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Quantum Mirror Series 112

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"How was your walk with Charlie?" Natock asked, with a large grin.

"Well, his arms and legs are all in the right place, so I'm guessing it went just fine," Ford said, looking up from the report he was writing at a desk by the open window in their room.

"Agreed. Lieutenant Miller would have broken him in half otherwise," Natock said.

"Lieutenant Miller, the woman from the Seal team?" Jackson asked, looking up from the tablet he was reading from.

"Yeah. She's so..." Colt began.

"Dangerous?" Jackson asked.

"I was going to say hot," Colt corrected him.

"I'm sure she's very nice," Jackson muttered, looking back down at his tablet.

"Colt has been trying to get close to her for months," Natock explained to Jackson.

"And it has not been pretty," Ford laughed.

"Yeah, but none of that matters, because our children will be bold, beautiful, and brilliant," Colt said, pointing at Ford.

"And like their mother, they will be able to beat you to death with their bare hands," Natock mumbled.

"Probably, but I'm gonna risk it," Colt said, sitting down on his bed.

 

During the three days it took the ground penetrating radar found the outline of the ship the Army Corps of Engineers ran jack hammers to carve away the volcanic rock. Bobcats scooped the debris away. Three days of digging eventually exposed an exterior hatch. Ten stood by to enter the ship as the engineers burned through the hatch with thermal lances.

Once the hatch was winched open a probe was dropped into the ship to test the air for breathable air and any alien pathogens. Once the readings came back clear Ten dropped down and entered the ship.

"Alright, I claim this ship in the name of Earth," Ford said, after his boots hit the deck and kicked up a small dust cloud. He stepped forward as the rest of Ten dropped into the ship behind him. "Lights on, eyes down."

Ford switched the light mounted on his rifle on and he pulled the night vision goggles down from his forehead. Everything took on a green tint. The hall he stood in was cavernous and extended forty yards ahead and twenty yards behind. It was twenty feet wide and almost fifteen feet tall, and oval shaped but not symmetrical.

"Natock, take Jac-bot that way," Ford said pointing a knife hand to the rear of the hall, "I'm gonna take Colt and Dr. Carter this way."

"I can't believe he lets you call him Jac-bot," Carter said to Ford.

"It's not me, it's him," Ford said, pointing to Colt, fifteen feet ahead of them. "He's a genuine force of nature, that one."

"So what does that make you?"

"I'm a Marine. No more, no less."

"I know someone else like you. He likes to pretend he's not very smart either."

"I'm just here to do what I do, so you can do what you do," Ford said, as he ran his gloved hand over the wall. It looked like a cross between steel and stone. He couldn't tell which in the green darkness.

"Jac-bot, what do you see?" Ford asked, tapping his ear piece.

"I'm looking at some script on the wall, and it seems to be a derivative of Cuneiform."

"Can you read it?"

"You heard me say derivative, didn't you?" Jackson replied. "I might be able to translate it in time."

"Well, time we got, this thing ain't going nowhere," Ford said, tapping his ear piece. "Colt, Jac-bot needs as much script scanned as you can get."

"Right," Colt answered. He kept walking and then glanced to his right. "I got a door here."

Colt stood there waiting for Ford and Carter to reach the door. When they were beside him they walked through the door way. The fifteen foot high arched entrance held two heavy doors that slid in from the sides, but were not fully closed. There was almost three feet between them. Colt went in first and started walking left. Ford entered next and went right while Carter walked towards the center of the room.

"Ford," Colt tapped his ear piece. "I have what look to be signs of a struggle."

"Are you sure?" Ford asked.

"I'm looking at blood spray patterns on the wall and the floor, and drag marks that lead past a locked door," Colt said, as he poked at the panel on the wall besides the door. "But without the power I can't get in."

"Ok, I got some signs here too," Ford said. He reached out and ran his finger over a blast hole in the wall. He glanced along the corridor, and saw several more blast marks in the wall and a section of wall that looked as if it began to melt. Ford followed the blast marks down the hall until he reached a door and saw the panel beside it had been blasted as well.

The dried blood stains and scorched blast marks led into the room. Ford looked at the blast marks and assumed that the crew carried some kind of side arm that shot something like plasma. Ford followed Carter through the doorway into the room.

It was circular and extended upward for thirty feet. Colt counted five separate stations on the exterior of the room. Two of the five stations were completely destroyed. Colt examined one and saw that it was blown apart by the same weapon that left pock marked holes in the walls of the corridor leading up to the room. Colt stepped back and examined the station. His first thought was that it suffered from stray fire, but the station was too completely destroyed while the stations beside it were completely intact.

Ten feet in from the wall was a raised dais that covered the center of the room with two more stations. In the center of the dais was a massive reclined seat with three large screens pitched over the seat. Just behind them was a massive object that looked like a twelve foot long cannon. Carter climbed up onto the dais and walked towards the center and examined the seat.

"What is it?" Ford asked Carter.

"Well, if I had to guess, I'd say it's a seat," She said, over her shoulder to Ford.

"Ha ha, android burn!" Colt laughed.

"Ok, smart guy, what about you?" Ford growled.

"I have seven different computer stations, that do...I don't know what, and it looks like these guys were tall."

"How do you know?" Ford asked.

"Well, Carter looks like a little kid in a recliner," Colt said, pointing his thumb over his shoulder towards the center of the room. Ford looked over at Carter sitting in the seat and examining the controls. Then he looked back at Colt.

"And there's this," Colt said, standing next to one of the control stations. He stood on his tip toes to reach across the control panel. "I feel like a little kid in a tall guy's house."

"Well, you are kind of short," Ford said, as he pointed his light up at the ceiling. The room seemed to be ribbed. Every three feet a vertical ridge protruded ten inches out of the wall, and each ridge had smaller, horizontal ridges that were half an inch deep. Ford looked closer and saw that within the horizontal ridges were smaller vertical ribs. It went on, smaller, and smaller until it was too fine for Ford to see. Ford stepped back and looked at the walls, noticing for the first time that there were no truly flat surfaces anywhere.

"And, there is of course this...subtle clue," Colt said on the far side of the raised dais. Ford and Carter walked around to Colt and saw the body he was standing beside. The body was humanoid and covered in a blackish gray insect like exo-suite from the neck down. The head was pale, hairless, nearly human, and sat several feet away from the body.

"Dr. Carter, thoughts?" Ford asked.

"Humanoid, approximately three meters long," She said, crouched beside the body, picking up the hand and examining it. "Human looking hand, and the suit seems to be fused with his skin."

She prodded the suit with her fingers. "It's incredibly hard, except at the joints, very low profile, and it looks like there are multiple connection ports all along the arms, legs and torso."

"You think they live in those?" Colt asked.

"Maybe," Carter said. "I don't see any way to take it off."

"The last suit you'll ever wear," Ford mumbled.

"Men in Black reference, nice," Colt said, as he crouched down beside the head. "Look at the nose on this guy."

"Natock, what have you found?" Ford asked, tapping his ear piece.

"Could be an engine room...or, maybe a bathroom. It's kind of hard to tell," The Jaffa answered. "Jac-bot is ninety percent sure it's an engine room." Natock said, looking at the android. Jackson, like Carter, needed no night vision goggles because his eyes could actually see perfectly in low light environments.

Jackson looked back at Natock and pointed his thumb down. "Wait, Jac-bot says...eighty percent sure?"

"You see any signs of life, stasis pods, skeleton in a flight suit, anything?" Ford asked.

"Not yet," Natock started, "Wait..." Natock walked over to Jackson who was pointing at the ground. Natock walked around a large containment tank and looked at the floor. "We have discovered remains."

"Is it a crewman?" Ford asked.

"Well, I see a leg...and what looks like two arms," Jackson added.

"Is it wearing a black bio-suit that looks like an insect exoskeleton?" Carter asked.

"Uhh, yeah. I think that's an accurate description," Jackson replied.

"Right, let me know if you find anything else," Ford said, tapping his ear piece. He turned back and looked at Carter. "Dr. Carter, you think you can fire this bad boy up?" Ford waved his hand around.

"The ships power source may be depleted or damaged, but if their system is compatible with a Naquadah generator, maybe. I'll need to configure an adapter."

"We'll put that on the 'to do list', but before we do that I want to check every square inch of the ship. I don't want to power up some alien kill bot," Ford mumbled.

"Ford, I think we found something you need to see," Natock's voice came over the coms.

"Sam, you'll want to see this too," Jackson added.

"Hmm?" Ford mumbled, as he stood beside Natock in the doorway of another cavernous room.

Carter, Jackson, and Colt stood in the center of the room examining three massive stasis pods. Ford glanced around the room. It was circular like the last room but ten times larger. The walls were ribbed like the rest of the ship's interior, with massive empty sockets lining the entirety of the room. They were sized and shaped to hold stasis pods, but there were only three in the center of the room.

"So, cargo room?" Ford asked Carter.

"It looks that way," She called across the empty room. "But there's just these three."

"Yeah, I noticed that," Ford answered. "Any idea what they were carrying?"

"I can't tell yet, but it looks like one of the containers ruptured. It might have been damaged when the ship crashed," Carter began.

"And then they lit it up," Colt added, rubbing his finger on the glass case of the pod. He stepped back and pointed out the nozzles aimed at all three pods. "Whatever they were carrying they didn't want it to get out. I think these are flame jets, and there is soot on this pod."

"A containment measure?" Ford asked Carter.

"This ship could carry at least a few hundred of these pods," Colt said, looking back at Ford, "But it only had these three, and they were pretty concerned about it getting out."

"There's something else," Natock said, nodding his head out the doorway.

"Ok, get some video, and, I guess...don't break the other pods," Ford said, before he turned to follow Natock out into the hall.

"Jac-bot and I came this way from the engine room, and we found the only sign of a crew member," Natock said, as he led Ford down a long hallway and left at another long hall. He stopped and pointed at the bodies sitting on the floor and against the wall.

Ford pointed his light at the body in the middle of the floor and examined it. The body was the identical to the humanoid on the bridge. It was also wearing the same armored bio-suite.

Ford knelt down and looked closely, it had the same nearly human, but hairless head. The head was almost completely burned, and it seemed to have melted down towards its left shoulder. The skin was blackened and flaked off. The center of the crewman's chest looked like it had been torn open and pulled out. Its internal organs lay scattered across the floor, burned, shriveled, and blackened. Ford stood up and looked at the body against the wall.

The second body looked like a fifteen foot tall praying mantis with nine clawed arms. The head looked as if it hadn't finished forming before it was burned. The torso was shelled in the same bio-suite as the ships' crew. One of its legs was still the same as the crew. The rest of it was a random amalgam of tentacles and jointed legs of different sizes.

The floor and the wall of the large oval shaped hallway was scorched, and the metal began to buckle and melt under both bodies. "Someone came at this guy with a flame thrower." Ford said out loud.

"That one appears to be one of the crew," Natock said, pointing to melted man.

"I'm pretty sure he was one of the crew," Ford said, pointing at the humanoid. "We found one like him on the bridge, but he was more intact. Well, he was in fewer pieces. The suite matches the interior of the ship and their proportions match the control stations, so why did they light him up? That one makes sense," Ford pointed to the large creature, "but why the crewman? That thing pulled him apart like string cheese."

"Perhaps he became infected with whatever escaped that stasis pod during the fight."

"Or he kept drinking the last beer in the fridge," Ford mused.

"If they shared your affinity for beer, his death was merciful."

"Yeah it was," Ford said, tapping his ear piece. "Heads up people, we found another dead crewman, and a...what would you call that, Natock?"

"A beast."

"Not helpful, a mini Godzilla creature," Ford said, over his radio.

"What's it look like?" Colt asked, eagerly.

"Ten foot tall albino sporting the latest fashion in insect exoskeleton," Ford replied. "Same as the headless horseman on the bridge."

"No, the monster," Colt insisted.

"Big...ugly," Ford said, looking at it. "Kinda like you."

"Awesome!" Colt grinned, to Carter. She tilted her head and squinted at him in confusion. "I love this job."

"Dr. Carter, check the seals on those other pods, I want to know if this ship is riddled with space herpes or something. Colt, Jac-bot, check the rest of the ship. There were seven stations plus the pilot's seat, so we're looking for maybe five more bodies."

"We discovered several doors we couldn't open without power," Jackson said.

"Do what you can. There's a whole carton full of egg heads waiting outside, and they're barkin down my snorkel to get in here," Ford said.

"Barking eggs, snorkel, got it," Jackson said, before tapping his ear piece. "At least Jack never got creative," Jackson said, to Carter as he walked away. Carter smiled and shook her head.

Ten walked the ship for the next three hours before Ford recalled them from the ship to the surface beside the exit hatch. Their shift was over and they were waiting for SG Seventeen to relieve them.

Ford stood with his arms crossed over his chest, resting on the stock of his rifle. Natock rearranged the boonie hat he wore. Colt was entering data on the computer strapped to his chest from all the script he had scanned in while Jackson examined a rubbing of the script from the ship.

"Is it true that your world has a food created by the gods themselves?" Natock asked Ford.

"It is true. On Earth it's known as pizza."

"And this...pizza, can we acquire some?"

"Unfortunately, not on Alpha," Ford sighed.

"Not real pizza anyway," Colt added.

"Once you're cleared to visit Earth there are a few places we can take you in Colorado, but the best pizza is in a distant land called New York," Ford said.

"No it's not," Jackson argued.

"What?" Ford asked.

"The best pizza, it's not in New York, it's in Chicago."

"Don't listen to Jac-bot, he's an android," Colt argued.

"You know I was human first," Jackson argued. "Chicago deep dish is the best."

"That's not a pizza, that's a quiche," Ford growled.

"It's still the best," Jackson grinned at Ford.

"Perhaps, I should be the one to decide which is best," Natock interjected.

"Natock has figured out the win/win scenario," Colt laughed.

"Yeah, he has," Ford smiled, as he looked away. His smile faded away when he saw SG Seventeen approaching. Behind them were a team of engineers with two remote controlled flatbed M.A.L.P.s. When Colonel Cummings was closer Ford walked over to him to brief him on what happened during their watch. When he was done he waved Ten back towards the gate.

 

SG Ten Sat in the briefing room waiting for General Willis. Ford, Jackson, and Natock were reading their pre-mission files while Colt laid his head on the back of his chair and spun slowly with his eyes closed.

"Gentlemen," Willis announced as he entered the room followed by Gray and Dr. Carter. "Colt."

"So what's the current theory on the ship?" Ford asked Willis, as all of Ten stood up and waited for Willis to sit down.

"So far we've concluded that the ship suffered a containment breach, set down to recapture the organism, and got caught in the path of a lava flow and subsequently buried," Carter answered.

"The crew go 'Lord of the Flies' before or after they got buried?" Colt asked.

"Too soon to tell," Willis replied. "We won't know the full story until we can get into the ship's computer. The good news is that the Dr. Carter on the ship right now thinks that she has a functioning adapter, and that she'll have the ship powered up some time today. Speaking of which, how is the translation program coming?"

"It's done, got it right here," Colt said, taking a small flash drive from a pouch on his vest.

"And it works?" Willis asked.

"It's too soon to say, we only had a little bit of the language to work with," Jackson said. "Once we have more to work with we can tweak the program to increase its accuracy."

"I'm sure that you will do the best you can," Gray interjected. "The Carters gave a detailed report that this ships engines are unlike anything we've ever seen before, and the IOA is very interested in it."

"There it is," Colt blurted out.

"Shut up, Colt," Ford said.

"We suspect, based on Dr. Carters initial report, that if the engines are completely different, then the weapons and shields most likely will be also. This could be a very important discovery for us," Gray continued.

"Find the instruction manual for the new toy, got it," Colt said.

"Anything else, Sir?" Ford asked Willis.

"Dismissed," Willis shook his head.

Ten returned to the planet an hour later. The open field by the gate had become busier since the last time they were there. Four rectangular green military tents had been erected around a long corrugated steel building. The support staff had grown to over thirty people preparing for the geologists. Captain Lang saw Ten emerge from the gate and he walked over to speak to Ford.

"Captain Lang," Ford smiled at the Army captain.

"Sergeant Ford," Lang said, as he held his hand out to shake with Ford. "How's the water in the shallow end of the gene pool?"

"You tell me," Ford laughed. "So, how's this going?" Ford pointed around at the camp.

"The rock guys are going ape shit. They say this world has the biggest Naquadah veins that they've ever seen," Lang said.

"Looks like we're going to make this world a regular stop."

"They say they're going to be bringing in the parts for an iris tomorrow."

"Good. I feel naked on a world without one," Ford said.

"And with one?" Colt asked Ford.

"Slightly less naked. Kind of like wearing a thong."

"What, wait, what?" Colt stuttered.

"Yeah, what?" Lang asked.

"How would you know what wearing a thong is like?" Colt asked.

"And we're walking, and we're walking..." Ford said, as he started walking out of the camp.

"We're not done talking about you in a thong!" Colt laughed, as they started walking towards the ship.

The ship was surrounded by tents, corrugated steel buildings, generators, temporary work lights and several engineers still studying the exterior of the ship. Colonel Cummings and the rest of Seventeen were standing around one of the tents about thirty feet from the gravel ramp that led down into the hatch. Ford sighed and headed towards Cummings.

"Nice of you to make it," Cummings said, when Ford was closer.

"We're fifteen minutes early," Ford said. "So that means we're right on time. What's the status of the ship?"

"It's exactly the same as it was yesterday," Cummings said, flatly.

"Does Dr. Carter have the Naquadah generator on line yet?"

"She didn't as of ten minutes ago, but now that you're here you can go look for yourself. We're heading back to Alpha," Cummings said, as he waived the rest of Seventeen to follow him.

"If you hurry you can still catch Ally Mcbeal!" Ford called out to Cummings. "Air Force pansy."

"My best friend is in the Air Force," Jackson complained to Colt.

"Better keep that to yourself," Colt said, as he walked past Jackson, following Ford down the gravel ramp towards the ships' hatch.

Ford walked to the bridge, and saw two scientists standing beside a lap top hooked into one of the ships computer stations. "Dr. Bjornson, Dr. Dalen, status report."

"Doctor, Doctor," Colt said, with a smirk, standing beside Ford.

"We've connected a computer to each of the stations and the chair," Dalen said, pointing around the room. "Once Dr. Carter has power on line we'll begin running diagnostics to determine function, and downloading data."

The ships lights flickered on for a second, accompanied by a metallic hum, but then went back off and the hum died down.

"Dr. Carter, this is Sergeant Ford, what's your status?"

"I have the generator plugged into the ships systems, but I'm having trouble calculating the correct output. This may take a little time because I don't want to overload any of the ships systems," Carter replied over the radio.

"Copy that, take your time, we've got all day," Ford said. He climbed up on the dais in the center of the room. He sat on the edge, bouncing his heels against the plating absently. "Now we wait."

Colt, Natock, and Jackson followed suit and climbed up beside Ford.

"So, did you watch that movie I gave you?" Colt asked Natock.

"I did." Natock said. "I have questions."

"Well, that's understandable," Colt said.

"Did so few warriors face so many invaders?"

"Yes."

"Did they go one to win the war and drive them out?"

"Eventually."

"Did they possess some skill to make time slow down and speed up?"

"What's he talking about?" Ford asked.

"I showed him The 300," Colt answered. "And, no, they didn't possess some skill to slow things down, that's called slow motion, and it was for dramatic effect."

"It was to pad out the film to make it feature length," Ford corrected. "I think it added half an hour to the movie."

"Yeah, but it looked really cool," Colt argued.

"The people of your world enjoy watching warriors butcher each other like that?" Natock asked Colt.

"Oh yeah," Colt said. "There's an entire genre based on war movies."

"And tv shows," Ford added.

"Yeah, if they made something about our lives it would be a sci fi show," Colt continued.

"Fan-fic," Ford corrected.

"What?" Colt asked.

"It would have to be some kind of fan-fic. No tv audience would believe that the Corps lets you get away with half of the shit that you do."

"I do not know what, fan-fic is, but even I am surprised at what you get away with."

"No one is ever more surprised than me," Colt smirked.

A moment later the lights flickered on and off two more times before the turned on and stayed on.

"I think we're up," Colt said, as he looked around.

"Looks like you got it Dr. Carter," Ford said, tapping his ear piece. "I'm taking Ten to search the rest of the ship, try not to push any big, shiny red buttons."

"You don't have to worry about me, I'm not Colt," Carter laughed over the radio.

"Ouch!" Colt mumbled, as Natock laughed at him.

"It seems that you have made an impression on the Carters," Natock said, giving Colt a shove to get him moving out into the hall.

"We're doing a room by room search. There's still one crewman unaccounted for," Ford said waving Ten forward. "And watch out for kill bots."

"What?" Jackson asked.

"Security measures," Ford clarified. "Something went down on this ship, and there may be other containment measures."