Title: Up Up and Away
Chapter: 7/? Atlantis Arrival
Chapter Summary: The arrival! Finally!
Disclaimer: This is a fan work and is completely non-profit. HP belongs to J.K. Rowling and Stargate belongs to SyFy and a slew of producers, writers, and directors.
The city shone like a beacon from her view in the space ship orbiting above, a cluster of crystalline spires rising above the waves to greet weary travelers. Hermione sighed, somewhat nostalgic at the scene. 'Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy warty Hogwarts, teach us something please,' she began to sing in her head. A smile pulled at the corners of her lips. However much nostalgia she felt, she also felt a small sense of disenchantment following the sting operation she had unwittingly participated in. The callous use of people aboard the Daedalus felt all too familiar.
The smile fell fully when she realized she needed to remove all evidence of her familiar from the cabin and get him in his kennel. She turned as quickly as she dared, packed as tightly as the crew and passengers were for the sight of Atlantis. She jarred a few of the medical doctors, apologizing as they glared, and began to shuffle through the throng of people back to the cabins.
Once safely inside her temporary housing, she pulled out her wand. She didn't really want to, but she figured she was far enough away from Earth that no one would detect her, and she really needed to get this mess cleaned up. Crookshanks hissed from his perch on the end of the small twin bed.
"Oh, come off it! It's not that long that you'll be confined this time. I just need to get you in to the city unnoticed. Hopefully, by the time they realize you're here, it will be too late to send you back."
He made no noise, but he glared something fierce.
Hermione crouched down to his eye level and whispered, "Crooks, you're all I have here. It's just you and me. If they caught you, and I were on my own, I don't think I could bear it." He stared balefully at his mistress, so she switched tactics.
"Come on, we've been through so much together! It's just another adventure- but we'll fail if you're caught. Please get in the kennel? Just until we move to more permanent quarters?"
Crookshanks glared again, and sniffed haughtily, but slowly unrolled from his curled position and stretched before plodding over to the cat carrier. He turned to look at Hermione over his shoulder. You owe me.
Hermione nodded and said, "Yes, I owe you. That's why I brought several years' worth of tuna and cat food in the bag."
With that, Crookshanks entered the cat carrier as though he were walking to his death sentence, and resignedly let Hermione close the face of the kennel.
With all evidence of his royal highness erased from the bunk, Hermione made her way with her luggage back to the main deck.
An hour later, she found herself waiting amongst her peers in the main cargo hold while the commander verified… things… with the crew manning the city. They remained fairly quiet, tired from a distinct lack of sunlight and fresh food. It took most of their strength to remain upright with their luggage.
"Ladies, Gentlemen," said Colonel Caldwell over the low hum of voices and shifting suitcases. The hum dissipated, and the group looked to their host. "We have begun our descent to Atlantis. We will dock in the next half hour. Make sure you are full packed. At fifteen minutes, everyone must strap into the designated landing zones. That is all." He nodded, reinforcing the end of his speech.
About half the scientists, the ones with half-done ties, flyaway hair, and dark smudges on clothing, scurried into action to check their belongings. Hermione knew she wouldn't need to check her things. She had packed as meticulously as she did everything else in her life, bar chasing after Harry and Ron. Crookshanks scowled at her from his spell-ensconced carrier as one of the harried men bumped into Hermione's luggage pile. Hermione ignored the look in favor of smoothing her waistcoat and slacks, both tailored with secret pockets to hold her wand and other necessities without any of the muggles noticing. After reassuring that everything was where it needed to be, she straightened her shirtsleeves and smoothed a hand quickly over her hair, barely confined by the chignon she'd hastily thrown it into. She had several escaped strands, but she could do little other than attempt to tuck them under other, more well behaved sections of hair.
The ship lurched, signaling its descent and the warning for passengers to buckle up. The scientists and doctors moved with their cargo and locked it into heavy restraints, and then moved to the seats lining each side of the cargo hold, where they strapped themselves in.
Hermione didn't see how efficiently the soldiers moved, as most of them avoided actually interacting with the scientists at all costs and remained on the opposite side of the bay. However, the rustling and echoes thereof soon stopped, and the shipped descended faster into the atmosphere.
Hermione gripped the cold metal armrest tightly, turning her knuckles white during the entire downward trip. She'd never liked flying of any kind because of turbulence, and reentering the atmosphere consisted solely of that awful phenomenon. One of her fellows patted her hand and murmured something that was supposed to be reassuring, but she didn't register it. She could feel the blood draining from her face as the descent began to feel faster thanks to the increasing air resistance. She screwed her eyes shut.
Finally, finally they landed with only a minor jolt. Hermione opened one eye, scanned her surroundings, and once she deemed it safe, opened the other. Then she set to work prying her fingers off the arms rests. By the time she finished unfastening her safety harness and her luggage, more than half the people had disembarked. She quickly grabbed her belongings and dragged them out of the hull with the rest of her fellows. Why couldn't they just beam us down like they beamed us up on Earth? Is there some sort of immediate threat that prevents such measures, she thought.
The throng of people slowly waned as they settled and took a moment to examine their new surroundings. Hermione's eyes widened. The monochromatic color scheme she had expected to find so dull, thanks to pre-expedition research and quite a bit of time locked away in a similarly themed mountain base, added a majestic alien-ness to the building instead. Granted, most of her compatriots had far longer to acclimate to singular color palates than she did. They all grew up in the institutionalized, industrialized surroundings of the Muggle world. Hermione found such ideas fascinating because her formative and adolescent years had been spent so differently. The lack of moving pictures, masonry, and eccentrically bright swatches of color thrown randomly about jarred her. Once she got past yet another layer of differences, she scanned the room and canvassed all possible exits and their quickest escape routes. She heard a disfigured old Auror yelling in the back of her mind, "Constant vigilance!" as she did so.
After locating the most feasible of those escape routes, Hermione studied her new colleagues and neighbors who had come to greet them. What she saw did not surprise her. The sea of gray drab speckled with shoulder patches made her wince slightly. Merlin, she thought, I really hate those uniforms.
Only three of the welcoming committee forwent the uniforms. Hermione automatically recognized one, a brunette in red, as Doctor Elizabeth Weir, the head of the expedition. The other two did not strike her as familiar. They wore rough, durable fabrics, possibly a Pegasus Galaxy cotton or linen from what little she could see of its texture as far away as she was, paired with well stitched leather. They created as stark contrast between themselves and Doctor Weir, who contrasted well enough with the people she led in slacks and a soft sweater.
Hermione remembered a note in one of the files about Pegasus Galaxy Natives at Atlantis. One had been there longer than the other, that much she knew, but the file she may or may not have been allowed to read didn't include pictures. She assumed the two not in uniform were the Pegasus natives.
Colonel Caldwell stepped forward and began conversing in low tones with Doctor Weir. The expedition leader's expression lowly transformed from cautiously pleasant to a subtle frown. Hermione couldn't see the colonel's mouth, but from the body language she observed, she assumed they didn't necessarily get along or agree on many things. Possibly a command issue, Hermione thought, maybe stemming from a conflict of interest? She shook her head to clear her thoughts. Sometimes, she wished she could turn off her brain like a normal person.
The colonel and doctor finished their conversation, and Doctor Weir pasted a smile on her face.
"I'd like to be the first to welcome you to Atlantis," she said. "I speak for all of us when I say we are grateful to each and e very one of you for volunteering for this assignment, and we look forward to your contributions."
One of the Atlantis members scoffed. Hermione quickly scanned the people standing on the opposite side of the large room. Though the culprit made no more noises of protestation, Hermione quickly discerned who made the sound. There, wearing the uniform with the Canadian patch. Stocky. Defensive posture. She scanned her brain as the quick analysis sparked something familiar. She'd read something that matched her observations somewhere… Something clicked. Doctor Rodney McKay- often brilliant but difficult to work with. Well, this will be like my Mastery all over again. Maybe it will be easier this time. McKay at least doesn't have a decade of material to pull ridicule from like Severus did.
Hermione refocused on Doctor Weir just in time to hear the registration procedures for the earwigs and tablets Hermione saw people holding. Apparently, those tablets contained a map of the city, and the earwigs acted as locaters as well as communication devices. Hermione grinned slightly as thoughts of a certain illicit artifact from her youth popped into her head. She wondered if she could modify her pad to insult people trying to access it without the right password. That was something to look into.
The throng began to move, and Hermione found herself carting her luggage along next to Doctor Baker.
"Exciting, isn't it? We leave Earth and travel on a space ship. The space ship accommodations are similar to that of a cheap ticket on a cruise. We arrive in another galaxy, and we have to wait in line as though we were in an airport," the doctor said chuckling.
Hermione laughed and replied, "It is a bit surreal, I'll grant you. However, I will say that because we have been removed from our natural habitat, we cling to every bit of habitual normalcy we can."
Doctor Baker smiled at her, and she smiled back.
The line inched forward.
Finally, Hermione reached the front of the line, where she smiled at the young woman handing her all the necessary credentials and technology. The woman smiled in return and directed her to the gaggle of scientists and newcomers in a corner of the room.
"They'll help you set everything up and show you how to use some of the programs," she said.
Hermione waved her thanks and repositioned her belongings. Crookshanks voiced his displeasure with a low growl. Under her breath, Hermione said, "Hang on, just a bit longer."
She reached the group of chaos and looked around for someone to help her out. The only person available was the scoffer, the one she assumed was Rodney McKay. Each new piece of evidence she gathered supported her hypothesis. Gathering her courage, she walked up to him and smiled congenially.
"Doctor McKay, I presume?" she asked.
"I don't help with menial tasks like explaining how to use computers to those less competent than me," he said shortly.
Hermione's smile took on a slight edge at the insult, reigned in only because she knew he had never heard of her or her plight in the Wizarding world.
"I know you feel like you shouldn't have to help us plebeians gather our wits, but without showing us how to use the interface you've created, you hinder our ability to contribute. At that point, we're wasting your air, your food, and your time all the time. So, just show me how to run it and I'll get out of your hair," she replied.
Doctor McKay narrowed his eyes momentarily, and snatched the tablet off the top of her luggage. Hermione saw the small tower start to teeter, and grabbed Crookshanks' disguised kennel before he could let out an undignified caterwaul.
She glared at the oblivious scientist. Once she righted her belongings, she leaned over to look at the tablet. Doctor McKay leaned away. "Okay," he began, "this is your main screen. If you click this icon here," he said as he tapped a red square, "you access the map."
He tapped it again and reduced the screen before tapping a green icon and pulling up another screen. "This one is diagnostics. You probably won't understand anything on here, so just… don't touch it."
Hermione raised her eyebrow and gave him an incredulous look. "You mean complicated concepts like the ZPM is at half power and whatever experiments you have running in the lower quadrant take more power than running all the other systems in the city combined?"
The Canadian glared at Hermione before continuing without acknowledging her comment. "The blue icon is how you submit all your reports."
"Ooh, an intranet email system? How complicated."
"You're annoying," Doctor McKay said.
Hermione looked directly at him. "Listen," she said, "I don't care how you treat everyone else, but I'm supposed to work with you. You can make all the snarky comments you'd like, and you can call me annoying as many times as you want, but I'll give as good as I get. You cannot act as though I'm completely incompetent when I know you've never once reviewed my work."
"And how would you know that I've never reviewed your work?"
"I'm British, I'd recognize your snark, and you haven't looked at my name tag or asked my name. You have no idea who I am, and therefore cannot judge my competency."
"Fine," he said as he held out his free hand, grimacing as though this would cause bodily harm. "I'm Doctor Rodney McKay. I'm the best scientist here."
Hermione took his hand and shook it. "How do you do, Doctor McKay? I'm Professor Hermione Granger, and I beg to differ. I'm the brightest mind you'll meet."
He laughed loudly, startling his colleagues. "Do you really want to compete with me?"
Hermione smirked. "Absolutely. Now, if you'll just direct me to my rooms so I may unpack my things, I'll grab my research notes and we'll get started."
"How in the heck did you get two rooms?"
"My chemistry work needs as few variables as possible, as I'll be testing native plants for their chemical composition and comparing them to samples from Earth. I want to duplicate medicines from viable resources here so we don't end up relying solely on Ancient technology."
Rodney McKay stopped and looked at her. Then he turned to his colleagues and asked, "Why didn't anyone think of this before?"
"Think of what?" asked one of the female scientists.
Doctor McKay glared and said, "Why didn't any of our scientists here bother to think of comparing this galaxy's plants and resources to the ones we ship in and seeing whether we could use them or not?"
Several scientists looked at each other. An Irish voice spoke up. "We have botanists and bioogists, but we've all been too busy practicing emergency medicine to try and run experiments like that. That's why we brought in Professor Granger."
"Seriously, Beckett? Why was I not informed that we were considering this?" yelled Rodney.
The Irishman identified as Beckett responded, "You got the list of scientists just like everyone else. Next time, try reading it."
Yet another voice rang out above the crowd, laughing. Hermione turned her head to locate the source. A good-looking U.S. Air Force pilot had come to stand by Doctor Weir. She couldn't determine his rank from this far away, but she recognized the insignia. His demeanor reminded Hermione a bit of Harry, wary but congenial.
"Beckett's got a point there, Rodney. Even I got the memo," the man said.
"Oh, shut up, Shepherd. I doubt you read through more than I did," Rodney snapped. Despite the tone he'd taken, Doctor McKay seemed to enjoy the banter.
Hermione noted that he was even more like Severus than she'd originally thought, even though he lacked the dramatic presence Severus had commanded so easily in the classroom. Of course, Hermione thought, Doctor McKay has the distinct disadvantage in that he has no robes to billow about when he enters a room.
The man, Shepherd, shrugged and nodded in acquiescence.
That seemed to be the end of the conversation, as Rodney had nothing left to say. Seemingly flustered, he spun around to face Hermione. "Well? Come on."
Hermione chuckled slightly and grabbed her trolley, then grabbed her tablet from the head scientist. "Lead the way, Doctor."
They walked briskly, and Hermione thought the good Doctor McKay knew no other speed. She used those observational skills instilled in her during the war to make a mental map of the route. She charted each hallway, each marker, and each turn. She'd apply the route to the map later to find her way around the rest of Atlantis. The only issue she had with the pace the man in front of her had set was that poor Crookshanks was being rattled about. He growled at her. Hermione glanced at Doctor McKay, but he apparently hadn't heard. He didn't turn around, at least.
They finally arrived at a grey door.
"Feel free to personalize it. You'll be here a while," Doctor McKay said. He stood awkwardly to the side of the door while she used the key given to her to unlock it.
Once she had the door open, she turned to him and said, "Thank you, Doctor McKay. You've been most helpful. When does the mess start serving dinner?"
"Err, about seventeen hundred hours? I'm not sure. Sometimes I stay and work, you see, in the labs."
"Well, I hope you make it to dinner. I know several of the scientists I travelled with would like an introduction."
"Yeah. I'll see if I can make it." With that, Doctor McKay turned and left.
Hermione shook her head and dragged her trolley inside. Once she had the door firmly locked, she whipped out her wand and began unpacking.
It was almost seventeen hundred hours when she felt like she could take a break.