- Action Adventure
- Alternate Universe
John again went first through the Gate. It was night time, no lights anywhere, even the moon was obscured by clouds. John activated the night sensors in the Jumper, assuming Rodney would do the same.
Rodney came through behind him and shut down the Gate.
“Okay, we’re here,” Rodeny said. “What now?” Check, and double check. Their plan counted on no one being at the Gate, but that wasn’t guaranteed.
“Land near the Gate and get the DHD logs, so we can see if it’s safe to stay here, or not,” John replied. “I’ll stay in the air to keep watch.”
“Got it!” Rodney replied, settling his Jumper as close to the Gate as he dared. John heard the rear hatch open over the comm, but he focussed on scanning the area around them. While there were no human life signs in the immediate area, this was a trickier stop than the other two. Their hope was that it was bold enough to give them the security they needed.
“Okay, I’m back,” Rodney announced. “Need some time to analyze what I have.”
“Let’s move to the edge of the city and see if we can blend in with the tech there,” John said. “Keep an eye out for any transmissions. Hopefully we won’t trip any booby traps.”
“I will. Lead on!” Rodney replied.
Cloaks and shields on, they quickly moved to the outskirts of the abandoned city. John hovered for a few minutes, keeping an eye on the life sign detector, and decided that an open space that would be called a ‘courtyard’ would be safe enough.
Rodney followed him down, settling neatly next to him.
“Okay, look through those logs, and tell me if this will work,” John said. “I’ll take over watching for any transmissions.”
“Looking!” Rodney called back.
John stayed vigilant as Rodney worked. They had no idea if this would be a safe place to leave one of the Jumpers while they made their next move. They also had to worry about any booby-traps that might alert anyone — especially the Wraith — of their presence. They had never had the time to find out if the Wraith culling when they were here before had been coincidence or the result of setting off a trap.
“Okay,” Rodney finally said. “While there’s been some kinda-recent activity through the Gate, it’s probably at least a month old. And it’s more of a quick dial in, dial out sequence. Like someone was just checking, or was using this as a quick stop on the way somewhere else.”
“And before that?” John asked.
“Again, month-ish or longer time between dialings,” Rodney answered. “But not year-ish. So someone comes here on an irregular basis. Although, not from and to the same addresses. All the addresses are different.”
“So the theory that folk are using this as a stop on the way to somewhere else is the best guess?” John said.
“Guess being the operative word here,” Rodney said.
“Can we leave the one Jumper safely?” John replied.
“Let me think about it for a few,” Rodney said. “I want to look further back before I commit to this.” He paused. “And we have to make sure there are no delayed booby-traps.”
“No problem,” John said. “We’re not in a hurry.”
“Until we are!” Rodney shot back.
John kept an eye on the life sign detector, seeing nothing but smaller life signs, which generally meant animals. He had the detector sensitivity turned up relatively high, which inevitably gave a number of false positives, but they needed to be safe and not sorry. He dialed it back a notch and the few life signs disappeared. He set it back and the life signs came back.
One life sign was moving toward the Jumpers. John looked out the front window and waited for a moment. He finally identified something inching its way toward them. It was a small quadruped, and its markings let it blend into the dried vegetation surrounding the area.
Not knowing what it was, John had the Jumper take a picture of the animal, so they could see if someone could identify it later. If it was relatively harmless, he didn’t want to kill it off. It came closer, sniffed the air, then backed up to the edge of the courtyard. It settled in under a ragged bush.
“Well, I think it’s safe enough,” Rodney finally declared. “I finally found the last dial-out to Atlantis in the logs, when we evacuated the Athosians to us. There were a few dial ins and outs, mostly us, which I can identify, in that time same period. Some regular dial ins and outs from a couple of unknown addresses for a while after that, maybe the Wraith looking for survivors, or allies looking for the Athosians. Then a serious drop-off of activity after that. I’d guess quarterly-ish is as good as I can do.”
“I’ve not seen any transmissions. If there are booby-traps, we haven’t set any off, as far as I can see. Okay to leave the one Jumper here, then?” John wanted to make sure they were both comfortable with this. Triple check this decision. He didn’t want to lose what was in that Jumper their third day out of Atlantis.
“I think so,” Rodney repeated. “The activity is low enough that it’s doubtful anyone comes this far from the gate too often. Being in ‘the forbidden city’ — even near the perimeter — should help. And if we lock it up with the cloak on, someone would have to walk up to it to even find it. Not setting off any booby-traps is a good thing.”
“And since we’re hoping this is only for a couple of days at most, that’s a help in keeping it safe,” John said. “Worse case, we come back and get it and move on to Plan B.”
“There is that,” Rodney said. He didn’t say that they really, really did not want to have to move on to Plan B.
“Then let’s do it!” John decided.
“Powering down and setting security,” Rodney said. “I’ll be there in a few minutes.”
John lowered the hatch on his Jumper, waiting for Rodney.
“Hey!” Rodney said as he came onto the Jumper. He had a laptop bag and a backpack that he fitted into the small space behind the pilot seat. Rodney ran a warm hand over John’s shoulder.
“All set over there?” John asked as Rodney dropped into the seat next to John’s. John didn’t say it aloud, but it was good to have Rodney here with him again. Even though they’d been in pretty constant contact for the last couple of days, being able to touch if he wanted was a huge improvement.
“Not a problem,” Rodney assured him. “I’ve set up the security, so even if the Wraith happen to find it, they can’t use it.”
“Good to know,” John said.
“Okay, do we wait here or move on?” Rodney asked.
“At this point, let’s move on,” John decided. “We’ve taken all the precautions we can, and I think we should just go for it.”
“Oh, thank goodness,” Rodney sighed. “That will be so much better.”
“Okay then, let’s see what’s out there,” John said, putting the Jumper back into the air.
They came through the Gate and it was night time. Again.
“Let’s settle down a little ways from the Gate and wait for daylight,” John decided. “They’ll have seen the Gate activate, I would guess, but I don’t know how far from the Gate anyone is.”
“Daylight makes sense,” Rodney agreed. “Go slow, I would say.”
“I have life signs in a couple of those buildings,” John said. “Shields up until we make some contact.” He left the cloak off, they wanted to be found on this planet.
“Okay,” Rodney answered. He poked at the detector he had in his hand.
John concentrated on moving carefully through the area around the Gate. There were crumbling buildings too close to the Gate and he didn’t want to send anything tumbling down. Especially with the scattered life signs he could see in some of them.
He found an open space a few blocks from the Gate. “I’m going to set down in that square. I can’t see anyone on the surrounding buildings and the ground looks level.”
“Good enough,” Rodney agreed.
It didn’t take long for him to settle into the space.
“Best I can figure, it’s getting to be very early morning,” Rodney reported. “Like 4 AM sort of time. So there’s three or four hours to sunrise.”
“Okay,” John replied. “SInce there are life signs out there, I’m going to stay on watch.”
“There’s nothing in orbit that I can see,” Rodney reported. “So just whomever is in those buildings.”
“Watchers, I’d guess,” John said. “I’ll keep the shield up, but not the cloak, so they can find us.”
“Do you need a break?” Rodney asked. “I’ll be working on the logs from Athosia for a while and can keep an eye out.”
“Nah,” John demurred. “If it’s only a few hours to sunrise, someone will be here sooner than later. I can nap when we know what’s going on.”
“Okay,” Rodney shrugged, turning back to the laptop.