“We decided that his name will be James Alexander McKay Sheppard,” Rodney said as he worked on Jumper One with Radek. It was their day to go over each of the little space ships to confirm their space worthiness.
“Is a good name. Flows well and you will be able to scream it without many problems,” Radek said from the cargo compartment.
Rodney huffed out an amused snort. “Yeah, I did that before we settle on Jamie’s name. No kid of ours is going to be sweet and calm.”
Radek laughed softly at that thought too. “No, you and the Colonel are not calm and sweet. How soon until the baby is born?”
Raw terror showed briefly on McKay’s face and was then hidden again. “Five more months. He is so energetic now. Every time we are in the incubarium, he gets really, really excited and moves a lot.”
Radek ignored the thread of fear that ran through his friend’s voice. He was firmly convinced that all parents should be afraid of the birth of their child. It was only right. Speaking of the birth… “Do you have the nursery prepared?”
“No….” Rodney drew the word out. His voice was distracted and Radek could see him shifting as he worked on another system. “Teyla suggested that we wait until he is through this trimester and then start looking for stuff. She gave us lists.”
Radek laughed again. Of course she had.
Late October 2012
Locus Novus Propositum
“Holy shit.” The voice over the radio was soft and filled with awe at the sight before them.
Floating like abandoned toys were the remnants of Ancient ships. Far more than they had ever dreamed would be at the site. Even from as far away as the space gate, it was obvious that some of the ship remains had severe battle damage. Reposts from the remnants of the Ancient sensor array they had accessed upon arrival showed that some of the ships were cracked down to their keels, while others were burned and melted into shapes that only vaguely resembled the ships they had started out as. There were no obvious power readings at all, but they really hadn’t thought they would find any. The records Elizabeth had found showed that this location had been as carefully mothballed as the Da Vinci had been.
Edging forward, the jumpers moved carefully though the space based graveyard. There were so many bits and pieces of ships floating in the volume before them that the pilots fell silent, concentrating on getting through the mess safely. Peering through the windshield of the jumper he was in, Rodney managed to identify engine pods, inner and outer hull fragments, what looked like a residential tower from an Ancient city and thousands of lumps of melted material. And that was only what was within his unassisted eyesight.
“Colonel, if the computer is correct, the main facility for the yard is here.” Rodney got the computer to highlight a tangled mass of metal that was the Ancients idea of an ideal recycling station. At least, per the Da Vinci, that was what it was supposed to be.
“Gotcha,” John said as his hands worked the control yokes of the Jumper with smooth skill. It was the work of only moments before they were on the way to their target.
“I feel like we are redoing the asteroid belt scene from Empire Strikes Back,” Rodney muttered as an unidentifiable piece of something drifted by. “You did remember to put the shield up on this thing, right?”
“Shields are up and they have been since we came through the Gate. I need to thank the MALP crew for that very nice space MALP. If we hadn’t had it, we would have come through bare and that would have totally sucked since there is crap all around the Gate,” John muttered back. Rodney could tell that most of his attention was on the instruments that were predicting the ‘orbit’ of everything in front of him and keeping an eye on the windshield.
There was just so much stuff out there.
Nevertheless, he could guess as to why the Wraith had ignored this whole system. At first and even second glance, the place looked like what it was; free-floating junk that gravity was playing bumper cars with. The station no longer looked like the typical smooth Ancient construction; it was covered in layers and layers of trash. Rodney paused at that thought and pushed a harder scan at the station. For that much crap to be on the station and not in or through it, there had to be a shield of some type.
It took him twenty minutes to find evidence to back up his hypothesis and even then, the sensors on the Jumper weren’t quite good enough to show what he wanted. The only reason Rodney could confirm the existence of the shield was something the size of a 747 hit the side of the station nearest their flight path and he saw the whole thing light up. Some genius of an Ancient had come up with a shield that took its power from the crap that hit it, so it only needed a low-level power supply for the times when it wasn’t being hit. Wonderful.
“Rodney? What are you muttering about?” John asked. “And can you tell if that piece destroyed anything important? Like life support?”
“It didn’t hurt anything Colonel. But it did supply some more power to the shield that is surrounding the station,” Rodney said. Mystery solved, he turned his attention to trying to get the station to talk to him on a meaningful level. One that meant he could get the plans for the thing and find out where the landing bay was.
“A kinetic shield? Holy shit, that is so cool. But that means that there is power somewhere, right?”
Nodding absently, Rodney started typing into his laptop quickly. “There has to be somewhere. I need you to circle the station for a few minutes, okay?”
The protocols that the Da Vinci used were now coming in handy. He had a roadmap to show him how this station might react to them. Thankfully, it was a repair and recycling depot, not a battle station. While there might be drones somewhere below, there was little chance that they were loaded into weapons bays. He hoped.
“We’re in,” Rodney announced. His pass codes and authentications from Atlantis had been accepted and were still considered good apparently. Time to really get to work then.
Aboard the Junkyard Dog
November 18, 2012
Central Computer Core Room
Rodney was actually happy with the Ancients who had worked in the recycling station. They had been as anal retentive as he could wish. There were complete files on each and every ship or part that had every entered the facility. The data Elizabeth had led them to was a goldmine.
On the other hand, the salvageable parts available weren’t living up to his pipe dreams. The absolute cold of 3°K or -250°C had preserved the various ship remains floating around beautifully. However, the incessant micro-meteor impacts from all the crap floating around had damaged more than he really wanted to think about. There were some parts stored inside the base itself though, but not enough. From his best estimation, there were enough available parts to rehab two, maybe three ships if they were all like the Orion. Maybe. Sheppard had pilots out scouring the surrounding area for ship hulls that were intact enough to try to press back into service.
Rodney moved on to the next item on his checklist. Computers. Specifically, the Yards computers. Again, whoever had shut the place down had done a bang-up job of mothballing them. Any computers having to do with the ripping apart and mending of ship or city parts had not only been shut down, but they had also been surrounded by low-level stasis fields. They hadn’t put out a great deal of energy and the only reason they even knew about them was he had seen one flair and die when he had tied in a few naquadah generators to get power back. The plans for those had already been downloaded and sent over to Atlantis for review by Kusanagi. If the tech worked as well on foodstuffs as it did on electronics, they had another trade item.
However, with every good, there had to be the bad, and the bad was pretty bad. The Navigation and Station-keeping computers were so badly corrupted with incorrectly stored data that they couldn’t function. It was a miracle of several magnitudes that the Yard wasn’t one of the many broken and useless Ancient facilities. Ten thousand years without servicing or even the basic automated stuff that Atlantis had been allowed had resulted in computers with the Ancient version of bit rot. He was going to have to get one of his few IT people onto the problem. If they were lucky, they might be able to salvage something out of it.
Rodney took a deep pull from his coffee cup and sighed in happiness. His coffee was actually hot despite if having been cold the last time he had reached for it. That fact brought him up and out of his work haze long enough to look around. John was leaning against the wall nearest the door.
Eyebrow raised in inquiry, Rodney asked, “How long have you been staring at my ass?”
John flashed him a wicked smirk. “Not long enough.”
“So we’re supposed to find what today?” Rodney asked.
Teyla was surveying the market before them with a practiced eye and he could tell that she was planning the trip. “Jamie is in need of cloth to make diapers, clothes and soft toys for when he is older.”
Rodney nodded and looked back over the market, trying to find the cloth sellers. “Why am I here again?”
“Because John is running drills with the military and you wanted to pick out things in case the baby inherited your allergies,” Teyla said calmly.
“Right.”Rodney sighed. He had hated clothes shopping on Earth where the prices were set, no haggling needed. Yet here he was, voluntarily going clothes shopping in Pegasus where haggling was both required and an art form. Thank goodness for Teyla.
Who only smiled as if she could hear his thought and started to walk down the rows, obviously heading for something. Rodney followed behind after shrugging his backpack into a better position and grabbing the handle of the wagon some of his engineers had made out of scraps and MALP parts. As they moved deeper into the rows, he saw more and more stuff associated with cloth, looms, spindles and the Pegasus version of the spinning wheel. There were needles mounted on paper, skeins of spun threads in a rainbow of colors and finally, fabric.
Fine, gauzy, sturdy, dyed in a variety of shades and colors, it was all there. There was one stall out of the visual bedlam that caught his eye due to the color of fabric it contained. Every bolt of fabric that he could see was black. Not the green/black or red/black that he often saw but real, true black. “Teyla? After we get the stuff for Jamie, I want to stop there,” Rodney said with a nod of his head towards the stall.
Eyes bright with understanding and laughter, Teyla nodded. She was scanning the area for something and with a satisfied noise headed towards one of the stalls with what looked like unbleached linens in it.
Each bolt in the stall was weighed, handled, and tested. Teyla put only a few aside of later consideration. Of the ones put aside, several were removed after some test that Rodney had no clue about; apparently the owner of the stall was okay with it though. When he ran a finger over one of the bolts that had Teyla’s approval, it was soft and even he could tell the weave was tight. The ones that she had refused were rough in comparison. Not something that he wanted against Jamie’s skin.
Once the tiresome debating on which bolts, thread and fasteners to get was done, Teyla quickly ordered the lengths she felt were needed and they paid for everything with the currency of the market. Wagon loaded, they moved onto the next few stalls.
Repeat, repeat, repeat. Rodney had to keep reminding himself that this whole boring trip was for Jamie. The kid wasn’t even born yet and already was causing him a headache. To distract himself, Rodney started going over the lists of people and chores associated with the junkyard. It kept him entertained and out of the way of Teyla’s bargaining.
When the wagon was almost full, they turned back towards the entrance of the cloth mongers area. The stall full of black cloth was still there and still full. Apparently, black was not a popular color around here.
“Teyla, how much do you have on you?” Rodney asked quietly as they got closer to the exit.
As usual, she followed his non-science thoughts with little effort. “I have enough. For John?”
“Yeah,” Rodney agreed. “His off duty stuff is getting a bit thin.” Pulling the wagon over, he positioned it where they both could keep an eye on it and started testing bolts. There was cloth that felt like canvas, some that felt like well washed t-shirts, another that felt like silk and everything in-between. Moreover, all of it in the deep beautiful black that John would love.
Like every other stall they had visited, this one had thread and what passed for buttons in Pegasus. Rodney spent every bit of money that he and Teyla had on them and came away with enough cloth to outfit John head to toe in his color of choice. Looking at his haul, he was well satisfied.
December 15, 2012
“John? Does this feel soft enough to you?”
Rodney was holding out a swatch of fabric for testing and John stared at it in horror. “Rodney, we may be officially gay, but even I have my limits. We are not having a “Queer Guy of the Pegasus Galaxy” moment here.”
Huffing lightly in irritation, Rodney shook the rag at him. “Look, this is for clothes for Jamie. Teyla and I went and found stuff for him and I think it is fine, but I wanted a second opinion. Plus the dye is one that I am not allergic to, and I want to make sure that you are good with it too.”
John looked at the green fabric swatch and sighed in capitulation. He had already tested the stuff for diapers, onesies and bath sheets. One more piece of fabric wasn’t going to kill him. “At least you didn’t go for the color coding thing.”
Rodney shook his head at that. “There is no way that I am going to foist the whole Western boys blue, girls pink thing on our kid. Besides, I am allergic to the plant the Ashvornians use for the source of their blue dye.”
“So who is making the clothes for Jamie?” John asked as he studiously ignored the light blush that was staining Rodney’s face. The green swatch that he had in his hands was actually pretty nice and soft; if he had to compare it to anything, it felt a bit thicker than t-shirt cotton.
“Some of the Athosian women are doing a lot of sewing as long as you get them all the supplies and let them know what you want. We had some standard baby clothes that got included in one of the many, many boxes that Siler and crew shoved through the Gate. So I grabbed some examples of the most common styles and asked that they make them,.” Rodney explained as he started unloading the backpack that he had taken with him on his trading trip to the mainland market.
John blinked at that. The Athosians had been integrated into the culture of the city and he knew that they were taking a more active role in things, but this was the first he had heard about them being willing to sew for anyone. “Are we paying them anything?” he asked cautiously.
“Yes. We are. Teyla made sure of that. I picked up some of those really thick and soft blankets from Eurareau and enough yarn to knit at least three more,” Rodney said. The blush was back, so there had to be more to the story than that. Still. Those blankets weren’t cheap, and neither was the yarn. How were they affording this?
“Rodney? How are we affording this? I mean, I know that Atlantis trades our skills, medicines and the like for stuff we need as a whole, but how are we affording all this stuff for Jamie?”
“You really don’t read the emails coming out of my department, do you? Or the cultural stuff that Elizabeth keeps pushing,” Rodney said fondly. He read everything that his scientists put out. Even the stuff from the soft sciences. He might think they were full of bullshit, but he did read them. Because occasionally, even his soft science people found some good stuff. Not that he was going to tell them so in so many words, that was what he had Jackson for now. It worked much better this way.
It was John’s turn to blush now. He knew that he was supposed to read all the reports that crossed his desk, and he did try, but there wasn’t enough time to read everything. “Apparently not if it relates to whatever it is that you are talking about.”
“Due to the desalinators that Atlantis operates to produce the massive amounts of fresh water we use, she has been picking up a lot of salt and precious minerals. When we finally got around to checking the areas where the byproducts of our water production were stored we found several metric tonnes of good quality salt and several hundred troy ounces of gold, platinum, silver, palladium and other goodies. Every trading group goes out with some of each. Salt is apparently highly prized since so many civilizations are inland. Elizabeth is thrilled that we don’t have to volunteer our people on some of the trades.”
“I bet,” John said grimly. Some of the trades they had done that first year were horrifying to think about now. They had been very, very lucky that the first people the Expedition had met had been the Athosians. If they had been the Genii, there might have been no one to rescue when the Daedalus had shown up.
“Anyway, we went to that great big market that keeps hopping worlds and I spent my free afternoon following Teyla around. That woman can shop. Remind me to not be available for pack mule service if we ever get back to Earth,.” Rodney said dryly.
“So you went shopping, got stuff for Junior and then talked some of the Athosian crafters to make us baby clothes?” John asked.
“Yup,.” Rodney agreed with another blush. John was now very certain that getting Jamie clothes wasn’t all that his partner had done, but whatever he was hiding, it wasn’t bad. Rodney was too happy with whatever it was for it to be trouble.
Aboard the Junkyard Dog
The call over the all channels override cause Rodney and John to jump upright, thankfully neither was under a console at the time or someone would have been paying dearly. No matter how cool the discovery.
“Eureka, what?” John demanded after he got his heart out of his mouth.
“Ships, sir! Three of them. Parked in a dark crater on one of the bigger asteroids out here,” came the prompt reply from the same voice that had startled them.
“Does it look like they are intact?” Rodney asked quickly.
“The Jumper is reporting one of those kinetic shields, Dr. McKay and it looks to be functional,” Replied Parkins. He was one of Rodney’s cross-trained physicist/engineers and that meant that he was out in Jumper Seven with one of the Marine teams.
Rodney was already powering down his laptop and getting his tools together. “How strong is the shield?”
“The shield looks like it is on its last ergs of energy from the readings I am getting. If it lasts a month more at the current level, I’ll be shocked. There are a lot of little meteorites out here and it was the flare of a strike that caused the sensors to home in on it,” Parkins reported.
John mulled the information over for a moment and then tapped his earpiece over to the pilot only channel. “Attention ladies and gentlemen! You all heard Parkins. Keep an eye on the deep craters for anything the Ancients hid. You know they liked to make things difficult for anyone looking for their stuff. If you find anything at all, let us know. Sheppard out.”
Rodney was talking to his scientist as he zipped up his mission pack. John took the time to grab the coffee carafe and his own pack as they moved out the door to the hanger bay. This was something that they needed to be on scene for.
John stared out the windshield of his Jumper. There were three ships hiding in the shadows of the crater, each one of them bigger and in better shape than the Orion. If even one of them was in as good of shape as they looked, Atlantis was set.
“Being a space explorer is so cool,” he breathed out.
Rodney only laughed beside him.
As always, I need to give a sincere thank you to my Beta’s, Keira and Chris King. Without those two ladies, this would have been a poorer chapter. Thank you!