Old Earth Calendar
“Look, all our ATA positive personnel who know how to fly a jumper have been cycling through the Chair for the last week. And thanks to the vote we just held, we are apparently going to be staying out here ‘in the black,’” and God help him, he was using air quotes to get his point across! “To do that, we need to put the City on the Ancient equivalent of auto-pilot. And right now, I don’t think there is anyone besides myself and O’Neill who could find the program, let alone set it. Also for several obvious reasons I have noticed that you are not letting him climb into the Chair, so that leaves me,” and crossing his arms in irritation, John stared back at the three people across from him.
Taking the time to analyze their expressions, John knew that they weren’t really trying to be unreasonable; they were just worried to the point of terror. Watching Rodney’s face cycle from worry, to panic and back again, he knew that his lover was doing his best to not lose his formidable temper. Thanks to his hard-earned control of it he wasn’t starting to turn brick-red from suppressed bile, nor was he throwing various breakable things at the walls. Turning to Elizabeth he saw she was wearing her version of the bland diplomatic poker face. It was the one that she used when dealing with people who had pissed her off to the point of homicide but still had to be polite to. Between both of them, it basically meant that whatever decision was made, John was going to be in for a world of hurt from either corner. And then there was Carson. His doctor. Who had put him back together after he had spent over 36 hours scrambling his brains in the Chair, and now was supposed to sign off so he could do it again. Yeah, this whole thing had gone over well. Not.
Sucking in a deep breath, John tried again to lay out why he was currently the only person on Atlantis who would be able to set the auto-pilot and set it correctly. He knew deep in his bones that the City was drifting out of position and without some form of intervention, they would end up entangled in this systems asteroid belt. And even though they had sufficient power to keep the shields up for many years, the drifting was going to be very expensive in a very short amount of time. “Look, right now the City is drifting about a degree off course for every person you park in the Chair. Nothing against the people who’ve taken their turns manning it, but they are not able to interface correctly with the base programs that drive the navigational system. I can see exactly what I need to do, what I need to set, to allow us to keep our position at the spot of our choosing. What I cannot do is describe the whole experience well enough to talk someone else through it. I have to be the one in the Chair. There’s no other choice.”
Looking slightly confused, Elizabeth asked “Why can’t we get Lt. O’Neill to take a turn in the Chair? He and Dr. Jackson were in the room when the Daedalus was attacked.”
Shaking his head in irritated negation, Rodney took a deep breath shoved his temper to the background. Staring up at the ceiling for a moment, he was obviously thinking hard on how to translate the answer from the scientific to clear English, and reaching some internal decision, began to explain. “Elizabeth, Colonel Jack O’Neill had a Repository of the Ancients downloaded into his brain during his second year on SG1. It took going to another galaxy and getting the help of the Asgard to pull it out of O’Neill’s head. That event was over ten years ago, and while Jon isn’t that man anymore, he shares the same brain. He is, for all intents and purposes, Colonel Jack O’Neill.
“Before he was turned loose to grow up again, the SGC’s original CMO, Dr. Janet Fraiser did a number of MRI’s and PET scans on him and Jon’s matched up exactly with the older models. All the key traces that pointed to the presence of the deactivated download were there in both men. We do not want him to sit in that Chair because we don’t know what it will do to the Repository and thus Jon. Especially since we don’t have access to the Asgard to come and fix him again. As for when he and Jackson were in the Chair room before the Daedalus crashed, Jon was here to initialize the equipment so Daniel could do some translating. Nothing more.”
“I vaguely remember reading about that event when I took over at the SGC. But at that point, Colonel O’Neill had just stuck his head in another one of those things, so I wasn’t really paying attention to the previous experience. Do you really think that sitting in the Chair would bring the information back up? I thought the Asgard removed it?” and still looking slightly confused Elizabeth looked at Rodney for confirmation.
“Elizabeth, you need to listen a little closer to what I am actually saying,” and Rodney was biting the words off in temper. He always hated it when anyone he thought was intelligent was being slow on the uptake. “As far as any of us, meaning the scientists who have worked closely with Ancient technology, have been able to determine, the Asgard only deactivated the pathways leading to the information. Think of it like a computer no longer recognizing a hard drive. The drive is still there, the information is loaded, but the program to run it has been deleted. Thus we do not want to see if sitting Jon in the Chair will cause it to reconnect everything. The only thing that kept the General alive the last time was putting him on ice in the Antarctic installation until the Asgard were available to disconnect the hard drive again. Which, by the way, we can thank Dr. Jackson the younger for finding out that the installation is the base unit the Ancients used to anchor the City to the continent.”
Not wanting to get dragged off into detour heaven as Rodney indulged his inner know-it-all; John tried to get everyone back on track. “So you can see why I need to be the one to do this. And the sooner I do this, the less power I’ll need to use in correcting the problem. Shall we?”
Turning to Elizabeth, John saw that she was looking at Carson with a considering expression on her face. “Doctor, is there any pressing medical reason why the Colonel can’t take the Chair out for a short spin?”
Kicking his chair into a gentle side to side motion, Carson stared at John for a moment, “Nae, there isna any pressing reason te keep the Colonel out o’ the Chair. Howev’r I would like te monitor him this time aroun’. I want te make sure that if his brain chemistry does get close te the levels he was at before, we will know it. An’ then we can work on getting him out.”
“Colonel, you have a go. If for any reason, Carson feels that you are getting sucked back into the system, he is authorized to pull you out of the Chair. Do you understand?” and from the look on Elizabeth’s face, this wasn’t something that John was going to be able to get around. Not without a lot more in the way of arguments and time that they really didn’t have.
“I understand. I don’t want to spend any more time in that Chair thank I have to,” and turning back to Carson, John tried to ignore the look of despair on Rodney’s face, he would apologize as soon as they were out of this meeting. “I need to get this done soon or I’ll have to be in the Chair for a couple of hours. Do you want to hook me up in the infirmary or the Chair room?”
“I’ll bring the equipment down te you Colonel. See ye in the Chair room,” and waving a hand in farewell at Elizabeth, Carson quickly stood and moved towards the clamshell doors of the conference room.
Rodney was holding onto his temper with everything he had. His best friend, partner, lover, whatever, had decided to crawl back into the very thing that had come very close to eating his mind whole. And the crazy man was actually arguing that allowing him to do this was a good thing. When Elizabeth signed off on the idea, Rodney could feel the blood drain out of his face and he quickly turned around so no one could see his face.
“Gentlemen, I will leave you two here to discuss what may be needed to if we have to remove the Colonel by force. Rodney, please make sure that I get a report about this on my desk as soon as possible,” and making sure to pick up her PDA, Elizabeth followed Carson out of the room.
Making the decision that no one else needed to hear Atlantis’s CSO scream at her Military Commander, Rodney nudged the City to close and lock the doors. The only people who would be able to get in now were O’Neill, Carson and John and well, John was locked in with him. Taking a deep breath, Rodney tried to stay calm and talk like he really was a rational human being, “Are you doing this because it is the fastest way to fix the problem or because you feel like you are the only one who can?”
Watching the arrested look on his lover’s face, Rodney fought the urge to laugh until he cried. There really wasn’t anything funny about what was happening here and he did actually want an answer to his question. “John, I know that you are an outstanding pilot and that you have a connection to the City that most of us wish that we had, but the last time you and the City had a meeting of minds she damn near ate yours. Forgive me if I do not want to lose you what amounts to an overgrown version of HAL.”
“I am so not telling her that you think she’s HAL,” John muttered, obviously amused. “Rodney, during the last forty-eight hours, we have drifted off the course I set by a combined total of twenty-two degrees. There are three dimensions out there and we are drifting through all of them. I can tell when you, Lorne or Stackhouse gets into the Chair, and we are going to have words about you climbing into that thing too because the drift gets corrected in a minor fashion. But as soon as someone else climbs in, the corrections are lost. Right now, I’m the only one we have who can do this.”
There was no graceful way to do this, so all Rodney could do was mutter, “All right. Go. I’ll meet you there.”
Grudging acceptance was still acceptance, so when Rodney agreed, John decided that he wasn’t going to nitpick the decision. Grabbing the opening with hands, he kissed his partner and exited the conference room. Making his way to the Chair room, he checked in with Carson to see if the doctor had gotten everything ready. Listening to the Scot fuss at him over the radio was oddly soothing, and John knew that his friend would be there to keep him safe.
A short walk down the hall, a ride in the transporter and another quick walk and he was back at the site of his most recent near-death experience. At least this time the lights were still a clean white. But then again, the last time he had been in here, Carson hadn’t been planning on attaching a whole set of cardiac and EEG sticky pads. Well the cardiac ones had sticky material on them; the EEG was just a soft cap that slipped on over his hair, no glue required.
When Carson had him wired for sound and all plugged in, John tapped his radio, “Rodney? I’m all set up down here. Once I get in the Chair I’ll get the StarDrive back online and move us to our parking spot. After that, I’ll set the parking brake and then get out of the system. You should be able to monitor all of this from the command deck.”
Sounding both pissed off and resigned, Rodney’s voice was a quiet murmur in his ear, “Roger that, Colonel. If you could be so kind as to illuminate where our parking spot will be, I’ll let Carson know if you stay in longer than needed to park us. Also, you had better come out of that thing in the same condition you went in, understood?”
Trying not to giggle at the warmth that he felt when Rodney got possessive, John agreed. “We’ll be parking in one of this systems Lagrange Points, Rodney. It’s a perfect spot to park for someone who wants to use as little energy as possible to sit still.”
“Are you sure that you aren’t hiding some advanced degrees under all that hair, Colonel? Because that’s an almost perfect solution,” pride, annoyance, smug superiority and honest curiosity came through the radio loud and clear.
“Rodney, you know that the only degrees I have are the ones on Theoretical Math and Aeronautical Engineering. Besides, I got the idea from our old system and the Ancient satellite. Now, I’m going to get in this thing on three. One. Two. Tria,” and he sat down into the Chair. The last thing he clearly remembered for the next few hours was the feel of the Chair tipping back into the ready position. Then everything got dark.
The organic interface had reentered the neural network but it had refrained from blending with the network however. It was selectively making use of the navigation programs; highlighting a point in local space for the Civis on the imperium pulpitum, and then began to prepare the Astrum Veho for a .02 microsecond burn.
Due to the lack of blending, Custodis programs surrounded the signature of the organic interface, demanding command codes. The hesitation from the organic interface was brief, but perceptible to the Custodis. Infiltration was authorized and they entered the organic interface.
External monitoring equipment recorded all changes to the interface and determined that it would not be unduly damaged by the actions of the Custodis. To minimize the possibility of interference, a clarus contineo was activated around the unit. The interface did not struggle against the Custodis and quickly produced all codes. Upon a medicus query, the organic interface revealed what had transpired during the last blending. Medicus programs determined that unnecessary damage had been done to the organic portion of the interface and adjustments to the network were made.
At this point the Astrum Veho was online and taking back control, the interface completed the burn. The Città Atlantis was now in a Lagrange Point Orbit, specifically an L2 orbit. The new term was added to the lexicon and the relevant equations were notated with the data. As a secondary data point, Navigation acquired the Tau’ri form of the equations from Cittadino McKay’s data device.
Upon completion of its tasks, the organic interface withdrew from the network and the clarus contineo was withdrawn.
Internal incident log.