Title: Picking Up the Pieces
Series Order: 6
Banner Art: None
Word Count: 7,060
Warnings: Discussions of Planetary Murder
Summary: The end of my world passed without me really knowing it. I was too young to understand why Dad had me pack up my favorite toys and stuff that day. I was too young to know why my brothers were so grim as they stripped the house of family pictures and knickknacks. I was way too young.
There is no way you can ever prepare for the end of the world. I mean, you can plan for what you might want to take with you, who you want to grab, and stuff like that, but you can’t plan for how you will react.
The end of my world passed without me really knowing it. I was too young to understand why Dad had me pack up my favorite toys and stuff that day. I was too young to know why my brothers were so grim as they stripped the house of family pictures and knickknacks. I was way too young.
It wasn’t until almost ten years later that I stopped to wonder what could have happened that day. At the end of the world. I am so damn proud of my Dad for holding it together that day. For not losing his shit and freaking out. My brothers too. We all did good.
The freakout after we got to Atlantis wasn’t good, but then again, I’ve only heard about that one from stories. Dad still thinks I am too young.
Diary of a refugee
Sixteen hours to change her world. Twenty-five times the gate had opened from Midway and thus Earth. Each time sending scared, confused and opening people through. Plus tons and tons of stuff: luggage, pets, food, pallets of munitions, MRE’s, the list of stuff was endless
If she hadn’t had some warning from Rodney and the initial group of scientists from the SGC, Elizabeth knew she would have reacted badly. The thought of Earth falling… She pushed that thought away firmly. There was too much to do, too much to take care of for her to break down in hysterics. Taking a deep breath, Elizabeth moved to look at the lists of information provided by her admin department.
So many people, specialties, equipment, even children had been sent through! Rubbing her temples, Elizabeth tried to stave off the migraine she could feel building. There was just so much to be done to make sure they survived. Thankfully, Sumner and O’Neill had put teams on City exploration when they had arrived. So there were plenty of safe places to stash their new residents. She didn’t even want to think of what would have happened if they hadn’t had that resource available.
They even – wonder of wonders – had enough power to support the horde, which was a good thing indeed. When they had arrived to find the city on the seafloor of their new planet, she had come very close to a panic attack. Drowning was not her ideal way to go, and seeing the city’s shield flicker and die in spurts had sent panic crashing through her.
But their luck had held and the city rose at the last possible moment. Then the real work had begun. Power had been a struggle in the first few weeks as they dealt with the reality of a city that wanted to help, but wasn’t able to due to a dearth of strong ATA members and a crushing lack of power. O’Neill had tried, but he was only one man and even he acknowledged that while he had the ATA gene, it wasn’t enough to cover everything needed. Carson’s gene therapy had helped immensely on that end when he had gotten it up and running.
It was only after they had managed to get rid of the energy creature left by the Ancients, that the Expedition had really buckled down to do an in-depth survey of the tower they were living in. O’Neill had dubbed the buildings starscrapers because the shortest of them was easily a mile high and the tallest central tower was at least twice that. Two years into the expedition and Elizabeth was happy to say that the buildings at the City center were completely explored, and the piers were about 45% cleared. Her lasting and abiding concern was that the database was a nightmare that refused to be conquered by logic.
The one true piece of information that they had managed to pull from the nightmare of a database was where the Ancients had stored their spare ZPM’s on Atlantis. Sumner and O’Neill had taken McKay and Zelenka with a platoon of troops to go find them. After all, the generators, while enough to power any Tau’ri installation weren’t enough to keep Atlantis going. The mini-expedition had found three full ZPM’s and two more that had been intact but fully drained. McKay had been all but dancing in the labs as his teams looked over the duds with every tool they had. Elizabeth was just happy that the city was at full power and able to support them.
But they hadn’t been able to find another viable ZPM to send to Earth and she hadn’t been willing to part with any of theirs. Not after they had confirmed what the holographic interface had let them know.
The word itself was horrible. The reality of them was worse. Carson had managed to get the medical sections of the database to cough up their secrets and the information had horrified her. The videos of a Wraith feeding on someone had made her reach for a garbage can the first time she had viewed them. Repeated viewings hadn’t dulled her nausea at how the Ancients had used the Wraith to forward their drive towards Ascension. Even at the expense of the lives of their own people. If she had any lingering respect for the assholes, that whole afternoon viewing those records had killed it.
Horrified, Elizabeth had talked to Sumner, O’Neill, and McKay over how the away teams went about their missions. The little gate ships that had been found above the gate room were a huge bonus in the drive to keep their people safe. Parts of the small fleet were used every time they stepped through to a new world.
Every type of precautionary scan that could be run, was run. Before Sumner was willing to risk their people outside of the safety of the Ancient craft. Even in the face of their need to make friends and allies. By working that way, they had avoided one of the more extreme characters populating Pegasus. They had even found a 4th ZPM, but while it was full enough that Earth might be able to open a wormhole to send supplies through, the kids it protected needed it more.
Elizabeth moved onto the next list she had to review and contemplated how easily everything had been passed through from Earth. Eighteen months into their time on Atlantis, McKay, with the assistance of Carter and both engineering teams, had come up with the concept of a Gate Bridge. Months of careful work and gate harvesting, lead to travel back to earth that was as easy as dealing another planet in their local network.
The Expedition had supplies, steady communications, more people and a guaranteed escape route. Morale had gone up, stress had gone down and Sumner had been willing to explore more and varied environments. They had even managed to survey a new solar system through a space gate!
Elizabeth took a deep sip of her tea as she remembered the months of exploration that had lead to a greater understanding of the geopolitical situation they had dropped themselves into. The people from Earth had made friends, enemies, trading partners and been introduced to folks who knew they existed and didn’t care. One of their best friends in their new galaxy had proven to be the Athosians, led by Teyla Emmagan. With her to advise them, Elizabeth had been able to negotiate some tricky trade deals and mutual aid pacts that had been fair to both sides.
Now, with the thousands that had poured through the gate, everything had to be reconfigured on the fly. It was, frankly, insane and all she wanted to do was bite something. She couldn’t and wouldn’t, but her restraint didn’t take the urge away. Sighing deeply at how far afield her thoughts had wandered, Elizabeth pulled her computer back towards her. She still had work to do.
Leroy Jethro Gibbs was a man who was rarely caught off guard, but the city of Atlantis was enough to knock him off kilter. Listening to his team bitch and bicker with all the other CSI’s/ Cops/Feebs was oddly soothing to his nerves. They were in a large multi-use building that had been ceded to them by the military commander of the base and close to what had turned out to be the city center. The first thing everyone had done was explore their new digs from top to bottom.
There were rooms that they could turn into apartments in the top six stories to house the multitude of people now under his command, plus room to spare for any unexpected arrivals from the mass evacuation. The ten floors below that were set up labs and he was going to let Grissom, Caine, Taylor, and Abby figure out how to set up things there. The eleventh floor was basically one big open room and DiNozzo had staked it out as a communal lounge. The first two floors of the building had appeared to be giant blank spaces and he wanted to look over them to see how they could retrofit them into a central police station.
Ducky was holding court in one corner of the new “lounge” with the various ME’s from the various labs under his banner. Due to the sheer number of departments represented, they had enough ME’s to cover three shifts and still have some to offer the city as back up to whatever they had going. Gibbs made certain to listen in while the base doctor who had been doing double duty as the Expeditions coroner explained how very fucked up the whole job was. Ducky and his co-workers sent seemed to be fascinated by the very idea of xenobiology and how it related to their specialty. Which wasn’t boding well for his nerves or his stomach so he left to find out what else was going on.
Caine, Taylor, Abby, Grissom were stationed in another corner of the room and from the sound of it, the labs were well on the way to being set up. From setting shifts to who was going to handle what, the discussion got lively but each person there respected the others and Gibbs was certain everyone would get something he wanted out of it. He was, however, staying out of that discussion, he ran agents, Not labs.
Which is why when they had gotten settled, he had stood up and bowed out of command. He could do it and had, but he had never wanted to be the one ultimately in charge. Hetty, from the LA branch of NCIS, was better suited to running this whole mess than he was and had more patience for the insanity that came with command. When no one had objected, he had sat down in relief. That had been too close. Then again, the diminutive little dictator had gotten him back by making him her second in command. He had to admire her level of evil.
DiNozzo, Flack, Callen, Williams, et al were in another corner hashing out something. Gibbs was certain that whatever it was better than what the ME’s discussing or the geek-gasm the lab directors were having. He was learning way too much about how wraith organs behaved when exposed to air as per the video the group of them were watching. Faintly nauseated at how fascinated and enthusiastic Ducky and Palmer were, Gibbs sat down by DiNozzo to talk about saner things. Like bullets.
“So we’re agreed? Use the UCMJ for the basics and talk to Dr. Weir, Colonel Sumner and when he gets in, General O’Neill for final approval after clearing it with Hetty?” DiNozzo asked.
Most of the men and women in the group agreed with that point, the only ones who seemed to disagree were the NCIS agents he worked with on a regular basis. Tony wasn’t surprised. He rarely showed the brains that he possessed, so he was just waiting for someone to stick their foot in it.
“Tony, how do you know this stuff? And who put you in charge?” McGee burst out, right on time. Tony had been surprised at how the other man had held his tongue throughout the brainstorming session. But now with Gibbs being in the group, McCourageous had found his spine.
Voice dry with amusement and subtle disappointment, Tony decided to burst the other man’s bubble. “I was Gibbs’s Senior Agent for ten years, Probie. He put me in charge of any liaisoning with outside departments about three months after I was hired at NCIS. I have a doctorate in Criminal Justice, a Masters in Poli/Sci, another in forensics and I did get that degree in film History I was studying for while undercover.”
“But…,” McGee’s mouth was opening and closing like a fish. Tony was kind of insulted that his Probie thought he was really as dumb as he pretended to be. It took to a mental count of ten before the younger man managed to come back, “But, you’re a jock. You have a degree in Phys Ed from Ohio State.”
“Yes, Probie, I have a Phys Ed degree as well,” Tony said with an edge to his voice. “But I’ve had a lot of time on my hands due to various injuries over the years. Even I am not that big of a horndog, no matter what I may have acted like. So instead of all the dates, l studied. And there is such a thing as a double major.”
When Gibbs cleared his throat behind McGee, his junior agent jumped at the noise. “The requirements for a Senior Agent at NCIS demand a Masters’ degree or the equivalent. DiNozzo came to NCIS with a Masters in Criminal Justice, a BA in Poli/Sci and was working on his Masters in Forensics as he could. Through the ten years as my Senior Agent, he hasn’t stopped taking classes, even if most of them had to be done online. The Doctorate is new though.”
Tony smiled slightly at how aware his boss was of his continued efforts to educate himself, “The Doctorate was defended when I took that day off last month. I got the confirmation two weeks ago and the certificate came with the mail I picked up as we left.”
Tony could tell that Gibbs was proud of him from the look on the older man’s face. Over the years, DiNozzo had gotten into the habit of leaving the proof of his continuing efforts at education on Gibbs’s desk. The Senior Agent had never made a big deal of it, but he had always given him a pat on the shoulder when he had found it.
McGee was still looking like a landed fish, but his new colleagues were looking impressed. And that brought up another issue… “What degrees do you all have?” Tony asked the group at large. “If worst comes to worst, we’ll need to be able to teach what we know.”
One trip around his group and they had an impressive number of degrees, but in a fairly narrow field due to the careers of the people who had gotten them. Criminal Justice, Psychology, Forensics, Ballistics, DNA, Computer Sciences, Education and Military History were all well represented. While he was the only one in this group to have his doctorate, several others were ABD and had brought their research and thesis’s with them. Tony made a note to talk to General O’Neill about getting everyone help to complete their degrees.
McGee was still silent and Tory was content to let him be so. He had work to do. His new home needed a police force and he and his fellow officers had a duty to provide it. Gibbs might be the one who would be in charge, but he was going to put his mark on the new department. He wasn’t going to hide anymore.
Horatio and Mac walked around their new lab spaces and marked the walls with shorthand notes on where they wanted their machines to go.
Well, if they had any machines on board the ship they had been on so briefly. They had been promised the moon and both men were certain the SGC wouldn’t be able to follow through. The evacuation had been too fast, too insane to have allowed time for someone to get the supplies needed to equip a federal level crime lab. Would they?
At any rate, The two men had spent the morning going over the floors designated as labs with Abby making decisions on which lab was to be what. Grissom would have joined them, but the entomologist had been snapped up by a very nice Scottish doctor who was apparently the CMO of this madhouse. From the way their ME’s had nodded over the ‘kidnapping’, both men had decided to leave the questions until later.
From what they had found out the enemy out here was some type of humanoid bug. Grissom had looked intrigued and eager to know more. Everyone else had been horrified. Mac and H had exchanged glances and nodded. They were both disgusted with a side of fascinated. Grissom had agreed to bring back all the information that he was given.
“So I think we can use this central area as the general bullpen for our cops and report writing. Did you see any place that would make a good break room?” Mac asked Horatio as they stepped out of the transporter/lift thing onto the buildings ground floor.
Caine turned a quick circle to survey their new space. “I think two rooms off the main entry would work well as break rooms and or locker rooms. And it gives us a good spacer between these things and our work areas.”
Mac nodded and headed towards the front side to the complex. The ability to wave the door open was very cool, but rather like parts of home, so he wasn’t too wild-eyed about it. The two rooms were generously sized and the New Yorker could easily see rows of tables for people to eat lunch from. “No vending machines.”
Horatio looked around and shrugged. “I guess that means we aren’t going to be eating junk food all day. We’re gonna have to find something to use as a snack food though.”
“Danny is gonna be thrilled,” Mac agreed dryly. As he walked across the hall to look at the other space, he noticed that there was another door. Taylor thought hard at the door. It readily opened to reveal a decent sized bathroom, with the weird stalls the Ancients had favored.
The warmth of another person filled the spot to his left and Mac moved to give his friend a clear view. “Do you think we can get some of the engineers to come up and retrofit this space as a locker room?” Mac asked.
“Not a clue,” H answered. There was a faint click and the dull sound of something tapping. “I just put in the work request though I figured we could go with a unisex shower area and designate the several stalls down here for each sex. I saw another good spot on the other side of the room for a second bathroom.”
“Sounds good. So the other room for the break room? Do you think we can get some refrigerators and freezers in there with a full kitchen? And a good half dozen microwaves, with extra sinks.” Mac asked absently
Caine only hummed as they walked out the doors to their new kingdom and into the foyer area. Uncapping the black sharpie he had stuffed in the back pocket of his jeans, H drew a large X where he wanted the receptionist’s desk to go.
The lift was there as soon as Mac waved his hand in front of the sensor. The New Yorker was determined to not remember that he was being transported from one spot to another. The floor above them was completely bare and they were still figuring out what to do with it. The first floor had been easy to divide into all the needed public spaces necessary for a functioning police station with room to grow left over.
“I didn’t think we’d have enough people breaking the law to need as many cells as we could place in here. But I just had some stuff explained to me on why it might better to plan for the future and all that,” Gibbs said from where he was standing in the middle of the room.
Shrugging Mac looked over the space. It was the same square footage as the area below but was empty of anything but the support pillars. He had some thoughts on what they could do with it, but was willing to listen to the other two as well.
“I would say that we make some of this storage, maybe interview rooms and an office or two. The cells can be in one corner,” Horatio waved his hands at some areas and tried to box them in with the gestures.
Mac grabbed the tablet they were using to take notes. There was a drafting function on it and a stylus tucked into the side. It was the work of only a moment to draw out the room and start filling it in. Horatio leaned over his shoulder and with Gibbs, pointed out areas that they thought were needed. Between the three of them, they had a secure second level of their new police station designed.
“I like it. But I want DiNozzo to go over it before we send it off,” Gibbs said as he played with the zoom function of the program.
Mac remembered the hyperactive and yet very astute Italian from far too many boring law enforcement conferences. “What? Why?”
“Because he seems to see stuff people miss. Like we did in this,” Gibbs explained dryly. “Tony pulled up some population growth figures… We can expect to grow by at least ten to fifteen percent per year for a while. So we will, more than likely, need those cells. And the military can use them to house some of their morons, not just the civilian population. He also suggested that we add some stairs between each floor in case of power outages. Those transporters are great, but if the power is shut off, we’re stuck.”
The two civilian cops look at the space and nod. The realization of their new home set in. This wasn’t a temporary thing. This was indeed forever. Turning back to the design on their little computer, Mac took a harder look at the design. If he was going to get to design his ideal police station, he was going to make sure that it was better than his last one.
Carson Beckett was busy. He had too many people to integrate into his expanded medical department, with even more supplies to store. One of the doctors he had gotten from the SGC, Keller, was fresh from her internship year and as green as grass. The rest were seasoned hands at from various hospitals around the world, but he really wanted to talk to Lam. From what he had gotten from his expanded staff meeting, she was on the Apollo.
If she was having a less insane time than he was, he envied her.
Before the mass exodus, his staff had been fairly small at two dozen people, mostly nurses with three other docs to cover shifts. There had been roughly a dozen medic and EMT trained military members assigned to the Expedition and he had used them ruthlessly in his campaign to keep his people healthy. The military medics had been his eyes and ears on the ground and had spread a good dose of humanitarian aid around the galaxy.
He had no idea how he was going to integrate his new people. Everything from basic EP’s to a highly trained germ doc was under his command and he wanted to rip his hair out. To think that only the week before he had been moaning that he didn’t have enough people. Now he had too many and Carson wanted off this ride, thank you!
Carson looked up from the pad he had been studying in an effort to reorganize his mess at the familiar voice. “Ducky!” His former anatomy teacher was standing in his doorway looking amused. “What are you doing here?”
“Oh, I work with one of the people that got sucked into this effort,” he said with a smile as he walked into the office. “I’m with NCIS now as their ME. Well, I was before this. Now, I was elected by all the ME’s and coroner’s from the newly formed Atlantis Police Department to come to talk to you and offer up our services. We have six fully trained. pathologists and one student who had sat his exams and passed, but hadn’t walked yet.”
Beckett leaned back and tried not to sigh in relief. They hadn’t had much need of an ME out on Atlantis before, but that was before the Earth had added thousands of traumatized people to the equation. Biro wouldn’t be enough to cover for that many and it wasn’t her main skill set anyway.
“I accept! Do any of your people know how to organize a hospital?” Carson asked. If ever there was a man full of hidden skills and knowledge, it was Dr. Mallard.
“I haven’t had to organize anything that large since Vietnam,” the older man said with a smile. “May I see?”
“Please!” Carson sat back in his chair and directed Atlantis to move his current project from his computer to the wall unit. “The screen is a touch screen.”
“Hmmm,” the older doctor hummed as he scrolled up and down the list of names and specialties. “Well, you do have enough here to outfit a full hospital and then some. Are you planning on staying in charge Carson?”
“Yes, for now. I’ve been out here too long to give up my position. Plus the CMO of the whole program is on the Apollo and I want to have here before we make any massive changes,” the younger Scot said decisively. “And while the people who were evacuated are all good medical professionals, they don’t know what is going on in our program. Until they do, they won’t be able to function at the levels we need them too.”
“So what will you do, lad?” Ducky asked as he turned away from the computer screen and settled into his chair.
“Letting the gaggle organize first themselves and then the hospital sounds like an excellent idea. That will keep them busy for months. Plus it will help our hugely expanded civilian population,” Carson said, staring at the list. “There are enough specialists and GP’s to cover everything needed and then some. In addition, Carolyn Lam is the CMO for Atlantis and the SGC and is senior to myself. Once she gets here, she can deal with how to integrate them into our current command structure. I’m more likely to scream at them to shut up and let me work than be polite.”
“Maybe,” Ducky allowed. “Do you have a building in mind to get the busy work started then? I noticed when I looked out the windows on my way up here that there were a great many. All of them seem to be very tall too.”
“And most of them are empty,” Beckett agreed. “So we have the room. Major O’Neill and his teams found the main hospital complex about six months ago. We didn’t have enough trained ATA positive medical personal for them to use the equipment safely, so it was closed up and mothballed. Now, we have people, they just need to be trained in how not to kill themselves and their patients,” he ran his hands over his face and then let them drop.
“I know that I am going to need to rotate them through here for training, but that is going to put a major strain on my staff here. But it needs to be done if only to make sure they don’t kill anyone in error,” he explained to his old mentor.
“Best to get started then, lad,” the older man urged.
“Could I ask you to pitch in? It’s been a long time since I’ve seen some of these people and I’m six months behind in my journals,” Carson admitted with a rueful grin.
“I would love to, my dear boy. I also have that ATA thing that seems to be so important, “The elder man agreed cheerfully. “You will show me how to use things in here, right?”
“Of course. But you know that means that you get to teach all the doctors that come with you.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
Commander Martha Williams was not a happy squid. She had been one of the original members of the Expedition and had seen the number of people in her mess go from the initial 150 to a low of 128 right before they got back in contact with the SGC to the high that morning of 302. Then the end of the world had come and she now had over eleven thousand people to feed.
And house and do basic clean up of the public spaces and provide some housewares if they had none. Why had she volunteered to become the Supply head for this insanity again? Oh, yeah. General O’Neill had sent Dr. Jackson to sweet talk her out of her position on the USS John C. Stennis and she had fallen for the big blue-eyed trick the man had played. The archeologist was not harmless.
If she hadn’t known that Dr. Weir was just as overwhelmed, she would have marched up to Command and to have a very proper fit in her office. How were her people supposed to do this? Face set in a look that she knew was slightly panicked, Williams paged through the manifest of stuff that was had been shoved through the gate.
There were a series of line items that caught her eye as she scrolled through the mess of data. Pallets of MRE’s. She was saved. Oh, thank Thor. Enough to feed everyone at least one a day for sixty days. Hopefully, by then, the Apollo would be in and the supplies they had stored would be available. The sixty-day window would also give the Teams time to scout out some recently culled worlds with fields they could harvest.
She was very practical that way. Even if some of the rest of the Expedition considered it to be ghoulish. The last time they had gleaned a world clean, it had taken most of a week and they had gathered enough food to keep them fed for six months. Williams figured if they managed to do that again, the food would last them less than a week at their new numbers.
So MRES it would be until they could work something out.
“Aye, ma’ am?” the voice of her senior Chief rose from somewhere by their steam kettles.
“We aren’t going for real food tonight, Chief. We would clean out our on-hand supplies in just one meal to feed this hoard. We need to get a working party organized to get at least 21 pallets of various MRE’s up here. At least four of which need to be vegetarian,” she called out as he walked towards her.
“MRE’s? Ma’am, those things are nasty,” Bonner complained lightly as he pulled his tablet out of his apron pocket. Williams spared a moment to be grateful that the SGC had gone in for the ultra ruggedized MilSpec tablets for standard issue gear. Nothing else would stand up to a kitchen environment.
“Nasty they might be Chief, but they are the quickest way to feed this hoard. I don’t want to send anyone to bed hungry if we can manage it,” Williams muttered as she tagged enough pallets to cover seven days worth of meals. Everyone would have to be happy with two meals a day until she could get some satellite kitchens set up.
“Understood, ma’am. I have some 30 Marines and airmen down at storeroom 36-10 waiting on you to let them know what you want to be brought up,” Bonner said as pulled his hand away from his radio.
“Thank you, Chief. I’m thinking we need to pull up some fruit too for the first meal in the morning,” the Commander muttered as she moved from one screen to another on the Supply database.
Bonner moved to look over her shoulder and pointed at the various fruits that were popular with the Expedition. “I’ll get the signs we use to tell folks what they might be allergic too. And contact medical so we have enough epipens on hand. Just in case.”
Williams nodded grimly. Food allergies were no joke out in Pegasus. They had almost lost Dr. McKay to a spice that was used like saffron was on Earth, as a perfume and colorant to seafood and grains. There were whole feasts the scientist couldn’t eat due to it, but even he agreed that not eating them was a small price to pay for breathing. At any rate, if shim set off McKay’s peanut allergy, it was a fair bet it would trigger others. Plus there was the deep red star fruit that triggered anyone with a citrus allergy to add to the food fun.
So her mess specialists were careful, very careful, to label everything. Food services tested all supplies before they were released to the chefs and people were warned of the new stuff. She was going to have to make sure that they were even more diligent now. Every human left was a precious resource that none of them wanted to lose. Not from something like as deadly and preventable as a food allergy.
Patrick Sheppard was in awe of the city of Atlantis. She was big, beautiful and so damaged that the need to start to repair her was making his hands shake.
Thinking back over the day, he tried to put the feeling aside for the moment. When they had moved through the stargate and into Midway he had taken the time to look out the windows. Space was so much bigger and emptier than he had ever imagined. The visual impact of the view had blown his mind and he had tried to hold onto his jaw, distracting himself as they moved through the structure by paying attention to the engineering of the space. Once he started noticing what was in front of him, he didn’t know where to look first.
His jaw had finally hit his chest when his evacuation group had stepped through to Atlantis and he had experienced the city firsthand. The four of them had staggered slightly at the onslaught of welcome she had beamed at them. It was only pure stubbornness that let them keep moving forward.
Each of the adults had been pushing a huge flat cart full of their gear and Patrick had made absolutely certain that his boys knew that they could not lose them. The carts were carrying not only carrying their personal gear, but also some of the luxuries he had brought with them. Three adult men could move a serious amount of shit if it was packed right. Well, besides the stuff they had labeled as John’s. The three flatbeds had been full of stuff that couldn’t be beamed up to the Apollo and would be needed day to day.
Patrick moved over to a new box to unpack after an absent pat to the wall that had just sprouted drawers for him. God, he had taken shameless advantage of his connections. Jack had dropped by while they were waiting to warn them about the ATA and how the City would affect them. While they were getting the debriefing on that, Patrick had commented on some ways to make the whole evacuation easier and faster. He had already watched several groups head out and the inefficiency of the whole process was making him itch.
Thirty minutes later there had been flatbed carts and oversized grocery store carts beamed down so people could move their gear without tripping over every single bit of luggage. Smiling at the sight the elder Sheppard had grabbed three flatbeds with Home Depot labels on them without an ounce of shame. They had too much to leave anything behind and he wasn’t a pack mule. Even then, the four of them had still carried their backpacks on their persons and had stuck close together.
Now, with his latest box emptied into the drawers, he took the time to draw a deep breath of ocean-scented air. Earth was gone, he and most of his family were on the lost city of Atlantis and she was talking to him about what she needed done so she could keep them safe. His life was officially insane.
Radek Zelenka wanted to rip his hair out. Too many people, too little time to get ready for them, and too much responsibility that chafed. He was going to kill Rodney when he got back for dumping this on him. Thanks to how many of the newcomers were ATA positive, his people had spent most of the day running from one disaster to another, trying to keep the city from overloading due to their presence.
His people were still running all over the place in an effort to stay ahead of the mess. He had even had Chuck and his people in Operations start making announcements concerning it that had caused a surge in activations for about an hour before things had headed off. Zelenka took a drink of his coffee and looked at the status map of the City. There was only one hotspot left and that was in the complex devoted to the military and their dependents.
Tapping the screen to bring up the area, Radek wasn’t surprised to see it was the newbie area. Some gentle manipulation of the image and he had the floor number for whoever was screwing with his City. And their name. He took another sip of coffee and looked at it. From the strength of the reaction, he was willing to bet the family was related to the Air Force Major they had been expecting on their next supply run. After all, Sheppard wasn’t that common of a name when attached to an ATA reaction that strong. And Rodney had been very excited about getting him on board due to the degrees the man had.
A final sip of coffee and he had finished his cup and it was time to go deal with his human-borne catastrophe.
The trip to his newest headache was only five minutes, the longest being getting to the transporter. A quick knock on the door and he had a new person to explain the facts of life too.
“Hello. I am Dr. Radek Zelenka, currently the acting CSO of Atlantis. She is very interested in your family and this is causing my department many problems. May I come in to talk to you about why?”
“Dad! We’ve got a visitor on why the City keeps talking to us!” the younger man called over his shoulder as he stepped aside to wave Zelenka in.
“Be right out. I need to get this closed,” called a light baritone called from one of the bedrooms. Now that he was in the suite, Radek was remembering how the place laid out. If he hadn’t been happy with his place by the main lab, he would have looked at these. Plenty of room, good views, and your neighbors were far enough away for privacy, close enough to stay safe.
“Dr. Zelenka! So this is where you went to!” Radek raised an eyebrow at the greeting and kept his eye on the door. He had recognized that voice…
When the man it belonged to stepped out of the shadowed room, he snorted lightly to himself. Of course, it was this man and his family, “Dr. Sheppard.” Why he hadn’t made the connection before, he didn’t know, but it truly figured. “Why am I not surprised that your family is at the epicenter of this event?”
“Eh, we don’t cause problems, Radek, we just figure out ways to make things better,” Sheppard waved off the complaint. “And the city is doing her best to let us know how to.”
”I would hope so. Because she isn’t talking to anyone else,” the Czech informed them wearily as he rubbed his hands over his face. Damn, he was tired. “You know about ATA?”
“Not only know about it, but we all have it,” Sheppard agreed.
“All three of you?” Radek looked at the three men in consternation. From how the City was reacting, they were all, to a man, stronger than O’Neill and he had been the strongest gene holder on Atlantis for years.
”Actually, there are four of us here. The fifth Sheppard should be on the Apollo, working his way out here,” the third man in the room informed him. “Hi, David Sheppard, and the guy who opened the door is my younger brother, Matt. Sheppard number four is currently sleeping.”
David Sheppard shrugged at the call. “Or not.”
“Hey, Camden, come on out. I want you to meet someone,” Patrick held his hand out toward the room he had come out of.
The little boy who walked out was adorable, Radek could admit. What wasn’t so cute was how Atlantis lit the room up as he moved. Signing at the sight, Radek nodded. So much to discuss. With the Sheppards, and apparently, with Atlantis. Dear God in heaven did Rodney owe him for leaving it up to him to pick up the pieces of this mess.