“You mean the planet we’re on…” Rodney trailed off. It had been three hours since the ZPM had come out of the NCL and they were in the regular staff meeting discussing Theseus’ desire to return to the planet he’d claimed for his home in Pegasus. It was a daunting and overwhelming subject for them to stay the least.
“Isn’t the planet we originally chose once we reached this galaxy. In fact, we’ve been on over two hundred planets since arriving.”
“And Earth?” John questioned.
“Theseus matured on Earth and I was born there, but many of the materials that were integrated into the super structure came from different worlds within the Milky Way Galaxy and beyond.” A hologram spun gently over the center conference table, displaying a beautiful Earth-like world. “This is Lantea. It was chosen for its plentiful natural resources, fertile land, and abundant sea life. Theseus agreed with the choice because it was the most like Earth of all the planets they considered once we arrived here. He chose it as his homeworld in this galaxy.”
“Why did the Ancients leave Lantea?” John leaned forward and took a deep breath. “Are there any problems in the local system that we need to worry about? Are any of the planets in orbit with Lantea inhabited? How many of them have functioning stargates?”
“Scientific exploration. There was a time when we were used as a traveling research center. Then, when the Wraith conflict picked up, we were settled on this world. Over the years, science took a back seat unless they were trying to find some way to Ascend.” Ally frowned. “My father would have been so disappointed in how we were utilized in those final years. Theseus is a fighter and I am an explorer—we were not given the opportunities to fulfill our purpose in their care.”
“He didn’t Ascend?”
Ally shook her head. “No, of course, not. He died in an accident on Earth nearly three million years before we came to Pegasus.” She waved her hand and a video of a man filled the room—drifting over every available surface. “His name was Joral.”
The man offered the camera a smile. “What should I say?”
A woman laughed softly. “Joral, it’s for the historical record, you must say something awe inspiring and lovely for the future generations to hear.”
He snorted, bright green eyes snapping with mild irritation. “Should there be future generations about—I doubt seriously they’ll care what I have to say about anything.”
“You built Atlantis, the greatest of all of our achievements.”
“Her achievements will be her own, not mine.” He frowned. “She is a beautiful entity with the potential and the drive to achieve great things under the right leadership. I’ve done all I can to teach her what it means to trust and what it means to sacrifice. My Ally will provide and nurture as long as she is given the respect she is due.” He sighed. “Some of my colleagues believe me a fool for what I’ve done with her. Many on the council are very displeased by the personality and intelligence that has emerged. They thought they were getting a tool, a weapon—they did not expect a living creature. She is one of a kind, perhaps the only of her kind to ever exist. I trust that those who come after me will respect her—if not they will only be cheating themselves.”
John firmed up his mouth as the image faded. “Did you want to make any stops along the way back to Lantea?”
“There are many planets we can settle on for supplies… it depends on our goals. If you wish me to build drones, weapons, more Puddle Jumpers… I will need more natural resources than this planet can provide. Lantea has many natural energies we could utilize to our benefit, including a strong magnetic field at the poles of the planet that would allow for a very strong planetary shield. Not strong enough to outlast the Wraith indefinitely, but long enough for us to launch a counter offensive.”
“You can build ships?” Rodney questioned.
Atlantis smiled. “Oh yes. I’ve built many ships in my lifetime… all appear to be lost to me now…” her smile slipped. “There are no answering calls when I reach out for them. I still search to see if I can find any of our sleeping children.”
“Sleeping?” Elizabeth asked.
“Yes, they would have gone to sleep wherever they were berthed or hidden when the Ancients abandoned this galaxy. We slept until the day you arrived—otherwise—we would have been quite insane after being alone all those many years with no input from the outside world.” Her mouth quirked. “I think you would have had a very hard time getting us to open the pod bay doors.”
Rodney snorted his coffee and then groaned. “We’ve ruined you. The most sophisticated and elegant programming code in the universe and we’ve corrupted you with…” He waved a hand in defeat. “Us.”
“It could be worse,” Ally reasoned.
“How?” Rodney demanded.
“I could have let the others in instead of you.”
“What others?” John asked softly.
“Over the years, others have tried to dial the gate—every time the gate activated I was alerted and awakened. Stargates in this galaxy, and sometimes from others… none of them felt right so I never let them get a connection.”
“You can control that?”
“Yes, of course.” Ally waved her hand and Lantea filled the space above the conference table once more. “Lantea has a twenty-eight hour day like this planet and an eight-day week, with three hundred and fifty days in its solar year. It is eighty-five percent water and is twenty-six percent bigger than the Earth. One large land mass is situated mostly in the temperate zone of the planet with about fifteen percent falling into a tropical zone. There are a handful of islands but tectonic plate movement isn’t unduly violent or a cause for concern.” A series of pictures started to fill the space above the table. “These are images from the monitoring satellite that is in orbit around the planet. There is a short rainy season, the land appears to be fertile, and animal life is abundant. To answer your earlier questions, Colonel, there are no other inhabitants in the system, no local system problems that I’m aware of, and only Lantea has a stargate but it has not functioned since I left.”
“Why?” Rodney asked.
“It received its protocols and gate address from me to maintain security. Because it was built and installed as a secondary gate—it was never meant to operate independently from the city itself. It is the only way I can allow a secondary gate to remain on the planet once we land there. It is imperative for the safety of our people that we control who comes through the gate at all times.”
Rodney propped his chin on one hand. “You want to fly us to a beautiful paradise, mostly water world that hasn’t seen human occupation in ten thousand years where we can build ships, play in the sun, and have a really nice planetary shield?”
“Yes,” Ally answered immediately and everyone laughed.
“This is something we will have to vote on. I can’t ask everyone to just follow my lead on such a monumental thing,” Elizabeth murmured.
“It would be a good strategic move,” John murmured. “The Wraith know where we are right now and moving to a new planet, especially one that hasn’t been on the gate network in ten thousand years… would be a good thing.”
– – – – –
Anne Teldy woke instantly—a habit ingrained in her after years of service in the Marines. She reached out and her fingers grazed Carson Beckett’s hand. The doctor looked up from his chart and lifted an eyebrow at her. “How do you feel lass?”
“Like I let a sentient city mess with my DNA.”
Carson smirked. “Other than that?”
“Good,” she shifted under the thin sheet and looked around the infirmary. “How long do I have to stay?”
“Give me another two hours to monitor you and then you’ll be free to go.” He picked up a datapad from a tray table near her bed. “The Colonel left you this for when you woke up. It’s been organized for your work as far as I can tell.”
Anne took the device carefully and pursed her lips. “I’d never seen anything like this before coming here but I think I know how to use it.”
“The AI training scenarios in the CIC can be so intensive and fast that most of what we actually review is very nearly repressed and only recalled when needed.” He watched her as she activated the datapad and started to browse the contents. “There is a chess tournament in progress right now—if you’re interested in that kind of thing.”
She shook her head. “I prefer games where I can get off my butt and do something. Email?”
“Check the communications tab—Ally should have it all set up you.” The avatar appeared beside him in the near instant of her name being said. Carson glanced at her and sighed. “Major Teldy was just going over her datapad.”
Ally wiggled her eyebrows at Teldy. “I put a first person shooter game on the system this morning for the Marines. Sergeant Stackhouse is currently fighting off an entire alien horde all by himself.”
Anne grinned and started flipping through the pad looking for the game. “I can’t let a fellow Marine take on that kind of fight without assistance.”
“Carson.” Elizabeth stopped beside him and glanced briefly at Anne. “How is Major Teldy’s transition going?”
“She’s all done except for the observation part,” Carson admitted. He dropped a datapad into a little pocket on the wall over Anne’s head. “Ally is helping her get acquainted with our network.”
Elizabeth smiled and focused on Anne as Carson drifted to the next bed, muttering to himself. “How do you feel, Major?”
“Please call me Anne.” Teldy put down her datapad. “I feel fine mostly. It’s a little weird—my connection with the city was intense even with just the gene therapy I received from Earth but it was nothing like this. It’s something to get used to.”
“It’ll happen quicker than you think.” Elizabeth smiled and then blushed under the Marines intense gaze. “Right, well, let me know if you need anything. I’ll be in my office.”
Anne grinned and nodded as Elizabeth started to walk away. “Dinner would be great, Ma’am. Perhaps next week when I get all settled and can get the wrinkles out of the only dress I brought with me?”
Elizabeth blushed furiously, nodded mutely, and hurried away.
Ally laughed and edged closer to the bed. “I can perhaps help with the dress.”
“Thanks.” Anne quirked one eyebrow at her. “She’s beautiful. She’s not dating anyone?”
“Elizabeth has always kept herself very separate from the rest of the population. I’ve always thought her actions perplexing when compared with the amount of recreational sexual intercourse everyone else indulges in.” Ally shrugged when Anne turned to stare at her. “I know and see all.”
“Yeah, yeah.” Anne reactivated the game. “You’re the great and powerful Oz.”
– – – –
Sergeant Dusty Mehra prided herself on the strength of her body, so when her knees buckled as she slid out of the chair in the CIC she was slightly more mortified then she’d previously thought possible. Ten years in the Marine Corps had given her discipline, a powerful, strong body, and the experience she needed to pretty much kick ass wherever she was sent.
She was the first of the new people, as far as enlisted personnel went, to get the gene therapy and she knew she’d gotten something a little extra special. The simulations had taught her to use her mind and body in ways she’d really thought entirely within the realm of fiction before. She was pretty damn sure she hadn’t taken the red pill before sitting down in that chair.
Her gaze connected with the doctor who had caught her. “Do not welcome me to the real world; I’m really close to freaking the fuck out.”
Carson Beckett paused, clearly startled, and then laughed. “Come on now, we’ll get you settled in the infirmary with some more fluids and a meal. You had nearly twelve hours of training, which is just about normal. As you must know, you were given the full genome. Not everyone gets that and it will serve you well in the field here.”
“I can… I can really do all of those things that I did in the simulator?” She demanded her voice still rough with disuse.
“Aye, lass. You can.” He patted her arm as he maneuvered her into a wheelchair. “Atlantis wouldn’t have given it to you if you could not handle it. Just relax and let us take care of you until you get settled.”
“Yeah, sure, doc.” Dusty rubbed her bare feet against the footrest of the wheelchair. “I need a t-shirt for that.”
Ten hours later, she woke in the infirmary in a regular bed when she distinctly remembered being put in some kind of pod thing and there was a folded t-shirt on her tray table. She picked it up, shook out the black, cotton shirt and grinned. I Took the Red Pill was scrawled across it. Dusty laughed softly and dropped back against the bed. “Welcome to the Pegasus Fucking Galaxy.”
– – – –
“All fifty-nine of the new people are capable of receiving the advanced gene therapy. Ally has approved fifteen for the full ATA genome, and three of them have already received it. O’Neill, Jr. is next on her list for testing.” John put his datapad down on the table in front of him. “No one has refused the therapy among the new people and… I think Theseus lured them here, Elizabeth.”
She inhaled sharply and then blew out the air between her lips—clearly torn between frustration and shock. “At this point, I’m sort of relieved that he influenced the people in the mountain that would be instinctually loyal to him to come through the gate to help us. I can’t fault him or Ally for what is clearly a survival mechanism. I do worry however, that one or more of the new people might come to resent it in the future. They haven’t had the time we’ve had to develop a relationship with the city.”
“They don’t, at least none are so far. Every single one of them gives the appearance of being relieved and thrilled to be here.” John went to the small table that housed Elizabeth’s coffee pot and poured them both some. “I can’t get a full read on all of them which is a bit of a surprise. Two civilians and one of the Air Force pilots are practically blank when I try to touch them mentally. I think I’d have to make physical contact with them to get a good read on their mental state.”
“Does it make you question how much he’s influenced us just by the nature of his existence? His empathy?” Elizabeth questioned.
“No.” John shook his head. “I felt at home here from the beginning—welcomed, accepted, and for the first time in years I could relax in ways that I didn’t even know I was tensing up in. The security of this place was like a warm blanket for my soul. Yet, even now I know I could live elsewhere and be happy. I wouldn’t like leaving the city but it wouldn’t break me to leave and I think that’s the test—the real test concerning how much Theseus and Ally influence us.”
She accepted the coffee and cupped the cup with both hands as she settled back in her chair. “We need to have a frank discussion about city government and the structure of our military in the future.”
John inclined his head. “Agreed. But these aren’t decisions we can make on our own. We’ll need to form committees across the board—with civilians, people from the mainland and the military. Everyone living on the city or on the mainland who wants to become part of us—no matter their gene therapy status will have to take an oath of service with Theseus in the CIC and those who can’t do it honestly—don’t get to go with us to Lantea when we leave.”
Elizabeth winced. “John.”
“We can’t have people we don’t trust living amongst us, Elizabeth. We have plenty of enemies on the other side of the gate—we can’t afford to have them on our side as well. I know there are people on the mainland who want no part of us and those who think we’re desecrating a ‘holy relic’ of the Ancestors.” He glanced around the city and grimaced. “No matter how offensive Theseus finds that. There are plenty who consider him a religious icon.”
Weir nodded then. “You’re right—I do agree with you—I just don’t like the idea of turning anyone away. There has to be a solution to that.”
“We’ll find one—perhaps offer them a sanctuary elsewhere they can self-manage. We can build them a shield on another world that they can control without the ATA gene if they want it but considering the reaction the last time we launched a shield over them—I wouldn’t hold my breath on that front. We have to think about what is best for our people, our mission, and most especially the city.”
“Right.” Elizabeth set aside her coffee. “Teyla is on the mainland this afternoon speaking with Halling. He insisted on seeing her. I don’t believe that it will be good at all. I offered to go with her but she declined.”
– – – –
“I do understand your reluctance,” Teyla paused and looked out over the field of tava beans. “If it is your wish, you may separate yourselves from the main population here and elect your own representative to speak with Dr. Weir and the other Lanteans.”
Halling huffed. “They are not Lantean.”
“The Ancestors were nothing more than artificially advanced humans. I have seen their records, read their medical information with my own eyes.” Teyla grimaced and dusted her hands off on her pants. “It is, again, your choice what you believe but I cannot consider myself a free and educated person if I continue to ignore all the information I have been given.”
“You’ve violated the basic tenants of our faith with your choice.”
“To that way of thinking, I was never an Athosian. Anyone born with the gift has Wraith blood in them and therefore…” She trailed off and shook her head. “It does not matter, I have made my choice and I believe it the best for my people. All of my people. Everyone in the settlement depends on me to make the best choices I can for them and their families. Obviously, I’ve made a choice that you don’t agree with but there are over three thousand people here that I must concern myself with. I do not have the luxury of bowing to the wishes of a precious few while forsaking the rest.”
“Your family has led our people for generations!” Halling looked away from her. “Generations.”
“My grandfather had the gift, his mother had the gift,” Teyla responded. “So, our people have been led by people who had Wraith blood in them for hundreds of years. Yet, you disdain the gift of the Ancestors that Atlantis has given me. It makes no sense and it breaks my heart.”
“The fact that you carry the blood of the Wraith should have been enough to make you unworthy of such a gift. The fact that it does not…” Halling shook his head in disgust. “It’s an obscenity.”
Teyla flushed with fury but before she could respond, screaming from the village stilled them both. It took a few minutes for both of them to reach the outskirts of the village and the source of the problem. The crowd was thick but Teyla pressed through it quickly and without jarring anyone unduly, until she reached the center where one of the village children lay. She gasped in horror and dropped to her knees, her fingers hesitating on the knife that protruded from his belly.
“What has happened here?” she demanded.
“It was an accident,” Jinto gritted out through clenched teeth. “I was running and bumped into the knife cart, everything toppled…” He blanched. “Accident.”
Teyla reached out telepathically for Atlantis—hitting all of the full genome carriers at once with her urgency and her fear. “Help is coming.” She looked toward Halling who had fallen to his knees beside his son. The wound smelled fatal. She could feel Carson running through the city towards a Jumper but it was too far away.
“Jinto.” She touched his face and made him meet her gaze. “Do you trust me?”
He nodded. “You’ve been touched by Atlantis.”
“Yes.” Teyla leaned down, pressed her forehead against his, and then gripped the knife with one hand. “I will keep you safe. I will guard your life as if you were my own. I will…” A large warm hand covered her as and she turned to look at Halling. Tears were streaming down his face. “I will take this pain from you.” He nodded and they pulled the knife out together. She released it immediately and put her hand over his wound.
Power surged through her and she took a deep breath. She’d done small healings in the infirmary with Carson. Each healing a training exercise of a sort, broken bones, deep bruising but never something involving organs. They hadn’t had this kind of an injury since John had been shot and she’d been forced to face the wrongness of her choice. People were pushing back from her, shocked by what she was doing and by the faint glow her skin was taking. Stunned, they were easily moved aside by the Lanteans as they arrived.
John reached her first, a small sound of shock escaping him as he saw whom she worked on. He covered her hand with his and closed his eyes. Carson and Rodney arrived seconds later, each crowding in beside Teyla and taking on the roles that they’d trained themselves to take.
“Easy, lass, you are taking on old injuries now,” Carson murmured. “Give us room to help you or you’ll make yourself ill.”
“There is an infection starting already…” John murmured.
“I see it,” Rodney confirmed. “John…”
“I’m here,” John said. “There. Carson?”
“Yes, good work.” Carson trailed his fingers over Jinto’s still face. “Easy, lad, I need you to take a deep breath for me.”
“Feel funny,” Jinto murmured.
“Like flying without a Jumper,” John offered and Jinto nodded shakily. “Been there kid, just take another deep breath for Carson.”
Teyla and John lifted their hands away at the same time and Carson carefully gathered the Jinto into his arms. She met Halling’s gaze. “He will check his blood for poisons and… weaknesses to make sure nothing will hurt him. We are still learning the way of this.”
Halling nodded. “I…”
Teyla shook her head. “We can finish our conversation at another time, Halling. Jinto will have to come back to the city for observation and he’ll need you far more than I.”
– – – – –
“He all but said I was an abomination.”
John winced as he watched Teyla stalk around her quarters. He and Rodney had followed her there after the Jumper ride back to the city. “I imagine he’ll change his tune now.”
“That doesn’t mean others don’t feel that way,” Teyla rubbed her arms briskly. “Did you know I was to marry?”
John sighed. “Yes, but I don’t know the details. I try hard to give you privacy, Teyla. Some of your people, however, project their anger and disdain over our circumstances on the city.”
“I was betrothed a long time ago to the younger son of a powerful politician on Carlian. They were…. Their world is long gone now. Nearly five years have passed and the betrothal was set aside last spring and all of the women among my people have an obligation to bear children.”
“So they wanted to set up another marriage for you,” Rodney muttered with a frown.
“Yes, and then it was discovered that my gift isn’t what everyone always thought it was and the man who had been chosen to marry me refused. You don’t understand how offensive it is to know… that the blood of your greatest nightmare runs in your body.” Teyla sat down on her bed, her shoulders slumped slightly in defeat. “The others like me on the mainland have been all but shunned. They would do the same with me if it were not for my relationship with the city.”
“How many others are there?” Rodney asked tightly.
“Ten. One is Athosian and the others are from different worlds. They have gathered together to live on their own. They are allowed to work in the fields and no one is intentionally cruel to them, but they aren’t… encouraged to socialize with the rest and at least two pair-bonds have been dissolved.”
“Bring them to the city,” John murmured. “We’ll find work for them here. Major Lorne and I are considering recruiting for fieldwork. If they are strong like you—they would be an asset in the field. We need more native guides and…” He trailed off when he realized she was looking at him. “What?”
“That is… a good suggestion John. I’m sure those that can would be pleased to join you in the fight against the Wraith. I will visit with them as soon as I can and see what they wish. We will review their skills.”