We Have A Problem
Just a little short story inspired from the end of the last season of Atlantis. At least that's how it started. It's kind of grown as I've written it, but it makes a change form my recent "big battle" stories as a bit of fun. This is also one of my few non crossover stories so I hope I can pull it off.
Shortly after landing Atlantis on Earth Rodney finds a problem with the cloak and tries to fix it. Also Jennifer has some news she needs to tell him...
I don't own Stargate Atlantis and don't intend to make any profit from the characters I'm using. They do, however, belong to MGM/Acme Shark.
Rodney looked down at the controls again. He was deep in concentration, glancing from screen to screen like they were holding a ping pong tournament. Jennifer caught herself smiling at the sight, she loved that scowl he got when he was really working hard on something. She found it sweet and secretly enjoyed just pushing him that little bit further.
But not today, today was not a day she wanted him distracted by anything. As Jennifer got closer she could hear him muttering, something he only did when he was really worried about something. 'This can't be right.' He said to himself.
'What can't?' She asked him, as usual Rodney was busy and mustn't have heard her coming up the steps because he almost jumped out of his skin.
'Jennifer, uhh what... What are you doing here, aren't we meeting for lunch in like...' he looked at his tablet, 'Oh, I'm late aren't I.'
Crestfallen and apologetic Rodney was almost as sweet as concerned Rodney. Jennifer laughed and came around the console her lover was working at; 'Yeah, by about an hour.' She glanced around and took stock of where he was working. Something told her this problem was a little bigger than she first thought. 'Rodney; what's up? You're late for lunch, there's no snack food or coffee anywhere near here and this isn't even your desk.' She was concerned, this had all the signs of something bad.
'I know, had to check something. I hope I'm wrong, just... just give me a minute.' Rodney looked at the readings, frowned and began poking the tablet like a man on a mission to put his finger though it.
Jennifer looked at him, she'd spent the morning running tests and then the last two hours bouncing off the walls. It was a bit anti-climatic to have him panicking about something else. Still she had to tell him what she had found out, but the idea didn't quite fit in her head. As if the two words didn't work together. Actually they didn't, at least not to her.
Jennifer watched Rodney work himself into a panic. Maybe if she ran over the words and blurted them out quickly would help. 'I'm... late Rodney.' Said in a little voice. No, it didn't work, it was more like a mumble and she didn't say what she wanted to anyway.
Distracted, Rodney pulled the crystal tray out of the bottom of the console. 'You said something... about being late?' A plume of trapped smoke was the first hint of a real problem. 'Oh this is so not good. It was me that was late. For lunch, I'm going to have to skip it anyway.' Rodney said, skipping tracks all over the place. 'I'm really sorry about that. I saw some readings and they didn't make any sense. One thing led to another and... well you can see.' Rodney gestured at the still smoking crystals and packed up his tablet. 'Can we catch up after I've warned... just about everyone.'
Jennifer frowned, wrinkling her nose at the smell of ozone. 'This was kinda important, but so is this and mine can wait.' She bit her bottom lip, just to stop herself rambling and took a deep breath. 'Can we talk tonight though?'
Rodney headed out, stopped and turned around to face her. 'Of course. As long as the city doesn't explode before then.'
'It's that bad?'
He smiled at her. 'Not yet, but if I'm reading this right we're going to lose shields. After that we're in trouble.'
'I didn't think we'd needed the shields. I mean what use are they? It's not like anyone on Earth is going to attack us' Jennifer felt like she was missing something.
Rodney shook his head with a half smile. 'No, I mean for good. Right now though we'll just lose the...' Something dawned on him and he ran out the door, shouting at everyone to get out of his way.
Jennifer couldn't help but smile, a titanic sized problem that Rodney could panic about for an afternoon, solve in the evening and spend a night being happy about fixing. Should put him in a good mood for later. Still the best thing she could do was get out of the control room and everyone's way.
The funny thing about getting out of peoples way, Jennifer reflected on later, was as soon as you found somewhere out of the way something made you move. Wandering the hallways of the great city Jennifer realised she was restless. Two years ago these walls were alien to her. Totally.
No sooner had Jennifer got to the City than she had been thrown into the deep end. Replacing Dr Beckett as head of the medical department, using technology and science she hadn't even dreamed about. As a doctor, in Jennifer's professional opinion, she would have given herself four months before stress took her out.
Somehow she'd survived, more than that now she couldn't imagine leaving the City. Even now with her current situation, it felt like she belonged there. Shaking her head Jennifer needed to think, she needed somewhere quiet.
God what should she do? It wasn't too late and she didn't have to see it through. It wouldn't be a problem, medically at least. She had the drugs and doctor-patient confidentially wasn't an issue. In fact no one needed to know. Even if, and that could be a big if, she entered it in her records no one had access but her.
As she thought about it Jennifer became more and more afraid. It was almost too easy, terrifyingly easy to forget it all. That was why she wasn't in the infirmary, Jennifer didn't trust herself. She wasn't ready for this responsibility and as much as she loved him she didn't know if Rodney was either.
She had no right to make this decision without telling him.
More than that, as terrified as she was something deep inside Jennifer rebelled at the idea of abortion. If it was just her mothering instincts awakening she didn't know, but Jennifer could imagine her... No, their children, her's and Rodney's, playing here with Teyla's son, Torren. Laughing in the halls of the great City, their home.
She was conflicted and honestly didn't know which choice she wanted. Jennifer needed help. Only one person could do that and she had to tell him.
Teyla watched as Rodney explained the problem to herself, Mr Woolsey, Ronon and John as they stood around the beautiful wooden table in the briefing room. 'You see Atlantis didn't originally have a cloak. Remember that we put one together with a Jumper's cloak generator and the shields.'
'We remember Rodney. Get to the part where the shields are broken.' John reminded him.
'Where to start.' Rodney threw his hands up. 'First, the Zed PM's are pretty much jewellery after the whole wormhole drive and big fight thing. We're running the cloak on our backup generators, they aren't going to last forever. But that's not the problem.'
'Are we going to get to that part?' Ronon growled.
'We've been here two days Rodney.' John pointed out. 'And other than a few fishing boats getting a little too close we've not had a single problem.'
'We have, I was just to busy on damage duty to notice this thing. The shield emitters we need to keep the cloaking field operational are all but burnt out. We've got another day, at the most, before they fry completely.' Everyone frowned.
'Fry?' Mr Woolsey asked. 'How bad is that.'
John blanched. 'I'm guessing bad.'
'In layman's terms? Bad covers the short term. Catastrophically bad would be better.' Rodney was excited now that he was in his element. 'Without the emitters we're stuck here. No space flight, hyperspace or otherwise.'
'What will happen to the cloak?' Mr Woolsey asked urgently, Teyla had to admit that sounded like the most important.
'That's gone. We either turn it off now and see if we can fix the emitters or wait for them to burn out and we never use them again.'
John walked around the table. 'Rodney we're slap bang in the middle of San Francisco bay. If we de-cloak here it's not going to be covered up, that's it. Were out in the open.'
'It's a case of when, not if.' Rodney said simply. 'There is nothing I can do about it.'
'Dr McKay, doesn't Ancient technology have built in fail-safes? Won't they help hide the City?' Mr Woolsey said intently.
As Rodney shook his head as Jennifer quietly entered the conference room be hind him. 'Not with the shields like this. There are eight emitters, if one or two get damaged the others can compensate in the short term. But only by max-ing the output of the others. Don't you understand, they are all on the verge of burning out. Our only hope of salvaging anything is to turn it all off and sooner rather than later.'
'Can't we replace them?' Teyla asked but Jennifer had caught her attention, hanging back behind Rodney she looked concerned, even scared of something.
'No.' Surprisingly it was John who shook his head. 'We don't know where the spares are, or even if there are any.'
'We think its the same reason we can't find where they built the drone weapons. The Ancients didn't like other people playing with their big guns.' Rodney pointed out. 'Even if we did have replacements we'd still need to turn everything off to put them in.'
'So our problem is the emitters, do we have anything we can rig up? Even if only for the short term?' John asked, blinked and then smiled. 'Jumpers.'
Rodney clicked his fingers rapidly. 'One wouldn't be enough, even pushing the field to it's limits. But if we overlap say seven... no eight. One on each peer and two for the tower, we could layer them on the edges and with a bit of luck...'
'Will it work?' Ronon asked.
'Should do, with a naquadah generator boosting each of them. You see the problem with shields is that they constantly draw more power the more they are used. The cloak is a constant low level drain and all we need to do here is to hide the visible light spectrum. That way we can stretch it super thin without a problem.'
'Go to it.' Mr Woolsey nodded at them. 'I'll inform the IOA.' As they packed up Rodney turned and hopped backwards.
'Jennifer, wha... when did you get here.'
'A couple of seconds ago.' She admitted and Teyla saw her cross her hands on her abdomen. Almost protectively. 'I was looking for you, When you've finished we really need to talk.'
Rodney frowned; 'Are you alright...?
Teyla could tell her friend was worried and needed to talk to someone. That someone looked like Rodney. Unfortunately the problem with the cloak was quite urgent and Mr Woolsey had taken that to heart. 'Dr's McKay and Keller. As touching as this is I believe one of you has something extremely important to see do.'
Teyla had a suspicion at that point and jumped into help her friend. 'Rodney, I'm sure if Jennifer has got a problem it can wait at least a little while longer. If not I'll see what I can do to help'
Jennifer nodded quickly. 'Go to work Rodney.' Then, as if throwing caution to the wind, she kissed him on the cheek. 'W... I'll wait.'
Half shocked, it took John pushing the stunned and grinning Rodney to get him to move. Quickly the room was empty, save for Teyla and Jennifer.
'Thank you Teyla.' The doctor said, both hands still clasped over her belly.
Teyla took an intuitive leap. 'He is a father?' Jennifer wasn't ready for the question and took a few steps forward.
'You... How?' Jennifer asked sitting down, she was in shock and obviously unprepared for this blessing.
'I can tell, Jennifer you are practically glowing.' Teyla sat down next to her friend. 'Have you only just found out?'
'This... This morning. I think... I don't know what to do.' Jennifer shook her head. 'I love Rodney, I really do. But I don't think either of us are ready for this.'
'You underestimate yourselves. Anyway you still have many months before it becomes a problem.'
Jennifer stood up and walked around. 'It's... Months... I can't get my head around this. There's just too much, the world isn't the same anymore.' Teyla sat back and waited. 'It's not just months, its the rest of our lives. Mine and his, I can't bring a child up. I'm no mother and Rodney, I couldn't do that to him. He hates children, terrified of them.'
She had panicked enough. Teyla knew she had to get the doctor to calm down 'Jennifer, I had the same worries that you have now. Then, later, when my people were taken by Michael I asked myself what right I had to bring a child into this world alone. Then you and John promised to help me and I learnt something.'
Teyla looked her dead in the eyes. 'This is not just your child, nor is it just the pair of yours. Everyone in this city is one large community, a family. Where you are not ready we are, where you stumble we stand and where we fall you will hold us up. You don't need to be afraid Jennifer, we're all here for you and Rodney.'
Jennifer smiled and looked down to her hands, for the first time noticing that she was almost cradling her stomach and the smile grew wider. 'Rodney won't mind if I wait a little while to tell him, will he? Given the situation?'
'No, of course not.' Teyla laughed back. She was alright.
John watched as Rodney and Zelenka got to work. They were quickly getting up to their elbows in crystals trying to set up the interface on the jumpers. Suddenly Zelenka threw the tools up 'Rodney it won't work.'
'Of course it will.' Rodney didn't look up, he was working like a man possessed, not even stopping to eat.
'No it won't. The fields won't match.' the Czech scientist said. He had just hit on the one flaw John ad seen.
'Not unless we link them all to a single master switch and control the frequency from there.' Rodney grumbled and climbed over to where Zelenka should have been working. 'Which is what I was doing.'
'The chair room' Rodney said simply.
Now John wasn't the first to boast about his intelligence, that he'd thought of things Rodney hadn't was always a good think in his book and his mensa application would have been accepted. But there were times the annoying super genius left him standing. This was one of those times. 'What?'
It was Zelenka that picked up the thought. 'But... But that's brilliant. We land the Jumpers, uplink them all to the Chair and network them. We won't even have to man everyone of them.'
'Half brilliant. Even as it is we won't have enough generators.' Rodney admitted. 'So here's the brilliant part we only use half the field for each jumper. in one direction.'
John was completely lost by now but Zelenka wasn't. 'An umbrella. We project an umbrella over that section of the city facing out. With them all working on the same frequency it becomes a full shield.' He sat back down and got back to work more than twice as fast as before
When the two of them were like this they were both impossible. 'Right, I can see where this is going. Me and Ronon will head on down to the chair room and wait for the two of you.'
As one the geeks looked up and said; 'Good idea.'
Beating a hasty retreat Ronon and John headed back down to the gate room. 'Think it will work?' Ronon asked him as the were coming down the steps to the control room
'With those two working on it who knows, but I'd put good money on yes.'
John looked around the control room, Woolsey was over in the office talking to his laptop. It looked like the IOA committee on the other end was being difficult. A big disadvantage of being back on Earth was the paper pushers wanted to know everything and had an opinion of every little detail. Everyone had a thousand and one new messages that the politicians wanted answered, now.
John's answer to them was to simply write it all down once and send the same report a thousand and one times. Ronon had a different tactic. To the best of john's knowledge he hadn't filed a single report. On one occasion he even shot at the "assistant" that they had sent to reprimand him
Okay he had it on stun and aimed to miss but even John thought that was a little extreme.
What worried John was how well it had worked. He was getting tempted to try it himself if they didn't stop.
Ronon tapped him on the shoulder and pointed in the other direction. From the other side of the big room. Keller and Teyla had finally left the briefing room and they were laughing at something. It was kind of odd.
As usual by now everyone in Gate operations knew there was a problem. Some probably didn't know what was happening exactly, but it was a safe bet everyone here knew how much trouble they were in.
To have the two women laughing and joking sort of ruined the urgent atmosphere that had descended on the room. John and Ronon joined them at the top of the stairs. 'Hey you two, something happening?'
Keller and Teyla smiled a pair of matching grins. Finally Keller's grin broke and she laughed lightly as they walked across the gate room to the corridors 'Well I've got a dinner to prepare. A little treat for Rodney, thanks Teyla.'
'No need and congratulations.' Keller nodded and left them.
It was a distance to the Chair Room but John was in no rush so they walked instead of taking the transporter. There was something peaceful about wandering the seemingly endless hallways of Atlantis
'So what was that about?' He asked after a short while, curiosity getting the best of him.
'Jennifer has some news for Rodney, but as usual he's busy at the moment.'
John nodded, vague and useless but still an answer. 'You know what that news is.'
'Yes, Jennifer is pregnant.'
John's train of thought de railed itself. Keller, pregnant. As in child. As in a small kid. Keller, as in Rodney's girlfriend, pregnant. For a brief moment John wondered just how pissed off and disappointed Rodney would be.
Then the other shoe dropped and John walked right into a wall. He was able to catch his balance and not quite fall on his butt. Rubbing his nose John muttered; 'Ouch. Well that's news. He's going to freak.'
Before Teyla could answer there was a loud crash and a thud, out of the corner of his eye John saw two legs fall down a balcony and no sign of Ronon.
'Chewie!' John darted for the railing that the tall satedan had flipped over
Teyla was right beside him and said at the same time; 'Ronon!' A little drop below Ronon sat up and shook his head.
It wasn't a crowed hallway butt the few people there were gathering, completely ignoring them Ronon stood and then looked up. 'Did I hear you right?'
John and Teyla looked at each other and nodded.
'What am I doing down here then?'
'Nothing.' John shouted down. 'You okay?'
By now there was a little crowd around the former Runner. he glanced at them before shrugging. 'Yep.'
End Chapter One