Rating: PG for a couple of swear words
Pairings: McKay/Sheppard, O'Neill/Jackson, Beckett/Emmagen, Carter/Mitchell, Lorne/Davis
Disclaimer: Sadly, not mine; they all belong to someone else.
Summary: They weren't a new threat to Atlantis but they now came at them with a vengeance. John knew they needed help. What they got was more than they had hoped for.
Notes: At the end.
Companion piece to fight for the future.
John knew he was in the Atlantis control chair but in this moment he was the city. Long range sensors were his eyes, communication networks were his ears and the network of crystals in the city fed information into his skin.
With the number of inputs it should have been a cacophony but it was not. John was able to pass most of the routine information on to a waiting databank for later analysis. He found he could handle the myriad of inputs as long as he allowed the information to simply flow through him.
In that way he could see the Hammond escorting them on their way to the edge of the solar system after lifting off from Lantea. Samantha Carter, in charge of the ship, fed information from the ship to Atlantis - more data that flowed through John. They had not had a chance prior to this to watch the city in flight and this was an opportunity to get more information.
The lift off the planet had gone according to plan. They had evacuated everyone they could to a series of planets, hoping that by scattering troops and scientists in more than one location would be a better strategy than putting everyone in one location. Atlantis now moved to the edge of the solar system to get ready for the jump to hyperspace.
John kept a stray thought focused on Rodney. He listened as Rodney ordered his minions around, trying to keep an eye on John at the same time.
Don't worry about me, John sent to Rodney's data pad. I'm fine and Cassie is here.
He could hear Rodney snort at the message. "Don't run into anything," Rodney said, knowing John could hear him.
John laughed, a ripple that flowed through him and through the controls. He saw Cassie's head turn to look at him, confused for a moment.
It's okay, John sent to her console.
"Stop chit-chatting!" Cassie muttered but turned back to her readouts.
Rodney would only let John fly the city to its new location if Cassie would watch over him. It was too chancy to leave the Chair for any length of time during the move, so Cassie had consulted with Carson and they had worked out a monitoring system that would allow her to keep an eye on John's health while in transit.
"Atlantis is ready for the jump to hyperspace," Rodney's voice came in his head.
"Hammond is ready," Sam's voice came back.
"Ready when you are, John," Rodney directed at him.
John sent the command to the hyperspace engines to open a window to make the jump. He saw the window open on the city's sensors and flew the city in. He could see the Hammond open its own window to meet them at their first stop.
As the flight in hyperspace settled in, Rodney took the time to come to see him. While there were things to do and data that could only be collected while the city was in flight, John knew Rodney couldn't stay away.
"He's fine, Rodney," Cassie said with a touch of fondness in her voice.
"Yeah, well.." Rodney huffed.
Like Cassie said, John sent to Rodney's screen, I'm fine. We just got started.
Rodney blushed slightly, which John found charming. "Well, excuse me for worrying. Just that the City hadn't opened some of these sensors before and wanted to check on you."
And you have things you wanted to do, John countered. You can check on me from there and I can hear you from anywhere. Go, do what you need to.
"Oh, all right," Rodney replied softly. He reached out like he wanted to touch John but drew back. In testing the system, they had found that Rodney would get feedback through John's connection and they didn't want to risk that happening and distracting John while the City was actually in flight.
Later, John promised.
"Later," Rodney replied.
John thought back to what led them to this...
Someone in one of the soft sciences had dubbed them Ynglinga from something in Norse mythology and the name had stuck. The Asgard renegades had stepped up their attacks on Atlantis after their failed attempt to get Rodney and Daniel Jackson to activate the Attero Device.
"Why canít we catch a fucking break in this fucking galaxy?" Rodney ranted one night.
It was an old argument. John sighed, "I don't know, Rodney. If I knew, I'd do it."
Rodney shot a startled glance at John. "Sorry. Just.. it's frustrating."
"I know, I know," John soothed. He tilted his head and looked at Rodney.
Rodney pointed a finger. "I know that look, it's either a spectacularly good idea or spectacularly bad."
"Well.." John hesitated.
"Oh, spectacularly bad," Rodney groaned.
John shrugged uneasily. If he couldn't sell this to Rodney, he knew he wouldn't get anywhere with Woolsey. "Maybe not," he replied. "I'm thinking that maybe this time we need some help."
"Oh, really bad," Rodney shot back. "Like the time we got both the Wraith and the Travelers to help against the Asurans?"
"Um.. not quite that bad," John allowed. "There arenít enough Wraith to be meaningful anymore and although the Travelers have a vested interest, I'm not sure they'd be enough."
"Then who's left?" Rodney demanded.
"Earth," John said calmly.
Rodney hesitated for a moment, furrowing his brow in thought. "That's actually not a bad idea," he allowed. "SG-1 has finished off the Ori and there aren't enough Goa'uld left to be interesting. At the very least they should be able to send a couple of ships and some warm bodies."
"More people are always useful," John replied. "That will help us justify more supplies and equipment."
"What are you thinking?" Rodney asked.
"We know that the Asgard - our Asgard - left everything they had to Earth," John began.
"Yes, yes," Rodney was impatient. "That's where we got the information we needed to recharge ZedPMs from. So?"
"Well, maybe there's something else there that we hadn't been looking for that would help us against the Ynglinga," John suggested. "A weapon or.. something."
Rodney stared. "That's a purely fishing expedition you know," he replied. "We only found the ZedPM information because Carter thinks Thor left it where it could be easily found. There's easily as much information there as there is here on Atlantis."
"I know, I know," John was as frustrated as Rodney had been earlier. "But we're at a serious disadvantage against the Ynglinga right now and any help will be better than none."
John watched Rodney consider the possibilities.
"Well, I guess it's not a spectacularly bad idea," Rodney grinned. "At this point, you're right, we need some help."
Going into hyperspace while in the Chair was like putting on a blindfold and cotton in his ears John thought. The sensors that had been pinging into space were now silent and all he could hear was the internal sensors of the city.
He knew the Hammond had opened its own hyperspace window and would meet them at the first stopping point. Where they had been within hailing distance before, they had essentially disappeared from John's sensors completely.
Looking good John reported to Rodney.
"Suction!" Cassie called urgently. "I can't see anything!"
Someone put suction in the wound and cleaned up the blood.. it flowed back in but in that quick view, Cassie could see the spurting artery.
"Clamp! I have a bleeder here," she held out a hand for the instrument and placed it securely over the artery. That stopped the bleeding to give her time to better evaluate her options.
She moved down the leg, looking at the shredded muscle and broken bones. What toes were left were not in good shape and the artery she had just clamped off wasn't helping them any. She looked up at Dr. Carolyn Biro across the table from her and asked, "What do you think?"
She shook her head. "I don't think we can save the foot," she said. "There's too much damage to the major structure of the foot already and there's not enough to even think about reconstruction down the road." She looked at the readings on the monitor over the bed. "We have to decide now, I'm afraid."
"Do we have time to talk to Teyla?" Cassie asked.
Carolyn shrugged. "Not really," she replied. "If we want to save most of the leg, we need to do this now."
Cassie sighed. This was not what she had expected in her first week on Atlantis. "Okay, let's take as little as we have to now, someone can go back later when he's more stable."
Sorry Dr. Beckett, I tried, Cassie thought to herself as she set up for the amputation.
It was an hour later that, tired and sore, Cassie took off her gown and gloves and went out to the waiting room. Everyone looked up at her entrance and she hesitated.
"He'll live," Cassie announced the good news first. The ripple of relief was visible. "We had to take his foot, though. There was no way to save it. I'm sorry." She looked at Teyla. "You can see him for a few minutes once the nurses have moved him to recovery but he's unconscious and we won't wake him until at least tomorrow." She looked up at the time and realized it was tomorrow. "Late tonight. I want to make sure his vitals are more stable before we wake him."
Teyla came up and placed a hand on her arm. "He's alive and for that I thank you," she said calmly. Cassie could see unshed tears in her eyes.
"Everyone else has to wait until tomorrow," Cassie announced. "We'll post visiting hours tomorrow after Carson's conscious and we've had a chance to talk to him."
"Thanks," Jack O'Neill said gravely. "And you get some sleep, too, young lady."
John asked, "Any word on Matias?"
Cassie shrugged, "Sorry, don't know anything."
"That's okay, her team is in the other waiting room and Lorne will let me know when there's anything," John replied. John nudged Rodney, "Come on, we all need some sleep."
"Thank god," Rodney folded up his laptop. "We spend too much time in this room. Need better chairs."
Cassie knew enough that this was standard McKay - she could see in the tension in his shoulders he was as worried as the rest but had a hard time expressing his concern aloud. Cassie watched as the waiting room emptied and said to Teyla, "Come on, I'll get you settled."
Teyla followed her to the recovery room where the nurses were just settling Carson into the bed. She quietly moved to the side of the bed and gently took his un-bandaged left hand. The right hand has suffered multiple burns but would heal.
One of the nurses got Teyla a chair, knowing that she really would not leave unless she had to. The 'few minutes' speech was habit, Cassie realized, one she'd need to break in Atlantis.
She explained to Teyla, "We couldn't save the foot but we left as much of the leg as possible. We did the amputation just above the ankle. Once he's generally healthy, we can look at a prosthetic foot but he may need more surgery before that. There's a lot of minor burns and a broken rib that will need to heal before we look at anything else."
"Carson will be grateful for what you were able to do for him," Teyla assured her, eyes shining.
"He has a long way to go," Cassie had to tell her. "It may be months before he's able to think about walking again. He'll need to use a wheelchair until the rib heals, I don't want him using crutches until the rib is in better shape."
"I understand," Teyla assured her.
"Call me if you need anything," she said to Teyla.
"I will, thank you," Teyla replied calmly.
Cassie went to the office area to finish up her notes from the surgery, while they were still fresh. When she was done, she turned to nurse Bending who would be on duty for the day, "Call me if his condition changes?"
"I will," Nathalie promised. "Get a shower and some food before you fall over."
Cassie laughed, "Thanks."
Swinging by the cafeteria, Cassie got a drink, sandwich and a piece of fruit to eat in her room. She was grateful it was between meal times so that no one stopped her to ask about Carson.
In her room, Cassie put the food on the table in her sitting room, she needed a shower first. Stripping off the scrubs in the bathroom, she turned on the water. Just the hot water helped her relax and she washed up efficiently, knowing that she needed to eat and sleep before she went back on duty.
Wolfing down the sandwich and washing it down with the drink, she decided to leave the fruit for when she got up. Cassie tumbled in the bed falling asleep almost instantly.
Richard Woolsey rubbed a hand on his forehead, wishing for an aspirin to deal with the headache he had. But that meant going to the infirmary and he didn't have time for that now.
He looked at Jack O'Neill and John Sheppard sitting across the table from him. "What happened?" he asked.
"Trap," Jack growled, "Pure and simple. The city was abandoned when we got there, those that weren't dead must have fled into the hills since the Gate was dead."
"There were some life signs in the surrounding area but not enough to account for everyone," John put in. "Don't know where they went or what happened to them."
"We set the Jumpers down in the city proper and that must have set off some trigger," Jack continued. "There was an energy dampening field so the Jumpers were dead after setting down and we were essentially sitting ducks."
"Rodney figured that whatever was dampening the energy couldn't be too far off since we could see lights burning in buildings a few blocks away. So they knew we had set down there before and had planned on us doing it again," John put in. "We decided that Lorne's team would guard the Jumpers and my team would see if we could find the source of the problem."
"How did Dr. Beckett get hurt?" Richard asked.
"While Rodney was working on dismantling the device that was under the square, we think it was a group of locals that attacked the Jumpers," John replied. "They had surrounded the Jumpers and threw essentially Molotov cocktails into the perimeter. Once of the soldiers on Lorne's team got hit and Carson went out to help him. While he was out of the Jumper, the locals tried to over-run their position. Carson got hit with a boulder that was flung into the perimeter by some sort of catapult, which is what crushed his foot. Took two men to get him free from it."
"And what happened to Matias?" Richard asked.
"Shooter got her when she tried to go after Carson," John reported. "Her vest took the worst of it but she still got shot a couple of times in the leg. Dr. Stefanski thinks she'll be all right."
Richard sighed. "Now what?"
"Well, we're down a Chief Medical Officer," Jack stated the obvious.
"We need to follow up - carefully - to see what happened," John answered. "Rodney was able to get the dampening unit out before we had to leave, so the geeks have a new toy to play with. We think the local population is now skittish and won't deal with any strangers for a long time. The Ynglinga burnt them badly and now that the population is scattered, there's no telling who's in charge."
"Put together a proposal for going back," Richard decided, "and we'll look at it. I hate to give up on someone that might be a useful trading partner. And we need a new Chief Medical Officer." He looked at Jack. "Think your Doctor Frasier can handle it?"
Jack grimaced. "She's not my Dr. Frasier, but, yes, I think she can handle it. While she's pretty new here, she'd been through the gate with SG teams and she's pretty down to earth."
"I'll talk to her as soon as she comes on shift next," Richard told them.
"Anything else?" John asked. "I'd like to see how Rodney is making out with that device we brought back."
"Was that safe to do?" Richard was concerned. "We don't want it to affect systems in the city."
"Rodney says he took it apart enough to not be able to run," John shrugged. "Have to trust that."
"Okay, if you say so. Or he says so." Richard was concerned but had to trust Rodney McKay's opinion. McKay had saved Atlantis more times than he could count anymore. He made a note to ask for an update from Rodney. "We can meet up tomorrow as usual."
Jack and John took their leave and he was alone in his office.
Richard sat back, the headache causing a dull throbbing in his head. He closed his eyes and rested his head on the back of his chair.
He had thought leading Atlantis would have gotten easier but, as they had all learned, nothing was ever easy in Pegasus.
It had been relatively quiet when the Ynglinga came back to haunt them. With the Wraith gone, the colony of rogue Asgards came out of hiding, looking to take over the city of Atlantis. Only the fact that the city and the shield were fully powered and the modifications McKay and Zelenka had made kept the Ynglinga out.
They needed all of that power since the Ynglinga attacked the planet that Atlantis had been located on and he, Jack O'Neill and John Sheppard decided it was best to move Atlantis to a new location.
Having enough power to open the gate to keep in contact with Earth was a double edged sword. Access to Earth gave them people and materials on a regular basis and everyone who wanted could return to Earth. But access to Earth was the last thing they wanted to give to the Ynglinga since they seemed to be working to eliminate all competition in Pegasus. Earth and the Milky Way were still recovering from the Ori threat and there were still rogue Goa'uld to go after.
Richard sent a message to Dr. Fraiser to see him before she went on shift next and moved on to his next set of problems.
"órepeat, you're coming out in a meteor debris field," Cam Mitchell's voice came over the intercom from the Hammond. "Reinforce your shields, some of this shit is enormous. Repeat.. you're coming out in a meteor debris field."
"Got it!" Rodney's voice snapped. John could see Zelenka routing more power to the shields and he was grateful they had kept that extra ZPM just for the shields.
WHAM! John jerked in the chair. He used the sensors to see a rock the size of the Hammond spinning away after hitting the shields.
"Hang on!" Rodney called over the city-wide system. "Strap down if you can," he directed, "this isn't going to be pretty."
Sam, get out of here! John sent to the Hammond.
"Agreed!" O'Neill backed him up. "The city can handle this but you can't. Go!"
"Roger that!" Sam replied. "Meet you at the next drop-out point."
John saw the Hammond open a hyperspace window and leave the system ahead of them.
Rodney! Are we ready? John asked. Don't know how much of this we can take.
"Working on it!" he growled. John could hear Zelenka in the background snapping at another scientist. Cassie's soft voice was talking to the infirmary, giving directions to the staff there.
WHAM! The collision jarred the city again.
"Go, go, go!" Rodney chanted at John.
Opening hyperspace window John replied. He sent the commands to open the window and hurled the city into the opening as fast as he could.
"We hit that entry too fast!" Rodney complained.
It was that or get hit again! John retorted.
"I know, I know," Rodney calmed quickly. "But we'll come out on the other end pretty fast. You'll have to hit the brakes as we exit hyperspace."
"Working on that!" Zelenka called. "I'll have new numbers for you before we exit."
Thanks! John replied, relaxing into the Chair. He tuned out the data feeds completely for a moment, needing to breathe for a minute.
Now that they were back in the cocoon of hyperspace, John took a deep breath and paid attention to some system diagnostics that Rodney's team were running. Someone was being helped to the infirmary at Cassie's insistence, having been tossed around on the first major impact but John didn't see any panic there and figured anything had to be minor. Cassie didn't move from her station monitoring John so he knew it couldn't be serious.
"Where'd that come from?" O'Neill asked when he saw the initial flurry of activity slow down.
"Damned if I know," Rodney replied. "That was clear when we did the initial run with the Hammond. We'll have to go back and see if it was a trap or something natural."
Carefully John said.
"Yes, very carefully and fully shielded," Rodney replied.
Cassie woke slowly, knowing she needed to get moving but enjoying the brief lie in. She knew today would be a hard day, even if it might not be a long one.
Letting herself have five more minutes, Cassie thought through her first week on Atlantis.
Jack O'Neill had recruited her himself. Not that she required much in the way of convincing since she'd pretty much agree to anything Jack would ask her to do. Jack and Sam Carter had been her rocks after Janet had been killed, both of them taking the time to talk with her even as they were hurting over Janet's death. Even though Cassie had lived with Sam it was Jack who really helped her through her emotional roller coaster.
And it had been Jack who had helped her talk through her decision to become a doctor. He had made very sure she wasn't doing this just for Janet but for herself, that it was something she really wanted to do. Jack and Daniel Jackson were the ones who took her to the circus, made sure she had access to all the latest music and who had grilled her first boyfriend when he came to pick her up for their first date. She and Sam had laughed later at that night but she had been so embarrassed at the time.
It was Sam who helped her get into the University of Colorado system medical school - Denver was only a couple of hours from Colorado Springs and let Cassie 'go away' without going too far - and who made sure she had everything she needed during her grueling internship.
Jack recruited her to the SGC fresh out of med school, gave her a job that meant so much to both of them. Carolyn Lamm ran the SGC infirmary but she had learned a lot from Dr. Lamm and even more when she went through the gate with SG teams.
Now, on Atlantis, still with Jack O'Neill and SG-1, Cassie felt like she had a real purpose in her life. In only a few days she had settled in and it felt like home.
After a long, hot shower to soothe her tired muscles -- need to see about some exercise, my dear she told herself - she dressed for the day and checked her messages to see if there were any updates on Carson.
The updates were mostly as she had hoped, Carson had done as well as could be expected. On the other hand, Matias had needed to be resuscitated once but now seemed more stable. The note from Richard Woolsey didn't totally surprise her, he was a hands-on administrator and Jack had spoken well enough of the man -- "A bureaucrat but we need someone like that out there." She figured she'd see him first then get a decent meal. It was almost dinner time and the snack she had earlier hadn't been enough.
"Is this a good time, sir?" Cassie asked, tapping on the door.
"Yes, it is, come in," Woolsey invited her. "Have a seat."
"Thanks," Cassie replied.
"First of all, how is Dr. Beckett?" he asked.
Cassie shrugged. "You know we had to amputate his foot?" she asked. When he nodded, she continued, "I haven't been to see him yet, but he was stable and the reports I saw show that he's sleeping, still under sedation. We need to keep him from moving around too much and it's easier to keep him under for the first 24 hours, sorry, first day.This 28 hour day is hard to adjust to."
"I know you don't have a definitive answer just yet but how long until he's up and around?" Richard asked.
"Like I told Teyla earlier, maybe months," she answered. "He's basically healthy, so that's good but the loss of a foot to go with the broken ribs and general injuries will keep him in bed for a few weeks. We'll get him up doing PT as soon as the ribs are mostly healed but we can't push too fast."
"And how long before he'll be able to practice medicine again?" Richard asked.
"At least a couple of months and even then it will depend on how well the PT goes," Cassie replied. "As long as there are no complications, he'll be able to do some very basic work from a wheel chair in six to eight weeks. But he won't be able to do anything beyond some basic care and nothing that requires he stand for probably another six to eight weeks beyond that. So he's pretty much out of commission for at least three months. You need to get a replacement for him as soon as possible."
"That's why I asked you here," Richard said. "I talked it over with General O'Neill and Colonel Sheppard and I'm appointing you as Chief Medical Officer, effective immediately."
Cassie sat back, stunned. "I.. what?" she stuttered.
"The General assured me you could handle the job and Dr. Stefanski is due to be rotated back to Earth inside the next six months, he'll work out his commitment to us but has already let us know he doesn't want to stay. I want someone who's committed to staying for longer than that to run the medical services."
"But.. what about.. Dr. Biro or.." she was drawing a blank on other names, "anyone else?"
Richard grimaced. "Dr. Biro has turned down the position before and is clearly not interested. Dr. Stefanski is well liked but you have seniority at the SGC over him. So I'd like to offer you the position first."
Cassie's mind started whirling. "I haven't taken the ATA therapy," she reminded him. "We don't even know if it will work on me."
"Frankly, your background is one of the reasons I'd like you to take the position," Richard stated. "You'll be uniquely motivated to remind us that we are the aliens in Pegasus. Some of us have made it our home but.. in the end we are from elsewhere."
That made Cassie stopand think. She was the technically the alien among the Lanteans and sometimes it was easy to forget that she wasn't from Earth. Janet, then Jack, Daniel and Sam, had never treated her as different, even when Nerti's experiment almost went bad.
"What about when Dr. Beckett recovers?" she asked. She had to think when and not if.
"Then you and I and Dr. Beckett will sit down and re-evaluate your assignment," Richard assured her.
"I accept," she found herself saying. Oh, my, god. What was she getting into?
"Thank you," Woolsey nodded gravely at her.
"I need to check on Dr. Beckett," she said. "Anything else?"
"Senior staff meeting is the second Tuesday of every week," Woolsey reminded her. "I'll expect you to attend tomorrow. I know it will take a bit for you to come up to speed but you'll do fine. I'll put out an announcement immediately."
Cassie rolled her eyes. Senior staff?She was now Senior Staff? That would take a lot to get used to."Thank you," she said. Then grinned, "I think."
"My door is always open to you," he said. "Don't hesitate to talk to me when you need."
"Don't worry," she said. "I'll be here." She stood from the chair. "And don't hesitate to ask if you need anything."
Richard watched Cassie leave his office. He could count on General O'Neill to help her as she adjusted to the new responsibilities.
He turned to his computer to put out the announcement he had prepared to let everyone know that Dr. Cassandra Frasier had agreed to take on the responsibility of the Chief Medical Officer for Atlantis.
The cocoon of hyperspace was soothing after the chaos of the debris field. John hadn't realized how much sensor noise was related to the debris that had been surrounding the city.
He thought about the planning they had put into this route. Sam Carter and Cam Mitchell had tested multiple routes to what they had taken to calling "Lantea 2." No one could come up with a better name and so it was as practical as anything.
Finding planets to set the members of the city that would not be travelling with the city had also given them an opportunity to find a new Alpha site. A couple of the planets weren't habitable for extended periods but would do while the city was in flight. But after the Ynglinga had found and destroyed the last Alpha site they had, a new one was on the top of John's list of things they needed.
Cassie slid her dinner tray on the table next to Daniel's.
"Thanks a lot, Jack," she said.
He looked at her with amusement. "Me? What did I do?"
"The innocent act doesn't work on me, you know," she shot back.
"So?" Jack asked.
"I took it," she sighed. "You knew I would."
"Took what?" Sam Carter asked, looking between them.
She saw Jack sit up a bit and she let him have the moment. "Go ahead, tell them," she agreed.
"Our dear Dr. Cassandra Frasier is now the Chief Medical Officer for Atlantis," he said proudly.
"Cassie!" Daniel exclaimed. "Good for you!"
"I'm sorry it had to happen this way," she replied seriously. "But Carson's going to be out of commission for a while and someone had to do it."
"You'll do it well," Sam assured her. She reached a hand across the table and squeezed Cassie's. "Janet would have been proud," she said softly.
"Yeah," Cassie got out, unexpectedly choked up.
"Okay, people," Jack announced into the silence. "We have work to do."
"We do?" Daniel looked at Jack quizzically.
"Yes, we do," Jack replied firmly. "Come on, Danny-boy."
Daniel winked at Cassie and finished his coffee. "Slave driver," he grumbled good-naturedly but picked up his tray and followed Jack out of the commissary.
Cassie turned to Sam, "When does Cam get back?"
Sam sighed, "Not for another week. He's working with some of the newest recruits for Atlantis and going through the Earth gate with them to safe places in the Milky Way before they come here. He's also looking for more 302 pilots, so he has his hands full."
Cassie thought no one had been more surprised than Sam Carter when Cameron Mitchell had proposed to her two years ago at the end of the Ori war. "Promised myself I'd do it if we both lived through it," Cam would tell anyone that would listen.
"You could have given me a hint," Sam would shoot back. For while she had considered Cam a good team leader and a close friend, it had taken some fast talking on Cam's part to assure her that he meant it and that he loved her. It wasn't until he took her home to meet his folks that Sam realized how serious Cam was and had agreed to marry him. When Cam pulled a wedding license out of his back pocket as they sat eating breakfast in his mother's kitchen, Sam could only laugh and go along with the whirl-wind wedding.
Jack had, of course, brought Sam and Cam with him to Atlantis.
"You only wanted me for my ship," Sam would tease. As commander of the Hammond, with Cam Mitchell leader of the 302 squadron housed on the ship, Sam brought a lot of welcome firepower with her.
Jack had whined to - almost - anyone that would listen, "I've saved this galaxy at least twice. Now I have to save another one?" But that hadn't stopped him from agreeing to coming to Pegasus.
Cassie took her breakfast tray to the kitchen area and wandered on to the infirmary.
"Hey, boss!" Gregor greeted her. "Congratulations!"
"Thanks," she shot back. "I think!"
"You'll do fine," he assured her. "Let me know if I can help with anything."
"Oh, you can count on that," she grinned.
There were similar greetings from most of the staff as she walked through the infirmary area. Or at the very least, anyone that was unhappy didn't voice that opinion.
Standing in the door of Carson's office, Cassie hesitated.
"He won't mind," Teyla said from behind her. "He would be proud of you."
Cassie turned to face the other woman. "I know, it's just that.. it seems unfair somehow," she explained.
"Just do the best you can," Teyla said calmly. "That's all he will ask."
"How is Carson?" Cassie asked. "I haven't checked on anyone yet and he was my first stop."
"Nathalie tells me he is doing well," Teyla replied. "She is waiting for you when you are ready. I was just taking a break when I saw you."
"Might as well start there, then," Cassie decided. The office could wait, she had a patient to see.
"Can you wait here?" Cassie asked Teyla as they reached the room. "I need to check his bandages and the fewer people in there the better." Between the amputation and the burns, they had to be especially careful about infections. The Ancient medical equipment would help them catch it early but there was nothing like being careful and doing what they could to prevent any infection from even starting.
"Certainly," Teyla agreed.
Cassie grabbed a gown and gloves before she went into the room. Nathalie was there to greet her and brought her up to date on Carson's recent vitals. Together they checked the amputation site, changing the bandages and putting fresh burn gel on his hand and the open wounds.
Nathalie followed her out of the room and Cassie said, "I think we can start bringing him out of the sedation. I don't want to keep him on it too much longer in any case. But it'll still be another day before he's conscious, since we'll bring him up gradually." She looked at Teyla, "He'll be in a lot of pain and we'll manage that the best we can. I'll ask you to help us help him. Let us know when the pain looks to be too much and we'll give him what we can. He has a long recovery in front of him."
"I will do what I can," Teyla assured her.
Cassie looked at Nathalie, "Make sure you get a full two shifts off," she directed. "Soon. I know you didn't get much sleep last night and now that Dr. Beckett's stable you need some serious time off."
"Yes, boss," Nathalie replied with a small grin. "Just hate to leave at the beginning when the patient is still critical."
"Understood," Cassie replied. "But if another couple of critical patients had come in right after that, then we'd be off rotations too much and not helpful to anyone."
Cassie left Carson to check on Angela Matias. She was surprised to see Paul Davis waiting outside her room.
"Evan wouldn't go until I promised I'd wait with her," Paul explained. "He was dead on his feet by the end of the surgery, the adrenaline had worn off, and needed some sleep. Promised I'd call if there were any changes or if you came around."
"Well, let Evan sleep," Cassie directed. "Between them, Jack and John run the two of you ragged and any extra sleep time you can get, you need to take."
Too many of us short on sleep, she thought to herself, realizing she had just given Nathalie essentially the same speech.
"How is she?" Paul nodded at the room.
"Let me check on her and then I'll let you know more," Cassie promised.
In the small room, Cassie checked Matias out. Her vitals were good, Gregor had taken out the spleen as part of the surgery. The bullets had mostly gone into soft tissue of the thigh except for one that penetrated the bowel. Gregor had resected the bowel and cleaned up the other wounds.
Cassie came out of the room. "She looks okay but we won't know for another day or even two. Bowel wounds are tricky and hopefully Dr. Stefanski got everything cleaned up but we won't know for sure until her temp stays down for another two days. If she spikes a fever, it could be sepsis from the bowel and that can be dangerous."
"Best you can do," Paul replied. "Thanks."
"Go get some sleep yourself," Cassie said. "Evan's probably waiting on you."
Paul Davis and Evan Lorne pairing up had been a surprise to everyone, including them. Jack had brought Paul - now a Lieutenant Colonel -- with him to Atlantis since Paul had been Jack's aide in Washington. Saving the galaxy had some privileges and Jack used his to bring pretty much whomever he wanted with him.
When Jack and John worked together to determine how their roles would shake out in Atlantis, Evan and Paul spent a lot of time together actually implementing the decisions and getting day-to-day work done. Familiarity and closeness let fairly quickly to more and when Evan's team was captured by natives while on a supposedly routine patrol, Paul realized the depth of his feelings for Evan. After being rescued, Evan found himself stalked by Paul who wouldn't take 'no' for an answer. A hesitant, "well, maybe we can try it," from Lorne was enough for Paul and they were moved in together before Evan even realized what was happening.
Cassie did general rounds in the infirmary. Carson and Matias were the most critical patients at the moment but there were a handful of more routine patients. Anyone with a simple injury that didn't need direct medical intervention was sent back to their quarters as long as the person lived with someone else - anyone who lived alone was kept at least overnight to make sure someone kept an eye on them.
In hyperspace, John ran through critical systems to make sure nothing got damaged when they were hit by those boulders. He knew Rodney and Zelenka were doing the same thing from the lab.
"Just because we didn't find anything doesn't mean there aren't any problems," Rodney cautioned.
"Yes, I know," Zelenka shot back as he continued the diagnostics. "We should have kept an extra set of hands to do this."
"I know, I know," Rodney replied. "We'll have to hope the diagnostics show us if anything is wrong."
John hated when Rodney went back to Earth without him. Going with Woolsey was marginally better than nothing, but it still didn't make him happy. Finding out - after the fact - that Star Gate Command had sent them on a mission to Langara in hopes to be able to dial the Destiny only made him unhappier.
He heard most of the story from Woolsey in the end. Rodney was having a major geek-gasm over the information he had brought back about kinos.
"They're better than MALPs since they can fly on their own and send back telemetry. Eli--" another thing John was starting to hate, "ógave me enough information so that we could look for schematics in Atlantis' mainframe. Zelenka's conducting a search for it now." He looked wistful for a moment, "Wish there was some way to bring one back with me." He went back to working on his laptop.
"Rodney.." John said.
"What?" Rodney answered absently.
"McKay!" John said firmly. He knew that would get some attention.
"What! I didn't do anything!" Rodney turned to face John.
"You went back to Earth to hire scientists and see Jeannie," John said patiently. "You're not supposed to go on missions without me." He crossed his arms and frowned.
"But, John! It was Destiny! And a nine-chevron gate address! You know I'm the foremost authority on Ancient technology. What was I supposed to do?" Rodney protested. "And if we had pulled it off, Earth would have access to an unlimited supply of naqahdria!"
John didn't let up on the frown. He stared meaningfully at Rodney.
Rodney deflated. "All right, all right. But it wasn't dangerous. Elió" John gritted his teeth, "óagreed with me that there was statistically zero chance of blowing up Langara with the algorithm I developed plugged into their gate."
"And why was it you that had to go on this mission?" John asked calmly."To the Destiny or to Langara?"
"Destiny wasn't a real trip, it was via communication stones so that was safe enough. And I had to go to Langara! It was my algorithm and if anything had to be changed at the last minute, I'm the only one that could do it?" Rodney defended himself.
"If it was so safe, why would you need to make any changes?" John prodded.
"Well," Rodney hedged, "statistically zero isn't quite the same as zero and if anything was different from the parameters I put in, then.. well, I'd have to make changes on the fly."
"'Statistically zero isn't quite the same as zero'?" John parroted patiently.
Rodney flushed, "Umm.. No?"
John sighed and moved closer, bringing Rodney up from the chair and into his arms. Rodney moved easily against John and wrapped his arms around him.
"Sorry," Rodney murmured. "It was just too good of any opportunity to miss."
"I know," John replied. "Just.. doesn't mean I have to like it."
Rodney leaned back. "And just what did you tell Colonel Young about me?" he demanded.
John was puzzled. "I don't even know the man," he said. "What did he say I said?"
"'Sheppard's right.'" Rodney quoted.
John brought Rodney in for a small kiss, "I've never met him and never talked about you to him. The only thing I can think of is that maybe he read some mission reports."
Slightly mollified, Rodney kissed him back. "That better be it!"
"You've read all those mission reports, Rodney," John pointed out. "Anyone who hasn't been out here won't appreciate you as much as I do."
"As you should," Rodney agreed with a grin.
"Come on, dinner's ready and I heard there was tormack," John said.
"Give me a minute!" Rodney returned to his laptop to shut it down . "Okay, ready."
The second break out from hyperspace was blessedly quiet. The Hammond was waiting for them.
"Everyone okay over there?" O'Neill asked.
"Pretty much," Sam replied. "Couple of broken bones and lots of bruising but we're okay."
"Good to hear," O'Neill said. "Pretty much the same thing here."
"Was that a trap do you think?" Cam Mitchell asked.
"McKay wasn't sure," O'Neill replied. "Wants to go back and see after we've settled in."
"Well, all I know is that it wasn't there ten days ago," Cam replied having done the dry run himself. "And we're only going back if we have to."
"We'll talk about it once we get Atlantis settled in," McKay said firmly. "No one's going back there until we've had a chance to look at the data."
I agree John added. Too suspicious.
"Do we think the Ynglinga know what we're doing?" Sam asked.
"Don't know," Rodney answered. "Although that was a good stopping point from that system to lots of other places in this direction. It may have been set for us or for any Traveler ship that hopped to that system."
"We did have a chance to leave a warning buoy before we left," Sam added. "In case anyone else comes through there."
"Good thinking," O'Neill said.
"Cam's idea, mostly," Sam gave credit to her husband. "We got it ready waiting for you."
"If everyone's done," Rodney broke in. "We're ready to make the next jump."
"Ready when you are," Sam replied.
"John?" Rodney asked.
"Okay, one last time," Rodney told them. "Sam, you have a go."
John watched the Hammond disappear before opening their own window.
"Okay, John," Rodney said. "Take us home."
John opened a window and flew into it.
John knew the full meaning of be careful of what you wish for when the news came back that not only their request for help would be granted but that Earth was sending SG-1 along with the Hammond and a mixed battalion with companies of Marines and Army infantry. Between the soldiers, command staff and support staff it would be close to a thousand people.
"That's more than we've ever seen here!" Rodney was enthused.
"Right," John wasn't quite so sure.
Rodney caught his mood. "John? Isn't this what we wanted?" he asked carefully.
"Yeah, well, sure. Just what we wanted," John replied.
"Okay, even I know that wasn't the response I was expecting," Rodney replied. "What's wrong?"
John hesitated. "Nah, it's okay," he temporized.
"No, you'll just be up all night worrying," Rodney was firm. "Tell me."
"Well, just, okay, they're sending General O'Neill," John said in a rush.
"SG-1," Rodney agreed. "That's right."
John sighed. This was one of those times that Rodney's not being in the military led to a gap in his understanding.
"General O'Neill," John made sure Rodney heard the emphasis.
"So?" Rodney asked.
"The General will become the highest ranking officer on Atlantis!" John steamed. "And he's bringing more officers with him!"
"Oh!" Rodney finally got it. "That's not fair! You've done all the hard work and now they swoop in and get all the glory?"
"Well, I'm not sure there's a lot of glory to be gotten but, well, yeah," John replied.
"O'Neill's not like that!" Rodney protested. "Let's see what he has to say when he gets here."
John knew that was the right approach, he knew Jack O'Neill was one of the 'good guys,' it was.. it just didnít feel fair.
Most of the troops came through the Gate and he and Lorne had their hands full getting everyone settled. Luckily, they had already cleared space that could be used for housing for most of the newest residents of the city although some of the grunts ended up four to a room. Each company had a Major in command and John assigned each of them existing Atlantis soldiers as a 'guide' - mostly to make sure no one got killed before they could get everyone through the orientation. There were several ATA positive soldiers among the new arrivals and they were actually the ones John worried about the most.
Lorne worked with Paul Davis to get things ready for the arrival of the Hammond. With the increase in the number of soldiers, John needed all the help he could get in managing all the new paperwork that deluged his office. Fortunately, between Lorne and Davis, they managed the majority of it for him.
O'Neill made the trip with the rest of SG-1 on the Hammond. The delay only made John fret more, the only redeeming fact being that the new recruits kept him so busy that he couldn't dwell - too much - on what might happen.
O'Neill and Daniel Jackson beamed down together to the Gate room, ahead of schedule.
"General in the room!" Chuck called, standing at attention. Everyone stopped and saluted.
"Okay, you've done this once, that's enough," O'Neill casually returned the salute. "Go on with whatever you were doing."
John tried not to run but hurried to the Gate room as O'Neill and Jackson were looking around. John could see Daniel babbling cheerfully in O'Neill's ear and that O'Neill was only taking in one word in ten. Then John remembered that O'Neill's ATA gene was supposed to be as powerful as his.
"General," John got his attention. "Focus on something. Pay attention to what Daniel's saying and not just his voice. It'll help you sort out the input youíre getting from the city."
O'Neill shook his head and looked at John. "Thanks," he said. "It was becoming overwhelming."
"Yeah, she can get that way," John agreed. "It becomes easier once you've been here for a while." He turned to Daniel. "You need to pay attention to the General. It's easy for ATA positives like the General to become overwhelmed by the.. 'impressions' is the best word I have, from all the workings that now surround you."
Daniel looked surprised. "'Impressions'?" he asked.
John shrugged. "It's the best I have," he admitted. "Some of what he'll be picking up is the transmissions between all the active electronics that run the city. It's what lets him do things like turn on a shower by thinking about it or..."
"I can do that? Cool!" O'Neill put in with a smile.
"It's in the welcome packet," John explained. When O'Neill made a face at that, John wanted to laugh. "You'll be fine, just don't wish too hard for something. McKay gets annoyed when I turn on things that aren't supposed to be turned on."
Woolsey came up at that point. "Welcome, General O'Neill," he enthused. He reached out and they shook hands.
"Got a couple of things I think we need to do first," O'Neill said. "Where can we talk?"
"My office is just over here," Woolsey pointed. "We can talk there."
"Daniel, get things settled?" O'Neill said, putting a hand on Daniel's shoulder. "I shouldn't be too long."
Daniel nodded. "Not a problem."
John watched with trepidation as they walked off, then O'Neill turned and said, "Come on, Sheppard. This involves you, too."
"Don't know if that's a good thing or not," he admitted before he could stop himself.
"Some good, some bad," O'Neill admitted. "Comes with the job."
"Yeah," John agreed.
Woolsey sat behind his desk and O'Neill settled in one of the guest chairs. John sat gingerly, not sure what was going to happen.
"Okay," O'Neill started. "Sheppard here is smart enough to know to ask for help and now is wondering if he's done himself out of a job."
"I can always find something to do.." John started.
"Ah! Not done yet!" O'Neill admonished gently.
"Sorry," John sat back a bit in the chair. He tried not to fidget.
"Now, as I was saying, Sheppard's done a good job in the face of what he's been given to work with," O'Neill said seriously. "You-all have dealt with the Wraith and Replicators with minimal resources from Earth. Now that I can do something about that, figured you were due."
"McKay would appreciate more of the good coffee," John put in with a small grin.
"Oh god, we'll have both him and Daniel whining about coffee," O'Neill rolled his eyes with a small grin. "Relax, I had Sam put a couple of cases with his name on it on the Hammond."
"I know he'll appreciate that, sir," John agreed.
"Now that we've made the geeks happy, it's your turn," O'Neill said. "Mr. Woolsey, if you don't mind? There's a bit of Air Force business you can help me with."
John could see that Woolsey was as mystified as he was.
"Certainly," Woolsey answered.
"Up," O'Neill said as he stood himself.
John stood in front of his chair as O'Neill took a step closer. "There's more that goes with this," he said, reaching for John's collar. He unclipped John's insignia and handed them to Woolsey. He reached into his pocket and brought out a small box. John held his breath. "From a country that hasn't been quite as grateful as I suspect it should have been, the least I could do was make sure you keep this job that you've more than earned." He clipped on the eagles of a full Colonel.
"I.." John swallowed. "Thank you."
"No, thank you," O'Neill said softly. "Now. This is your base and I donít want to get in the way. Officially, I'm now in charge all of Pegasus. You're in charge of Atlantis and the Hammond is a separate entity so that Carter and Mitchell aren't in your chain of command."
"Fair enough," John answered. It was more than he had hoped for. "There's certainly enough to do."
O'Neill looked over John's shoulder to the corridor. "Good! Daniel's gathered the troops!"
John turned to see his team standing in the hall, grinning at him.
"Go on," O'Neill encouraged. "I have some IOA business that I suspect you don't want to know anything about."
"Nope," John answered, glad to let O'Neill and Woolsey sort that out between them. "Thank you again."
John went out and was engulfed by a group hug from his team. Ronon's arms reached around all of them.
"Oof!" Rodney complained. "Hey, be careful!" But he was smiling as he said it.
The last breakout from hyperspace was uneventful. John stretched the city's sensors through the solar system in front of them and found nothing unusual.
Clear he reported to Rodney and Zelenka.
He heard the "Clear" also come from the Hammond.
"Looks like we're all set," he could hear the smile in Rodney's voice. "John, take us in slowly."
Okay John replied.
He nudged the city forward into the solar system they had selected, the Hammond moving slightly away to come in from another angle.
John watched as Zelenka set loose a satellite they wanted out this far to provide some long range telemetry. They could have set it up later with a Jumper or the Hammond but figured it was worth doing while they were out there.
"Looking good," Rodney's report came to him.
Everything looks good John reported.
"When you get to the planet, remember to wait," Rodney said. "We want some telemetry first."
Yes, mom. I'll take a sweater, too! John teased. He could 'hear' Rodney rolling his eyes and figured Zelenka was hiding his grin.
Sam broke in from the Hammond, "Looking good from here. No surprises."
"We can use a break," Rodney muttered.
Amen John agreed with him. He could see heads nodding all around him.
John could see Rodney and Zelenka and the rest of the science crew running their tests and confirming the data was collected properly. Everyone else was starting to move to their 'splashdown' station. Cassie and Rodney both had insisted that everyone needed to be strapped in to something stationary when the city landed.
He focused on the trajectory to the planet, keeping the speed to a slow, steady pace. He could see the faint gravitational pull of the other planets in the system on the city sensors but nothing strong enough to affect their forward movement. It took the city about an hour to traverse the distance to the planet.
John turned the thrusters to stop their forward momentum and moved the city as close to a Lagrange point as he could. Holding steady John reported.
"Good," Rodney answered absently. John could see the data flowing in from the sensors within the city and the ones they had planted on the planet after the initial scouting trip. Everything looked good to him and the city systems backed that impression up.
They hung in place for another hour while Rodney and his team gathered the data they wanted. Zelenka set loose four more, smaller, satellites that would help them set up a global communication system.
"Ready when you are," Rodney finally let him know.
You sure? John asked. </i>Won't have this chance for quite a while.</i>
"Yes, I'm sure," Rodney shot back. "And take her in slow."
Yes, Rodney John answered patiently.
John tuned out everything that wasn't relevant to setting the city down on the planet. This was always the trickiest part, getting the city through the upper atmosphere, fighting gravity and not losing something critical in the process.
"On course," he heard Rodney murmur.
Slower John said to himself and the city as he fought the controls. This needed to be a controlled re-entry. He could feel the pull of the planet and the thrusters came on to slow the decent.
"Too steep!" Rodney said suddenly. "You're moving off course, John."
Working on it! John sent back, gritting his teeth. He pushed the controls as far as he could to get back on the trajectory he wanted and to slow down even further.
"Fuck!" Rodney said. "We just lost a set of thrusters!"
"Compensating," Zelenka put in. John could see the changes flowing through the system.
"Still too steep!" Rodney called.
Nothing we can do now John replied, setting off the alarm that would alert everyone else of a possible crash landing.
"Hold on!" Zelenka called.
John fought the landing every inch of the way. It was still too steep but it was at least heading in the right direction. He was glad they had picked the middle of the largest ocean for the initial landing, to give them leeway in placement once they were settled.
Impact in.. five.. four.. three.. two.. one.. NOW John sent over the speakers. He felt the impact and knew that the city partially submerged before bobbing somewhat unsteadily to the surface.
John waited for the city to settle on the surface before putting out the stabilizers. They'd stay in one place for a bit while they scouted more and made sure everything that was disrupted by the flight was put back in place.
"Secure!" Rodney came over the radio.
Secure John agreed.
"Okay, flyboy, you can shut the chair down," Rodney said gently.
Cassie was by his side in an instant. She watched as John powered down the chair and it rose to the upright position.
"Easy," she cautioned, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Sit up for a moment before you try anything more."
Even just sitting up made John slightly dizzy but he was also missing all the data inputs that had been coming in. It was suddenly quiet in his head and he closed his eyes for a moment to adjust.
"Okay?" Cassie asked.
"Think so," John replied. He stood up and stayed in place while Cassie hovered.
"Nothing strenuous until you've eaten and had some sleep," she warned. "Otherwise I'd have you in the infirmary where I can keep an eye on you."
"Food and sleep," John parroted. "I can do that." He yawned. "Okay if I sleep first? We have MREs in our room and I can have one of those."
"Make sure that you do," she said seriously.
John cautiously wandered the corridors on the way back to their room, looking to see if anything had been disturbed. He got back to the room without seeing anything major.
He stripped, took a hot shower and sat on the bed while a MRE heated. He ate absently, mostly because he knew Cassie would check on him at some point and give him hell if he didn't eat. Knowing Rodney wouldn't be back for hours yet. John crawled under the covers and fell instantly asleep.
John's bladder woke him and he found Rodney wrapped around him. Loathe to leave the warmth, John snuggled back a bit and Rodney's arms reflexively tightened around him. But the bladder was persistent and John finally eased out and padded to the bathroom. When he came back, he saw Rodney's eyes open.
"Everything okay?" John asked, knowing Rodney wouldn't have come to bed if it wasn't.
"Gate's back on the network," Rodney murmured. "Nothing major broke. We're okay."
John got back into bed and wormed his way back into Rodney's arms. "Go to sleep, then."
When they did get up, they found Woolsey had called a staff meeting for later in the afternoon. John figured that meant there were no crises since someone would have called earlier.
With the Gate back on the network, the staff they had sent out to various planets were able to come back. The cafeteria was up and running with basic food and a hot meal was promised for later in the day. Fortified with sandwiches and coffee, John and Rodney checked into their offices and met again at the staff meeting.
Woolsey opened the meeting. "Now that we seem to be settled, we have a lot of work to do. Let's get started..."
This could have been epic which almost threw me off. This story by no means does justice to the image I was given to work with and hope I have given some idea of the scope of the story behind it. I also didn't do justice to the wonderful pairings that were here.
From the artist: The war against the wraith is almost ended, a new enemy comes and wants to annihilate the humanity. The SGC sends his best members to help the Lanteans in a huge fight. In my mind they fight with courage and honor, making love with desperation and fear, there's a happy end and of course no DADT.
For their lovers,
families and friends
they fight with courage
They are with their teams
the last defense of the humanity
against their enemies
and the unknown