- Science Fiction
– – – –
“I have a confession.”
John raised an eyebrow and focused on McKay from his place in the pilot seat of the Jumper. “Relevant to our current purpose?”
McKay shrugged, clearly unhappy. “I mean, of course, I wasn’t going to let anyone test the jumper underwater, but I have…well. I have nightmares about drowning and whales. Mostly whales.”
“The data on the jumper indicates that the Ancients used it for air and sea travel,” John reminded. “There are underwater jumper entrances on the city.”
“Well, yes, but they could’ve been designed for use while the city is in space.” McKay pressed his lips together.
“I can take you back to the city before I try it.”
“No, you might need me if something goes wrong,” Rodney said and crossed his arms. “I just wanted you to know that I’m a little nervous about the whole thing. I also want to see the power plant to see if there are any structural issues.”
“All right,” John murmured.
He skimmed the surface of the ocean then slowly let the jumper go under. The HUD shifted to reflect the change in their environment, and he was provided with a wealth of information regarding water quality and current strength.
Rodney hummed under his breath. “I’m getting data from the power plant. It’s been closed down properly, but it is still docked with the coupler built around the vent. It’s low on energy reserves, however, because it’s not storing power.”
“Is that a problem?”
“Not at present but even five months from now, it won’t have enough power to stay attached to the coupler. I need to get on board it and start it.”
“Not today,” John said. “I’m going to have the jumper do a survey of the whole bay to update the information we have on the city.”
“Great.” Rodney continued to work on his tablet. “How’s the jumper handling the pressure?”
“Very well. There hasn’t been much of a change regarding the depth of the bay—I think we could move the city a little closer to land than we thought but I want to check out the beach, and we’ll need your people to do a tide survey.”
“Already on the schedule,” Rodney murmured. “They’re testing the soil for the Athosians today to make sure the area can support crops. We can…treat the soil if necessary because the city is recycling all of our waste and storing it in the waste management area. It’s in powder form, so I think it was probably used for fertilizer by the Ancients. Drs Brown and Parrish have started cleaning out the hydroponics farm which is large enough to produce crops that would feed a moderate population. We just have to get started. We’ll be working on both projects together until we’re certain of the growing season. Many of the Athosians are working with biology and botany on the food topic.”
‘That’s good. I was worried about integration in the short term.”
“Yes, well, you saving all of those people while you went after Sumner was very well received. I heard that their leader said that she’d never seen anyone stand up to the Wraith. The rest of the Athosians had already given the culled up for dead—that’s just their way because after culling there is no return. At least, not until you. But you freak some of them out.”
“Because of the anchor thing.”
“Yeah, of course. They don’t have anything like it here, and there are people on the city from Earth who find it offensive and have no problems talking about it at length. The positive opinions outweigh the negative ones but with anything—the negative comments get more attention.”
John nodded but focused on the tasks before him. “The bay is perfect for the city.” He paused and frowned. “Too perfect actually.”
“Terraforming?” Rodney questioned.
“Maybe, can we deepen the scans? I don’t suppose it really matters, but I’m curious because the shape of the bay is honestly ideal. Plus look here—this looks like a swimming basin.” John pointed to the area around the beach. “The continental shelf actually shifts upward to form a bowl-like structure rather than the traditional slope. I don’t a high tide would give a predator enough room to enter unless they jump and the lip itself is several meters wide.”
“We’re still reviewing ocean life,” Rodney murmured. “We have whales, and they’re huge. This would certainly prevent them from getting too close to the beach. The sand is so white it might as well be fresh snow.”
“Yeah, and the water is so clear near the beach you can probably see the bottom all the way to the edge of the basin. It looks planned and certainly recreational.” John shifted in his seat and stretched his back. “I have a weird thing going on.”
“What?” Rodney questioned.
“Gaius was riddled with injuries some of which crippled him the last few years of his original life,” John explained. “Back, hip, and both knees. Not really a surprise considering his battle record and the medical knowledge for the time period. I have some ghost pain—it’s dull and not a distraction. Pain medication doesn’t touch it because it’s not real.”
“Gaius can’t help you manage it?” Rodney question.
“He is but it’s part of our integration—he has to get used to a new body. Sumner was older than me so he had a few physical issues. Nothing that would’ve removed him duty, obviously, but he’d taken a few injuries over the years that Gaius helped to heal, and I’m getting a hint of those as well.”
“Can I ask a very personal question?”
“For Gaius or me?” John asked. “Because it matters.”
“I guess it’s for Gaius.” Rodney frowned.
“I can’t promise to provide an answer but yes.”
McKay nodded and focused on his tablet. “Has Gaius ever integrated fully with an anchor? And do you consider that an option?”
John hadn’t really thought about integration as they hadn’t completed a full merger. “Yes, he has, and he’s not opposed to doing it with me. But he’s only done it near the end of an anchor’s life because he found he didn’t want to part with the person he was anchored to. So he kept them the only way he could—he brought their soul into his. I think that’s why he continues to seek anchors—full integration renews his thirst for life and his desire for physical stimulation. I think he would’ve done it with Sumner if they’d had the time. Gaius loved Marshall like…well like a lover, to be honest. He keeps his grief separate from me now, but when I first anchored him, it was overwhelming.”
“What do you think? Would you want to?”
John considered a genuine union with the Revenant he carried. The thought of continuing forward long after his physical body died was alluring, and he’d admit at least privately that Gaius was a seductive presence in his mind. “It’s his choice in the end, but I wouldn’t deny him. Why?”
McKay took a deep breath. “Yes, well, Carson finished my genetic testing. I was kind of stunned to realize he hadn’t finished it before he gave me the ATA gene therapy but I’ve already had that fit so I can move on from it. Did you know that don’t test for Revenant potential in Canada until you’re an adult? Well, I was already living in the US when I turned eighteen, so I missed testing in both places.”
“Rodney,” John whispered and turned to him. “You have the RP gene?”
“Yeah,” Rodney flushed. “Gaius can’t tell? I mean though Revenants could recognize their own?”
“Only after anchoring—not in the life of origin. What about your sister?”
“Surely she would’ve told me if she were though we don’t talk much,” Rodney frowned. “I’ve never really read much about having the potential. What do you know?”
“Give me a few minutes,” John murmured. “Gaius is going to explain it to me.”
They worked in silence for nearly fifteen minutes, John guided the jumper around the bay—mapping the ocean floor and checking the integrity of the swimming basin that was obviously man-made based the additional scans that the jumper was completing one after another. In the back of his mind, Gaius was essentially pouring memory after memory into his head. His Revenant was powerful and more importantly very experienced, so the info dump wasn’t overwhelming.
Finally, John cleared his throat and put the jumper on auto-pilot. The craft slowed slightly as it adjusted to the course that had already been plotted that would take them around the bay in a wide circle. He turned to McKay and Rodney put his tablet aside so he could turn in his chair.
“Okay, lay it on me.”
John laughed and reached out to take Rodney’s hand. The scientist smiled briefly and relaxed. “Potential is meaningless without desire. Many people with the potential to evolve never do so. It’s not a matter of self-actualization or enlightenment like Ascension which Gaius considers nothing more than physical suicide. It was kind of stunning to realize how offensive he finds Ascension considering his own state of being. As you near death, your spirit will start to disassociate with your physical body. In the last moments of your life, you’ll realize there is a choice for you to make.”
“And that choice is?”
“This is…you’re not religious, right?”
“Not remotely,” Rodney said with a wave of his hand. “I’m not going to freak out, promise.”
“Energy can’t be destroyed or created, as you know,” John murmured.
“But it can be transferred or changed,” Rodney supplied. “The first law of thermodynamics.”
“Yes, our soul is energy—pure energy. We are literally the stuff that stars are made of, Rodney, and I don’t just mean that physically. The human spirit is a transference of the energy found all over the universe.” John took McKay’s hand and put it over his heart. “Everything that makes me who I am was once the energy that flowed in a star. A star long destroyed, it’s energy dispersed throughout our known reality.”
“That’s honestly the hottest thing I’ve ever heard,” Rodney confessed and flushed when John laughed softly.
“When you die you’ll have a choice—to stay as you are anchor yourself to another human so you can continue a physical existence or you can rejoin the energy that flows through the universe. I think that Ancients sought Ascension so they could join with that energy as well but all they succeeded in doing is changing themselves so much that they’re no longer compatible with that energy.”
Rodney’s mouth formed a perfect O. “That is stunning, and I don’t…” He took a deep breath. “I’m not sure what I’ll do, you know.”
“You have many years to decide.”
“What if I’m in an accident?” McKay questioned. “Will I just get snuffed out or will there be a choice?”
“You’ll get a choice,” John assured. “Gaius is positive of that, and he says that he’ll be around to guide you through the process if that is what you want.”
Rodney leaned in without warning and pressed his mouth to John’s. Sheppard slid forward in his chair and sank into the kiss with a needy little shudder.
“How long it’s been for you?” Rodney questioned as they parted.
John pressed his mouth against McKay’s jaw and took a deep breath. “That’s a complicated question because it’s been about six months since I’ve had anything but my own hand. Sumner, on the other hand, was sleeping with someone on the city and got seriously laid shortly before we left Earth.”
Rodney snorted. “Okay.”
“But it was a woman,” John said and couldn’t help but make a face. “Moreover, Gaius is bisexual, but he tends to prefer men. He hasn’t slept with a man in about twenty years. It’s made me kind of skin hungry, and I feel greedy.”
“I’m completely on board with you both getting laid sooner rather than later,” McKay said and grinned when John laughed.
– – – –
They left the water and to take several land scans. John plotted a course that would take them in several wide circles at five kilometer intervals. He wanted to know what was beyond their proposed settlement and if there were any large animal threats on the small continent, they were focused on. There were only four substantial landmasses on the planet, and the one they were going to settle on was the largest.
“What’s the weather data like?” John questioned.
“Because…these trees are young, Rodney. I would expect to see a lot of old-growth considering the ancient’s use of technology and how long they’ve been gone from the planet. It isn’t like they were burning wood for heat or using it to build, but we’re nearly twenty miles from shore, and the trees can’t be more than a hundred years old.”
“That can’t be good,” Rodney murmured. “We need to widen our survey and assign someone to dig deep into the weather data. It’ll be historical. The city hasn’t gathered data since it was submerged.”
“What are you thinking?”
“Well, let’s see how far we have to go inland before we hit virgin forest,” Rodney suggested.
John’s stomach tightened the further inland they went. The scans started to gradually change as the land steepened but they were nearly nine hundred kilometers in before they found trees over a hundred years old. He took a deep breath as he reviewed the data that was flowing across the HUD.
“We need to see if this is global or local.”
“Surely not global,” Rodney said with a frown. “Hurricanes and tropical storms are fairly localized, right?”
“Right,” John murmured. “Let’s look.”
McKay huffed. “Good thing I packed lunch.”
“I thought you just wanted to go on a picnic with me,” John said over his shoulder as McKay went to the back of the jumper.
Rodney came back quickly and sat down with a huff. “Do you actually want to go on dates? I suck at dates, John. Can’t we just, you know, skip all of that?” He rummaged through the backpack of food he’d brought and pulled out an icepack with a frown. “I have roast beef and turkey sandwiches. The mess said you liked turkey.” He proffered the wrapped sandwich.
“I prefer turkey, yeah.” John took the sandwich and unwrapped it as he mentally prodded the jumper to accept the new course he’d input. “I have to admit this is the slickest ride I’ve ever had as a pilot. Flying with my brain probably isn’t going to ever get old.”
“The Ancients are confusing,” Rodney admitted. “There is the technology front where they obviously excelled in fantastic ways, but then they went all weird and embraced an altered existence like a cult. I really don’t get out the two meshed.”
“Well, they obviously didn’t mesh successfully,” John pointed out. “The fact that they ran from the Wraith when they were technologically superior says a lot about their moral fortitude. They were perfectly okay with abandoning the people of this galaxy to a species that eat them. I’m not all that interested in meeting an Ancient.”
“No, I’m certainly not impressed with them on that front,” Rodney admitted in a wistful tone. “I wish they were admirable.”
John nodded and unwrapped his sandwich. He was used to that kind of disappointment. Gaius’ vast experience only seemed to add to that small, hard place of melancholy. “Greatness lurks in the heart of every man.”
Rodney huffed. “Shut up, Gaius.”
John laughed. “Hey.”
“Don’t pretend it wasn’t him. You’re not that profound—not with that hair.”
“You’re really lucky I like you,” John muttered and slouched back in his chair.
– – – –
“And the evidence of damage is everywhere,” Elizabeth said as she stared at the screen of her tablet. “What else do we know?”
“Based on historical data,” Rodney began and waved a hand, “the planet is essentially rocked by a series of tropical storms that eventually merge into a super storm cell that is beyond a category five hurricane we might see on earth. It happens every one hundred years. Considering what we found yesterday, Dr. Weir, that cycle is still very much in play. I’d say based on the available date we have less than a year before we have another serious event.”
“Is it dangerous to the city?”
“Without shields, the city will be torn apart if we’re on the surface,” Rodney said. “And we don’t have the power to submerge. Moreover, it’ll destroy any land settlement we’ll have created within that time frame.”
“We’re already doing it. We need to get that power plant online, and the city hooked up to it. We’ll be able to launch a shield that will not only cover the city but several miles inland. It’ll protect our crops and the Athosian settlement if we stay within the containment.”
“Is the settlement still a good idea?” Weir questioned.
“We don’t have the food stores to feed us all without help. We can trade, but we’re also dependent on the growing seasons on various planets. Also, we aren’t sure what we’ll be able to trade beyond our knowledge. We didn’t come prepared to barter which was short-sighted,” Rodney said with a frown.
Weir flushed. “It wouldn’t be a problem if we didn’t have the Athosians on the city.”
“That’s silly,” Rodney said flatly. “If we ration, we only have enough food to last the expedition roughly eight months. I feel like an idiot for not even noticing it, but I trusted your administrative staff to handle the supplies.”
“Thank you for your work on this situation,” Weir said stiffly. “Let’s see if we can’t move the city a little faster?”
“I’ll double up the shifts on the hydropower drive. We found some pretty strong currents in our survey, so we’ll be able to generate power that way as well once we’re in the bay.” He checked his watch. “You’ll get an email within an hour with an escalated timeline on our move. I’ll need to consult with Kusanagi and Zelenka regarding a few topics on that front.”
“Fine, thank you.” Weir’s gaze flicked out into the control room below them. “How did things go with Colonel Sheppard?”
“It was his decision to check other continents to see how far reaching the situation might be,” Rodney said. “He’s doing his job, Dr. Weir.”
“Until he gets bored,” Elizabeth said evenly. “Then I guess we’ll have a different conversation. Revenants are greedy creatures, Rodney. They glut themselves on the human experience through one anchor after another. The moment his current circumstances stop stimulating him, we’re in trouble.”
Rodney’s gaze narrowed slightly. He was profoundly relieved that Beckett wasn’t allowed to discuss his results with anyone without his permission. He couldn’t imagine how Weir would treat him if she ever found out about his potential. It was annoying that he wasn’t free to fully explore the knowledge he’d been given about himself because of Weir’s attitude. The last thing they needed was for her to be hostile to both him and Sheppard.
– – – –
A week after the survey, John settled into the city control chair and sank down into the interface mentally.
“It’s different from the outpost,” John murmured as his fingers clenched on the gel pads. “Our girl is complicated.”
“Never met a woman who wasn’t.” Rodney sat down at the table they’d brought into the room so the scientists would have a workspace. “Miko?”
“The city systems are converging on the chair like a flock of birds,” Kusanagi said as she focused on her tablet. “Each program acts independently, but they’re coming together to do his bidding. It’s fascinating. The hydropowered engines are coming online as expected.”
“Five knots—that’s the maximum output. I don’t know how long we’ll be able to maintain that speed.”
“Ocean currents will help push us along,” Rodney said. “How is the solar panel restoration going?”
“Cell growth is on schedule,” Zelenka answered as he looked up from his own work. “I’ll be able to start replacing panels within the month. I expect to generate roughly five hundred megawatts of power from each tower. The Ancients’ advanced solar technology will be a very lucrative on Earth. The SGC will be able to market it with very little tweaking as the materials we’re using can be duplicated on Earth. I’ve already started prepping the information to send back.”
“Good.” Rodney looked up and focused on John. “Colonel?”
“I’m fine,” John murmured. “Ocean navigation is a little different than air, but my Revenant has some experience with it, so I’ve been kind of dipping into his well of knowledge.”
“The Viking?” Rodney said with some amusement.
“No, a British sailor in the 1700s,” John said. “It’s weird actually.”
“I’ve always considered myself a patriot,” Sheppard admitted roughly. “And I have memories of fighting in the Revolutionary War on the wrong side.”
“Not funny,” John muttered and shifted in the chair.
“What is the largest battle you remember being a part of?” Zelenka questioned and flushed when Rodney glanced his way. “If you don’t mind saying.”
John’s eyes opened, and he focused on Radek. “We were at the Battle of Somme.”
Rodney felt the blood drain from his face and he took a deep breath as Radek exhaled sharply. “That’s…”
“Stunning and horrifying,” Radek interjected. “I’m very sorry to know that you have such terrible memories in your mind now, Colonel.”
“I have cool stuff, too,” John said as he returned to his task. “We met Galileo Galilei in Florence when he was a young man. He was fascinating even then and quite attractive. Great in bed.”
Rodney huffed. “Shut up.”
“What? It was centuries ago,” John said in protest.
“You can’t brag about banging the father of modern science.”
“I can though,” John said with a laugh.
“Radek, tell him he can’t…”
“Eh.” Zelenka waved a hand. “I would brag as well.”
Rodney turned to Miko and found her staring at John in what looked like speculation.
She pursed her lips. “I’d write letters to scientific journals to discuss his technique and prowess on a quarterly basis until they insisted I stop.”
“The Revenant you anchor is quite old,” Miko said. “There aren’t many of those.”
“He’s old,” John agreed. “But I’ve not made the decision about sharing his name. Sumner rarely did, but it was his choice more than the Revenant’s.”
Miko nodded. “I appreciate the experience and skills he brings to the mission—no matter his name.”
– – – –
“I feel like I need to make a list of people that I can’t trust,” John said as he watched Rodney work on his laptop.
“I already made a list,” Rodney said and looked up. “Because I don’t know if I can trust Beckett to keep my status to himself long term. I can tell he wants to inform Weir. He even told me I should do it in case I have to anchor unexpectedly. I mean I know he’s supposed to because of doctor/patient confidentiality, but he’s made some questionable decisions. Also, Weir has a lot of power over him, and she’s used it to her own ends more than once. She’s furious that the ATA gene won’t work for her and has made it clear that he is to continue researching it until it does work for her.”
“That’s unlikely, right?”
“It appears to only work for people who have dormant components of the ATA gene. Descendants of Ancients but with a heavily diluted bloodline.”
“It makes me question how much my family tree is forked,” John said and grinned when McKay laughed. “Seriously.”
“I think Miko figured you out, you know.”
“I think so, too,” John admitted. “But I don’t believe she’ll gossip about it with other people.”
“No, she’s the sort to protect the privacy of others,” Rodney agreed as he shut his lap top. “Do you have any more work to do?”
“No, but I’m waiting on Bates’ team to return. They’re on a planet Teyla recommended trying to arrange trade. They’ve had good luck so far in securing small arrangements as most are allies who are sympathetic to the loss the Athosians suffered. Bates has a developed back story for our people that does not feature the Ancients or the city.”
“I read through it—Operation Tauri. Bates has me on his team, but I’m only scheduled for exploratory missions. He said he’d rather not waste my time with trade missions unless we find Ancient technology. Did you want to go to the gate room to wait?”
“He’s due within the next thirty minutes. Chuck will let me know if they’re late.” John checked his watch and frowned.
“I don’t know why,” John admitted. “We’ve had a dozen off-world missions so far and none them bothered me like this one.”
“You’re dealing with new instincts,” McKay pointed out. “You should listen to them. Maybe things are a little off because of the recent anchoring or whatever but being vigilant never hurt anything. Maybe Bates will think you’re paranoid.”
“Or he desperately wishes I’d made contact already,” John said grimly. He turned on his heel and stalked out of the lab.
– – – –
A half hour later, John was in a jumper going through the gate because AR1 hadn’t responded at all. He’d rendered the jumper invisible as it had been lowered into the gate room by the automated system. McKay was in the co-pilot seat armed with a tablet and a life signs detector. Weir hadn’t argued with the mission at all which would’ve put John on the defensive automatically if he hadn’t left Marcus Stackhouse in charge in the gate room to make sure he was allowed back on the city. Weir had looked offended at the idea that she might try to strand him off-world but John didn’t put it past her at all.
The Genii village looked normal, but the jumper was giving them readings that told them a very different story. Teyla had described them as a primitive but helpful people who were dedicated to farming. The Wraith had left the world alone for generations though no one knew why.
“Underground bunker,” McKay said with a huff. “We’ve got radiation readings here and here.” He pointed to different places on the map the jumper had generated of the Genii compound. “These two life signs—Ford and Teyla.” He pointed to another room where there was a blue dot. “Bates.”
“How do you know?”
“I’ve programmed my life signs detector to identify their individual life signs. They’re my team, and I wanted to be able to keep track of them off-world if something happened.” He shrugged when John briefly glanced his way. “They’re unhurt though Bates heartrate is elevated, so he’s probably being interrogated. I’m getting a radio signal from Bates location, so he has his radio with him or at least it’s in the room.”
John quirked an eyebrow and activated his ear piece. “Captain Bates this is Colonel Sheppard.”
The radio activated. “Colonel Sheppard, my name is Jendar Cowen, and I’m the leader of the Genii Federation. I am prepared to negotiate the release of your people.”
“The Tauri doesn’t negotiate with an enemy, Cowen,” John said neutrally as he turned the jumper and stared out over the large field of crops. “And by taking my people hostage, you’ve declared yourself the enemy. Release them immediately, or I’ll set fire to your fields.”
“You’d not dare,” Cowen shouted.
John fired a drone at a shed the jumper told him was empty. “Your demonstration. The next time I fire—it’ll be on the field. I have enough ammunition to lay waste all the farm land around your village.”
“How dare you! You don’t know what you’ve done!”
“You have no idea what kind of enemy you’ve made today,” John said evenly. He glanced toward McKay who nodded. “If my people are injured in any single way—your people will pay in kind.” He turned the jumper toward the main village when the scientist motioned with a hand.
Through the front of the jumper, they could see Ford, Teyla, and Bates being escorted by people in uniforms to the gate. Bates dialed the gate, and with a brief glance up, the team disappeared through the wormhole.
“You’ll pay for this Sheppard!” Cowen hissed through the open radio connection.
John closed the connection without responding and activated the channel for the temporary beta site. “This is Sheppard.”
“We’ve cleared the area, sir. You can bring the jumper through.”
– – – –
He said nothing while Bates and Ford outlined the events on the planet. Teyla had remained silent through the explanation unless asked a question. She was obviously irritated to have been so misled by the Genii for years. McKay outlined his findings regarding radiation and his belief that the Genii were making nuclear weapons of some sort. The idea was horrifying, but Weir seemed fascinated and several times during the conversation she floated the idea of trying to form an alliance.
“No.” John leaned forward and focused on Weir the fifth time she brought up negotiating with the Genii. “The last thing we need to do is bring nuclear material into an environment like the city. The Genii have absolutely nothing to offer us at this point that would be valuable. Technologically speaking, they’re sixty years behind us, and their go-to solution to gaining further technology and weapons is hostage-taking. They have all the markings of terrorists, Dr. Weir, and you know it. You also know that we couldn’t trust this Cowen person. They want weapons, and frankly, we are under supplied on that front already. When Captain Bates suggested that we keep a low profile in this galaxy and to avoid an association with Atlantis and the Ancients, you agreed. That means our trade deals off-world will never include advanced technology or weapons.”
“That was because Teyla led us to believe that there were no advanced societies in Pegasus due to the Wraith,” Weir said in protest and glared briefly at the native woman. “Obviously she was mistaken.”
“The Genii are killing themselves,” Rodney said shortly. “Every single person living and working in that bunker will probably be dead within the next five years. Yes, we could help them, but that would just make their weapon of mass destruction more of a threat to us. Right now, we’re relatively safe from them because they don’t know who are or where we actually live. If we engaged in a true alliance with them—they would learn about us and most definitely about the city. Eventually, they’d see our ships, our more advanced weapons, and they’d realize that everything we have could be theirs. They’ll quickly come to know that they outnumber us greatly and we have no hope of reinforcements. It would endanger every single person on this city and for what?” He waved a hand. “I made a nuclear warhead when I was in the sixth grade.” He paused when they all stared at him in horror. “I mean it wasn’t functional, but it could’ve been. I just didn’t have all the supplies I needed.”
“You could make nuclear weapons?” Weir asked.
“I have made such weapons for the SGC,” Rodney said evenly. “I’m not particularly proud of it, but we had no choice regarding such weapons before we discovered Ancient technology. I helped build all the bombs that were stock piled to arm the ships that Earth is building and some of those are nuclear. You spent your career on Earth trying to get rid of WMDs, Elizabeth.”
“Yes, well, that was before I knew about the Stargate Program,” Weir said shortly. “That was before I realized that there were people leaving the planet and finding enemies like the Goa’uld.”
“It doesn’t matter who we fight, Dr. Weir,” John said evenly. “How we fight, and the weapons we deploy in that fight is what defines us as a species. I will not encourage nuclear proliferation in Pegasus. If the Genii will use such weapons on the Wraith, then they will use them on other enemies as well. Do you want to be a party to mass murder?”
She paled. “No, of course not. I hate to see their potential wasted. We could teach them….” Weir exhaled and sat back as she crossed her arms. “No, they’ve already learned the lessons that will shape them. You’re right, Rodney, we’d just be opening ourselves up to an invasion.” She stood. “Colonel, I think it’s best if we not have any more off-world missions until we’ve established a secure Alpha site.”
“Agreed,” John murmured, and she left them with a firm nod. He focused on Teyla. “It’s not your fault—you had no reason to suspect the Genii weren’t exactly who they’ve claimed to be for years. We’ve learned over time that nothing reveals a person’s true nature more than what they prove to be greedy for.”
“There is a problem though,” Rodney said. “When I was scanning for the team I found a signal. I’ve tracked the signal to you, Teyla. Are you wearing some kind of transmitter? Did the Genii give you something during the trade discussion?”
“No,” Teyla said and shook her head. “I…carry no technology but what I was given by Captain Bates.” She glanced toward Bates for support. “We had several discussions about how we would present ourselves in the field to avoid discussion of the city of the ancestors.”
“What about your necklace? The Ancient one?” John questioned. “I found it in the ruins that first night.” He turned to McKay. “It glowed when I picked it up.”
Teyla took off the necklace with a frown. “I lost it many years ago, and Colonel Sheppard found it shortly before the Wraith came.”
She put the jewelry down on the table and Rodney reached out to take it. The moment his fingers brushed over the pendant, it started to glow. McKay withdrew his hand and focused on the tablet. “Do you know where it’s from?”
“No, I’m afraid not. My father gave it to me long ago. Why?”
“It’s responding to the ATA gene, but it’s not Ancient.”
“It’s not?” John questioned. “It looks Ancient.”
“Yeah, it does. Unfortunately, the signal is Wraith,” Rodney said. “It’s weak, but it’s transmitting—probably whenever the gate is open.”
Teyla pulled her gun and slammed the butt of it against the pendant—the pieces shattered over the table. She hit it again and would’ve probably hit a third time if Bates hadn’t grabbed her wrist. Her eyes were wet with tears. “We’re safe here.” She turned to Bates. “We’ve never been safe, Dean. I…”
“Does the Wraith know we’re here?” Bates asked neutrally as he gently prodded back into her chair. “Ford, get her some tea.”
Aiden immediately left the table in favor of the small counter in the back of the room where they kept supplies.
“I don’t know,” Rodney admitted. “As I said, it’s probably been using open gates to transmit. We certainly can’t back the planet we’ve been using to stage missions, and we should avoid any planet she’s visited while wearing the pendant. We haven’t any unauthorized dial ins.”
“If they’ve tracked the pendant to this planet then they’re on their way,” John said. “They probably already know the city has a shield over the gate. Historical data that Weir’s people have already gathered told us that the Ancients abandoned the city because of a Wraith siege.” He looked at the parts of the pendant. “We need to shift our focus a little in the field.”
“How?” Bates questioned.
“We need intel on the Wraith—current locations, culling rate, fleet size,” John said. “We need to know how many are awake and how many are coming our way. How fast do their hives move? Can they travel in hyperspace? What kind of engines do they have in their ships and what are their power sources? We need to know how to destroy their ships, how to kill them quickly and efficiently in the field. Food and trade are important, but now we need to trade for information as well as supplies.”
“I’ll go brief Dr. Weir on the new development,” Rodney said wearily.
“Can she do anything beyond pitch a truly unbecoming fit in her office?” Bates interjected as McKay started to stand.
“No,” Rodney admitted.
“Then perhaps we should keep this to ourselves,” Ford said as he returned to the table with a steaming cup of tea which he placed in front of Teyla. “At least for the time being? Does the city have long range sensors?”
“What like on Star Trek?” Rodney asked and rolled his eyes. He frowned then and huffed. “I’ll check.”
Ford offered him a bright grin.
“Weir’s behavior is bad for morale,” Dean said, and he focused on John. “The way she tries to undermine you is making people, both civilian and military, furious with her. It got around quickly that she tried to put Lt. Ford in charge as military leader. His relative inexperience is no secret.” He glanced toward Ford who just nodded his agreement. “Things calmed down a bit when it became clear she wasn’t going to get her way on that front, but the last thing we need for her is to come unhinged in public.”
“So we keep it from her until we know for certain they’re coming?” Rodney asked.
“We don’t need her input to prepare for an invasion or a siege,” Bates said. “Also, she might get it in her head to blame Teyla for the threat. She might try to force us to evict the Athosians, and that would create a host of security threats that she’d probably overlook. She’s not prepared mentally or emotionally to lead in a war zone.”
John tapped his fingers on the table as they all turned to him for an opinion.
“He’s right. We can’t trust her,” Rodney said quietly. “Her response would be self-serving no matter what it turned out to be. She’s already proven that her own comfort is more important than the safety of the entire expedition.”
John focused on Teyla Emmagan. “Are you prepared to keep this a secret from everyone outside of this room?”
Teyla looked briefly at the remains of her pendant. “She’s not a good leader. I knew this within hours of being on the city. I watched her attempt to subjugate many of your people regarding the anchoring of Colonel Sumner’s Revenant. She threatened several of them—to prevent them from volunteering. When she didn’t get the response she wanted, she screamed at them. I didn’t know what a Revenant was, but in the hours after our capture, I came to believe that Marshall Sumner was a strong and brave man. I couldn’t understand how she could turn on him as he lay dying.”
“And now that you know what a Revenant is?” Ford asked. “How do you feel about her campaign now?”
“I thought her foolish and disrespectful before I understood,” Teyla said. “Having learned the truth of the existence of the Revenant has changed that opinion. Moreover, I find her behavior deeply offensive. She sought to interfere in a very intimate matter regarding bodily consent. Such behavior among my people is profane and on par with a Wraith feeding.”
John exchanged a look with McKay. “You won’t be able to tell your people either.”
“They would be powerless to prevent what is to come. I won’t tell anyone what has been said in this room.”
“Thank you,” John said. “We should make a plan to keep our people safe if the Wraith get here before we have a shield.”
“I need coffee for this,” McKay decided and left the table. “And I need Miko and Radek. We don’t have to tell them about the incoming threat, but they’ll be good to have for implementing plans regarding areas on the city to create shelters for non-combatants.”
John sat back in his chair with a nod and watched as McKay called in his people to help brainstorm the situation. He opened the conference room doors with a thought because the rest of the conversation needn’t be private. His gaze drifted across the open gate room to where Weir’s office was. The leader of the expedition was seated at her desk, smiling at something on her tablet. It was a soft, pleased smile and John wondered what she was reading. She looked up then, and the smile fell from her face as she caught sight of him. Weir glared at him before turning in her chair enough that he couldn’t see her.
“Childish,” Bates muttered.
It was so John just nodded and returned his attention to the matter at hand as Miko Kusanagi entered the conference room. “Let’s get started.”