
He was suddenly dizzy; Chakotay's announcement told him why. "Inertial dampeners are off-line."
"We're almost there," Tom said.
Tom saw a flash as a line of green fire cut across the ship.
"Aft shields down 40%." Chakotay was no longer pleased.
"Engaging tractor beam," Tuvok said. The ship rocked as the tractor beam locked on to a wad of debris.
Chakotay said, "It's working."
"What's working, Commander?" Janeway checked her own console.
"The Borg are backing off," Chakotay said. "They won't fire on the debris."
Janeway looked as puzzled as Tom was. "Helm, get us out of here before they change their minds."
Tom took Voyager out of the debris field at full impulse, hoping the Borg couldn't travel any faster.
SG-1 rose with the sun. Morrison and Warren were itching to scout out the territory, so Jack sent them and Teal'c out to secure a wider perimeter. He had the feeling there was no one at all on this planet, and a gnawing fear that there was no one in the whole galaxy.
He joined Daniel and Sam at the DHD, though their conversation started giving him a headache from thirty meters away. One of them had drawn the glyphs from a real DHD on the sand next to the screwy DHD, and they pointed from one to the other, all the time jabbering about reflections and rotations.
"Status?" he asked.
Sam was startled to see him. She hadn't even heard him coming - maybe he shouldn't have sent Teal'c off after all. Someone had to guard their backs from the vicious...sand dunes.
"Well," she said, "it looks like the glyphs have been permuted with some sort of group action."
Daniel nodded vigorously. Jack turned to him and said, "Don't even pretend you understood that." Daniel shrugged.
Sam was deep into her geek mode. "It's a mathematical transformation of the glyphs according to certain rules. I think it's a kind of key to where we are."
"Did you tell her about the chirality?" Jack asked Daniel.
Daniel sighed. "I was hoping that was just a bad dream."
"Chirality?" Sam asked.
Daniel answered her. "Jack was stargazing last night. It seems some galaxy or other--"
"M51," Jack said.
"--M51 is spinning the wrong way."
"Wow." Sam sat down heavily, just missing the Pisces glyph in the sand sketch. "I'm not sure that's possible."
Seven barely restrained her impatience as those who out-ranked her addressed the meeting of the senior staff. She told herself it was an inefficient waste of nervous energy, but that didn't help.
Torres reported on the progress of repairs. The warp core was still inert. She estimated that the disturbance in subspace was spherical; in another sixteen hours or so Voyager should be able to return to warp speed.
Tuvok spoke briefly of his success in discouraging the Borg with their own munitions. The news disturbed Seven, who had not inquired into the details of the battle earlier that day. According to the security chief, all three remaining Borg vessels were in pursuit, but Voyager's speed slightly exceeded theirs. Tuvok's theory was that the Borg were reluctant to risk their own ships by firing on debris that contained Omega particles.
Ensign Kim reported their success in neutralizing all remaining Omega particles in the debris field just as the Borg had arrived. He gave Seven more credit than she felt she deserved, but she had found it counterproductive to attempt to restrain his enthusiasm.
"However," Harry added, "we haven't gotten all the Omega particles. Long-range scans show signs of the Omega resonance frequency ahead of us. If the Borg get there first--"
"We'll have to find them and destroy them," Janeway said.
"How?" Chakotay asked.
Harry said to himself, "It's obvious." Unfortunately, everyone heard.
"Would you care to share it with the class, Harry?" Tom asked. The idiom escaped Seven; however, she knew what Harry had in mind.
"Sorry," he said. "We can destroy them the same way the unimatrix was destroyed - by destabilizing the Omega particles. I'll reconfigure the deflector array to produce a narrow beam instead of the wide one we used to cleanse the debris field."
Tuvok was clearly interested, but doubtful. "We would not want to be nearby when such a reaction occurred."
Harry frowned in concentration. "Maybe we could use a photon torpedo as a space mine..."
"Look into it," Janeway said.
When her turn finally came, Seven stood at the viewscreen by the now-familiar image of the Borg debris field. "I have verified that the Borg vessels which attacked us were not from the destroyed unimatrix. We should be prepared for more Borg tactical and scientific vessels to appear in this sector."
"Oh?" B'Elanna said.
"When the Borg hear of the nature of the debris field, they will investigate."
Harry changed the subject to avoid a fight between the two women. "You said the readings were unusual."
"I said they were impossible," Seven replied.
B'Elanna rolled her eyes, but Janeway perked up. "What exactly was impossible about them, Seven?" she asked.
"Everything," Seven said in unborglike exaggeration. "First, according to standard dating methods the debris field is almost four hundred years old. However, according to the Borg records we recovered, the debris dates from the present time."
"It's paradoxical," Janeway admitted, "but not necessarily impossible. Perhaps the disaster aged the materials artificially."
"Unlikely," Seven said, "but I have not finished my report on dating the debris yet."
Janeway waved for her to go on.
"The remains are those of a Unimatrix Three-Six."
Tuvok looked up. "There is no Unimatrix Three-Six."
"Maybe it's new," Tom suggested.
"The Borg could not have built twenty-five additional unimatricies in the past few months," Tuvok replied.
"So you're saying this unimatrix came from another Borg Collective?" B'Elanna said.
Seven barely deigned to answer, "There is only one Borg Collective, and there has never been a Unimatrix Three-Six."
"Then another universe," Harry said.
"That would be impossible." Seven called up another image on the viewscreen. "Borg dating is based on the rotation of the Milky Way galaxy."
"Which one is that?" Neelix whispered to Tom.
"Ours," Tom replied, ducking a scowl from Seven.
"To be more specific," Seven continued, "the angle is measured against the Andromeda galaxy. The absolute value of this angle matches the current Borg date; therefore, the unimatrix is from our own time, not the past."
Harry had picked up on a slight hesitation in Seven's last sentence. "Did you say the absolute value of the angle?"
"Yes," Seven replied. "The angle was, in fact, negative."
"And that means?" Janeway was tiring of pulling Borg teeth.
"That means the Milky Way galaxy this unimatrix came from is rotating in the other direction--"
"And chock full of unimatricies," Tom interjected.
Seven glared at him again before finishing her interrupted sentence, "--which is, of course, impossible."
Jack was bored out of his mind. Teal'c had handled his own restlessness by taking Morrison and Warren on yet another sweep of the area; now Jack was desperate for them to return and report. He tried to sit still atop his personal sand dune and scan the horizon for any signs of movement, but nothing moved except the sun.
After two hours of pure torture, he climbed down from his lookout post and headed back to the Stargate. He found Sam and Daniel spread out in the shadow of the DHD, asleep.
Sam jumped to attention. Daniel yawned and said, "Is that you, Jack?"
"Sorry, sir," Sam said. "I had a headache. Daniel was supposed to wake me up in ten."
Jack prodded him with the steel-reinforced toe of his boot. "You two are our only hope of getting out of here."
Daniel stood to avoid the boot. "We're never getting off this planet."
"Come again?" Jack turned to Sam. "Can I have that in the form of a report, Major?"
Sam, still at attention, made her report. "Sir, without a computer we won't be able to determine the correspondence between the symbols on this DHD and the ones we use in our own universe--"
Jack interrupted her. "So we'll put together a computer. There's a chip in my scope."
"Sir," Sam said, "we'd also need an accurate star chart of our own galaxy."
"It's in the scope."
Sam perked up momentarily at the news. "It is?"
"Only the best for SG-1," Jack said.
Her face fell again. "And we'd need one for this galaxy. Besides, not even the fastest supercomputer back on Earth could crack this problem. It's mathematically impossible - we'd need a quantum computer or--"
"Uncle!" Jack cried, his brain about to explode. "So what can we do?"
Once the threat of Jack's boot was removed, Daniel had settled down on the sand again. "I'd recommend farming."
Jack kicked sand into Daniel's lap. "This whole planet is a desert."
Rather than protest, Daniel looked over Jack's shoulder.
Teal'c's voice came from behind him. "Perhaps we should seek a more fertile area. You may wish to make plans for the future, and perhaps reproduce."
"What?" Sam and Jack said at once. Jack was more confused, but Sam was livid.
"There will be no reproduction," she said, "ever." She stormed off and was quickly hidden behind a sand dune.
Morrison and Warren approached the three remaining men. "What's gotten into Major Carter?" Warren asked.
"She does not wish to reproduce," Teal'c replied.
Morrison laughed, and even Daniel chuckled.
Jack was not amused. He kicked more sand at Daniel to cheer himself up. "Are you sure you don't remember anything about getting back from the wrong universe, Teal'c?"
"As I have told you several times since our arrival, O'Neill, Jaffa who have gone through the wrong side of the gate have never returned."
Tom and Harry were eating dinner in the mess hall when Voyager finally went to warp. Neelix rushed out from behind the mess line to see the stars streaking by the viewports. Since he was standing beside their table, the cook asked them, "Where do you think we're going?"
Tom answered him. "The same place we were before - the nearest habitable star system."
Neelix picked up on Tom's tone more than his words. "That's not good, is it?"
"Don't worry, Neelix," Harry began to reassure him, but Tom interrupted.
"No, it's not good." Harry glared at him, but Tom kept talking. "If we're lucky, we'll just end up stranded there forever."
"Do you think there will be more Borg debris there?" Neither of them answered. Neelix dropped his voice to a whisper. "I hear they have a secret weapon, and that's how they blew themselves up."
Tom shrugged and pushed his tray away. "I don't think anyone knows what's really going on, Neelix."
Neelix was silent for a moment. "I wouldn't mind settling down on a nice planet for a while. Maybe the Captain and Commander would finally--"
"It's not a nice planet, Neelix," Tom interrupted again.
"It's M-class," Harry said.
"It's a hair's breadth from K-class." Tom stood to go, and Harry shook his head and joined him. They left Neelix staring out the viewport at the flowing stars.
Their survival kits included fishing line and vegetable seeds. Jack never expected to see another fish, but there was a slightly better chance of finding water and soil somewhere on this desert rock. So he left Sam and Daniel at the Stargate and set off with Teal'c towards the mountains he'd spotted on one of his previous expeditions. Morrison and Warren went off in another direction, chasing clouds.
Sam expected them back in five days, though judging from her farewell five months would have suited her just fine. No one was happy about being stranded here, but being a woman alone with five men for the rest of her life was not a position Jack would have wanted to be in.
Now if it had been just the two of them... He nipped that line of thought in the bud by repeating a mental inventory of their rations, over and over again. The numbers always came up too short for forever.
Teal'c brought them to a halt for a short rest. They settled down on the slope of a lovely sand dune.
"A penny for your thoughts, O'Neill," he said.
"I was thinking about being stranded on this desert planet for the rest of our lives, Teal'c. How about you?"
"I was thinking the same." They divided a miniscule fraction of a ration bar between them. "I was also thinking that we are far away from the SGC and your more inexplicable military regulations."
Jack laughed. "Which ones are those?"
"Daniel Jackson has attempted to explain your fraternization rules to me several times. However, among the Jaffa a woman warrior is considered an excellent mate."
Jack stood up wordlessly and resumed their trek towards the mountain. Teal'c caught up with him all too quickly.
"Daniel Jackson also predicted that you would react in this manner."
Jack continued stomping and facing straight ahead as he said, "You promised not to mention reproduction again, Teal'c."
"I have not mentioned it," Teal'c replied. "I spoke of fraternization."
"We are not going to talk about fraternization, either!" Jack's voice had risen to a shout; fortunately there was no one for kilometers around to hear him lose control. Or so he thought.
Teal'c had frozen in his tracks and was pointing his staff weapon past Jack at something to his left. With a prayer that whatever it was, it was edible and slow-moving, Jack turned.
He saw three figures dressed mostly in black, about seventy meters off. They looked human. "Where the hell did they come from?" he whispered to Teal'c. The desert was flat for kilometers around.
"I do not know. There is no place where they could have concealed themselves." Teal'c began to walk toward the figures.
Jack followed, saying, "Maybe they're a mirage."
"We shall see," Teal'c said.
"Hello!" Jack shouted as they got closer.
"Hello!" someone shouted back. Now he could make them out as two men and a redheaded woman.
Teal'c stopped when they were five meters apart. Seeing the staff weapon pointed at them, they had drawn their own weapons. The thin man with blond hair waved a less pointy device in their direction.
"They're human," he said, "or at least the one on the right is. I'm getting strange readings from the other."
"I am a Jaffa," Teal'c announced. The man shrugged.
"I guess they haven't heard of Jaffa," Jack said.
The other man had a tattoo covering part of his face. "Captain," he said to the woman, "they're speaking Federation Standard."
The woman stepped forward. "I'm Captain Janeway of the Federation Starship Voyager. Can you tell me how you got here?"
Jack laughed. "They are a mirage, Teal'c. We have sun-stroke."
Teal'c did not lower his staff. "They appear to be real," he said.
"They're Star Trek characters pointing phasers at us," Jack told him. "They aren't real. We're going to drink half our water right now, and then we turn back."
"They recognized our phasers," the woman said to her companions.
Jack strode up to her. The larger man started forward, but the woman stopped him with a gesture. "Look," Jack said, "I'm busy starving to death on a desert planet. I don't need flak from my own hallucinations."
Teal'c had followed him. "How is it that we are imagining the same thing, O'Neill?"
"Because you made me watch Captain Kirk and the green Orion slave girl right before we left on this five-year mission to boldly go where no man has gone before."
"You said that you were tired of watching Star Wars." Teal'c's tone was as petulant as the Jaffa ever got.
Jack just shook his head as the Star Trek characters gave each other meaningful looks. "Did you know Captain Kirk?" the woman asked him.
"Shoot me now, Teal'c."
Teal'c did not comply. Instead, he lowered his staff weapon and touched the tattooed man's shoulder. "These people are real, O'Neill."
"I'll believe it when Scotty beams me up."
"They are slightly dehydrated, Captain," the thinner man said. "Perhaps we should beam them to Sickbay."
She shook her head. "We can beam down medical supplies if you need them, Tom. For now, I'd like to get the six of them together back at their base camp." She hit what Jack recognized as her comm badge. "Janeway to Voyager. Five to beam to the second set of coordinates."
Jack got a tingly feeling...everywhere. "You should have shot me when I asked you to, Teal'c."
Having made very little progress convincing the other four humans that Captain Janeway was real, the away team beamed back aboard Voyager. They left a security detail behind to guard the strange group from their own threats of shooting one another. The surveillance data was up on the viewscreen as the senior staff gathered in the conference room.
"What are they up to now, Tom?" Janeway asked.
"Colonel O'Neill and Dr. Jackson are mocking Lt. Ayala and Ensign Lang."
"They've been calling them 'redshirts' and taking bets on how long they'll survive the 'episode.'" Tom couldn't help grinning.
The EMH was not amused. "These people are clearly delusional. They require medical treatment."
"Sorry, Doc," Tom replied, "but there's nothing wrong with them that a little water won't cure."
"It may be a pathogen you were unable to detect." The EMH eyed Tom. "In fact, you yourself may be infected."
"If they're becoming more irrational," Janeway said, "we may have to restrain them."
Tom swallowed his grin before responding. "I don't think they're getting any worse. In fact, Admiral Kirk did have a reputation for going through security staff faster than anyone else in the 'fleet."
"The 'redshirts,'" Chakotay inferred.
"Exactly." Tom's smile reappeared.
Seven of Nine spoke up. "But this is impossible."
"That's her new favorite word," Tom whispered to Harry.
Seven glared at them, then continued. "According to your reports, these people are attired as members of a twentieth-century military force that was wiped out in the Eugenics wars, yet they claim that the year is 2001."
"So the Temporal Prime Directive is in effect," Janeway reminded them.
"How could they know about a Starfleet captain from two hundred years in their future?" Seven asked.
"They said they saw him on TV," Tom replied.
Janeway shook her head. "Setting aside the people for the moment, what can you tell me about the artifact?"
Seven's expression became even more serious, if that were possible. "Ensign Kim and I have determined that the 'Stargate' and its 'Dial Home Device' are made of a stable configuration of Omega molecules." Seven put the molecular diagram up on the viewscreen, where it rotated in all its perfect glory.
"Damn," Tom said softly.
"Lieutenant," Janeway rebuked him, tired of his interruptions.
"Sorry, Captain, but I recognize that molecule." Seven's head snapped around to face him. "That's the trace element I found in Major Carter's bloodstream, and in Teal'c the Jaffa's parasite."
"At least let me remove the parasite from this Teal'c," the Doctor begged her.
"I may have to, Doctor," Janeway replied. "The Omega Directive is still in effect."
Daniel and Jack eventually tired of the game of Mock the Redshirts. Keeping a respectful distance from their phasers, Daniel slid over to Teal'c's private sand pile.
"I'm really sorry about all this, Teal'c."
"Why is that, Daniel Jackson? You did attempt to warn us not to go through the wrong side of the gate."
"Because as long as I was dialing for sci-fi cliches on desert planets, I should have gotten us to Tatooine." Daniel started laughing even before he'd finished the joke. Jack was rolling on his own sand dune clutching his stomach.
The nice doomed redshirt who'd introduced herself as Ensign Lang came over to help him. "Are you feeling all right, Colonel? I can call the medic for you."
Jack waved her off. "Tatooine," he said, gasping for air, "Tatooine!"
As Lang backed off, Carter approached him. "Tatooine, Carter!"
"Yes, sir," she said with a grin, but didn't laugh. "Colonel, sir?"
"What is it, Carter?" he wheezed out between guffaws.
"Sir, I'm starting to think these people may be real."
Jack sat up and caught his breath. "What do you mean, real?" Lang was watching them carefully.
"Ok, so the most likely explanation is that there's something in the air or sand that's driven us all to mass hallucinations--"
"That's what you said when Teal'c and I beamed back here," Jack interrupted. "You said we were all bonkers and none of us had even left on our scouting expedition."
"Yes, sir. I had a splitting headache at the time, and while I don't mean to impugn our joint insanity, I've been thinking..."
"This is going to give me a headache, isn't it?"
"All those 'sir's are a bad sign, Carter." Jack turned to his guard. "Hey, Lang, can you get me a hypospray of analgesic?"
She rifled through the medkit Tom had left with her, but when she approached with the hypospray, Jack waved her off again. "It was just a rhetorical question, Lang."
"The redshirts never have a sense of humor," Daniel said. He and the others were gathering around to hear Sam's theory.
Sam went on. "I've been thinking, there are infinitely many possible universes, right?"
"Right," Daniel said.
"Ow," Jack added. Daniel elbowed him.
"So anything that can happen will happen in at least one of them."
Daniel agreed. "It's like the quantum mirror."
"Any possible way the Goa'uld could have destroyed the Earth," Jack said, "they will have done it in some universe."
"Right!" Sam said, then realized her enthusiasm was inappropriate for the example. "Uh, right. And in at least one of those universes..."
"Luke Skywalker is real," Teal'c said.
Sam smiled. "Well, I've been thinking about that. You know some stories just come out of nowhere and capture people's imagination? Maybe that's because we're closer to those universes in some way, and the ideas leak across to ours."
"We need to leak back," Jack said.
"I'm thinking they must have a really fast computer on that ship of theirs - what was it?"
Teal'c corrected Jack. "They called it Voyager."
Sam ignored the interruption. "They'd also have a star chart. We could figure out how to get back."
Morrison had an objection. "We didn't exactly leave P6Y-514 in good shape." He tossed a bullet from his ammo pouch. "We could go through the stargate and then straight down the mountainside." The bullet made a long swan-dive through the air to the sand.
Daniel said, "They must have something like a MALP."
"It is called a probe," Teal'c explained.
"A probe." Sam was getting excited. "We could send through a probe."
"We could get home," Daniel said, "except..."
"Except what?" Jack eyed Lang, and she backed off a few meters.
"Except that if they're real, they must think we're a bunch of raving lunatics."
"They've got that one right," Jack said. He approached Lang, and tried to sound as sane as possible as he said, "Take me to your leader."
Jack materialized in Janeway's ready room. It wasn't nearly as boxy as Kirk's digs, he thought.
"Please, have a seat, Colonel O'Neill. Can I get you something to drink?"
Jack sat down. "Do you people still drink coffee?"
"Of course," she said. "Two coffees," she told the wall, and the wall produced the beverage. She set one down in front of him and sipped from her own. "I understand you no longer think I'm a figment of your imagination."
"No, ma'am." Janeway twitched, but didn't correct him. "You have to understand, this is a very weird situation, even for SG-1."
"Weird is part of the job," Janeway replied.
Jack smiled. "I like that. Mind if I use it?"
Janeway made a dismissive gesture he decided to interpret as blanket permission. "Aside from mocking my redshirts, I take it that everything you've told us is the truth?"
"Yes, ma'am," he said, blushing. "We traveled through the stargate to your universe. We need your help to get home."
"We could use your help as well." Janeway pulled up an image on her desk screen, and turned it around to face him. "Do you recognize this molecule?"
Jack squinted at it. "It looks vaguely familiar."
"Your stargate is composed of it."
"Ah, that would be naqahdah." He looked up at her blank expression. "It's alien technology from our universe. Makes good bombs."
"We've noticed. In fact, this substance seems to have destroyed an entire--" She stopped short and began again. "Have you heard of the Borg Collective?"
"Nope. What do they collect?"
She ignored the question. "Would you know if there were a race of cyborg humanoids in your galaxy that had expanded through huge reaches of space by assimilating all other species into their ranks?"
"Well, not personally, but it sounds like something the Goa'uld wouldn't put up with."
"We've been wondering whether your stargate could have pulled a few of these Borg in along with you."
Jack shrugged. "Some of these stargates are millions of years old. There's no telling what can go wrong, especially if you hit a solar flare the wrong way. You should ask my second-in-command - she's the brains of the outfit."
"And the man you were arguing with when we found you?"
"Teal'c," Jack said, wondering how much they'd overheard. "He's the brawn."
"I see." Janeway paused. "What were you two discussing?"
Jack tried not to blush. "Uh, fraternization, ma'am. I mean, if you were going to be stranded on an untouched planet for the rest of your life with your second-in-command, what would you do?"
Janeway looked off over Jack's shoulder, as though she were really considering the question. Then she cleared her throat. "We won't leave you here, Colonel O'Neill. If you can't get home through your stargate, you can join my crew. However, fraternization is against Starfleet regulations."
"I can't believe Captain Kirk--"
"That was a long time ago," Janeway said.
"Teal'c will be disappointed."
The man with the tattoo had introduced himself earlier, but Sam had been too busy doubting her sanity to remember. Now Commander Chakotay beamed down to the stargate and made their acquaintance again. With him was the medic, Tom Paris.
Paris applied a hypospray of analgesic to her neck as Daniel hovered over them. "Neat," Sam said. "I thought it was dehydration and insanity causing my headaches."
Tom checked his tricorder. "No, ma'am," he said. "The Omega particles in your bloodstream seem to be destabilizing."
"Once more without the technobabble, please?" Daniel said.
Chakotay and Paris jumped as Teal'c discharged his staff weapon for Tuvok's edification. Sam and Daniel were inured to that particular noise.
Paris showed them an image on his tricorder. "I'm detecting this molecule in your bloodstream--"
"That's naqahdah," Sam said. "I was a host to a Tok'ra once."
"That's the thing in Teal'c's abdomen, right?" Tom asked.
"More or less," Sam replied. "What were you saying about the naqahdah?"
"It's destabilizing," Tom told her again. "In fact, we've only ever seen the unstable version of this molecule."
"Can I see what that looks like?" Sam asked.
Tom adjusted his tricorder and showed her the less-than-perfect, glowing blue form.
Sam frowned. "I've never seen naqahdah in that form before, but I can see why it's unstable." She looked to Daniel.
He shrugged. "I'd guess it's another chirality issue."
Chakotay had more mundane questions. "How long have you six been here?"
"Just for a few days," Daniel replied.
"You were getting pretty stir-crazy for such a short stay," Chakotay said.
"We had no way back. You wouldn't want to be stranded here forever, would you?" Daniel asked, indicating the sand dunes with a sweep of his hand. "Add in stupid military ideas about fraternization..."
Daniel's voice trailed off at Sam's glare. "I'm just going to go over there and help Teal'c blow up things," he said.
"Don't mind him," Sam said. "He suffers from foot-in-mouth disease."
"That's ok," Tom said, "we have stupid military ideas about fraternization, too." Sam was not reassured.
"This stargate of yours is also made of Omega particles," Chakotay said, changing the topic. "Do you have any idea what happens to them when they destabilize?"
"I imagine they'd pack a big punch," Sam said. "Naqahdah has many weapons applications." Another blast of Teal'c's staff weapon proved her point.
Chakotay told her what they knew. "When the stargate blows up, it will take out this entire solar system with it and make warp travel impossible for a thousand light-years around."
"Or so we guess," Tom added. "It could actually be worse. The Omega particles in your bloodstream alone--" He recovered his bedside manner a little too late.
"I'm a bomb," Sam said. She wasn't nearly as shocked by the idea as Tom seemed to be.
"We can neutralize the particles in your bloodstream, but the stargate is too big for our methods. We can't get 1,000 light-years away in time, either," Tom said. "That's a year's travel for us."
"Tom," Chakotay said, meaning that he was talking too much.
Sam had an idea. "Maybe you can come though the stargate with us. Naqahdah isn't dangerous in our universe."
"I don't know if I'm ready to go back to the 20th century," Chakotay said.
"It's the twenty-first century."
Daniel was fascinated by the holographic doctor in sickbay. The EMH scolded him after the first few times he'd put his fingers through an arm. He didn't like the doctor's plans to remove Junior from Teal'c or the naqahdah traces of Jolinar from Sam. Jack showed up and put an end to that discussion, though the doctor extracted a promise from him to return Sam for treatment when she was, as Daniel thought but wisely did not say, ready to blow. He hoped they would make it home, where naqahdah was an advantage to Sam rather than a death sentence.
Jack and Teal'c joined Ayala on a tour of the ship, while Sam and Daniel were sent off to Astrometrics to assist Seven of Nine and Ensign Kim. Daniel thought it was a bum deal for him, but it could have been worse - he could have been stuck on the surface guarding the gate with Warren and Morrison.
He explained the basic operation of the stargate system to the former drone while Sam downloaded the data from Jack's digital scope, scanned in the symbols from the DHD, and sketched their own stargate symbols. Seven helped them write the search program that would determine the correspondence between their own universe and this one.
When Sam asked Seven how Voyager's computers worked, she launched into a detailed explanation of the bio-neural gel-packs as well as her own Borg improvements to the computer system. Harry interrupted before Daniel came down with a bio-neural headache.
"Seven, the Captain doesn't want us to pollute the timeline."
Seven gave him .37 seconds of her attention. "These people are clearly not from our timeline." She launched back into her exposition.
"Seven," he said again.
Now she was annoyed. "Your assistance is no longer required, Ensign. You may go."
He went out in a surly mood, and Daniel was not surprised to see him return in a few minutes with Chakotay in tow. By that time, Seven was explaining her Borg origins to Sam - yet another thing, Daniel had no doubt, that she was not supposed to do.
Chakotay paused in the doorway. Seven glanced at the newcomers, but did not stop speaking. Daniel was glad to see his fellow archaeologist again, and approached near enough to overhear their whispered conversation.
"Seven worships her, Harry," Chakotay was saying. "You can see it in her eyes."
Harry didn't seem convinced. "The Borg programmed her to respond female authority figures," he said.
Chakotay ignored the bitterness in Harry's tone. "Major Carter is made of the Omega particle."
Daniel decided it was high time to join in their conversation. "It gives her godlike powers, where we come from. You should have seen her take out Seth."
"Seth?" Chakotay asked, not quite recognizing the name.
"Set, Setekh, Seth, Seti, Sutekh, Setech, Sutech - the Egyptian god of darkness. She pulverized him." Daniel looked at Sam proudly.
Seven of Nine had paused in her Borg lessons.
"She heard us," Harry said.
Seven petitioned her new deity to explain the uses of the Omega particle in her universe, and Sam obliged her. Chakotay and Harry gathered round to hear the tales of Goa'uld and Tok'ra, healing devices and ribbon weapons.
Daniel found a console on which he could watch the progress of the Stargate decryption program. A sequence of glyphs appeared as he watched, and he imagined himself back in Cheyenne Mountain, with Technician Davis announcing, Chevron 1: encoded... Chevron 2: encoded... all the way down the list. Voyager's computer paused for some time after the sixth chevron. Determining the planet of origin was always the hard part, Daniel agreed.
"Chevron 7..." he whispered hopefully, and then the final image appeared. "Locked!"
Sam rushed to his side. "Are these the final results?" she asked Seven of Nine. "That was fast."
Seven checked the readouts. "There is a 93.8% likelihood that these coordinates are correct."
"Close enough for government work," Daniel said. He felt Sam grab his arm. "Carter?"
"Daniel, I..." She fainted. Daniel wasn't quick enough to catch her, but Chakotay did. Seven called for an emergency transport to sickbay.
By the time the Borg babe reached Sickbay, the room was crowded. Jack was leaning over the local equivalent of a sarcophagus - a long, glass-topped tube in which he'd found Sam. He was doing his best to convince the overzealous medical hologram that Sam liked her naqahdah. Teal'c stood beside the tube, looking menacing even without his staff weapon. He'd had to leave it on the surface with Major Warren because the naqahdah made the Star Trek people nervous.
Lieutenant Paris claimed to be monitoring Sam's readings, but he didn't say much. Janeway had followed the hologram into his office as soon as she'd arrived, and he could still see them arguing silently in there.
Daniel pushed his way past the impressive blonde to get a look at Sam. "I don't remember any of these on the Enterprise," he said.
"They called it a stasis chamber," Teal'c informed him.
Jack watched the blonde in the skin-tight suit as she approached Lt. Paris. "What is the Major's prognosis?"
Paris whispered his reply, but not so quietly that Jack couldn't overhear it. "I don't think stasis is helping. The Omega particles' rate of decay has increased exponentially since she came aboard."
"We must return her to the surface," Seven said.
The Borg did not notice the Captain and EMH emerging from the office behind her. "Why, Seven?" the Doctor asked her. Jack was wondering the same thing.
Seven - Jack would have given her a ten, personally - called up some gibberish on one of the computer screens. "The naqahdah in the Stargate is still decaying at its original rate. I believe that Major Carter's illness is a proximity effect."
The Doctor made a show of checking Sam's vital signs. "Even if it worked," he said, "in her current state that would only buy us a few hours' time. I recommend neutralizing the Omega particles now."
Daniel spoke up. "Why don't we just go back through the Stargate? We have the sequence already."
"We do?" Jack asked.
"Ensign Kim is testing the new glyphs now," Seven said.
"Seven..." The Captain was obviously displeased.
"Major Carter is ill," the blonde said in her own defense. "Delay would have been inefficient. I sent Ensign Kim to the surface with a class three probe."
Janeway made the best of a bad situation by ordering the transporter room to beam them all down to the surface. Though Jack felt a bit sorry for Janeway, the whole Ship of the Valkyries thing was getting old. Down in Main Engineering, he'd seen the warp core and the angry Klingon woman who was in charge of it. She and Teal'c had almost come to blows over Junior's naqahdah being near her engines. General Hammond would never believe this; in fact, Jack was beginning to doubt his own sanity again.
The transporter tingle, he had to admit, was very cool. When Jack opened his eyes, he, Teal'c, Daniel, the tube, the Doctor, Janeway, Seven and Paris were back in the desert, facing the open Stargate. Just as Warren had said, the swirly bit was red instead of the wormhole's normal blue.
A man he assumed was Ensign Kim was standing on the wrong side of the gate with Warren and Morrison. A low, grey sled-like thing hovered beside them. All three were so entranced by Kim's tricorder that they didn't notice Jack's arrival. Teal'c and Daniel took up position flanking the gate while the Starfleeters remained behind, still arguing over Sam's sarcophagus.
"What's up?" Jack asked. Warren had the decency to jump.
"Sorry, sir," he said, saluting. "Take a look - it's P6Y-514."
It was. Half the mountainside was gone, but somehow the Stargate had remained in place. Something was missing, though.
"Where's the DHD?" Jack asked.
Harry handed the tricorder to Warren before trotting off to greet his Captain. Warren pointed out a pile of rocks on the tiny screen. "It's beneath this rubble. According to the probe, the crystal is undamaged. We could reconnect the DHD."
Jack shook his head. "It would take a tank to move all that, and then we'd need a way to fly up that cliff and access the right side of the gate."
Warren patted the floating grey sled. "Harry there says a few of these antigrav units could handle the weight."
Jack glanced back at the Starfleeters for a second. There were two of the sleds under Sam's stasis tube. His voice dropped to a whisper. "Warren, Morrison, get Sam over here, and add this unit to her collection."
Jack went with them. As they passed Teal'c, Jack gave him a hand signal. The Jaffa nodded.
Captain Janeway was already arguing with Harry Kim when Jack reached them. "We are not giving antigrav technology to people from the twentieth century. I don't care whose twentieth century it is."
Jack corrected her. "Twenty-first century, please. The twentieth century was so last year."
"I'm sorry, Colonel," Janeway said, turning towards him. "As soon as we've determined that it's safe, we can send an away team through to help you put your..."
"...your DHD back together again. We have a few days yet before the Omega particles in your stargate--"
"Blow your quadrant to kingdom come," Jack filled in helpfully. Behind Janeway, the Doctor was arguing with Warren about moving Sam's stasis chamber. Fortunately, she seemed to be skilled at blocking out the sound of indignant hologram. Jack kept talking, just to be safe. "I'm awfully sorry about this. We usually try not to blow up other people's planets."
Janeway seemed a bit put off by his chatter. "We'll set up a large harmonic resonance field to contain the Stargate. Seven came up with this approach last time."
Over her shoulder, Jack could see Seven hovering over Carter as she sat up in the stasis chamber. Warren was doing his best to keep her from climbing out as he pushed the floating tube up a sand dune to the wrong side of the gate. Teal'c had retrieved his staff weapon and was exuding menace at the Doctor.
Jack kept talking. "How are your teams going to run the Stargate from inside this harmonic renaissance field?"
Janeway blinked. "We'll have to work that out later."
Jack could just hear the Doctor saying, "The Omega particles have stabilized - you don't have to put her--" To Jack's surprise, Seven of Nine touched the EMH on the arm and the hologram disappeared. The Borg slipped something into a pocket of her catsuit.
Jack glanced at Tom Paris, who'd been standing beside him silently all this time. "I've always wanted to do that," Tom said, shrugging.
Harry jumped into the lull in their conversation. "Captain, I've calculated the coordinates for Earth in our universe. I think the stargate may be able to get us home."
"After we go home," Jack insisted.
Janeway agreed. "One problem at a time, Harry." She finally seemed to notice the silence, though. "How's your Major Carter?" she asked, as she turned around to face the empty spot where the stasis chamber had been.
Her expression darkened and Jack began to back away towards the gate. The disembodied voice of Chakotay saved the day. "Voyager to away team," he said.
The Captain hit her comm badge. "Janeway here," she said. Jack was halfway to the gate when she made a little after-him-men gesture at Tom and Harry. He turned and ran as Chakotay's voice said, "Those Borg cubes finally picked up our trail. Prepare for transport."
"Go, go, go!" Jack shouted at his team. Teal'c pressed Sam back down into the tube as they pushed the stasis chamber towards the red mouth of the wormhole. Harry and Tom would never catch up - either their hearts weren't in it, or they didn't get enough practice running from death gliders to make a proper sprint for the stargate.
"On the tube," Jack yelled, and made a jump for it himself. Seven of Nine gave them a final push through the event horizon.
Janeway sprinted up the dune past Tom and Harry and grabbed Seven from behind. "Don't you go through there too!"
"I did not intend to do so." Seven casually brushed sand off her catsuit.
"Captain," Harry said, his voice cracking. The red wormhole was still open, but the stargate around it was shimmering. "Major Carter didn't mention anything like this."
"Look!" Tom said, pointing at the DHD. It was also shimmering like a mirage.
Janeway hit her comm badge. "Four to beam up."
Chakotay had them transported directly to the bridge. "Where's the Doctor?" he asked when they materialized.
Seven took his mobile emitter out of her pocket and reactivated it. The Doctor sizzled back into existence. "--through that thing!" he continued saying, with a passion that was entirely out of place in his new circumstances. He looked around. "What happened?"
Seven answered him. "Your patient and her companions returned home through the stargate." Tuvok raised an eyebrow at that, while Chakotay kept his expression carefully neutral.
"Doctor, report to sickbay and prepare for casualties." He started to protest, but Janeway had turned to her attention to her wayward protege. "Seven, when this is over you're confined to quarters for ten days. What's the status of the stargate?"
Harry was already at Ops, checking the sensors. "Captain, it's...gone." On a hunch, he switched to long-range sensors. "The Borg debris field is also gone."
Seven took over the science station and verified his readings. "There is no trace of Omega particles anywhere in this sector."
Tuvok reported that the Borg were coming out of warp. "Raising shields," he said.
Janeway shook her head as she sank into the big chair. "Helm, evasive maneuvers."
"Look on the bright side," Chakotay said with a grin. "At least we fulfilled the Omega Directive."
She smiled back at him. "It's been one of those days."
General Hammond confined SG-1 and 3 to the SGC infirmary, where they took up six beds and were slowly driving Dr. Fraiser out of her mind with them. She could find nothing physically wrong with them beyond some harmless naqahdah breakdown products in Teal'c and Carter's bloodstreams, but orders were orders.
"Come on Doc," Jack argued with her on the third day. "You know we're sane. Let us go."
Janet shook her head sadly. "This is a government installation, not a Star Trek convention. You can't go around saying you met Captain Kirk--"
"Captain Janeway," Teal'c corrected her.
"--and that he--"
"--she gave you dilithium-powered antigrav units to take home with you."
"She didn't exactly give them to us," Jack started to explain, but Janet's rising volume had woken Daniel up from his nap.
"Don't forget the stasis tube," he said with a yawn. "That could come in handy."
Janet considered sedating them all, but they weren't violent...yet.
"Gentlemen," she said, "you brought back garbage. Your 'stasis chamber' fell apart before we even got it into the lab. You've met bronze age cultures who knew more about metal alloys than whoever made that tube. All we found inside your 'antigrav units' was a little pile of lithium." She crossed her arms and waited for their excuses.
"I know what happened," Sam said, excited for the first time since Janet had first sedated her for raving about a Borg Collective.
Jack sagged back on his pillow. "She's going to start talking about how we never really left P6Y-514 again. What does a guy have to do to get a hypospray of analgesic in this place?"
"It's just like what happened to the naqahdah in their universe," Sam said, ignoring him. Janet rolled her eyes, but at least Daniel and Warren were paying attention, so she went on. "It's the chirality shift! We thought we could take home their technology, but the dilithium and transparent aluminum must have started decaying the moment we came through the wormhole. We were lucky the antigrav sleds lasted long enough for us to dig out the DHD."
Janet was kind enough to hand Jack a bottle of aspirin. "Don't down them all at once," she said. "It's going to be one of those days."