They were right outside the asteroid belt before the location of the space station was finally pinpointed. Unfortunately it wasn’t found due to Rodney’s efforts at the sensors, it was found because the station lit up its own sensor array and painted the incoming Jumpers. Each of the Jumper pilots found themselves attempting evasive maneuvers that he knew had no hope of succeeding and yet they had to try. Their co-pilots mostly held on for dear life and tried to not scream as they watched the star-scape corkscrew. The only one who didn’t panic was McKay, he was too busy trying to interface with the station now that it was transmitting something. Three dizzying, terror filled minutes later, the station stood down.
Reversing course, the Jumpers started back towards their original heading. The course they had been on had proven to be the fastest way to the planet and thus the Daedalus and they needed to make all possible speed. As they flashed past the now silent station, Rodney made sure to get as complete a download of the stations specs and logs from the last three days as could be teased out of the computers. In return he made sure the station was as shut down as was possible; once that was done, Rodney turned his attention to the data he had acquired.
Skimming over the engineering specs in front of him, Rodney thought that it was a good thing he was well versed at reading engineering Ancient. Because that was all these plans had been written in. Muttering to himself as he ticked off each point of interest (airlocks, engine room, bridge, communications array, hydroponics, crew quarters, StarGate, manufacturing center, ZPM room, hanger bay with six Jumpers) he paused. Blinking at the list that had scrolled across his screen he stopped reading. Taking a deep breath he nodded to himself and scrolled back to the mention of the StarGate, Rodney stared at the notation written in Ancient. There was a StarGate listed as being on the station.
“Colonel, we need to get into that station. Now.” Rodney stated as he started accessing the information connected to the ‘Gate, airlocks and the hanger bay.
“Rodney? Why do we want to want to go to the station? Doesn’t it want to kill us?” demanded John as he automatically brought the Jumper back onto the new course.
“Because there is a StarGate on that monster and we need to secure it so we can move the inevitable wounded out faster?” asked Rodney acidly. He was busy, damn it! Didn’t his idiot Colonel realize that he was finding the information needed to get them through the airlocks and then into the stations Gateroom? Muttering to himself as he found and memorized the information, Rodney didn’t even notice that what he was verbalizing a litany of gripes and petty complaints. Turning his attention back to Sheppard, Rodney said, “If we can get that Gate working, then the wounded have a two hour max flight versus sixteen hours at the shortest and a full twenty-four at the longest. All of which means Carson will be happier with us and there’ll be no Scottish angst. Chop, chop Colonel, we don’t have all day.”
“Chop, chop? Where do you come up with these things? McKay, I’m not your servant. Besides, how do you know there’s a StarGate on that thing?” said John as he completed the turn needed to point their Jumper towards the station. “You know? Never mind. I need to let Lorne and O’Neill know what we are doing.” And putting his words into actions, John proceeded to let the other two pilots know about their change in plans. After a quick and dirty discussion the decision was made that the other two Jumpers were to continue on to the Daedalus to begin the rescue operations while Jumper One checked out the station.
John decided that the flight to the station had to be the most tension filled flight he had been on since his kamikaze run with a nuclear bomb during their first year on Atlantis. Thinking about it, John decided that their current flight had to be worse, because on this flight he had passengers on board and the most important of them was Rodney on board. Concentrating on the sensors for any activity from the station, John was grimly certain that if the station did fire on them, there was nothing that he would be able to do to stop it. And given that, John was trying very hard not to twitch.
Flying around the station to find an airlock that would fit the Jumper, John sincerely hoped that something was recording this trip. Because he wanted to go back over his flight around the outside of this thing and actually get a chance to pay attention to what he was seeing. The only hint of an actual Ancient site buried in the rock he was flying around was the occasional airlock protruding base material. Spying an airlock that looked like it would fit the Jumper, John flew coasted to a gentle stop and started the process of matching up with the station.
Gently nudging the Jumper into flying backwards to mate up with the airlock into the station, John concentrated fiercely on peaceful thoughts and keeping any automatic defenses from coming online. Waiting for the small bump and indicator light to confirm they were docked with the station was an exercise in slow torture that he really didn’t need. Feeling the bump of contact, John looked at the HUD to confirm they were docked, and once the connection confirmed light was lit, he drew a deep breath. One hurdle down, time to overcome the next one. Getting out the pilots chair, John walked to the back hatch to confirm the presence of atmosphere and gravity aboard the station. After glancing at the readouts, John grunted. No atmosphere, no gravity.
“Sgt. Peters, please watch this panel and let me know when there are green lights all across the board.” John ordered the Marine nearest the display.
With a nod, Peters barked out, “Yes, sir!” and turned to look at the panel.
“Right. Well let’s see if the station will allow me in.” and muttering to himself, John walked back to the pilots seat. “Rodney, since you got into the station’s computers, why can’t you get oxygen and gravity going so we can get to the StarGate?”
“I’ve been trying to do that since we turned back to the station, Colonel. The computers won’t let me in. I need a higher level of authorization than I have to get to and initialize those functions. You try it.” Rodney bitched as he continued poking at his computer in an effort to find a way around the security protocols.
“Shit. Time to play light switch again.” Sighing John closed his eyes and began to feel his way along the circuits connecting the Jumper to the station. Thinking about what he was doing, John realized that it was a good thing that he was indeed a favorite son of Atlantis and that he had years of experience in mentally mapping the command pathways of Ancient technology. Without that practice what he was about to do would be that much harder if not impossible. Sliding through the flight computers and crystal circuits that made up his favorite Jumper, John reached the point where the station connected to the ship. Taking a deep breath, John “slid” himself across the gap and into the station itself.
John immediately felt as if he had entered a slightly foreign country (and when he wondered, did the Jumper start feeling like home?), everything was just a little bit off from what he was used to. Slowly, carefully he put forth the request for life support and gravity to come on line aboard the space station. For a long, heart stopping moment there was no response from the stations computers, and then there came the same feeling of *acknowledgement* that he got from Atlantis when she agreed to follow an order from him. Taking a moment to confirm that life support and gravity were coming up; John nodded to himself and slowly started working his way out of the station and back to the Jumper.
“Sir! We have green lights showing up. So far it looks like gravity and a breathable atmosphere. Temperature is still way low, but it’s rising steadily.” Peters was reporting to Rodney as John opened his eyes.
“Right. I am reading Atlantis normal gravity, the air mix is a bit skimpy, but can support human life and the heat is coming up to the ‘Oh my God, it’s cold!’ range.” Rodney was speaking like he expected a response from John, which given the level of concentration he was working at, wasn’t too likely. Rolling his head to look over at him, John watched as Rodney’s fingers danced over the laptop keyboard like the concert pianist he had once wanted to be.
“Colonel! It is time to stop sleeping on the job. Wakey, wakey!” Rodney sang out, his most annoying smirk plain in his voice.
Taking a deep breath, John pushed himself up and out of his chair and nodding at his extremely aggravating co-pilot, walked back towards the Jumpers cargo hatch again. It was time to see if his jaunt into the computers would indeed allow them the requested access. Right, there were the needed green lights across the readout panel for the station environment, so it looked like they were good to go.
Hitting the release for the airlock and back hatch, John stepped out onto the cargo ramp. Looking over his left shoulder, he wasn’t surprised to see Rodney standing right behind him. Also not surprising was the tablet PC that he was holding out with a map to the Gateroom. After taking a quick look at the map it seemed like they were only a five minute walk away from it.
“Peters, you and your squad stay here with the Jumper, McKay you are with me, Marks take point. The rest of you fan out and don’t touch anything!” and glancing at the Marines behind him, John stepped out onto the station. Which immediately lit up, the doors into the station itself opened, and a faint breeze started to blow. Resisting the urge to look over at Rodney, he motioned Marks onward.
Even to himself, Rodney knew he sounded more than a bit peeved at how the station had lit up for Sheppard. It wasn’t like the Colonel meant to do it, but every piece of Ancient technology; from Atlantis to a life signs detector lit up and begged when Sheppard first came across it. This trait was more than a little disturbing (and annoying) on a normal basis, but it was coming in very handy right now.
Walking through the hallways of a station that had been empty for longer than Atlantis had been at the bottom of the ocean was a bit on the eerie side. Not unpleasant mind, but eerie. Reaching the mothballed control room was a relief in and of itself. Rodney ran an considering eye over the computers; it looked as if the Ancients had taken the time to properly shut them down, which would make bringing them online even easier.
“Colonel, if you could come over here and touch this station, we need to get the Gate up and running as fast as we can.” he ordered as he shrugged out of his backpack. Stripping off the dust cover, Rodney ran an experienced eye over the equipment. It looked as if the input/output jacks were the same as those used on Atlantis, so the standard equipment he carried should work. Grabbing his laptop, Rodney started to attach the leads and then waited impatiently for Sheppard to do his thing.
“I’m thinking ‘on’ as hard as I can, Rodney. So far nothing,” came the muttered response from Sheppard as he leaned on the same station.
Grabbing the chair in front of his chosen station, Rodney started trying to get into the stations computers through his laptop. “John, I need you to keep trying to get in. I am going to try an end run around the security protocols and I need you to keep pressing for access. This is important.”
“No shit, McKay. I never would have guessed. Keep typing,” disgust flavored the reply John fired back.
“Not talking now. Not talking. Come on, you Ancient hunk-a-junk. I’m working under a time crunch here, lemme in!” Rodney could feel his mouth continuing to move, independent of what he was actually thinking. He knew it was a habit of his that stretched back decades, and that it seemed to come out when he was under the most stress. And thanks to the insane numbers of life threatening situations he had been in, it meant that he had been constantly talking to himself since he arrived in this galaxy. Watching the computer screen in front of him, Sheppard beside him, and the read out for the computer station he had picked on the large display screen, Rodney saw the telltale blink of an active link come up. They were in.
Pacing the floor of her office never made the time go by any faster during a crisis, but it at least let her work off some of her nervous energy and gave her the illusion of doing something. And Elizabeth was running on more nerves and caffeine than she cared to think about. The first wave of three Jumpers had been out for over sixteen hours at this point, the second wave was on hour number fourteen and the third wave was on hour number twelve. There were currently nine Jumpers in reserve, but she wanted to hold onto them until they heard back from Sheppard.
Thinking about the composition of that first group, Elizabeth had to shake her head. What had they been thinking, sending the whole senior military chain of command out on the same mission? And to add insult to injury, they had done virtually the same thing with the science department! Most of the combat trained medics were on those flights and to cap it all off, 80% of their ATA positive personnel were out as well. If this had been an episode of Star Trek, the collective insanity of the whole idea would have had her screaming. Unfortunately, this was the only viable way they could make a long distance search and rescue operation work.
Gazing at the Gateroom floor from her office, Elizabeth wondered if she could sneak another visit in to the control room, without coming across as an overanxious mother hen. Looking at the clock on her laptop, she decided that option wasn’t going to work out. After all it had only been fifteen long minutes since she had made her last pointless sweep. Moving back to her desk chair, she pulled it out and sat down. Maybe she should at least try to work for a bit? If nothing else, she needed to come up with something coherent to say to the SGC when they next called in. Bluntly saying that Atlantis had declared independence, while that worked for the short term, wasn’t going to win them any points in the long term.
Right, she was sitting, looking at her screen saver and after touching the space bar, the clock showed that only five minutes had passed. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth ran her finger over the touch pad on her laptop and opened a file. Time to get to work.
Several typed pages of a semi-coherent explanation to the SGC later; she felt the rumble of the ‘Gate activating. Looking over at her secondary laptop, she confirmed that no teams were out, and none of their allies were scheduled to call in. Shoving out of her chair, she hurried across the walkway to the control room, and adding a bit of volume to her voice, asked, “Do we have anyone scheduled to call in at this time, Chuck?”
“No, ma’am. There is no one scheduled, the ETA on the rescue Jumpers is still twenty-four hours at the earliest and,” here the ‘Gate came to life, shimmering to life behind the shield. “It seems that this is a seven symbol address. So it shouldn’t be the SGC.”
“Do we know who it is? And is there any way we can get the originating address when someone dials in?” Elizabeth asked over her shoulder as she moved towards the railing surrounding the control room.
“So far, ma’am, we have nothing on who called in. As for getting the address, yes ma’am. We have that and we will be determining the galactic coordinates ASAP.” Chuck replied. Tapping the panel in front of him, Chuck confirmed the receipt of a transmission. “Receiving radio transmissions now. Dr. Weir, it is Col. Sheppard’s code.”
Elizabeth stared at the Gateroom tech for a long moment and then said, “Put him through.” And touching her radio, she keyed it for the command frequency. “John? How are you talking to me? I thought Rodney said there were no ‘Gates out where the Daedalus crashed?”
Sounding tired, John huffed a weary chuckle, “We got lucky. That space station we found mention of? It has a StarGate on board. We are in the control room right now, getting this place ready to receive a whole lot of wounded. Lorne and O’Neill continued onto the planet where the Daedalus crashed down and they said it was bad. Now, I know that we have at least nine Jumpers out, including our three. Is that correct?”
“Yes, John, you are correct. How did you get onto the station?” she asked.
“Not gonna go into that right now, Elizabeth. We need to shut this down so you can send in the trauma teams, some of Rodney’s geek squad, a few naquadah generators and the Jumper support teams. While there is some power here, it is mostly limited to life support. We needed to manually dial the ‘Gate, if that gives you any indication on how low on power we are out here. We need those generators for just about everything, but mostly to get folks in here, treated and then home. Chuck should have the complete list of what we need by now. Talk to you in thirty, Sheppard out.” And with a quick hiss, the wormhole closed.
Turning back towards the Gateroom tech, Elizabeth felt one of her eyebrows raise in question. Nodding in reply, Chuck motioned towards her office; the lists were already loaded onto her computer. Right. Time to call Carson, Radek, Ronon and Teyla in to get all the details organized.
Half an hour later the first round of personnel were ready to leave.
Watching the Gate open on the space station was a bit nerve-wracking for the Marines. McKay had been able to confirm there was very little power on the space station and most of it was being used by life support. Given the lack of a shield, the Marines had gone back to covering the StarGate against unexpected guests the old fashioned way. With manpower and lots of guns. When the seventh chevron locked in place thirty minutes after Col. Sheppard had talked to Atlantis and the wormhole flushed out into the room, there was a collective breath taken by the ten men and women stationed behind the available cover. Hearing McKay greet Atlantis base and give the okay for travelers to come through, they exhaled briefly and watched carefully for friendly faces to appear.
“Stand down and start grabbing some of the gear as it is pushed through, men. We need to keep the Gateroom clear. Marks, you and your squad are detailed to guard Dr.’s McKay and Zelenka. Make sure they don’t get into any trouble while they hook up the generators to the stations power grid.” Called Col. Sheppard over the comm. Ensuring that the safeties were set on their P-90’s, the impromptu ‘Gate room guards started grabbing for the boxes, bags and gurneys as they were shoved through. The squad detailed for scientist sitting duty (which was more hazardous than it first appeared) walked up the stairs to stand at the back of the control room, waiting on their charges.
Hard on the heels of the first wave of equipment through the ‘Gate were the requested medical personnel, scientists, and Jumper techs. Following behind them were Teyla, Ronon and one of the last squads of ATA positive Marines in the City. The newly arrived inhabitants of the station each grabbed a box, bag or gurney and headed out to the rooms indicated by the former Gateroom guards. There was a lot to set up and only a little time to get things done, the first wave of wounded were expected in less than an hour.
Once Dr. Zelenka came through the StarGate pushing a cart carrying two Mark II naquadah generators, Dr. McKay hurried to turn over his post in the new command room to one of his newly arrived scientists. Grabbing his pack and laptop, he motioned towards the squad that was to be guarding Zelenka and himself and moved down the stairs at a trot. As soon as he was within earshot of Dr. Zelenka he began to detail his plan for tying the new generators into the stations power grid, with acid comments and more than a few complaints on who Zelenka had included on the mission injected between each idea. After listening to the flow of words for a few moments, Zelenka started replying to McKay’s earlier points and shot back with his own complaints on being left in charge of the science department on Atlantis. Grinning broadly, the two tossed ideas back and forth, their normal work argument was off and running.
After sharing a look of mutual boredom, Marks nodded at his squad a slowly started herding his charges out of the hustle and bustle of the command post and over to the room where a mostly drained ZPM had been found. Well used to the way that the scientist’s on Atlantis were treated by the Marines, McKay and Zelenka ignored them and continued with their argument, all the while moving the cart carrying the generators towards the Gateroom doors. The last thing heard from them was the sound of McKay shooting down one of Dr. Zelenka’s theories on the possibilities of getting the station up and running in under an hour.
Three quarters of an hour after Rodney and Radek had left the control room, there still wasn’t any indication that the generators had been hooked into the power grid and John was starting get more than a bit antsy. The last communiqué they had from Lorne spoke of numerous casualties, very few mobile personnel and enough damage to the Daedalus to require a major refit at a shipyard. The first wave of the most seriously wounded were on their way in and so far, they had no way to get them home short of a sixteen hour Jumper flight. In addition, the new personnel had the mobile triage units, surgical suites and recovery wards set up, but without power, they were essentially useless.
Nodding to himself, John decided that enough was enough and he was going to light a fire under his scientist and find out what was keeping the power off. Toggling his radio, John drawled “Oh, Rodney? Any idea when we will be getting power to our little home away from home? Because really? I don’t think Beckett’s kids want to operate again by battery light, and I know that my Marines don’t want to try to manually dial a Gate again.”
After several minutes of silence, Rodney came back over the radio sounding massively annoyed by the interruption, “Colonel, you have a positive talent at choosing the absolute worst time to ask for a status report. Go away; bother someone else for a change.”
Smiling at the amount of irritation that Rodney had managed to inject into his reply, John caroled back, “Sorry to break it to you, McKay, but there is no one else I can bother like this. We need power soon, and you are the go to guy. So, what gives?”
“Fuck. Radek can you reach that crystal? It’s burned out. Colonel, we are about five minutes away from the final connections and testing of the circuits. Go away, you aren’t going to make this go any faster.” And with another curse, Rodney signed off of the radio.
Staring into space for a moment, John came to a decision and contacted the protection detail, “Marks, this is Sheppard. How is it going down there?”
“Honestly sir, I have no idea. Dr. McKay and Dr. Zelenka are talking about stuff that I have only the vaguest knowledge of, there are enough control crystals littering the floor at the moment to make a chandelier and I’ve heard some curses that would make a sailor blush.” Came the prompt if bewildered, report from Sgt. Marks.
Smiling in relief, John nodded to himself and tapping his radio said, “So, business as usual. Let the control room know when they close up the various access hatches and flip the generators on.”
“Roger that, sir. Marks out.”
Humming to himself, John made his way to the doors leading to where the Atlantis version of a MASH unit had set up shop. After their fourth excursion to a recently culled world, Carson had called everyone to come up with ideas for an emergency medical unit. Someone in the meeting remembered the show M*A*S*H and after checking in the military medical texts to see if they had plans for it, Carson adapted them to the conditions in Pegasus. Unfortunately, the unit had gotten extensive use during their initial year on Atlantis, and that hadn’t changed much in the years since. Once they had reconnected with Earth, Carson had taken advantage of the new supply source and outfitted the unit to be the finest mobile hospital possible given his funds and personnel. When the decision had been made to start stockpiling supplies, the extensive list needed by their MASH unit had been one of the first filled.
Gazing through the open door into the hastily set-up triage unit, John was glad that Carson had made the decisions that he had. The men and women before him had operated by battery light before, and they had done their jobs under worse conditions than these, but since there were power sources available why bother? If it came to needing all available power to run the Gate, everyone not needed for the rescue would be available to hold those lights for them. But John knew they wouldn’t need to go that route. Once Rodney and Radek got the generators connected and running, the doctors and nurses before him would be able to conduct business as usual.
Turning around once he saw that everything was under control, John stopped. Standing in front of him were Ronon and Teyla. They had nodded at each other in passing as they hurried to get the station set up for its new function, but they hadn’t had time to do more than that.
Reaching out, John clasped Ronon’s forearm in a firm grip, sharing a grin, “Ronon. Good to see you here.” Greetings done on that quarter, John turned to Teyla. Reaching out to cup the side of her head, John leaned forward to touch his forehead against hers. Pausing for a slow three count, they parted. “Teyla, it is good to see you as well. Welcome to our new space station. We still don’t have a name for her yet, but I am sure we can come up with something.”
“It is good to be here, John. Have you discovered why this station fired upon the Daedalus? Elizabeth was most anxious to learn the reasons why that event happened and I find that I am also curious.” Teyla replied.
With a shake of his head, John said, “I have no idea why the Daedalus was fired on, and we can’t get into the necessary security logs to find out why either. Rodney thinks that since the power is basically off, security shut everything down and what fired on her were the automatic defenses. Hopefully once we have power, he will be able to get us that information.”
“I heard that, Colonel. And power should be coming up now. So, now that we have that out of the way, what are we going to call this lovely place?” and on the heels of his question, Rodney walked up to his three team mates. “Good to see you here, Teyla, Ronon. Did you guys bring any real food? All we have is MRE’s and power bars and even those get old after a while.”
Laughing softly, Teyla nodded. “Yes, Rodney. We brought food. And hot coffee. They are located upstairs where Elizabeth’s office would be if this was Atlantis.”
Rubbing his hands together, Rodney looked up at the room in question. “Great. Colonel, would you like anything before I get started on the diagnostics of the security protocols? Also? What are we naming this thing? Calling it the ‘Space Station’ is getting very, very old.”
“Thanks for asking Rodney, but I’m not hungry right now. And I was thinking ‘The Eliminator’ for a name. What do you think?” asked John.
“Honestly? I’m wondering why we ever let you name anything at all,” came the testy reply back as Rodney turned away.
“No. Pick something else. Something that doesn’t sound like it came out of a porn movie,” disagreed Rodney as he headed up the stairs to get some food.
Snorting loudly, Rodney shot that suggestion down with a pithy comment of, “Where are you coming up with these? And why do I have a feeling that these are the names that your Marines put forth?”
Not looking at the Marines stationed around the room, John paused as Rodney ducked into the room housing the food Teyla had brought. Once he could see Rodney again he continued down the suggestion list. “George Washington? Abe Lincoln?”
Walking down the stairs to the Gateroom floor, Rodney rolled his eyes at the latest suggestion. “Aren’t there aircraft carriers named after those two? And who says it has to be named after someone from the US?” mumbled Rodney around a bite of his sandwich.
“You are not making this easy McKay. Okay, what about ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ or the ‘Love Shack’?” John shot back as he took half of Rodney’s sandwich and started eating.
“Oh, dear god, no. We are not naming our new space station after the bad part of town. Nor are we naming it after that song by the B-52’s. Pick another,” and saying that, Rodney took a deep sip of his coffee and ignored the raiding of his plate. The only reason he had brought that sandwich half down was so Sheppard could steal it and eat it. Besides, he didn’t like turkey all that much.
“Okay, since you didn’t like the others, what about ‘Christine’? Or the ‘Death Star’?” And as Rodney tried to not choke on his mouthful of coffee, John stole his cup and sipped.
Swallowing hastily, Rodney sputtered, “I am not working on a space station named after a homicidal car. Nor am I working on someplace named after a bad example of physics. I don’t care if the ‘Star Wars’ franchise is a cultural icon; you are not naming this thing that! Also? Gimme my coffee back and get your own!”
Grinning slightly, John kept a firm grip on the coffee cup. “No, yours tastes better. And since you don’t like any of the names we came up with, what do you have as a name for the station?”
Grabbing his cup back before John could finish off all of his hot coffee; Rodney turned the cup so he drank from a certain spot on the rim. “As a matter of fact, I do have a name that I think will work. ‘The Da Vinci’, because Leonardo Da Vinci was more than a gifted painter or sculptor, he was also a master at making weapons of war. And that is what this station is; it is a masterwork in the art of warfare.”
Staring at Rodney, John could only nod. Odd though the name seemed on the surface, it did fit. The Ancients, when they bothered to, had built extraordinary weapons of war and then made those weapons into works of art. One of the best examples of that was the station they were on. It had some of the same design features as Atlantis, a raised control room and a sunken Gateroom, but after that everything changed. There were no windows looking out, no open parks to enjoy the sun, and no balconies to catch a breeze so everything had to focus inward. With that focus in mind, it seemed as if the Ancients had decided to turn the walls of the station into one giant art gallery. Every surface was covered in a unique work of art.
Taking a deep breath, John nodded to Rodney and once they had confirmation that the wormhole to Atlantis was open, tapped his radio. “Elizabeth, this is the Da Vinci space station, we have the first batch of wounded to send through. Please stand by to drop the shield and have emergency personnel ready.”