– – – –
The alarm of an unscheduled activation had made John leave his office a quick pace but he hadn’t been really worried. There was always something going on in the gateroom and often an unscheduled activation just meant someone got done early and got to come home. So, when the IDC for SG1 came through and then Cameron Mitchell all but dragged his father through the event horizon—John was frozen for a second. Vala, Teal’c, Ronon, and Dr. Jackson came through the gate backwards, guns raised and still firing.
“Close the iris!” Vala shouted.
Cameron had Patrick Sheppard down on the floor by the time John shouldered through the Marines that stayed in the gateroom. Dr. Lam was close on his heels, and she shoved him bodily out of her way.
“Patrick.” She dropped to her knees and started shouting at her team, while she opened his shirt and replaced Cameron Mitchell’s hand with her own. “What did you do?”
“Just a flesh wound.”
“I’ll be the fucking judge of that,” Carrie snapped. Her face tight with strain. “What the hell is wrong with the Sheppards? They just can’t seem to keep their blood…” She turned. “Miles, Dyson haul ass over here and get the Admiral off the goddamned floor!” The two medics snapped into action. “What happened?”
Cameron took a deep breath. “He was stabbed. Negotiations went bad—he decided to leave. One of the men at the table decided that he should stay.”
“Did you decide he should be dead?” John demanded.
“Of course.” Cameron shot him a look. “I nailed him to the table with his own sword.”
Patrick laughed as the medics transferred him onto a gurney. “He sure did.”
“No laughing.” Carrie snapped. “No fucking laughing. You’re never going off world without a fully trained medic again.”
John watched Carrie bully her personnel out of the gateroom and then looked to Cameron. “So, how much do I owe you?”
“I believe the bet was twenty.” Cameron shrugged.
John pulled the twenty out of his pocket and handed it over. “I owe McKay so much more.”
“I bet you do.” Cameron chuckled. “You shouldn’t bet against the family charm. I knew Dad was hittin’ that.”
“Go away, Cameron.” John rubbed his face and tried to get the image of his father in bed with Carolyn Lam out of his head. No man needed that image of his own father—no matter how beautiful the woman was. And when the hell had Cameron Mitchell started calling his father ‘Dad’?
– – – –
“You realize you just outted yourself to the entire base?”
Carrie flushed. “Shut up. Just shut up.” She finished cleaning the wound and grimaced. “We need to do a scan to see if you have muscle damage. Jennifer can go in and repair it if so. Otherwise you might lose range of motion. The shoulder is a shitty place to get stabbed.”
“I’ve had worse shaving.”
“Oh the fuck you have… and if you have you’re never shaving unsupervised again.” Carried jerked off her gloves. “Jennifer!”
“I’m coming.” Jennifer pushed a cart into the room and shook her head. “I got waylaid by everyone wanting in.” She pulled off an Ancient scanner as Carrie moved out of her way and focused on the wound. “So, Dad, I think it’s time we talk about you going off world.”
“If either one of you even thinks about grounding me from gate travel…” He glared. “I’m not an invalid.” Patrick huffed. “And don’t think, young lady, that I haven’t noticed you only call me Dad when you’re up to something.” He shot the diamond on her finger a look. “Keep messing with me and I’m going to start asking about grandkids before you even get married.”
Jennifer grinned. “I was thinking we’d start as soon as I got back from Atlantis.”
“Oh?” Patrick raised an eyebrow. “Huh, okay.”
“Maybe by then my babies will have a grandma.”
Carrie flushed and Patrick looked studiously towards a wall.
“Or better yet, maybe some baby aunts and uncles on the way to play with. You’re still very capable of fathering more children.”
Patrick sputtered. “Your bedside manner is seriously lacking.”
Jennifer chuckled. “I think you’ll survive it.” She stepped back. “Okay, we’ve a little muscle damage but it’s small enough that I could heal it with one of the Ancient healing devices.” She set her scanner aside. “I’ll be right back.”
Carrie watched her leave and then focused on Patrick. “Are you upset?”
“It was your idea to keep it a secret.”
She blushed and looked away. “I didn’t want to look like the flavor of the month.”
“Seems like you’ve been around for a couple of months.”
“Yeah.” She pursed her lips. “Why is that?”
Patrick chuckled. “Haven’t quite figured it out, have you?” He sighed then. “Of course this means I’m going to have to deal with your father.”
“At least you outrank him.” Carrie grinned at that. “And you’re younger.”
“That certainly helps.”
– – – –
Sebastian watched Jennifer pull out a new Ancient gadget out of her seemingly endless supply. “What’s it do?”
“It can repair simple injuries. My ATA gene isn’t strong enough to use it the way it could be used and many of the healing devices on Atlantis had to be left behind because they were attached.” She looped an arm around his shoulders. “He’s fine you know. Just a little cut.”
“He got stabbed with a sword.” Sebastian glared at her.
“Actually, it was a dinner knife,” Cameron offered from his place by the wall. “The guy that did it… he got stabbed by a sword.”
Jennifer groaned. “Wow, a dinner knife.” She stuck her head in the private exam room. “We need to run a full panel sooner rather than later. Cam says it was a dinner knife.”
Daniel Jackson started laughing from his place beside Cameron at the language that poured out of the room. “I’ve always thought Filipino was a beautiful language—even when the words being spoken could peel paint.”
“What’s she saying?”
Daniel colored. “I honestly couldn’t repeat it in English without stuttering. Let’s just say that the people on ‘Planet Conan the Barbarian’ better hope they never need her medical services.”
Jennifer returned with a tray and several syringes. “Yeah, yeah, I’ve got them. Stop cursing it’s really unattractive.”
– – – –
“So.” Jack raised an eyebrow. “Wanna tell me about it?”
Patrick sighed. “She’s too young for me.”
Jack burst out laughing. “I meant the planet but if you want to talk about being with a woman twenty years your junior—we can do that. After all, I have a little experience in the area of being involved with a younger woman. I’ve got about fifteen years on Sam.”
“Shit. I think those women gave me more than a local for the pain.” Patrick winced. “She’s not young enough to play it loose and fast.”
“Oh, so you’re in trouble.”
“Hip deep I suppose,” Patrick admitted. “And now, everyone and their brother knows. She was the one that wanted to keep it a secret, by the way.”
“Of course.” Jack chuckled. “What man would keep dating a woman that looks like her a secret?”
“So, about the planet.” Patrick sighed. “Those people are not ready for peace. Neither of them wants it, Jack, and you know that without that—they are just going to keep finding reasons to fight each other. I’ve seen better relationships in the Middle East. Not only are they divided along land lines—they have a pronounced racism problem. It’s pretty obvious that the dark people are on one side of the line and all the light people are on the other.”
“Who’s the aggressor?”
“Who knows? They’ve been fighting for over a thousand years.” Patrick grimaced. “They are a dead loss to be honest. Granted they would make for excellent ground troops—because they are clearly all about killing something but they are too wound up trying to kill each other to be of any use in fighting the Wraith.”
“So they suck,” Jack muttered.
“I’d like to try the Tok’ra.”
“They haven’t spoken to us since Jacob Carter passed. He was our only real link with them near the end. They never approved of our methods when it came to fighting the Goa’uld.”
“Have you tried since you defeated Anubis?”
“Yeah, we received a polite but firm no to further contact by the ruling council.” Jack grimaced. “Honestly, I think they are afraid we’ll end up just like the Goa’uld. The more technology we have, our relationship with the Asgard, etc.”
“We have to start educating these people on the Wraith, Jack. At least so we’ll have a reliable intelligence network. The more who know what to expect – the more likely we are to know the day it starts.”
“Agreed.” Jack nodded. “Sam is working on an information relay station. A space gate that others can dial and use to relay information to us via a subspace communicator. We’ll have it ready to launch within the next month. Once that’s done—I’ll start sending out teams to our established allies and then at least try to educate the others. It’s all we can do.”
“You would think the threat of the Ori would be enough to make people stop arguing among themselves or at least trust that we have something to offer them.”
“We let McKay make a volcano on a world that pissed us off,” Jack murmured. “Trust me, not all our allies were thrilled with that. Some found it down right amusing. Others were horrified but relieved it wasn’t them.”
“They’ll think twice about trying to take John from this planet.”
“Granted.” Jack chuckled. “I’d think twice about looking at John wrong. Everyone says that he’s the vindictive, over-protective one in that relationship but they really have no clue what McKay would do to get him back. A volcano—was really the tip of the ice berg compared to what he would have eventually done to them.”
“But you knew that when you let him get on the ship. That’s really why you hesitated to let him go.”
“Yes.” Jack stared at the surface of his desk and frowned. “Rodney is loyal and he loves without reserve, without blinders. It’s stunning—it was amazing to watch them come together like they have. Both of them sharp and brutal like knives yet so obviously careful and gentle with each other. Despite Rodney’s penchant for building super weapons I’d never really considered him a violent man. He’s a scientist… yet over the last year I’ve learned things about him that blow my mind.”
Patrick nodded thoughtfully, “I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what kind of person John would end up with—who he would choose to spend his life with. I’d already started to think that I wouldn’t get a chance to actually be in his life so I wanted him to have someone that would protect him from himself. Someone that would love him like he deserves.”
“How are you dealing with that?”
Patrick looked at the floor. “Truthfully?”
“I don’t think I got it until John was taken. I don’t think I really understood what they were to each other until I watched one of them fall to a million pieces. I’m not sure I’ll ever get the attraction to another man.”
Jack smirked. “It can be interesting and fun.”
Patrick’s mouth dropped open. “You’re married to a woman.”
“And? You’ve heard the stats on ATA gene carriers. Don’t act surprised. I married a woman because I fell in love with a woman.”
“So you really think the ATA gene is the reason that John is gay?” Patrick sighed.
“Well, we’ve encountered plenty of people who are gay that don’t have it. But we’ve rarely encountered an ATA carrier that didn’t at least like to play on both sides of the fence. The Ancients were an advanced race that had already stopped using male/female couples as the only recourse for reproduction before they Ascended.”
“Yeah, there is a whole genetics lab on Atlantis for artificial reproduction.”
“Did the President alter the UCMJ because of the ATA gene carriers?”
“Short answer? Yes. We had to make serving more attractive and we can’t start going off into the population and testing for the ATA gene. That would reveal things that the President feels should be kept close to the vest. Not everyone is happy about the Stargate program.”
“So you push my son out into the national spotlight, highlight his gay relationship, and make his personal life the business of everyone on Earth so you can recruit people who are more likely to have the ATA gene.”
“Something like that.”
“You know that’s messed up.”
“John never fought it. He bitched about it but he never fought it. In fact, today is the first time any of us have gotten the first clue on how truly irritating he finds the whole thing. Hayes and the Pentagon are taking several steps back on the issue of Sebastian because they are afraid John would just pick up his whole family and leave the planet.”
Patrick nodded. “We’d all go with him you know.”
“Everyone realizes it.”
– – – –
John was alone in the gym when Patrick found him. Throwing even, rhythmic punches at a leather bag with taped fists. For a few seconds he just watched, this was one thing they had in common. When the temper got too high—beating the crap out of something was the only thing that really helped. He walked across the room and leaned on the wall near him.
John snorted. “Sebastian’s choice. I have to make some kind of concession on this or the Pentagon is going to force me to do something really selfish.” His punches got a little harder. “I can’t believe those motherfuckers.”
“Sometimes political types get the big picture but over look the little things. They won’t make the same mistake again.”
“Yeah, let’s just hope their next mistake doesn’t get a whole lot of people killed.” John closed his eyes briefly and then shook it loose. “So, what’s up with you and Lam?”
“That’s private, son.”
John snorted. “That woman is the Chief Medical Officer of this mountain. She is under my command and my responsibility. My father, a well-known womanizer, is messing around in her life and I have a right to know if this is just passing thing for you.”
“I’m not a well-known womanizer.” Patrick glared at him.
“People Magazine said you’d had fifteen girlfriends in the past two years. You and I both know they didn’t even count the women you keep around to just fuck.” John smirked when his father flushed. “I’m not complaining, mind you, half the Marines in this base worship the ground you walk on for that fact alone. The other half can’t figure out how now none of your ex-girlfriends hate your guts and are probably jealous.”
“It’s not like that.”
“Oh yeah?” John raised an eyebrow. “So, she’ll be at brunch on Sunday? Because she hasn’t been to breakfast with the family yet and I’m thinking you guys have been something for a couple of months.”
“Her idea to be a secret, not mine.” Patrick sighed. “She said she didn’t want to be known as the flavor of the month.”
John missed the bag and started laughing. “Shit, she’s got your number.”
“Yeah, she does actually. In a couple hundred ways and I’m pretty sure if I can get around her father that I might keep her.”
“Oh.” John swallowed hard. “So, huh, I’m going to have a step-mother who is two years younger than me.”
“That a problem?”
“No.” John shook his head. “At least, I don’t think so. I’m not calling her mom.”
“She wouldn’t expect that.”
– – – –
“So no uniform?” Rodney asked.
“The Pentagon wants me on television with my family. They didn’t mention how they’d like to see me dressed.” John shoved his feet into a pair of loafers and looked over at McKay. He was dressed in linen slacks and a blue silk shirt. “I like this ‘casual I’m worth a lot of money look’ you’ve got going on.”
“Casual and filthy rich is sort of a mystery to me. Sean picked this out. Okay, the Apollo is going to beam us directly into the ‘green room’ off the stage. We’re going to get five minutes with her before the show starts and then we’ll come out.” Rodney sighed. “They are going with a live broadcast.”
John grimaced. “Did you send her the rules?”
“Yes. She promised not to mention anything on the list.” Rodney shoved his iPhone into its holder and then checked his watch. “The FBI is already in place. Both Sean and Declan beamed over twenty minutes ago to make sure everything was good with the room. Citrus and peanut free I believe was the first thing on Sean’s agenda.”
Sebastian knocked abruptly on their bedroom door and then pushed in. He had on a pair of jeans, his sneakers and a thin white t-shirt. He held up two different Polos. “Yellow and green stripes or red?”
“Yellow and green.” Rodney looked him over. “And seriously, did you brush your hair?”
Sebastian chuckled. “Uncle Matt helped me with it.”
Twenty minutes later they were in a small room with a little TV and Sean was on the phone berating Rodney’s financial advisor about a bad stock purchase because Rodney didn’t want to get that pissed off before he went on national TV. Sean ended the phone call abruptly when Ellen entered.
“Hey, wow.” She smiled. “I’m so in love with you guys.”
Sebastian grinned. “Big crowd?”
“Huge excited crowd who have no clue why they got frisked by the FBI.” Ellen grinned as she said it. “I think some of those ladies would go back and have it done all over again.” She squatted down in front of Sebastian’s chair. “Okay, so the crowd is going to get very noisy when they realize who I’ve got joining me. Between my people, the FBI, and the Marines with you. No one is going to get near the stage. They’ve all been warned not to leave the seats.”
“Yeah, I’m cool.” He grinned. “I can handle a room full of screaming women.”
She laughed. “I bet.” She stood and focused on John. “I’ve reviewed the hands-off questions and we won’t be allowing audience participation today. Anything else I need to worry about?”
“Let’s keep talk about the Wraith to a minimum. I’d rather not see your audience reminded of that.”
“Yeah, no problem.” Ellen swallowed. “I honestly need no reminders myself. I’m just really glad you’re still around after that.” She turned to Rodney. “Dr. McKay?”
“I’d rather not talk about the Nobel Prize short-list and I don’t want to talk about when he was kidnapped, ever.”
“Yeah, no problem. I struck that topic off my producers list.”
“It’s not on the official off-limits list because the Pentagon refused to add it.”
Ellen’s eyes widened briefly but she nodded. “All right then. I’m going to run out and do my thing, dance a little with those cute Marines you brought with you and my assistant will let you know when it’s time for you.”
– – – –
The crowd did, in fact, go nuts. John’s gaze darted around the room quickly, taking in the exits, the position of his men, and he relaxed a little when his gaze connected with Special Agent Don Eppes. The man offered a brief nod and John allowed himself to be prodded into a seat next to Rodney. They’d given Sebastian the seat next to the hostess on purpose. It was the one positioned the most distance away from the crowd.
John shifted in his seat until he was turned in Rodney’s direction and watched bemused as Ellen introduced them. Then she focused on Sebastian – and he relaxed a little more when Sebastian offered a genuine smile.
“So, I was told you picked me.” Ellen grinned. “Me, for your first television interview. I plan to brag about that a lot to everyone I know for, you know, years.”
“Yeah, I figured you wouldn’t ask stupid questions.” He inclined his head. “You know, because I have gay parents.”
Ellen laughed. “I promise no stupid questions about your gay parents. I bet you find that stuff frustrating.”
“Sure, all those people on the stupid tabloid shows talking about me and speculating about my mental well being when they’d be better served thinking about kids that are still in abusive foster care homes, or starving in the streets, or being murdered or sold into marriage in other countries. It’s stupid. I have parents who love me and each other. I live in a big house with everything a kid could want and I get to travel around in space ships. Trust me; I’ve got the best gig on the planet.”
Her eyes widened briefly and she glanced towards John and Rodney. “I’m jealous.”
“You should be,” Sebastian assured and the audience laughed.
“I saw you on the television when the Phoenix was commissioned. I bet that was exciting.”
“Yeah, sort of hard to ignore all the cameras going off. I think I might have been temporarily blind by the time it was over.”
Ellen centered on him. “Dr. McKay, during your speech you made mention of the Phoenix being named after the man who inspired it.”
Sebastian laughed when both of his parents flushed. “That’s Daddy’s call sign. All pilots have them.”
John groaned and Rodney averted his eyes.
“General?” Ellen asked amused.
“It’s the best love letter I’ll ever receive,” John answered honestly. “Ask the kid about the proof.”
Ellen grinned. “Oh, come on!”
Rodney and Sebastian laughed.
“Yeah, ask us about his proof.” Rodney curled his fingers around John’s and smiled when Sheppard relaxed in his chair.
“Okay, okay but I should warn you that I do have questions about the big gay wedding on Mars which I’ve watched three times!” Ellen turned back to Sebastian who had grabbed his water bottle while the attention was off him. “So, I heard you’ve solved one of the Millennium math problems and you’re going to be awarded a million dollars.”
“Yeah, The Mills-Yang Theory. I solved it about two years ago when I was traveling with my mother in Australia. I had a lot of time on the boat and no Internet. So, when I wasn’t talking her into letting me hang out in the anti-shark cage to take pictures of Great Whites, I was working on my proof. As for the money, I’m donating it to UNICEF. My Dads are matching my donation at two hundred percent.”
“Oh.” Her eyes widened. “That’s really amazing.”
“I don’t need the money,” Sebastian confided. “My parents are loaded.” He straightened and got serious. “And besides that, UNICEF is one of the few charities on the planet that really focuses on the well-being of children. I got lucky in the parents department—not once but three times. There are plenty of kids who aren’t so lucky and if that money can make life easier for them—then it makes sense that they should have it.”
“Well, you guys must be really proud of Sebastian for thinking to give this money to a charity.”
“Money is only useful when it’s helping someone,” Rodney rubbed his thumb across the top of John’s hand. “We donate a percentage of our annual income to a variety of charities around the world. Granted, this will be the first time we’ve given to UNICEF and John and I were quite ashamed of that. There really is nothing on this planet more precious than our children. We can’t hope to survive as a species without protecting and educating them for the future.”
“Neither one of us work and fight to protect this world so that the weakest and most innocent of us are left to suffer. As I said before, I don’t see lines on a map when I look at this world. I see the whole thing—Earth is my home, not just the United States.” John smiled. “So we were both very pleased with Sebastian’s idea and gladly participated. A fund raising effort at the SGC yielded close to two more million dollars in the last three weeks. We’ll cut a check for five million to UNICEF after the awards dinner at Cambridge.”
– – – –
“So, we’re going to have give Sebastian is own page on the website.” Sean held up one hand when John and Rodney both started to protest. “I can’t spend the whole day fielding questions about him. Just a basic bio and maybe his favorite links—things that other kids can do online that are safe. Maybe a very heavily moderated blog. Also, I need an assistant.”
“The Internet stuff. Full time position. Never sets foot in the house. They could be on a different continent for all I care.” Sean waved his hand and poured himself some more coffee. “I just need someone to help with the website, monitor the forum, your blog, and filter through the email to make sure nothing important gets lost.”
Rodney inclined his head. “How about an intern or two? You’ll have to vet them through the Pentagon—but we could put out a couple of tech positions to grad students or whatever.”
“Yeah.” Sean nodded. “Like it. Okay, still, the kid needs web space. I’m serious. Those little kids are driving me nuts. I had to put McKay’s entire forum behind an Adults Only Warning because even the sections that aren’t full of fan fiction about the two of you is full of scientists cursing in fifty different languages.”
Sean shot John a look. “He’s getting fan mail, sir. At last count—a little over four hundred emails a day. Little girls and little boys – all of it pretty harmless. It’s coming to the general email address for puddlejumper.sgc but I’ve started filtering it all into an account for him. I haven’t talked to him about it, yet.”
“Okay, he can’t respond to any of them on his own. I’d prefer something automatic. I don’t want him…” John sighed. “Also, how can you keep the assholes out?”
Sean frowned and wrinkled his nose. “Let me think about it.”
– – – –
Rodney hadn’t felt the mountain vibrate in so many years that the instant it started he jumped up from the meeting he was in with the military half of the SGC and Home World Security and left at a dead run. John was fast at his heels. “He is so goddamned grounded!”
“McKay, what the fuck is this?”
“This!” Rodney snapped as he pushed into a stairwell and started down. “Is your son! Sheppard!”
“Oh, so he’s just mine when he’s trying to blow up the mountain?” John demanded. “I thought he was with Radek!”
“Radek is so fucking fired.” Rodney shouted. The vibration increased for twenty seconds as they hit another floor and then ceased all together as they all exited onto the main lab floor.
“How do you know it’s him?”
“Because Radek authorized experimentation time for him while I was in the meeting. I thought he just didn’t want to share his toys… now… that Czech bastard may beg to go home.” Every physicist and engineer on duty in the whole damned mountain were in McKay’s lab when he came in. “What the fuck is going on in here?”
Twenty heads turned, throats cleared and they parted like the Red Sea. Jeremy Styles hopped up from beside Sebastian and backed away. “It was all his idea, Dr. McKay, I swear.”
Sebastian held up his hand. “Hold on a sec, I’m not done.” He reached out for a soldiering iron and flipped down his safety glasses. “Sorry about the vibration—it was unexpected.”
“John Sebastian Sheppard, Jr.” Rodney ground out between clenched teeth.
Sebastian put down to the tool, pulled off his safety glasses, and turned on the stool with a small Ancient device in his hand. He offered it. “Hi, Dads.”
McKay eyed the device as if it were a bomb. “Speak. Immediately.”
“It’s sort of a battery.”
“A battery,” Rodney repeated. “That’s hardly rocket science, Sebastian. And I doubt seriously that the Duracell factory shakes a whole fucking mountain—so explain yourself.”
“It’s a vacuum battery.”
“Who the hell needs a battery for their vacuum?”
Rodney snapped his fingers four times to quiet the Army general who started speaking. “Shut up. If you can’t ask smart questions get the fuck out of our mountain.” He focused on Sebastian. “This device is from the collection of broken Ancient tech that was brought back from Atlantis.”
“Yes.” Sebastian glanced briefly at the rest of his audience and then cleared his throat. “It sort of… talked to me. I can’t explain it but once I got my hands on it I knew how to fix it. Also, I’m pretty sure we can duplicate its construction fairly easily. It won’t replace a ZPM but… if we had several more like this we could power the entire mountain indefinitely.”
Rodney took it carefully. “You blow my mind.”
Sebastian grinned. “So, is that an A on my mechanical engineering exam?”
“Radek is that an A on his exam?” Rodney asked dryly.
“Uh, yes, in my defense Rodney I didn’t think he could repair the device. I was using it as a learning experience… to show him how to deal with failure.” Radek flushed.
Rodney snorted. “You do realize his father would have reprogrammed the Kobayashi Maru.”
“Hey, I really resent that!” John snapped.
“And you just totally outted yourself as a geek,” Miko Kusanagi muttered.
Rodney took a deep breath. “This is…” He looked over Sebastian’s face carefully. “Amazing. It’s simply amazing.”
“McKay, talk the rest of this,” Patrick Sheppard shoved his hands into his pockets. “What has he done?”
“Ever wish your laptop battery was infinite? That it never had to be plugged in to recharge? How about your cell phone?” He turned and looked at the ten men that had followed him down to the lab and showed them the small square of Naquadah. “This is it. It’s a battery that continuously charges itself. Depending on its size—it will be able to run anything from the lights in this mountain to your car…. this is…” He turned and looked from Sebastian and Radek. “What will you call it?”
“Well, technically it’s a vacuum powered enhanced naquadah generator. But that’s a mouthful.” Sebastian offered with a grin. “So, let’s go with VPG because it’s far more a generator than an actual battery. Radek?”
“Agreed.” Radek took a deep breath. “I need to sit down.”
Sebastian cleared his throat. “Dad, it would power the planetary shield.”
Rodney took a deep breath and smiled. “Yeah, it would. We’ll need a hell of a lot more Naquadah.” He turned to the generator over in his hand. He looked toward Zelenka. “You realize that this is close to building a ZPM. You know that.”
“Yes,” Radek murmured.
“McKay.” John took a deep breath. “How close to building a ZPM did our kid get in the mountain?”
Rodney sucked in a breath. “Oh, you know, this wouldn’t blow up the Earth or anything. Besides power from a vacuum and power from subspace…and he really didn’t build anything but fixed the problem in something that already existed…” He turned. “You’re not buying that are you?”
“No. Don’t talk around me like you do the rest of the uniforms in this room. Did he or did he not get stupidly, scarily close to fixing a fucking Zero Point Module on this planet when you said it was so goddamned dangerous that you wanted to find an uninhabited SOLAR SYSTEM to do it in?”
“No, he didn’t. The principals are close but the concepts… are light years apart. Vacuum energy is the lowest form of energy that can be captured it’s just dynamic under the right conditions. He found the right conditions.” Rodney pursed his lips. “Of course, the work he did will definitely supplement the building of a ZPM because the energy of subspace is actually placed within a vacuum in the Zero Point Module. So why don’t all the soldiers go back upstairs and the geniuses will stay down here and have a party. You’re raining on our parade.”
John glared and pointed at Sebastian. “You’re grounded.”
“Oh, hey, I totally advanced mankind today. I can’t be grounded for advancing my whole species.”
“You’re grounded for scaring the fuck out of me.” John snapped as he left the room. “McKay, you’re grounded for not monitoring our kid better and Radek; you’re grounded for being a bad influence. And the rest of you—I’m not ordering the good coffee for six months!”
“I have a stunning and complicated mind, General Sheppard!” Radek called after him. “I can’t be expected to provide a good influence and be amazing.”
John fumed all the way back upstairs to the conference room and threw himself into his chair. He was utterly silent as everyone followed. His father slouched down in a chair beside him.
“I bet his mother never let him nearly blow himself and the planet up,” John muttered under his breath. “I’m a horrible parent. He’s going to grow up and be some kid in a clock tower with a laser sniper rifle.”
“She let him swim with Great Whites,” Patrick responded softly. “I saw the video of it. Him in a tiny light weight steel cage that would have never held one of those animals back if they’d really been interested in him.”
John shuddered. “I know.”
“So, he really is smart like McKay and he has your Ancient gene?”
John shot the Army Colonel from Area 51 who had asked that question a look. “He solved a Millennium Problem, Colonel Banks. Some of those things have been tackled by the smartest people on this planet and have gone unsolved for literally years. They just don’t fork over a million dollars if you can do long division.”
“But is he on McKay’s level?”
“Yes, but he lacks McKay’s discipline and experience.”
“McKay created a volcano,” Ellis reminded from his end of the table.
“Exactly,” John snapped. “He also built a nuclear weapon in his garage when he was Sebastian’s age. The only reason it wasn’t dangerous was that he didn’t have access to plutonium.”
“So the mountain vibrated a little… seems like a small price to pay for what he did.”
John shot the man a look and then turned to Samantha Carter. “Want to explain?”
“I’m still at the part where I’m really very impressed.” Sam grinned. “Harnessing energy of any kind can be dangerous. Vacuum energy is largely unexplored. But it’s been theorized that a black hole could be dissipated with vacuum energy. The VPG won’t replace a ZPM for pure bang for your buck—but it’s an outstanding achievement. It could change a thousand things about how we live our daily lives. It’s the microwave of this century.”
“McKay said that the bigger it was the more it could power. How big would it have to be equal the power of a ZPM?”
“About one hundred square feet,” John murmured. “Not exactly user friendly at that size. Still, it has some amazing applications.” He grinned then. “Like energy weapons that don’t need new power supplies, solid state laser ammunition weapons that the engineering department can’t keep powered.”
“Laser bantos rods?” Cameron asked softly.
“Oh yeah.” John nodded. “Laser rods and probably laser pulse weapons.”
“I love your kid,” Cameron whispered loudly across the table. “If he was legal I‘d take him out and get him a lot of beer and women.”
John started laughing. “Christ.”
“That is the only way you can thank a man for making your dreams of a light saber a reality.”
“Light saber?” Jack grinned. “Seriously? I thought those little bastards in R&D were fucking with my emotions.”
Sam chuckled. “Only I do that. And yes, we actually do have a solid state laser weapon in design. We just can’t keep a power source in it.” She turned as the door opened and Rodney returned. “Hey.”
“Hey.” Rodney sat down. “So, where was I?”
“You were complaining about your power problems with the planetary shield,” John murmured dryly.
“Oh.” Rodney grinned. “So, we can skip over that. I have the math. We’ll need three hundred pounds of refined Naquadah for the shield project. Radek and Sebastian estimate they can have the VPGs built by the time we return from PXY-34R with the recharged ZPMs. They are firing up the AutoCAD now so we can develop the plans for manufacturing. Radek and Sam have confirmed the math on recharging the ZPM but I still don’t want to put us at risk.” He flipped through several screens his tablet PC. “Also, we need to take over PY3-R78. It’s currently under the control of a minor Goa’uld. The current occupants, all taken from different worlds as his slaves, are forced treat him like a king instead of a god. He has no spaceships and about twenty Jaffa. He’s just a fat fuck living off others.”
“Why?” Not that John wasn’t behind killing a Goa’uld just on principal. It had been the SGC’s SOP since forever. The planet had been on their ‘to do’ list for a while but the conflict with the Ori had pushed the little militant Goa’uld to the back burner.
“I need the Naquadah they are mining there. So, yes. If you can go kill the snakehead or rescue the host and remove the snake… I can have it. We can relocate the people to some far flung tropical planet with lots of sand and water and good surfing.”
“You want their Naquadah mine.”
“We’re going to need a lot of it,” Rodney protested. “Consider it an early birthday present, John.”
“You want a planet for your birthday.” John sat back in his chair and grinned. “Yeah, McKay, I think I can swing that.”
Jack O’Neill just laughed. It was going to be one of those days.
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