Series: Agent Very Far Afloat
Fandom: NCIS, Stargate: Atlantis
Warnings: Some violence
Summary: Someone introduces herself
Beta: Azure Hart
I know you aren’t much for email, but this is the easiest way to get in touch with me. Think of this as expanding your tech horizons.
I just wanted you to know I’m happy with the job I’m at. I use everything I have out here and more times than I can count, I’ve used your rules. The people I work with are great too. I have to work to keep up with them some days, but I’m learning tons.
Life is pretty damn good and I’m glad I took this opportunity. It’s even given me a chance I never thought I would have again; I’ve settled down. It feels damn good.
Speaking of me taking chances… Boss, you’ve gotta stop turning over rocks. The most I can tell you is I’m down the rabbit hole and if you keep asking questions, you may end up joining me. Or the Powers That Be will find you your own rabbit hole. So do yourself a favor and stop. I’m serious, Gibbs. You can’t bull your way through this and get the answers you want. Let it go.
Enough heavy shit. I’ll keep emailing you when I can.
Tony looked up from his morning emails as his door opened. Evan walked through with a big grin on his face. That did not bode well for his caseload. “What’s got you so amused?”
Evan chuckled a bit evilly. “Our prankster has struck again. Somehow most of the military down in little Tripoli have lost their hair after showering.”
“Nair?” Tony asked, hoping it was just that simple. But then, Nair stank, so maybe everyone had been drugged? Because there was no way anyone would miss the stench of the stuff.
“No idea,” Evan said with a shrug. “No one mentioned a god-awful stench, so you might want to head down and get some samples.”
“Right. Well, at least this is more interesting than getting reports ready to go out,” Tony muttered before shutting his system down and grabbing his kit to collect evidence.
“So you say,” Evan agreed with a laugh. “See you and Ian at lunch”
“Yeah, he’s teaching sniper training, so we can work lunch in and let his trainees destress,” Tony confirmed with a smile.
“See you then!” Evan said with a wave before heading down to his office.
Tony walked down to the transporter and just sighed as it opened when he reached it. Yuck. He was going to be collecting hair samples, water samples, and possible doubtful biological samples. All so he could spend the afternoon testing. Yuck.
“And I need to report that our practical joker has struck again,” Tony reported. “Someone got into the barracks water supply and added a chemical agent to it that, when combined with soap from Earth, makes all your hair fall out. Most of the battalion has been affected and while the men mostly have no problems being bald, a few of the women are highly pissed.”
The snort of laughter from somewhere further down the table was quickly muffled, but Tony didn’t blame the person for it. The prank was funny. And inventive. His tests had shown that the chemical didn’t lead to permanent hair loss, so there was that.
“Any ideas?” John asked. His voice sounded slightly strangled, as if he was suppressing his own amusement.
Tony eyed the Colonel before he internally shrugged. He doubted John was behind the pranks. While he had the brains to do them, he mostly held himself above all the various prank wars. “No. I’ve looked into the various ways this could have happened. The physical parts of the water supply haven’t been tampered with anywhere I could find, none of the soaps have any additives to cause hair loss and only the water had the chemicals. And even finding that took some doing because there were very few samples left after everyone’s showers stopped.”
Rodney looked up from his laptop and stared at him before adding his two cents. “Tony’s right. We traced the water supply for the barracks area back to the main water supply. The system is sealed. The shower heads are a solid part of the pipe. We have no idea how the chemicals got in.”
“Has anyone had an adverse reaction?” Weir asked from her spot at the head of the table.
“No. And not everyone got dosed at the same time,” Tony told them, moving his notes around on his tablet. “The dosage period was over a period of eight hours and managed to get almost everyone. From the chemical analysis of the residue, the victims should have normal hair growth from this point on. I did make a note of it and it’s with the labs to be tested to see if we can make it commercially viable.”
“Why?” Evan looked up from his own tablet. “It was a prank.”
“Because Nair stinks,” Miko reminded everyone from her place further down the table. Radek was working on something time sensitive, so she had come as the 2IC for the labs. “It also can leave chemical burns in horrific places and take twenty minutes or more to work and still leave you looking like you have mange. So yes, a chemical that when added to water and activated with normal soap removes hair without harming human skin? That stuff will sell like hotcakes.”
Several of the other women in the conference room made noises of agreement and Tony hid his amusement. Hair removal was not fun and he actually agreed with the ladies. Anything that could make that better and less smelly was welcome. “You might want to get with some of the victims to see when they start regrowing their hair so you can get a timeline on when it starts coming back in. For science and all.”
“Already got that covered, Tony,” Miko told him, a bright smile on her face.
”Alright, I’m glad this prank is harmless, but that doesn’t mean the next one will be,” Weir pulled the meeting back on track. “We need to find out who is doing this before things escalate.”
“Agreed,” John muttered. “I figure we can schedule a battalion-wide field day or week and make sure all our areas are sparkling clean, organized and accounted for. If the prankster is one of mine will be too tired to do much of anything after that. And it might let us find where they are setting these things up at.”
“And we get clean rooms and an updated supply list,” Evan muttered.
The snort Rodney let loose on that was amused but Tony wasn’t surprised. The scientist was frequently amused at everything the military as a whole did, and most especially their military. He was staring at Miko with a raised eyebrow and only nodded when she threw up her hands and sighed.
“All the civilians will be doing the same. I figure it’ll take three times as long as it will take the military, but we have more stuff and more ground to cover. I expect the chaos will be epically bad,” McKay declared.
Tony winced at that. He would be spring-cleaning his own spaces, and he wondered what he would have to do to make sure that took at least a week. Some of the geek-squad were painfully neat, others? Not so much. He didn’t want to get sucked in to help some of the messy ones.
“Maybe do things on alternating weeks?” Weir suggested. “So the city doesn’t grind to a complete halt?”
“Instead of stumbling around for two weeks? No, Elizabeth, it’s best if we get things done all at once. Rip the cleaning bandage right off.” Rodney argued.
“Does that mean you’ll be cleaning alongside the rest of us?” Mike asked tartly.
“Yes,” Rodney said, voice firm. “It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done it either.”
“Alright. Let’s get this scheduled and make sure none of the away missions are impacted,” Weir decided.
It took twenty minutes to get the mission schedule cleared enough to accommodate the week of cleaning, but no one begrudged it. Most of the missions were follow-ups, so there was some leeway in when they had to happen. The one time-sensitive the mission they had was worked around.
When the scheduling was completed, Tony got back to his weekly report. There were a few people he was recommending for non-judicial punishment and one he just wanted off the city. Cyprien Jean-Jacques was French, a scientist, and a massive misogynist. One who had pissed off every woman on the city. If he wasn’t removed, Tony was very certain the man would be tossed over the side with rocks attached or spaced.
Given how much Jean-Jacques had pissed off Miko, he was voting for spaced.
“Other than being a raging asshole, do we have any reason to get Dr. Jean-Jacques off the city?” Weir asked. She was keeping her face and voice painfully neutral and Tony was impressed with her efforts.
“I’m an asshole, but I’m not a misogynist,” Rodney told her, voice blunt. “I don’t want that man here. He’s making everyone in the labs uncomfortable to the point they won’t work with him. He’s a substandard scientist, a shit human being and he’s an agitator trying to stir up drama. He needs to go.”
“Colonel?” Weir turned to look at John.
John ran a hand through his hair. “None of my people will work with him Elizabeth. Any mission he’s on, he argues with my people to the point where they spend more time babysitting him than their jobs. He doesn’t listen to us and that will put everyone in danger. He needs to go.”
Weir sat back in her chair and looked around the room. Tony nodded once when she looked at him. She was aware of his opinion. He wanted the French bastard off Atlantis.
“Okay, he goes. Daedalus arrives in three days, I want Jean-Jacques on it,” Weir decided. “Next item on the list?”
Tony sat back in satisfaction. With Jean-Jacques gone, that meant there was one more asshole off the city and a plan to take care of the prankster currently making life interesting for the whole expedition. As far as he was concerned, it had been a good meeting.
The graffiti stretched down the length of the hallway, decorating the blue/green metal with vibrant hues in a fractal pattern. Objectively, the work was beautiful. It just wasn’t supposed to be there.
“Sheppard, this is DiNozzo, can you step out of your office?” Tony asked after toggling his earpiece.
“What the fuck is that?” John asked in his ear.
“I’m looking at a lovely piece of fractal art outside my office door. It extends the length of the hallway,” Tony reported. “What are you seeing?”
“Abstract art, it looks like…” John told him. “Well, it reminds me of a massive Pollack painting. All bright colors and splash.”
“And I’m sure there are other hallways that are decorated too,” Tony informed him. “This is way beyond one person doing this.”
“None that I’ll cop to,” Tony admitted before grabbing his backpack. “Enjoy the artwork.”
He was headed down to Rodney’s domain. It seemed the good doctor was a victim of the pranks that were going around. Or at least, he thought he was. Something in the lab was giving him a raging headache and he was more snappy than usual. Radek had seconded McKay’s request and Tony had penciled in a reminder to go check things out.
“Hey Rodney, how are you?” Tony asked as he stepped into the lab he had been directed to.
“I have a headache and the coffee isn’t helping. Carson and his voodoo practitioners won’t see me, sleep isn’t helping and I even tried exercise. It didn’t help either,” Rodney told him, voice clipped as he stood in front of a whiteboard.
Tony had no idea what the equation was supposed to mean, but it seemed quite involved. His math education had stopped at trigonometry and this was way beyond that. Turning his attention to the scientist, he looked him over. “Sounds rough. Why do you think you are being pranked?”
“Because I routinely make people cry and destroy dreams. And then remind people why they are so very stupid. Why do you think?” Bright blue eyes slid over to glare at him from over a coffee cup before Rodney gestured towards the coffee pot. “I’m pretty sure you should start over there.”
“Right. Well, I can investigate,” Tony told him before pulling a set of gloves out of the pocket of his backpack. Gloves on, he started examining everything in the immediate area. “You take your coffee black, right Rodney?”
“Yes,” Rodney told him, voice distracted. “I got used to it that way due to milk being doubtful in some places, creamer’s not always being available and sugar isn’t something I want to abuse due to my hypoglycemia.”
“Okay. Well, I can eliminate the various things you don’t use,” Tony muttered.
The communal coffee stash was in a large Tupperware container. Opening it, Tony took a careful sniff. Decent mid-range coffee, both plain and flavored creamers and various sweeteners were available on the shelves along with spare coffee cups. None of the containers seemed to be obviously tampered with, and the coffee pot was plugged into the wall like every other Earth appliance. Water was added from the top and the jug to add it was hung off a hook, available for anyone to grab.
All in all, it was an utterly normal coffee service for Atlantis. Tony prowled around the room taking samples while trying to figure out what was going on. Rodney ignored him, concentrating on the whiteboards before him. Tony pulled an LSD out of his back pocket and poked at the small machine.
It wasn’t quite like a Star Trek tricorder, but it was close enough. The little machine could give him basic chemical compositions of various items and he was using that to his full advantage. It would help him eliminate a lot of things that he didn’t need or even want to test in the full lab.
Everything looked normal. Tony made sure that all his samples and datasets were saved before heading back to his lab. There were several hours of work ahead of him to confirm exactly what everything was. The LSD had given him a number of chemical formula to look up as well.
As he was walking back he started turning over what he had learned while in the lab. Rodney wasn’t the only person in the lab with a headache, he was just the loudest. Several of the scientists had been acting a bit shifty, but that happened every time he entered the labs, so he didn’t think anything illegal was going on. Just the standard nerves of people around police.
He was ignoring, for the moment, the decorations on the walls. Every single inch of the walls seemed to be decorated in one way or another. Fractals, abstract art, splatter patterns and even some that looked like a landscape, the walls were riots of colors and it really lightened up the place. He was sure people would start using the designs as a form of road signage to direct their travels.
From the way the expedition was reacting, they were enjoying the change. No one seemed to be too smug or too nervous as they walked around, so there were no physical tells for him to latch on to. He would look into the paint job for clues after he looked into Rodney’s thing,
Back in his hallway, he paused. He did like the colors, Tony decided. They went well together and the fractal was pleasing to the eye. He patted the wall on his way past and sighed in relief that his office space wasn’t paisley.
The LSD was easy to download and Tony started reviewing the data. He had to break out his cheat sheets of chemical formula, but he was able to eliminate the coffee setup pretty quickly. There were minor traces of other chemicals in the air but those could be environmental and all were harmless. There wasn’t even caffeine in the coffee.
Tony froze and looked at the chemical analysis of the coffee in the pot and the jar. It was decaf. Someone had added caffeine to all the creamers. Not much, but just enough to cut the deprivation headache for those who used it.
“Well, now. That’s pretty evil, right there,” Tony muttered.
Rodney took his coffee straight up, Tony remembered, so the decaf was definitely hitting him hard. Leaning back, Tony tried to remember what he had seen and smelled while he was in the lab. Every person with a headache was drinking their coffee black.
And Miko had looked a bit squinty around the edges as he had inspected the coffee station. Huh. So maybe it wasn’t whoever was doing the big pranks, maybe it was a small personal prank. But he had no idea why Miko would do that to her boss. As far as he knew, Rodney hadn’t pissed her off recently.
It had become something of a habit to keep on top of who was irritating whom on the city. While there really was very little crime, the prank wars could get to the level of epic very quickly. Add in a pissed off under-caffeinated astrophysicist? Epic might get pushed aside for traumatic.
When the chime on his door sounded, Tony grinned. If he had to bet, he would expect his guest to be either Miko or Ian. He wasn’t too sure which one he wanted, but either of them would be good. He got up and moved to the couch before nudging the door open.
“Dr. DiNozzo,” Miko greeted him as she walked in.
“Dr. Kusanagi, welcome to my office. How can I help you?” Tony asked, careful to let none of the suspicions he was entertaining show on his face.
“Please don’t act clueless, Doctor,” Miko told him, voice serene. “I’m sure by now you’ve figured out the change in the coffee.”
Tony nodded once, holding his peace. He was curious to see if she would tell him why she had made the change. Doing something that drastic to a man who basically lived on the stuff had to have a good reason behind it.
“No, Dr. McKay does not know about the change. The Colonel informed Radek and I that Rodney’s blood pressure has been found to be far too high. We are using various means to bring it down, including restricting his caffeine intake. His blood pressure has gone down a bit and the Colonel has stated that he’s working on getting Dr. McKay to sleep more so that should help as well,” she explained.
“His blood pressure has gone down, even with the withdrawal headaches?” Tony asked. “Well, isn’t that a thing. I’m sure that Beckett has given McKay medications to bring his blood pressure down, why are you doing this?”
“I do not know about medications, but in the labs he’s getting decaf. The smart minions are drinking their coffee with creamer. Or having tea,” Miko told him. “Outside the labs, he’s still getting caffeinated coffee. We can’t control that and Cooper declined to assist.”
“No wonder he’s twitchy,” Tony muttered. “He’s going to figure out the decaf thing. Pretty quick too. Most hardcore caffeine hounds do.”
The nod Miko gave him was a serene acknowledgment of his point. “But by the time he does, he will be over the worst of the headaches.”
“John had better be able to talk fast to diffuse that temper in the making,” Tony informed her. He had seen Rodney lose his temper exactly once. The man who he lost it on had almost killed John with his carelessness and McKay had come unglued. His target had transferred off the city and back to the SGC to get away from him. Tony had finally found someone with a temper worse than Gibbs’.
There was a very sly look in Miko’s eye as she nodded in agreement. Well. Maybe the biggest bet on Radek’s books might get paid off soon? Tony made a mental note to go touch base with the Czech scientist when he got back on the city.
“Okay, I’ll let Rodney know that what’s going on in the lab is not related to the stuff in the hallways, or the epic day of hair loss,” Tony allowed.
“Thank you,” Miko said with a warm smile before leaving.
He watched her leave and shook his head. He wanted no part of the mess that was building, but he had to do his job and let Rodney know. Tapping his earpiece Tony called for his friend. “Rodney? I’ve got your answer.”
“Tony? Okay, wait a moment while I go into my office,” Rodney demanded. There was nothing on the line for a moment before McKay came back. “So, what have John, Miko, and Radek cooked up?”
And again, he got confirmation that he didn’t want Rodney McKay turning his genius to a life of crime. “Apparently your blood pressure is too high.”
“I am going to shear that Scottish sheepherder,” Rodney bit out after several tense seconds. “And then talk Atlantis into using the hair loss chemical on John. If he’s really lucky, I’ll leave that mess on his head alone. Miko and Radek can go talk to the Planet of Kids and babysit the latest crop of toddlers. I’m sure Atlantis can get me pictures in-between her own pranks.
Tony let out a sigh of relief. No blood was going to be shed, even if the revenge was enough to make him want to protect his own hair. “Rodney, don’t threaten anyone in my hearing, I have to respond. And why do you think Atlantis is behind the pranks?”
“Well none of my geeks did them, we don’t actually have spray paint on the city to paint the hallways and I got an email from her,” Rodney told him, voice distracted. “Are you sure I can’t do anything to them?”
“Nothing that requires me to step in, Rodney. And I am totally staying out of your thing with John,” Tony announced. He had to set the limits somewhere.
“Spoilsport,” Rodney groused. “I’ll be calling for a meeting later this afternoon to go over the email so be prepared.”
“Great, I’ll be there.” Tony agreed. The line went dead and he leaned back with a sigh. He was so glad he wasn’t on the firing line. It took him only minutes to file his report on the case and he dropped his reports in the queue to be sent to the SGC. By the time he got back in the office, he expected that he would have his share of the messages from earth.
Once he was done, he shut everything down. It was time for lunch and maybe some time with Ian as had become their habit with them both being on Atlantis. Tapping his earpiece he made a call. “Ian? Got time for lunch?”
You’re right, I hate email, but if it’s the only way I can talk to you, I’ll make an exception.
There’s been a lot of changes since you left, but I’m sure Kate’s kept you up to date on that. I know she’s been getting advice from you on how to handle things. Keep it coming. It’s helping.
As for how things are going here? All I can say is I hate arbitrary changes and leave it at that. Your leaving, while unexpected, wasn’t arbitrary, so don’t think I’m upset at you. I’m not. Rule 5.
I am glad the team out there is full of good people. You needed to go somewhere you could stretch and grow and I’m glad you’ve found that spot. Does your new team appreciate you?
You settled down? Good. I’m not telling Todd. You’re on your own there. I hope your partner is with you. Having them there can only help with the day to day stresses and I’m glad they make you happy. Introduce me to them one day?
I got the reference. I’ll stop looking. I know whatever rabbit hole you’re down has to be a doozy and I don’t need to get sucked into that. Tell me what you can, when you can and I’ll try to reign in my curiosity.
Stay in touch and remember my rules.
Tony met up with Ian in the mess. Cooper and her crew were working miracles again and the meal looked as good as anything he had seen on Earth. It was a mix of Pegasus and Earth foodstuffs and Tony ate heartily of it.
“What have you been doing today?” Tony asked as the first rush of hunger was satisfied.
“Running the Marines around the city and then making sure they can hit the broadside of a barn,” Ian said after finishing a bite of his meal. “Ronon will be working with them on their hand to hand this afternoon.”
“Not Teyla?” Tony wondered. The delicate looking Athosian woman was a past master at knocking cocky soldiers down a peg or two.
“She’s with Carson for a checkup,” Ian told him. “She didn’t seem concerned. When it’s time for the troops to take a class or two with her, the lessons they’ll be learning today with Ronon will be reinforced.”
“Anyone look dubious?”
Ian rocked a hand back. “There’s a few who look like they might start worshiping at the altar of stupid, but none of them have overtly confirmed it.”
“Grand,” Tony muttered before taking a sip of his tea. “Any possible snipers?”
“Don’t know yet,” Ian admitted. “The Marines don’t use the P-90, so most of them will need to get used to it. Plus they’ll need to get used to how the Wraith stunner handles and overcome their lust for Ronon’s gun. After that, I get to break them of their need to confront a Wraith hand to hand. Because that’s just made of dumb.”
“I’m all for killing Wraith with a gun,” Tony agreed. Then he grinned. “Hell, I lust after Ronon’s gun, too.”
“Don’t we all,” John commented as he stopped at their table. “Can I join you two?”
“Sure,” Tony agreed after a glance at Ian. The small shake of his lover’s head indicated he had no idea what was going on either.
“What can we do for you, John?” Tony asked after the Colonel had settled in.
There was no answer immediately but Tony hadn’t expected one. John Sheppard was not a really sharing man when it came to anything personal. And by cornering them at a meal, John had implicitly requested a non-official status to the conversation.
“What…” John cleared his throat before taking a deep breath. “What was your stance on DADT?”
Tony sucked in a careful breath before releasing it slowly. Damn. Not the easiest of questions to discuss over lunch. “As an NCIS agent, I was supposed to pursue those who violated the directive,” Tony told him, eyes level. “But as the Agent Afloat for Atlantis, I was directed to ignore the whole thing by General O’Neill. I’ve gone along with that directive and ignoring anything that is consensual. With the change in the rules, my life’s a lot easier on that front.”
The look of relief that flashed across John’s face was there and gone in seconds. “That’s good to know.”
It took massive amounts of self-control for Tony to not stare at Ian. He had an inkling as to why John was asking, but he wasn’t going to flat out ask if the Colonel had finally gotten together with McKay. Don’t Ask was the only part of DADT that he had agreed with. And with the change in the rules, it was the only part of it he had kept. Who anyone had sex with was not his business unless someone hadn’t consented.
Surprisingly it was Ian who tried to get answers. “John, why are you asking?”
John raised an eyebrow at him over his coffee cup. “Because I needed to know.”
John said nothing more as he plowed through his lunch and then left. Tony stared at Ian and cocked an eyebrow at him. “I have no idea,” his lover told him, eyes amused.
“Neither do I,” Tony agreed.
“Good to know,” Ian told him, voice bland.
“But we can keep an eye on things,” Tony offered.
“Oh yeah,” Ian confirmed.
“Works for me. Can I invite you back to my office, Agent Edgerton?” Tony invited.
“You can,” Ian allowed with a nod. “But I’ve still got troops I need to run through their paces. What about tonight?”
“Tonight then,” Tony agreed before starting to clean up. “I’ve got this. You go wrangle your students.”
Tony hummed softly to himself as he cleaned up the minor mess they had made and started making plans for the evening. He had the one meeting that afternoon with the rest of the command staff and then his day was done. If he had the time, he was going to talk to Cooper about some fresh ingredients for dinner.
“So, I believe that the addition of the second full ZPM, we hit a critical power requirement and the AI switched on,” Rodney reported with a wave of his hand. “The various ‘pranks’ have been her way of introducing herself to us.”
“Atlantis has an AI?” Weir asked, obviously flabbergasted.
Rodney cocked an eyebrow at her in silent rebuke. “Yes. Every gene holder, no matter natural or given, has interacted with her on some level or another,” he reported. “She keeps tabs on us, anticipates us, takes directives from us and brings things to our attention if she thinks there’s a problem.”
“Are you sure of the last bit, Rodney?” Weir asked. From Tony’s point of view, she seemed skeptical.
Tony cleared his throat and waved a hand to get Rodney’s attention. At his nod, he shared what he had seen. “As most of you know, my office and lab were originally side by side. Not long after I started working, Atlantis removed the outer door to the lab and added the inner, secure door so the space can only be accessed from my office. I didn’t ask for it and Dr. McKay has confined that no one directed the city to provide it.”
Despite the nod Weir gave him at that point, Tony could see she was still skeptical. Time for the second point. He suppressed the desire to apologize to Evan for putting his lover on the spot since David wasn’t there… “The next thing is when Walter was harassing Dr. Parrish. I had set Atlantis to record everything the doctor was doing in public so I could go over it at a later date. She did that for several days before Walter finally snapped.
“When she attacked Dr. Parrish, Atlantis got my attention by turning my TV on in my office and showed me the fight. She hadn’t been directed to by either myself or by Dr. Parrish, She managed to follow the whole incident from beginning to end, and then filed the whole video with the case file while I was putting Walter in the cell below,” Tony finished.
“But all of that could just be evidence of a really well done program,” Weir argued.
The noise Rodney let loose was derisive. “Well, going back further in time, there’s the case of how I knew where to find Keller’s body when she’d been killed. And on a more innocent note; other than the mess with my coffee, all the pranks have been far beyond what one person can do on their own. Case in point: the hallways. We don’t have spray paint here. No one has made any, the colors themselves are bonded to the walls and we don’t have the first idea how to do that. Add in the time it took for the art to appear. Everything showed up between 8 and 9 am, the artwork started at the top of the control tower before sweeping through the rest of the city.”
“The decoration took only an hour?” Carson asked.
“Yes. The important bit here is that no one saw anyone painting them onto the walls. And it seems to be tailored for each area,” Rodney informed him. “John and his officers seem to have a series of Pollack-like paintings, the sciences all have fractals and everyone else seems to have the Ancient version of landscapes.”
“Huh. Okay. Is that what those are?” Tony asked. The ‘paintings’ in question looked like topographical maps crossed with satellite images.
“Yeah, apparently they’re a mix of real and simulated worlds,” Rodney said with a sneer. “The fractals are much more interesting.”
“You just like the math behind them,” John murmured. Rodney shot him a quick smile and Tony filed away the possible hint on how the two men were getting along.
“Back on topic,” Weir said with a sigh. “What do we do with the AI?”
Rodney cocked his head to the side, staring at her. “What do we do with the AI?” he repeated. “We be damn happy it likes us and is willing to help. For some of us it uses email to get our attention, others it nudges us by using our environment. Everyone else, it monitors, protects and keeps safe.”
“So basically, it treats those without the ATA genome like helpless toddlers,” John observed.
“Yes,” Rodney agreed. “Toddlers who need a constant amount of care and attention to not kill themselves. But there’s nothing malicious about it. Nothing that feels clinical. Just concerned.”
Weir winced and held up a hand. “Okay, while I’m good with that, we all know other people won’t be. Understand I’m asking this because I know some bright boy at the IOA is going to wonder … Is there a way to remove the AI?”
“No,” an unexpected voice cut in. Everyone looked at Miko as she shook her head. “If anyone tries, the whole computer infrastructure will fall in and so will the city. As much as the city is floating on the surface due to her design, the computer helps by distributing power to the maneuvering thrusters to keep things steady. Without the constant upkeep from the AI, we would have sunk in the last ‘minor’ storm. And that’s not even counting what would happen if the environmental systems fail.”
“All good points,” Weir said with a relieved smile. “I’ll make sure those points are repeated several times through my report. If I understand you right, anything the computer or AI controls would basically be useless to us if we remove it, correct?”
“Beyond useless,” Miko confirmed. “Even when we had the mostly depleted ZPM installed, the AI was keeping what amounts to the autonomous functions of the city going. Without that, Atlantis is dead in the water. When we added the second ZPM, she was able to do more.”
“So we’re going to leave the AI alone,” Weir concluded. “Are there any other business that needs to be taken care of?”
“I’ve got nothing else,” Tony said as he closed down his tablet and got ready to head out.
The rest of the room chimed in and Weir nodded once before heading out. Tony stood and waited to file out, watching his coworkers as they exited. John and Rodney were walking side by side down the hallway and just before they turned a corner, John placed his hand at the small of McKay’s back.
“Well, I’ll be,” Tony murmured. Smiling broadly, he walked back to his office. He needed to close up for the day, check in with Cooper for some groceries and see if he could make Ian scream with pleasure. Full day.
“Hello, John. It’s nice to finally meet you.”