John decided mid-way through his sixth meeting on military procedures with the committee, which consisted of him, Rodney, Elizabeth, and two representatives from the mainland, that he absolutely hated meetings with very few exceptions. He cleared his throat suddenly and they all turned to look at him—the two men from the mainland were Genii and former soldiers in their military. He was pretty fucking sure one of them had been involved in the invasion of the city during the first year but for the sake of peace no one had brought that incident up.
“All active military assets will have to reside on the city. Period. In order to live on the city, all active duty military assets must be gene carriers. The weapons and ships that the city will supply us with will only work for gene carriers. These points aren’t negotiable. However, I’m amenable to a militia on the mainland for defense against the Wraith if we are attacked from orbit again.”
“Only the city can determine who receives the Lantean gene therapy,” one of the Genii men pointed out. “That means she will control who can join the military forces on the city.”
“She will control who lives on her,” John clarified. “I think under the circumstances we can all agree that it is Atlantis’ right to determine who is allowed to live here and who isn’t. The city is a sentient life form and anyone who cannot treat Atlantis with the respect she has earned will answer to me.”
“You just don’t want me in the new military forces because I have more experience than you and would naturally outrank you,” Thoran Gil said, his gaze narrow and assessing.
“How many Wraith have you killed, Commander Gil?” John asked, rocking back in his chair.
John nodded. “I killed that many my first week in Pegasus. I have over four hundred confirmed Wraith kills—plus the thousands that died on the five hives I’ve destroyed in the past two years. You don’t have the technological skills to lead the Lantean military forces. That’s not say that I don’t see value in your field experience but based on physical ability, age, and viability for gene therapy—only fifty men on the mainland are being considered for military service. I already have seventy, including myself, fully trained military assets with combat experience, technological skills, and all of them are viable for the gene therapy.”
“Why aren’t more of our people accepted for the gene therapy?” Gil demanded.
Ally appeared abruptly at the front of the room. “The gene therapy was designed to work with the Alteran people specifically—the people from Earth bred with the Alterans before and after I came to this galaxy—so they are physically very similar. The Alterans did not actively breed with most of the peoples of this galaxy, Commander Gil. They were not, in fact, your Ancestors. At the most, you might say they were your progenitors. They seeded many worlds in this galaxy with life.”
She paused and inclined her head. “There were worlds that had close relationships with the Alterans but Genii was not one of them. In fact, most of the cultures and peoples that exist in Pegasus today did not exist as you now know them during the Alterans time in this galaxy. The Genii homeworld was home to a small group of humanoids who were hunters and gatherers. They called themselves the Rorias. They were culled to extinction during the Wraith war with the Alterans.”
Gil took a deep breath and frowned like a man who didn’t like his view of the universe being altered out from underneath him at all. “You are just a machine left by the Ancestors—you don’t understand the ramifications of your so-called facts. My people are a deeply religious people. It is that faith that has helped us stay strong in our fight against the Wraith for so long.”
“You didn’t fight the Wraith,” Elizabeth said evenly. “I realize, Commander Gil, that you were not a part of the government on Genii but surely you know that your people weren’t fighting the Wraith but working with them. We all know about the lottery and the sacrifices your people made to keep from being culled entirely.”
Ladon Radim cleared his throat. He was one of the few younger men on the mainland that Ally had deemed acceptable for the gene therapy and the only one of the Genii to be offered the opportunity for advanced gene therapy. “My mother was from a planet called Sateda. They were a very old world. The Wraith culled them to extinction roughly eight years ago.”
Ally nodded. “They were known to the Alterans and were considered a friend. The Satedans provided a sanctuary for many Alterans during the final years of the war. It is entirely possible that your mother descended from one of those people. I have a full review of your genetic structure in processing, Ladon. The results will be made available to you after it is finished. If I have records of any of your ancestors—you’ll be given access to those as well.”
“About the civilian militia on the mainland,” Gil interrupted. “How will they be armed?”
Ally quirked an eyebrow. “I can build energy weapons that don’t require the use of the Lantean gene to function but they would have limited capabilities and I would monitor their use. I realize that most of you would have no problems creating projectile weapons from the materials on the mainland but I would prefer that as a society we no longer use such primitive weapons.”
“I want the ability to defend myself and my family,” Gil continued. “I doubt anyone on the mainland would feel differently. Even among the Genii, very few of us are truly interested in weapons unless they are designed to fight the Wraith. Even though with the shield on the mainland, we have a viable defense against invasion that no one from my world has ever been able to claim before.”
“I don’t disagree with that,” John offered and shrugged when Elizabeth frowned. “Technology fails, Elizabeth, we can’t leave anyone on this city or on the mainland defenseless against the Wraith. It would be morally reprehensible.”
“It’ll just lead to…”
“They can make their own weapons, Elizabeth. I don’t disagree with gun control in theory but it’s not very practical in our circumstances.” He sighed. “If someone wants to do another person harm—having a gun makes it easier but not having one doesn’t make it impossible.”
“What is this gun control?” Ladon questioned.
Elizabeth exhaled sharply. “On our world, many countries restrict the ability to own certain types of projectile weapons by the civilian population. They are relegated to official military organizations and public security personnel. It is in an effort to control gun violence among our population.”
“Against each other,” Gil murmured. “That’s… while there have been arguments and even physical altercations among our people over personal matters and relationships… what you speak of is…”
“Murder,” Rodney interjected. “We’re speaking of murder through the use of a projectile weapon, knife, sword, and/or the employment of one’s bare hands. It is common on the world we come from.”
“Murder.” Ladon frowned and looked towards Ally.
“Nex Necis—to end the life of another without justification,” Ally supplied.
“It has been many hundreds of years since such an event happened on Genii,” Gil explained neutrally.
“I disagree,” John interrupted. “You murdered hundreds of your people over the years by sacrificing them to the Wraith.”
“That was not… it is not the same,” Thoran protested. “Such a comparison, Colonel is…”
“To kill inhumanely or barbarously,” Rodney said his voice cool and precise. “To end the life of another humanoid in a malicious and unjustifiable manner. I’ve seen a Wraith feed, Commander Gil, and I assure you there is no circumstance that you could present to me that would justify that.”
“Only those who were not viable in our society were asked to sacrifice themselves for the good of our people,” Gil murmured in such a way that made John believe the man hadn’t agreed with what his people had done.
“A society is judged by how it treats its weakest members.” Elizabeth put her hands flat on the table. “As it stands, I can’t disagree with the need for weapons on the mainland but I feel it is our duty to put in place a legal system to govern the use and ownership of such weapons. The population on the mainland is just over three thousand but in the future I can see that number growing exponentially. The more people we have in one place the greater likelihood that crime will start to be an issue. Theft, physical assault, and yes, even murder, increase with the growth of a population.”
Ladon’s eyes darkened dramatically. “Just… just how many people are on the world you come from, Dr. Weir?”
Elizabeth paused and exchanged a look with John who shrugged. “There are almost eight billion people on our homeworld.” She watched the color drain out of Ladon’s face. “And there are worlds all over our galaxy that are similarly populated. There is no accurate estimate on how many people there are—but it would not be inaccurate to say that there are over seventy-five billion people living in our former galaxy.”
Ladon closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose with two fingers. “It is imperative that the Wraith never reach your planet—or any other planet in that galaxy, Dr. Weir. They breed in frightening numbers when food is plentiful. Even limited access to such a feeding ground would be devastating for everyone.”
“Agreed.” Gil cleared his throat. “The ramifications of such a circumstance are too horrific to even consider.” He took a deep breath and focused on John. “An army of men and women is not led by the weak and while I have not always agreed with your decisions and choices—I do find you to be one of the strongest men I’ve ever met. I’ve reviewed the material you sent me on the structure of the military organization you call the Marines and I agree that it will serve our new society as well as anything else. So, in light of that, General Sheppard, I believe it is time that we sign off on the military organization and let you get started building us a battalion. While I am too old to fight, and too cruel to teach—I can travel off world for recruitment if that is your wish.”
John blinked in surprise and straightened in his chair. “Commander Gil…”
“I agree,” Ladon said. “General Sheppard.”
Elizabeth and Rodney both nodded abruptly without speaking.
Ally appeared at his side and light flashed on the table in front of him. Four small, platinum, round collar pins with stars carved delicately into the surface appeared in front of him in a flash of light. “On behalf of Theseus, the last of the Levyathan class warriors, I grant you the leadership role of the Lantean Space Command and promote you to the rank of General.”
John touched the shining pips with steady fingers. It certainly wouldn’t do to display how disturbed he was. He’d never wanted to be responsible for so many—never thought he’d ever even have the opportunity. The weight of an entire world and the protection of the last member of a great race lay in his hands. “Right.”
Elizabeth laughed softly. “We are aware that you don’t want this, John and I think that’s why no one else is more suited to the role. Such leadership should not fall to the ambitious and the greedy.”
“Agreed.” Rodney reached out and touched his arm. “Seriously, start breathing again before you freak us all out.”
John exhaled and forced himself to relax in the chair. He turned to Ladon. “Ally has assessed fifty men among the population on the mainland for gene therapy. Most of them are hunters and farmers. We need to train them for combat. I don’t know how that was done on Genii but I have people on the city that can get them combat ready within a few months with your help.”
“Agreed.” Ladon nodded. “If Commander Gil could handle recruitment off-world with Teyla Emmagen’s help. There are plenty of people who live nomadic lives—moving from one planet to another in an effort to stay ahead of the Wraith. Those kinds of people would be the easiest to recruit into our military and our society.
“Very well, Ladon.” John took a deep breath. “On Earth having five hundred active military personnel for every one hundred thousand citizens is about the average for the country I lived in and served. That being said, they didn’t fight alien bugs that come down from space and suck the life out of you.”
“We have roughly three thousand people currently in our population,” Elizabeth offered. “We have seventy military assets on the city and the potential for fifty more from the mainland if they are willing. At this point, gentlemen, I must insist on a volunteer army.”
“I don’t disagree. Conscription leads to bitterness and ineffectual soldiers in the field.” John frowned and did some mental math. “I think our recruitment goal should be around five hundred military personnel. We have the potential to build ships and if we’re going to keep the Wraith from finding a new feeding ground then—we’ll eventually have to become more proactive in our fight against them.”
“On that, General we agree,” Thoran Gil said bluntly. “Let’s get your people settled into the new military code on the city, train the ones we have the mainland that are willing, and then do an assessment of what I should be looking for off-world. We can expect a handful or more of civilians for each man or woman we can recruit for the Lantean military. Family groups are important to the people of this galaxy.”
Ally smiled then. “I designed new uniforms with Miko’s help. She’s so pregnant she can’t do much else these days. I think you’ll be pleased with what we’ve done. The material is bullet and puncture proof. I’ve also built shield technology into the military uniforms which makes them a little heavier but ultimately more useful in the field.”
* * * *
Evan Lorne signed off on the datapad without a word and passed it back to John. It made him the second official Lantean soldier in the Lantean Space Command. “Your orders, General?”
“We need to assemble the Marines and go over the new military code first thing. I’m meeting with all of the officers individually. I met with you first to maintain your status as the second highest ranking officer on the city. Congratulations, Colonel.”
Evan nodded. “There is no going back from this, sir. As far as Earth is concerned, you aren’t… I mean I’m AWOL and will probably be court-martialed if they can ever get me back on Earth but once we leave this office and it becomes known to the others on the city—you will have willfully committed an act of sedition against the United States government.”
“I’m the First Citizen, Evan. I took an oath to Theseus on the day I went into the Citizen Induction Center. I promised to protect him to the best of my ability for the rest of my rather creepy, unnaturally long life. I will still be defending this city when the people on Earth who’d like to court-martial us both are nothing but dust in boxes. Sedition is the least of the things the US government will be able to charge me with before this is all said and done. I’m not going to hide what I’ve already done or make political maneuvers in the future in an effort to save my so-called career on Earth. It wouldn’t be fair or just to the men and women who came out here with you. Whatever you face on Earth—I’ll face with you.” John smiled then. “Of course, they’d have a hell of a time getting me on Earth to begin with.”
Evan nodded and sighed. He looked down at the datapad, his mouth quirking in a small smile. “Never thought I’d see the day when I’d become a Marine, sir.”
“Space Marine—Ally was very specific about the language she used in the military code. I don’t know even know which one of them to blame for it.”
Evan laughed. “You think the Marines have been lobbying the AI?”
“Absolutely.” John rocked back in his chair. “Send in Major Moore and let Chase know he’s on call for a meeting as you leave.” John paused and cleared his throat. “And if the two of your want to combine quarters after everything gets settled—just let me know. Ally is prepping an officer tower for occupation.”
“As long as it won’t be a problem for… I’d hate to have to kill one of our own for messing with him,” Evan admitted. “He’s a soldier, sir, but he’s mostly an academic. He worked in ship design and testing at Area 51. Chase’s basically a geek with a gun.”
“Theseus would never accept anyone with that kind of prejudice, Evan. When he trained me—I had to explain to him what it even he was. He was, for lack of a better word, horrified by the bigotry on Earth. It will not be tolerated here.” John took a deep breath.
* * * *
Sam Carter always made the dress blues look especially attractive. The first time he’d seen her—Jack had gotten a little stupid over the hot blonde geek and hadn’t realized that she was going to be his hot blonde geek for as long as he could make it so until much later. Landry was vibrating with fury at the far end of the table with three men from the Pentagon and Richard Woolsey from the IOA. Jack had chosen to sit on the end of the table where they’d set up a place for Sam. That had made Landry even more furious but he outranked everyone in the room so they’d just have to suck it up.
Sam slid into the chair after his nod and folded her hands primly in her lap. She didn’t touch the legal pad or the stack of folders in front of her. “At this time, sirs, I am well within my rights to seek a JAG representative and refuse to answer questions without that representative being present.”
“This is an informal discussion,” Hank Landry said gruffly.
“There is no such thing, sir, as an informal discussion when the potential charges are treason.” Sam pressed her lips together briefly to obviously keep from saying more.
“You aren’t going to be charged with treason.” Jack relaxed back in his chair and sent all four military men at the other end of the table a practiced glare when they all opened their mouths to complain. “I have it from the President—Colonel Carter is a decorated war hero and a priceless military asset. Her knowledge of the stargate and the technology we gather in the field makes her so valuable that she could hunt and kill all four of you for sport and still not get court-martialed for it.” Jack turned to her. “Not that I’m giving you permission to hunt and kill these men for sport, Colonel.”
“No, sir, General, I’d never imagine that you were.” Sam wet her bottom lip and exhaled sharply. “I am prepared to answer your questions, General O’Neill, without a JAG representative.”
“But not mine?” Landry demanded. “Need I remind you, Colonel Carter, that I am your commanding officer?”
“I trust General O’Neill.” Sam accepted the glass of water that O’Neill pushed her way. “It would be difficult not to considering how much time we’ve spent together in off-world prisons.”
Jack snorted. “Prison does create the most interesting bonds, Colonel.” He flipped open the leather binder in front of him and blew air out between his lips. “Colonel Carter, did you actively participate in the recruitment of military and civilian personnel for an unauthorized relief mission to Pegasus?”
“Did you render Sergeant Walter Harriman unconscious so that you could dial the gate to the Pegasus galaxy so that fifty-nine military and civilian personnel from this mountain could go to Atlantis on an unauthorized relief mission to Pegasus?”
“No, sir. I was rendered unconscious before Sergeant Harriman.”
“Did you set up the power relay system that allowed a ZPM to be installed and used in this mountain for dialing the gate to another galaxy?”
“Yes, sir. Dr. Rodney McKay and I set up that power relay system for the first expedition. It was left in place in the event that we could find another ZPM and establish contact with the first mission.”
“Did you install the ZPM that we received from the Atlantis Expedition in the power relay system five days ago in order to facilitate the dialing of the gate to Pegasus for an unauthorized relief mission to Pegasus?”
“Are you aware of who did install the ZPM in the power relay system?” Jack asked and looked up from his paperwork, his gaze intent on her face.
“Since the security footage for the entire mountain was wiped out, sir, I cannot say for certain who was responsible for the installation of the ZPM. However, any one of the scientists and most of the military assets who went on the unauthorized relief mission to Pegasus could have installed it. Dr. McKay and I created an easy to use and initialize design. Security protocols really weren’t a concern at the time.” Sam drank from her water glass briefly and then set it away from her. “The ZPM was being stored in the Ancient-tech lab. It was not secured in any fashion.”
“Why wasn’t it secured?” Jack questioned.
“The mountain itself is the most secure facility in the US military complex, I can assume that whoever makes such decisions did not believe further security was necessary.”
“Were you approached to go on the unauthorized relief mission to Pegasus by Major Lorne or Dr. Daniel Jackson?”
“No, sir. From what I know of the people they did pick—I wasn’t a fit for their mission.”
“The men and women who went on the mission had little or no family ties on Earth, all possessed some form, artificial or natural, of the ATA gene, and all of them had publicly expressed dismay over the lack of support for the Atlantis mission over the last two years. The situation in the mountain was ripe for this kind of rebellion, especially in relation to the Atlantis mission and the horrors those people face in Pegasus. I’m sure the base psychologist would be able to provide a better analysis of base morale and the motivations of those who are AWOL in Pegasus.”
“Would you have gone on the mission if you’d been asked?” Richard Woolsey asked.
Sam stared at the civilian for several seconds and then shook her head. “No, of course not, my place is here on Earth. The Ori are still an active and viable threat despite the temporary defeat of Adria. I’m not vain enough to assume that I couldn’t be replaced but I believe my work is invaluable to the program.”
“Colonel Carter, were you aware that Major Lorne and Dr. Daniel Jackson had talked all of those people into committing treason against the United States government?” Landry demanded.
“As any answer to that question I could provide—could lead to formal charges against me, I must insist this interview end while I retain council from the Judge Advocate General’s office.” Sam pushed back slightly from the table in an effort to physically disengage from the conversation.
Richard Woolsey frowned. “I don’t understand, Colonel.”
“If she says she didn’t know—she could be charged with dereliction of duty as she was the ranking officer in the Mountain at the time of the departure of the mission, was rendered unconscious without the appearance of any resistance on her part, and failed to sound the alarm immediately upon her regaining consciousness. If she says she did know—she would be guilty of treason.” Jack O’Neill explained, his tone neutral. “As it stands, I’m going to pretend that question was never asked because Colonel Carter did not agree to answer your questions without a lawyer, Hank.”
“Colonel Carter, if you will not answer my questions right now—I will not have you in my command,” Landry said abruptly.
Jack tapped his pen on his binder and glanced between them briefly. “Very well, Colonel Carter you will be reassigned to Area 51 and Colonel Manning will take your place here at the SGC indefinitely. You are dismissed from this meeting.” He said nothing until the door closed behind Carter and then he turned to Hank Landry. “Presidents come and go, Hank and this one only has two years left in office.”
“Are you threatening me, General O’Neill?”
“No, I’m informing you of your limited circumstances.”