Notes: Rein is an old German name meaning advice/counsel.
John woke from his trance. He blinked his eyes slowly and forced his body to relax. He looked forward at his datapad. JOHN SHEPPARD it read. ALPHA BLACK. MILITARY. ABILITIES: 500% GREATER REGENERATION, SPEED, STRENGTH, SENSORY READINGS.
Five hundred percent? What did that mean? John frowned. If he used to be able to run a five-minute mile, did that mean that he could now run it in a one minute? Fuck.
John looked around. It seemed a lot of people were awake. Most looked pale, but excited as they read through things on their datapads. John could tell at one glance their ranks and it gave him a weird sense of not being alone in his own head. He closed his eyes for a moment and then glanced left to where Sumner had sat. The man was still in his trance.
John let out a soft sigh. He reached forward and clicked on the link to sensory readings.
The information was useful. It seemed his baseline would be just slightly above average, but not high enough to cripple him. He would, however, be able to learn at will how to extend his sense of smell, taste, touch, sight, or hearing. That could be very very useful.
His suspicion about the speed thing turned out to be correct. Same for his strength. What was more, he'd now be able to heal a broken bone or bullet wound in the matter of days. It was literally every soldier's wet dream.
John went back to the home page. He was an alpha black. He wondered what black meant.
He glanced up at Rein. The other alpha was watching him. John felt a surge of protectiveness flow through him. Rein was a white—someone to be guarded and cherished. He was a fellow alpha, which made him an equal, but John knew that, as a black, his word would hold sway over any white.
Rein dropped his gaze as if acknowledging this fact. Something in John settled at the simple submission. He gave Rein a soft smile and Rein smiled back. The Lantean turned away to look over others in the crowd.
John turned left again and saw that Sumner was watching him. John raised an eyebrow at the fellow alpha black. Sumner nodded and turned to click on the readings on his datapad. John leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes to wait.
A little less than an hour later, Rein cleared his throat and brought everyone's attention to him.
"Everyone's awakened and had a chance to look through the reports on their abilities. More information will be available on everyone's datapad to be read in your off time. I highly recommend it." Rein smiled wide. "It feels so nice to have so many of you at the edge of my conscious after a month of no one." He paused. "I suppose it's a good thing I don't remember my ten thousand year sleep. I'm sure I would have gone quite insane."
Rein shook his head. "Regardless, let's get everything sorted. The datapad before you is yours. It has been keyed to your signature. No one else will be able to use it. So try not to lose yours. I have a list now of everyone's rank, classification, and abilities. It will be put into the public files available on everyone's datapad. Truly though, it's not a secret to anyone at the moment, is it?"
There were a couple of headshakes as people looked around at each other.
"Your alphas are myself, John Sheppard, Marshall Sumner, Elizabeth Weir, and Rodney McKay. Additionally, there are fifteen betas among you." Rein met John's gaze again, and then Sumner's, Weir's, and McKay's. "Your other alphas and I are going to meet and discuss your jobs on the city based upon the answers you gave earlier. Until then, there is a map of Atlantis in your datapad."
John looked down to see the datapad change to show a schematic of the city.
"The blinking blue dot is you. The yellow dots are the transporters. Enter into one and there will be a screen. Press on any other transporter and you will be instantly teleported there along with anything else in the transporter room. Now, there are two residential arms of the city, but as there are only four hundred and six of us, we won't even fill up one. I aired out and prepared five hundred rooms in the northeastern sector. Everyone should go begin moving personal supplies into that sector. Hopefully by the time they are all moved, we will have assigned everyone rooms."
Rein paused. "These maps are interactive. You can zoom, change the angle, and press your finger to a room to find out its purpose. There are many rooms on this city that are locked down and will remain so until future notice. However, I have labeled the labs that I already opened up and cleaned out as well as the greenhouses, the kitchens and mess hall, infirmary, and training room. Any supplies that should go in any of those areas can be moved there while you're waiting on your room assignments. Questions?"
"When do we get our radios?" Someone in the second row asked.
"Right now, Beta Lorne, thank you for reminding me," Rein said. "And yes, before you ask, I memorized everyone's name and rank while you were all in your trances." He smiled. "One of my abilities is total memory recall. I will not forget."
Rein gestured to three boxes set on the stage. "The leftmost box is your communicator. Simply place it over either ear and it will attach itself. Touch the com to activate it. Say a name and you will connected to that person. Say a rank and you will be connected to everyone of that rank. The same will be true of occupations once they have been sorted. You can also address it to Atlantis as a whole. Try not to do that feature unless it's an emergency."
"The other two boxes hold the black and white bands. Pick your correct band and place it on your right wrist. I don't necessarily expect you to adhere to the customs and traditions of pair bonding that the Lanteans once did, but you may feel compelled to. They were created for a reason to go along with the new senses you've developed. You'll be able to read about those customs on your datapad."
Rein took a deep breath. "All the uniforms can be placed in the mess hall for now. When the other alphas and I have figured out your individual occupation sector and specific job within it, your will be notified on your datapad. At that point, you may head to the mess hall and grab a few pairs of the correct uniform in your size." He looked at Weir. "How many will everyone be able to get?"
"We've brought at least two jackets for everyone. They were informed to bring their own shirts, pants, and other clothing."
Rein nodded. "Two jackets then. Any other questions?"
This time, no one had anything to ask.
"Okay. Don't forget to take your datapad. You're all set."
Rein headed to the left of the stage as the new Lanteans headed up to grab their radios and bracelets. John stood, noting how easily the crowd parted for him and Sumner as they headed up and got their radios and black bands. John placed the radio over his left ear and blinked as it attached itself easily to his skin. He pressed it. "Sumner."
To his right, he heard Sumner's radio buzz. Sumner pressed it.
"Test," John said.
There was a crisp echo. Sumner nodded. John pressed the radio again and the call disconnected.
They headed over to where Rein stood. Rein bowed his head briefly. "Sirs."
"I think we need to read up on what black and white mean," Sumner murmured.
Weir and McKay joined them after a moment. John noticed that Weir wore a black band and McKay a white. It matched what he felt toward them. He met McKay's blue eyes briefly. The scientist flushed and looked away. He took a deep breath.
Rein smiled at McKay. "It's good to have another alpha white." He looked at all of them. "So, please just call me Rein. If we're to be leaders for this city together, I want us to also be friends."
"I have no problem with that," Weir said. "Call me Elizabeth."
McKay nodded. "Rodney is fine."
John smiled. "I'm John."
"Elizabeth, Rodney, John, Marshall," Rein repeated. "I know I'm going to be dominating the conversation and possibly decisions for the first couple of weeks. I'll try to step back as much as I can."
"I believe we all understand," Elizabeth said. "You know this city best."
"But you know your people best," Rein said. He ran a hand through his hair. "Anyway, we should head to a conference room, if no one has any objections."
They nodded. Rein led them out a side door in the auditorium and back in the direction of the gateroom. Up the stairs and to the right was a conference room that had an oval table and eight chairs. Rein sat down and placed his datapad in front of him. They copied him.
Rein pressed a few things on his datapad and a screen appeared on the far wall. He pressed a few more things and six categories appeared.
"Soldiers, Human Coordinators, City Workers, Medical Staff, Life Scientists, Physical Scientists," John read aloud.
"Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Purple," Elizabeth said.
"Is everyone still okay with this system?" Rein asked.
"It's a good organization," Marshall said. "Will there be a head of each section?"
"Yes, and of the smaller sections within, I would say," Rein said. "John, Marshall, how do you plan on splitting things for the soldiers?"
John exchanged a glance with Marshall. He let Marshall talk in respect for his former rank above John. "We're sharing alpha responsibility."
Rein nodded and both their names appeared in the soldier section with alpha general beside them. "Is that sufficient?"
"Yes," John said. "How many military betas do we have?"
"Let's see," Rein scrolled through a list on his datapad. "Here, I'll send this list to all of your pads."
John looked down as his datapad dinged.
"Ten of the fifteen," Marshall said.
"Evan Lorne, Anne Teldy, Elliot Rutherford, Dean Bates, Aiden Ford, Laura Cadman, Alicia Vega, Dusty Mehra, Marcus Stackhouse, Jason Markham," John read aloud.
"A good number of high officers for two hundred soldiers," Marshall said. "Lorne, Teldy, and Rutherford have the most experience. We'll call them beta colonels."
"And the rest beta majors," John agreed.
They proceeded to break down the gammas, thetas, and sigmas into captains, lieutenants, sergeants, corporals, and privates.
"Okay," Rein said once they'd finished. He pulled up a map of the residential section next to the list. "I'd say we house the gamma, theta, and sigma soldiers in this tower here. The higher up, the slightly nicer the rooms are, but all of them are fairly small in comparison to some others on the city."
"But they'll all get their own rooms?" John asked.
"There's no reason not to, with how much room there is on the city," Rein said. "The floors in the tower share a bathroom per floor, though."
"Put the female gammas on the top floor and the male gammas on the next." Marshall said.
Rein randomized the names and put them as ordered.
"Two floors of male thetas," John said. "One floor of female thetas."
"One floor of female sigmas. Then the bottom three floors for the male sigmas." Marshall added.
"Done," Rein said. "Should I send out those assignments as well as their new ranks?"
"Yes," John said. "Where are we putting the betas?"
"Here is a set of suites. I think alphas and betas should all get suites. This tower here has balconies for the top three suites."
"Are the top three suites identical?" Marshall asked.
"They are. Should I put you each in one?"
"Yes," John said after glancing at Marshall. "Leave the third empty. We can't show favoritism by putting a beta there."
"All the other suites in the tower have their own bathrooms, like yours, and a large bedroom. You want me to place the betas in those?"
"Put the three colonels on the floor just below ours. The rest can be randomized on the bottom two floors."
Rein hummed and then nodded. "Okay. Should we give all the betas an office?"
"That's a good idea," John said. "Where are the offices?"
"There are some offices here in the command tower, but most of them are separated in sections of the city. So the scientist betas can have offices near the labs and the soldier betas can have the ones next to the training rooms."
"The five of us can have offices in the command tower," Rodney said. "But I also want an office by the labs."
"Give me and John a shared office by the training rooms, but separate ones in this tower."
John nodded. Rein did so and all of their datapads alerted them to the locations of their new offices, including a highlight map to show where they were. John's also showed his new set of rooms and he assumed Marshall's did too.
"Did you send the soldier betas their information?" Marshall asked.
"Doing so now," Rein said. "Okay, all the soldiers are done now. Onto the other five sectors."
"Finally," Rodney said. "We should have brought coffee."
"I don't know what that is," Rein said.
"It's a caffeinated beverage," Elizabeth said.
"Oh." Rein nodded. "Okay, so the last five betas are Carson Beckett, Kate Heightmeyer, Peter Grodin, Radek Zelenka, and David Parrish."
"Carson is obviously the head of the medics," Rodney said. "He'll need an office by the infirmary."
"Done," Rein said. "Should I put us three and the civilian betas in this tower? It's the same set up as the one John and Marshall are in—still three suites with balconies."
"You don't have to move," Elizabeth said.
"I want to," Rein said. "My current quarters are rather out of the way. I'd rather be closer to everyone."
"Works for me, then," she told him.
"I'm obviously the head of the physical sciences," Rodney said. "Make Grodin the head engineer and Zelenka the head physicist and mathematician. Parrish is smart, he can be the head of the life sciences." Rodney paused. "Unless that's what you are."
"No. I'm more of a city worker. I think I'll be best at organizing and making sure the city is running smoothly." Rein paused. "I do, however, have military training and am quite capable of going on intelligence missions."
"We'll assess your skills later," Marshall said.
Rein nodded. He put himself as head of the city workers. "Elizabeth?"
"I'll be head of the human coordinators. I assume that's the diplomats."
"And the anthropologists and sociologists and psychologists, yes," Rein said. "Kate Heightmeyer has an impressive background in psychological knowledge."
"She came here to be the city psychologist," Elizabeth said.
"How will be she be with the soldiers?" Marshall asked.
"She spent years working with soldiers on the frontlines in Iraq and Afghanistan," Elizabeth said. "It's where I met her, actually."
"Make her head psychologist then," John said. "Does she have any staff? One person for four hundred is unreasonable."
"There are two gammas who are psychotherapists," Rein said. "I'll put them under her."
"What have we got for medical staff?" Rodney asked.
"Beside our new head medic, there are five gammas, ten thetas, and ten sigmas who have a background in medical knowledge." Rein assigned them in the medical section. "I'll be them all in this tower closest to the transporter."
"So they can respond to emergencies," Elizabeth said. "I agree."
"Beta Beckett can have the suite at the top here. There we go. Okay, I sent off those orders."
They continued working, separating the remaining gammas, thetas, and sigmas. The chefs went into the city workers sector with a gamma being head cook. Parrish got the oceanographers and biologists, as well as the botanists who'd be working with the city food workers. A few gamma diplomats went to work directly under Elizabeth while the rest of the social scientists were placed in the human coordinators section below them.
Several hours after they'd begun, all the room, office, and lab assignments were sent out and completed. They stood then with the intent on unpacking their own things, or moving them to his new suite in the case of Rein, and getting some food.
Rodney stuck close to Rein while they grabbed food the cooks had thrown together real quick and headed to a table out of the way. John and Marshall had called the beta soldiers together for a dinner meeting and Elizabeth was off talking with Carson and David Parrish about their positions as heads of their sectors.
"Why do I feel so comfortable around you?" Rodney asked as they sat down across from each other.
Rein studied him with those piercing blue eyes that looked so striking next to his chocolate brown skin. "We're both alpha whites. We're both whites, period. You'll always feel more comfortable in close quarters with other whites, because there'll never be an undercurrent of attraction."
"And because we're both alphas, and therefore the same rank, we don't have to watch ourselves around each other," Rodney surmised.
Rein nodded. "It's why I was really happy that there was another alpha white. As whites, we tend to crave physical contact and comfort a bit more than the blacks. This last month being by myself has been harder than I expected. Before, there was always another white that I could go to for physical comfort, even if they were only betas or gammas."
Rodney looked down at his plate. "I'm not good at comfort."
Rein laughed. "You'll be fine, Rodney. You and I are the head whites for the city. You'll learn how to comfort other whites as a matter of instinct. I'm not saying you have to go easy on them. I have a feeling you're not the kind to go easy on those who work under you."
"No. If they're going to be idiots, I will treat them like idiots."
"They'll learn fast. You received technology sensing, didn't you?"
"Yeah." Rodney smiled. "I'm excited to try it out."
"Atlantis likes you. I can feel it. I don't understand her technology in and out, that's not in my skill set, but I feel her emotional state, if you can call it that. She feels confident you'll be receptive to her. If you listen to her, she'll be able to help you with the engineering of the city and the technology in it."
"It's a dream come true," Rodney admitted. "I really want to learn how the zero point energy is harnessed."
"I'm going to go through the database and set Atlantis to translating as much as she can. With every new bit translated, she'll open it up in the datapads for people to read. I'll make sure everything is categorized as easily as I can."
"You're doing a lot," Rodney said.
Rein smiled. "Like you won't be?"
Rodney smirked. He finished his dinner. "Come on, I need to go check on my cat. You want to meet him?"
"I would love to," Rein said.
They took their plates over to a stack near the kitchen and left the mess hall. Rodney let Rein lead the way to the nearest transporter. He touched the wall as they stepped inside.
Immediately, he was hit with a sudden understanding of the molecular deconstruction and reconstruction that would happen in seconds as soon as the transporter was activated. He gasped.
Rein's hand on his arm was comforting and allowed him to pull back into himself. "Are you hurt?"
"No, no. My ability just kicked in."
"Oh." Rein ran a hand up and down his arm for a minute. Rodney leaned into it. He understood the comfort now. Just feeling Rein on his conscious as they touched was a balm he'd never known before in his life.
"I'm good," Rodney said. He took a deep breath and reached forward. "This one, right?"
Rein nodded. Rodney pressed it. He barely felt the process that he now understood, which was all the more impressive.
They stepped out. Several gammas bowed their heads in greeting as they passed them. Rein smiled at the men and Rodney tried to copy it. It didn't come naturally for him to smile out the blue, so he just settled for a quick nod.
They made it to the tower they'd both be in. It hadn't taken too long for he, Elizabeth, and Rein to get all their things moved to their suites, because the soldiers had been more than happy to help. But none of them had stayed to do much unpacking as they'd headed to dinner.
There tower was only four stories tall. Zelenka and Grodin were on the floor just below the alphas and Parrish and Heightmeyer were on the floor below them, leaving the bottom floor empty for now. There was a central set of spiral stairs that they walked up to reach the top floor.
Rodney wanted to complain about the exercise, but truthfully he knew that he needed to get used to it. Atlantis was going to be a war base and, regardless, he didn't want to be stuck on her. He wanted to go off-world at least sometimes and he needed to be fit enough to run from the Wraith if that happened.
They reached the top floor and headed left toward Rodney's room. Rodney touched the reader outside his door and the door slid open. His cat was sitting on the gel and metal couch that all the suites had. It was surprisingly comfortable, though Rein complained that they needed covers. The cloth had disintegrated in the ten thousand years since they'd last been used.
"Newton," Rodney called. "Meet Rein."
"Hello, Newton," Rein said easily.
Rodney reached forward. His cat began to purr as he was stroked. He was a lazy thing, Rodney's cat, but he like curling up next to Rodney at night and he never complained about how late Rodney worked so long as he always had food and water available.
"Is that a happy sound?" Rein asked.
"Yeah, he's purring. Here, you can scratch his head. He likes that." Rodney demonstrated how and the purring intensified. It stayed loud as Rein's fingers replaced Rodney.
Half an hour later, Newton and Rein were besotted with one another. "I want one," Rein said. "Is there a way I can request one from Earth?"
"I'm sure we can work something out," Rodney said. He'd been unpacking his texts in the metal bookshelf sitting by the door to his large bathroom. All the suites had a common room with a bookshelf, a small table with two chairs, and a couch. Then there was a bathroom with a bathtub and a separate shower, a fancy toilet that went into this awesome plumbing system that Rodney needed to check out and a sink. Everything was touch activated and seemed to read the mind on how hot things should be.
The bedroom had a metal wardrobe with multiple shelves and a hanging rod. There was also a large bed. Like the cloth covers for the couches, the sheets had disintegrated, but the mattress were made from the same gel substance that had survived and everyone had made sure to bring extra sheets for multiple-sized beds. Rodney had made sure that Rein had been given one as well as some of the extra clothes that had been brought since all his own clothes had been turned into dust.
Rodney grabbed one of the throws he'd taken from his apartment and put it over the couch so Rein would stop bitching about it. Rein grinned at him and settled back down on it.
"What did the Lanteans do for entertainment?" Rodney asked as he finished unpacking things.
"There are games on every datapad and more can be programmed in if you want to put a couple people on it."
"I think people will like chess and maybe go or some others that would be pretty easy to program."
Rein nodded. "I'd like to learn to play them. I'm going to send out a notification to everyone with instructions on entertainment, actually. I think it's important that people have fun things to do in their off time. It will include instructions on how to play the games on the datapad. I'll also explain the database that Atlantis is translating."
"The email will be well received," Rodney agreed.
"Electronic mail. I know it's not exactly the same as email on Earth, but that's basically what your notification system is."
"Oh." Rein shrugged. He continued to pet Newton, who'd fallen asleep. "We have texts in the database that are purely for entertainment. I believe they'll be useful to because they have the usual interactions of the Lanteans between rank and classification. There are even romance texts."
"What about video entertainment?"
"That's in the database too. And all rooms have projectors built in to allow films and the like to be played against a wall. You want me to show you?"
Rodney nodded. He sat down on the couch and leaned over as Rein went through how the find the film section of the database and what to press to put whatever was on the datapad to the nearest projector. The movie appeared on the wall in front of the couch, it's quality crisper than HD.
"You can adjust the size of the screen too," Rein said. "Though it won't go larger than the wall space.
"You definitely need to put how to do that in the next email," Rodney said. "I'll program a way to make the digital files from Earth compatible so that we can add our movies and TV shows to the database. I assume few of these are in English."
"English being this language? Common?"
"There are subtitles available for all the films, so people can still watch them. However, I agree. Many will like having films of their own culture." Rein closed the movie and the screen disappeared. "I'll send out that… email before I go to bed."
"I don't think it will take me too long to work out to make the data compatible. It doesn't seem to be that fundamentally different. At the very least, Atlantis should be able to make a recording of the recording." Rodney pulled out his own datapad and began looking through it. "I'll make it so that anyone with at least half a brain can upload Earth texts and films and make them available."
"Good luck." Rein brushed a hand over Rodney's shoulder and stood. "I should go unpack my rooms. I'll see you in the morning, Rodney."
Rodney waved goodbye, too entranced in his work to see Rein's amused smile.
A week passed as the new Lanteans settled into the city. Elizabeth looked over the data one more time. It had her and the other Earth alphas preliminary reports as well as the updated files on the all the colonists including their ranks, classifications, and jobs on the city.
Today the first gate teams would be headed out. It made her nervous. Three of the city's alphas would be off-world at the same time. It was necessary, she knew, at least for the first couple intel missions, but that didn't make her like it.
Elizabeth sighed and sent off the data reports to Rodney to be given to one of his scientists to encode. She had too many other things to do then worry, but she just couldn't help the strange feelings that had been welling up inside her. Ever since she'd awakened, the mother instinct she'd never felt before had bubbled up.
Everyone on the city was hers to protect and care for. She felt the need to make sure they were all doing well and that they had what they needed. She was itching to go off-world herself and begin trade negotiations, but until then she found herself wandering the halls and checking in on everyone like a mother hen.
Well, she'd knew there would be changes. And she knew how to roll with change. She would handle it.
Elizabeth stood. Maybe she'd go check on the labs before lunch.
Marshall beckoned Rein closer. The alpha white was suited up in a bulletproof vest complete with the standard issue off-world pack filled with extra water, power bars, and the basic first aid supplies. Rein didn't protest as Marshall ran his hands over the vest and pack, checking the tightness of the straps and making sure Rein would still be able to move.
Marshall paused as Rein pressed a hand to one of his. He glanced up at Rein's smiling eyes. "Marshall," Rein murmured. "Everything fits well. You need to stop worrying about me. You and John both tested my aim and hand-to-hand combat skills."
They had and Rein had done surprisingly well. Or perhaps not too surprising. The man had abilities in speed and endurance and had lived with them for years. He knew how to use his powers. Marshall and John had trained with the soldiers for the past week and while they all had some grasp on their new strengths, they weren't nearly as proficient at them as they'd become.
Rein had shown them the training rooms, including a simulator room that allowed them to fight Wraith made from nanites. It meant they didn't have to hold back like they would in a spar against each other and allowed them to get an idea on how the Wraith moved. Marshall had made sure that every soldier had gone into that room at least once and the five men and women he and John would be taking with them today had been in their every day for the past week. They were taking no chances on their first off-world scouting mission.
Rein also showed them all the weapons room and helped them get used to the phasers, rifles, and stunners. Marshall still had an auto pistol strapped to his leg, but he had the energy rifle attacked to his vest and a phaser at his waist. He had to admit, after a week of practicing with them at the shooting range, he liked the energy weapons a hell of a lot.
"I know," Marshall said finally. He squeezed Rein's hand. He would have never been so touchy-feely with anyone on his team before, but Rein was a white and he felt an instinctive urge to give him small comforts.
He also felt a large pull of attraction toward the man, but he was pushing that down as much as he could. He known it was a possibility coming in but prior to Atlantis, Marshall had been very secure in his sexuality as a straight man. Now, though, he found nearly all whites attractive and Rein perhaps most of all.
John came up to them. "We all set to go?"
Rein nodded, pulling away from Marshall. Marshall held in the urge to grab him and bring him back. He didn't like the way John stood close to Rein, though he knew the man had also taken to standing so close to Rodney and some of the beta whites. It was instinctive, and yet Marshall's instincts were screaming at him to make a claim before Rein was snatched by some other black.
Now was not the time to be thinking about this. Marshall pushed the thoughts far back in his mind and headed to the Gate. The team they'd assembled was chosen especially for the member's experience in stealth. They had one beta with them, Teldy, as well as three gammas and a theta.
"Listen up," Marshall said. John came to stand next to him while Rein held back. "We're going to be hopping worlds today. This is an intel mission. You've all been debriefed, but I'll say it again. If we meet people, we learn what they know about the Wraith and we open the way for some of the diplomatic off-world teams to come back and open trade agreements. If we meet Wraith, we kill them or we get out. It is imperative that we hide that we're coming from Atlantis."
"Rein here has said that the Wraith never referred to our ancestors as Lanteans, so we're safe to use that," John continued. "We're Lanteans from Lantea—we've been isolationist for many years and have recently begun seeking to explore the galaxy. Don't mention Earth, not even to each other, while we're off-world."
"Is everyone prepared?" Marshall asked.
"Yes sir!" they said.
Marshall nodded. He looked up at the balcony where the technicians were manning the Gate controls. "Dial up Sateda."
Rein had written out a list of planets that had once held Lantean allies and outposts. They'd given a copy of the list to the technicians and Elizabeth and were planning a quick hop between them for an initial scan of the planets. They'd all been made to memorize the gate address for Atlantis in case of emergency.
"Good luck," Elizabeth said from the top of the stairs. Rodney stood next to her. Marshall saw Rein give him a smile, which was returned.
"See you later," John said easily.
One of the gammas sent the probe, a flying camera and atmosphere reader they could all control from their datapads, through the Gate. "It's clear, sir," he said.
Marshall stepped through the Gate first, his hand on the trigger of his energy rifle. The other side was empty of people, but it was cleared of trees and Marshall could make out what looked to be a building up ahead.
The rest of the team came through and the Gate closed. Rein stepped up next to Marshall. "This isn't good," he murmured. "I have a bad feeling."
Marshall stiffened. "About what?"
"There's death in the air." Rein stepped forward. He had his phaser in hand. Marshall exchanged a glance with John and they both followed the other alpha.
They breached the forward clearing and came across the sight of destruction. What looked like it had once been a massive civilization had been razed to the ground. Rein let out a soft breath and it felt immensely sad. Marshall put a hand on Rein's shoulder and Rein leaned into it.
"You expected something like this," John said.
Rein nodded and then took another unsteady breath. "Come on, we should scout around."
Neither Marshall nor John argued and they spent the next hour searching the ruins before heading back to the Gate for the next planet on the list.
"So Sateda, Boro, and Paxinto were all destroyed," Elizabeth repeated.
"Yes," Sumner confirmed.
"It looked like they'd developed a level of technology the Wraith found too dangerous," Sheppard said. "They weren't just culled. Some of the other civilizations we talked to remarked on centennial, or sometimes decadal cullings, but the Wraith never killed the entire civilization."
"It wouldn't make sense for them to," David said. He sat in the meeting with the alphas along with Beta Colonels Lorne, Teldy, and Rutherford, and Doctor Beckett. "They still need feeding grounds."
"David is correct," Rein said.
David blushed a little as the alpha white looked at him. Rein and Rodney had called in him, Kate Heightmeyer, Radek Zelenka, Aiden Ford, Alicia Vega, and Jason Markham for a quick gathering two days before. They were all the highest-ranking whites on the city and Rein had taken the time to explain what that meant for them and their duties to the lower ranked whites. They'd also taken the time to get to know each other a little better and Rein and Rodney had both granted the betas permission for them to use their first names.
"They only wiped out the people who got too technologically advanced, like John said," Rein continued.
"We'll need to be careful," Lorne added. "Even if we make sure the don't know we're living on Atlantis and just let them assume we live on the mainland on Lantea, they're still going to question our technology."
"We can't leave any Wraith alive to report any findings on us to the others," Sumner said.
"The other five planets we visited were friendly," Rein said. "Athos, Hoff, Manaria, and Levanna seem to be open to possible trade agreements."
"And the fifth?" Elizabeth asked.
"Taranis," Rein said. "The planet used to be an outpost, just like Boro was. Boro had been destroyed, including the battleship that had been left there, but Taranis is by all accounts still fine. The people were friendly."
"There's a but coming," Rodney said.
"Yes, actually," Rein looked at Rodney. "I think you need to go there with the trade group. The Taranis seem to have technology, but it's nothing very advanced. What worries me is that I think they've tapped into the planetary shield."
"Why is that worrying?"
"Well, they weren't running it when we were there," Rein said. "But the leader mentioned having a defense against the Wraith they used frequently to prevent cullings. And if that's the shield, then they need to be careful. Unlike Atlantis' shield and many others across the galaxy that run of ZPMs, Taranis' runs off the geothermal energy from the super-volcano. If they drew too much and set the volcano off… it would destroy the planet."
"Shit," Sheppard muttered. "But that volcano could go off at any time regardless, couldn't it?"
"Which is why the planet was just a small outpost. I don't know how long those people have been living there, but they certainly weren't there ten thousand years ago. The fact that they have no idea what their civilization sits on is very troubling. They, at the very least, should have sensors available for early warning if the volcano begins to become active."
"Agreed," Rodney said. "I'm not the best at telling people bad news lightly, though."
"You can leave that to me," Elizabeth said. "You just do the readings and see how active the volcano currently is."
"And see if they will give you a tour," Rein said. "They've turned the former outpost base into a sort of palace. Ten thousand years ago, we had a battleship stored there, as well as several rooms of drones. And there may have been gateships and fighters."
"Puddle jumpers and x-wings," Sheppard said.
Rein grinned. "Right, puddle jumpers and x-wings. Are we still calling the large ones battleships, John?"
"Or battle cruisers," John said. "But battleships is fine."
"We need the drones at least," Sumner said. "Atlantis' supply of them is too low to properly defend the city."
"Very well," Elizabeth said. "We'll put together three sets of diplomatic teams for trade. I want at least two of your men on each, Generals."
"We'll put a beta in charge of each team," Sumner said. "Though I'd like to keep a couple of the betas on a separate team until they have more experience and Bates is staying on Atlantis as head of internal security."
David leaned back in his chair as the alphas and military betas began to hash out several first contact teams, diplomatic teams, and research teams. Carson was doing work on his datapad. David wished he'd remembered to bring his. He would in the future. He had a feeling that if he'd be sitting in these kinds of meetings, he'd need something to do. His opinion only really came in to effect when it had to do with food, as he had been basically in charge of the food production despite the fact it technically should be in the city workers section. He didn't mind and Rein had too much to do already.
"Who would you recommend for research missions, Beta Parrish?"
David looked and met Lorne's gaze. He felt a tingling in his stomach and he dropped his gaze. "I'd like to go myself if there is any interesting plant life, especially if it could be edible. The seeds we brought won't last forever and while we can keep getting supplementary food shipments from Earth, we should try to become as self-sustaining as we can. I'm also willing to help civilizations develop better farming and irrigation techniques if that's part of trade agreements."
"Okay then," Sheppard said. "I think we need three different team types, but not the three we just proposed. Even research teams will need someone who knows how to make trade agreements. So we'll have first contact teams, for initial exploration, trade and research teams, and rescue teams."
"Rescue teams?" Rodney asked.
"We're going to be going on rescue missions," Sheppard said. "If we start making allies, then at some point one of our allies is going to be attacked by Wraith. I can't in good conscious turn away a call for help in that circumstance."
"Agreed," Sumner said. "Any steady allies we make will need to have back up plans. I recommend making a sanctuary on an uninhabited planet. We won't take anyone back to Atlantis without deliberation, but we can take them to the sanctuary. We should also only ever gate to the sanctuary if we're being followed by Wraith so as to not risk them coming onto the city."
"I can set some of the engineers to make a viable camp plan," Rodney said. "You'll need to assign soldiers to actually build it and guard it though."
"Doable," Rutherford said. "We can add it into the guard rotation we already have going around the city."
"So three types of teams," Elizabeth said. "Named and numbered."
"In SGC, all teams were just SG and then a number with acknowledgements as to which were first contact and which were research," Lorne said. "But if we're going to have some people on multiple teams, which I think we should, then they should have different distinctions."
"FC for first contact teams. TR for trade and research teams. RB for rescue and battle teams," Sheppard said. He nodded to Marshall. "We've talked about this briefly. I'll head one of the FC teams and one of the backup RB teams."
"I will head the RB-1 team, but otherwise will stay on the city while Shep does first contact," Sumner said. "Rutherford, you have the longest experience with the SGC. You'll head FC-2. Lorne, you'll head TR-1. Take Parrish. Elizabeth, you're on that team only for the more important trade agreements. We need you on the city otherwise."
"They can have Corrigan otherwise. He's a good diplomat," Elizabeth said.
"I want FC and TR teams of four to five, with one or two civilians and three soldiers," Marshall said.
"I'll take Ford on my team until he gets enough experience to lead his own," Sheppard said. "I'll need a well-rounded scientist."
"I'll do it," Rodney said, surprising David a little. "I don't really trust most of my other idiots not to overlook something important. But you'll be letting Lorne borrow me for the Taranis mission."
David noticed Sheppard's mouth tightening a little at that. "Okay."
"For the FC teams, I think we should look for native guides," Rein said. "I'll be on your team initially, John, but only until you find someone who knows the current state of the galaxy better and who we trust enough to take to Atlantis and allow to awaken."
"You want to integrate Pegasus natives into the colony?" David asked, a little surprised.
Rein nodded. He looked around. "Is that not good? They are just as much descendants of the Lanteans as you are… though perhaps a couple more generations earlier. Earth got the newest blood."
"I think it's a good idea," Elizabeth said.
"They'll need to be vetted and they'll need to understand that their first loyalty would be to Atlantis, not to whatever planet they're from originally," Sumner said gruffly.
Rein smiled at that, but he said nothing. David sat back. Was his first loyalty to Atlantis? Or to Earth? Did he even know the answer to that? It had only been a week… and yet he felt at home on Atlantis.
"Teldy, you get TR-2," Sheppard said. "Take Mehra and Vega."
"An all female team?" Teldy asked.
"There might be some cultures more receptive to that," Elizabeth said. "You should take Alison Porter. She's a good diplomat."
"Simpson is competent enough," Rodney said. "You can have her too."
"Cadman is an explosives expert," Sheppard said. "You want her on your RB team?"
Sumner nodded. "RB teams should be eight members."
"Stackhouse can head TR-3," Lorne suggested. "He's experienced, but I'd put Markham with him anyway."
"Lorne, you'll head RB-2. You'll only be called for that when TR-1 isn't off-world," Sheppard said. "Rutherford, RB-3, Teldy, RB-4. Shep will have RB-5. We'll assign seven soldiers to each of you. Only those who have experience in search and rescue."
"So far we have two first contact teams, three trade and research teams, and five rescue teams," Elizabeth said.
"Most of the rescue teams won't be mobilized often," Sumner said. "We should work toward three or four FC and six or seven TR teams, but not until we have a better grasp on this galaxy and have native guides to work with."
David dared to look Lorne as they continued talking. The beta black would be his team leader, which meant they'd be spending a lot of time together. David had been off-world at SGC, he knew what it was like.
Lorne's gaze flicked over to him and David held his breath. The man smiled at him and David smiled back before he had to look away. His heart hammered a bit in his chest. He looked up to see Rein watching him. He gave a little shrug, but Rein just kept smiling.
Later, after the meeting was over, David went over to the man. "Sometimes, I feel like you know more than you're telling us."
"You should read some of the romance books Atlantis has translated," Rein told him simply. He looked over David's shoulder and David saw as Rodney walked up to them. He scooted over to give the alpha room to stand with them. "It's not uncommon for certain grey pairs to feel the connection nearly instantly."
"Grey?" Rodney asked.
"It's the term for pair bonds. They become grey when they'd entered into a relationship with each other. In the past, Atlantis has always run smoothly when there was at least one alpha grey pair."
"There's an uneven number of alphas," David pointed out.
"It's not too uncommon for alphas and betas to pair up, or even betas and gammas. It rarely goes past two ranks, but it's not unheard of for that either. That being said, alphas are usually most attracted to each other. And while betas are often very attracted to alphas and vice versa, I think you find yourself more attracted to Beta Lorne than you do to the alpha blacks.
David blushed, and then blushed harder when Rodney raised an eyebrow in his direction. "Attraction isn't the end-all. If the dating customs I read are going to be the way we do things, he's the one that has to approach me anyway." David looked down. "I don't know why he would. I'm far less attractive then either of you."
"First off, David you're gorgeous," Rein said. "Second, I'm fairly sure no beta or gamma or anyone else is going to dare approach Rodney or I unless Marshall, John, and Elizabeth all find other mates."
"Really?" Rodney frowned. "I don't want to not get sex because the others are being too picky to settle down with someone else."
"Do you really think you're going to have to find someone other than one of our alphas, Rodney?" Rein asked.
"I'm not presuming anything," Rodney said a bit stiffly. He sighed. "And not to copy David, but it's not like I'm that attractive. I'm too prickly. I don't even know why I was made a white."
"Do you really want to be a black?" Rein asked. "Having to take all the control in the relationship? Isn't it nicer to just let someone else take care of you?"
Rodney's cheeks were stained as red as David's were. "I guess."
"And besides, Rodney," David had to add. "Your ass is literally the best ass I've ever seen. I don't know how any male black would see it and not immediately think about drilling it."
Rodney began to sputter as Rein burst into laughter. David grinned and chose to retreat before Rodney recovered.