NOTES: This detail demon has been bugging me since last March, so I thought I'd exorcise it by putting it on paper, so to speak. In the other Weir's world, when Atlantis was flooding, there was an active Jumper with six people in it, including a Sergeant. Weir never saw them die. Since Markham has/had the ATA gene, it's possible he was the Sergeant in that Jumper and that they survived...
DISCLAIMER: Stargate: Atlantis and all things associated with it belong to other people, though Tamura and Gupta are mine.
SPOILERS: Before I Sleep
July 23, 2004
I've never been very good at writing reports. I've always been good at avoiding them. I figured, surrounded by so many PhDs on Atlantis, some of their skills would rub off on me, though now I'm thinking book learning doesn't necessarily make you good at writing reports. Either way, I'm going to keep this log of events as a record of what's happened since we stepped through the Stargate to Atlantis. Dr. Corrigan tells me my view is just as important as any of theirs, and being in the military makes my perspective unique. So here goes.
Atlantis was amazing. It was all metal and glass, with lots of stairs and vertical lines that were kind of uplifting. I would never have guessed such a horrible thing could happen in such a beautiful place. That it had been waiting all those years for someone to return only to be destroyed when someone did return seems pointless to me. Why did they leave it intact for us to discover in the first place?
All the lights started going on when we arrived, like magic. Col. Sumner left me in the Gate room with Maj. Sheppard and Lt. Ford while he and the rest of the guys spread out to secure the area. Dr. Kavanaugh tells me this was the primary contributing factor to the fall of Atlantis, but I heard the chatter on the radio between Dr. Weir and Dr. McKay and think there's not much we could have done differently.
It turns out Atlantis really was a sunken city. It was lying on the ocean floor when we arrived. I suppose we'll never find out why, but it makes me worry about what could drive a people that powerful into hiding. I figure that's the only reasonable explanation. If the energy expenditure for shielding the city from the sea was so great as to put the city at risk, why else would they bother? The Asgard are really powerful and they've been barely surviving the Replicators, so it's not beyond the realm of possibility that the Ancients were in hiding from an equally powerful enemy. Then again, there was no structural damage like you'd get from any sort of armed conflict, so it didn't seem like there had ever been any fighting within the city, not that we got to see much of it. It still had potted plants, all dead, of course.
The Gate room was in a sort of tower in the center of the city. Only a few levels had been explored when Col. Sumner figured out we were underwater and Dr. McKay figured out we were in trouble. That's when things started falling apart. The city's shield had been holding back the water, but our arrival drained what was left of the energy. There was no hope of gating home and only a small chance of gating to another planet in Pegasus using our own generators. So the shield started collapsing, and the city started flooding with everyone scattered. Col. Sumner was one of the first to die.
Dr. Weir sent Maj. Sheppard and Lt. Ford to a room above the Gate room where a bunch of small ships had been discovered while Dr. McKay and Dr. Grodin tried to figure out how to use the Stargate to escape the city. Maj. Sheppard reported the ships could hold several people each but piloting them might be a problem. Little did he know how right he was. About the same time, bulkheads started trapping people in the lower levels. Dr. McKay told Dr. Weir to go to the ships while he tried to open the bulkheads, open the landing bay roof and figure out how to gate out. I don't know how he thought he had any chance of doing all that, but Dr. Simpson assures me if anyone could have done it, it was Dr. McKay.
Dr. Weir ordered Maj. Sheppard and Lt. Ford to gather as many survivors as they could. I was one of the ones Lt. Ford took to the bay. He went back for more after ordering me to stay in the ship. It was about then that the Gate room became sealed off and began to flood. That's when Dr. McKay turned his full attention to opening the roof of the landing bay so those of us who'd made it to ships could escape. Maj. Sheppard had only managed to get Dr. Weir and one scientist onto his ship, while I had mine almost full with five. Lt. Ford never made it back to the bay.
I'm not used to doing this with a pencil, so my hand is cramping. We've got a long day, tomorrow, so this is enough for tonight.
July 25, 2004
I never thought I'd be digging latrines on an alien world, but I never though I'd be marooned on one with no modern necessities, either. Everyone pitched in, but Dr. Corrigan and I did most of it. For a PhD, he sure knows how to dig a ditch. Seems he's done some archeological work in his years as an anthropologist. He might not be Marine material, but he's pretty tough. He told me people who've spent the day digging a latrine together should call each other by their first names, but for the record, I'll continue referring to him as Dr. Corrigan here. After all our hard work yesterday, today's a bit more relaxing, so I have time to write some more.
So I was in a ship in the landing bay with five civilians. The ships seem to be just the right size to fit through a Gate, so I figured, if they did dial to another part of Pegasus, we could get down there somehow and follow them through. But then the city trapped us in the bay and the Gate room flooded.
I have the gene that lets you work Ancient technology, so the ship turned on for me. This was good, because otherwise we'd all be dead. Maj. Sheppard also has the gene and was the only officer left, but he was in his own ship, across the bay. The bay was in the top of the tower, so it was one of the last rooms to flood. I admit I was a bit panicked. I've lost guys before, but never so many, so fast.
I tried to get orders from the Maj. He was having problems of his own, since his ship was apparently different, that and they were still trying to figure out how or if the bay roof opened. One of the others must have closed the rear hatch. I should find out who. All I got from the Maj. was an order not to panic. Then he was gone. Dr. Simpson saw it, too, or I'd have questioned my sanity. One second the Maj.'s ship was there, the next, it wasn't. That's when it hit me that I was all that was left, a Sgt. with a ship full of civilians. Somehow this calmed me.
I got them all to quiet down, though Miss Gupta, who's a nurse, couldn't stop crying. I explained the situation to them as calmly as I could. We were in an alien vehicle and I needed to concentrate to figure out how it worked if we were going to live. Dr.s Corrigan, Simpson and Kavanaugh can all read Ancient, but they were only so much help. Just like you might expect in a personal vehicle back home, it's not as though there was an operator's manual. Through trial and error, I eventually figured out the basics, but it took a lot of bumps and time. By then, the whole place was flooded.
The roof of the bay was open when we got to it, though whether it was an automated response to our approach or the work of Dr. McKay, I don't know. Dr. Simpson insists it was because of Dr. McKay. She believes only an intentional override would explain the roof being open while everything else was under an emergency shutdown. Dr. Kavanaugh says it's speculation, but so far Dr. Simpson's instincts have been right on the money. I'd like to believe it, since I heard Dr. Weir tell Dr. McKay to escape, but he stayed behind to keep working at trying to save the others and us. Either way, I'm thankful it was open.
July 26, 2004
Dr. Tamura is a botanist and she's been testing the plants. Together with the big bird I shot and the fish Dr. Corrigan caught, she cooked us our first non-MRE meal. It boosted morale, which we really need. After the loss of so many people and the possibility of our being stuck here for a very long time, sometimes the only thing that keeps us going is work. Fortunately, there's plenty of that.
Once we cleared the tower, I took it to the surface slowly, since I didn't want to risk the bends. Dr. Kavanaugh thought it didn't matter, but Miss Gupta backed me up. I also pointed out we were in an emergency situation and that I was both the only military and the only pilot. That quieted him down, though I understand his need for escape.
I still think it's strange that there were no fish or plants anywhere near the city. The Dr.s have speculated the force field that had held out the water adversely affected fish, so they'd want to avoid the place. We've found fish elsewhere, so there must have been some reason for it.
Once we made it to the surface, I learned to fly the ship. Fortunately, it was a calm, clear day, but there was no land in sight. The Dr.s Simpson and Kavanaugh got into an argument over the best course of action. Dr. Kavanaugh was worried the power in the ship was as depleted as that of the city. I guess flying bothers him more than underwater travel. Dr. Simpson believes there's no reason to think the ship's power is low because it wasn't in use like the city's shield. Fortunately, everyone can swim, so if it had come to that, we might have made it anyway. It was Dr. Corrigan who was the most help. He took the copilot's chair and coaxed me through several mental exercises. One of them resulted in a map popping up on the windshield of the ship. It showed land, so we headed toward it.
Dr.s Corrigan and Tamura agreed we should land along a fresh water route near the ocean for the most diversity in the ecosystem, diversity that could be vital to our survival. I was too busy flying the ship to worry about it too much, but in hindsight, I appreciate the wisdom of their choice. They picked a nice spot and I flew us there. We've been camping in some caves near a stream about 3km from the beach.
Once we landed, I lost track of things for a bit. It was as though I'd done my part and could shut down for a while. Miss Gupta says it was stress and all of us were suffering from it. I've been in a lot of bad situations without the stress getting to me like that, but I suppose I've never been in a fix quite like this. Before, I always knew there was a larger service out there to back me up, but not anymore. Yes, I knew the risks coming out here, but I never imagined being the sole surviving member of the military. At least back home, you can go to a funeral, you can see that the person has died. I've seen nothing, not one body. It's hard to believe they're all gone.
July 27, 2004
Miss Gupta created a trio of solar showers today. I don't quite know how she managed to make it work, but she washed and cut the MRE wrappers and melted them together to form big bags. Then she attached some tubing to smaller bags full of holes. You hang the bag up and open the tube between the bags by releasing a medical clamp. When left in the sun, the water in the bag heats up well enough. We guys threw up a quick shower stall made out of bark like we use for the latrines and agreed the ladies should have the first go at it. It was the first smile I'd seen on Dr. Tamura's face. I went last, though Dr. Corrigan suggested I needed it most. I'd traded my deodorant to Dr. Kavanaugh for a pair of Snickers. I figure we'll all be stinky sooner or later, but if smelling nice for a bit longer is worth the last candy bar in the galaxy, more power to him. My bag of water hadn't had as much time to heat up, but it was a lot better than the stream. Warm showers and hot food: score two for the ladies.
After we landed, Dr.s Corrigan and Kavanaugh set off in search of the caves we're using for camp. I wanted to go with them, but Dr. Simpson insisted I stay and work on figuring out the ship's systems. It's not like any of them can make the thing go. So she worked with me as we went over the ship in great detail. She kept track of everything in a notebook, figuring the computer power needed to be reserved for more important uses. Yes, we have a computer, several computers, actually. But this is how I found out some of our supplies included notebooks like this one.
While Dr. Simpson and I worked on the ship, Dr. Tamura and Miss Gupta cataloged all the supplies we had with us. Our supplies may be fairly slim, but we could have done a lot worse. Miss Gupta had grabbed some medical supplies, including a basic medical kit, pain killers and antibiotics. She says she's no surgeon, but if any of us breaks something, all we'll need to figure out is a sling or crutches. We also have three computers: two standard laptops and a handheld one that does something more specialized with probes on cables attached to it. Dr. Simpson has been using it to figure out the ship's systems. We have my pack and Dr. Corrigan's, which include hand axes, folding shovels, blankets, shirts, MREs, etc. though the MREs are nearly gone, now. I have several more clips for my P-90, but not my 9mm. The P-90 is more useful for hunting, anyway. Dr. Tamura brought her personal bag, which has a variety of everyday items. She's expressed embarrassment over not bringing something more useful, but the other ladies are grateful to have more clothing options. We're all grateful to have more toothpaste and soap. Dr.s Simpson and Kavanaugh are responsible for the computers and a few other technical supplies. Somehow we ended up with a box of notebooks. No one will admit to bringing it, but it's turned out useful in the end.
It was while testing out the ship that Dr. Simpson and I discovered a handheld Ancient device that detects life signs. I'm the only one who can use it, which is fine, since I'm the one who can use the P-90. Finding game is pretty easy with this thing. We also were able to figure out how to use the radios with the ship's communications. Dr. Kavanaugh said he lost a few years when we contacted them over the radio. Seems he'd forgotten he was wearing an earpiece. Dr. Simpson also figured out a way to recharge the computer batteries using the ship's power, though there's been some debate as to the sense in this.
Dr. Simpson has argued since the first day that we have to go back, if only to leave a message in case Earth tries to gate to Atlantis. I agree with her, though Dr. Kavanaugh disagrees, which seems to be a pattern with him. The others are uncertain. I suggested we try to fly to another planet or something, but that idea was shot down quickly, since Gates tend to be impossibly far apart. Dr.s Simpson and Kavanaugh say the ship is space-worthy, so I don't understand why they're so reluctant to try it. If it can fly in space, doesn't it make sense there's something in space to fly to? It's not as though there's ever been a Gate in space. Neither Dr. Simpson nor Dr. Kavanaugh can figure out how much power is left in the ship. I suppose running out of power somewhere up there would be a pointless way to go. Dr. Corrigan would like to use the ship to scout for ruins, which might lead to another power source, another Gate or some other useful technology. He argues the Ancients are the Gate builders, so having another Gate like Earth once did makes sense. Dr. Kavanaugh thinks we should conserve the power of the ship for emergencies and practical purposes, such as construction, though I'm not clear on how we'd manage that. He also thinks risking the ship and lives isn't worth leaving a message. His best argument is that it's just as likely or more likely that anyone coming to Atlantis from Earth would be using a ship, not the Gate. We know the radio and the ship's communications are compatible. He believes we should reserve the energy for monitoring potential radio messages. He's also suggested we try to send an SOS, though he and Dr. Simpson argue whether the ship's communications can make a signal that would escape the planet. Dr. Corrigan worries such a distress call might attract unwanted attention. I don't see how that's possible if the nearest Gate or anything else useful is likely too far to fly to.
There have been missions involving underwater Gates, so we know the possibility exists. MALPs do okay for a bit underwater, too. If we don't leave a message, then if Earth does manage to gate to Atlantis, there's no reason for them to think anyone survived. Working on the assumption the ship might have a shield like the one that had held the water back in Atlantis, Dr. Simpson has put all her effort into figuring out a way to create a shield around the ship. It extends beyond the hatch when it's open. In theory, we can use the ship's force field to hold back the water while setting out a message, then close the hatch, deactivate the field, and leave the message without ever getting wet. We've tested it in the creek. The big question is could we get to the Gate room if we did go back? Dr. Simpson is willing to try and has come up with a preliminary design for a message. If it increases our chances of ever getting home, I'm all for it. Maybe the others are still in too much shock, but this plan gives me some hope.
July 28, 2004
Today, we held a memorial service for those who died on Atlantis. Dr. Kavanaugh thought we had better things to do with our time, but I agree with Dr. Corrigan and Miss Gupta. It's been a week, and we need some sort of closure, something to make it real. We're not on some camping trip. We're surviving. We're stuck here until who knows when. We also need a chance to grieve. Besides, it may be Wednesday back on Earth, but resting once every seven days is a good idea.
Together, we went down to the shore. In a nice clearing overlooking the sea and the direction of Atlantis, we built a shrine of sorts, one stone for each person who died. Everyone spoke about friends we'd lost, even Dr. Kavanaugh. Dr. Tamura was so choked up, she could only speak in Japanese. Miss Gupta sang something in Hindu, I think. Maybe it was a prayer. I don't know what the words meant, but the sentiment was right. I left my lucky poker chip I won off of Sgt. Stackhouse last year. I figure I've used up all of my luck just being here. Most of the others left something, too. We did what we could. All I can do is pray their souls find peace, even though we're so far from home.
We spent the day on the beach, eating some of the last MREs and some of the stores of nuts and dried fruit Dr. Tamura has been having us gather. She taught us about edible sea plants and how to harvest and dry them. I never thought I'd be grateful for seaweed, but she says it has important nutrients in it, at least similar ones on Earth do. I had my deck of playing cards. Although I didn't feel like playing, the others seemed glad for the distraction. It almost felt unreal, relaxing on a beautiful beach while stranded a galaxy away from home. To be something other than weary seems somehow wrong after losing so many people.
We got back just before sunset. Dr. Simpson pulled me aside to tell me she was determined not to let her friends' sacrifice of their lives go to waste. She said she didn't want to spoil the day with an argument, but she intends to return to Atlantis to leave a message, with or without the approval of the others. Since she can't fly the ship, she needs my help. Without it, she sees no point in trying, since she doesn't know how to build a boat, sail nor deep sea dive without equipment. I think if she did, she'd do it solo. I told her I was in.
July 29, 2004
We built a second shower and Dr. Corrigan taught us how to make charcoal, which is more complicated than you'd think. We also dug an official trash pit by expanding and deepening a hollow that's over the hill and usually downwind of our camp. Dr. Tamura and Miss Gupta insisted we have one for health reasons, especially with us changing over from nearly waste-free MREs to local fare. Dr. Tamura also instructed us about composting and started a heap relatively near the cave. She swears, if properly maintained, it won't smell. Digging the pit was slightly less exhausting than digging the latrines.
July 30, 2004
It really hit the fan, today. It rained. We only have the two sets of outdoor gear. Dr. Tamura insisted on continuing her research into the plants here, as well as gathering what food she could. So she took one coat and Dr. Corrigan took the other to go fishing. He's really good at it, so I didn't think twice about it. Now I wish he'd stayed. Not only would I have preferred to have been fishing instead of caught between Dr.s Simpson and Kavanaugh, but Dr. Corrigan never seems to get angry, always seems to have a different perspective on things and has knack for soothing the tensions between these two. I don't. I'm used to one person being in charge and making the decisions with everyone else obeying. This decision by committee stuff is a pain. I don't know if I should try to be in charge or not, but I'm not sure I could if I tried. Being the youngest, least educated person in the group doesn't help.
Things started out all right, with all of us cracking open the nuts we'd been gathering over the last week and storing the meats in an empty equipment container. We also played some cards and told stories of home. Eventually Dr. Simpson brought up her plan to return to Atlantis to leave a message and that I had agreed to help her. It got pretty ugly. She and Dr. Kavanaugh both said some terrible things. Miss Gupta didn't say anything, but I could tell she would have liked to have been someplace else. I tried to be diplomatic about it, but what it all boils down to is that I'm the only one who can fully operate that ship. If I want to go back, the others can't stop me. And if Dr. Kavanaugh cared so much about the rules he's always referring to, then he'd appreciate our situation gives me, the last military member of our party, authority. I said as much and that's when Dr. Kavanaugh really lost it. I thought he was going to take me on. He's a pretty big guy, but I almost wish he had. Maybe it might have settled things between us. I don't know if it's my being the only one to have the gene or my being in the military or my siding with Dr. Simpson or what, but he has definitely made me the target of his issues. We really shouldn't be divided, but there's no uniting over this.
July 31, 2004
It rained again. I didn't want to spend another day in the cave with Dr.s Simpson and Kavanaugh, so I went with Dr. Tamura to the beach to collect seaweed and shellfish. I figured, with me to help and carry what she finds, she can gather more. Miss Gupta didn't want me to go out in the rain without a coat for fear of my catching cold, but the weather's been mild enough. It wasn't so bad, though I'm beginning to wonder if my pants will ever get dry again.
Doctor Tamura is just as methodical as the other Dr.s, but there's something about the way she does things that's more precise and intense. She's already on her fifth notebook, cataloging everything. Plus she can draw amazingly well, though I suppose that makes sense, given her field. Dr. Corrigan seems to be better at explaining things, though both he and she are equally practical in their outlook. They both know food's going to be our biggest concern and based on the rings of a tree we cut down and the variety of plants, Dr. Tamura says there are probably seasons here similar to the US's Mid-Atlantic region. We should expect occasional freezing temperatures in winter and the possibility of gatherable food running out. The Dr.s Simpson and Kavanaugh claim there's probably no milder climate for us to move to on this continent, though I don't quite follow how they worked that out. Since Dr. Tamura is the best qualified to figure out what will and won't kill us, she seems to be relentless in her studies, as though every minute is precious to our survival. How she figures anything out with no equipment, I don't know, but she has yet to steer us wrong. We brought back a pretty decent haul.
Another day with Dr. Kavanaugh in the cave drove Dr. Simpson to the ship for testing. At least that's where she was when we got back. I feel sorry for Miss Gupta, being stuck with them like that, but she said something about it that got me thinking. She said Dr. Kavanaugh is just worried, though it comes out as anger. I don't know why I didn't think of it before now. Dr.s Kavanaugh and Simpson are the only two of us who have worked together prior to gating to Atlantis. They know each other well enough to get on each other's nerves easily. Unlike the rest of us, he still has someone he knows personally to lose, someone who understands him. I guess I'd be leery of losing the last person I really knew, too, but I'd like to think I wouldn't let it get in the way of what needs to be done.