Atlantis Chapter Four – Sounding the All Clear

Atlantis Chapter Four – Sounding the All Clear

 

Atlantis

May 2012 – Old Earth Calendar

Main Conference Room

“Finally we’ve started planting the second level of the greenhouse with Pegasus exotics and some of the quick growing varieties of fruit. I would like to request that the Teams bring back samples of any new fruit or vegetable varieties that they encounter while on missions. We need more viable sources of vitamin C and several of the B’s. Medical is requesting that we attempt to get them out of food because our supply of synthetic sources aren’t going to be adequate for long,” Parrish said before sitting down and turning the meeting over to Elizabeth.

Meetings. Her life was run by endless meetings. At least this was turning out to be one the more interesting ones. Elizabeth suppressed a sigh at the thought and suppressing the desire to fidget, thanked Dr. Parrish for his report. Turning to the Sheppard, she nodded once and passed the meeting over to him.

“Okay. As everyone knows, it’s been thirteen months since we started hanging out here ‘in the black,’” said Sheppard. Elizabeth smiled slightly at the Colonel’s use of the term. The expression had gained in popularity after the Recreation department had played the entire season of Firefly during movie nights not long after the City had settled into its current orbit. Acknowledging the smile Sheppard continued, “And thanks to the hard work from the botany department, we haven’t starved. But all this hanging out is seriously costing us in terms of energy for the shield and environmental systems so we need to think about putting the City down on a safe planet. To that end, our Teams have been putting out feelers to see what is being said about us in the galaxy at large. Major Lorne has been in charge of that effort and has come back with good news” John waved his hand at his second in an obvious invitation to talk. “Major the floor is yours.”

“Thanks, sir.” Gentle sarcasm flavored Lorne’s words, but Elizabeth didn’t hear anything disrespectful, just fond. “Our last report from Larrin and the other Traveler captains show that there hasn’t been a Tau’ri based ship incursion into Pegasus for the last five and a half months. Teyla and the other Athosian traders haven’t seen anyone flashing our pictures around for about the same length of time. After a bit of hunting, we managed to talk to one of the guys who had been doing some of the picture flashing and he stated that they had been told that the search had been called off by order of a General O’Neill.”

The whole conference room broke out in excited murmurs over that piece of news. Hearing that the General was back in charge was indeed a great morale booster. Elizabeth saw that two of her command staff seemed especially relieved and were just sitting back in their chairs, wearing big grins. From the look of things they were also holding hands under the table. She knew that Jon and Daniel had been quietly worrying over what had happened to Jack since they had arrived and with this one piece of news, most of those fears had been laid to rest. Deciding that the fuss had gone on long enough, Elizabeth spoke up. “Ladies and gentlemen, please hold any further questions until the Major finishes his report. Major Lorne, please continue.”

“Thank you, Dr. Weir. As I was saying, it looks like the SGC has stopped looking for us, so that’s one worry down. The second item on the list of potential problems has always been the Wraith. The Wraith are still moving across the galaxy from what the long range sensors are reporting. From all indications so far, even that has slowed down. It seems that they’re heading into a period of dormancy and we are reasonably certain that this behavior is due to the fact that there just isn’t enough food for them for them all to stay awake and our low profile.” Elizabeth had to admire how the man was able to say that phrase with an absolutely straight face, she still couldn’t manage to get it out without a small grimace. “Most of the hives we had been monitoring have settled on planets and data suggests that most of the crew have entered into a form of hibernation, much like the ship Colonel Sheppard originally encountered.

“Our third headache has been any possible actions from the Asurans. As of the last flyby we were able to conduct they are still on their home world, but after reviewing the footage take, it has been confirmed that they are building a number of ships. There has been some speculation by our Intel guys on what the ships are for, but no one has come up with anything that seems to fit the available facts. Since we are no longer where they would expect us to be, I feel confident that we can leave them alone for a bit longer. Dr. McKay, I do have a question for you however: The Asurans repaired Atlantis when they had control of her, correct?”

Although he nodded in agreement, Rodney clearly had no idea where this line of questions was going. “Yes, they did. When we got the City back, we did a complete scan to confirm that everything was working correctly and found that between Helia, her crew and the Replicators, all the structural damage from being submerged and then bombarded during Year One had been fixed. Why?”

“I’ll get to that in a moment, Doctor. Do we know which of the two groups installed the three fully charged ZPM’s that we found when we retook the City?” Lorne asked.

“Uhm… It would have to have been the Replicators, Major.” Rodney’s eyes started to gleam as he obviously caught the Major’s idea and ran with it. “Helia’s ship is still stuck between the galaxies and unless we manage to get it, it’ll stay out there for a very long time. But I don’t recall the crew taking anything with them when they transported over to the Daedalus. Colonel, do you remember them bringing anything?”

“No. Most of what I remember about that week was the utter arrogance of Helia and how pissed I was that she had managed to kick us out.” Frowning, John sat back, obviously going over his memories of that time. A few minutes later, he spoke slowly, “I remember us beaming down, Helia pulling the command override pillar out of the floor of the Gateroom and then I was basically locked out of Atlantis’s computers. So I have no idea if they added the ZPM’s at that time. Once we got rid of the Replicators I could feel that there was extra power available in the systems, but until we found the three ZPM’s, I had no real idea why. What are you thinking Major?”

“Well sir, if we ever come up with a foolproof means to get rid of the Replicators, I think we need to go on a bit of a scavenger hunt before we use it. The Asurans have built their whole civilization on the exact same model the Ancients used down to the architecture and the clothes. By doing that they had to have come up with ZPM’s and, according to my understanding of Replicator technology, they have to be real physical objects to work. Given that, I think we need to see if we can harvest a couple before we get rid of them. But that is a conversation for another day.”

John was quiet as he watched everyone turn over the radical proposal he had requested Lorne put forth. Humming lightly at the enthusiastic reactions it was getting, he flashed a quick smile at his second, “Major, you don’t think small, do you? We’ll talk about this later.”

Nodding in agreement, Elizabeth took back control of her meeting, “Much later, gentlemen. Major, to get back on topic, we need a planet to set the City on. Do you have one?”

“Yes ma’am, we do. P3X-899 is our best choice.” Lorne picked up the remote for the display and started flipping through a series of photos. “It was on our initial short list, but was later dropped due to its distance from Lantea. We’ve been monitoring it much more closely since we set up shop out here and everything looks good. The planet isn’t all that far away from our current location and the territory between us and the planet is clear. It’s a water world, and the main ocean is more than deep enough to support Atlantis. The atmospheric gas mix, gravity and overall weather are a close match to Lantea and the soil on the continent we have picked out for the Athosians,” Lorne nodded in Teyla’s direction. “Is very fertile. Also, the results of the test patches Botany set up have all come back as being both nontoxic and on par with what the greenhouse is producing. The zoologists have also cleared some of the big game animals and something that looks remarkably like lobster, so we will have another source of food.”

“So, what is the climate like? Is it semi-tropical like on Lantea or are we talking about the north Atlantic?” Rodney asked.

Lorne smiled slightly at the questions and then looked at his tablet, clearly trying to buy some time. “Uhm, Dr. McKay, the area of ocean where we have proposed to settle the City is roughly analogous to the area around the Chesapeake Bay Region. From all indications, there are storms that go through the area, but they are nowhere near what Atlantis went through in year one.”

“Good. With a ZPM in, we can easily ride out any hurricanes without having to evacuate everyone to the Alpha site.” Rodney said as he absently rubbed his right forearm.

Deciding to see if she could divert some attention away from the astrophysist, Elizabeth spoke up, “So, basically this is the best choice we have of the available planets and it satisfies all our current needs, correct?”

Nodding his head Lorne agreed. “Yes ma’am. And once we are on the planet, we should be able to disconnect one of our ZPM’s and take it back to the Da Vinci. See if there is anything else hiding on board of him.”

“Ohhh… I like that plan,” said Rodney. He had obviously put aside the old memories and allowed his attention to be diverted; the thought of finding new toys to play with did that every time for him. Elizabeth glanced over at John who was also looking interested in the idea, which was much better than the expression he had been wearing. Thank goodness Koyla was dead.

“So if we are all agreed?” Elizabeth caught the eye of everyone at the table and got a nod from each. “Right. We’ll set up the time table for moving us out of this system and to our new planet. Colonel, I want you and Rodney to get with Carson in order to select the monitoring equipment for your next trip in the Chair. Radek, Dr. Parrish, Major Lorne and Lt. O’Neill, please get with the various departments and make sure we’re locked down in case our landing is rough. I think we’ll need to start by attaching equipment to walls and we obviously need to find out if any way that we can cover the fish tanks. Dr. Jackson, I want you to start working on a message that we can slip back to General O’Neill. I want a ‘Don’t call us, we’ll call you, thanks for everything’ type of message.” Clapping her hands together, she stood up. “Time to get busy people. Dismissed.”

~//~

The sensor pads itched. John tried to ignore the sensation, but as Carson started clipping the leads from his various machines to the pads on his chest, they tugged at his skin and the itch flared up again. The whole sensation was proving to be really annoying, but nowhere near as bad as it would be when his chest hair grew back in.  As the doctor turned around to get another set of leads, John tried to discreetly rub at the pad on his side, it itched.

“Here now, lad. None a’ that. If ye move that, we’ll not be getting a good reading,” scolded Carson.

“Carson, it itches. Why do I have to wear all of this shit again?” John knew he was whining, but damn it!

“You have to wear it because Atlantis tried to eat your brain the last two times you flew her and then she decided to start labeling things in English. Suck it up and deal with the itchiness, Colonel.”

Twisting his head around, John tried to look over his shoulder to see Rodney. “Okay. I’ll concede that it’s very weird seeing English labels on Ancient screens, but why are we doing this now?”

“Because we need to know what yer baselines are before ye get into the chair. We’ll also wire ye up before ye sit down in it. So stop yer moving, ye daft bugger and sit still!” and with that, Carson grabbed his shoulder and turned him around, pressing lightly, the doctor got across the message to stay still and be silent. Leaning slightly to the right, he grabbed something out of John’s line of sight, and when he came back he held a cap with hundreds of wires hanging from it. “If I didn’t think ye’d yelp like a scalded cat, I would suggest shaving ye’re head so we could get this on wi’ a tighter fit.”

Rodney’s head popped up at that announcement, and he immediately shook it in negation. “Oh, hell no. The hair doesn’t get touched Carson.”

Snickering lightly at Rodney’s immediate defense of his hair, John grinned at Carson, “Somehow I don’t think that would be wise.”

Grinning back at him, Carson agreed and handed him the cap, “Eh, I believe ye are right. Slip this on now.”

Blowing out a deep breath at the return to the original topic, John took the cap and drew it on, snapping the chin piece with an internal grimace. Suppressing the desire to rip the damn thing off, he tried not to twitch as the wires tugged against his head. “How long do I have to keep this thing on Carson?”

“Hmmm?” Looking up from the readouts, Carson smiled down at him, “Just until I get the baseline, lad. So lie back and try to relax.”

“Easy for you to say, you don’t have six billion sticky things on your chest or a Medusa cap attached to your head,” John muttered.

“Tisk, tisk, Colonel. Ye’ll live. And it seems like ye’ll do it sanely,” the doctor announced in a pleased voice a few minutes later. Now that he had the results that he wanted, it seemed as if he was willing to free John of his prison of wires. “Well lad, we will be setting this up again when ye are in the Chair. So slip on ye’re robe and head down to the Chair room.”

“Right, Carson. Can I have my radio back?”

~//~

All the ovens were turned off in the commissary and unplugged as an added precaution. Check.

The tilapia tanks were covered, sealed and the oxygen generators for the water were on independent power. Check.

All the equipment in the Medical wing was tied down and turned off. Check.

The tables and chairs in the commissary were pushed against the walls and tied down. Check.

All personnel accounted for and at their assigned duty stations. Check.

One ATA positive Lt. Colonel sitting in the City’s Command Chair, about to get his brain eaten by a hypothetical Ancient AI who only sometimes liked her new residents? Not check.

Tapping his radio, Evan Lorne called out, “Colonel Sheppard, where are you?”

“Right behind you, Major.”

Suppressing the urge to jump out of his skin, Lorne turned to look at his commanding officer, who was standing in front of him in a bathrobe. Deciding that a little payback was always a good thing, he smirked a little and said, “Looking good, sir. How soon are you going to be in the Chair?”

“Gee thanks, Lorne.” Grimacing at the teasing tone, John nodded towards the list in his hands. “Are we ready?”

“Yes, sir. Everything that has to be secured is secured, people are at their duty stations and Radek says that there is more than enough power in the ZPM’s to get us to our new planet.”

Nodding his head at each point, John looked pleased. “Good. I’ll be getting my brain scrambled in about five minutes, so I just wanted to say, thanks. For everything.”

“Not a problem, Colonel.” Evan said with a slight grin. While he wasn’t as violently uncomfortable with the emotional stuff as John was, this was edging too close to a final good-bye for his taste. Time to change the subject. “Better get moving before Rodney comes and hunts you down.”

Wincing slightly at that thought, John turned to go. “I’ll see you when this is over.”

Sighing softly as he watched his friend walk away, Evan offered a quiet, “Good luck, John.”

John didn’t respond.

~//~

“So when I get out of this thing, how about we go home and do something illegal?”

Rodney flashed him a grin and kept attaching sensor leads to the Chair. “Whatever you may want to do, Colonel, it sure won’t be illegal, but it will be fun. So, the faster you get us to New Lantea, the sooner we can start doing filthy things to each other.”

Clapping his hands together and shooting Rodney an amorous grin, John agreed. Turning to the other person in the room, he cocked one eyebrow in question.

Standing beside his equipment, Carson was untangling the various leads and obviously trying to ignore the verbal foreplay. Recognizing the pause in the conversation, he looked up and smiled saying, “Aye, it’s time for ye to get wired up. Stand still now.” Flipping the multitude of leads over his shoulder he reached out and untied John’s robe.

“Hey! Hands off the Colonel. He’s mine to fondle; you have a Marine of your own!”

John glanced over at Rodney and saw that he hadn’t even bothered to look up from his computer. “You know, that would be more impressive if you had bothered to look at him when you said it.”

Waving one hand in dismissal, Rodney waved that consideration aside while concentrating on the information scrolling across his computer screen, “Bah, he knows better. Be a good boy and stand still so he can wire you up.” Rodney’s mouth drew together into a thin line. “The ZPM’s are at 55%, so we need to do this now.”

Just like that, the mood shifted from playful and lighthearted to all business. “Right. Am I online, Carson?”

“Once ye get yer cap on, ye’ll be all set.”

Glaring at the medusa cap Carson was holding out, John sighed but slid the horrible thing on despite his lack of enthusiasm for the whole process. “Joy. Just so you both know, I have absolutely no wish to do this ever again, so let’s try to get everything right, okay?”

“Well I’m ready; I have no idea about Carson or anyone else in the City. Lemme check in with Radek,” Rodney said as he straightened a cable that connected his laptop to the Chair. “Radek, we are all set down here, how about you?” John waited as patiently as he could for everyone to give the all clear. Rodney still had to check in with Elizabeth and Lorne before he could sit down and get started. From the sound of it, Radek had given his okay and so Rodney had moved on to the next person. “We’re good, Colonel. Everything is set to go.”

“Right. Time to get this show on the road,” and drawing a deep breath, John sat down in the Chair and fell back into Atlantis’s semi-AI.

~//~

The Custodis programs registered the arrival of the designated organic Cittadino Interface that had last blended with the neural networks thirteen Tau’ri months before and allowed it to enter. This time the networks were able to correctly blend with the Cittadino Interface and the medicus programs reported no undue stress from the Interface.

The Astrum Veho and their accompanying programs were accessed and the coordinates for a planet labeled P3X-899 by Cittadino McKay’s data devices were entered into Navigation by the Interface and confirmed by Cittadino Lorne on the imperium pulpitum. Once power to the Astrum Veho had reached optimal levels, the Cittadino Interface engaged all units and Città Atlantis entered into hyperspace.

Travel time to P3X-899 was not long by Città standards, only four Tau’ri hours, but the Cittadino Interface requested a through scan of the planetary system with all available sensors and the results went to the imperium pulpitum, specifically Incol Zelenka’s station. All readings were within the acceptable ranges to sustain all Civitas and Incol’s currently living in Città Atlantis with room for several million more. The extra time required to allow the scan and mapping of the planet did mean that the Cittadino Interface was in the Chair {see Cittadino McKay’s notes on term as entered into updated lexicon} for longer than initially planned. Medicus programs noted a slight increase in brain activity and hormone levels and passed the information to Cittadino Beckett’s data device.

Upon acceptance of the sensor readings, Cittadino Interface landed Città Atlantis in the large ocean nearest the planets main landmass. Landing was less than optimal, but damage to the Città’s infrastructure was minimal. External contego were lowered upon confirmation that Città Atlantis was settled on the surface of the planet’s ocean.

Currently Città Atlantis has three potenta operating at 54.23% of standard. All systems nominal. Cittadino Organic Interface successfully withdrawn from the network.

End internal incident log.

Città Atlantis

May 27, 2012

~//~

“God damnit, John! You need to adjust your angle! We are coming in too steep! Pull the fuck up!” Rodney shouted at the oblivious figure in the City’s Command Chair. There was no sign that had John heard him. Since their reentry angle stayed where it was, it was a sure bet that he hadn’t. Tapping his radio to the City-wide channel, Rodney passed on the only warning he could, “All hands, brace for impact!”

Seconds later Atlantis splashed down on the surface of their new ocean with all the grace of a flying brick and then sank. Rodney felt the inertial dampeners increase their field strength and yet it wasn’t enough, he still jerked forward, reacting just like a passenger in a rapidly braking car. And just like when he was in a braking car, his laptop flew out of his hands and went skidding across the floor. Staring after the flying piece of electronics Rodney sighed, at least the damn thing was ruggedized and wasn’t likely to be damaged by its unexpected flight, his City however…

Stumbling over the gently rocking floor, he tapped his radio again, anxious to find out how everyone else was doing. “Elizabeth? Are you there?” Nothing. Not a sound. Desperate now to reach his laptop, Rodney lunged towards the now precious piece of electronics and grabbed it with shaking hands. Thankfully it was still hooked into the wireless network and was reporting on the condition of the City, which had apparently bobbed to the surface like a cork while he was trying to get the computer back. Status reports from the sensors showed minor damage, more from falling equipment than structural problems. Initial reports also showed that several injured personnel were being escorted to medical and the shields were down.

Rodney paused at the last item. The shields were down and that meant that they were no longer on internal life support. Flashing a quick glance at the man in the Chair, he confirmed that it was still reclined, which mean that John was still talking to the City. Carson was checking over the leads to make sure they were still attached and hadn’t done any harm to the prone figure after the rocky landing they had just endured. Catching his eye, Rodney saw that the doctor wasn’t worried, just being through and he relaxed. Tapping his radio again, he tried again to get someone on the command deck, “Elizabeth? Radek? Lorne? Someone answer.”

Sounding out of breath, but without pain, Elizabeth spoke up, “Rodney, we are all right. A little shaken up, but no one is injured and the only damage we have is a monitor that fell over. How’s John?”

Sagging slightly in relief, Rodney closed his eyes in thanks and drew in a deep breath, “So far he seems fine. Obviously we’re on the planet and the atmosphere is capable of supporting life, so we are no longer on internal life support.” As he was speaking, he was checking what systems were still running on Atlantis. “It looks like the internal gravity generators have also been powered down, and most of the hatches, doors and windows across the City have been opened to allow for a clearing of internal air. Can you confirm that?”

“Yes, I can. The door to the balcony is wide open and we have a nice breeze blowing through the room. Do you know if the DHD has updated our position?” she asked.

Rodney opened his mouth to answer her question when he saw Carson starting to detach the leads from a newly upright John. Speaking quickly, he tapped out a quick note to his second, asking him to take over the post flight tests. “Radek will be better able to tell you that than I can, Elizabeth. Have him get back to me when he has that information, it looks like the Colonel has decided to rejoin the land of the living.”

“I understand. Take care of him for us. Elizabeth out.”

Hurrying back to the command Chair, Rodney anxiously looked for any sign that the Colonel was actually back with them. The last two times they had done this, once the Chair had released him, John had quickly opened his eyes when prompted but it had been obvious that no one was truly home. Hopefully, this time would be different. “Carson? How’s he doing?”

Carson didn’t bother to look up from what he was doing, and Rodney found that oddly reassuring. There was no urgency to the physician’s movements, more the rhythm of a man trying not to cause his patient any undue pain as he removed the sticky leads. “He’s doing well, lad. Opened his eyes, took a few sips of water, looked over at ye’ chatting and then went ta sleep. Meanwhile, I also got some information from our new friend, HAL. Take a look at m’ tablet.”

Leaning forward, Rodney looked at the screen of the tablet that Carson had been using to monitor John’s condition while he was interfaced with the Chair. Most of the information on it seemed normal, blood pressure, EEG, EKG, the hormone levels of his endocrine system, pulse and blood oxygen all looked good. Closer inspection however, showed that there was something weird running in the background, something that looked an awful like the readout from the Ancient diagnostic machine they had in the infirmary. Feeling very freaked out and trying to hold onto his composure, Rodney tapped his headset to get a private channel between himself and his second. “Radek, come in.”

Transmitted clearly through the radio, Rodney heard something that sounded a great deal like someone’s head thumping into the underside of a console. From the sound of the inventive cursing Czech, it had been Radek’s head. Wincing slightly at the flow of imprecations, he knew that he was going to pay for causing that, but this was too important to be ignored. “Radek, bitch me out later. Right now, I need you to check something for me. Carson got a love note from our friend HAL about John. It’s an in-depth look at how his body was working while he was in the chair. Can you see if anything else has been affected?”

“You are a most irritating man. Did you not just ask me to look at systems so you can babysit brain-eaten Colonel?” Flushing lightly at what his friend was implying, Rodney was quiet for a moment and then opened his mouth to blast the man only to get interrupted, “Chyort voz’mi! The information I got on the planet during the Colonel’s scans wasn’t loaded into my machine via our network, it was sent there directly by Atlantis. Rodney, what is going on?”

“I have no idea, but nothing Atlantis’s done has been harmful. It seems that our hypothetical AI has decided to branch out from labeling items in English, despite how helpful that is to people who can’t read the language. I think this is the first time she’s voluntarily given us something interesting and actually useful. I’m going to ask John what he remembers about this latest session when he wakes up.”

“Yes, yes. You do that. Some of us have to work.” The last Rodney heard from his second was a litany of Czech curses about stupid people and love, all aimed at him and then quickly cut off.

While he had been busy confirming the news, Carson had finished stripping off the wires connecting John to his monitoring equipment and was quickly prepping a wheelchair to convey him down to the infirmary. “Rodney, come here. I need ye to help me move him.”

Getting the Colonel into the wheel chair was the work of only a moment, and then they were on their way to the infirmary. As soon as they arrived, Carson started barking out orders from his staff and getting an update on the few injuries Atlantis had sustained while getting his newest patient settled. Once as John was in a bed and hooked up to monitoring equipment again, Rodney kissed him gently and then left him in the competent hands of Carson’s staff. He had work to do.

~//~

The first thing John knew when he woke up was that his head hurt. Again. Not nearly as bad as the last time he had woken up after a session in the Chair, but he still didn’t feel all that great. Reaching up to rub his temples, he felt the tug of an IV line in his hand and knew that he was in the infirmary again. Slowly opening his eyes, he took a quick peek around to assess the situation. He was by himself in one of the private rooms and there was a glass of water on the table by the bed. Judging by the condensation on the outside; it had been there for a while. Reaching out carefully, John picked up the glass and slowly sipped at the cool water, trying to clear the mental cobwebs and getting rid of his dry mouth.

It looked like no one had been in to see him for a while. Scanning the area beside his bed, he noticed that there were no laptops running simulations, no leftover food crumbs and the chair was where it was supposed to be, not pushed up against the wall. Frowning, John checked his ear to see if he still had his radio, but it looked like that had been taken along with his clothes. “Situation: normal for him being in the infirmary,” he sighed mentally to himself. Concentrating on his connection to Atlantis, John tried to get a sense of how things were going on with the City, but like every other time he had tried all he got was a sense of well-being and contentment.

Leaning back against his pillow, John frowned and stared up at the ceiling and contemplated detaching his leads and IV’s and just walking out. The idea was very tempting, but if he did that, Carson would make his life a living hell, not to mention that Rodney would try to deafen him by the sheer volume of his voice when he found out about the escape attempt. John decided that he had to know what was happening to his City more than he wanted to be good and reached for the blood pressure/oxygen monitor on his finger. Right as he pulled the damn thing off his finger, Carson walked in.

“Colonel, ye will be putting that damn thing back on yer finger and ye’ll be staying put in tha’ bed. Do ye’ understand me?”

Busted. “Sure Carson. I’ll be laying here, staring at the ceiling tiles, wondering what the hell is going on.” Shooting the doctor a hopeful look, he asked, “Any idea when I can get out of here?”

“Ye’ll get out of here when I feel yer system is back where it should be and right now, ye’re not quite where ye should be. So jes’ park yer ass in that bed and stay put,” Carson said with a scowl.

Lying back down, John tried a different tack. “Can I at least find out what the hell happened after I landed the City? I know I was able to keep an eye on things until then.”

Pulling the blankets up over John’s chest, Carson seemed startled at the news. “Ye were? Well that is interesting. Ye’ll have to tell Rodney that when he comes to get ye. And I’ll not be telling ye anything more. Now snuggle down and go back to sleep, ye silly git.” And with that, he checked to make sure the monitor was securely attached to his finger and patting his shoulder, the doctor walked out of the room.

Sighing deeply at his lack of progress in getting out of the infirmary or getting any news, John gave in and decided that staying in bed and keeping his monitor on was his best bet. He closed his eyes and turning his face back up to the ceiling, tried to forget the world for a while.

Waking up some unknown amount of later, John knew that he had succeeded in his quest for another nap, but his time he didn’t wake up alone. From the sound of tapping keys, Rodney was in the chair beside his bed. He looked over after opening his eyes and confirmed that his partner was there. Yup. There he was and he looked pretty good. Tired, but not stressed and there didn’t seem to be any marks or bandages so he looked fine.

Clearing his throat in an effort to get some moisture down it, John got his attention. “Hey, Rodney. How’s things?”

Not looking up from his laptop, Rodney passed him a glass of water with a straw in an obvious bid to help him out. “Things are going rather well, surprisingly. Thanks to your buzzing the planet for a few hours, we have all sorts of new information on our new planet, the solar system, and the continent we want the Athosians to settle on. By the way, when it came time to land the City it’s a good thing that you chose to land her in very deep water, because apparently you can’t park her for shit. We came in on the wrong heading, at the wrong angle and when we actually reached the surface of the ocean, we breached it,” Rodney ticked the points off on his fingers before finally throwing them up in exasperation. “For everyone not doing the mind-meld routine that meant that we actually sank! Thankfully, the shields were still up so we bobbed to the surface like a cork. All of this means you’re never driving the City again, we’ll take our chances with either Lorne or O’Neill.”

Blushing lightly at the scathing tone of his lover’s voice, John squirmed in his bed from embarrassment. “Uhm, I’m sorry? I thought I did pretty well, all things considered. Nothing fell off did it?” Looking down at his hands, John noticed that he no longer had an IV or a blood/oxygen meter. Checking under his scrubs, he saw that he was also missing all the sticky pads attached to his chest.

Grabbing one of his hands, Rodney pulled his attention away from his checking if he was attached to any of the equipment around his bed, “John, you did do fine. The City was able to handle the deceleration, the inertial dampeners handled the impact and the shield was up so nothing flooded. Nothing fell off, nothing broke, and nothing important moved. There were a few minor bumps and bruises, but no one was seriously hurt either.”

Picking at the blanket with his other hand, John was quiet for a moment. “You know that I was doing my best, don’t you Rodney?”

Sighing deeply in obvious annoyance at his rare show of insecurity, Rodney leaned over and kissed him. “We know you were doing your best, but I still am going make sure that you don’t land the City from now on.”

John kissed Rodney back and then shrugged in sulky agreement at the caveat. “Do you have any idea when I can get out of here?”

“Since you’ve been such a good boy, Carson says that you can get out of here now.” Rodney answered as he handed John his bathrobe. “Your slippers are on the side of the bed too.”

John carefully climbed out of his hospital bed and got into the robe and slippers he had bought on a long ago trip to Earth for just these occasions. “Thanks, Rodney.”

Rodney bounced lightly on the balls of his feet as he popped his laptop into its carrying case and watched John get ready to leave.“You’re welcome. Let’s take a tour of the balcony before we head home. I want you to see our new home with your own eyes, not Atlantis’s.”

“Cool. Let’s get out of here.”

~//~

Stepping through the doors to the balcony nearest the infirmary, Rodney drew in a deep breath of the first fresh air he had had in thirteen months. Despite Atlantis being on a new ocean, the scent of the air was subtly different from Lantea, but it still smelled wonderful. No matter how hard Life Support had tried, the air in the City had gotten a bit stale over time.

Now they could open the windows, allow the breezes of their new world into their rooms, and clear out the last remnants of their old world. After all, this was a new world, a new chance, and the Expedition was going to do it’s best to take advantage of the fact.

Turning to look at the Colonel, Rodney saw that John had stopped right after he exited the hallway and had raised his face to the sun. Pausing to look at him, Rodney thought he looked oddly beautiful. Not really a word he often associated with John and his ‘Lt. Colonel John Sheppard’ persona, but it was appropriate in this case. His eyes were closed, his body relaxed and his face radiated a peace that was seldom seen. Beautiful.

When John’s eyes opened and his ears turned pink, Rodney knew that he had said the last bit out loud. Deciding to brave it out, he plowed on, “You are, you know. And I’m not the only one who thinks so, so you have to just deal with it.”

The blush was moving down John’s ears now to his cheeks and he was shaking his head, “I’m not, you know.”

Walking back, Rodney put his hands on John’s hips and drew him close. “You are to me,” raising his face slightly, Rodney added, “You always have been.” He gently kissed him, trying to put everything they normally never talked about into his kiss. His love, his respect, and his devotion – all of it there for John to see. From the way John was kissing him back, he knew. Breaking the kiss to breathe, Rodney rested his forehead against John’s and just held him, safe under the sun of their New Lantea.

~//~

Ancient Terms

Astrum Veho = Star Drive

Città Atlantis = City Atlantis

Cittadino = Citizen

clarus contineo = Clear container = force field

contego = shield

Custodis = Guardian

imperium pulpitum = Command Deck

Incol = Resident

medicus= medical program

potenta = ZPM

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3 Comments:

  1. Ouf they landed, i appreciated that a lot, i’m a little claustro and to be in space for a long times make me envy to open the door and breathe.

  2. I’m glad they got to their new planet safely and hope it has whales and maybe a coffee plant or two?

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