Episode 10 – Contact Part 2
159 days in Hoag's Object.
A/N: Okay… this is the BIGGEST episode to date. (around 17K words) and as such, will be released at a third every 2 days (so Monday, Wednesday, Friday)
In total, the Contact Three Parter is around 40K words total. It's huge, but it's A LOT of everything.
So I hope y'all enjoy this! I'll be taking a break once I'm done posting all of Episode 11 (this is A LOT of writing :P)
I do ask you to review, how else am I supposed to know people reading this are enjoying or disliking this? You took the time to read it, so please take the time to review, even a few sentences is better than nothing!
Acknowledgement go out to TheIceMenace for keeping me tethered to reality and proofreading(Her exact words were... "Have I ever mentioned that you suck at punctuation?".
She also quite literally SAVED about 10k words that were accidentally deleted from my computer, so BIG Thanks to her :D make sure to check out her story "Chuck's Canadian Crime Connection" if you enjoy a good sitcom laugh :P
TheLegate on or Lantean General on Gateworld for his thoughts and suggestions on this and the next episode. He's got his own series going, "Stargate: Aurora" that deals with the Wraith Lantean war and is very well written and quite intricately deep :D There is a very minor crossover with "SG: Aurora" in this episode but you'd have to read his to get it ;)
Alx Shipyards for his consistent support and many many many X100 discussions regarding this fic and Stargate. He does some pretty impressive 3d modeling and animations so make sure to check him out on Gateworld. He also betaed a part of the next episode :)
A big thanks to Rudy Pena for technical information as well as first hand accounts of certain...events that happen in this episode and the next.
And finally, Thank you all for reading! I'm so honored that you've been keeping up with me and enjoying this fic. I'd love to hear from every one of you as to what you like, dislike, or even just a hi! :D
Chuck Campbell: You need the ATA gene naturally in order to use this thing.
Radek Zelenka: More than that actually, the interface requires a significant neural output. From our records, only Colonel Sheppard, Dr Beckett and Major Vega would be able to use such a technology… and even they would have problems controlling it.
Dusty Mehra: Great. As if that bitch spitting whenever she sees us didn't make me feel primitive enough.
Reyna Arius: Oh don't worry about it. Without her suit, she's basically the same as Colonel Sheppard in practical terms except for a little empathy.
Chuck Campbell: So she can sense what we're feeling, like Troi?
Dusty Mehra: That's oddly reassuring.
Reyna Arius: Yes Chuck, and enough with the Star Trek, I told you I don't get it.
Apart from the splitting headache and the tender bruise just below her left boob from landing on a rock, Dusty was actually feeling pretty good.
Even more so than just feeling good, she felt vindicated that they'd actually won. That bitch, as pretty much everyone but Daniel and Carter had been calling her, walked around like she owned the place. Even more, she'd look down on everyone else as if they were, in her words, inferior.
It felt so good to be useful again, not just some random soldier who spent most of her time looking for things to do.
In fact, the only thing that really pissed her off was the way Daniel and Sam were trying to make peace with her! The… urrgghhh… Dusty hated sounding like a broken record…but how many different versions of the word 'bitch' were there!?
At least everyone was going to be okay. Two of the Travelers had broken bones and would be out of it for a few weeks, but both were pleased that their first real action hadn't seen any permanent injuries or casualties and ended in victory.
It almost wasn't that way. Dusty was actually on her way to get the details, but Cadman had cut it close. Dusty figured it was the inner Marine in her that had kept her alive despite such a harsh wound.
Dusty wasn't too surprised to see Chuck in the room with Cadman. Carson had his hands full and Dusty had noticed the doctor acting out in his words. Some of that warmth that she'd heard about from all her friends seemed to have frozen over…a sad thought from someone like that.
Chuck did some odd motion with his hand and finger and Dusty could hear Cadman's hoarse laugh. The 'older-than-I-look' Lieutenant noticed Dusty and motioned with his head. "Hey, Dusty! Come on. Gotta cheer Boom Boom up!"
Cadman coughed as she tried to resist laughing. Dusty couldn't believe that the Captain was in such high spirits despite her grievous injuries. "Keep calling me that and I'll boom boom your toilet."
Dusty rolled her eyes as she sat down. Chuck seemed unafraid. "That's if you can get in. I'll just put a heavy lockdown on the door."
"Who said I'd go in the normal way? If I'm gonna blow up your toilet so who says I won't blow up your door?"
The three soldiers chuckled, and Dusty sighed softly. Cadman was always so nice, and it hurt to think that she'd been the worst off on the latest mission. "Do you have something against the doors in this place? I remember Ronon telling me once you blew like 5 doors in one day."
Chuck raised his eyebrows and sat back on the opposite side of Dusty. "I remember that. The Quarantine."
Cadman nodded, and groaned softly as she shifted in the bed. "Mmm… I 'member Radek's face when I blew a door off its hinges… never wanted to laugh so hard." Cadman coughed once, winced then looked to Chuck.
The Canadian Lieutenant seemed to understand right away what she was about to say and preempted it. "Hey hey… you're not getting up anytime soon. Carson'll kill you if you do then come after me so you're staying put. Whaddya need?"
Laura smiled and mused. "See what Carson says I can eat? Starving."
Chuck wasn't a fool and could see Laura wanted some girl time. He played dumb though and nodded. "Sure thing…." He turned to Dusty. "Stay till I come back? Carson and Rey put a 24 hour watch on her."
Laura raised her hand with a middle finger up. "Hello. Sitting right here?" Instead of feeling offended, Chuck just laughed and motioned to Dusty. The Sergeant nodded and watched Chuck move off. Laura snickered once, winced softly and let her head rest back. "Thanks Dusty. I know I tease but I really do need someone around…" she lifted her shirt a bit and winced.
Dusty grimaced as she saw the tender bruising along Laura's body along with a recently stitched scar, but what really squicked her out was the tube sticking out from just below Laura's right breast which Dusty had assumed was an IV, but turned out to be a catheter. "Punctured a lung… hard to breath and well… I'm tough but I'm not stupid. Ol' Mountie there's been a huge help."
Dusty snickered and teased softly. "Mountie? Since when do you have pet names?"
Laura rolled her eyes and smiled. "They're not pet names! It's our band. Mountie and a Boom Boom."
Dusty laughed out loud, "Ha! Are you serious? That's terrible!"
"Well of course! It's meant to be." Laura tried to control her laughter and took as deep breaths as she could, the heart rate monitor on the side of the bed began to climb and Dusty became worried.
"Okay. Okay. I think that's enough excitement." Dusty patted Laura on the shoulder and sat back down. "It's good that Chuck's taking some time to keep you company. Ever since we brought that…" Dusty lost her smile and glowered. "…bitch…back here it's been pretty hectic all around."
Laura nodded and her heart rate steady dropped back to normal as she took calming slightly pained breaths. "Yeah, I'm sure Ronon's pissed he took a hit."
Shrugging nonchalantly, Dusty muttered deadpan. "I wouldn't know."
Furrowing her brow, Laura looked to Dusty and whispered. "I, uh, I thought you two…
Dusty shook her head twice then sighed. "Not anymore."
John groaned as he touched his tender chest. The footprint Aquilina had left was healing slowly; Reyna had thankfully used a Traveler device to drain the tissue of the pooled blood and seal the damaged blood vessels.
He bowed his head as he thought about how close it had been. Aquilina still refused to answer many questions but as far as he knew, Daniel was having a little success.
John turned and nodded. "Larrin."
The Traveler woman sidled up to John on the balcony. It took a second for him to realize that it was cold, and he just didn't notice it anymore. "Sheppard…" Larrin sighed and shook her head slightly. "You know, my people were around when the Ancestors were still alive, still fighting the Wraith. My great great great times a thousand grandmother was saved by one." John furrowed his brow to her but she held up a hand signaling him to let her finish. "I probably wouldn't have ever existed if not for that Ancestor. She used her abilities to heal her and my ancestor ended up becoming one of the key people to unite us all."
John remained silent a moment then spoke. "Lucky us."
Larrin smirked, and gave John a gentle elbow in the ribs. When he groaned she shirked back and put her arm around him. "Sorry." She sighed again, suddenly very quiet.
"Yeah, no problem." John again rubbed his chest and waited for Larrin to continue. When she didn't, he probed by giving her a gentle shove in retribution. "Well? What is it? You didn't just hunt me down to talk about grandma."
Larrin blew a raspberry at him and leaned on the railing in front of her, "This… Aquilina bitch…" she turned to John. "You do know just about everyone is calling her that?"
John nodded. "It's a good name."
A soft laugh and Larrin smiled. "Well anyways, my uh... my great grandmother told us how revered some of the Ancestors were. Some of my people used to worship them back then and… well the one who saved my great grandmother told her not to. And ever since my family's always thought of the Ancestors almost like our parents."
John finally caught onto what Larrin was talking about. "So you've heard that Aquilina is almost Lantean."
Larrin nodded. "Yeah.… Yeah and I can't help but think, if that Ancestor was so much more and treated us like equals, why does this bitch have a glow rod stuck up her ass?"
It was a hard question, and John had to answer it the only way he knew how. "Well, I've met my fair share of ancients. Some were even your 'Ancestors' from that time. Every single one of them was arrogant and condescending. These people don't surprise me one bit." He smiled sympathetically and hooked an arm around Larrin. "I can understand why it bothers you though."
Larrin blew a heavy sigh and brushed her free hair away from her face. "A lot of my people want to see if we can trade with them. Real living Ancestors… even if they're not ours."
John shrugged, and shook Larrin a bit in consolation. "Hey, cheer up. We're all alive, and looks like we might have a trade partner. Who knows? They might have the three shells instead of cheap toilet paper."
Furrowing her brow at him like he was insane, Larrin deadpanned. "Three shells? What the hell are you talking about?"
John was about to reply, but then realized that movie night had been mostly the old romance films that had been left from the original expedition. Who knew Amelia Banks loved Humphrey Bogart? "Never mind."
"So, what've you figured out so far?"
Daniel made careful note to ensure Aquilina was far away and under guard before whispering to Sam. "She's not lying, and she can use ancient technology as well as John, probably better."
Sam turned her head away and cursed softly. "Damn. I was hoping she was exaggerating, but if these people are descended from the Ancients, they'll probably want Atlantis."
Daniel furrowed his brow. "What gave you that idea?" Sam just gave Daniel a look with a smile that said it all. Daniel nodded realizing. "Ah, yes… precedent. Not sure that applies in this case."
Now Sam raised an eyebrow. "Really? What makes you say that?"
Daniel sighed and turned to look at Aquilina again. "She won't say exactly, but I don't think we're dealing with a small group of people. She seems too confident that her people could take us in a fight even after she saw the city."
"You didn't tell her our defensive capabilities did you?!"
Now it was Daniel who cocked his head and gave a "really?" look. "Come on. I'm not that naïve…anymore." He smirked and Sam smirked back, and gave her a little shove of playfulness. "No. All she knows is we have ancient technology here. She doesn't know we have ships, or even how many people are on the base."
Sam nodded then scratched her nose and blew a sigh. "Do you think you can get anything else out of her?"
Daniel shook his head. "It's been two days, she's getting antsy and I think we should let her contact her people. Set up a meeting so we can make contact official."
A few moments to think, and Sam nodded. "Agreed. Bring her up to the control room in 30 minutes… I need to talk to a few people first."
Daniel narrowed his eyes a bit, but he nodded and moved off. Sam took just a moment to think to herself again then tapped her headset. "Can I have all department heads to the Conference room immediately. All department heads to the conference room on the double."
Sam had a gut feeling this was going to end badly, and it wasn't just the precedent of dealing with Ancients Atlantis had.
"This is it? A backpack?"
Radek rolled his eyes at the comment. "Much more than a backpack Charles, a self-sustained Naquadah reactor and precision electromagnetic coil system!"
Reyna smirked and waved Carson forward, Chuck who was standing off to the side groaned. "Come on, Radek. It's Chuck."
Carson scoffed once in mirth as he sat down. "I told you, Lieutenant. Not everyone can be that… relaxed. Perhaps I'd start issuing stimulants if I could spare them this place is so laid back!"
The half-jest half-complaint had become standard for Carson. Everyone in the room was feeling that he wasn't enjoying how his new position had him in charge of an understaffed, overworked department. Reyna on the other hand was very used to it and didn't complain at all. Then again, she tended to be more scientific than Carson with such aspects as this; studying the Olim Armor.
Carson sighed softly as he put the backpack on and looked to Reyna. "Is this really necessary? Aren't Colonel Sheppard or Major Vega more adequate for this?"
Reyna smiled and rubbed Carson's shoulder. "Sorry, Carson. This suit seems to only like people who have the gene naturally. Since you're number two behind Colonel Sheppard and neither has time for this…"
Another small groan and Carson adjusted the pack. "Oh, and I do?!"
Reyna gave him a smug look back and suppressed a laugh. "Contrary to what we all say you're not the only Doctor we have Carson. Besides, I don't think the Colonel or Major are hoping to see this thing anytime soon."
Carson sighed. "Great. As if I didn't have enough on my plate I'm back to being a guinea pig."
Chuck laughed at the Doctor's irreverent behavior. Truth be told the man was often friendly, but with the Infirmary always busy with one thing or another, the 30 strong medical team was having a rough time about it.
Another 40 medics were learning, but they knew nothing of advanced biology, genetics, or all those wonderful things Carson and Reyna had spent their entire lives studying.
Radek spoke rapidly as he handed a scanner to Reyna. "Alright Carson. I want you to try and think of covering your torso with armor."
Carson rolled his eyes, and sighed. "Alright, but I really think…Ahh!!!"
To Chuck's amazement, a slivery shine spread out from the sides of the backpack and quickly covered Carson's torso. It almost looked like plate armor from some medieval movie. "Whoa! That's freakin' awesome!"
Carson was nearly panicking, his tone aghast. "Well, I'm glad you think so, Lieutenant! At least one of us should be enjoying this!"
Reyna rolled her eyes and put her hand on Carson's shoulder. "Carson, … calm down.… Let me take a reading and we'll get you out, okay?"
Carson nodded. "Yes! yes! This feels very strange!"
Shuddering, Carson tried to calm down by breathing. "It feels...it's very close to my skin, I can even…" The armor seemed to expand and contract slowly. "…yes. I can sense it just barely. It's almost as if it reacts to my thoughts."
Reyna continued scanning, and once she was satisfied nodded. "Alright, that's good. You can take it off now."
No sooner than she had finished, the metallic sheen drifted back into the backpack. Carson quickly took it off and shuddered. "That was very strange...Can't say as I'd want to do that again."
Chuck snickered and rolled his eyes. "At least you can do that" Remembering why he'd tracked the doctor down, Chuck's shoulders rose in mild surprise. "Oh, wait! Doc, 'fore you run off. Laura wants to know if it's okay for her to eat something. Guess the IV flavoring ran out."
Carson winced and groaned softly. "Uh, yes. I'll see to it immediately." He walked off muttering something about how his staff could perform surgery but couldn't keep patients comfortable.
Chuck looked to Reyna, who after passing the backpack and the scanner to Radek accepted Chuck's hand up. "Is he always like this?"
Reyna pulled herself up and sighed. "No. He's just had a lot on his plate, we all have."
Chuck nodded and helped Reyna clean up the area. He kept an eye on the backpack and didn't even notice the time fly by.
On the other hand, Reyna quickly chatted with Radek about the properties of the armor when she noticed Dusty come in. The sergeant didn't say anything and instead held a finger to her lips for quiet.
Reyna wasn't sure what Dusty wanted to do, but she tapped Radek's shoulder to watch as Dusty crept up behind Chuck.
The Lieutenant poked at the backpack obviously deep in thought, but just as Dusty was about to jump him he raised his head in awareness and said, "Dusty, you grab me, and I'm going to tickle you… hard."
The Sergeant visibly deflated. "How the hell'd you know?"
Chuck turned with a smile. "Laura does it all the time. I've had to grow eyes in the back of my head."
Dusty, Reyna and Chuck all laughed at the odd humor but it was more to distract themselves from the recent emergency than actual playfulness.
No sooner had they stopped laughing than Dusty noticed the backpack. "Is that the armor thing that bitch had?"
Radek who had remained quiet up until this point nodded. "Yes, Sergeant. It appears to be a very complicated and advanced piece of technology.
Chuck hooked his thumb at it and deadpanned, "You need the ATA gene naturally in order to use this thing."
Sighing in slight frustration, Radek adjusted his glasses as Dusty neared the device. "More than that actually, the interface requires a significant neural output. From our records, only Colonel Sheppard, Dr. Beckett and Major Vega would be able to use such a technology and even they would have problems controlling it."
With a heavy and exaggerated sigh, Dusty snarked, "Great. As if that bitch spitting whenever she sees us didn't make me feel primitive enough."
Feeling bad for her friend, Reyna added, "Oh, don't worry about it. Without her suit, she's basically the same as Colonel Sheppard in practical terms except for a little empathy."
This was news to Chuck, and he asked the only question on his mind. "So she can sense what we're feeling, like Troi?"
Realizing this meant that Aquilina had likely been feeling very unwelcome, Dusty mused. "That's oddly reassuring."
Reyna snorted at Dusty's reaction, but gave Chuck a patient glare. "Yes, Chuck. And enough with the Star Trek, I told you I don't get it."
Rolling his eyes, Chuck looked to Dusty. "She prefers Star Wars. God knows why."
"Alright, let's get this over with quick and easy. We're not alone in this galaxy and we have a potential trade partner …or a potential enemy ."
John snorted and shook his head idly as he rolled his eyes. "Great… it's the Genii all over again."
To his side, Kevin Marks grumbled slightly. "I wouldn't say that. The Genii might have been a nuisance, but they didn't have Liquid Trinium armor. We still don't know what the hell she was shooting at you guys."
Larrin nodded and rubbed her hand on her face. "She nearly killed our entire team and yet she walks around like she owns the place. What the hell are we gonna do with her?"
Sam nodded and looked to Alicia. The Major seemed a little nervous but added, "Well, we definitely can't return the armor to her. But maybe if we let her contact her people we can work something out. We're in no position to take on an entire military operation." She turned to Larrin. "On that note, how are the refits coming to your ships?"
Larrin groaned and shook her head. "Slowly. We only managed to explore a very small number of planets. Most of them are just gas giants or dead rock. Our ships weren't designed to use projectile weaponry and there're so many problems. Out of the 26 larger ships we have left, only three have been refitted with railguns."
Marks leaned forward and nodded as well. "That brings a whole new problem. We're out of railguns. Even more, we're bone dry on ammo except for Daedalus. If we want these ships to stand a chance against that creature I found, we're going to have to start actual production facilities here on Atlantis."
Sam sighed heavily and rubbed her face. The issues of the city were catching up with them and they just weren't ready. "I know. We're having food shortages as well and our supply of Naquadah is starting to dwindle. We're truly on our own and we've got to start solving problems instead of finding new ones."
Alicia was still a little nervous taking part of these briefings, but she kept her voice calm. "Maybe we can establish some trade with them. What do we have that might be useful?"
Sam nodded and looked to them all. "That's what I want to agree on. I want a full inventory of all our supplies and potential trade materials."
Marks shrugged right off the bat. "Given that armor they might only want Ancient or Asgard technology."
Sam shook her head immediately as she sat on the conference room table. "No. Not until we're sure they won't try and use it against us. On that note, Daedalus is our most valuable asset and I don't want it traveling alone anymore." She looked to Larrin. "I know I can't order you, but if you could…."
Larrin smirked and nodded. "Done. My scientists have been going over that core anyway and with some luck we might be able to reverse engineer our own version of the beaming technology. Since we've had little else to do we're working on several different projects to make our technologies more… compatible."
The room remained quiet for a moment, and then John interjected. "So who wants to make the long distance call?"
Sam smirked, and rolled her eyes. "I think we'll be able to pass that off to Daniel…"
"Chevron 7 locked."
The Stargate kawooshed and Sam took a deep breath before tapping the transmit button. "This is Colonel Samantha Carter calling any Olim representative."
There was no reply but the signal kept the wormhole open. John sitting off to the side sighed. "Guess they're not home."
Aquilina nearby scoffed. "They will not listen to you. You do not know how to speak."
Daniel sighed, Aquilina had a tendency to speak in riddles and he smiled at her. "Really? Well how about you come here and enlighten us?"
The Olim Woman smirked and moved forward without question. "Where do I speak?"
Sam narrowed her eyes at Aquilina and handed her a headset. "Here, put this on."
The woman fitted it quickly and then recited what sounded like a code. Nobody understood her off the bat but Daniel narrowed his eyes in surprise. "I think she's speaking something similar to Ancient Greek and Latin, a combination of the two but…different."
Aquilina finished speaking, and she looked to Sam. "They will respond now. Do you have a visual communications terminal?"
Sam resisted rolling her eyes and motioned to the giant LCD screen to the side of the control room. "There."
As a group, the Atlantis command staff surrounded the woman and stood in front of the screen. A few tense moments passed with nothing happening. Larrin was about to scoff and curse a blue streak when the screen suddenly flickered.
Chuck called out from his post. "We're receiving a transmission. Putting it up."
The screen turned to static for a moment, and then faded into what looked like a dark electronics room not unlike those at NORAD. A face of an older man appeared. He seemed quite surprised. "Who is this? How do you know the command frequency code? The council will hear of your transgression!"
Sam raised her eyebrows in surprise, but before she could speak, Aquilina spoke in a clear tone. "Aulus Centarus, it is Aquilina. I regret that I report to you late, but circumstances gave me little option."
The man, Aulus, raised his eyebrows as he looked over the Atlantis command staff. "Have you gone to another outpost?"
"No. These people are the ones I was sent to observe. I have been captured."
Aulus's eyes narrowed. "I see."
Tired of the constant bickering, John interjected harshly. "Hey, uh Aulus or whatever your name is. The only reason we even have this woman in our custody is because she fired on us first. We're damned lucky no one was killed or you can bet you'd have never seen her again."
Sam moved forward and pushed John a bit to the side. John relented quickly and rolled his eyes. "Aulus, My name is…"
Aulus interrupted, "Your name is irrelevant. You will explain who you are and why you are holding my soldier hostage."
Sam tensed her facial features and spoke coldly. "She is not a hostage. We are not your enemy. We want to talk with you diplomatically."
Aquilina was the one who shoved Sam to the side this time. "She speaks the truth. I recommend you allow them to Magna Secundus to speak in person."
Aulus raised his eyebrows in shock. "Really? Hmm…" he turned to someone off-screen. "Alert our guard to allow them through." He turned back to the group. "Very well. Whoever you are, you are welcome to Magna Secundus. I will be expecting you in… 4 hours. It will be midday on this planet. How many people should I expect?"
It was happening so fast. The entire group looked around and quickly came to the conclusion that the entire Atlantis Command staff would have to go. With the patched up Marines as backup and a few Travelers, they made up a formidable squad. John shrugged as he looked to Aulus on the screen. "You can expect 10 of us. We'll be arriving in 4 hours in our ship through the Stargate."
Aulus furrowed his brow. "Stargate?"
Daniel snorted softly and added, "Astria Porta?"
"Ah, yes. You have a craft that can travel through?"
John nodded. "Yes, and just for your information, I'm Colonel Sheppard and these are…"
Aulus shook his head. "I will greet you all then. I assume Aquilina is coming as well?"
To everyone's surprise, Aquilina answered herself. "Of course."
Aulus nodded and remained emotionless. "Excellent. I await your arrival."
The screen shut off, and moments later the Stargate did as well. Larrin was the only one with enough coherence left to mutter. "What the hell just happened?"