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No beta so any mistakes i made are my own, so if you see some please tell me.
Sheppard tears his gaze away from the female scientists sitting a few tables away. He quickly takes the look on his friends face and without looking at the board reaches out and knocks over his king before turning back to look around the mess hall. He knows that when his friend has smug look of victory on his face he's lost.
"Sheppard focus will you, it's no fun beating you if you're not going to concentrate on the game."
"How do you know I'm not just letting you win?"
Rodney's snort of disbelief is enough of an answer for him and he knew that Rodney was actually being seriously. The look of victory on his face had been pretty hollow.
Sheppard continued to take in the cheerful, laughing faces of scientists and marines around them enjoying their select friends company, and in the case of the civilian groups it went a little beyond friendship. Normally Rodney's face would be among them and John knew the reason why it wasn't, unfortunately that same reason was why the two had been playing chess the past few evenings.
"So Rodney, when does Keller get off of the late shift again?"
Rodney's face darkened slightly at the thought and John hated to think what his expression would be if the two didn't spend breakfast together, not mention nights together.
"She'll be back to her regular shift as of next week," he said, the irritation in his voice more than evident.
"Well the sooner the better for the rest of us."
"Amen to that." As cranky as the physicist could be he knew how irritable he could be when he got to spend less time with Jennifer, her calmness seemed to rubbing off on him.
"Ok Rodney I know you miss spending time with your girlfriend but if we are going to do this until the end of the week can we please find something else to do?" John allowed a small amount of pleading to enter his voice.
"Ok fine, what do you suggest?"
"Think you could rebuild those RC cars?"
"Yes I could but not by the end of the week. I mean you saw the state of them, there wasn't a single spark going through those wires"
John just nodded. The two had been racing their cars one evening when they had the unfortunate luck of being in the same corridor as Teyla on one of her 'walking helps Torren sleep' trips. The difference this time though was that she had come incredibly close to losing her balance and falling. If it had been just her then her response would have been much calmer, unfortunately the boys were looking at a mother's wrath. With an air of calm and a look of controlled fury in her eyes she crushed each car beneath her foot before turning and walking away. She didn't say anything the next DAY and the boys were more than happy to follow her example.
"However I may have something better." Rodney's confident look instantly reappearing as he stood up.
John raised an eyebrow before following suit. "Ok McKay, lead the way."
The two of them entered Rodney's main lab where Radek was tinkering with what suspiciously looked like a pair of virtual reality chairs.
"Ok Rodney spill it, are those really what I think they are?"
Rodney was all innocence. "They are a pair of the virtual reality chairs that the SGC have been working on."
"Rodney you did read all of the reports about those things didn't you," John enquired, pointing an accusing finger at on of the chairs. Word about the chairs had filtered back to the Atlantis expedition when they wanted to find out what they had missed in their first year. Usually the best way to do this was to find out what had been happening to SG-1 as they were usually right in the middle of anything interesting, important, or just plain explosive. Since it had been Teal'c who got stuck in the chair and eventually Daniel it hadn't taken long for the word to get out.
"Sheppard will you have a little faith in Zelenka's skills and more importantly mine." Zelenka had looked up but dropped his head back down again with a roll of his eyes when Rodney finished his sentence. Sheppard caught the look on the engineer's face, even with the Doc's influence some things would never change.
"Okay Rodney, talk me through it."
"Look it is quite simple, I have put in a lock out so that we receive no shocks when we lose and the game resets. We can alter the game parameters from the inside, well I say we you'd better leave that to me. Anyway if we want to change the scenario or the rules we just need to add whatever elements we choose. I'll have Radek here keeping an eye on things from the outside and setting up the scenarios for us. I have already set up several scenarios and info about whatever we might want to put in, so we're good to go."
"Ok, fine I'll do it but before we start I have just one question."
"Alright what is it?"
"Zelenka, what are you getting out of this. It must be something good if you're prepared to sit on the sidelines while we have the fun."
Radek had by now stopped his tinkering and had walked over the two of them while Rodney had been giving John his trust me speech. "Rodney will share the credit for the project when we present it to the SGC, and I get the first go when we demonstrate it."
"Okay fair enough, let's try this thing out."
System booting up.
Initialising basic parameters.
Inserting players to preset location.
Preparing to initialise scenario protocols.
A moment ago the pair had put on the virtual reality head gear now they opened their eyes to find themselves on the bridge of a Daedalus class battlecruiser. The plaque on the wall said the ship was the Daedalus itself.
"Okay McKay I'll admit it, this is pretty impressive."
"Thank you," said Rodney with a hint of smugness creeping into his voice. "The idea is to test command abilities aboard Daedalus class ships, its better for someone to know what to expect when fighting the Wraith and any other known race out there rather than throwing them in the deep end. As a bonus it can also be used for recreation purposes and friendly competition."
"What you mean like who can kill the wraith the fastest, or whose strategy is the best."
"As it happens that is exactly the idea I had in mind for this little test."
He moved over to a control station and activated the monitor. The blank screen was replaced with a view of the lab back in the real world with Radek working at the control station for the VR chairs.
"Radek, activate scenario McKay 4."
"Bringing it online now Rodney."
Scenario McKay 4 protocols initialising.
Awaiting scenario start signal.
The Heads Up Display on the main viewport acknowledged the appearance of a second vessel some distance from them. It was another Daedalus class ship. The insignia proclaimed this one was the Apollo.
"Okay Radek transfer Sheppard to the Apollo."
Sheppard suddenly found himself on an identical bridge to the Daedalus minus Rodney. In front of him a monitor similar to the one Rodney had been using activated and Rodney's image appeared.
"Congratulations Sheppard you are now the commander of the Apollo, while I have command of the Daedalus."
John was noticeably pleased with the idea of commanding his own ship, but he could smell a catch. "Ok, but what about the crew?"
"When we say go automated crew members will activate, we'll both have a full ships compliment but no F-302 pilots as of yet, that's a little programming for later."
"Nice and a little disappointing but I guess even you can't account for everything," Sheppard said, his teasing grin making an appearance.
Rodney rolled his eyes theatrically, "Did I mention this is because I need to get some good pilots in so I can record their reactions and set a standard. The Wraith by the way will have pilots as we already know what their reactions are."
"Ok point taken, so are we going to be duking it out against each other, see who the better captain is?"
"Nope, we'll be doing what you said earlier, whoever kills their Wraith first wins. By the way I programmed our individual targets to only go after one of us so they won't gang up on one of us."
"Sounds good, what do you say we get this show on the road?"
"You heard him Radek, are we good to go?"
The Czech's voice came over the intercom. "We're all set here Rodney"
Both men went and sat in their respective command chairs.
"Starting scenario now."
Scenario start signal acknowledged.
Aboard both ships crewmen materialised and attended their stations. Behind both battlecruisers a hive ship dropped out of hyperspace.
Aboard the Apollo
Aboard the Daedalus
"Sir, a hive ship has come out of hyperspace directly behind us. They are launching darts and powering weapons."
"Sir, a hive ship has come out of hyperspace directly behind us. They are launching darts and powering weapons."
"Raise shields and power Asgard beams, bring us around and take us past the hive ship. All railguns ready to fire at my order."
"Raise shields and power Asgard beams, bring us about and take us under the hive ship. All railguns fire at will at the darts."
The Apollo and Daedalus swung around. The Daedalus dove under the hive ship as darts barrelled towards it, railguns firing wildly in all directions as darts exploded around it. The Apollo meanwhile swerved around coming parallel with the hive ship as darts tore towards it. As the ship was about to pass the main dart bay Sheppard gave the order.
"All railgun batteries target the dart bay openings and fire at will."
The railguns opened fire and the rounds pummelled into the dart bays and the darts coming out of them. The ragged line of explosions started to push deeper and deeper into the dart bays interior. On the bridge of the Deadalus consoles started to spark as energy blasts from the hive and the remaining darts impacted the shields.
"Sir, sensors are registering a large number of secondary explosions, power levels on the hive are dropping."
"Fire Asgard beams, redirect railgun fire to the surviving darts."
The plasma beams tore through the side of the hive, secondary explosions blossoming along the length of the hive in areas around where the beams hit.
The Deadalus meanwhile had travelled the length of the hive and was coming around again all the while shooting down the darts that were chasing her down.
"Target the engine cores and fire plasma beams"
The plasma beams tore into the engine blocks causing massive damage as they caused a chain reaction of explosions along the ships main power conduits. Both hive ships were crippled, their power levels were plummeting and the number of active darts was drastically dropping. Both the battlecruisers meanwhile had taken acceptable damage with their shields holding if depleted.
"Hey Rodney heads up, you have a large number of darts approaching your position and your shields are failing."
Sheppard may have been exaggerating about Rodney's shields but not about the darts, they were regrouping into a swarm and were heading towards the Daedalus. Unfortunately the railgun fire wasn't having as big an impact with the darts in a single target arc. The darts were coming at him full throttle most likely hoping for a kamikaze run. The imagery reminded Rodney of the siege against the wraith, and it was that thought that sparked off an idea in his head.
"You haven't won yet Sheppard and I have a plan. Divert all reserve power to shields including weapons and engine power. Arm a nuke for one second detonation after beaming and beam it ahead of the swarm on my mark."
"Sir, power has been transferred and we are ready to beam the nuke."
The nuke materialised ahead of the swarm and, a split second before a dart hit, it exploded in a blinding blast of light. The entire swarm was covered in the radiation wave, as was the front Daedalus. When the light dissipated the darts were gone but the Daedalus remained with its shields intact, barely.
"Hey Sheppard I'm still here and so are your darts, looks like I win."
Sheppard's expression was an interesting mix of shock, admiration and downright disbelief.
"I don't believe it." He glanced at the sensor screen. "Although the last of my darts are now gone so I guess it was a close contest."
"You know most people would be impressed by the little stunt I just pulled off."
"You mean Keller would be impressed don't you."
When Rodney's response was strangely unforthcoming Sheppard saw it as an opportunity to continue uninterrupted.
"Well I am sure if she is feeling particularly shallow at the moment she might just be impressed by that little manoeuvre."
A gentle voice floated over the com. "I don't know about shallow Colonel but I am definitely feeling impressed."
Sheppard darted over to the monitor and brought up the image of the lab. Standing there waving at the camera was none other than Doctor Jennifer Keller.
Sheppard knew that she could see him so tried to put on an air of innocence. "Hey Doc, didn't expect to see you here."
Her grin was sweet but slightly un-innocent. "Judging by the look on your face that's obvious Colonel, Rodney needed a medic during this little test so here I am."
Realisation dawned, he had been played. "I've been played. You used me McKay."
"You weren't complaining a few minutes ago, besides we needed the best person for the job and that's Jennifer."
"Thank you Rodney and by the way Colonel Rodney didn't need to ask me. I would have volunteered for the job."
John knew that even if Rodney hadn't asked her she probably would have volunteered for the job.
"Ok McKay, how about we try round two now."
"Round two it is. Radek why don't you surprise us, load one of the scenarios from the SGC."
"Loading up now Rodney."
Loading Loading Loading Loading Loading Scenario Loading Loading Loading Loading…
"Rodney something strange is happening, the code appears to be changing."
Rodney's voice was low and deadly serious, "Radek raise all firewalls to maximum now, block the program from the rest of the system."
"Firewalls are all raised Rodney, the program is contained."
"Good work Radek."
Sheppard was a little surprised by the turn of events. "Rodney what just happened and why did you just get Radek to raise all the firewalls."
"For the first I don't actually know but if it means the programs corrupted its safer to quarantine it until we figure out what the problem is."
Radek's slightly nervous voice was not the most confidence inspiring thing to hear at this point, "Um Rodney it appears that certain parts of the programming code is being rewritten. Wait something's happenings, a program is loading."
Program protocols enabled.
Generating environment and avatar.
Rodney and John both appeared in the middle of the Daedalus' bridge. Rodney was about to turn to a console when John, who had noticed something interesting, stopped him.
"Rodney would a problem, quite possibly, include the sudden appearance of Todd!"
"I'd say it's a possibility."
Todd smiled evilly at them. "Gentlemen you have no idea what you've gotten yourselves into."
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