Title: Mission Report
Word Count: 5000
Disclaimer: I don't own Stargate Atlantis or indeed the Brave Little Toaster (although admittedly, it only sort of but not quite in a maybe kind of way references that one ;-) ), and I make no profit from this, it's all for giggles :D
Summary: Team Sheppard vs Demonic Appliances Given Artificial Intelligence By An Idiot. It's just one of those days you don't really want to record in a mission report.
Author's Note: This was originally written for the sgagenfication 2008 over on livejournal :) For the prompt of Humour and Artificial Intelligence
PX3 8M2. John stared at the blank mission report in front of him wondering if the city would be kind enough to stage an emergency so he could avoid it for a while longer. He waited hopefully a moment but nothing happened. He gave the empty document a mutinous look.
"Trying to write the report up?" Rodney asked looking up from his own laptop.
John closed the document and flagged up minesweeper. "Not anymore."
"Done mine," Ronon announced from across the room, looking deeply satisfied with himself.
John glared at him. He knew from experience Ronon turned in reports that said little more than 'went to PX3 8M2, got attacked, came home' but no one ever mentioned it because no one wanted to get on Ronon's bad side. John had tried it once and had received a long stare in reply. Yeah, that had definitely been one of their better talks.
John crossed his arms. "Toaster."
The grin faded and John got a look that promised retribution at a later date. John refused to let it bother him. Something was bound to come up before their next sparring session. Bound to.
He looked over at Rodney. "How did you start yours?"
Earlier that day
"I'm picking up some interesting low level energy readings," said Rodney, studying his scanner.
John flicked on his sunglasses. "ZPM interesting?" He rested his hand lightly on his P90 and stared out across the wide, open field to the forest beyond.
Rodney shot him a withering look. "Did I not just say low level? No, not a ZPM but something else. I say it definitely warrants a look."
"Any lifesigns?" John asked.
Rodney pulled out the lifesigns detector and stared down at the screen. "None showing up. Just the usual wildlife." He tucked it away impatiently. "Energy readings? Can we get a move on?"
John looked across at Ronon and Teyla. "Looks like we're moving."
Rodney pushed past him and started heading off towards the forest. Rolling his eyes John moved to catch up with him as Teyla and Ronon joined them.
"It's quiet," John commented as Teyla gently nudged Rodney out the path of an oncoming tree.
"If the next words out of your mouth are 'too quiet' I'm stealing your film collection," Rodney momentarily looked up from his scanner and pulled a face. "Clearly it's rotting your brain with clichés. It's like the starting sentence of every crappy film where someone says it and then everyone's doomed to die in a variety of horrible and bloody ways. It's just asking for trouble."
"I never believed you to be...superstitious, Rodney," said Teyla pushing a tree branch out the way.
John could actually hear the look of indignation pass across Rodney's face.
"We fight Space Vampires," Rodney spluttered defensively, waving his scanner as he spoke. "Saying things like that is just asking for trouble, it's not like we've got such a great track record when it comes to missions when people try to kill us – I'm just saying why bother even risking it." He snorted and turned his attention back to his scanner. "It's like when someone says 'lets go explore that creepy old house that people say a group of kids once died violently in and still hear weird noises from', it's just asking for trouble."
"Like when Weir tells us to be safe or good luck," said Ronon his eyes on their surroundings.
"No, that's a positive –"John began, and then paused. The man had a point. How many times did they almost die or get shot at when Elizabeth said that?
Teyla narrowed her eyes at them. "Doctor Weir is not cursing us."
Rodney came to a standstill and examined his scanner again. John leant over his shoulder and peered down at the readings as he swiped the lifesigns detector from Rodney's pocket. Rodney glared at him. "Do you mind?" John held up his hands and took a step back. Rodney consulted the readings once more then set off walking again, narrowly avoiding crashing into another tree.
John stared at the brightly lit screen. Still no lifesigns. Frowning he tucked the device away and looked up to see Ronon staring at him. "No one here," he shrugged. He turned to follow on after Rodney and saw Teyla once more nudging Rodney away from a tree.
John stretched out, wincing as tender skin pulled tight and protested the movement. "How much did you tell about the walk there?"
"Just that we walked through a forest following energy readings," said Rodney, tapping at his laptop keyboard. He gave John a withering look. "When writing mission reports starting at the beginning usually helps. I'd have thought you'd at least have that bit written down."
John glared at him in response. "Thanks, Rodney." He opened up the document again and reluctantly closed minesweeper.
"Besides," said Rodney blithely. "It's the rest of the report that's going to take some creative thinking. I mean the house bit is fine but the thing with the toaster –" John cleared his throat and tried not to twitch. Rodney rolled his eyes. "Fine, the artificial intelligence."
They stopped at the edge of the forest in front of a large dwelling. Rodney looked from his scanner, to the dwelling, then back to his scanner again. John took off his sunglasses and folded them into his pocket. The building seemed almost metallic in structure, its design eerily reminiscent of Atlantis.
"It's Ancient," Rodney muttered staring at his scanner. John watched Rodney wave a hand at him then set off towards the place with determination. Rodney paused at the door and nodded. "Whatever it is its inside."
John pulled out the lifesigns detector again. The brightly lit screen showed only four lifesigns. "Looks like no one's home." He looked across at Rodney then up at the building. "Odd place to have a base; it doesn't look like anything else we've found. What do you think?"
"I can't tell from out here," Rodney snapped irritably, yanking a powerbar from his pocket and ripping open the wrapper. "It could be a lab, a hideout, an observation post – I need to see inside. Besides whatever it was from the looks of these readings they've left behind some incred – " He paused as the door suddenly lit up for him as he moved. A second later it slid open. Rodney blinked. "Definitely Ancient."
John, Teyla and Ronon were by Rodney's side in an instant all peering into the building. His hand on his P90 John pushed past Rodney and stepped inside. The room within automatically lit up to reveal countertops spread with bits of equipment and strange devices lining the walls that stretched round all the walls of the room, broken only by a door that led further into the building. Rodney shoved past him and started running his hands across all the equipment.
"It looks a little like your lab, Rodney," said Teyla staring at a pile of weirdly shaped objects on one countertop beside what had perhaps been a mug at one point but was now growing its own world of mould that stretched up the wall behind it.
Rodney snorted. "Please, my lab is far more organised. This – " He gestured round the room. "This is more like a workroom." He ate the powerbar in three bites and tucked the wrapper away in his pocket.
John eyed the mould growing out the mug and the towering piles of equipment and half finished devices. "Looks like the lab to me."
"Oh ha ha."
A small chinking noise caught John's attention. He saw Ronon moving towards the internal doorway, gun in hand, and Teyla moving to stand beside Rodney. Ronon waved his hand over the door release and peered round the corner. The space beyond the doorway was pitch black. John took silent steps forward till he was stood beside Ronon at the doorway. The lights flickered on to reveal a second room beyond, far tidier than the one they were stood in.
"It was probably just equipment shifting," said Rodney peering over John's shoulder through the doorway. "Anything interesting through there?"
Rolling his eyes John stepped into the room and took a look round. There was a bed along one wall covered in a dusty, well worn blanket attached to a socket in the wall, with a small table beside it bearing a table lamp. Along the other side wall was what looked like a kitchen area complete with what appeared to be an Ancient version of a toaster sat on top of the middle cabinet. Almost everything was coated with a layer of thick dust. John turned back to the others. "Living space."
Teyla stepped through into the room to join him. She ran her hand across the blanket on the bed. "This has lasted well." She jerked her hand back staring at the blanket on the bed and squatted down to get a closer look.
John looked across at her. "What's up?"
Teyla frowned, straightening up. "For a moment I thought..." She shook her head. "It is nothing."
There was another small clinking noise. John tensed and made eye contact with Teyla. "You hear that?"
John poked his head through the door. "You drop something?"
Rodney shot him a scathing look. "No. Come here, I need you to switch these on."
John rolled his eyes. "Do you know what they are?"
"That's why I need you to switch them on so I can find out," said Rodney impatiently, holding up a small hexagonal device to his scanner. "It's odd though. All of this isn't matching up to the power levels I'm reading. What's through the other room?"
John shrugged and dutifully took hold of the hexagonal device. "Living space – bed and a mini kitchen. Nothing interesting." He glanced round the workspace. "Anything interesting here?"
"Because I can tell after five seconds of being here?" Rodney snapped. He glanced down at his scanner. "Are you thinking 'on' or are you wondering when your next supply of hair gel is coming through on the Daedalus?"
John suppressed his automatic desire to reach up and check his hair. "Maybe it's just dead."
Rodney snatched it from his hand and tossed it down on the counter before moving on to the next device. "The other room is a living space? Anything in there?"
"Other than the mini kitchen and the bed?" John pulled a face as Rodney slapped another device into his hand and concentrated 'on' at it.
"The guy might have hidden stuff around there," Rodney shrugged and stared at the scanner as the little device lit up in John's hand.
"Hidden stuff around?" John shot the device a wary look as it flashed in steady sequence. "This isn't gonna explode is it?"
Rodney leant over and prodded the device causing the flashing to stop and become a continuous beam of light. "Huh, just a flashlight." He snatched it from John and tossed it aside. "Yeah, if you don't hide the good stuff you find yourself discovering the only thing left only is the Ancient equivalent of a flashlight." He glared at the previous device and picked up the next one on the pile. "Try this one."
John stared at him. "You hide unknown Ancient tech round your room?"
Rodney tilted his chin defensively. "Will you just switch this on?"
"Can't you do this yourself?" John glared at the next device mutinously and willed it to switch on.
"It's hard to switch it on and check the readings at the same time," said Rodney waving a hand dismissively.
"So you think there might be something hidden in the other room?" John asked as the next device stubbornly refused to initiate.
Rodney shoved the device aside. "Well everything I've managed to identify in here that is complete is flashlights and other meaningless things." He gestured at the other countertops in the room. "But the rest of this stuff is all half finished projects – one of them even has what looks like a screwdriver still stuck in it. Whoever was here left in a hurry."
"So there's nothing in here worth taking back," John surmised.
"Did I say that?" Rodney snapped. "Have you seen how much stuff there is here? Who knows what this guy was working on; I've barely scratched the surface! I merely pointed out everything I've found so far is pretty useless. You should still give the other room a thorough search, you know, like in the cupboards, under the mattress – " He paused as John gave him an odd look. "What? Afraid you're gonna find his porn collection or something? What are you, twelve?"
John drummed his fingers lightly against the laptop keyboard, and winced. "You mentioned every single device we looked at?"
"I'm only relaying what we did," said Rodney airily, not bothering to look up from his laptop screen.
John carefully typed his name into the document, wincing at the pain in his fingers. "You didn't concentrate as much on the walk there."
Rodney snorted. "Because we did nothing except walk from the 'gate to the building. The technology we found could have real benefits."
"What the flashlight?" John blinked. "I guess if we ever run out of batteries..." Rodney pulled a face in return and started typing. John gave him a sideways look. "You fill your reports with as much pointless information as possible so the person reading it gets bored and files it away without paying close attention, don't you?"
Rodney shuffled awkwardly. "At least I have mine almost done, have you written anything beyond your own name yet?"
John glanced down at his laptop. "Yep," he lied. "What have you got left to do?"
Rodney gave him a knowing smirk, then sighed and stretched his arms. "Just the end bit. It's kind of hard to phrase 'we got our asses handed to us by a –' OW!" He rubbed his head and glared at Ronon. "Oh very mature." He chucked the cushion back at Ronon where it landed harmlessly on the big man's foot.
"It was a cushion, Rodney," said John watching Rodney rub his head.
"Yeah, thrown by Ronon, the guy who can take out half your marines without breaking a sweat," said Rodney emphatically.
Across the room Ronon gave a feral grin, John considered his options and decided to use his powers as team leader not to intervene. Rodney scowled. Teyla shot them all a frustrated look before taking a deep breath to calm herself.
"So you're at the bit where..." John trailed off giving Rodney a meaningful look.
Rodney nodded and leant back. "It's just going to take some creative thought."
John stared at the almost blank document on his laptop. "Yeah, I see what you mean."
Back to Earlier
John looked away from the pile of devices as the small chinking sound reached his ears once more. He wandered over to the doorway frowning. "Ronon, Teyla, everything ok in there?" He glanced down as his foot connected with something.
The toaster was sitting innocuously on the floor. John crouched down and caught sight of a dark stain covering the bottom left corner of it. Frowning he reached out and touched it only to have his fingers come away red and sticky. "Blood," he murmured. He raised his head. "Ronon! Teyla!"
"Something up?" Rodney asked from behind him.
There was that small chinking sound again as the toaster moved, John blinked in disbelief. "What the –"
"The Master will need to see you," said a small voice, soundly oddly tinny.
John's jaw dropped as he stared at the toaster. The thing moved again.
"You're trespassing," the tinny voice whispered. John realised with a jolt the voice was coming from the toaster.
"Sheppard what are you doing?" Rodney asked sounding irritable. "What's with the voice? Is there something there?"
"You're in trouble now," the toaster whispered.
Thoroughly disturbed John jumped as Rodney leant over his shoulder.
"I guess that explains the power readings," Rodney breathed fearfully.
John barely jerked his head to look at the other man when the toaster collided painfully with the side of his head causing him to fall back against Rodney effectively pinning the other man down. The toaster landed neatly on his chest.
"Lights out, trespasser," the toaster hissed, it leapt forward and then everything went dark.
John awoke sometime later, his head pounding in time with his heartbeat and for some reason with his fingers feeling like they were on fire. He prised his eyes open and automatically shut them again in defence against the bright light.
"Colonel Sheppard," a voice whispered somewhere to his left. John belatedly realised it was Teyla as she spoke again. "John, can you hear me?" Her voice was barely audible.
"Mmhmm." He tried opening his eyes again. This time squinting till the light stopped feeling like it was burning a hole in his brain. His surroundings blurred and he blinked impatiently trying to clear his vision only to discover he was lying on the floor of the living space.
"The, ah, toaster knocked out Ronon whilst he was looking in the cupboards," Teyla murmured. "I did not have chance to help before the blanket enveloped me from behind."
John blinked; the blanket was in on it too? He swallowed as his head ached in protest of the insane situation. He slowly rolled over, shutting his eyes against the sudden dizziness provoked by movement. "Where's Ronon and Rodney?" He asked trying to be as quiet as possible.
"Ronon is unconscious still, I am not sure where Rodney is," said Teyla staring at him worriedly.
"Then why are we still laid here?" John asked making a feeble attempt to push himself up.
"Because," a brightly cheerful voice announced. "If you move I'll burn a hole in your friend's forehead and then maybe jump up and down on his face a bit."
"The lamp has Ronon," said Teyla helping John sit up. "I awoke only moments before you did. And our weapons have been taken."
John attempted to process this. "We're being held hostage by a lamp."
Teyla hesitated a moment then eventually nodded. John sighed, Space Vampires, Replicators and now talking household appliances, figured.
"You must remain here till the Master arrives," said the Lamp cheerfully.
"What about my teammate?" John asked raising his hand and staring in confusion at his burnt and blistered fingers – when did that happen?
The Lamp tilted it's bulb a little further away from Ronon's face. "What about him?"
"What have you done with him?" John demanded trying not to make it blatantly obvious he was being held up by the wall. He clearly failed as Teyla shifted position to support him better.
The Lamp tilted its bulb back towards Ronon's face, leaning it against his skin. "I haven't done anything." Ronon's skin began to turn pink from the heat coming off the bulb. "I'm just keeping you all here for when the Master returns." It tilted the bulb away and the light brightened. "Isn't that a nice colour?"
John stared at the pink mark on Ronon's forehead.
"Who is the Master?" Teyla asked neatly changing the subject.
The Lamp tilted the bulb towards her. "The creator, he made us, gave us a voice, we serve him."
"When's he coming back?" John gently flexed his sore, burnt fingers.
The Lamp seemed to almost shrug, as much as a household appliance could shrug that is. "Soon. He wouldn't leave us."
John remembered the mould growing out the mug, tools still half stuck in various devices and the layer of dust that covered almost everything. "Looked to us like no one had been here a while."
"Doesn't mean he won't come back," said the Lamp, its bulb moving dangerously close to Ronon's forehead again.
"How long has he been gone?" Teyla's voice was surprisingly gentle.
The Lamp didn't reply.
Rodney smirked. "I still can't believe you allowed yourself to be held hostage by a lamp."
John considered chucking the laptop at Rodney's head. "I was concussed! Ronon was unconscious and Teyla had just been smothered by a blanket. What was your excuse?"
"I was being held back by the blanket, the toaster – " John and Ronon twitched simultaneously. "– had burnt me and my ribs were bruised from your bony excuse for a body driving me into the ground!" Rodney snapped back defensively. "And I hit my head! Who knows how many valuable brain cells were lost?"
"I'm not bony!" John snapped back.
"Try telling that to my ribs!"
A quiet noise of frustration caught their attention. On the sofa beside Ronon, Teyla glared at them. "Would you please be quiet, I am trying to finish my report."
"You've not finished it yet either?" John asked. "How have you done it?"
"I am merely ensuring my spelling and punctuation is correct," said Teyla narrowing her eyes at them. "It is hard to concentrate on my work when you two are talking so loudly." She pointedly turned her attention back to the laptop perched on her knees.
All was silent for a moment; John looked around the rec room and was disappointed to see everyone was now focused on their laptops – including Ronon, although John knew the big guy was playing games.
"Hey Rodney," he whispered. "How did you refer to the... lamp and stuff?"
Rodney's gaze flickered across to Teyla. "Demonic appliances given artificial intelligence by an idiot," he said in a stage whisper. "AI appliances for short." He rolled his eyes. "Considering how sensitive everyone was about calling them what they were."
John gave him a pointed look. "Did you want to tell everyone you were held back by a blanket?"
Earlier Once More
"If you guys have been here as long as I think you have," said John. "I think it's pretty safe to say your Master is long dead."
The Lamp seemed to freeze. "That's not true." It pressed its bulb against Ronon's head again. "Take it back."
"Think how long ago the Master left," said Teyla gently, her eyes never leaving the bulb. "How many years have you been here alone?"
"He will return for us," the Lamp spat.
Ronon groaned quietly, beginning to stir. The Lamp pressed the bulb harder against Ronon's face.
"Hurting him will not bring the Master back!" said Teyla sharply.
Ronon groaned again and in one swift move, brought a large hand up and swatted the lamp aside. Seizing the moment Teyla leapt up and kicked the Lamp further away from her injured teammates then snatched it up and bashed it repeatedly against the wall, ignoring the Lamp's pitiful cries.
John leant over Ronon wincing in sympathy at the painfully large red mark on Ronon's forehead. "Ronon, wake up. C'mon buddy, wake up for me."
Teyla knelt on the other side of Ronon, the mangled lamp still gripped in her hands. Ronon's eyes snapped open. Teyla laid a soothing hand on his shoulder. "Be still, Ronon. It is us."
John squinted at the closed off doorway and briefly wondered how a set of evil household appliances could even close it, but dismissed the thoughts before the excessive levels of crazy he was dealing with today broke his brain.
Ronon grunted. "What happened?"
Teyla held up the mangled lamp by way of an explanation. "We were held hostage by this; it appears that the appliances here are sentient."
Ronon pushed himself up on his elbows with little difficulty and stared between the lamp and his teammates. "We were held hostage by a lamp?" A smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. "Why didn't you kill it?"
John glared at him. "You can't talk; you were knocked out by a toaster."
Wordlessly Ronon shoved himself to his feet ignoring the helping hand Teyla offered. John attempted to stand and was proud he only swayed twice before regaining his equilibrium.
"I say we go get Rodney then get out of here," he announced staring at the closed door. He staggered over to the door release and waved his hand over it. The door remained shut. Sighing John shut his eyes and pressed his hand against it, trying to coax the Ancient tech to respond to his magic gene and open the door.
Eventually the door finally responded and smoothly slid open to reveal Rodney knelt on the floor in front of what almost appeared to be a vacuum cleaner with the blanket curled over his back and round his arms. One hand was locked inside the toaster.
"Oh thank God!" Rodney cried struggling to free himself. "You took your time!"
"No!" The toaster screeched turning to face them, making a small clinking sound as it involuntarily released Rodney's burnt hand. "What have you done to him?!" With a cry it launched itself at them.
Swinging the mangled lamp like a racket Teyla smashed the toaster into the far wall. It slid down sparking pathetically.
Rodney gasped as the blanket curled around his torso, locking his arms down by his side and slowly squeezing his chest. "Little help!"
Ronon smoothly removed one of the knives from his hair and started hacking at the blanket. It released a high pitched wail that grated painfully against John's aching head, and judging from the wince on Ronon's face wasn't doing much for him either. Rodney went red in the face gasping like a fish as the blanket drew round him tighter with every cut Ronon made.
Ronon finally sliced the blanket in half and Rodney fell against the floor gasping as his teammates pulled the remaining bits of blanket off him. John leant against the wall in relief, rubbing his pounding head.
"Everyone ok?" John looked at the others in turn. Ronon gave a small nod followed by a slight wince.
"I am fine," said Teyla tossing the mangled lamp aside.
John looked down at where Rodney had stretched out on the floor breathing heavily. "Rodney?"
Rodney's gaze swivelled across to rest on him. "I need painkillers, lots and lots of painkillers." He winced. "I think I broke some ribs between you and that blanket."
Ronon grabbed hold of Rodney's uninjured hand and yanked him upright. Rodney hissed in pain, his burnt hand curling round his ribs. "Will you be careful?!"
John pushed off from the wall and saw their equipment piled up in a corner. "What say we go home? I don't think there's anything here we need." He attached his P90 to his TAC vest and paused. "I vote we skip over the whole evil appliances thing."
"That'll take some creative wording in the mission report," said Rodney wincing as he leant over to pick up his scanner.
John waved his hand dismissively. "We can put those off. It'll be fine."
"Do we tell Elizabeth the truth?" Rodney asked, staring miserably at his burnt fingers.
John thought about it, thought about how Elizabeth would almost kill herself laughing and how they would be the butt of everyone's jokes in Atlantis. "No," he said firmly. "We don't tell her a toaster, a lamp, and a blanket tried to kill us."
Rodney nodded. "I say we got attacked by small robots." He took a step forward and groaned. "Does anyone have any painkillers? I think I'm dying."
John gently nudged Rodney in the direction of the door to the outside. "What did they want you do to anyway?"
"Fix their friend," Rodney snorted. "I can't believe we got our asses handed to us by a glorified toaster. Although it reflects worse on you three – it was a lamp, you were hardly being suffocated by a blanket like me."
"To be fair we were unconscious the majority of the time," said John in irritation. His fingers twinged painfully causing him to give Rodney a sideways look. "Hey, do you know what happened to my fingers?"
"They got caught in the toaster," said Rodney staring at his own burnt hand. "You flail when you fall, then the toaster decided to burn them as a punishment."
Head swimming John half leant on Rodney as they finally left the building, but as Teyla and Ronon stepped out into the open John heard a small chinking sound, he leant against the outer door hurriedly applying a mental lock and trying to key it in to his own gene to ensure no one else would accidentally gain access. He pushed off from the door. "We need to get our stories straight before we get back."
John stared at his still blank mission report and sighed. He looked round at each one of his teammates in turn, Ronon sprawled out playing games on his laptop with Teyla sat beside him legs crossed beneath her, giving the document on her laptop her utmost concentration, and finally Rodney sat in the squashy armchair preparing to email his report in.
John frowned. "You've finished?"
Rodney gave him a smug look. "A dash of truth, an explanation of technology and creative lying in line with the story we agreed on and the job's done." He peered over at John's laptop. "Have you managed to do anything?"
John glanced down at the empty document bearing only his name and nodded. "Yep." He checked the time on his laptop clock then shut the lid. "I make it dinner time."
Rodney immediately closed his laptop, his report having been sent in. "That's the best thing you've said to me all day."
Teyla closed her own laptop and smiled. "What is being served today?"
"Its pizza night," Ronon grunted all but throwing his laptop aside.
"Its pizza night?!" Rodney asked looking scandalised. "Why did no one tell me? What time is it? If we don't get down there quick the marines will have eaten it all!" He waved his uninjured hand at them all. "Come on! Get a move on!" Tucking his laptop under one arm and leapt up, wincing as the hurried movement jarred his aching ribs and sped out of the room with Ronon in tow.
Teyla smiled in amusement and gracefully rose to her feet. John purposefully set his laptop down on his newly vacated chair with the faint hope it would instantly lose itself the second he left the room so he could avoid the mission report for a while longer. Teyla gave him a knowing look but said nothing, waiting for him to catch up before setting off after the rest of the team.
000 Let me know what you think :) 000