- Evil Author Day
- Rough Draft
- Character Bashing
- No Beta
- Violence - Canon-Level
- Alternate Universe
- Challenge Response
The atmosphere was tense in the extreme. Military Commander Colonel John Sheppard was resolute and unsmiling as the head of the expedition, Dr. Elizabeth Weir, sighed.
‘Colonel, this is a civilian expedition and I’m not going to allow civilians to learn to shoot, let alone carry guns when they go off world. What sort of image would that give to our trading partners when we arrive loaded with weapons, to say nothing of occupants of the new planets we visit?’
‘The scientists themselves have requested weapons training to enable them to—‘ he began before being interrupted by Kavanagh, the Chief Scientific Officer.
‘I support Dr. Weir unconditionally. Scientists should not be going off world if there is any danger to them. Indeed I don’t think scientists should be going off world at all,’ he finished primly, and John ached to wipe the smug smile from his face.
‘And how do you think we should investigate or even discover new technology without a scientist on a team?’ he asked tiredly, having already gone around this argument several times already.
‘There is more than enough to discover on the city alone without having to go off world,’ said Kavanagh in his superior manner which grated on John’s every nerve. ‘The danger from the Wraith discovering Atlantis is present each time we go through the stargate.’
John stared at him. ‘The Wraith know exactly where Atlantis is already. Our going out into the galaxy isn’t going to change that for a moment, in fact there are probably Wraith out there who actually participated in the siege that forced the Ancients to retreat to Earth.’
‘I find that highly unlikely,’ Kavanagh said in his usual superior tone.
‘Unlikely?’ John gaped at him. ‘Carson’s already told us they can probably live for thousands of years. It’s highly likely.’
‘Be that as it may,’ Weir said dismissively, ‘I’m ending all off world activity for the foreseeable future.’
Kavanagh smiled triumphantly. ‘Thank you, Dr. Weir. I’m sure that all the scientists will sleep much sounder knowing they won’t be forced to go off world, and that you have their well being at the front of your mind.’
‘You are welcome, Dr. Kavanagh,’ replied Weir graciously.
‘But what about the alliances we’ve already set up and the agreements we’ve made with worlds for food supplies?’ asked John. ‘These people are relying on us to help them and protect them against the Wraith—’
‘Who one of your soldiers woke up,’ interrupted Kavanagh.
John narrowed his eyes. ‘That was an accident as you well know. Colonel Sumner was doing what any other soldier on this base would have done and he—‘
‘Murdered one of his own men and put the whole galaxy in mortal peril as well as endangering this expedition. It’s just a shame the man won’t stand trial for his actions when we reconnect with Earth,’ Kavanagh finished with a smirk. John opened his mouth to defend his late commander and friend but Weir spoke first.
‘It’s no use arguing, Colonel Sheppard. I’ve made my decision and it’s final. We will manage for food with the supplies we have and what the Athosians on the mainland can provide. We may have to ration ourselves, but it’s much safer for everyone if we all remain on Atlantis until we are able to contact Earth.’
‘And how are we going to be able to find a ZPM to contact Earth if we can’t go off world?’ John asked.
‘We have a city the size of Manhattan to search. I’m sure we’ll come across the ZPMs or even the information on how to create one ourselves,’ Weir replied.
‘And in the meantime I shall continue with my work on recharging the empty ZPMs we have.’ Kavanagh spoke in the nasal whine that John hated so much. ‘I believe I’m almost at a testing stage, if only the people on my team would pull their weight.’
John raised an eyebrow at his comment. ‘I’d like to record the fact that I disagree with this decision,’ he said firmly. ‘We need our off world alliances to supply us with food and we have a moral duty to offer what support we can to the people of this galaxy who have suffered under the Wraith for thousands of years as a result of what our ancestors did or indeed failed to do.’
Kavanagh’s lip curled. ‘Your ancestors certainly. I’m happy to say I don’t have a single strand of Ancient DNA in me. I’m a pure human, not tainted like some.’
‘The Ancients were a noble race of people, Peter,’ Weir told him reverently. ‘I’m extremely interested in their work on ascension in particular, but I have to agree that some of their experiments had some unfortunate results.’
‘Unfortunate!’ John exclaimed. ‘They created a race of creatures who eat people!’
Weir held up her hand. ‘We’ve gone over this argument many times and you know I won’t agree with you. I think we have spent enough time on this little problem. You are dismissed, Colonel.’
John rose to his feet, stood to attention and stared straight into Weir’s eyes as he saluted, about turned and left the meeting room. As he emerged from the room several pairs of eyes turned to him questioningly. It was no secret that John and Marshall Sumner had gone up against Weir time and again in their efforts to serve and protect the expedition.
Weir rarely left her office or the adjoining meeting room these days. In the beginning she was as excited as everyone else at actually living in the fabled city of the Ancients, but the sheer number of problems and crises the expedition had experienced made her withdraw more and more into her own company and studies. She barely spoke to anyone other than Kavanagh now, preferring to have her meals delivered to either her office or her rooms and this had unnerved the rest of the expedition members. It was hardly surprising, therefore, that Marshall and John became the go-to-guys for everyone and in doing so became the intermediaries for the entire expedition – bar the new head scientist.
Radek Zelenka, head of the engineering department, came to meet John who was making his way back to his own office.
‘I take from your face that you have bad news.’
‘You could say that,’ John replied wryly. ‘She’s banned all off world activity.’
Radek stared. ‘All off world activity? What about food supply? And the arrangements we have made for repairing the generators on PX4 934?’
‘All off world activity. We’re going to live off our supplies and anything the Athosians can spare us. We’d better make a new rule about hoarding because it won’t be long until we start to run out of a number of supplies.’
‘We have already run out of coffee. Is good Rodney McKay did not join expedition as he is unable to work without coffee.’
It was always a sure sign that Radek was getting either excited or agitated when his English slipped into a shorthand form, John thought to himself. He put his hand on Radek’s shoulder in an attempt to comfort him.
‘Rodney McKay? Where have I heard that name before?’
‘He was approached for Head Scientist but had just engaged himself to Samantha Carter when expedition being formed. When she refuse to leave Earth he decide to stay with her. Peter was appointed instead although that caused own problems as he was English and not American. Same reason I am not appointed head scientist. Although America is my home for long time, still they see me as foreign and therefore not trustworthy.’
‘No, Radek!’ John protested as he thought open the door to his office. ‘I’m sure—’
‘Is fact,’ Radek said simply. ‘For many years I dreamed of living in America, very certain that there I would be treated as educated man I know I am. After short time living there, I realise I am still mistrusted and feared as I was in my own Praha. No matter that I dedicate my life to helping America. Always will I be foreigner to them.’ He shrugged his shoulders. ‘Atlantis, America, always a foreigner. But still I prefer to life in Praha where fear was on each corner.’ He dropped down in the chair before John’s desk. ‘What else did dreadful duo say?’
‘Kavanagh bitched about the scientists not pulling their weight on his project to recharge a ZPM.’ John sat back and waited for the fireworks.
‘What! That čurák…’ Radek swore fluently. ‘We each work twelve hours to his one! Grodin began research and Kavanagh no further has made progress since he kill poor Peter! And Weir? Cěcěk only translate ascension entries from database not anything for ZPM!’
‘I have no idea what you’ve just called them both but Sumner and I asked on numerous occasions for her to concentrate on the information on Ancient technology, particularly the ZPM stuff. She always said she was too busy. Is that what she’s been doing? Only working on the ascension crap?’ John slapped his desk in anger. ‘That fucking bitch! There might have been something in there that would have told us what the machine that killed Peter Grodin actually did. She told me there wasn’t anything in the database about it but she’s probably never even looked!’
‘Then she as well as Kavanagh is responsible for death of Peter.’ Radek took a deep breath and visibly tried to calm himself. ‘Kavanagh, since he refused to listen to Peter to not turn on machine and Weir for lying to everyone.’
‘Kavanagh said Sumner should have stood trial on Earth for waking the Wraith,’ John said, trying desperately to keep his anger in check. ‘Weir definitely should be held responsible for being an accessory to Grodin’s death.’
‘And Kavanagh too,’ Radek said quietly. ‘He made sure he was as far away from the machine as possible so he must have had some idea what it did. Two other scientists were killed along with Peter and Dr. West lost three fingers on left hand. Kavanagh had not even a scratch.’
They both sat in brooding silence for a while then Radek stood up.
‘I must return to labs and see what monkeys have been doing. Good day, John. I will see you no doubt at dinner.’
‘Bye, Radek.’ John smiled at the messy haired Czech he had come to know and admire. Radek hated to go off world, but his engineering skills were a valuable trade item and he had helped no small number of communities in Pegasus by his willingness to mend broken generators and water systems in exchange for food supplies.
John rested his head in his hands for a moment as he thought desperately for ways to keep the people of the expedition both well fed and safe from the machinations from the demented duo.
It was a nightmare. Trying to eke out the food until they were able to contact Earth or an Earth ship appeared – literally out of the blue – was not what all his years of combat training had prepared John for. Ten months ago he’d been happily running his own missions fighting the Taliban with no interference from anyone other than an occasional pat on the shoulder from a General who happened to be visiting Afghanistan and who wanted to meet the one man army also known as Colonel John Sheppard.
Now? Now he was interviewing cooks and discussing how a month’s supply of food could be stretched to… Well. That was the point. Weir wanted them to live off stores and whatever the Athosians could provide for them but with no end date in mind. And she’d blithely passed the whole mess over to John since ’the kitchen staff are your people after all’. None of them had any idea if the food needed to last five days or five months and while the kitchen staff were as helpful as they could be, they really weren’t trained to produce meals from fresh air.
I’m not sure even a fucking house-elf could manage this! he thought to himself, then wondered when the next Harry Potter book would be released. If I’m still stuck out here when book five comes out, I’m gonna kick O’Neill’s ass!
As he sat with his head in his hands for possibly the fifth time in five minutes there was a knock on his open office door and Lieutenant Aiden Ford appeared.
‘Sir. I heard from Sergeant Smith that you were struggling with the food supplies and I sort of had an idea.’
‘Sit down and talk, Ford. If you’ve an idea that might help feed us all you’re likely to have a statue erected from a grateful populace,’ John told him, stretching back in his chair, stiff from several hours of pouring over supply and duty lists.
‘Well, you know my grandparents brought me up, sir?’ John nodded and motioned for the young officer to continue. ‘Well, they were both retired when I went to live with them and having a young boy to look after at their age was difficult. We didn’t have much money, or much of anything to be honest, but Grandpa loved to fish and he taught me and I thought maybe…’ Ford ran down as he gave a hopeful look at John.
One of the many problems he’d discovered after the expedition had arrived on the city had been the lack of an officer cadre. Weir had been insistent that she wanted the very minimum of a military presence on her expedition and the International Oversight Advisory had supported her in this. It had meant that only 51 marines stepped through the Stargate to Atlantis, and that was one more than she’d originally intended, although she had made a gracious exception for the extra one, wanting John and his extra super strong ATA gene to go with them .
It had meant, however, that they had only three officers – two Colonels and one very new 2nd Lieutenant – to cover all the tasks involved with the running of and defence of a city the size of Manhattan – and that was after John had been pulled from his original task of wrangling the scientists. What Marshall Sumner would have done without John there to fall back on was anyone’s guess and John had puzzled over the lack of officers brought on the expedition. Sumner had outright refused to discuss the matter with John, reinforcing the latter’s own opinion that there was a significant reason for it to which he wasn’t party.
While Sumner and John wrestled with duty lists and security, Weir made unrealistic demands for teams of Marines to accompany the scientists with the exploration of Atlantis herself. Both colonels had argued in vain, both separately and together, that they simply didn’t have enough men to accompany a large number of scientists eager to explore the city, and both had privately questioned her sanity, or at least her intelligence, when she insisted that 38 marines – given that eleven ran the kitchen and domestic operations – was sufficient to provide general and Control room security, go off-world, and supply escort to the twelve exploration teams of scientists, as well as managing to eat and sleep themselves.
Poor Ford had struggled not to sink in the chaos that the expedition descended into after arriving in a submerged city with failing power supplies. Usually, a 2nd Lieutenant could expect a fair amount of guidance and mentoring from senior officers after their graduation from Officer Candidate School but given the manic pace of life on Atlantis, Ford stood little chance of having any training from Marshall and John and had had to depend largely on the Sergeants for instruction on how to do pretty much anything not covered by OCS.
Having Ford now come to him with a helpful suggestion made John immensely pleased since it showed not only outside of the box thinking, but also that Ford hadn’t been completely demoralised by his lack of command time with his senior officers.
‘Ford, if you can fish or possibly even teach other folk to fish as well, I shall be extremely grateful,’ John told him with possibly the first smile he’d had for a number of days. ‘We don’t have any equipment that I know of, but I’m sure the geeks will be able to come up with something if you speak nicely to them. Just don’t tell—‘
‘Kavanagh. No, sir. I’ll speak to Dr. Zelenka. I’m pretty sure he’ll help me. Should I ask around for anyone who can fish or wants to learn?’
‘Mmmm,’ John agreed thoughtfully, but it was clear his attention wasn’t on what his Lieutenant was saying as he gazed at the wall opposite his desk as though it was the most interesting thing he’d ever seen.
‘Er, should I go, sir?’
John broke out of his reverie. ‘What? No. Stay where you are, Ford. You’ve given me an idea. Just let me think for a moment.’
A few minutes later, just when Ford was beginning to shuffle restlessly, John’s face split into a wide grin. ‘Ford? You’re a genius.’
‘Oh, you most definitely are,’ John assured him, still grinning. ‘We need to get Stackhouse and Markham in here and Bates as well. Get them while I make some notes will you?’
While Ford clicked on his radio to call the men who formed John’s command team, John himself scribbled down the thoughts he’d just had, reminding himself that scribbling on paper would shortly become a thing of the past. He still found it clarifying to hand-write his notes even if he later transferred them to his laptop. There was something about holding a pen and the scrape of the nib on paper…
By the time the other marines had joined them John was ready to spill his new idea, and as he explained what he wanted and how Ford’s idea for fishing had prompted it, grins appeared on the faces of the other men in his office.
It was quite simple really. Faced with not only dwindling food supplies, but the prospect of having thirty odd marines with nothing to do except guard the city and the scientists, John had wondered who would have the first case of cabin fever – and he’d expected it would be himself.
‘I thought we could create a number of hobby clubs, things for everyone to participate in or maybe to learn a new skill, like Ford’s fishing idea. We’ll need to get rods and nets made and while I’m sure some of the scientists could help, we might have folk who’d rather learn how to make the equipment themselves. And then I thought that we could expand that to anything anyone might like to learn, woodwork, metal work, or a new language maybe. I’m pretty sure Corporal du Pres would be willing to offer French lessons to anyone interested, but maybe the linguists would be interested in forming a language group themselves.’
The three Sergeants nodded enthusiastically.
‘I’m pretty sure Dr. Beckett would offer First Aid classes,’ Markham offered. ‘Especially as it would only expand the number of people trained to help the next time something fucked up happens,’ he finished wryly, and they all nodded in agreement.
‘I used to be pretty good at tanning leather,’ Stackhouse said. ‘My uncle was a Tanner and he taught me over several holidays when I was young. Of course, we’d need to have the skins to start with but—‘
‘It’d be easy enough to arrange hunting parties,’ Ford cut in. ‘Chuck Campbell is a Mountie and they’re supposed to be great trackers.’
‘You just watched too much ‘Due South’, Lieutenant,’ Stackhouse told him with a fond smile, and John could see how the three senior Sergeants had taken Ford under their wing and that they also viewed him – as he did himself – as a surrogate baby brother.
‘I probably did,’ Ford admitted. ‘It was my Gran’s favourite show although I’m not sure if it was Diefenbaker or Benton Fraser she preferred.’
They all laughed and John thought it was probably the first time they’d had anything to laugh about in quite a while. He wasn’t the only one chafing under the restrictions Weir had initiated and enforced and he hoped this new plan would be a relief to everyone on the city.
‘Hunting would obviously provide meat as well as skins, which would please Phil Smith.’ Bates spoke for the first time.
‘And pleasing Phil Smith makes for a happy Dean Bates,’ Markham said slyly, and John looked up from his notes.
‘Anything I need to know about, Sergeant?’ he asked.
‘She’s not in my chain of command, sir,’ Bates replied quickly. ‘And it’s not just a casual fling, at least not on my part.’
‘Dean, I’m not complaining,’ John assured him, but levelled his eyes at Bates. ‘If having you in her…life,’ – and here the others laughed – ‘makes Philippa Smith happy and content, we all win. Just don’t hurt her. We’re too isolated and too small of a community to cope with two of the NCO’s having a big break up or even just a lover’s tiff. And if I get a weeping female in my office over something you’ve done or not done, I’m gonna kick your ass then let her have a go.’
‘Yes, sir, but I doubt that will happen. I’m… I think she’s it for me,’ he finished with a small smile.
John nodded, then turned back to the other Sergeants. ‘Right, first thing we need is a list of any and all skills the marines may have that they’d be willing to teach or guide others in. Stacks, can you take care of that?’
Stackhouse nodded, busily making notes on his small data-pad the SGC had issued to all personnel before they left Earth. They’d been specially created for use in the field where a notepad and pen were often not practical, although John still preferred to use the old fashioned methods in his office – for as long as supplies lasted.
Markham was gazing out of the window unseeingly and John smiled to himself. It looked as though he might have realised just how useful the clubs might be.
‘Sir,’ he began, and John smiled at him. ‘What if…’ He broke off. ‘You already know what I’m going to suggest don’t you, sir?’
John nodded. ‘I think I do, but I’m glad you thought of it too. It means it’s a workable solution and not just a crazy idea I might have had.’
‘Will one of you share with the rest of the class?’ demanded Stackhouse in exasperation at the grins John and Jason Markham were sharing. ‘And, sir? With all due respect, don’t smile at my boyfriend like that!’
The three sergeants and John burst into laughter, although Ford looked a little panicked.
‘Calm down, Ford. You’ve been with the SGC longer than I have and even I know DADT isn’t enforced there.’
‘It’s not,’ agreed Bates, ‘but it’s not usual for someone to out themselves quite so drastically. And what’s got the Colonel making gooey eyes at Jason for anyway?’
‘Shall I tell them, sir?’ Markham asked, and John nodded.
‘If we form a number of clubs to share knowledge and experience and persuade the geeks to join in and help us out, we can offer training in things they might want to learn from us, like tanning leather maybe or—‘
‘Using a weapon, or self defence,’ Ford finished for him. ‘That’s a brilliant idea, and Dr. Weir can’t possibly complain if it’s a hobbies club and they’re passing on their skills to us as well.’
‘Well, she might try,’ John pointed out. ‘But, as you say, if it’s within the confines of a club, it’s not weapons training per se.’
‘And Teyla might offer them lessons in fighting with those sticks you both use,’ Ford went on. ‘And I can teach them fishing, as soon as we get some rods made.’
‘We can get the scientists to make a list of what skills they’re prepared to pass on,’ Stackhouse said, making more notes on his data-pad. ‘Although we’ll have to limit the number of craft clubs we have or Weir’ll complain about us using her precious resources. We can get wood from the mainland though and Teyla will be able to advise us on what other materials are available on Lantea. We might even be able to ask the Athosians to keep a look out while they’re off-world for anything we might need that we can’t get here.’
A look of concern flashed across John’s face at Stackhouse’s comment. ‘If they’re still allowed to use the Stargate,’ he said, grimly. ‘Dr. Weir may decide not to allow any gate traffic at all.’
‘But, then we’d pretty much be keeping the Athosians prisoners on the mainland,’ Markham frowned. ‘Teyla’s not going to be happy about that.’
It only took a couple of days before Weir’s new regulations concerning the Stargate began to affect the Athosians. Bohdan and Kevork, two Athosian traders used to coming and going through the Stargate as they pleased, had radioed requesting transport from the mainland to the city in order to trade off-world. When the call came in to Chuck, he called John over his radio and passed on the request as he had many times before. This time though, as he bid a cheerful ‘see you soon’ to Bohdan, Elizabeth Weir appeared at his side making him jump a little, so unused as he was to seeing her outside of her office in recent weeks.
‘What was the request you put through to Colonel Sheppard?’ she demanded.
‘Um, a couple of the Athosians want transport from the mainland,’ Chuck replied a little nervous at the close proximity of the expedition leader.
‘Why do they want transport?’
‘It was Bohdan and Kevork, two of the traders,’ he replied, frowning slightly at her aggressive tone. ‘They’re going on a trading mission.’
‘Why did you call Sheppard instead of me?’
Chuck began to get a little uneasy at her intense questioning. ‘To arrange for a pilot to take a Jumper and collect them,’ he told her, leaning back a little, away from her.
‘You should have asked me before you requested a pilot,’ she told him, an angry frown etched on her face. ‘All such requests come to me.’
‘Is that a new regulation, ma’am?’
‘Don’t you dare question my authority. I make the rules, you just do as I tell you!’
‘I’m afraid he can’t do that, Dr. Weir,’ a new voice said and Colonel Sheppard strode up the steps to the control deck. ‘Sergeant Campbell is under my command and he takes his orders from me.’
‘I’m the Leader of the Expedition and everyone on this city answers to me,’ she told him, her voice pitched a few tones higher than usual.
‘With due respect, ma’am, my men answer to me,’ John told her. ‘You’re not in the chain of command with regards to the military assets on Atlantis. It’s quite clear in the Expedition Charter.’
And wasn’t he grateful to Radek for providing him with a hard copy of the Expedition Charter. He’d not had time to read it before they left Earth but had assumed Sumner knew everything he needed to and would advise him accordingly, and that was on him because he had no idea just how many times he’d been told to ‘never assume’. After Marshall’s death he’d taken a look at the charter on the city server to see just what his position was and he’d noticed that sections of it looked… wrong, as though someone had edited it and not terribly well. He’d discussed this with Radek over one of their chess matches and Radek had frowned and sworn quite extensively in Czech. The following morning he discovered a hard copy of the charter had been left on his desk and it made very interesting reading.
The parts which had been altered mostly concerned the chain of command, inserting Weir as having authority over the whole expedition instead of just the civilian side. In reality the Military commander was second in command of the Expedition, but this had been changed on the server to make the Chief Scientific Officer the second in command with the head of the military subordinate to them both. The original also made it clear that in the event of a hostile situation, or credible threat to the mission, the military leader was to assume command of the expedition, in effect to impose martial law, and this had been removed entirely from the copy on the server.
John believed that Marshall hadn’t known of that clause otherwise the whole expedition would have come under military control the moment they discovered the Wraith were still active in the Pegasus Galaxy. This made him wonder when the copy of the charter on the server had been changed since it was only after the death of Peter Grodin that the working relationship between Weir and Sumner, and thus with John himself, had broken down completely.
For now, though, it was enough that Weir knew he’d managed to get his hands on a copy of the original charter which included the initials of General O’Neill on each page; something the copy on the server didn’t have.
Weir was now glaring at him, shaking with rage. ‘The charter is clear that I am the leader of the expedition and that everyone in the expedition falls under my control, with no exception.’
Her eyes dared him to argue with her and John realised that this was the pivotal moment in their relationship. If he gave her even an inch, she would take several miles and he could wave goodbye to retaining any authority whatsoever, so he took a deep breath and prayed to the Gods he knew didn’t exist.
‘No, ma’am, it doesn’t. I have a copy of the charter here,’ and he pulled out the rolled up sheaf of papers from inside his jacket and held them out to her. ‘It states quite categorically that the Military Commander has authority over all the uniformed personnel at all times. If you wish to make a request of anyone under my command, the request must be made to me, and I – and I alone – will decide whether or not to agree to it. You have no authority over my people at all, and it has to be that way. You’re a civilian and the only civilian with the power to override my command is the President himself. The charter is very clear on this.’
The papers were snatched out of his hands and she barely gave them a look before she tossed them onto the floor.
‘This is an old copy of the charter. I have no idea where you got it from, but it was subsequently altered to give me ultimate authority.’ She gave him a nasty smile. ‘I’m very sorry, Colonel Sheppard, but you have no authority on the city at all.’
‘I take it you’re referring to the edited copy of the charter on the server?’ John said, leaning casually against Chuck’s work station. ‘The one which doesn’t have General O’Neill’s signature on it? It’s invalid without his signature and initials on each page.’
‘He didn’t have time to sign and initial it properly before we left,’ she told him, and it was clear she was now grasping at any straw she could think of. ‘He did sign it, but the page with his signature probably didn’t get scanned. I have the original in my office somewhere.’
John smirked, knowing how much it annoyed her. This discussion by rights, should have taken place in Weir’s office, but John was quite content to have it on the control deck where he had witnesses to the crap she was coming out with in an attempt to persuade him to cede power to her.
‘If General O’Neill didn’t sign the charter you’re referring to, it isn’t valid, no matter how much you want it to be. Only the presence of the signature of the Head of the SGC and his initials on each page make the document legal. If the document on the server doesn’t have both his signature and his initials, it isn’t valid.’ He paused a moment, took the document Chuck was holding out and glanced at it. ‘This is a hard copy of the charter on the server, and you’ll see it has today’s Earth date on it. There are no initials on any of the pages, even if you manage miraculously to ‘discover’ his signature on your hard copy of this.’
She flushed a colour of red which clashed horribly with the ginger tints in her hair, and John wondered idly how many bottles of the stuff she’d managed to bring with her. ‘Are you accusing me of deception?’
‘Not at all,’ John replied smoothly and turned to Ford who had appeared at his side shortly after his ‘discussion’ with Weir had begun. ‘Lieutenant, did you hear me accuse Dr. Weir of deception?’
‘No, sir, I didn’t,’ the young man replied, his back ramrod straight. ‘I think Dr. Weir must be mistaken.’
Weir turned and stalked back into her office stamping on the copy of the original Charter – which still lay scattered over the floor – on her way. Ford bent to collect the sheets together and handed them to John.
‘Thanks, Ford,’ John said. ‘I’ll keep this with the date marked amended charter and I’ll show you where I’ll put them. It’ll prevent any problems arising in the future.’
He nodded his thanks to Chuck and had just turned to the steps to the Gate Room floor when his radio clicked.
‘Colonel? Dr. Weir has ordered me not to collect Bohdan and Kevork from the mainland as they requested.’
‘Belay that instruction Markham and go and collect them,’ John ordered, a frown settling on his face.
‘Yes, sir. Markham out.’
John spun round and looked towards Weir’s office. She was watching him with a self-satisfied smirk on her face, and he sighed.
‘Ford, with me!’ he ordered and walked towards her office, realising that she’d locked her door to try and keep him out. She was clearly not reading the reports coming out of Engineering since just last week Miko Kusanagi had submitted a report concerning the development of the AI on Atlantis and while it wasn’t a sentient AI as such, it was certainly a learning AI in terms of its responses to the ATA gene carriers. In their time on the City it had begun to respond faster and now anticipated mental commands from gene carriers and especially commands from John, the strongest gene carrier on the City. It was no trouble at all for him to override the lock on Weir’s office door without breaking pace, and the door itself stayed open after he’d entered the room, allowing all on the control deck to hear their conversation.
‘Please don’t try to usurp my authority with my men, Dr. Weir. They won’t obey you without reference to me if it countermands an instruction I have given, or if it goes against the UCMJ. You’ll only embarrass yourself if you persist in this.’
‘It’s no use you telling someone to fetch those Athosians from the mainland. I’m not letting them through the Stargate,’ she told him defiantly.
John sighed again. He’d half expected this. ‘Then that’s a conversation you need to have with them and with Teyla, not with me.’
‘You brought them to the city, they’re your responsibility!’
‘You granted them leave to remain on Lantea and promised them access to the Stargate when they went to live on the mainland,’ he told her tiredly.
‘Well, I’ve changed my mind!’ She folded her arms and turned her back on him.
John frowned at her in astonishment at such childish behaviour but was saved from responding by the arrival of Teyla who had probably been summoned by Chuck.
She slipped around him and into the office. ‘I understand you wish to discuss the access of my people to the Stargate, Dr. Weir? Bohdan and Kevork are on their way to trade offworld. Will you not permit them to go?’
‘It’s for everyone’s safety. Every time someone goes through the gate we risk the Wraith discovering where we are. I would have thought your people would be pleased to be protected from them given the number of times they’ve been culled in the past,’ Weir told Teyla, waving her hand in what John thought might be a gesture of benevolence, half expecting her to follow up with ‘you’re welcome, by the way.’
Teyla’s brows snapped together and John forced himself not to take a step back from her. Anger from Teyla was very rare, but Elizabeth appeared to have pushed all the right buttons this time.
‘Are you denying us access to the Ring of the Ancestors?’ Teyla demanded in a low voice and now John knew for certain that Teyla was furious.
He put out his hand to try to calm his teammate down, but she brushed it away and glared at Weir, waiting for a response.
‘Well, I…’ Weir struggled to reply, clearly not knowing how to respond to this, but was saved from answering when a panting Kavanagh pushed past John.
‘I’m sorry, Elizabeth, I would have been here sooner but the transporters aren’t working — again!’ and he glared at John as though this was somehow his fault.
Which it totally was. John admitted – to himself at least – that he wasn’t above telling Atlantis to stop the transporters from working whenever Kavanagh tried to use them, and that if she could see her way to doing the same to Weir…
‘This conversation is nothing to do with you, Kavanagh,’ John told him bluntly.
‘I am second in command of the city,’ the pompous ass informed him. ‘Anything to do with the city is my concern.’
‘Is that what she told you?’ John jerked his head towards Weir, ‘because I have to tell you, according to the original charter, you’re not. I am. And Dr. Beckett is third in the chain of command.’ He rifled through the sheets still in his hand for the relevant page and held it out when he found it.
Kavanagh snatched it out of his hand, much as Weir had done, and read it quickly. ‘This isn’t the chain of command you showed me,’ he protested to Elizabeth. ‘Why is this different?’
Elizabeth opened her mouth to speak, but John got in first.
‘I think Dr. Weir confused an amended copy on the server for the original, signed by General O’Neill, and by Mr Woolsey on behalf of the IOA,’ and he showed the signatures on the final page and the initials on each individual page.
‘But…but…’ Kavanagh spluttered, and John decided he was willing to give Kavanagh the benefit of the doubt regarding the chain of command since he wasn’t faking his shock at John’s pronouncement.
‘It doesn’t matter who’s second or third in command,’ Weir snapped. ‘I’m in charge and what I say goes! And I say the Stargate isn’t going to be used by anyone!’
And just because the Pegasus Galaxy was like that, Bohdan and Kevork appeared at the door and heard everything Weir said.
‘Are we not, then, to be permitted to use the Ring?’ Bohdan demanded, clearly unhappy. ‘We have a trading mission to fulfil for which we have already received the goods. We are going now to give our agreed price,’ and he held up a bundle of the very fine rugs woven by the Athosians and in great demand across the Pegasus Galaxy.
John took a step back to allow the three Athosians to discuss their access to the Stargate with Elizabeth. Much as he’d like to stay and listen to what promised to be a heated debate, he did have work to do and his presence wasn’t needed here. He looked at Ford, jerked his head and they left the office together, and this time John permitted the doors to close. He knew he could access the server later and view the security footage if he so wanted. After the first disagreement between Weir and Sumner soon after they arrived on the city, Peter Grodin had locked down access to the cameras to just himself, Radek and John, mostly on the basis that John could probably talk the city into giving him access to pretty much anything he wanted anyway. Peter’s adjustments, however, meant no-one else could tamper with footage of the city and so far Kavanagh hadn’t requested access to it. Radek believed that he didn’t even know there were cameras almost everywhere outside of the living quarters, and there was probably footage from in there too if they knew where to look.
The fallout from the argument between Weir and Teyla was huge. Weir was forced to give way and allow the Athosians access to the gate since she was hoping to negotiate a share of the crops they were growing on the mainland, but trust between the two very different leaders was at an all time low.
Teyla came to John’s office after she’d seen Bohdan and Kevork safely through the gate, but not before she’d asked Chuck to call her when they came back to the city.
‘I had intended to move to the mainland after Elizabeth forbade further missions for our team,’ she explained to John, clutching the cup of tea he’d made for her. ‘There is no need for me to remain on the city if I am no longer helping to introduce you to trading partners, but since the problem earlier I am reluctant to leave. I need to be here to argue for my people as I am very concerned she will try to deny us access to the Ring again.’
Her worry was evident if only by her use of Ring instead of stargate as she’d begun to call it, but John wasn’t sure how he could reassure her.
‘You do know that I value your contribution to the city, don’t you?’ he asked hesitantly, and was relieved by her smile.
‘Yes, John. I do know, but if we may no longer travel offworld, how will I continue to make a contribution?’
‘Well, you help me with my training schedule for a start,’ he offered, and she smiled again.
‘But with no missions I will find that time weighs heavily on my hands. Perhaps I should return to my people and come to the City only when someone travels offworld.’
‘I would miss you,’ he said simply, and he realised he would. While his sexual preferences lay elsewhere, Teyla was a beautiful and highly intelligent woman and he enjoyed her company. In different circumstances he could have fallen in love with her except that he’d promised himself not to get involved with anyone again.
‘I might have something you could usefully do,’ he said, thinking of his discussions with Ford and the Sergeants. ‘How good is your written english now? Are you comfortable using a computer?’
‘My written skills with your language are not fluent, but I am able to read and enjoy the books you have passed to me and each day my proficiency improves with my data-pad.’
John nodded, pleased that she was enjoying the books he’d had Emily Simpson put on her data-pad. He was pretty sure you couldn’t go wrong with Jane Austin, but what was popular in the Milky Way was not necessarily going to even be understood in Pegasus. Still, his mother had loved all of Jane Austin’s works and he had hoped that Teyla would too.
‘Okay, then you might like to help me with a new project. We’re thinking of beginning a number of groups or clubs for people to share their hobbies, the stuff they like to do in their down time. Ford, for example, used to go fishing with his grandpa and says he’s happy to teach what he knows to anyone interested. It’ll help keep folk busy, as well as help with our food problems now Elizabeth won’t let us go offworld to trade. It’s gonna need someone to do all the admin stuff though, interviewing folk and finding what they can do or make. I just don’t have the spare marines to do it. Weir wants to form twelve groups of scientists to explore the city and I’m already stretched for manpower with control room security and teams to patrol the city. We simply didn’t bring enough marines. If you were to undertake the hobbies thing for me, it would certainly help.’
‘I am certain I would be able to do that. Will you be extending the groups to include the scientists? They certainly have skills they could pass on.’
He nodded. ‘I’d like to, but I need to find a way to get it past Kavanagh. If he thinks the idea has come from me he’ll refuse to allow it out of spite. If you were in charge of it, however…’
This time it was Teyla’s turn to nod. ‘He is a little afraid of me and I would be happy to use this to our advantage. It occurs to me that it might be—‘
‘A chance to get weapons training for the scientists? Yeah, there ahead of you. I know a fair number of them want to get training from us but Kavanagh won’t let them. If it were to be part of a club they attend we might have more success.’
‘And I would be happy to open my bantos classes to the scientists.’
‘I hoped you would,’ admitted John. ‘Again, if it were in an exchange of skills, there’s not much Kavanagh or Weir can complain about. They can’t dictate what folk do in their free time.’
‘I suspect they might try.’ Teyla gave a humourless laugh. ‘Surely they can see that we have enough enemies with the Wraith and the Genii to avoid making enemies of our own people?’
John sat back in his chair and listened to Teyla making plans to organise the clubs and what her people might be able to offer to teach those on Atlantis. Her mind had moved away from wanting to leave the city and he also had the perfect person to present his idea to the population of Atlantis. For once he thought he might go to bed and sleep soundly.