Author's Notes: Well, it's been a tad over a week since the depressing announcement about SGA, shortly followed by the condescending one about SGU. The last time like this that so thoroughly pissed me off was when they killed both Wash and Carson in the same year. That prompted me to write snark!fic in response.
Well, the current situation has inspired more snark!fic. (Actually, it sparked about 5000 words of pure vargyr!John and Sidhe!Teyla porn, but, um, yeah, not going there right now.) It was cathartic. Not as cathartic as, say, wrapping my hands around the throat of a MGM or SciFi exec and rubbing their face into a litter box that hasn't been scooped in a week, but hey – gotta work with what ya got.
So, without further ado, my snark!fic finger to TPTB. Enjoy!
New Kids In The Wormhole
When John rushed into the conference room, an excuse on his lips as to why he was late, the first thing he noticed was that the man who called the emergency meeting was nowhere in sight. His hurried stride turned into an instant amble and he headed for the coffee. "So, anyone know why Woolsey called us here at this hour?" He picked up the pot, sniffed it, made a face, and returned it. The man could have had the decency to make fresh coffee if he expected everyone to come to a supposedly urgent meeting at eleven thirty at night. The conference room chairs were all called for so he had to resort to leaning against the side board. He crossed his arms, hands tucked under his biceps. "Anyone?"
"Not a clue," Rodney said. He was the only one who actually seemed awake. Knowing his friend, he was probably running on a caffeine high from his own private stash. Zelenka sat next to him, and when he pursed his lips and shook his head his sleep frazzled hair drifted even more crazily in the faint breeze than normal.
Lorne was next to the little Czech and all he said was, "No, sir."
"He did not tell me why, either," Teyla said. She had brought Torren with her, and the baby was nestled deep in his blanket and sound asleep in Ronon's arms. Ronon just shrugged faintly, his attention wholly on the sleeping baby.
John grinned briefly. He always suspected the big guy was a softie at heart. He'd never mention it out loud, though, unless he wanted to have his ass pounded completely through the gym floor next time they sparred.
Doctors Beckett and Keller sat side by side. Keller seemed perky – Carson was half asleep and had his chin resting on his palm, elbow on table – and both of them shook their heads as well. "We're just as mystified as you, Colonel," Carson said through a yawn. "Better be bloidy important."
Rounding out the assembled crew was Chuck, and the guy looked completely buffaloed. He never really noticed it before, but the guy's hair stuck out almost as badly as his did. It didn't help that one side was flattened at the moment, and he could see a faint pillow crease on his left cheek. John had to hold back a smirk.
"I apologize for my tardiness, people," Woolsey said as he rushed into the room. "The laser printer ran out of toner, and it took forever to find a cartridge." He had a stack of folders tucked under one arm, and when he got to his customary spot he slapped them down on the table. It wasn't like the desk jockey at all. Carson jumped, and Torren let out a little mewling noise and snuffled. Ronon glared at Woolsey but the man didn't see it as he squared up the stack of files.
John noticed that Woolsey's normal weaned-on-a-pickle scowl was more pinched than usual. Now it was like, oh, weaned-on-unripe-lemons dipped in wasabi. He was in an immaculate mission uniform – not a surprise – while everyone else was in off duty clothes.
Woolsey sat and smoothed the front of his jacket, then let his gaze roam over everyone briefly. "Thank you for all coming here on such short notice. As you all know, the IOC has released its budget for the next year and, well, I think you needed to all see it right away." He began passing the folders out.
John stepped forward and grabbed his. "It's bad, huh?" he said as he returned to his leaning spot.
"You have no idea."
Rodney, of course, was the first to open his and scan the first few pages before anyone else had even read a handful of lines. "What?! Is, is, is this a joke?"
"No." Woolsey's frown lines were threatening to burrow clean through his face to join the back of head. "As you can see, there are some … budget cuts."
John let out a strangled noise, and when he spoke, his voice started out in a high squeak that wasn't very manly at all. "These aren't cuts – they're, they're trying to get rid of us!"
"And what the hell is Project Destiny, and why haven't I been told about it?" Rodney added.
"I haven't been given the details since it is still in the planning stage," Woolsey replied.
Zelenka pulled off his glasses and proceeded to clean them with his shirt hem. "In other words, they have no idea yet, just catchy name."
Woolsey glanced at the man. "Precisely."
"Ah." Zelenka put his glasses back on. "Bureaucratic blbina. Very familiar with."
"So let me get this straight." Rodney continued to read as he spoke. "We're being cut down to bare bones…."
"Please, bones have more substance than this," John muttered.
"… For a new itch-in-the-pants project that the IOC is in love with? What about our research? We've made some amazing inroads in Ancient tech applications…."
"Yes, yes, I know." Woolsey clasped his hands together and placed them over his still closed file. "The IOC has decided to take a big step and make the Stargate Program public knowledge by 2010, so they hired a…." He almost choked. "… PR firm to come in and do an evaluation. They want to present the Program in a way that will garner the most public acceptance and support as possible."
"That sounds rather reasonable," Teyla said. She cocked her head and frowned. "But I suspect there are … problems?"
Woolsey nodded. "The PR team decided we, the members of the Atlantis Expedition, do not meet the 'requirements' for a successful campaign. They need a certain image, a certain 'freshness' and 'flair', I believe is how they put it."
"What the bloidy hell is that supposed to mean?" Carson blurted out.
"It means we're too old," Ronon rumbled.
"Now wait one damn minute," John said. "They're cutting us back to where we basically were our first year here because we aren't, what, pert young things? This has been a combat zone for over four years now. We've had Wraith, Genii, Replicators, killer viruses, hurricanes from hell. What the hell do they expect – something from the WB?"
"The CW," Keller said quietly.
John looked at her. "What?"
"Um, network was bought out, changed names." She was looking decidedly uncomfortable.
John blinked, then shook his head. "We've beat some pretty incredible odds out here. I would think the IOC would cream themselves at the idea of us being poster children for the Program. We're living proof of how mankind can persevere in an alien environment. We're survivors! No, we're big damn heroes!"
Rodney lifted his head. "Hey, that was pretty good."
Woolsey nodded. "I would think so, too, but the IOC was brainwashed by the PR." He cleared his throat. "You need to keep reading."
For a few minutes the only sound in the room was rustling paper and the occasional soft gurgle from Torren. Ronon had the babe cradled in one arm as he flipped pages without enthusiasm. But soon soft gasps and strangled noises started popping up at random. They weren't soft for long, and seconds later cries of outright anger and surprise filled the room. Torren woke up and added his own squawk of alarm. Teyla immediately took him from Ronon and held him to her shoulder, her hand rubbing soothing circles across his back.
"Ah, you found the new expedition roster," was all Woolsey said.
"This is an expedition team?" Rodney's voice nearly matched John's earlier squeak. He looked at Woolsey, his eyes bright, and pointed at him. "Oh no no no no no – this is a joke. You're getting back at us for the purple head thing on M9Y-887, aren't you? Because no way in hell can this be real. It's a practical joke. A very sick, twisted, horribly depressing, elaborate joke."
Woolsey slowly shook his head.
Lorne was slumped back in his chair, mouth open. "These nubes … no freakin' way. They'll be chewed up and shit out."
"The IOC had drawn up a list of the best and brightest college graduates to be possible recruits for Project Destiny. The …." Again Woolsey almost choked. "… PR team went over every file and chose these eight to be the 'new' faces of the SGC." The man looked about ready to puke, and a light sheen of sweat glittered on his bald pate.
Carson made a pained noise that sounded like he was trying to pass an entire overcooked haggis. Sideways. "They chose a plastic surgeon for their CMO?" He leaned forward and squinted at the paper. "From Beverly Hills? Jesus, Mary, and Joseph!"
"He is rather … robust," Keller added in an awed voice. She missed Rodney's glare.
Zelenka pursed his lips and his eyebrows nearly rose to his hair line. "The project engineer has an impressive … resume."
"You mean they actually have someone qualified for … hello!" Now Rodney's eyebrows tried for his hairline, and it had a little further to go than Radek's.
"What are you looking at?" John asked.
"Page nineteen," Rodney said.
There was a rustle of paper and a moment later a chorus of ooo's from the guys. Except for Woolsey. He grinned briefly, then glanced around to make sure no one noticed.
"Those can't possibly be real," Keller said.
"I don't know. Maybe Dr. Stirling could tell you," Rodney snipped.
"How can she possibly work without them getting in the way?" Teyla said. "She cannot even wear her uniform jacket properly."
"I'd help her zip it," Ronon said with a nod.
"Yeah," John and Lorne echoed.
Teyla and Keller looked at each other and rolled their eyes.
John reluctantly starting flipping through pages until he came to one of the expedition military members. He started reading, and a second later everyone heard him suck in a breath and the distinct pop of a spit bubble going down the wrong tube. He started coughing, his face going bright red by the third great whooping, choking spasm.
"Lift your arms above yuir head, Colonel," Carson said as he spun his chair around, a concerned frown darkening his face.
John nodded and draped his forearms across the top of his head. Tears were streaming down his face and a minute later the coughing eased but changed tone. It took everyone a moment to realize he was actually laughing hysterically.
"Sir?" Lorne asked. "Are you alright?"
John still had a finger in the file holding his place, so he folded it open and pointed to one of the bios. "Chazz … Fitch … model." That was all he could choke out before more laughter doubled him over, and a second later he just slid down the front of the sideboard and plopped on the floor. "Oh … man. Can't … breathe." He cradled his middle.
Lorne quickly turned pages and found the one that had Sheppard in hysterics. His own hand went to his mouth as he read, and the smirk there threatened to split his cheeks. "You mean 'Lt. Chazz Masterson'?" He said the name like the guy who does all the movie trailer voiceovers.
John just tipped over, and the only thing anyone could see from the opposite side of the table was his hand come up and give the standard two finger 'move out' signal. "Read … further."
Lorne did, and pretty soon he was starting to giggle as well. "Worked as an Abercrombie & Fitch ® model to pay for college. Oh, and was an extra in season six of Wormhole X-Treme. Played Soldier Number Four in the episode 'Death Strike on Tartarus'." He snorted. "Yup, that makes him qualified." Then he dissolved into uncontrollable laughter as well.
"John, I am worried about the color you are turning," Teyla said as she looked around a fussing Torren.
"I've had bruises that color," Ronon added as he watched the man writhe in amused agony on the floor. "Matter of fact, I think I've given you some that color."
John flipped him off.
"People, people … please. Some order?" Woolsey tried to scowl, he really did, but fighting his own snickering made him look like he was having a severe gas attack.
"Oooo, he's supposed to be a hot shot pilot, too," Rodney said. "At least his hair looks all soft and manageable. Good for any publicity shots." He saw John's hand rise up above the table again and give him the bird. "Just sayin'."
"I think I'm gonna puke," came John's weak voice. It sounded like he was under the table. Ronon grinned, reached down, and hauled Sheppard up by the back of his hoodie into a sitting position. "Thanks, big guy." John wiped his face with his sleeve and let out a big, shaky sigh. "Oh, man, I haven't laughed like that in years." Then another wave of giggles hit when he looked at the page again. He quickly turned to the next.
Lorne had beaten him to it. "Hey, next guy has promise."
John was still breathing heavy as he started reading. "Let's see, Sgt. Yerlan Frolikov. Okay, okay – sounding good. Ranger, sniper…."
"Multiple black belts …," Lorne added.
"Oh, nope, here it is." John tapped the file. "Vin Diesel double at Universal Orlando before joining the Army."
"Wow. He really does look like him," Keller said. "I wonder if he sounds the same, because yeah, that would work for me."
"Was he the actor in that 'Riddick' movie?" Teyla asked. Keller nodded. Teyla's eyebrows rose and her mouth pursed into a silent oh. "Ah, yes – he does have a very interesting voice." She noticed the room had grown a little quiet and that everyone was looking at them. "You all admired the engineer's assets – we can have our own observations." Keller nodded in agreement, and when Rodney glowered at her, she stuck out her tongue.
"Whatever," Rodney said. He quickly flipped through the rest of the bios. "Jeez, every one of these brats looks like they stepped out of a cable soap opera, and not one of the so called 'scientists' has an IQ over, heh, one-twenty. The SGC actually approved this?"
"They didn't have much choice," Woolsey replied. "The IOC was completely blinded by the spin."
"They have no concept of reality, do they?" Carson said. He shook head and closed the file.
"Not one iota," Zelenka muttered.
John got to his feet. "Well at least we'll still be here," he said and tossed his file on the table. "Kind of. But hey, we've always been treated like red-headed bastard step-children anyway, haven't we?" Almost everyone nodded, except for Woolsey. He just looked mildly uncomfortable. "So, we're being pushed aside for a bunch of pretty children. Big deal. It could be worse."
Woolsey cleared his throat.
Rodney glared at Woolsey. "It's worse," he said flatly. Then he glared at John and pointed a finger at him. "Damn it – don't you know you're never ever supposed to say those four words? Gyah!" He ripped a page from the folder, angrily balled it up, and threw it at John.
"Sorry," John said and batted it away.
Ronon leaned forward and put an arm on the table. "What aren't you telling us?"
Woolsey finally opened his folder and cleared his throat again. "As some of you know, the economy has been taking a, well, for a better expression, 'nose-dive' lately. The IOC has decided that a key factor in keeping the Stargate Program running successfully would be to, ah, institute sponsorships."
The multiple voiced what that filled the room was followed by an equally surprised cry from Torren. Rodney, naturally, was the first to voice even more outrage. "What, they want us to, to, to pimp deodorant?" His face was turning an alarming shade of red. "Who the hell do they think we are – NASCAR?"
Woolsey picked up a photo and sighed heavily. "Apparently, they do." He just handed the photo to Rodney. "At least they used a standard Air Force flight deck jumper for the base."
Rodney's eyes grew impossibly wide, his face grew even darker, and for a moment the only sounds coming out of him were odd guttural things that had everyone leaning forward in alarm. Just when Carson was about to get up Rodney choked out, "They're insane." He just blindly passed the photo to Zelenka and put his forehead on the table. "Oh, we are so screwed."
"Do predele!" Zelenka shook his head, tossed the photo to Lorne, and just leaned back and started a quiet litany in Czech. He crossed his arms and everyone present had been around him long enough to recognize how many profanities were in his rant. When Lorne picked it up he let out an amused snort then just slid it across the table to Carson.
Keller took the photo from his fingers and let out an embarrassed giggle. "Oh, that's positively hideous." She passed it to Teyla.
Teyla lifted her eyebrows and cocked her head. "It is … colorful. I will give it that."
Ronon leaned over at just glanced at it. "I ain't wearing that."
John finally had the thing in his hands, and he let out a short bark of laughter. Two models were wearing the jaunty little jumpsuits to show front and back views. The cloth was a dark sea green and the Atlantis and flag patches were still in the same place, but the thing was covered in gaudy brand name patches from neck to knees. "Damn, I'm glad I'm military." He handed it to Chuck, and the guy groaned in agony.
"Sorry, Colonel, but everyone will have to wear the new uniform."
John blinked. "Oh, no. Huh uh. There is no freakin' way I'm wearing something with a, a giant Cialis ™ logo on the back!"
Rodney snickered. "Oh, I don't know. I think it's rather fitting."
When people started snickering John put one hand on his hip and pointed at Rodney. "For your information, pal, I have absolutely no problems in that department."
All eyes settled on John and a silence fell over the conference room that was so profound that they could have heard a gnat fart.
John glanced around in horror, the tendons in his neck standing out as he grimaced. "Um, everybody can forget that last thing I said."
"Too late," Rodney sing-songed. "I think I speak for everybody when I say there isn't enough brain bleach in the universe to erase that image."
Laughter broke out again and John leaned back against the wall, crossed his arms, and pouted. "Can we get a special one made for him with Ritalin ™ on it?"
"Oh har har."
Woolsey actually cracked a grin as he took the picture back, tucked it in his folder, and closed it. When it quieted down again his scowl returned. "That is all I have for now. I apologize for the horrible news, but it was too important to keep until the next staff meeting."
"Yes, thank you for the nightmare material," Rodney grumbled and rubbed his forehead like he was about to get a killer headache.
"Are there any question before we adjourn?"
"Um, I have one," Chuck said. Everyone focused on him. "Why was I called here?"
Rodney leaned one elbow on the table and frowned at the 'gate tech. "Yes, why are you here?"
Woolsey looked at a loss for a moment, then the light dawned in his eyes. "Oh, yes, I nearly forgot. The PR team has decided that as the person who operates the 'gate, you will be given the title of …." Here Woolsey actually supplied air quotes. "… 'Gate Keeper'…."
"And who will be the Key Master?" Zelenka muttered to Lorne and bobbed his eyebrows. The major barely contained his laughter.
Woolsey shot them both a scowl that wasn't much different than his relaxed expression and continued. "As such, you will be expected to be part of the ad campaign once the program goes public. They have insisted on a complete make-over."
Chuck made a pitiful sound and slumped down into his chair.
"Oh, you poor lad," Carson muttered. "Yae have my sympathy."
"The IOC will be sending a personal trainer and stylist before the year is out."
The chorus of sympathetic groans filled the room.
"Sorry," Woolsey said. "If it's any consolation, I understand they've already descended upon poor Walter back home."
"Where is this PR team from?" John asked. "Hell?"
"Oh. Okay. That explains a lot."
Woolsey drew in a deep breath, held it, then released it. "One thing before we adjourn." He glanced past Rodney at Zelenka. "So, Radek – where do you keep your good shit?"
Zelenka jumped and glanced around nervously. "I, I don't know what you're talking about."
"Oh, please, I know all about your still. Caldwell gave me a bottle of some absolutely incredible fluorescent pink liquor for Christmas one year. Despite urinating pink for days after each glass, I've been wanting to get a hold of more ever since. Please tell me you have some?"
Zelenka grinned and pushed his glasses up. "I may have a few bottles stashed. Should be very smooth now."
"Good." Woolsey stood and smoothed his jacket. "I think we all need a drink after this. Gentlemen." He nodded to Teyla and Keller. "Ladies. This depressing meeting is adjourned."
Everyone stood. "I have some twelve-year old single malt I can contribute," Carson said.
"And I have some beer," John added. He got a few reproachful looks. "What?"
Rodney shook his head. "I might know where to find some, uh, Cheetos."
"Really?" Ronon perked up. "Got any of those spicy nacho cheese chips?"
"Maybe." Rodney suddenly found himself in a bear hug. "Okay, okay, ribs compressing here. You can let go now." Ronon did. "Jeez, I didn't know you were so emotional about snack food."
"If there is popcorn, I will join you after I leave Torren with Kanaan."
"Cool, sounds like a party," John said as they all filed out of the conference room.
"Just as long as it isn't a wake," Rodney mumbled.
"Jeez, McKay – you're such a pessimist. You should officially change your name to Dr. Badluck Schleprock."
"Bowsy-wowsy woo woo," Rodney said with a smirk. Then he went ow when Sheppard smacked him lightly upside the back of his head.
End Note: I had thoroughly planned on continuing with the new expedition team showing up several months later for some final training on Atlantis. When they first get introduced to the expedition leader, Dr. Tiffini Larue (who you can tell is the smart leader because she wears glasses), she rattles of a welcome speech that is all in pretty much text speak. The' old farts' that are our beloved team all look at each other (I can see Ronon leaning in towards Sheppard and saying 'What did she just say?'), then Rodney crosses his arms, frowns at her, and says, 'Um, just what exactly are you a doctor of?' 'Linguistics.' Then someone in the back pulls out their spiffy modified special expedition blackberry and starts texting like crazy. Everybody else's go off, they pull them, read the message, and all laugh. Chazz (who for some reason I picturing looking like Jensen Ackles) says, 'Word.'
I didn't because, well, it was just making me … bitter. And depressed.