Title: Complicated Choices
Fandom: Stargate Atlantis, Stargate SG1
Pairing: John/Rodney, Evan/David, Miko/Carson, Elizabeth/Radek, Jon/Danny
Betas: Chris King & Keira Marcos
Jon O’Neill looked up sharply when he noticed that the apartment was completely silent. As an experienced parent, he was well aware that a lack of noise, when there were children around, was bad.
The newly promoted Captain started walking his home, one room at a time. The office he was in was searched easily, as was the living room, which was comfortably messy with zillions of soft toys and several buckets of Lego. No kids though. A quick look in the kitchen showed that it was still clean with no food on the floor. He was very impressed with his two terrors for that alone.
Their room, however, was mostly trashed, with a credible attempt at a blanket fort rising out of what was normally an empty spot on the floor. The beds were bare, the pillows were scattered and Jon was quite certain there were feathers somewhere in the mess he was looking at. Sighing softly he picked his way into the room and started to shift things around.
It took him five minutes to look through the mess and O’Neill was going to make sure that Danny helped the twins clean it up. The bathroom was, thankfully, dry. It looked as if the locks he and Sheppard had insisted Atlantis put on the water faucets had worked. It had taken way too much time to get through to her that Human children were little dare devils who would mess with everything in an effort to see how it worked. Water and kids, unsupervised kids at that, was a bad combo and the city had proven to be very willing to lock the little darlings out when she had been given examples of why she should.
A quick peek into the master bedroom showed no screaming little bodies and Jon was very happy about that. The last time the boys had gotten this quiet, they had found the stash of toys he and Danny kept. The embarrassment factor of that was never not going to make him blush. Especially when Star Wars was playing.
His eye caught a quick flash of motion from the windows overlooking their balcony. Walking back into the living room, Jon looked outside and found his two mini-menaces playing with a ball. O’Neill relaxed slightly at the sight. Atlantis had just enough power to keep several nanny programs going with one ZPM engaged and one of those was the force field that surrounded the balconies of families with kids. It looked as if his darling children were using the field as if it were the walls of their own personal soccer court.
Dribbling the ball up and down the balcony, they kicked the black and white sphere all over the place. As it got air and looked as if it would go over the side, it was bounced back into play by Atlantis in a flash of sparkling force field. The boys were giggling and shouting as they chased the return in a new direction.
Jon was honestly impressed. The kids weren’t taking their lives into their hands, but they had figured out how to use the safety features to have fun.
“I gots it!” screamed Ian as he kicked the ball in what was obviously a goal.
Christopher stopped running and looked up in the air, bouncing on his heels. “’Lantis, what’s the score?”
Jon couldn’t quite tell from his angle what the kids were seeing, but they were both looking at the same spot. Chris flashed his twin a triumphant smirk and grabbed the ball to throw it overhand at the force field. The two boys scrambled for the ball in a mess of limbs as he moved to see what was in that corner that had attracted their attention.
Decorating the window was a scoreboard. He could tell that the ‘scoreboard’ was painted on the window itself because he could see into his bedroom. And written on it were the names of his boys and the score for the game they were playing. Jon took a deep breath and made a mental note to talk to McKay about exactly how sentient the city really was.
That decision was underscored when Ian scored another goal and there were little stars going off over his name as the score updated.
“Jamie McKay-Sheppard! You get your little wet butt back here!” called John. As one of the giggling little boy’s parents, he was duty bound to try to control the mischief his son got into.
Bath time in the McKay-Sheppard household was invariably fun and he had no idea why his water-loving son had gotten out of the bath to run around their quarters, heading for the living room. “Daddy, Daddy, Daddy!” Jamie chanted from the spot in front of the apartment door, dancing from foot to foot.
John grabbed a towel from the warming rack and followed the wet footprints to where his son was waiting. He had no clue what was going on with the mini genius that told him that his other father was near, but he wasn’t willing to let the kid be wet and naked while waiting. Jamie was staring intently at the closed door leading outside when John wrapped him in his towel.
They (meaning the parents of the new Atlantis baby boom) had managed to convince Atlantis that allowing any of the ATA positive children free access to every door in the city was a bad idea. The adjustment to the city’s Nanny programs, what McKay called the health and comfort subroutines, had gone through before Jamie had learned to crawl. John was duly grateful for the change once his son had proven he was mobile.
The havoc his kid could get into with free access to the City was too horrifying to contemplate.
Instead of getting bored, Jamie wrapped the towel tighter around himself and shifted from foot to foot. John sent a mental command at the bathtub, reinforcing the initial command to keep the water warm, before going into the kitchen to grab some juice for them. Bituu was still one of the most popular juices with their household and Jamie adored it, just like his daddy.
One sippy cup of juice for the child and a glass of the juice for him and they were both watching the door for something. John figured he would give Jamie another five minutes before he got him back in the bath.
The clock showed four minutes had passed when their front door opened and Rodney stepped in. “Daddy!” Jamie dropped the towel and sippy cup to wrap himself around his daddy’s legs to beam a smile up at his face. “Daddy! Hi!”
John smiled smugly as Rodney hid a wince. Jamie was a very strong little boy and had latched on to his parent’s thigh with a grip like iron. The only way to get the little boy to let go was to either distract him or give him a new spot to grip. When Rodney dropped his gear to the side and picked their son up, John felt his grin get even bigger.
Rodney was grandly ignoring the smug grin his partner was wearing while listening intently to his son babble. Each new bit of the boy’s life was being shared with him and he treasured it. Plus the information was fun to know. At just over three years old, Jamie was learning at the level of most ten-year-olds, but neither he nor John was pushing it. The computer-based education system his scientists had put together was self-paced, and most of the kids enrolled in it adored it.
“… and Chris and Ian found the play dough and made a huge Jumper with it! It was this big!” Jamie leaned back in his father’s arms and spread his hands wide, trying to show how big the twins’ creation was. At just under nine months younger than his son, the O’Neill-Jackson twins were unholy terrors to any toy they could get a hold of and adapt to their use.
Rodney was impressed. If only because the crèche had enough play dough on hand for that. “Wow. Did you get a picture of it?”
Jamie nodded quickly. “Uh-huh. An’ Charin is trying to walk and Torren got his bantos rods for his naming day. Can I learn that?”
Rodney considered that request. There was no way that Teyla would let the kids be hurt while they learned the art, so he thought it would be okay. He looked at his partner for the final word. Physical education was totally John’s and they shared the rest.
John just nodded back. It looked like their son would be learning self-defense before he was out of official toddlerhood.
Turning back to the little face before him, McKay smiled. He was biased and he knew it, but their son was very cute. A perfect mix of John and himself, and he even had the Sheppard ears. Currently, his son’s green eyes were trying to do a credible puppy dog look, and he felt his heart give an extra beat at how much he loved the little menace. “It looks like you can, little man. Now, why are you here all nekkid?”
“Papa was given’ me a baff and ‘Lantis said you were home and I wanted to meet you before bed!” Jamie said quickly. “Now I gots to get my baff finished. Come with me?” he asked before he wriggled to be let down.
Rodney felt his heart melt a little at the trust his son showed him. “Sure, Jamie. Lemme kiss your papa hello first.”
Jamie squealed and danced in place as Rodney leaned over to place a warm kiss on John’s lips. When his son laughed and requested a kiss of his own, Rodney pulled back to smile at his spouse before leaning down to drop a loud smooch against Jamie’s forehead. “Bath, kiddo. Then story-time.”
“Yeah!” Jamie crowed loudly and ran towards the bathroom. From the splashes that followed, he had climbed into the tub and was getting back to the serious business of water, soap, and bubbles.
“I’ll take care of our merman and be back soon for some adult time,” Rodney murmured softly to John. After the personal welcome he had been mentally planning for several days, they needed to talk. There was so much he needed to tell him about his recent tour on the Junkyard Dog. So much to decide…
“That’s fine. You go listen to the munchkin babble. He’s been wanting to share some stuff with you too,” John agreed. “Hungry?”
Rodney snorted as he started towards the bathroom. “Not for food.”
“Hey you,” John greeted his spouse softly as they walked out of their son’s room. Jamie had done his best to stay awake, but after two stories from his beloved daddy, their little boy had fallen asleep between one word and the next.
“Hey you back,” Rodney murmured just as softly as he pressed John into the wall outside their child’s room. The hazel eyes staring back at him were amused and the scientist just had to kiss him. Rodney slowly covered his mate’s lips with his own and took his time. It had been too long since they had been able to get naked together.
Rodney brushed his lips over John’s over and over until it felt as if every millimeter of skin on them was tingling with want. While he had been away, he had promised himself that at the first opportunity, he was going to chase every flavor there was across the skin of his lover, starting with his lips. The teasing kisses he had been dreaming of for weeks continued and he could feel how the contact was driving John wild. He kept the barely-there kisses coming, lightly brushing his lips until John whimpered and tried to chase his lips with his own.
Rodney leaned a little heavier into John and flexed his hips against his husbands. The answering thrust of the other man’s hips against his was just a shade short of desperate and he smirked against the soft lips under his own. Rodney loved driving his lover over the edge,
Pressing a final kiss against the lips chasing his, Rodney leaned back. “Let’s not do this here where the kid might see. I’m not ready for that conversation.”
There was silence for a beat, and then John giggled. Honestly giggled and rested his forehead against the McKay’s. “No, I am not ready for that conversation either. Or the one where he asks where his little brother came from.”
“Yeah, no. No matter how spectacular the blow job was; our son isn’t learning about them until he is at least thirty.” Rodney shuddered at the thought of explaining sex to his three and a half-year-old son. Genius he might be, but that was way too young for the facts of life.
John giggled again before pecking him on the lips and walking back to their bedroom. Rodney watched the walk away in front of him and rubbed a hand over his heart. Damn. He was one lucky bastard.
When he got into their room, John was down to his boxers and the scientist took the time to appreciate his husband. At a little over forty, the military man should have started to acquire a middle-aged spread, maybe have lost some of the tone from his muscles or even had his hair thin. Instead, he was still as hard as he had been the day he had sat down in the chair in Antarctica and his hair still looked as if he was using something to get it to stand up.
And thanks to more than a decade of running for his life and a team that was determined to keep him healthy, Rodney was just as lean. It was wonderful to be in shape. If only because it let him keep up with John in the bedroom.
He made short work of stripping his own clothes off and joined John on the bed. Looking at the laughing green eyes below him, Rodney counted himself the luckiest person ever. Pushing the thought from his mind, he leaned down and pressed a delicate kiss beside John’s right eye before claiming his lips and pouring all he was feeling into it.
“I love you, too,” John muttered against his lips as they kissed.
Rodney dropped one more kiss against those smiling lips and moved down to worship the rest of him. The dip where his collarbones met, the crinkled skin of his nipples, the thin smooth skin of his inner elbow, they all got licked, sucked and caressed. And John returned his devotion by not being silent, by letting his enjoyment ring out in their room.
When Rodney reached the line of muscle he privately liked to call the “V of stupid” because seeing it when they hadn’t been together had caused his brain to stop and that hadn’t much changed with marriage, he nibbled gently at the sharply defined flesh. From the sounds floating over his head, John liked that. The hard cock poking at his chin was another clue that his husband was having a good time.
The scientist curled his tongue under the head of his partner’s cock and sucked him in. The earthy, bitter flavor that was unique to John exploded across his taste buds and his mouth watered at the taste. Sucking the tender flesh further into his mouth, he rubbed the ridge running the length, with his tongue to listen to John whine. Rodney let one hand slip down to clamp around the base of his own cock and squeezed as he let his lover set the pace for how fast his cock was slipping in and out of his mouth. He didn’t want to cum get, but the feeling was incredible.
Only when the cock in his mouth was being driven between his lips with a desperate cadence did he pull up and off. As much fun as it was to drive John mad by sucking his brains out his cock, Rodney wanted skin. He wanted the slip and slide of hair-roughened skin rubbing against his own as they moved towards orgasm.
The whine that his partner made when he didn’t go back down on him was flattering. The grabby hands that were running up and down his sides were just as nice. He leaned on one hand to keep his hips flush against John’s and grabbed the massage oil they had picked up off world. Flexing his hips, he enjoyed the rough glide of his skin against his partners. But as nice as that was, the oil would make it nicer.
Popping the top off the bottle they had decanted it into, he leaned back and poured the lightly fragrant oil onto John’s belly. Carefully fixing the cap in place, Rodney set the oil aside and lowered himself until they were both slick and able to slide against each other. The feel of John under him was making him pant. Warm skin, hands gripping his ass and the slip and slide of their cocks moving against each other smoothly. The sensations were divine. If he actually believed in God, this would his idea of heaven. Leaning forward on his hands, he kissed John tenderly, lips moving languidly across his lovers in direct contrast to how firmly his hips were driving against John’s.
The heat between them was building and the feeling was delicious. When John wrapped his legs around his waist, Rodney pressed his hips even more firmly against his partners and moved faster.
The feeling of his orgasm was tingling against his spine and he welcomed it. Moving his hips a bit harder he let the strokes smooth out, become long glides against John’s cock and listened as his husband fell apart under him at the unrelenting sensations. Rodney held onto his control by the skin of his teeth, watching the emotions flow across his lovers face.
He was waiting for just one thing.
When John convulsed and cried out against the newest kiss he was giving him, Rodney groaned and let go. The feel of his orgasm moving through him was so much better than he had expected. But then, the only orgasms he had had during the weeks he had been gone had come from his own hand and that couldn’t match up to what he had just had.
Panting lightly, Rodney rested his head against John’s shoulder and breathed in the scent of his mate. Cleanup could wait a few moments. This was home. He was going to take the time to enjoy it.
Administrators Office, Early Morning
Teyla accepted the cup of morning tea from Elizabeth gratefully. Torren and Charin had been very awake for most of the night. The tea was very welcome.
“How are you feeling?” the Athosian asked her friend after her first sip of the dark and fragrant beverage.
“I feel fat,” Elizabeth said dryly. She was sipping on her own cup. Teyla took a discreet sniff of the air and smiled. Carson had told her about the mint plants and their soothing properties. The mix Elizabeth was drinking had some in it.
“You look wonderful, though. I like this blend, where did you get it?” she asked as she took another sip of the contents of her cup.
“The market on M7G-677,” Weir informed her with a small smile. “Keras and his people have some lovely mixes and I am looking forward to drinking them again in a few months.”
Teyla hummed in contentment as she drank more of her tea before putting the cup aside. “We have found out much in the last seven days. Some of it very surprising.”
Elizabeth set her own cup aside with a small sigh and Teyla smiled sadly. Peace was so very fleeting in Pegasus, but at least it was slowly spreading, thanks to Atlantis. “Hopefully some of the news is good. Anything on Earth?”
The Athosian pulled a loosely bound bundle of paper out of her satchel and handed it over. The paper was like what she had seen all over Atlantis when they had been in contact with Earth. She had been very surprised to see it in the hands of someone who had never been to the city. “It would appear that they are interested in getting back in touch.”
The duly elected leader of Atlantis took a deep breath and reached out for the document. Teyla had read the whole thing and phrases from it kept coming up to startle her on how powerful they were. They were still working on her and she was self-aware enough to know that had been Earth’s intention. Whoever had written that thing knew how to turn a phrase.
She watched as emotions chased their way over her friends face before she took a deep breath and pushed them away as she put the bundle from Earth aside. Teyla was very familiar with the practice of that control and Elizabeth would pay for it, later. “Okay. I’ll look over this thing later unless you have something to add from it that I have to know right away?”
“I was told by one of the Athosians who out married into the peoples of Bellar, that the person who gave them that said Earth was keeping a candle lit for us,” Teyla swallowed slightly before taking another sip of her tea to wash down the lump in her throat. “The man in question was tall, bald and had a very commanding presence.”
Elizabeth pressed her lips together and nodded. The spymaster for Atlantis acknowledged the gesture silently. She wasn’t going to get her hopes up and neither was her friend. No matter how good that description sounded. “I’ll be bringing this up to the full Council then. What else do you have for me?”
She let her eyes show her understanding before she sat back in her chair to continue her report. “Things are quiet, for the most part. The Wraith would appear to have retreated to their planets with only basic patrols guarding their sectors. The Genii are still plotting and spreading rumors, but for the most part, people are seeing them as the sore losers, as John would say. It doesn’t help that their ‘rebel’ factions have done so badly against us.
“Michael is quiet, but we have several leads on his newest facility. Dr. McKay has assured me that the scanners aboard the Hyperion will be able to tell the difference between an Athosian, one of Michael’s creatures and a pure human. When I pressed Rodney on how he was certain that he would be able to tell an Athosian from any other human in the galaxy he told me that there are traces of the legacy I carry in every one of my people. It is apparently why Michael is able to get his ‘treatment’ to work on them,” Teyla admitted. “At any rate, if we can get access to an installation, I want us able to rescue anyone alive.”
“Agreed,” Elizabeth said with a grave nod. Teyla was and yet wasn’t, surprised at how willing she now was to contemplate deadly force. The pampered and sheltered person who had come through the stargate had changed far more than most realized. “I have a meeting later with Rodney and John. They’ll be updating me on the status of our new ships. I expect that it will take most of the afternoon.”
“I have heard good things on the rumor mill here about that,” Teyla shared. Even with as much education as she had absorbed, she initially hadn’t quite been up to the level needed to fix all that had gone wrong with the ships. In an effort to stay busy, the Athosian had taken over the fledgling spy network that Elizabeth had reluctantly started when Atlantis had declared its independence. Within weeks, the amount of information her people were delivering had more than proven the need for the network. Now, after more than three years under her strict control, Atlantis was very well informed on what the galaxy was doing. And now that her continuing education program had gotten Teyla to the point where she could help, she was too busy to do more than devote a few hours at a time reviewing the database.
Teyla watched as Elizabeth got a speculative look on her face before speaking. “It is too bad that we have no real way of getting any substantive intelligence from the Milky Way,” the other woman said with a contemplative tone. “As much as I want to trust that things are better on Earth, we’ve been burned too often to blindly trust their good intentions.”
“I can understand that, Elizabeth. I would suggest that we talk to Captain O’Neill and Dr. Jackson about who would be good to approach for that needed information if we go visit,” the spymaster murmured. She was already contemplating how to get the information they would need and where she could get her hands on a complete set of mission reports for the SGC. Dr. Jackson still had the Arc in his office… She would ask him first.
“I think Daniel has the Arc from the SGC,” Elizabeth volunteered quietly.
“I was thinking the same thing. I will talk to him soon,” Teyla agreed.
The two women sat silently for several minutes as they finished their tea. “Thank you for taking on this job. I know of no one else who could do it as well as you,” Weir said with a salute of her teacup.
Teyla nodded her head and tried to silently express her appreciation of the compliment as her cheeks burned in a small blush. From the smile that crossed her friends face, Teyla was certain the other woman understood. Taking another sip of her tea, she settled back into her chair and relaxed.
Elizabeth sat back down at her desk after she had escorted Teyla out of her office and taken the time for a personal stop at the local watering hole. Resting one hand on her ever-expanding belly, she reached for the bound document from Earth. A quick check of her desk clock showed she had an hour and a half before her meeting with John and Rodney.
Settling back in her chair, Elizabeth tried to get comfortable. Huffing lightly in irritation as she couldn’t find a spot that would allow her to read without problems, she got up. Walking over to her couch, she settled into the soft cushions and stuffed one of the throw pillows behind her back. The couch had appeared in her office three months before, and no matter her suspicions on its origin, she wasn’t giving it back. Sighing in relief as the nagging ache was alleviated, Elizabeth opened the book and started to read.
Forty-five minutes later, she wanted to dance, scream, or most mortifyingly, cry. They had been out on their own for over five years and the document she was holding was a miracle. It proved what they had been thinking for several years; O’Neill was once again in charge of the SGC and willing to welcome them back. Not back under the control of the SGC, but back to being children of Earth again.
O’Neill went even further and let her know that the courts-martial of her military members, the charges of treason, sedition, inciting a revolution and general mayhem had all been dropped. He had even gone so far as to get the record of every Expedition member scrubbed. The document in her hands had informed her there were no traces of those charges left in any system on Earth. Their use of Section 19 had been inserted in everyone’s records along with the note that they were now citizens of Atlantis and thus independent. If they could trust the information contained in the book, things were looking brighter for getting back in contact with Earth. Rubbing her hands over her face, Elizabeth took a deep breath and then let it out.
They had been making it on their own, but to have help?
Heady stuff, that.
“So our two Ancient warships have passed all the dry dock tests we can devise. Radek has had the engines doing dry fires for the last month and we have gotten to the point of ‘ignition’ but haven’t cranked the engines to a full redline test. Testing on the all the other systems have come back with acceptable levels across the boards and the tweaks we designed into the sensor arrays have gone in smoothly,” Rodney reported. “We have the computers up and running, but they are nowhere near the same level as Atlantis, so whoever gets the ships will need to know that.”
The screen of the main meeting room was ticking through slide after slide as he ran down the lists of everything that had been done. The whole City had contributed to the refit of the ships in one way or another. Rodney had already made the decision that he was going to congratulate each and every person involved. Three years of work and they were at the point where all of their planning rested on a successful test cruise.
“Do we have sufficient ZPM’s to be able to power these ships?” Elizabeth asked carefully.
“No, we don’t,” Rodney said firmly. “Not through lack of trying or even looking. We technically have three for the city, but I really believe that once we get to the point where we want to fully launch our ships, we need to either do a snatch and grab from the Brotherhood, or we need to see if we can steal some from the Replicators. “
Elizabeth looked at him and he could see the frustration at the lack of choices smoldering in her eyes. Turning to her left, she looked at the person she relied on the most for military advice. “General? Do you have any recommendations?”
John sat up slightly and nodded. “I do. As much as I want to go and steal us some ZPM’s from the Replicators, I can’t authorize that big of a Hail Mary mission. Not yet. Not unless Rodney or his geeks can figure out how to disable them for at least fifteen minutes so we can get in and get out with enough to make it worth our while. The Brotherhood is a better, and infinitely safer bet. Lorne and O’Neill have been war-gaming that whole idea for months and we’ve sent three cloaked Jumpers through their gate from various locations for a look. The return trips have been safely done and we slipped in and out without notice.”
Tapping quickly at the tablet in front of him, John threw a file onto the main screen. “The last time we went looking for a ZPM, we were trying to work within the cultural mores and not make major waves by committing grand theft, Pegasus style. Now, we just want to get one. Also, we have several empty or mostly empty ones that still glow, but don’t have sufficient power to support a Jumper. One of them will be a good substitute.
“Anyway, we know where they have the full one stashed. No real puzzle or mystery, but we’re going to need something as a distraction. I was almost willing to wait until they were being culled next to go in, but that’s the part of me that is still pissed at their behavior.” The growl Sheppard let slip was full of old anger and the other two knew it.
Elizabeth sat back for a brief moment and then nodded. “Rodney, get me something that can act like the shield generator did when we retook the city. Something that can buy us time if we need to invade the Asurans. John, I want a breakdown of pros and cons of a raid on the Brotherhood. You can’t use a culling because those are too risky for our own people, but you can pull as many Jumpers and however many men you think you will need for this. Since we are going for stealth, can we travel from the nearest system over?”
John turned to stare at Rodney and then nodded. The astrophysicist was the one speak up. “It is feasible. But the nearest system is a twenty-hour flight at least away. And that is if they push the Jumpers as hard as they can. We’ve done it before, but I am never happy about it. You and I both know that having one of our warships in orbit would be better.”
Elizabeth looked back at Rodney to see him tapping the screen of his tablet. His gaze was focused inward and she held her peace until he had finished whatever he was up to. “Rodney? Can we get this plan going?”
“If we can get the ship moving within the next twenty-four hours, we can have it in place over Dagan within three days.” Rodney sat back in his chair and tapped his fingers against the table. “I would feel more comfortable if we took a Zed PM from the Da Vinci, but I would need to check on the feasibility of that. Simpson is running that one project.”
Well, that put a different spin on things, Elizabeth thought, rubbing her hand over her stomach absently. “Please contact her and get an update on that. If needs be, we might be able to shut him down temporarily.”
Rodney rocked one hand back and forth in a classic ‘maybe’ gesture. “I’m not 100% certain we can. I know we have most of the labs under some sort of review and Simpson was about to spool up a drone plant to start making us some. Once she gets that started, I don’t want to remove a ZPM until she is finished due to some of the documentation on how delicate the assembly process is. From what she has scheduled, the whole building run can take days. Then there is a cool down period and finally a sterilization process to keep any ‘bots from getting loose. The Ancients who ran the Da Vinci ran it right. They took no chances with safety.”
John winced at the news and so did Elizabeth. They needed those drones badly, she knew. Each individual attack from the Wraith had strained their resources to the max and only moving the city had given them the breathing room they had enjoyed. Most of the City’s drones were currently designated for the Jumpers anyway, leaving none for city defense if they needed them. She wasn’t even going to start thinking about what they would need to resupply their new ships.
“So if we pull a ZPM, we lose drone production?” Elizabeth asked.
Rodney ran one hand over his face and nodded. “We desperately need another five, if not a full dozen ZPM’s. Three for the City and one each for our ships. Even better would be full ones for the Da Vinci as well.” He paused and she watched him take a deep breath before continuing. “The plan for raiding the Replicators has merit. The only reason we’ve been left alone is that they currently aren’t looking for us. Admittedly, we haven’t gone looking for them, but I imagine that they are still living on the same planet we found them on. They had no reason to move either.”
John nodded and Elizabeth watched as the head of her military stared at the ceiling and contemplated something. When he was still silent after a minute, she turned back to Rodney. John would get back to her when he had things figured out to his satisfaction.
“Just to make sure, we do have a ZPM that we can substitute for the Brotherhoods?”
“Yes, we have several,” Rodney said absently, his attention on what she hoped was a way to get around their power problems.
Elizabeth sighed before looking at her schedule and she found the note she had left for herself. “On another note, we need to look into starting some form of schooling. With the baby boom, we are only about two years away from needing an actual kindergarten, and the crèche, while good, isn’t set up for that. The self-paced education plan they have set up for the baby geniuses is good, but do we want all of our kids learning by computer or in a classroom sort of situation?”
“Oh,” Rodney looked up from his tablet and glared at her. “We go from war to education? Never let it be said that we can’t stay on topic.”
“Uh-huh,” John grunted softly as he took his eyes off the ceiling. “I have a good dozen men and women who have education degrees of one type or another. I have another four or so who were getting theirs. We just need to figure out a style and then apply it. Or see if we want to blend the two together.”
“Dr. Jackson and his soft science teams probably have a few who can teach as well. I know that most of the scientists on Atlantis have done a turn or two in front of a classroom. Even if that classroom was a lecture hall at a science convention,” Rodney agreed casually.
Elizabeth ran what she knew of her CSO’s educational history through her mind and then stared. “When did you teach?” She eyed him carefully as the scientist turned his attention to his laptop. To most people, he would seem as peeved as he normally was when talking about any sort of the soft science, but she could see the simile floating around his lips. Impatient with his hiding, Elizabeth reached over and tapped the computer screen’s housing. “When did you teach?”
“College,” Rodney answered promptly. Huffing lightly in impatience, she glared at him. Rodney leaned back in his chair and laughed lightly. “I taught Physics 101 through 303 as a TA. It sucked badly. Three hundred plus twenty-two-year-olds do not like learning from a seventeen-year-old. I am hopeful that if we need to do that here, the quality of my students will be better.”
“Agreed,” John weighed in. “And I taught Euclidean and Non-Euclidean Geometries while I was getting my Masters.”
“I was teaching from my Masters on through getting my doctorate. But unlike you two hard science majors, I got PoliSci and Art Appreciation as my teaching horrors.” Elizabeth nodded.
Eyebrow raised, John stared at his boss before turning to look at his husband. “Art Appreciation?”
“Apparently,” Rodney agreed before pulling them back to the previous topic. “If my numbers are right, we can get the Hyperion going with a half dozen naquadah generators tied in at key junctures around the ship. It won’t be the fastest ship out there, but it will get us to Dagan. However, the power situation won’t be up to much of a fight. The generators will be enough to run the transporters and sensors to get our people in and out quietly while running the engines at about a third of their normal power.”
Sighing in acceptance of how certain the scientist was, John nodded. “I can work with that. Once we get the ZPM, I want us to move out of the system as quickly as possible. We don’t need to draw the attention of the Wraith and for all I want to hurt some of those assholes, I don’t really have it out for the whole culture.”
“I can completely understand that,” Elizabeth said grimly.
“Anything else?” Rodney asked as he closed his laptop and stacked the tablet on top.
“Nope. I’m good. John?”
“I’m good too, Elizabeth. I’ll be getting back to you on ways for us to get the ZPMs we need.” John said as he picked up his own laptop.
”That works for me. I’ll talk to you at the scheduled Council meeting tomorrow at 1600,” Elizabeth nodded. She watched the two men as they exchanged a discreet kiss before heading to their separate jobs in the city.
The water reached the desired level and Elizabeth waved a hand in front of the sensor for the spigot. Ten years on, she still didn’t have even a hint of the ATA sequence and Rodney’s engineers had come up hundreds of workarounds that allowed her and others like her to get through their days.
A bath was just what the doctor ordered and she was the doctor in question, so she was going to enjoy it. It had taken years for her to learn the tricks to successfully relax out of the stress of her position and she needed them now. If she didn’t indulge on a regular basis, Elizabeth knew she got uptight and well, bitchy. Which lead to incidents where everyone walked on tiptoes around her and tried to ply her with booze. Better to be a bit hedonistic at times than have that happen, because that behavior only fed her temper. And she couldn’t have alcohol for the next few months anyway.
She had a plate of cheese, prepared meats and some fruit from the kitchen, plus a glass of nonalcoholic ‘wine’ to enjoy. Her bath was ready. Elizabeth untied her robe and dropped it over the chair she had placed there in the bathroom just for times like this. The slide of water over her skin was deeply sensual and the smell of her bath oil was heavenly.
Her purely recreational use pad held a book she had wanted to read for the past three months and she was sucked into the fictional world immediately. Several hundred pages later and the only thing that pulled her out of her reader’s trance was when her hand passed over her plate of nibbles and it was empty. Her glass of non-alcoholic wine from P45-524 was dry and the water of her bath was starting to cool.
Sighing regretfully, Elizabeth closed her book, carefully tossed the pad onto the chair, and then stood up. The feel of water running over her gravid belly was as weird as it usually was, but she just ran a hand over the swell of her baby and enjoyed the kick.
The act of tidying up her minor mess was just as much a part of her routine as the bath itself. Once done, she belted her robe back on and walked back into the master suite. Radek was lying on the bed and reading his own pad and from the lack of muttering, she was sure it wasn’t work he was reading about.
“Hello, dearest. When did you get in?” she asked.
Radek’s eyes showed how distracted he was before they sharpened as he took in her appearance. “You look lovely, my dear wife,” he purred as he took in her changed appearance.
When he had left for his shift at the shipyard, she had been barely eight weeks along in a pregnancy that had surprised everyone. Like most of Atlantis’ residents, they were using an artificial womb to gestate their first child. Their little girl was due any day now, and Carson had wired the little machine to alert them as soon as the baby made moves towards needing to be born. The one she was carrying had been a surprise since she honestly thought that there was no way for her to get pregnant through her implanted birth control and age.
Now she was fat and glowed from the baby. And while it was nice she was getting to experience the miracle of pregnancy, Elizabeth never wanted to do it again. Morning sickness had sucked and she wanted to see her feet sometime soon. Currently, she was in that section of pregnancy where she had an itch and wanted it scratched. Now. Elizabeth sincerely hoped her husband had gotten some vitamin shots with his welcome home physical. He would need them.
Reaching over, she pulled his pad out of his hands and set it on his nightstand. Elizabeth pulled the covers back off Radek and smiled. He was very naked. From the way his cock was twitching and stirring, she could tell her husband was at least marginally interested in her plans.
“Moji Bin,” Radek moaned as she leaned over and took his still soft cock into her mouth. The feel of him getting hard in her mouth made her wet and she clenched the muscles of her pussy as her ever-present libido took over. As soon as he was hard and babbling, Elizabeth sat up and licked her lips.
The feel between her legs was of wet and want. Elizabeth measured the cock in her hands and smiled before swinging one leg over Radek’s hips and settling onto the bed. The hot length of her husband’s dick was nudging her ass and she sat down carefully. “I am going to rock your world, lover,” she announced before leaning forward and kissing him.
“You always have, beloved,” Radek agreed when they broke for air. The hiss of air escaping his lungs as she shifted to take him into herself was gratifying and the look in his eyes as she untied her robe was arousing. God, she loved this man, Elizabeth thought.
The position they were in allowed her so much control, allowed her to take him deep and feel the stretch of him inside her. It was a glorious feeling. Flexing her thighs, Elizabeth moved up and down on the thick cock spreading the lips of her pussy and moaned. When her husband spread those same lips to play with her clit, she shrieked at the sudden fall of orgasm. Panting, she rocked against the hard cock in her and rode out the pleasure he was bringing her.
Elizabeth carefully braced her hands against Radek’s chest to settle that final fraction of an inch further onto his cock and felt a second orgasm start to gather. She lifted up and obeying the urges of the hands on her hips, moved in small circles as the threatening orgasm washed over her. Elizabeth shivered as the contractions of her inner muscles released a flood of wet. She sat back in a daze and started to move again. Orgasms were her goal right then, and she was determined to have another.
“Oh, my god.” Radek breathed out carefully as he watched his normally controlled wife get lost in the sensations her body was giving her. It was a beautiful sight. He throttled back his own need to come, carefully helping by rubbing her clit so she had the stimulation needed for multiple orgasms. All that was running through his head were profane but reverent pleas to allow him to last long enough to give her the pleasure she sought.
Radek held out as long as he could until his over-stimulated system whited out and he could only vaguely hear the loud shout he gave as his brain emptied out his dick.
When he came back to himself, he found that his wife was draped over his chest, shivering lightly and her inner muscles still had a rippling grip on his dick. Reaching out one arm the Czech scientist grabbed the duvet cover and flipped it over them, then ran his hand down his wife’s back as she shivered through another minor orgasm. That had been one hell of a welcome home.
Over the last few years, Botany had moved from one of the smallest of the science departments to being one of the largest and Dr. David Parish was smugly proud of his people.
During their time hanging in the black, he and his crews had managed to keep everyone fed and the increasing amount of surplus food had been traded for luxury goods. Once they settled onto New Lantea, he and his people had found plenty of new croplands and had moved the space-intensive crops, like the grains, out into the open air. Their one commercial sized working greenhouse was currently filed with almost 80% Terran foods with a few Pegasus luxury fruits that did well near them. The experimental greenhouses near their labs were filled with things that might eventually be moved over to the second big greenhouse they were rehabbing, but that was a later thing. Something to think about once they had determined how to actually grow some of the plants in a greenhouse environment.
His people were still working with their allies to improve farming techniques, yields and collecting interesting specimens from various planets, but mostly, he was leaving the fieldwork to someone else. David hummed slightly as he tied a cucumber vine to a stake, allowing it to grow in the form he wanted. This was the life he had wanted when he had signed up for the Expedition. One filled with the exploring new biospheres, learning about the plants that might hold secrets to heal people of unimaginable ills and taking them home to study. That he was using his skills to make friends was an added bonus.
“Bababababa!” David grunted slightly as his son shifted in the carrier on his back and babbled at the people around them. The existence of his son was another miracle of being on Atlantis and he was incredibly grateful for the chance. On Earth, he and Evan would never have had the opportunity of having a child of their combined genetics. Gabriel was a wonderful blend of the two of them and the botanist loved him dearly. Even if he did insist on trying to dance to his own inner music while in his carrier.
From the happy babbling of the tot on his back, his son was having a grand time in the greenhouse. So was he. The chores were simple and pleasant, plus he got to sneak an occasional nibble on a sugar pea. So did Gabe. Davis finished the last seedling that needed to be trained to a form and carefully stood up.
Twisting his hips from side to side, Parrish felt his back settle into place with the baby carrier. At least when Gabe bounced, he was balanced now. Reaching back, he patted his son on the head. “Hey, buddy. Wanna go see what your daddy is up to?”
The loud squeal was answer enough for him.
Sushi and sashimi were a part of her culture that she had missed fiercely and the ingredients to make it had been almost impossible to get (or import) in Pegasus. But Miko Beckett was a scientist and that had taught her to be thorough in her testing of new things. It also taught her not to be afraid to look far afield in search of alternative ingredients. Colonel Lorne had come back with new trade goods from a planet out on the galactic east from them, and one of the items was a grain that reminded her of sushi rice. Miko had secured two cups from David Parrish to experiment on and didn’t even feel remotely guilty about it. Then again, David had asked her to check if it could work as sushi rice and she was… testing. She had even promised to tell Commander Williams, the Navy officer who was in charge of the Mess how it turned out.
The smell of the grain as it cooked was promising so she gave the concoction a stir before turning her attention to the seaweed she would need. The variety from New Lantea was, in her opinion, better tasting than the stuff from home. Clean and briny, it contained none of the bitter edges that often flavored the stuff she remembered from Japan and the waters surrounding that nation.
Miko hummed softly to herself as she checked off each item on her list of necessary supplies and then checked the pusedo-rice again. It was fluffy and sticky, and a quick taste test earned a smile before she added some of her carefully hoarded vinegar to flavor. If the grain worked that well, she would request some to try and make a batch of a similar vinegar. She was certain that the kitchens would be happy to score some of her results if they were good.
Miko put the ‘rice’ to the side to cool before checking the second batch she had cooking in a different manner. A quick stir showed that it wasn’t quite as sticky as the first batch, plus the seasoning she had added was fully absorbed as well. Humming in contentment, Miko turned to the next item on her list. Cooking was a relaxing pastime and Carson could be counted on to fully enjoy anything she produced in their small kitchen. Some of the salmon she had gotten from Captain O’Neill for dinner was planked and the smoker they had for it was on their balcony, ready to be started. Even if they didn’t eat it right then, it would be good for omelets and things. Maybe even mixed into something for a ‘salad’ type thing. Miko made a note on her list to talk to Williams about a recipe exchange using their new foods.
When her radio chirped at her, she quickly washed her hands and tapped the response stud before getting started on assembling her meal. “Miko here.”
“Hello, luv. I’m leaving Medical to get Deirdre, do you want me to pick up anything for dinner?” her husband asked. She loved the soft brogue in his voice and how it seemed to deepen when he talked to her.
“I have dinner, dearest. We are having some of the salmon, tuna and shrimp that the biologists have declared safe and the pseudo-rice that Colonel Lorne brought back to make sushi,” Miko informed him. Her hands were moving quickly, forming the rows of sushi and sashimi that she would be testing tonight.
“Sushi, Miko?” Carson asked carefully.
“Yes, Evan found a grain that acts like rice and it is working well for this. We already had the other ingredients on hand. David got the soy sauce recipe right last year, we have wasabi from the horseradish I grew and I pickled some ginger from the first crop months ago.”
“Hmm… Sounds good. How much salmon do we have?” her husband asked. From the background noises, Miko was certain he had arrived at the crèche.
“Enough for Deirdre to have some smoked for dinner and leftovers for breakfast. Plus more in the fridge if we don’t like the sushi,” she admitted. Food was no joke out in Pegasus, so they were very careful with it. She wasn’t experimenting with a lot of it, but there was enough to get a taste of it in as many different ways as she wanted.
“Well. I am looking forward to it love. See you soon.” The line between them shut down and Miko went back to assembling dinner. Three different types of fish later and the sushi and sashimi were finished. All her leftover bits of food were carefully wrapped before she put the food in the fridge to keep it safe.
Everything looked good and Miko smiled. Dinner was going to be very interesting.
Main Council Chambers
“So the SGC has been dropping these books off at all of our allies they had knowledge of before we declared our independence,” Daniel Jackson said softly. Waving his hands at the dozens of books decorating the table before him, he sighed. “This couldn’t have been the only trip to have dropped these off. We only see the Rabara once a solar year and our time isn’t for another three months.”
“You are probably right Danny boy. And it looks like the elder you wrote it, too. Because Jack isn’t normally that eloquent,” Jon commented from his spot with the other military members of the Council.
“Do they know where we are?” Halling asked carefully. When Teyla had taken on the duties of spymaster, her second in command among the Athosians had stepped up to represent their people and the other indigenous cultures they had absorbed. Halling had been doing the job for three years and while there had been some initial grumbles at the change, he had proven his worth many times over.
The spymaster in question shook her head. “No, while the people from the SGC do not ask where we are anymore, they do pay attention to where we have been. The world where we ship our trade goods to and from has been visited several times. It also looks as if the DHD has been opened and examined. Given that we do not use it, I am uncertain if it carries any information on where Atlantis is. As per SOP, all travelers from the city use a Jumper and the detached DHD when traveling.”
John nodded his head and made a note on his tablet. “Colonel Lorne, do we have any alternatives to Wayfaire?”
Evan paged through the list of planets and habitable moons he kept updated for any contingency. “I have two that look good. Both have long-term sensor arrays on the surface near the gate and in orbit. Neither has had any activity other than our own.”
“Halling, since you have been off-world the most recently, do you think our allies will accept a new trade goods planet?” Elizabeth asked with a quiet grunt at the end. From John’s angle, he could see her hand rubbing at a spot, so he guessed the baby had kicked her.
The big Athosian sat back in his chair and picked up the stylus for his pad to run through his fingers as he thought. ”There are some who will be upset at the change, it is true. However, it is well known that Wayfaire is used by Atlantis and guarded by them as well. The move will not be unexpected, but I would suggest leaving a force to guard the planet for a time after the move.”
“There are many who use Wayfaire besides Atlantis,” Teyla murmured. Her eyes were as distracted as Halling’s had been as she thought over their various trade relations. John was very familiar with that look from years of watching her bend people to her will. “I would say that as long as we inform our allies of where the new Wayfaire is located, the fallout from the change will be minimal. I would suggest we guard the original planet for at least one month after the change so our allies are aware of the switch. And so they can make changes to their own trade agreements.”
John nodded at that shot of wisdom and was reminded all over again that Teyla had been running the extended clan structure of Athos before they had been culled. That meant she had been a head of state in her own right. When he had realized it, not long after watching one of the many trade trips his team had taken that first year, his brain had short-circuited for a minute before coming back online. His respect for her had risen tenfold and he had backed her to the hilt on any negotiations after that. Well, barring the Genii, but they were special assholes in their very own category of jackass.
“So are we going to take them up on their invitation?” Rodney asked from his seat with the sciences.
“I would like too,” Elizabeth admitted.
“Me too,” John agreed. “The Hyperion is ready except for the shakedown cruise and we will be getting to that in the next few months.”
“We’ll need some crew for the ship. Have we figured out who is going to be her captain?” Rodney asked as he swapped out laptops with Radek.
Elizabeth shook her head. “No. Any suggestions?”
”I vote for O’Neill,” Rodney said with a slightly mean smirk.
“Huh?” Jon looked up from the copy of the SGC’s olive branch. “You do what?”
“Vote for you to be the captain of the Hyperion,” Rodney explained slowly and carefully.
“Uhm, wow,” the Captain sucked on his lower lip for a moment. ”I have no idea what to say to that.”
“All in favor?” Elizabeth asked as she kept an eye on everyone as they raised their hands. “Any Nays?”
John wasn’t surprised to see every hand in the room raise for O’Neill. Jon was a popular officer and he had put his time in on the rest like everyone else.
“Looks like the ayes have it. Congratulations on the promotion.”
“Well, the last person to fly one of these ships was a Major. Got to keep the tradition alive, Major,” John said with a smug smile.
”Indeed,” Evan was ruffling through his computer bag and come up with his spare set of gold Major’s tabs. “Major, since the General stole our whole ceremony idea for this, here. Wear them with pride.”
O’Neill looked at the ‘new’ insignia in front of him. “I wasn’t expecting this at all.”
“We know,” Rodney agreed. “And no, Daniel didn’t know. The council voted on this before you two got here today. Just like you did when you sprung the promotion on Sheppard.”
“Wow. Uhm, thank you.” O’Neill shook his head briefly before silting book. “So do I get to pick my crew?”
“Within limits,” Elizabeth allowed.
“Which are?” the newly promoted Captain of the Hyperion asked.
“No stripping any of my departments of all the competent people I have. Most of the science corps know how to use the equipment on the Hyperion, so I will be assigning an experienced member of my staff to each department. The remaining people assigned will be the graduates from the apprenticeship programs we have going on. I want them to get some experience and you can choose some more permanent crew members from their ranks as they pass into their Masteries,” Rodney laid down the law in regards to his people. The apprenticeship program had been in full swing for the last two years and the graduates were starting to take over some of the less dangerous jobs in his labs. Every department in the City was doing the same. It was the only way to ensure their knowledge wasn’t lost. The people that Atlantis had taken under her banner were learning and quickly, but experienced hands were still worth their weight in naquadah. Or ZPM’s.
“I can do that,” O’Neill promised. “Any idea who my first officer will be?”
John shook his head and then shrugged. “No. We will figure it out before you launch though.” The look of amused resignation that Jon flashed him was worth the drama they would be facing over choosing someone to help command the ship. “I can tell you that it won’t be Dr. Jackson.”
“Thank you!” Jon agreed with a roll of his eyes heavenward before smiling at his husband.
The rest of the room laughed and nodded. Even Jackson. Despite all his experience in combat, he had clearly stated that he didn’t want to command anything. Even if it was their nifty new ship.
John shrugged. Time to start combing through the ranks to find someone who could back him up. Well, they could get to that later. Sighing lightly he settled back into his chair and looked at Elizabeth. He was done with what he needed to do. “All yours, Elizabeth.”
The smile she graced him with was happy and she quickly took the meeting back under her control.
War Room, the Military Complex
“So, we’ve been running war game simulations to see how things would shake out with us going in to get ZPM’s from the Replicators. Going in straight, we all die. Horrible deaths, but we all die,” Jon confessed.
“Adding Jumpers and a distraction increases our chances, but not a lot. At least not that I can come up with. I do acknowledge that I don’t have the slightest idea what we can use to distract a Replicator. Even with that disruptor that McKay built, it doesn’t give us enough time,” Evan said ruefully. Jon nodded at that. His experience with human form Replicators was the Milky Way variety. That group was much more militant than the ones in Pegasus. Admittedly, because of something he, well the General, had done, but the point stood.
The Pegasus version of the Replicators were creepier than the ones from the Milky Way, however. They were much more lifelike, more responsive and more interested in contemplating their navels than taking over the galaxy as they tried to Ascend. “Do the Replicators here have navels?”
The conversation around him stopped and the other two stared at Jon while Ronon rolled his eyes at him. O’Neill shrugged and waved a hand. “Just something that occurred to me. Anyway, I know these Replicators came and took over the city while the Ancients were in charge of it. Why haven’t they come back?”
The two senior members of the Atlantis military paused and looked at each other. They had no idea how to answer the non sequitur. Or even why they should bother to try. “Because you’re right. They are more interested in trying to Ascend than anything else,” Ronon informed him. The big Satedan pulled one of his many knives out and started to clean his fingernails.
Jon could tell when his boss decided to ignore the existential question and concentrate on what he could answer. Tapping the stud on his radio, Sheppard went right to the source. “Rodney? Got a question for you, buddy. Does anyone down in your neck of the woods know why the Replicators haven’t attacked us? I mean, we left them alone after we retook the City, but why didn’t they try anything while we were on our old planet?”
Jon couldn’t hear what the scientist said in reply, but Sheppard was looking concerned. The conversation was one-sided for several minutes, with the General making agreeing noises every once in a while before sitting up abruptly. “What? Since when did she have the ability to do that?”
Jon and Evan shared a look and then shrugged. If things went according to normal, whatever ‘she’ had done would be at least unusual, if not spectacular.
Sheppard signed off, then ran his hands over his face and then dropped his head onto the table. He rested it against the smooth surface for a moment before raising his head an inch and then dropped it against the surface with a thud.
Jon watched, honestly amused by the drama. From the dark chuckles that Ronon was letting out, he was enjoying the show too. The relationship between Sheppard and McKay was one of the best sources of entertainment on the city.
“So before you give yourself another concussion, what was the verdict?” Lorne asked as he played with something on his tablet. Jon knew that whatever it was, it had an equal chance of being paperwork or one of the many computer games Miko Beckett wrote in her spare time.
He glanced at his own tablet and resisted the urge to open his own game. The thing was one hell of a time suck and he was in a meeting…
The young Major was reaching for his tablet when his boss started talking with his head still resting on the table “Rodney said that when I asked the question, Atlantis popped the answer onto his computer. From what he read to me, she told the Pegasus Replicators that she was very happy with her biologicals and to leave them alone.”
Jon stared at the back of his boss’ head as he processed that. The belief that the City had an AI was an old one. Almost everyone had a story of something uncanny happening that could only have happened with the involvement of someone other than the person telling the story. Normally the event would happen when the storyteller was alone and there was no one nearby to either assign the save to or to witness it. Despite that, there were too many times where something had happened that couldn’t be explained away by the Nanny programs.
In the meantime… Jon was certain that no one had found the mainframe housing the AI. McKay would have been insufferable if they had. “We really have an AI?” The tablet under his fingers flashed on and Word opened up, flashing at him. Turning the screen around, he showed a ‘hello’ from the City. Forrest Gump waving wasn’t what he was expecting and he hadn’t had that .gif on the tablet before then. It seemed that not only did they actually have an AI; she had a sense of humor.
He took a deep breath and pushed the tablet over to Sheppard. The General rolled his head and read the message and then moaned before thumping his head against the table again. When Ronon reached out to pat his teammate’s shoulder, Sheppard let out a piteous moan that brought out a broad grin on his friends face.
Jon looked over and saw that Evan was staring at his own tablet in horrified awe. “Evan?”
“Uhm… I think Atlantis is way ahead of us again. And she is a very sneaky lady,” Evan explained. With a few taps of his stylus, the 2IC moved the message he had relieved over to the main screen they had been war-gaming on.
The three officers and specialist stared at the bland words. If the promise implied in those words was truly happening, their problems were solved. Even if it opened another can of worms that no one wanted to think about at all.
To the Cittadino Primus of Città Atlantis:
Matere has informed us that she is willing to host biologicals again.
We, the children of Città Atlantis will bow to our Matere’s wishes.
She has requested that you be allowed enough Potenta to take care of her, and our siblings.
Thus, we will be placing one point four greater units of Potenta in the heart of the system at 446.4586.119.16678.3 from the center.
We will leave the Cittadino Primus, Cittadino Secundus, and Incol currently living aboard Matere alone.
Do not attempt to contact us.
Jon stared at the message and then turned to look at Sheppard. McKay was going to shit bricks.
“So is anyone else completely creeped out by the fact that our officially sentient city reached out to the Replicators and got us ZPMs?” Evan asked.
“Oh, me!” John waved his hand in the air as he tried not to bounce his forehead on the table again.
“Well, General, I hate to break it to you, but I think this is your fault,” Jon informed him, voice serious.
“I agree,” Ronon chimed in.
Sheppard let his hand fall and turned his head to look at O’Neill after shooting his friend a dirty look. “How’s it my fault?”
He watched as his Major dropped his chin onto one hand and looked at him. “Because she has spent more time with you than anyone else. Every time she and you spend time sharing mental space, she comes up with a little more English, a little more personality, and a little more mischief. Plus more understanding of us. And she gets more and more independent. It’s like something inside of her is shaking free of bonds that were set on her by the Ancients.”
John winced. O’Neill had a point, a very valid one too, despite the poetic turn of phrase. His times inside the interface were getting smoother and smoother, and each side was having less trouble being understood. Atlantis was learning from them as much as they were learning from her. And he was right about how independent the city felt. The interface was far less like a rigid machine and more like dealing with an actual person. One who was a bit Vulcan at times, but still, a person.
“To be honest, it isn’t just you,” Jon said with a sigh. “My kids were playing soccer on our balcony two months ago. Atlantis was keeping the ball inside of the balcony and scoring the game. She was even keeping track of the time periods. The boys had a blast playing with her and treated her like she was a third person in the room. An active playmate to make mischief with. And from what I saw, she was cheerfully responding back, having as much fun as the boys were.”
Which reminded John of something Jamie had said. “When Rodney came home from the Junkyard Dog the last time, Jamie said that ‘Lantis had told him that Daddy was home.”
Evan sat up slowly and John wondered what Gabriel had been up to. At a little over a year old, he was the youngest child that any of them currently had. “When I was watching Gabe last night before dinner, he looked at the door about ten seconds before David walked in. It didn’t really register until now, but he does that every time one of us is about to enter a room he is in.”
All three men looked at the Satedan and he just sat back in his chair. “I don’t have kids yet. So I just get to see the City do weird things like turn McKay’s computer off when he is all worked up and raving. He thinks that someone else is doing it and it’s Atlantis.”
John sat up and rubbed his hands over his face before looking at his subordinates. “He’s ranted about that a few times. I’m not going to tell him who it is turning things off though. As for the kids, I know all the ones born in the uterine replicators have been ATA positive, and that includes little Katarina Zelenka, but do we know if the one Elizabeth is carrying is positive as well?”
“Carson would be the one to tell us that, but since both of her parents are negative, I would expect her to be negative too since she’s gestating in an actual uterus and not a machine,” Evan commented as he sat back in his own chair.
“We still have at least two months before that is an issue, guys. And Katarina is too young to do more than coo, cry and sleep at the moment,” Jon weighed in. “What about Teyla’s kids? I mean, both were born from the baby machines and all. Did they get the gene too?”
“Yup. I see them looking at the door when someone is coming too. The whole crèche does it at times. A bit freaky, but I guess the kids are going to have a better understanding of using the ATA than we do,” Sheppard sighed. “I don’t think I am going to mention this to Rodney right now. He’s worked up enough about the new baby as it is.”
The screen showing the missive from the Asurans blinked once before returning to the message. None of the men in the room noticed.
Last Day of July 2016
The thing about being a clone was that it had sucked at the first glance. Hell, it sucked at the second and third glances too. When he had been cloned he had been pushing fifty, in decent health (aside from his knees), looking at actually accepting the bump in rank to General that he had been threatened with for years, and contemplating taking the required step back from the field.
So mostly, he had been happy, or to be more accurate, accepting of how his life was going.
Being cloned by Loki had fucked all of that up and then some. He wasn’t forty-eight anymore, he was sixteen. He wasn’t in decent health anymore, he was going through puberty again and at his current age, he was damn weedy. He wasn’t a Colonel in the Air Force anymore, he was a civilian. In high school. Loki had been damn lucky he hadn’t wrung his scrawny neck when he had had the chance.
When the reality of his new life had crashed down on him, Jack had almost shut down and given up. The only thing that had kept him from doing that had been Daniel. After the elder O’Neill had dropped him off at the high school, the Archaeologist had stayed in contact. And Jon (as he had decided to be called) had held on to the older man for all he was worth.
He had kept in contact with Daniel through what turned out to be his senior year of high school. The Air Force had laid down a background of a kid who had been home-schooled and that fit in well with the hodgepodge that he had for what he knew of current adolescent cultures. At the urging of his friend, Jon had applied to the Air Force Academy and gotten provisionally accepted. Things had been looking good. Until Thor had shown up at Jack’s place and dropped a new bombshell.
Danny. A clone like himself. Jon had, not to put too fine a point on it, been thrilled. For all that the original Daniel had been there for him, he had still been involved with Jack and the situation had hurt on levels that he wasn’t willing to examine. Now? Now he had a Daniel Jackson of his own and the parts of him that had been despairing had something to latch onto.
Jackson Jr. had held on just as hard. Apparently, Thor woke him up a week before they had arrived on Earth and filled him in on what the little alien had known of the whole situation. Danny had been caffeine starved, pissed off and wanting to throttle the architect of his current misery, but Loki had been out of his reach. Plus, he had been afraid he that he was going to get shoved back into foster care. Some quick work from Miko Kusanagi and the younger Jackson had a nice shiny set of emancipation papers, plus a roommate.
The two older men had stayed in their lives but had helped out only when they had truly needed the assistance. Jon and Danny were moving in directions their originals hadn’t and it was deeply weird. Nine months into their new lives, they graduated from high school, did a road trip for the summer before college and the Academy and, most important of all, they talked.
For once, the two of them had actually talked over their issues. It hadn’t been easy to get things out, but by the end of their trip, they were in a healthier place than they had been in years.
College and the Academy had sucked. Jon had thought the Academy had been bad the first time he had gone through it was worse the second. He had so many comments on his file for being a stickler for the rules the commandant for the Academy had called him in to find out what in the hell was going on with him. Jon knew that his relationship to Jack was no secret, but the commandant had pushed that point home. The clone hadn’t rolled his eyes, but it had been close at how his old friend was wondering how an O’Neill had turned into a rule nut. He still had toed the line, he had just been quieter about how he displayed it.
After years of scandals coming out of the Academy, Jon had been determined that there would be no shit like that sticking to his class. His attitude had spread through his entire graduating class, and the years on either side of his had been remarkably calm. Jack had just laughed his ass off and bought him a beer.
Danny and Daniel had been right beside him the old man, laughing for all they were worth. The thought of Jonathan O’Neill following the rules was a bit odd when looked at from their perspective. Neither he nor his originator were all that fond of rules. At least not the ones that they knew they could ignore, bend or outright break. However, the Academy hadn’t been the place to screw around and Jon had gone into it with a clear goal of brushing up on his degrees and making the contacts he would need in later life.
At any rate, he had made it out the other side with a degree in combat engineering and another in aeronautical engineering. Danny had fast-tracked his way through college in an effort to get his degrees again. The younger archaeologist had managed to acquire a set of dual doctorates that he had completed by the time Jon’s first tour was up. Life was looking good.
Then the NID had come back, Daniel disappeared on a mission and Jack had freaked out, but held it together to enough to stay in charge of Homeworld and keep things ticking over at both the SGC and Atlantis. Three months later, the election had happened and after his debriefing, the new President decided to shake things up and sacked Jack, which had shown Jon that the world was fucked up beyond belief. He didn’t really mind Landry losing the SGC because Hank had become a bastard over the years, and well… he had his reasons thank you very much. When the NID had come back around again to try to get at the two clones, Jack had pulled every favor he could to get them to Atlantis.
Communication back home had been spotty after that, until Atlantis had cut ties with Earth and it all stopped. Jon had pushed away his curiosity about all the things that had been worrying him. Where was Daniel? Would Jack be able to get Homeworld back? Were his people at the SGC able to handle everything that under their new General? He pushed it all back and tried to live again.
Now he and Danny were married, had some kids and were thinking about having another. Jon shook his head at the insanity that was his life. Atlantis had been and continued to be very good for them in ways that no one could have foreseen.
The feel of another person moving behind him caused him to tense up and he stayed still as he gazed out over their balcony. The kids were at the crèche and there was no one else in their suite with Danny working.
“Hello, Jon. How were the boys today?”
Jon let his muscles go lax. Danny. The talk about the Asurans had brought up some deeply fucked up memories and he was wound tighter than he liked. Tilting his head back, he saw his Archeologist looking down at him with concern. “Who told you I was upset? And the heathens were fine. They just want to play more with Torren, so they’re at the crèche.”
“If you can believe it, Atlantis,” Danny informed him carefully. “And what are we going to have to bribe Teyla with to take the boys tonight?”
Jon hummed and leaned back in his chair. Atlantis and her AI were really starting to make an impression on their lives. Not that he was upset, just getting used to the new thing. Reaching up, he grabbed Danny’s hand and pulled him down into his lap. “The boys are good to go with Teyla and she was happy with a whole salmon thing I hooked this morning. We pick the kids up at ten am.”
At twenty-eight, Danny looked much the same as when they had first met, although with much better hair and a burlier build. This Daniel had figured out what regular food did for him and that coffee wasn’t a food group so he wasn’t underweight like his originator had been at the same age. Jon winced slightly as he remembered how upset Janet had been over the original Jackson’s medical file. At any rate, the newly promoted Major normally didn’t try to get his Archaeologist to sit in his lap for non-carnal things. He liked having feeling in his legs, thanks.
“Hmmm,” his partner hummed before he leaned into him and kissed him soundly. “Making plans, Major?”
“Oh, yeah,” Jon agreed with a wicked smile on his face. “Wanna see what else I have planned?”
“Yup,” Danny confirmed before he got off Jon’s lap and walked into their bedroom. Bouncing he legs slightly to get feeling back into them, O’Neill stood up and followed his husband. He had never been able to resist the archaeologist and he wasn’t going to try at this late date.
When he got into the bedroom, he found that Danny had stripped out of his clothes in record time and was spread out over the bed. “Something you want, love?”
One blue eye opened and his husband looked over his shoulder at him before his body shifted slightly. The new position pushed his ass up a little higher and spread his legs open a bit wider. Jon growled lightly at the sight and pulled his t-shirt over his head. There was no way he was going to miss this. Jon kept his own eyes on his lover and he saw the minute flexing of his hips as he dragged his cock over the sheets of their bed.
“Oh, yeah, you really are wanting something, aren’t you?” he asked as he unbuttoned his pants and kicked off his shoes. Jon decided to keep the restrictive garment on for a moment as he moved around the bed. He wanted to get Danny ready first before he got completely undressed. The sweet oil they used was just where they had left it next to the towel they kept on hand for messes, and Jon uncapped it before kneeling on the bed at his lover’s hips.
“Yes, I am. And if you don’t get to moving, soldier, I think I can find something to take care of that need,” Danny threatened, voice thick with need.
“No need to get snippy, there,” Jon argued, smiling at the sight before him. Tilting the bottle of oil, he let the thick liquid dribble into the cleft of his partner’s ass, enjoying the gasp his action earned him. Capping the bottle carefully, Jon followed the line of oil with the fingers of one hand, spreading the slick mess all over the pink hole he was planning on entering.
O’Neill watched carefully as he slowly opened his partner up with his fingers. The action never ever got old and the sight of his fingers dipping into and out of Danny’s ass was something that he wanted to see for the rest of his life. Only when the archaeologist was taking three fingers without a problem did he stop. Wiping his hand clean on the towel, Jon unsnapped his pants and stood up to shimmy out of them before grabbing the oil to slick himself up.
Climbing back onto the bed, he knelt between his lover’s spread legs and leaned forward to kiss the dimples at the base of his spine, right before the swell of his ass. “You are so beautiful to me,” he murmured. Moving up, Jon lined his cock up with Danny’s asshole and slowly, carefully nudged the outer edges with the head. “I am so glad that you’re mine,” he said right before he pushed in, sinking to the root in one smooth movement.
“Oh, gods,” Danny hissed, voice wrecked. Not that Jon could blame him. He wasn’t too coherent himself. “You had better start moving.”
Laughing brokenly at the demand, Jon obeyed. Arms on either side of his lover, he held his weight off the other man, slowly, carefully driving him mad. The pace was steady, almost languid as Jon leaned down to nip and the nape of his lover’s neck. From the shivers that moved through his body, Danny was enjoying that. When Jon ran his lips down to the junction where shoulder met neck and bit, the hole he had been fucking clamped down on his cock like a vice. Releasing the flesh between his teeth, he grinned and started moving in earnest.
Slipping his arms under Danny’s chest, Jon pulled him back what felt like an extra inch and spread his knees for more leverage. The action of moving in and out of his lover was heaven and he could feel the orgasm he was trying to ignore building. “I am so damn close, Danny. Can you feel how good this is? I love how you feel around me. Hot, tight and strong. Gonna fuck you until you come,” he panted.
The words were just what were needed and Jon could feel the muscles in Danny’s back lock up as his hole clamped down on him. No longer a vice, the grip was more a ripple that ran up and down the length of his cock and he moaned at the feel. The feel of his lover’s orgasm moved through him and tipped him over the edge. The fire that had been lit at the base of his spine roared up and Jon let it come. The pulses of his own pleasure moved in time with the thrusts of his cock into Danny and he clamped his teeth into the same spot he had bitten before.
His action caused a second ripple of feeling to move through his partner and Jon pushed his poor empty cock back into the warmth of his lover’s body. He wasn’t going to move for a while. Not until he had to. Heaven was right where he was lying and he didn’t plan on leaving.
Geosynchronous Orbit over Atlantis
The Bridge of the Hyperion
Jon O’Neill ran his hands over the Captain’s chair of the newly christened Hyperion and tried not to bounce in excitement. He was officially a starship captain. And his ship was very badass.
Her shakedown cruise had gone off without a hitch and the Brotherhood’s ZPM was pulsing power throughout the ship. Jon felt the grin on his face get a bit savage as he thought of the raid they had carried out on that group. It had gone off like clockwork, everyone hitting their marks just like they had in practice. O’Neill was very sure that the Brotherhood had no clue what had happened. Not that anyone on Atlantis cared if they did anyway.
The expedition had the dozen ZPM’s they had gotten from the Asurans in the main lab on Atlantis and McKay and his geeks were checking them over with fine-toothed combs. It had been the consensus of the science corps that due to the nature of what a ZPM did, the little crystal sculptures were real and not a matrix of nanites just waiting to fall apart at the worst possible moment. Even given all of that, the Geek Squad was being extremely careful before passing any of the power supplies for use. In truth, only two of the crystal sculptures had been deemed clean and had promptly been installed into Atlantis. The city had responded to the increase in power by unlocking the AI more fully and more overtly instead of trying to hide the changes as a bleed off of Sheppard’s melds with it.
When McKay had asked the city why the Di Vinci’s ZPM’s hadn’t brought out that behavior, the AI had simply responded that they had at first. Then she had found out that they were a temporary addition and she had folded herself back up into her corner of the database. The Canadian hadn’t been happy to hear that but had accepted that as well as he could. Which was to say that the private ranting had to have been epic, but somewhere along the way, he had learned how not to totally lose his shit in public. Jon was impressed.
The AI itself was slightly less intelligent than Hollywood had promised him intelligent computers would or even could be. But she wasn’t nearly as creepy as they had expected. Despite her old nickname of HAL, the AI had too many built-in controls to go mad, so he was happy with that. However, she was a learning program, and now that everyone knew she was there, she was learning more every day. McKay had spent a week tracing the history of the AI’s existence on Atlantis and finally reported that it looked like the ten thousand years by herself in an artificial learning environment had tipped her over the edge into true sentience.
To be fair, the original computer that had run the city had been extremely limited. The Ancients had apparently had the ability to make true AI’s but had declined to do so, and hadn’t bothered to write down their reasons as more than they didn’t do that. They had been happy with computers that stayed right under the threshold of sentience and had put controls in place to keep her and others like her there. Jon was fairly certain he had read some books with the same scenario, so he had a few ideas as to why they would. He even agreed with some of them. Things had gone like normal for thousands, if not tens of thousands of years until the Ancients had faced the evacuation and abandonment of the city.
From what the records of that time showed the Ancients had left and right before dialing the gate had just turned off the central CPU for the AI and walked away, leaving only the automated subroutines to run the city. Well, the council had. The expeditions favorite Ancient had apparently been a very busy man during his last hours on the City. He had managed to flip the AI and her defenses back on before he loaded her into an environment similar to what they had found on the Aurora, only more geared towards learning and keeping her central programming stable. There she had slept, dreamed and grown in a world that had allowed her to stay sane and still be willing to interact with them. Janus, when they found the location of the backup and saw the power supply hooked into it, had thought of everything.
So she had been silent and buried behind protections when the expedition had shown up, watching to see what they did. Old Elizabeth hadn’t known about her, and the AI had stayed quiet while learning about her new residents. The stilted feel that Sheppard had reported after his extended times in the chair had been her reaching out, trying to figure out the new people she had living within her. With each new interaction, she had gotten better at communication and understanding her new people. When McKay had asked to see everything that made her tick, the AI had agreed as long as a person of her choosing had been there for her. Elizabeth had signed off on the whole thing and Jon had been impressed at how she didn’t seem to have a migraine from the drama.
She had laid bare her programming to the IT teams and once they had a good idea of how she had been fixed, they started looking at their new ships. McKay had monitored the situation closely as the AI had spent weeks working with Miko Beckett before they had announced their breakthrough at a council meeting. Now the Hyperion and her sister ship had very basic AI’s that had the same capability to learn as Atlantis but were also fully capable of running the ship. Jon was looking forward to seeing how his AI would turn out. His crew was made up of some serious smart asses with low senses of humor and a high tolerance for insanity and they shared. Since everyone was interacting with the Hyperion daily, the changes were coming thick and fast.
“Hyperion, are we fully stocked for our trip to the Milky Way?” Jon asked as he slid into his Chair.
“We are, Captain,” his ship responded crisply. The ship had chosen a male voice with a refined English accent that fell within the baritone range. Those who had known him said that the ship sounded like Dr. Peter Grodin. After reviewing some of the videos from the early days of the Expedition, O’Neill agreed with them. There were far worse people his ship could have modeled itself on. “Dr. McKay has included a shopping list if you visit Earth.”
“I bet he did,” O’Neill agreed with a grin. McKay wasn’t going to change and no one was going to be able to change him. Well, no more than Sheppard and Jamie had managed over the last few years. ”All right people, by the numbers. Sound off!”
“Comms are green across the board and all frequencies are nominal.’
“Navigation is also green. All sensors are up, we are clear on long and short ranges and our course is plotted to be the least time, but the most data rich.”
“Weapons are on standby at this time. Our drones bays are fully stocked and the battery banks for the rail guns and lasers are reading green. The 302’s and tenders are reporting as flight ready as well.”
“Sciences report that all scanners assigned to us are reporting within specs and no with degradation of signal.”
“Engineering has our engines reporting green, our ZPM is at 99.8%, all naquadah generators read at 100%. Our Asgard transporters are up and running with our buffers ready for anything.”
“Medical reports ready, Captain. We are fully stocked and ready for your version of insane shenanigans. The crèche is reporting they are good to go as well.”
Chuck’s voice came over the bridge speakers to join the litany. “Hyperion, we are showing you green on our boards, and we have you cleared for lift off.”
Jon tapped the touchscreen on his chair and pulled up the com connection they had with command. It glowed with the notice of an open line. “Understood, Command.”
“Major,” the open line didn’t crackle, but Jon was reminded of all the other times he had headed out to explore the universe. “God’s speed and safe journey.”
“Understood. Hyperion, you may launch at will,” Jon directed softly. He was sunk deep enough into the ship’s net that he felt it when the ship broke out of the planet’s gravity well. He/they felt lighter, freer. The feeling lasted until he/they reached the edge of the safe zone to begin hyperspace travel and discovered what real freedom was.
Their whoop of joy was echoed throughout the ship. It was time for an adventure!
This whole story has been one huge adventure, and while I am sorry to see it get here, I am thrilled that it did. This is the last major chapter of this story, beyond the epilogue and then I am done with it. There may be snippets of later things that show up in my Challenge Fic area, but this story and universe are done.
Thank you to everyone who helped me with the wild ride it has been! Especially my Beta’s, without whom, this wouldn’t be nearly as good as it is. Also, I wanted to thank everyone who has given me art for this monster. You have made my words live in art and I am eternally grateful for it.
P.S. The art on this page is by Fanarts_series. Isn’t it beautiful?