Sitting in the main conference room, thinking over the revelations of the last hour, John was reminded of the chain of events that had lead to the expedition’s return to Atlantis. After hearing what the SGC had decided the four of them had been left with a feeling of despair at the lack of choices being offered their City and grim hope that they could make a difference. So by mutual decision they had left Earth without backup and with no expectations of being allowed to return to do what they knew to be right. Because the thought of their home being bombed into rubble, when there was a possibility that they could save the city, had been more than they could handle. Without orders, he and Rodney, Carson and Elizabeth had stolen the only ‘Jumper the SGC had, hijacked the ‘Gate bridge and come home. And in the process of saving the City they had also save General O’Neill and Richard Woolsey of the IOA.
This whole situation was starting to feel like that day. Atlantis was going to be on her own again, and soon. But this time, instead of there being a chance that the wormhole would open and help from home would pour through, this time if the wormhole opened from home, help would not be what would come through. So the information that General O’Neill had given them in their files was going to have to be combed through for every crumb of tactical advantage. There would be no second chance at this.
Watching Rodney as he read through Carter’s notes on the new use for the ZPM, John was sure that Rodney was regretting giving it to the SGC. AT-1 had spent the last three years looking for another and had yet to find one that was charged. All the ones the expedition had discovered had been drained and or somehow destroyed. The Ancient database when tickled properly, had yielded tantalizing clues on how to build/construct/grow a ZPM, but without knowing the correct frame of reference for the terms used, the information was basically useless. In addition the teams had come across hints and rumors on various planets of places where Ancient technology had been left intact, unexplored and unplundered. So far, those rumors were a bust as well.
Looking over at his new ‘Lieutenant’, John knew there was no way he was going to try to treat the man like the wet behind the ears kid he looked.
It would be too much like how he himself had been treated during his six week stay at the SGC. That type of disrespect had been one of the reasons he had jumped at returning to his city. So, that left him in a bit of a quandary. Before he had been cloned, Jack O’Neill had been the 2IC of the SGC, and leader of the frontline tem of SGC. John wasn’t willing to move Lorne out of the 2IC post, and he wasn’t going to give up AT-1 anytime soon, so where to put O’Neill? He could give him his own team with Jackson of course, and run several new people through as possible third and fourth members. Maybe see if one of their Athosian friends would agree to act as a native guide to Pegasus. The clone’s originators were men who had been used to taking advice from someone other than themselves, and were both used to listening to the native voices of the galaxy they were in. He would ask Teyla if anyone on the mainland had the itchy feet of an explorer and didn’t mind being shot at while exploring. As for the 2IC post? Maybe he needed someone who could be a third in command, someone who could be there when he and Lorne were both off world. And that seemed to be happening a lot more recently.
So that was settled in his head. Now to look over the hardcopy information in his folder…
Looking at Carter’s notes on power sources, Rodney saw several areas where he could improve upon what they had in the City, where the naquada they had could be stretched even further. Further scanning through the information on power sources, he saw that she had included the schematics on the mating of the ZPM to the US power grid, and seeing them, he grimaced. The mating would never be truly efficient or elegant, but it worked. Setting that aside as an item on the “not my problem list”, Rodney started on the various plans for shipboard power sources, maybe one of these could be adapted to fit the Daedalus and give her a bit more power….
Reading the information prepared for her by Col. Davis, Elizabeth could only feel despair for what was coming. All the pieces were on the board and game was in motion. To stop this would take a miracle on the order of the one that had raised Atlantis from the ocean floor. A once in a lifetime miracle. And there didn’t seem to be one in the offering.
With the changes on the IOA and in the US government, it looked as if the contingency plans that each of her department heads had put into place would be needed soon. Within months if she was reading between the lines correctly. Elizabeth didn’t know what was going to happen on Earth, but she had to offer the residents of her city a choice. When the time came to sever the relationship with Earth, she knew they would open the wormhole home, one last time. If only to offer those who wanted it a way back.
Given that, she hoped that Caldwell would throw his hat in with them, but in reality, she knew that he would stay with Earth. That was where his loyalties lay, and she couldn’t fault him for it. All she could hope for was that he continued his plan of getting as much of the desperately needed supplies out to them before he was recalled.
Pushing her internal mussing to the side, Elizabeth turned her attention outwards again. Time to get this meeting back into gear.
Leaning forward, Elizabeth placed her arms on the conference table, lacing her fingers together to hide any shaking that might be there. Glancing around the room, she gathered her command staff together by eye, and said, “I know that last night we went over our options, but in light of the new information we have been given, I feel we need to reconsider our situation. We know that the decisions are going to be hard ones, but they will need to be made as soon as possible. Among those decisions are ones that will change how we live here on Atlantis, and who is to continue living here. Are we going to go independent? And do we let the people who don’t want to stay go?
“For the independence issue, do we put this to a City wide vote? And if we do that, when does the vote take place? Too soon and we risk a leak, too late and our people may not be able to get home. Also, if we declare independence, will Earth let us? Or will they try to come through the gate or via ship to bring us back into the fold?
“For the second issue, we have the question of our families. There is a large percentage of Atlantis’s population who still has family on Earth, who still think of this as a posting that they can rotate out of, go home. If we do this too soon, they may never go home, never see their families again. We need to be prepared for the fall out of these two major decisions.”
Clearing his throat, Carson interjected a comment, “I have been talking to Kate, an’ frankly, listenin’ to the gossip that has been flowing through the infirmary, most of which has concerned this topic. The people who are here are not dumb, an’ they are remarkably pragmatic. Given that, most want to stay. Very few want to go back to Earth, an’ they are the recent arrivals for the most part, a few old-timers, but then again, that is to be expected.”
“I have also been talking to Kate,” said Teyla. “Mainly to find out what the meaning of rumors I have been hearing. There is very little discontent to be heard, but there is fear of being cut off. Fear that due to not having access to Earth and her supplies Atlantis will starve or fall due to the lack of necessary items. Speaking for the Athosian’s, we are glad that you will be staying here, and we do offer our support. Also, I do know that Atlantis has the support of the Genii, the children of M7G-677, the Taranians, New Stadea, and many more. There has been much goodwill sown over recent years as Atlantis has helped resettle people to safe planets. In addition, we still have the trade agreements in place, we will not starve.”
“Thank you for reminding us of that, Teyla.” said Elizabeth, gratitude infusing her voice, “We need to remember that we are not alone here in Pegasus. That there will be friends available in the days ahead.”
“Elizabeth if, no when the vote is taken, Daedalus will be ready to take your returning people home. We won’t leave you hanging. Please make sure that any special needs are passed on to either myself or Novak.” And with that, Caldwell leaned back, effectively taking himself out of the discussion. It wasn’t that he didn’t feel sympathy for the Lanteans, it was more he still had to answer to Earth, and the SGC.
“Thank you, Stephen. I hope that we never have to use the Daedalus for that. We will all have our lists ready for you at the end of the day, if you don’t have them already.” nodded Elizabeth.
“We need to have the vote soon, Elizabeth. We need to have it before the next run of the Daedalus.” Said John, “Reading this, we have at the most, one more run, and that is all. There is no more time.”