"McKay, do something!"
Dr. Rodney McKay, fixer of all things fixable, and if not, then claimer that it wasn't his fault, was frantically banging and flipping every switch on the console before him, in a desperate attempt to turn off the terrible wailing that came from the panel nearby which held the screen for the self-destruct countdown. This was not the day to blow up a city. Yesterday, he'd probably have considered it. Not today. Today, he had a date.
Col John Sheppard, watcher of Rodney fixing all things fixable (when not in a jumper sacrificing himself for the sake of the city) was frantically hovering his hand over the switches that Rodney had already banged and flipped. "Now what's the problem?"
Rodney pointed to a console equidistant between them. "That lever! It won't stay in place!"
"Well, hold it in place!"
"I can't hold – I have to stay over here, you hold it!"
"I can't reach it!" John strained outwards with his right hand while simultaneously pressing the "oh crap" button with his left, a button that would certainly set off a pre-detonation if he so much as breathed wrong - according to fixer Rodney.
"Well, I can't reach it! I'm two consoles down, what do I look like, Mr. Fantastic? Don't answer that!"
"Then I guess it won't get flipped!"
"Don't you understand anything? If we can't flip that switch, we're DEAD!"
Again? John thought to himself. "Maybe I can put my heel up here and. . ."
"NO! YOU STAY PUT!" Rodney's hand was flung out, fingers splayed, and he looked like he was on the verge of spontaneously combusting, which would definitely take care of his part of the self-destruction.
"What do you want from me?" John yelled.
"Nothing! I want more people in here!" Rodney yelled back. This wasn't supposed to happen, and where the hell was everyone anyway? The panel with the SELF-DESTRUCT was flashing, sirens were wailing though the corridors. Where were the soldiers? Why was no one activating the gate? Where the hell was everyone?
Chuck casually walked into the control room, popping a snack into his mouth. He crunched and approached the tormented men. "Hey, guys." He took in their sweaty faces, their odd positions. "What's going on?"
"What's going on?" Rodney shrieked. "Are you deaf? Do you not hear our imminent demise ringing in your skull? Or has the sheer volume rattled the brain out of your head! Now grab that red lever, no – the small one!
Chuck reached out. "This one?"
"That's it! Now hold it up."
"That's why you have to hold it up!"
Chuck gave Rodney an incredulous look. "Wait. You want me to stand here and hold this thing? No way. They're about to start the game. I'm finally invited to watch a football game on the big screen! It took five years to get from this desk to the point where I can watch the game with the guys! No, forget it."
Rodney glared. "WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU???"
Chuck pursed his lips, then shook his head with a sigh. He pulled out a Frito, and jammed the curled end underneath the lever, holding it in position. "There. Happy?"
Rodney wasn't. He looked around in desperation as the ominous wail continued. "Oh, no."
"Rodney?" John asked.
"It didn't work."
"I can see that!" Or hear it, rather.
"I can't believe it! It didn't work! Oh god, it didn't work, we're all gonna die. . ."
The wail stopped.
"Oh, THANK GOD. . ." Rodney slumped over the console.
John let himself fall back into the chair, and gave Rodney a relieved look. Rodney returned it, only to watch as the level flicked downwards, snapping the Frito.
Chuck just looked at it, and crunched.
And the voice of Atlantis, the grand poobah, fixer of all things at all times, sang out, "This has been a test of the Lantean Emergency Alert System. The Lanteans in your area, in voluntary cooperation with the IOA and in difference to the Coalition, have developed this system to keep you informed in the event of an emergency. If this had been an actual emergency, the attention signal you just heard would have been followed by official news, information, or instructions. This concludes this test of the Lantean Emergency Alert System."
Silence fell. Chuck chewed and swallowed. He rummaged in his bag. "I guess you didn't get the memo. We're testing the new alert system today. It'll probably go off a few more times." He popped another Frito into his mouth and crunched.
Alert system. Testing. Rodney and John slowly stood upright, neither looking at the other as they stretched and groomed like cats that missed the canary, but didn't want to admit it.
"Football," John said. "American?"
"Yep. Guess you didn't get that memo, either."
"Don't look so smug."
Rodney straightened his jacket, cracked his neck. He joined Chuck as the gate technician headed towards the stairs. "Fritos? Where'd you get those? Can I have one, just, – yeah. Thanks. Oh, of course I knew, I just up here to make sure everything went according to plan. Stop looking at me like that."