May 2012 – Old Earth Calendar
Main Science Lab
“John, there is no reason for me to go on this foray into the bosom of Mother Nature with you. I have a lot of work to do here and precious few people to do it with.” Rodney said absently. John noticed that his attention was moving from the main screen with its rolls of data from the sensors scattered throughout the City to the tablet in his hands to his radio. Every time there was a shift, the scientist would pause briefly as he absorbed the latest information being reported and then he would move to assign another person from the physical engineering department their task. This had been going on since John had (mostly) successfully landed the City and he was starting to miss his partner.
“How about, I want to spend some time with you outside of the City?” John said quietly.
“While that is sweet, and I would love to do that sometime in the future, we really do need to make sure that there isn’t going to be any problems from landing on a planet and reintroducing the superstructure to gravity.” Rodney responded, his attention still focused elsewhere. John opened his mouth to let fly a comment on how the City had done this before, but Rodney beat him to it. “I know that she has to have done this many times before, but not after she had been abandoned on the bottom of an ocean for ten thousand years and then bombed by Hive ships. So, let me look everything over for another day and then I’ll join you in stomping all over Nature, okay?”
“All right Rodney. I’ll leave you to it. Just remember to come home tonight and get some sleep, we leave at 0700 tomorrow morning.” John said. When Rodney looked up at him with a frown of interrupted concentration, he leaned forward and laid a gentle kiss on the busy scientist’s lips. Attention diverted for a moment, John felt Rodney’s lips soften and mold to his own. Pulling away for a brief moment, he smiled at his lover and quickly kissed him again before tucking a granola bar into his lab coat pocket. Turning to walk out the door he called over his shoulder, “Remember to eat something too, Rodney!”
Right before the doors to the main lab closed, John turned around to see Rodney running one finger over his lips and smiling. Feeling a bit better about not having his partner home for the night, he turned back to his own jobs. Mission accomplished.
“If the scans that you did before we landed show that everything is clear, why did you get me up at this ungodly hour? And why are you dragging me out to visit the continent now again?”
John looked at his scientist and grinned at the affronted look on his face, “Because despite how precise the scans are, they can’t tell you where someone might actually want to live. Halling, Teyla and Kanaan want to take a look at the possible sites we chose for the Athosian settlement. After all, they are the ones who have to answer to their people, and we are going to fly them out there. So suck it up, Rodney and get in the damn Jumper.”
Snorting slightly at John’s faintly impatient tone, Rodney boarded the Jumper and sat down in the copilot’s seat, “Fine, fine. I’m getting in. But you are not going to get me to help dig anything up, so don’t even try.”
“Not a problem, Rodney. You won’t have to do any digging. But you can bring up all the various sites for us to review.” John said pointedly. It had been a while since he had had to use his Rodney wrangling skills on a mission, but this was actually a fairly mild dose of the scientist’s stubbornness. Besides, he understood why Rodney wanted to stay in the City, he really did. They had finally landed on a planet, gravity was available in all sections and with the shield was off the City’s superstructure was once again exposed to the elements. Due to that, Rodney had detailed all of his engineers to do a visual inspection of Atlantis, intent on making sure she was able to withstand the rigors of their new planet. Plus he had been looking forward to actually getting his hands really dirty with the other engineers doing the basic maintenance on the Stardrive, and now John was demanding that he leave that to go on what amounted to a scavenger hunt. Oh, well.
Rodney grumbled just loud enough for John to hear the sound of his voice as he started pulling the preliminary information they had on the three possible sites for the Athosian settlement out of the mainframe, but the words themselves were lost in the sound of his keystrokes. John really didn’t mind. The sound meant that all was right in his world, and for just this moment, that was all he wanted. Preflight checks completed, he did a last visual check of the aft cabin and found his ‘cargo’ strapped in and reviewing something on their computers. From the way his passengers were talking amongst themselves, it seemed as if Rodney had managed to patch the data through to the other’s laptops, so they would be busy for a while.
“Flight, this is Jumper One. Permission to go exploring?”
“Jumper One, this is Flight. Permission granted. Bring us back some good news.”
“You got it, Flight. Keep the lights on. Jumper One, out.”
Sighing gently in relief at being able to fly in atmosphere again, John took the Jumper out into the wide blue sky above the City. It had been months since he had been able to really get into the joy of a long flight and he was going to take the time to savor it. Thanks to the decision to keep a low profile, he had had few chances to indulge this passion of his over the last thirteen months and he was going to enjoy every moment of the trip to the hilt.
Silently opening the radio, John called out, “Jumper Two, you out there?”
“We’re on your six, One. How’s the flight?” asked Jon O’Neill.
“It feels great, Two. We’re heading out the site number one, right now. I take it you are escorting the botanists out to look for edibles?” John asked. He had found that he liked the ‘young’ man who was functioning as his de facto third in command and head of base security. Jon wasn’t exactly like his progenitor but there was still enough of a crossover that many of his skills and traits were still available for the Expedition to tap into and use. All of which had been a godsend over the last year or so. But on this trip, his skills at scientist wrangling and trying to keep them from bringing back the whole forest were going to be the most valuable.
The happy grin Jon had to be wearing was shining through his voice when he came back, “Yeah, I got stuck with the fruit and nut brigade, and some of the dust bunny boys are along for the ride. Ow. Damn it Daniel, will you not do that?”
Snickering lightly at the sound of the ‘young’ archeologist reining in his wayward ‘junior’ officer, John looked over at his own scientist. “Yeah, we’re heading out to check out sites for the Athosians and I dragged Rodney along for the ride.”
“Bet he loved that,” the grin was still present in Jon’s voice, as well as the smug certainty that his scientist had actually wanted to go out to play.
“Yeah, yeah. Just because I am not thrilled to be grubbing around in the dirt, does not make me weird you know. And I did have things to do. Important things. Things like making sure that the Stardrive is correctly mothballed, supervising the crew checking that the water treatment plants are back up to speed for terrestrial work, and confirming the systems we can safely shut down so we can take a ZPM or two off line. One of the geologists would have been better suited to this trip,” grumbled Rodney as he racked his laptop on the ledge in front of his seat.
“But Rodney, aren’t you the person who says that you know everything about anything?” O’Neill’s voice held only sweetness and light, but John wasn’t fooled. The two men had been teasing each other for the last few months on any and every subject, but all in good fun. This was just one more skirmish in their never-ending teasing wars.
“Bah. While I may know everything about anything, I also know that I would be better served in making sure that our very old Ancient City stays afloat. Not grubbing around in the dirt when a geologist would be better suited. So there.” John suppressed a grin at the slightly petulant tone of voice. Rodney really was right in saying that a geologist was probably the best person to have along, but, well… John had wanted him along on this trip and he had pushed until he had gotten what he wanted. With some subtle help from Teyla, of course.
Speaking of Teyla, “Rodney, you know my people trust your skills and expertise. We would be very grateful for your input on the matter of the best location for our settlement. And it will do you good to get out in the sun as well, you are too pale.” Her voice was as smooth as always, but there was that hint in it that stated that Rodney had better be careful what he said next. After all, Teyla was one of the people in charge of his self-defense classes, and bantos rods hurt like hell when they slapped your ass, as John knew from bitter personal experience.
John flashed a look over at Rodney and saw that the expression on his face was deeply conflicted. He clearly wanted to complain further, to try and impress upon everyone how busy he was and how indispensible he was to the smooth functioning of the City. But he also wanted to stay in her good graces. Teyla was after all, one of his team mates, someone who he considered a good friend, and one of the few people who he respected beyond all reason, so the thought of letting her down was horrible. John caught the edge of a small sigh and hid a smile. Rodney wasn’t going to fuss anymore, and he would do his best for her and her people.
Turning his attention back to his open radio, John signed off with a brief, “Two, we’ll keep in contact with you and Atlantis as the day goes by. Jumper One out.”
“Roger that, Jumper One. Take care of you and yours and we’ll bring you all back something tasty. And no citrus, either.” And with a laugh, O’Neill signed off and John could see his Jumper peeling away on a new heading.
Laughing lightly himself, John asked for more speed from his craft and settled back to enjoy his first stress-free flight in months.
Poking around the third site of the day, Rodney tried to think of any information that he might have forgotten to record on it. So far he had marked on a map the number, depth and speed of any and all water sources, if they were potable, taken soil samples that had also been marked on the map, visually recorded all the flora and fauna that passed in front of his camera and taken samples of the vegetation as well. If anyone had any problems with what he had done, they could kiss his ass, because he was tired. John had totally lied with he had promised that Rodney wouldn’t have to break out the shovel, the fuzzy headed bastard.
Teyla, Halling and Kanaan were all gathered around the HUD, looking at the topographical representation he had cobbled together of each of the three sites. Everything minus the results of the soil samples were included on those maps and Rodney had made sure to download the scans John had done on his flybys to them as well, so there was plenty of information there to make an informed choice. He just hoped they made it soon because he wanted to get back to the City and shower, eat something and then check and see what his department had broken while he was gone.
“You know,” Rodney did his best to suppress the instinctive urge to jump out of his skin as John spoke in his ear. “Your people are well trained and Zelenka is there. He won’t let them break anything.”
Turning to face the grinning soldier, Rodney leveled a mild glare at him, “I know that Radek is there. And I even know that he is a competent engineer and physicist, and if you ever tell him that, I will put Nair in your shampoo. But most of the trained monkey’s we work with can break anything by breathing on it and he is only one man.” Sheppard didn’t even blink at the threat and Rodney suppressed a sigh at the sign that John knew he wasn’t serious. Well, not very serious at least.
“What about Simpson and Kusanagi? I know that you’ve been letting them go out on their own repair stuff for years.” John looked curious as to what the answer would be. After all, Rodney famously had no use for anyone who couldn’t pull their own weight and then some, and those two ladies were often called on by him to lend a hand in sensitive situations.
Hiding his face by looking down at his laptop, Rodney fought the urge to blush, “They’re both good. And you can’t tell them that either. When I left this morning, I assigned everyone to three teams lead by Radek, Kusanagi and Simpson.”
Watching John’s face in the reflection off his screen the scientist could tell his was getting more interested by the moment in the revelations. “So you do trust your minions! Why did you kick up such a fuss about leaving then?”
Rodney dropped all pretenses and sighed deeply as he tried to get his point across to his best friend and lover, “Because I am the boss and I need to make sure that if anything does go wrong, that I am there to do my damndest to get them out if I need to. And well, I’m their boss, John. I need to be able to fix what breaks, perform any rescues and explain what happened if things do go wrong.”
“Ah. Well, I can understand that. But every once in a while, you need to let them make the mistakes on their own Rodney, otherwise they don’t learn.” John said with a hand on his shoulder in support.
Blowing out a disgusted snort, Rodney shook his head, “John, I know all of that. I may not manage in the same way that you, Carson and Elizabeth do, but I do know what I am doing. Most of what my engineers work on has a tendency to explode if handled wrong, so I make sure that I’m at least nearby when they are assigned to work on that equipment. The assignments I passed out this morning don’t contain any of those items, but if the water is off when we get home, I will blame you because I gave that task to Kusanagi and her team.”
Face a bit blank as he considered what Rodney had just revealed, John nodded and then turned towards the Jumper and the Athosians gathered around the HUD, “Oh. Okay. So, let’s drop that whole subject and go on to something a little more immediate. Which site do you think they’ll pick?”
“Uhm… Lemme look at the information again,” Rodney nodded in agreement for the change to a more comfortable subject. Paging through all the information he had collected at the three sites, he came to his conclusion fairly quickly, “I think they’ll pick the second site. It has the best access to the ocean, the water table itself is easily reachable if they want to dig wells, there is plenty of woodland nearby for fuel and construction material and the soil is excellent for crops. Plus it is only a short hop to the City by Puddle Jumper and I can rig up the Asgard transporter with a naquadah generator to power it so they’ll have independent access to the City. One of the pair we scavenged from the Daedalus would be easy to install.”
John had hooked his chin over Rodney’s shoulder as he had read everything and was nodding along with him. “I agree. And there are caves nearby for storage and cover in case of any inopportune events.”
With a grunt of dour agreement at John’s observation, Rodney shrugged the other man off his back and started breaking down his testing equipment for storage, “So, Colonel. I’ve scanned all the sites, dug sample holes (and don’t think I won’t be getting you for that), and tramped all over the nice green countryside. Can we go back to the City now?”
Clapping his hand on the scientists shoulder, John laughed, “Sure, Rodney. Let’s get everyone rounded up and we’ll head home. Besides, we need to see what O’Neill and his crew came back with.”
“Hey Danny, whatcha looking at?”
Attention focused on the boulder he was examining, Daniel didn’t bother to look at his friend before answering, “Right now I’m looking at the lichen on this rock to determine if it might be edible.”
“Really? You can tell that? When did you get your biology degree?”
“I didn’t. But is sounded good, you bought it and clearly something has been eating this stuff, so I’m going to ask one of Parrish’s guys to take a look at this.” Daniel said, throwing a smug smile over his shoulder as he walked away.
“Doh! Got me there, Danny boy. Now what?” Jon said with a wry grin. He had been asking a lot of silly questions.
Daniel flashed his lover and friend a pleased grin over his shoulder and kept walking; “Now we gather everyone up, return to Atlantis and start analyzing what we have in hand. Once we get that done, we’ll see if our results match what Sheppard and his group have come up with.” Tapping the control stud of his ear bud, Daniel relayed his orders to the scattered scientists. Within minutes, groups started arriving, chatting about what they had seen. Jon took a moment to look everyone over and nodded to himself. Everyone was happy and relaxed, the sample cases were full and the baskets they had brought were full of berries that had tested clean and edible.
“Ladies and gentlemen, if I can have your attention!” Jon called out in a voice designed to cut through the babble, “It’s getting late, and we need to load everything up. Please make sure that all your sample cases are sealed and properly strapped down in the ‘Jumper. Once that’s done, everyone get aboard and we’ll head home and see what the cooks have come up with for dinner. I know that at least one pair of biologists had a set of fishing lines off the West Pier this morning.”
Excited voices raised at the thought of something different for dinner, Jon watched as his team quickly got ready to leave. Nothing was left behind and any and all trash was loaded into correct bags. Quickly weaving through the mass of knees and elbows in the back of the ‘Jumper Jon started the preflight and once finished nodded his readiness to Daniel. “All right everyone had better be aboard and all your gear had better be strapped down. Are we ready?”
A ragged chorus of “Yes, sir!” floated through the air and then they were off. Time to return home to a hot shower, dinner and maybe something more. If he could talk Daniel into it that is.
The corridor leading into the mess hall was echoing with the sounds of cheerful people. Dinner was apparently a big hit tonight and thus morale would be getting a big boost, thought Elizabeth as she made her way into the social heart of her City. When the level of noise didn’t change in pitch or tone, she felt a small pleased kernel of warmth settle under her breastbone at how comfortable everyone was with each other.
Dinner was often the most soothing meal of her day; the time when the stresses of the workday were bled out and she could relax and listen to the gossip and chatter of her people. Tonight with the happy chatter floating around her, Elizabeth felt the tension knot between her shoulder blades relax even further. Turning her attention to the dinner selections, she saw that there was a new meat dish, while further up the line were some new fruits all carefully labeled as to what they likely were and how the dish had been prepared. Food allergies were no joke here in Pegasus, and they had all been caught out eventually.
“I’ll take whatever we are calling the new fish and I think I want some of the berry thing. Did the biologists give you any idea of what they might be ‘related’ to?” Elizabeth had found that she preferred asking the cooks what everything that was being served to her for dinner was since they were more likely to actually put it in words that she could easily understand.
“It looks like the fish is a lot like North Atlantic Salmon and the berries are a cross between raspberries and a firm blackberry. Both have been cleared by the docs, so they should be okay for everyone. No lemon or anything, but there are wedges of bituu fruit down on the condiments table, ma’am.” replied Marco Hernandez. He had started cooking for the Expedition roughly three hours after they had arrived in Pegasus and was well acquainted with the weird and whacky foodstuffs that were brought in for human consumption. Elizabeth had also spent enough time with him to firmly seat the knowledge that she wasn’t trying to nitpick his decisions on the food, more that she was just curious about what things were. Now they meet once or twice a month to set menu’s and confer on food safety issues, substitutions and the needs of the food services department.
With a nod of agreement at the hint, Elizabeth took her plate and sliding her tray down collected the rest of her dinner, including a few wedges of bituu fruit to squeeze over her fish. The fruit had been a good find and was just tart enough to take the place of lemons in their diet and best of all, Rodney wasn’t allergic to it. Several other fruits and vegetables from various cultures around Pegasus, but not the tart, hot pink bituu.
Food and drink gathered, she turned to look over the mess hall again to find a place to sit. With no work needing her attention at the moment, she could indulge and just sit with friends and maybe catch up on the gossip she had been missing. Kate Heightmeyer, Laura Cadman and several of the other women she knew well were gathered at a table and she drifted towards them. It had been too long since she had talked to another woman about ‘girl’ things and from the snatches of conversation she was overhearing; they were talking about just that.
“Kate, Laura, may I join you?”
“Elizabeth! Sure! Let me make some room.” Kate said with a wide smile. Quickly stacking trays together, she cleared enough room for her to eat and Elizabeth gleefully joined in. Talk moved from the homemade shampoos and conditioners that one of the botanists was making to the best planets to find all the little beauty helpers that women wanted to keep looking good with. Dinner was eaten and enjoyed in company that was both effortless and just plain fun and full of laughter. Just what she needed to have to round out a good day.
When the impromptu party broke up, Elizabeth walked home feeling better than she had in weeks and decided to break into her stash of bath salts and bubble baths. She was going to take the time to pamper herself tonight and just enjoy living. After all, her City was safe, they had plenty of food, no one knew where they were and there were no emergencies. Time to just be Elizabeth, not Dr. Weir. Time to just be.