- Dark Themes
- Alternate Universe
- Time Travel
John watched for the Icarus crew closely as they took in the scene before them. It only took a moment for the two colonels notice what was going on.
“Where are Col. Everett and Dr. Weir?” Col. Chekhov demanded.
“Unfortunately, tragically,” Dr. Lam began. “We lost both of them when it was discovered that Dr. Weir’s husband, Dr. Simon Wallace, was infested with a Goa’uld symbiote. Dr. Weir and many of the support staff had been dosed with Nish’ta.”
“Nish’ta?” Col. Mitchel echoed.
“When did this occur?” Col. Chekhov asked, his face impassive.
“Several weeks after we first arrived,” Dr. Lam replied. “Wallace didn’t do anything overt for some time. There were hints of something wrong with Dr. Weir and a few other members of the command staff. When we failed to hit certain expected benchmarks that were necessary our long term survival people started asking questions.”
“We will give you the reports we all filed at the time,” Rodney said. “Demanding that more be done, especially the emails to Dr. Weir from the head of Botany. We were, according to Dr. Parish, very close to missing our first seasonal window for planting and harvesting our own food.”
“Things escalated as we attempted to save our people,” John said. “And despite our best efforts we were unable to save Dr. Weir, Col. Everett, or Dr. Wallace.”
“Then I must assume that you have taken command, Major Sheppard,” Col. Chekhov said. “I would ask why you didn’t feel the need to inform us of this when we first spoke.”
“As I have previously stated, Colonel,” John replied. “I have hundreds of people in this city. Their safety is paramount. I didn’t know you or your intentions. I still don’t know the scope of your orders beyond transporting the refugees.”
“Now that you understand some of our situation,” he continued. “I would really like to know more about yours. Would you care to enlighten us?”
There was a long moment where John wasn’t sure if the two colonels would agree or if they were about to pull their weapons and try to take over. Finally, Col. Mitchel cleared his throat and reach into his breast pocket. He pulled out a thumb drive and held it out. O’Neill stepped forward and took it from him before handing it to John and he handed it to McKay.
“Is there anything we should know before we look at this thing?” Rodney asked.
“Only that it was supposed to be eyes only for Weir and Everett,” Col. Mitchel said. “I guess it is up to you who you want to see it.”
“Miko,” Rodney called on his radio. “I need a secure, off-network, laptop to look at a set of files we just received from the SGC.” He narrowed his eyes at the Icarus crew. “And before either of you get any ideas about pulling rank. It is Commander John Sheppard of Atlantis, not Major John Sheppard of the USAF. The civilians and soldiers here will not recognize any authority you think you’re entitled to.”
“Now wait just a minute,” Mitchel sputtered. “You all have oaths you swore when you put on those uniforms.”
“These uniforms?” O’Neill asked spreading his arms to reveal the expedition uniform that was a completely different design from any Earth military uniforms. They had been designed so that the international membership didn’t feel they were beholden to a single government. “I’m not sure your argument has any weight here.”
“Are you telling me you don’t recognize the Earth as your home?” Col. Chekhov asked, looking worried.
“We never said that,” Dr. Lam replied. “However, we’ve been on our own for quite a while. As the prospect of establishing contact with Earth lessened with every failed dial-out, we had to make choices about our survival.”
“But we are here now,” Col. Mitchel argued. “There is no need to-”
“Colonel,” John interrupted. As he spoke, Dr. Kusanagi entered the room with a laptop, which she handed to Dr. McKay. “You’re not a supply ship. You’re not our relief. The Icarus is, from what I can see, a ship full of fugitives and refugees. Am I wrong?”
Neither colonel was able to deny it and Rodney plugged the USB drive into the laptop.
“Alright, there is a lot of files on here, but the drive is clean of viruses and malicious code, so it is safe for the mainframe to access,” he said. “But there are two video files, one marked with O’Neill’s personal IDC code and the other marked with yours, John.”
“Put the one with O’Neill’s IDC on the monitor,” John said evenly. He had a feeling he wasn’t going to like what O’Neill had sent to him personally. He watched with an odd detachment as Rodney put the drive into his own laptop and loaded the video file. John was a little surprised to see the general appear with Dr. Daniel Jackson standing at his side.
“This is to Dr. Elizabeth Weir and Col. Dillon Everett of the Atlantis expedition or to whoever is currently in command,” O’Neill said. “If you are seeing this, I am activating the Arc Protocol effective immediately. The Atlantis Charter explains this in depth but if you are just hearing about it now, briefly it means you are authorized do whatever you need to survive, including ignoring any and all communications from Earth from this point onward.”
“Holy shit,” Col. Mitchel said.
“Kakogo chyorta,” Col. Chekhov muttered.
“Now to the reason,” O’Neill took a deep breath. Dr. Jackson’s hand came up and squeezed his shoulder in an effort to comfort or reassure. “Earth is compromised. The Trust wasn’t as broken up as we thought it was, despite the investigations and all the arrests there were a lot more who were working in the shadows. We have evidence of Goa’uld activity. We’ve found traces of Nish’ta at several political rallies and at least one possibly more well-connected lobbyists that may actually be snakes. The entire situation is a two fold shell game. Turning the citizens of the planet against each other while taking control under the guies of protecting the population from the very threat they themselves pose.”
“This is where things get dicey,” Dr. Jackson began. “The Trust has used the Earth First movement as a distraction. They point fingers at innocent people, while targeting families of known ATA gene carriers. From the evidence we’ve found, we think, and Dr. Fraiser agrees, that the Goa’uld are trying to create a way to give themselves the ATA gene. Something that Janet say isn’t possible, the level of genetic manipulation that they would need to do to make it work on a permanent basis would render them nonviable as a species.”
“Which is why,” O’Neill took up the narrative. “The Icarus was sent to find you with a cargo of refugees. These people have been targeted by either Earth First or the Trust. We couldn’t risk members of the SGC and our allies becoming compromised through blackmail, so we sent them off planet.”
“Col. Carter was going to take the Icarus, but she was injured,” O’Neill said, his expression tightening. “She is currently in a stasis pod at the Antarctic Outpost. I would have sent her pod with you, her disappearance would have raised alarms that we can’t afford at the moment.”
“Dr. McKay,” Dr. Jackson said. “You’ll notice the Icarus is a mess. Sam and dozens of others built her from the spare parts and the construction cast-offs from the Daedalus and the Apollo. She hoped to make it out to Pegasus intact and rebuild the ship from the ground up. Then to come back and coordinate a resistance effort with the Free Jaffa of Dacarra, where Teal’c is currently working to rally support and find evidence of which Goa’uld might be behind this whole thing. Unfortunately, she was hurt.” He looked like he was going to cry when he finished.
O’Neill pushed Jackson out of the frame. “Now comes the hard part. As much as I know a lot of your people will want to help us in some way, this is my final order to the Atlantis Expedition: “Stay out of this.” Your duty is to protect yourselves and the people we sent to you for protection. I don’t know how long it’ll tale to rid the Earth of the snakes and their collaborators, but it won’t be a quick fix.” He sighed and looked away from the camera for a moment, before looking back. There is a manifest on this drive of all the things that it is carrying. We stuffed it full of everything we could get away with as well as a Asgard data crystal from a transporter with things we couldn’t just load onto the ship. In closing, I’m sorry we can’t be there for you, we are supposed to be your life line, not the other way around. Good luck.”
The video ended and everyone just stared in silence for what felt like a long time.
John took a deep breath. “Right,” he turned to his command staff. “I need all the refugees examined and sorted into apartments. Don’t separate any families for any reason, if someone is sick or injured let the family stay with them while they are being treated.” He turned to Dr. Lam. Be as open and honest about everything you are doing. Security clearances are set aside for the time being for disclosure.” He turned to Sgt. Bates. “Get more apartments cleared ASAP, and make sure no one goes into the restricted areas. Post guards on the transporters. The last thing we need is some kid ending up on the West Pier, since we’ve barely explored half that area yet.” He looked around. “Rodney get Radek to coordinate with aeronautics, see what needs fixing on the Icarus, see how far we need to break her down to fix the issues. Miko, get the manifest off this drive and see what O’Neill sent us. Dr. Heightmier. I want you to make yourself and the rest of your staff available for the refugees. Give them a few days to be sorted, but I want all of them to be able to talk to someone about what they went through.” He looked at Ronon and Teyla. “I think we need to have more of our allies here on the City, visible to our new additions. Their going to have major culture shock, I don’t want them thinking that all people from other planets are bad.”
“We’ll do what we can,” Teyla said.
“We’ll have plenty to fill in empty rooms if you want,” Ronon said. “That was what I wanted to talk to you about.”
“You found them?” Rodney said, startled. “Satedan survivors?”
“I did,” Ronon smiled. “It took a while to get them to trust me, but they’ve agreed to send some people here instead of trying eek out an existence in what is left of our home planet. In return, they’ll give you access to the libraries and any technology that survived the culling.”
“Alright, everyone, we have a lot to do,” he said. “Let’s get to work.” He turned to Mitchel and Chekhov. “Gentlemen, follow me please.”
He led the two colonels to his office and had them sit as he turned to look at them from behind his desk. “I want to have this conversation with the two of you in private, because I’m about to say a few things that you might find difficult to deal with in front of junior officers.”
“Please continue, Maj- I mean Commander Sheppard,” Col Chekhov said. Mitchel just nodded and settled in his seat.
“I know you’re still processing what was on that video,” John said. “I am as well. However, we’ve been dealing with surviving on our own for over a year and you are very new to this galaxy.” He met each man in the eye for a long moment. “Let me put this bluntly. I don’t honestly care which of you has more time in rank, I also don’t care which of you has had more years in uniform. I am in charge here. Is that understood?”
“Yes,” Col. Chekhov said immediately.
Col. Mitchel grimaced. “Yeah, I get it.”
“That being said, I will welcome advice from both of you,” John admitted. “I will also expect you to follow my orders. My Atlantis rank as Commander, is as high as a General, so please respect the title.”
“Commander,” Col. Chekhov began respectfully. “What of my ship and her crew?”
“The ship is yours to command,” John said leaning forward. “Though how long it stays grounded we don’t know until McKay takes a thorough look at her. Until she is ready to fly, I would like for you and your crew to integrate into the ranks here. I have very good people here, well-trained and battle ready, but I don’t have a lot of them.”
“Many of the crew have gate experience,” Col. Chekhov said. “But nearly half are scientists from Area 51. No field training, no combat training.”
“Well that’s not going to fly here,” John sighed. “If they are physically unable to meet the fitness standards this expedition requires, that’s fine, they won’t be assigned to a gate team. However, they are not going to be allowed to be sedentary. Everyone does some kind of exercise and unless they prove themselves to be completely incompetent, they will all be trained to use a weapon.”
“You can’t expect-,” Mitchel began.
“Dr. Parrish is the head of Botany, he had never picked up a gun in his life before he signed up to go on this expedition,” John said pointedly. “He spent weeks learning basic firearms safety and learning how to shoot.” He stood, forcing the other men to stand as well. “This is a combat zone gentlemen, not a vacation spot. I won’t ask the refugees to go into combat situations, but I also will not coddle them. We’ll need everyone to pull their weight, so once they’ve settled in I’ll expect a list of skills and education levels of everyone you brought here. Even what are considered mundane abilities like cooking or sewing will be useful.”
“Thank you for your cooperation,” John finished, “Dismissed.”
Col. Chekhov saluted and exited the office he turned in surprise when Mitchel didn’t follow him.
“Is there a problem, Col. Mitchel?” John asked.
“Permission to speak freely, sir?” Col. Mitchel asked.
“Granted,” John replied, curious as to what the man would say.
“I don’t honestly know what is going on in this galaxy or how bad the Wraith are,” he began. “But I can’t help but wonder if you’re really going to leave Earth on its own.”
“You may not believe the Wraith are as great a threat as anything Earth has ever faced,” John replied. “But we can not help Earth, not now, probably not for a while. We don’t have the manpower, if we find a way to help Earth without putting this base at risk, then we’ll do so, but until then we are on Arc protocol, and we will look to our survival first and foremost and that includes your survival as well, Colonel.”
Mitchel looked like he wanted to say something more.
“You’re dismissed,” John said sharply. “I don’t like repeating myself.”
Mitchel followed Chekhov out of the office and John fell back into his seat as the door closed. “Fuck.”
end part 7