The meetings were over; the time had come to put the plans into action.
Daedalus left Atlantis on time, each of her crew convinced that this was to be the last time they would see the City, the last time they would see their friends. Knowing that if they were able to make another trip, they would each bring what they could for those remaining behind. Her captain held in his keeping letters to family members on Earth, letters to political figures from Elizabeth and finally a collection of letters to General O’Neill. All would be mailed once they reached Earth, he had promised.
The plan of putting O’Neill as his third in charge had worked out rather well, John had to admit. The City wasn’t the safest place to live and work and with a strong gene holder being there at all times, a large number of accidents had been avoided. It helped that both O’Neill and Jackson spoke fluent Ancient, and that Jackson had taken over the Linguistics department. The number of translations coming out of them had more than doubled and with the trained archeologist on hand; City explorations were much more purposeful. That wasn’t to say that their long-time archeologists hadn’t done all they could when exploring the City before, but Jackson knew a lot more about the Ancients than they did, and it came in handy when exploring the City.
Meanwhile AT-1 & 2 were kept busy reaffirming trade contracts and alliances across the galaxy. The Expedition had been in Pegasus for almost six years by that point and had a lot of friends, not to mention a lot of enemies. So every alliance they could hold onto was treasured, protected and reaffirmed on a regular basis. New ones were sought out, friends of friends approached and new greeting ceremonies were logged into the database, gossiped over in the mess and in general dealt with as professionally as possible.
The vote for independence was taken two weeks after the Daedalus had left. To no ones surprise, most of the newer people had voted to return to Earth. A few, like Jackson and O’Neill, had decided to stay. For the clones especially there was simply nothing left on Earth to return too. The returnee’s were still putting in their hours in the labs and on the City exploration teams, finishing up any projects they had going or briefing other members who were staying behind.
Communications with the SGC were still a hit or miss proposition. With each opening of the Gate new supplies from the SGC were shoved through for the full 38 minute window. John didn’t want to think on what Siler and Harriman doing to cover up the inroads Atlantis was making on their supplies and power supplies. During the latest communication exchange they had gotten cases of sweets, mostly chocolate and sugar based ones, but they were welcome. The week before they had gotten the drug making equipment that Beckett had been praying for. Escorting the equipment was an unexpected bonus of a dentist and his assistants, plus equipment. That had been a rather nerve-racking 38 minutes, but it was also one of the few sanctioned exchanges between the two bases.
Word had come through channels that the Daedalus had made it safely back to Earth and was gearing up for a return trip. Hearing that, the numbers of emails headed to the crew members had grown to an impressive number, an outrageous number. Orders were placed, begging for last minute goodies to be added to the supply manifests, both official and unofficial. John had a few orders in himself, both with Caldwell as his semi-official contact and Novak as his black market contact. Some of the things he had ordered were for himself and others were for Rodney, he did enjoy spoiling him when he could.
Leaning back in his chair, John reached for his coffee mug. Lifting it to his lips he drank, trying to enjoy the flavor of the Athosian morning tea. If he drank enough of it, it might wake him up enough so that the paperwork on his desk could hold his interest. Thank goodness they had a large supply of sugar and creamer on hand, it was the only thing making this stuff palatable. Thinking about it, he had no idea how Telya drank this stuff straight every morning but then again, so did Rodney.
Paperwork was something that he was hoping would go down when they separated from Earth. The sheer number of forms that the IOA demanded be filled out every time the wormhole opened was getting larger with each passing year, and the SGC was starting to get going as well. The senior staff had held several planning sessions on that very issue, most of which had ended up Rodney and Elizabeth yelling at each other while Carson and Jackson had tried to keep the peace. He, Lorne and O’Neill had plans to chuck 90% of the forms they currently filled out as useless, and had spent one wonderful evening ticking off all the forms that were going to be deleted as soon as possible.
Meanwhile he had paperwork to finish. Paperwork that was solely for the troops going home with Daedalus. He wasn’t planning in letting any of his troops go without doing everything he could to ensure their futures. So that mean that all the personnel evals, letters of commendation, award recommendations and the few remaining letters to families had to be done as soon as possible. Each of his returning personnel would as well taken care of as he could.
He knew that he wasn’t the only department head hurrying to get the paperwork done and printed before the last run of the Daedalus. Rodney had been even more grumpy than usual and Elizabeth was starting to loose her façade of even temperedness. This last rush was starting to make the whole City anxious and John was hoping that it passed soon. One more week. They had one more week until their zero hour.
Rodney was slowly going insane and he blamed it on the paperwork he was forcing himself to complete. There was a week left on the timetable, and he still had a few evals to get through. The people from his department who were leaving may have been square pegs, but they were his square pegs. And he knew that after years of working within the government, there would be few jobs outside of it for his returning folk. So the evals he would send home with them had to be top notch.
To make matters worse, Rodney knew that Jackson and Carson had gotten through with their evals last week, although to be fair, there had been fewer to write. That and they were just better at the paperwork thing than he was. To be sure, he wasn’t going to slight his returning square pegs, but he didn’t have to like writing the evals.
Taking a break from his dreaded paperwork, Rodney took a look at the latest sim running on his spare laptop. This was a design he was working on for a new ship. While it wasn’t on the same level as the Daedalus, it was something that would get them back to Earth in a pinch. That and it would carry the cargo they would need so desperately. So far, the design was checking out. But just to be on the safe side, he would have John and O’Neill look over the design, they both had degrees in aeronautical engineering and design, maybe with their help this could go faster. Atlantis was going to need this ship, and soon. Daedalus wasn’t going to be at their beck and call forever.
Thinking of the Daedalus led him to thinking of the last supplies he had ordered for his department. They were due to be shoved through the Gate tonight, along with the mail for everyone. Hopefully the birthday gift he had ordered for John was in with this batch of mail, of not, then he would have to look into getting the item made by one of the Athosian craftsmen. He was also hoping that the last of the refined Naquadah he had asked for was to be included. While not a birthday gift per se, it would still be welcome.
Thinking of the Naquadah he had ordered brought him to power sources within the City. They were now using modified Mark III generators, but with the ones Zelenka was working on, the switch over to a Mark IV was looking better and better. And once they had the new Naquadah a test level run could be done on there prototype. Once it was in orbit of course. There were to be no explosions in his City if he could help it.
Moving from explosions in the City to equipment that was ATA activated, McKay took a quick peak at the latest progress report from the team he had assigned to see if they could find a non-destructive way around some of the more restrictive protocols. It looked like they were making good progress on the medial machinery front, and with a few non-essential City systems, but anything that was sensitive was a no go. Looking at the list of systems on the “unable to touch list”, he wondered why the Ancients thought that the system that supplied hot and cold running water to the crew quarters was so important. Shrugging, he decided to not worry about that for now. He was getting better at that, really he was, ask anyone!
Sighing, Rodney turned back to his paperwork. It wasn’t going to finish itself.
Groaning slightly, Elizabeth pushed her laptop away. Her life was currently dominated, hell run by lists. Lists of who was going back to Earth, of what they were taking back with them, of what was being shoved through the Gate by Siler and Harriman, of what was in the storerooms on Atlantis, of what their trading partners had for them and what Atlantis had to trade. Lists, lists and more lists. She was heartily sick of them all.
Grabbing a cup of mint tea from her personal tea pot, she paused to enjoy the scent. Thankfully there were mint plants growing in several of the greenhouses here on Atlantis, so she wasn’t going to run out soon. Also growing were some true tea plants, so that eventually they could enjoy a cup of their own home grown tea. But that would be a few years down the road, so she would have to get used to the herbal teas or try the Athosian varieties.
Sipping at the hot liquid, Elizabeth leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes, enjoying the silence. It wouldn’t last. If it wasn’t interrupted by her own decision to get back to work, it would be by a City emergency or maybe by one of their gate teams coming in hot. Peace and calm were just not words that applied to Atlantis. At least not in her lifetime.
Carson decided that ducking his paperwork by restocking the ‘Jumper med kits had been one of his better ideas. It allowed him to see what was most commonly used by the off-world teams (besides pressure bandages), got him out of his office and he wasn’t in one findable spot all day. All advantages as far as he was concerned.
It also allowed him far too much time to think over his decision to stay on Atlantis. He knew that his mother was being taken care of by his brother and sisters, but well, when all was said and done, they weren’t him. He knew that he was going to be worrying over her as time drew close, but he had made his decision and would stick with it, he was needed here. He had made sure to include a letter to her with every opening of the Gate and one of the personnel heading back had his final letter to be sent as soon as they were released.
Looking at his list of supplies needed for the restock, he saw that he needed to check the Epipen’s in ‘Jumper one. That was the one most frequently taken out by AT-1 and while it had been months since Rodney had found a new food that he was allergic to, it was far better to be safe than sorry in this case. The team as a whole made sure that the pens they carried on their persons where up to date and in good working order, so it was his job to make sure the back-ups were the same. He also thought that he would double the number of pressure bandages included in this kit, the team as a whole seemed to be a magnet for trouble.
Humming to himself, Carson continued to comb trough the kit, marking his lists, doing his part to keep Atlantis and her people safe from harm.