A/N - Thank you for all your lovely comments and alerts! It has been quite some time since I attempted a longer fic, and you all warm the cockles of my Rodney whumping heart :) This fic is crossposted on my LiveJournal - there is a small piece of artwork over there at x-varda-x dot livejournal dot com/45634 dot html
In the briefing room, the people sitting around the conference table were stone faced. None more so than Rodney.
"Shall we fill you in?" John asked.
"I've read the reports, Colonel," Woolsey said. "I already know what happened."
"That it was all my fault!" Rodney barked. "The judgements of everyone else recorded in stone to gloat over for years to come."
John frowned, "Actually, if it was anyone's fault, it was the Ancient's for leaving such a toy lying around that we might get overly curious and try it out."
Rodney looked genuinely surprised, "But I thought… the weeks afterwards when everyone was so angry and closed off with me. I thought you all pinned the blame on me?"
John shook his head, "Have you even read the reports, McKay?"
Rodney's features tightened and he lifted his chin a little, "No."
"Well maybe you should. Besides, we weren't ignoring you, you did that to yourself and it all worked out in the end."
Woolsey had watched the exchange, and took the opportune silence to say, "This was all three years ago. So what are we going to do now?"
Rodney frowned down at his computer. "The Wrydon system is a lot further than three light years away from ground zero. The wave shouldn't have reached it yet. It's impossible, the most basic laws of physics cannot allow it."
John nodded, "Because it's travelling faster than light."
Rodney snorted. "Nothing. And I mean nothing natural that isn't in subspace…" He glanced at John. "Not even the speed at which you get your hairgel on in the morning immediately after waking up can travel faster than the speed of light."
John smirked. "What occurred on Doranda was hardly natural. What about time travel? Or maybe it's in hyperspace?"
"No and no. Whatever it is, it's massive, covering thousands upon thousands of lightyears and growing in size as it spreads out from the source. A phenomenal amount of energy is required for it to do that and to keep this level of energy while it's so spread out.
John wasn't smiling any more. "Well, the original bang was pretty massive. Planet destroying."
Rodney grimaced at him. "Thank you so much for reminding me. But what I'm getting at is that we, and I speak for the whole science team in case you think I wouldn't ask for help after what happened before, we don't know exactly what it is that's approaching the system. Nor do we know what it will mean for the people on Wrydon when it hits."
"And this is the closest gate to the point of origin?" Woolsey asked as he looked at the diagram Rodney had put up on the main screen.
"Yes. And the Daedalus is two weeks away on a return trip to Earth, so we're on our own."
Teyla frowned at the screen. "There is another world that will be hit at the same time."
John nodded, "We know. It has a space gate, so we're going to check it out in a couple of hours to get some more readings. See if they can shed some more light on what's going to happen when the main wave hits."
Ronon looked up at the mention of a mission and the promise of potential action that he could take part in. "Check if it's inhabited."
Rodney's face fell.
Woolsey said, "So, we don't know what this wave is and we don't know when it will hit or what it will do."
Rodney carefully avoided his gaze.
"What do we know?"
Ronon said, "That it's bad."
"Very bad," John added. "The initial explosion destroyed a solar system."
"Not all of it," Rodney protested. "But it was an unstable energy source and it didn't comply with any known laws of physics. Unpredictable, powerful and unstoppable."
John asked, "What about Janus' lab? Is there anything in there that could help."
Rodney looked upwards praying that the heavens high above could channel patience to him through the ceiling, but didn't get a reply so he said sarcastically, "Let me see. A device that can stop the onslaught of an unknown energy wave thousands of light years wide, and growing. Would you like me to reverse the orbit of the planet we're floating on too while I'm at it? Perhaps knock a few suns into each other?"
John shrugged, "Only asking. Janus did like to play around with time a bit and the weirdness on the planet we went to did seem to be time related."
Rodney glared at him and shook his head. "The sheer scale of this is daunting to say the least. There may be a solution somewhere and with enough time we may find it, but for now, there's no quick fix."
Woolsey asked, "Is there any good news at all?"
Rodney snapped his fingers. "Evacuation. Just until it hits. We could set up some monitoring equipment to take all the readings. Dial in every day or so to see if it's happened yet and then send the Daedalus to check it out in a couple of weeks."
Woolsey thought for a moment and sighed before he said, "This is a drastic plan, but I don't see that there are any other options so I have to agree."
Teyla asked, "What about Torpik?"
Rodney furrowed his brow, "I don't know. Maybe as the wave gets closer the anomalies will change location and he'll be freed."
Woolsey turned to her. "Teyla, I'd like you to head up two teams and begin the evacuation with Major Lorne."
"Where are we to evacuate them to?"
Rodney turned to Teyla hopefully, desperate to provide solutions to the problems his error had caused all those years ago. "What about the Athosians? You could take in a few hundred refugees."
Teyla kept her face and voice carefully neutral, "We have taken in a few individuals over the years, but to have so many I fear that what little food we have managed to grow and harvest since our return would be insufficient to sustain all of us."
Rodney frowned and pressed, "It might only be temporary."
"And it may not. My people are still rebuilding what little remains of their lives after Michael," she spat his name and her calm expression faltered a little at the anger still burning within.
Woolsey said, "Alright, so the Athosians are not an option. In which case the people must be asked to bring all they can. We can assist them with Jumpers and evacuate to the Alpha Site until the situation has resolved."
Rodney swept out of the room and walked so quickly down the gate room steps on his way back to the labs that Teyla had to jog after him.
She called out to him, "Rodney!"
But he was either too far away, or too wrapped up in his own thoughts to stop, so they were well down the corridor before Teyla caught up with him, grabbed his arm and spun him around.
"Uh, Teyla. Hi. I'm in a hurry - need to get my gear before heading out on that mission to the second planet."
"You should have consulted me before making the suggestion!"
"Suggestion?" Rodney looked genuinely confused and more than a little bit scared at the glare he was receiving.
"Your suggestion to relocate hundreds, possibly thousands of people to New Athos."
"Oh. But that's all that it was – a suggestion, an option. And we're fast running out of them."
"Well, the answer is no." Teyla's eyes were narrowed and her whole body was tense with well controlled fury. "My people are proud of what we are. Although what we once had is still told in song, we have barely managed to cling to this through the constant relocation in the past five years. Most of what we had is now destroyed or locked in fading memories, the songs becoming little more than legends and myths that few young ones believe are true.
"With the incoming of so many strangers with their own culture and ideas, all of what little remains will be lost forever."
She quickly blinked the glassiness of her eyes and channelled her sadness into anger at the man standing bewildered in front of her. "Our culture and livelihoods would become diluted by these newcomers. We cannot trust those whom we do not know after what happened to us."
Rodney wrung his hands nervously. "I'm so sorry, Teyla! I… I wasn't thinking. But it'll be alright." He held up a placating hand, his eyes wide and his voice low. "There are plenty of other worlds, nice, uninhabited worlds where we can relocate them if the whole situation goes south and they can't go back. We just need some more time to find one."
Teyla straightened up, backing away a little so that Rodney could breathe again. She spoke haughtily, "Just promise me that you will never do that again without consulting me first."
Rodney swallowed and nodded fervently. "I doubt I'll forget. Good luck with the evacuation."
Teyla furrowed her brow with a small, sad smile. "And you with the survey of the second world."
John, Rodney and Ronon took out a Jumper while most of Atlantis focussed on the evacuation of the first one.
The small ship glided unhindered through the vacuum of space once it had left the blue wormhole pool and turned over so that the occupants could look down upon the world below.
John brought up the HUD. "Scanning for… everything."
Rodney already had his laptop out while Ronon stared out the window from the seat behind him.
"Way ahead of you there," the scientist said.
"Uh oh! That can't be good," John said.
"Double checking. Verifying." Rodney scowled, looked up and then back down at the screen, "Triple checking."
Ronon frowned, "What's up?"
The more data that scrolled up the screen, the further Rodney's mouth downturned until he cried, "No no no no no!"
John was flying the Jumper lower and letting the ship just skim the upper atmosphere. "We'd better see this with our eyes I think, just to be certain."
Ronon growled, "Certain of what?"
Rodney squawked, "That we're so so screwed! Why does everything always have to go so wrong?"
John sensed that Ronon's patience had run out and that he was about to resort to violence, so quickly said that which Rodney could not. "That there are thousands of human life signs on the planet. And that we'll never evacuate them in time."