Title: SHEPPARD MOON
Parts: At the moment, 18, but I might divide it up differently as I post.
Status: Completed (unbelievable, I know, but it is!)
Characters: Sheppard and McKay are the heart (because I love them so), but Teyla, Weir, Ronon, Beckett, Caldwell and even Hermiod have pretty big roles.
Spoilers: All of Season One. Season Two up to Inferno. Off the top of my head, definite references to Before I Sleep, Epiphany, Sanctuary, Aurora and Trinity. Especially Trinity. If there are others, they're really minor.
Feedback: Yes please! It's the only thing that keeps me going! Well, that and copious amounts of Diet Coke.
Acknowledgement: NotTasha, as always—she's totally to blame.
A/N: I managed to avoid reading spoilers for all the episodes of this season but one. I accidentally read something about Inferno, which I regretted (because I hate being spoiled!). But, at the same time, it lodged a scenario into my brain (sort of like the way reading the spoiler for Sanctuary twisted inside my crazy brain and disgorged A Show of Trust.) So, yeah, there are a number of common elements, but I hope this is still unique enough to stand on its own. I was going to wait until Inferno aired to start posting, but, heck, they're not even remotely similar at first so...
A/N2: I am absolutely and totally clueless when it comes to physics and the hard sciences, even more so than the soft ones. Why I decided to write something like this, I don't know. To all astronomers, astrophysicists, and engineers, please forgive me and, seriously, don't bother to correct me when I really start to wing it, I probably won't understand anyway.
Description: When the shield device around an Ancient space-station begins to break down, it traps more than just our heroes...it traps the Daedalus.
CHAPTER ONE: NOT IMMEDIATELY TOXIC
"Well," Rodney muttered, crossing his arms tightly, "that doesn't look promising."
He, along with Elizabeth, Sheppard, Teyla and Ronon, were staring at the large monitor screen in the Control Room, studying the images being transmitted back by the MALP scoping out P1H-369. The feed showed a planet the color of rust, and not just on the ground. The sky was the same color, and so was the smoggy-looking air. It was like looking at the almost monochromatic images sent back from the Mars Rover Spirit, but only if the same had broadcast from inside a massive gas cloud.
As McKay said, it didn't look promising.
"You know...," Sheppard titled his head, "Kinda looks like the color of an old brown Yugo I had once, after it had been left out in too many rainstorms."
"Really?" Rodney said, glancing at him, "You had Yugo?" His eyebrows perked in honest, if horribly patronizing, curiosity. "Why?"
Sheppard just glared in return.
"Rodney," Elizabeth called quietly where she stood on his left, "the planet?"
"Oh, oh, right." The scientist leaned towards the screen a little, eyes reflecting the date being flashed down the side. "Well, the air's toxic," he said after a moment, frowning a little.
"Although," noted the Canadian tech sitting down next to them, tapping away at his keyboard controlling the MALP, "the readings do indicate the atmosphere is not immediately toxic." He sounded oddly cheerful about this fact.
"Not immediately toxic?" Sheppard repeated, arching an eyebrow. "What does that mean?"
"That the air could be breathed for a short time, perhaps a few hours, before the effects of breathing it in would overcome the respiratory system and kill you." The tech shrugged. "There is oxygen there, just not enough to sustain a human being for an overly long time."
"Huh," McKay snorted, "Did I mention, not promising?"
"I do not understand," Teyla said, peering more closely at the monitor, as if she could see something more than what was visible. "I thought you said the records indicated an outpost here. Yet, if the atmosphere is...mostly…unbreathable, what would be the point?"
"Could the atmosphere of the planet have changed in ten thousand years?" Elizabeth asked, glancing at Rodney.
"Good Lord, no," the scientist scoffed. Then, suddenly remembering who he was responding to, he swallowed nervously and smiled weakly at her arch look. He loosened his arms. "I mean, that is to say, it would be very, very unlikely. Not impossible, but very unlikely." His hands gestured quickly as he added, "I mean, it would take a cataclysmic event of epic proportions—like a comet crashing into the surface—" he smacked a fist into the palm of his other hand, "or some other terribly fantastic thing, for something like that to happen, and even then…." He shook his head, arms lifting in a shrug. "Honestly, 10,000 years is just a far, far too short span of time for something like that and, seeing as the Gate seems to be working just fine, and the planet's surface appears to be stable, and there's no overt evidence of…."
"I get it, Rodney," Elizabeth interrupted with a raised hand. "You can stop."
He smiled gratefully and returned his attention to the screen. His arms crossed again as he focused once more on the readings scrolling down the side.
"There are no obvious structures," he noted after a moment.
"Destroyed?" Sheppard asked.
"No rubble either," McKay said, frowning in puzzlement.
"Could be underground," Ronon suggested.
"Sure," McKay agreed, nodding distractedly, obviously already a few steps ahead, "But then why put the Gate on the surface?" He waved a hand vaguely at the screen. "Why not put it inside the underground outpost?"
"To hide the outpost's existence better from the Wraith? So they don't walk right into it?" Sheppard shrugged at the scientist. "Put the entrance on the surface, that way," he lifted his eyebrows, "if the Wraith can't breathe the air to look around, they might never find—"
"You forgetting something?" McKay asked, arching an eyebrow. "Remember those fast, pointy little spaceships they have? Sound kinda like mosquitoes?" He shook his head, ignoring the look Sheppard threw him. "The Wraith darts would protect them from the atmosphere. They could simply fly to the outpost entrance—because, if it's underground, I assume there is some kind of stairwell entrance—and beam themselves into it."
"Could the entrance be, somehow, only activated by the gene?" Elizabeth suggested. "If it is a transporter, for example, the Ancients might have only allowed those with the gene to have access."
That earned an eyebrow arch from McKay as he pondered the idea, then frowned. "It's a good idea, but, let's say it is a transporter of some kind…" He pursed his lips and looked at her, "if the Wraith found it and couldn't use it, then…what would they do?"
"Destroy it," Ronon growled with his trademark anger, crossing his own arms. "Wipe the location of the transporter from the face of the planet. Leave nothing but wreckage, just like every other Ancient ruin we've come across."
"Exactly," McKay said. "So, would it really matter whether the gate was on the surface or not? Unless, of course…." His eyes narrowed in thought.
"They hid the entrance beneath a cloak," Sheppard finished, glancing at the scientist.
McKay had already pushed the Canadian tech out of the way, typing furiously into the laptop--sending new instructions to the MALP. A moment later, something "blipped" on the screen. A triumphant smile crossed his face.
"I take it that's a yes to Sheppard and Ronon's theory of a hidden entrance?" Elizabeth asked, glancing at McKay.
For a moment, he looked bewildered, "Their theory?" With a shake of his head, he snorted and returned to his work.
"Yes, Elizabeth, that's a yes," Sheppard said, smiling smugly. McKay shot him a dark look, but finished whatever he was doing and straightened, pointing at the screen.
The MALP's image had shifted, focusing on a certain point, and a yellow line appeared outlining a currently invisible structure about a hundred yards directly behind the Gate.
"The entrance," he said with a smug grin.
"Okay." Elizabeth nodded, and stepped forward towards the screen and turned to look at the gathered team, "So, what we're saying is…?"
Sheppard nodded, "It's worth checking out."