Title: The One With the Zombies
Fandom: Stargate: Atlantis
Warning: Mentions of zombies
Word Total: 2026
“Rodney! Are we clear?” John called as he aimed his shotgun at the massing crowd before him.
“Clear! Come on through,” Rodney called over the radio.
John kept the shotgun tucked into his shoulder as he stepped back into the main body of the jumper. The feel of the shield covering the entrance moved over him like water and he blinked, eyeing the crowd on the other side warily. They didn’t seem to notice his disappearance and John wasn’t sure what that said about their collective brainpower.
“Can I close the back hatch?” John asked as he moved to stand by the switch. He still held the shotgun and wasn’t going to let it down until Rodney gave him the all clear.
“Shield’s been modulated to keep them out in case we pick-up one. Close it.” Rodney told him.
Reaching out one elbow, John nudged the lever and the lifting of the ramp seemed to finally get the attention of the crowd. They shuffled forward, arms outstretched as if they could keep the jumper on the ground. “Tell me we took off, McKay!”
“As soon as you hit the lever. Get up here,” Rodney snapped.
The hiss of the jumper sealing sounded and John unshipped the shotgun before turning to look at their passengers. Breathing deeply of the canned air from his suit he tried to keep his expression calm. This really wasn’t how he wanted to introduce his family to his job.
“Thank you for not freaking out, Dad,” John looked at his father and tried not to wince at the massive number of questions he could see in the older man’s eyes. “I’m going to go up front and get us to safety. There’ll be testing to make sure no one has the plague, but given that none of you’ve gotten sick says you likely aren’t infected.”
“We made damn sure to barricade ourselves in the house when the news broke. Thankfully, we had stocked up on everything, so we didn’t starve,” Dave admitted. “Add in the family love of guns and we were basically set.”
“Right. Well, I’m glad that you guys held on,” John admitted. The thought of his family falling to the plague the Ori had let loose on Earth was enough to make him break out in a cold sweat. “Anyway, stay seated, the jumper has inertial dampners, and the benches are the safest place while we have all this stuff in the middle.”
His family nodded before settling onto the benches lining the walls of the jumper. John took a deep breath and moved towards the cockpit. “I’m going to be locking the door when I get in there. It’s SOP, so please, don’t freak out. When we got to our base, you’ll be in quarantine for a bit, but we’ve got some really advanced testing techniques, so as soon as you are cleared, we’ll get you settled.”
The sounds of assent filled the cargo area and John tried to ignore a niggle of disquiet as he slipped into the cockpit and locked his family into the small space. There was no way he was going to compromise the safety of Atlantis by not following precautions, but still. It was his family and it stung.
The hiss of the door closing cut through his thoughts and John leaned into his connection with the Jumper to make sure the barrier wouldn’t open unless he input his command codes. A quick glance showed that Rodney had switched them to a private channel. “So, two of my brothers are ATA positive and my dad and youngest brother carry the recessives for it.”
“That might be why they managed to stay healthy through this whole clusterfuck,” Rodney murmured as he worked the co-pilot console. He was taking readings of everything on their trip back to the city. There were hundreds of scavenger parties out, canvassing the planet for anything remotely useful and transporting it back. “Well, that and the fact that your dad had your house sealed off better than Fort Knox.”
When Atlantis had arrived in Earth orbit three days before, they hadn’t found what they had expected. Instead of a planet that was largely over-crowded and unaware of the alien threat it faced, they found a wasteland. The Ori had managed to slip a plague in that no one had really expected to work. Privately, John was sure that there was some Prior on Earth who had been converted from her population because there was no way the Ori had come up with a virus that made zombies on their own.
Less than one ten thousand of a percent of the world population had lived through the event. And almost all of them were now on Atlantis, getting ready to return to Pegasus. Earth was no longer safe and no one had any idea if the contagion had made it off planet. If it had, the Milky Way Galaxy was effectively dead. Horrific as it was, the Ori were trapped with the dead.
“Paranoia is a valid survival trait, and Dad has it. At any rate, I haven’t had a chance to look at the reports,” John admitted. “How many of the survivors carry the ATA genome?”
“All of them,” Rodney told him, voice grim and soft. “Guess we know the percentage of the population who have alien DNA.”
“Right. Have we had anyone pop a positive in quarantine? “ John asked as he aimed for space. He was going to do an up and over. Flying across the US when it looked like it did was the stuff of nightmares.
“No. Everyone’s had the genome,” Rodney repeated. “None of them even mention getting sick.”
“Jesus,” the prayer slipped out and John pressed his lips together to hold the rest in. “Any word on the Daedalus, Korolev or the rest?”
He could just barely see Rodney’s head shaking inside his suit. “No. And without one of them here, we’re currently stuck having to heft and tote everything onboard the city. Radek is working with Sam to assemble a transporter, but it was slow going since most of the supplies they need are in the SGC or Area 51 and both of them were crawling with the infected.”
“What about stationing some of our guys in the ramp of a Jumper, tied off so they don’t fall of course, and use some of our zats to clear out the infected at Area 51?” John asked as he turned the problem over in his head.
“Might work,” Rodney agreed. The sound of computer keys being hit reached his ears and John left the scientist to it.
If they could get the transporter up and running, they could finish gathering the supplies they needed and leave. Earth was dead. And they needed to go before they were too.
Atlantis was sitting in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, somewhere south of Hawai’i and east of Australia. If they hadn’t had the shield up, it would have been a perfect spot to let the city sit and soak up the rays. As it was, Atlantis was topping off her energy reserves from the various solar panels they had installed all over the city, plus integrating every spare naquadah generator into her grid. Radek and his engineers were stretched to the maximum as they worked to get the city space worthy again.
The military, under the command of General O’Neill had been doing most of the scavenging. Every single target anyone could think of had been ransacked and cleared in bucket lines of jumpers. With sixteen of the little craft, they had barely had enough downtime to recharge and let their crews sleep. As it was, McKay had mandated the each of the craft be onboard Atlantis for four hours out of every twenty-four for maintenance and decontamination.
When John got his current ride in, it would be taken right back out by the next shift. No one was resting.
“Atlantis control, this is Jumper One, we are incoming with a full load for the quarantine facility,” John announced as they reached the two hundred mile limit. There was literally nothing around the city for that entire expanse and they maintained that condition firmly.
“Roger that, Jumper One,” Chuck came back, voice hoarse around the edges, but still strong. “We have you sorted into the traffic flow and just follow the beacon.”
“Understood control,” John lined his jumper up with the beacon for their landing spot and breathed out a sigh of relief. Only a bit longer until he could deliver his family into the hands of medical. “We are currently at 85% power, so it shouldn’t take much time to top off the reserves for the next crew.”
“Understood, Jumper One. Dr.’s Z and Carter wanted me to pass onto Dr. McKay that they got the transporter working and we’ll be lifting off as soon as we get all the jumpers back on board. The General asks if you have any requests for targets?”
“That’s great news, Control,” John congratulated the duo. He could feel a grin on his face and turned to see Rodney echoing it. Finally, some good news. “My lists haven’t changed since the last meeting. We’ll be down in five.”
The jumper settled into its slot in the quarantine area and John reached out to touch the internal controls to open the back hatch. Drawing in a deep breath, he stood up and headed for the back compartment. The door opened with the mental nudge he gave it and he saw that his family was looking back and forth between the two openings.
“Dad, the techs here will be processing you all through the quarantine process. You’ll be here for a week and at the end of it, we’ll have a place set up for everyone. I’ll make sure to pass on my contact information as soon as you get issued updated computers,” John stared at his father and each of his brothers.
There was no way that he could make this easier for his family and there was no way they could skip the process. The plague was too damn dangerous for them to take a single chance that the infection could actually develop in a person who carried the ATA genome. And that didn’t even count the people they had who were completely and totally human. Sam Carter had been living in what amounted to a bubble for the four days they had been on Earth. As had several others.
His father looked at the slice of Atlantis he could see and then back to him. “Okay. We’ll get through this and then you are going to explain where you have been for the last three years and what you’ve gotten yourself into. Because this place isn’t from Earth.”
John snorted softly. Yeah, he wasn’t pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes. “We can do that, dad. There’s going to be a lot to go over then.”
“I bet,” David muttered. His brother looked at the pile of luggage lining the center of the jumper. “I’m guessing we are leaving this with your guys to get it sanitized and cleared?”
“Yeah, you are. It’ll all be there when you get out of quarantine and I’ll make sure Colonel Stoic is there as well,” Rodney assured him.
“Thank you both, for this. I had no idea what we were going to do if we had to stay for much longer,” his dad said with a smile before turning to the exit. John watched him draw in a deep breath before grabbing his youngest brother’s hand and walk down the back hatch. David and Matt followed suite and John had to remind himself of the statistics. None of the ATA positive people on the city had gotten sick. Everything would be fine.
“They’re going to be fine,” Rodney echoed his thought softly as he stood next to him on the ramp. “Lam, Carson and their merry bands of witch doctors will take good care of them. And for once, I don’t care if you tell them. They’ve pulled off some serious miracles.”