Old Earth Calendar
“David, I need you to actually listen to me before we head out. I know that you’re normally not a part of an exploration team, but you’ve been off-world enough to know the rules. Well those rules definitely apply for this afternoon.” Major Evan Lorne looked at his partner and tried very hard to impress upon the man how serious he felt this was. Normally the botanist was a very quiet and calm man, but when he found something that caught his attention, all bets were off and he could become just as obsessed as Rodney with new toys. So making sure he knew the rules ahead of time was always a winner.
David Parrish gazed back at him with a fond look on his face and just shook his head. “Evan, I’ll be good. I promise. The areas we are going to look at have been cleared by the Marines, so there shouldn’t be any danger. You said that yourself when you talked me into this little jaunt last night.”
“I know what I said, David. But remember, the last few groups that have gone out have all come back with minor injuries and I don’t want that to happen to us.”
“They went into one of the sublevels, if I remember correctly, and that was an area that flooded pretty badly when the Wraith attacked at the end of the first year, right? The area you have us down for is nowhere near there and it isn’t a sublevel, is it?” David asked.
Evan smiled and reached out a reassuring hand, gripping the scientists shoulder tightly. “No, it isn’t a sublevel and we should be fine, David. But I would rather be safe than sorry, so that means that you need to listen to me. No running ahead, no ducking into uncleared rooms and no touching anything until I give the all clear, understood?”
“I understand. I may not agree, but I do understand.” Parrish sighed at his partner.
“Thanks.” Evan was never, ever going to mention how cute he thought his partner looked when he got sulky. Not if he wanted to live long enough to get laid again, that is.
“So what’s the count so far?” Evan asked as he came out of the room that he had just cleared.
“I have no idea, let me check.” Parrish pulled a small PDA out of one of his uniform pockets and checked the running total they had begun at the start of their outing. “We are up to 103 empty rooms: 35 rooms with consoles – 3 of those 35 that have consoles are smashed to unusable bits, 6 rooms have windows that are shattered and need to be repaired, 2 rooms that refuse to open for you and that I can’t hotwire the door to and one room that looks like a greenhouse. Does that sound about right?”
“Yeah, it does. Have you informed Dr. McKay about those rooms that wouldn’t let us in?” and Evan took his eyes off the hallway ahead of them for a moment to glance back at David.
“I informed Chuck and McKay called me a few rooms ago to get the details. You were in the room making sure the garbage wasn’t going to attack us, so you obviously didn’t hear me.” David relayed with a less than happy note in his voice.
“Are you still pissy that I didn’t let you spend the rest of the afternoon in the possible greenhouse?”
“Pissy?” the word was drawled out slowly and Evan froze for a brief moment. He really hadn’t said that, had he? Apparently he had, because things had just gone rapidly down hill. “I don’t get pissy, Major and I will thank you for remembering that. Has the room been cleared?”
Crap, Evan winced. Well there goes any chance of getting laid for a while, he thought. David was quite capable of holding a grudge for long enough to make his point. Evan had realized early on that his botanist shared that particular trait with Dr. McKay, but thankfully didn’t have his access to or the skills to make bombs. Thank goodness.
Evan tried to remember if they had the day off tomorrow. If they both had tomorrow off, he would have plenty of time to grovel and hopefully the make-up sex wouldn’t be interrupted by anything. Maybe distracting him from the whole issue would work. “Yeah, the room is clear. It’s a very large room; actually it’s more like a complex of rooms that someone renovated into one large one. And there seem to be a number of shelves lining the walls and freestanding units with things on them, plus a lot of writing on the walls over the shelves. Most of the stuff on the shelves feels like Ancient tech. I think that after you get a look through it, we are going to need to call Dr. Jackson and his team down…”
The other man just looked at him. Evan gazed back and tried not to squirm under his gaze. There was no one else on Atlantis who could make him feel this guilty just by looking at him, Evan thought, not even Dr. Weir and she made Sheppard twitch. When David’s posture relaxed and he reached up to tap his radio, the Major suppressed a sigh of relief. It looked like the make-up sex might show up a little sooner than he had expected.
Elizabeth resisted the urge to rub her temples in the futile hope that the action would decrease her headache. Hadn’t it been just last month that she had realized that she hated emergency exploration meetings? This meeting was making her absolutely loath them now. And there was no way to keep this meeting short, damn it.
“That is enough!” said Elizabeth. Now her head was really throbbing thanks to having to raise her voice enough to cut through the argument currently raging between Rodney and Daniel. Both men wanted to have full and unrestricted access to the new discovery and neither of them was shy about making this demand in an extremely forceful manner. “Sit down gentlemen, and let’s discuss this like adults.” Both men looked at her in shock and sat down, their expressions a bit sheepish at being called out.
When the call had come in from Major Lorne that one of the rooms that he and Dr. Parrish had been exploring was stuffed full of Ancient devices, most of the scientists in the City had descended on their location. According to an inscription over the door, the work had been done by one man as a way to keep the memory of the cultures alive. When one of the devices lining the shelves was picked up, the holder was able to access the information stored on it. Daniel had surmised that the room had been dedicated to all the races that had inhabited Pegasus before the Ancients had abandoned them to the Wraith. When the man who had been doing the cataloging had died, the room had been sealed and ultimately forgotten.
Elizabeth knew that each of the men wanted the room and its contents for different reasons – both of which were perfectly valid. Daniel, for the knowledge it contained on the cultures that might still be around, and Rodney wanted the technology for current data storage use. Neither man was going back down until they got what they wanted. Suppressing a sigh, Elizabeth realized that she had been stuck in the middle yet again and had to act as mediator between the different science departments. She didn’t see how either man was going to be completely happy with her either.
“From the report I received from you Dr. Parrish, the room is filled with what has turned out to be a type of Ancient hard drives, each holding an immense amount of information on a different culture. Is that correct?” Elizabeth asked the botanist.
Nodding, Parrish agreed with her summary. “It would appear so. I didn’t have a chance to pick up each one and examine it closely, but from all indications the ones that are out are full.”
“Thank you, Dr. Parrish. Rodney, when your engineers went over the room, did they find anything that indicated there were more of the hard drives nearby? Or the lab where the scientist in charge of that room assembled the information for uploading?” she asked.
Starting slightly at being addressed so quickly, Rodney looked at her and then visibly brought his mind back to the discussion and tried not to glower at her. “Uhm… We have no idea where the curator was loading up the information, but there are indications of several more rooms on the outer edges of the museum. As for extra hard drives? No, we haven’t found any and I doubt we will unless we find the lab.”
“Thank you Rodney.” Elizabeth said and then turned to look at Daniel. “Dr. Jackson, I noticed that there was a great deal of Ancient script on the walls and the shelves. From the little I read, it seemed to be labels for the different planets and areas of the galaxy. What do you think?”
Daniel leaned forward slightly and looked her in the eye, his face alight with the new knowledge that he now had access to. “Yes Dr. Weir, that is exactly correct. In addition it seems to be broken down by culture as well, so if a culture moved planets over the course of time, they are indexed in several different areas. The information contained on those hard drives is extensive, Elizabeth. There are indications that the complex contains a hard drive for every world that the Ancients seeded, but we don’t know if that is just for Pegasus or if the Ancients went anywhere else.”
“Thank you, Daniel.” And here Elizabeth leaned forward in her chair, trying to make sure that both men understood what she was going to say next. “The decision I have reached is not up for negotiation gentlemen. Dr. Jackson, you and your teams will have full access to the complex for as long as you need. There is a wealth of information available in those hard drives and we need access to them as soon as possible.” Raising a hand to stop Rodney from interrupting her, she continued, “However, if any of your people find any blank or broken hard drives, they are to be turned it over to Dr. McKay’s team. Rodney, your team will be continuing the search for any additional rooms, most specifically the lab where the devices were made. Is this understood, gentlemen?”
Both men nodded, though Rodney looked like he was sucking on something sour. And when he looked over at Daniel, the look actually got a bit worse, because the archeologist wasn’t bothering to hide how pleased he was with her decision. However, Daniel did tone it down when she looked at him with a raised eyebrow, silently taking him to task.
“Moving on then.” Elizabeth sighed softly. None of the men she worked with were going to change and they all occasionally acted like spoiled twelve year olds. And that meant that she had to be the bad parent and rein them in. She was definitely having a dram of whiskey after this meeting, propriety be damned. “Dr. Parrish, I see here there is a mention of greenhouses in the report filed by yourself and Major Lorne. Would you care to elaborate on them?”
“Certainly Dr. Weir,” agreed Parrish. Grabbing for the projector remote, the botanist took the time to queue up a specific file for his presentation and opened it to a specific image. “As you all know, the greenhouses the Expedition originally found are quite small. We have since determined that they were used mainly for items being studied in the adjoining labs, not for bulk food production. However, we pressed them into that use because we had no other option available at the time.” He paused, the photo on the screen highlighting the size and unsuitability of the current greenhouses. Taking a deep breath, he clicked over to the next photo and said, “Today, Major Lorne and I found the structures that have to be the commercial greenhouses that the Ancients used to grow food.”
The new photo showed a greenhouse that seemed to slope gradually upwards, and in the distance there was a curve to the right as if the whole structure was turning in on itself. “This is a ten story greenhouse, and it is move-in-ready, ladies and gentlemen. But if my department is to make use of it, we’re going to need help from the rest of the Expedition.”
Waving a hand, Rodney managed to convey boredom, curiosity and dread in one gesture. “I can understand why the botanists are happy to see the greenhouse, but why do you need the rest of us?”
“Because Dr. McKay, if we want to continue to eat and eat well, we need to move our whole scale food growing operation out of the rooms they are now in to this building. It is similar to a building that is in the planning stages back on Earth. Only that one is to be 30 stories tall and situated in the heart of Dubai’s capitol and projected to be able to feed up to fifty thousand people. From the research I did before this meeting, the Ancients noted that the greenhouse was able to feed up to sixteen thousand people, and right now we only need the first floor and parts of the aqua farms to feed everyone.”
Elizabeth noticed the storm clouds gathering on Rodney’s face and decided to interrupt before another argument exploded in her briefing room. “Dr. Parrish, please get me the projections on how many personnel you will need for the move, how long you’ll need them and a detailed plan of where they will be putting everything. While you are doing that, Rodney will have some of his engineers go over the greenhouse again so they can confirm that it is safe to operate. Dr. Parrish, do you know if it needs the Colonel to initialize it?”
“Uhm…” and blinking slightly at the speed of her decision, Parrish seemed to pause a moment and then shook his head. “No ma’am. From all indications, the building was cleaned out and then shut down correctly. Much like the crèche labs and the infirmary. So all we need to do is start it back up, run tests to make sure that everything that should be circulating is and that there are no leaks. Once we have that, we should be good to go and be growing our own food very quickly thereafter.”
“Excellent. If there is nothing else?” and glancing around the table she saw that each of the scientists was looking impatient to be gone. Nodding to everyone, she smiled and firmly announced, “Dismissed gentlemen.”
Moments later she was alone. Grabbing her laptop, Elizabeth headed back to her quarters. It was time for that stiff drink.
“God damned piece of shit! ::grunt:: Come off! If you don’t come off the pipe, I can’t clean you and you’ll never work right again! And if I have to stay under here for much longer, I’ll just rip your whole system apart and build a better one. Goddamn Ancients and their ::grunt:: fucking small crawlspaces!”
John smiled as he came around the corner and saw Rodney’s feet peeking out of a crawl space. Despite Parrish’s claim that the greenhouse was ready for use, there were enough little problems cropping up that he was glad they hadn’t just turned everything on and hoped for the best. Rodney had assigned himself to the black water system because the person who had handled that for the Expedition had gone back to Earth. The only other qualified person was Radek, and there was no way Rodney was going to assign him to do anything with the sewer system. Well he could have, but he had obviously decided that keeping the peace in the labs was more important than being petty.
When lunch time had rolled around John had decided that he was going to be a nice and supportive partner and went to get Rodney his lunch. Well, being nice and supportive had been the bonus because he had wanted to get out of Parrish’s clutches. His back hurt from shoveling the growth medium for the fields of wheat, corn and tava beans and he was heartily sick of the smell of fish due to helping with the transfer of several tons of Pegasus tilapia smelt the day before. And once Rodney got the black water system up and running, they would start planting and that meant that the rice was going to have to go in, and who knew how many other items. Just the thought of what was coming up made his back twinge even harder.
Walking up to Rodney’s feet, John took a chance and squatted down to see if he could talk the scientist out to lunch. “Hey Rodney, wanna crawl out of there so we can eat?”
From inside the crawl space came the sound of something hard hitting what had to be the Ancient pipe causing the frustration and then Rodney’s voice floated out, cursing creatively. Once the cursing had trailed off, John quickly wiped the grin off his face before his partner wriggled out of his workspace; it wouldn’t do for him to be caught enjoying Rodney’s discomfort. When Rodney had managed to get out from under the pipe and was sitting in the control room, John was very glad that he had refrained from expressing his amusement. There was a nice red patch on his forehead and a thundercloud brewing.
“John. There had better be a reason you decided to sneak up on me! That fucking hurt.” Rodney said with a glare.
Offering up one of the sandwiches and the coffee carafe as a sacrifice to sweeten the scientists temper, John smiled. “Lunch time. I thought that you might like to take a break.”
Grabbing his lunch, Rodney glared and ground out, “If you ever do something like that again, you won’t be getting a blowjob for a week. Understand?”
Grinning slightly at the growl, John nodded. “I know. So how long?”
Taking the time to wipe his hands on a towel Rodney tried to clean off some dust before starting in on his lunch. Taking a big bite of his food he chewed briefly before answering. “Before I get this system up? Another two hours or so. Until we get the first level filled? A week or so from the report Parrish filed. To get the whole building filled? Hell, John this thing has the capacity to feed over sixteen thousand people and we have a long way to go before we get to that point. And that’s even taking into account the possibility of us being able to use the natal units that Carson’s been cooing over.”
John decided to take advantage of the quiet and sat down next to Rodney. Reaching into his jacket pocket, he pulled out a special something that he had been saving for a while, something that they could both use to take the edge off their day. “Here. Have some chocolate.”
Eyes glowing with a pleased and greedy light, Rodney reached out for the treat. “Thank you.” And taking the time to savor the square of rich dark goodness, he leaned his shoulder against John.
“Did you think it was going to be this hard? When we started talking what ifs and maybes?” John quietly asked.
Sighing deeply, Rodney shook his head. “No, no I didn’t. But then again, I remember how hard it was here during the first year and we’re much better equipped now than we were then. And we have enough stored food to last for a while without eating our MRE’s for the next year. But even I know that we need a food source that’s independent of our trading partners and that we can rely on to feed us in case we have to lie low for a while. So this whole building is something that we need to get running ASAP. And if you ever mention me actually agreeing with Elizabeth or Teyla on that issue I will hurt you.”
Snorting softly in amusement, John shook his head. “Like they would believe me. You know they still think you are clueless about humanity in general and diplomacy in particular.”
“Uh-huh. I am. I hate the whole messy subject. But supply and demand? Even I get that, John. And right now, our supply situation is fairly stable, but if we need to bring in a batch of refugees? Well that will screw our figures six ways to Sunday and I really don’t want to see how long I can stave off a hypoglycemic coma. So having a food supply that is under our direct control and not open to tampering? That is a very good thing. And please don’t tell Parrish I agree with him. He is smug enough about this whole adventure as it is.”
“Right Rodney.” And smiling softly as his partner went back to his lunch, John started eating his own. After all, the sooner he got finished with this, the sooner he could get back to work on his part in keeping everyone fed. Not a bad job after all.