Ace In The Hole

Chapter 67

Though he can clearly hear someone speaking to him from somewhere off to his left he is completely oblivious as to what they are trying to say to him, all he can think about at this moment in time is the man that is currently held tightly within his arms, finally with a deep shaky sigh Sheppard lets go of Lorne and glances around Destiny's bridge at the people assembled.

"Colonel?" Young can not hide the amusement from his eyes "Do we all get a welcome back hug like that?"

"It's good to have you back, all of you" Sheppard grins sheepishly "You're late!" he says glaring at Dr Cairns "You said three to four months Doc"

"We had a few power compatibility problems..."

"Four months maximum if I recall"

"John" Evan almost whispers with a look that causes Sheppard to merely sigh and let go of the eight and half months worth of tension that had slowly built up since their departure.

"Fine" he relents with a final sight "How was your trip?" he finally asks Young

"Long, but its good to be home, well almost home" he adds at the last minute.

"This might not be Earth, but I think you might be impressed" [Destiny this is Atlantis]

Sheppard merely holds his hand up deferring to Young

"Go ahead Atlantis"

[Cal has successfully synchronized with your control system and is ready to bring you into bay one on auto, sit back and enjoy the ride]

"Sir!" Lt Scott raises his hands away from the helm consoles showing he is no longer in control of the ship.

"Cal?"

"Its OK" Sheppard smiles with a shrug.

"Sir we're changing course, it looks like the Destiny is going to land" Within minutes the ancient vessel is gliding effortlessly into the cavernous hanger bay on the Corellia station, the edges of Destiny's huge crescent shaped rear hull merely inches clear either side. As vessel finally slows to a stop docking clamps and supports rise to take the ships weight, with a gentle shudder drives that have been running for aeon's finally rest silently.


"Now this is more like it" Grins Eli has he steps out of the transport booth into the bustling city.

"Come with me" calls Cairns enthusiastically as he leads him out onto a huge balcony with a clearer view

"Wow"

"See there" he points towards a huge craft sitting in a pad off to the right "Aurora class Lantian ship, belongs to the travelers, and there quick" he points to a jumper "Puddle Jumper, they're capable of going through stargate's"

"This place is incredible"

"Come on, there is so much more to see"


The pride and hope in Teyla's eyes is infectious as she Jeannie and Caleb show Camille, Volker and Brody around the growing second city forming almost 30 miles south of Atlantis.

"We originally planned to do all this in Atlantis itself but thanks to the construction bots that we replicated" Jeannie trails off in a grin

"All this was built in two months?"

"It reminds me of the Royal Crescent at Bath" Wray smiles

A huge ring of gleaming white stone buildings four stories high surround a mile wide circular leafy park. Cafés, restaurants and shops occupy the lowest floors with tables spilling out onto the wide open pavement giving it an almost European feel. Four huge archways lead out at the cardinal points with freshly planted tree lined streets leading to the growing city beyond.

"We began construction on Ludas at little over six months ago, but almost four months of the initial work was below ground" Jeannie smiles "The buildings may look like stone but they are actually a carbon composite framework that is literally spun by the bots and later sprayed with this cool construction foam that looks and sets like stone"

"Believe it or not, its the interiors that take longer to complete than the outer structure" Teyla says leading them towards the closest archway.

"Ludas?"

"Rodneys name I'm afraid" Jeannie sighs at hearing Teyla

"Conscientia would have been better" she grumbles

"No it's just Ludas is ancient for school isn't it?" asks Camille before smiling at gaining a nod of agreement from Teyla

"As you can see we have four separate zones, at the age of 7 all children will sit a small test that's designed to access where they are strongest, if they are creative and artistic they will be assigned to DaVinci, into biology, chemistry or medicine then its Darwin" Jeannie points to the far side of the park "Math and Physics have Einstein and then for the hands on inventive, creative kids there is Edison"

"Don't you think that's pigeon holing them a little?" asks Volker as a group of young teenagers wonder past headed for the nearest café.

"There are gate ways built into the educational programs that allow us to move children around at set intervals tailoring each individual child's education to their specific need"

"Is that sort of control even possible?"

"We believe it is using this" Teyla hands a small data pad to Camille

"Tollan medical chips?"

"When we found the schematics in the Asgard database we knew it was the missing link we needed to make this whole thing work" smiles Caleb

"They allow us to monitor a child's stress and anxiety levels as well as general health, we should be able to see if a child is struggling and target any specific help that is needed" Jeannie smiles.

"In light of recent developments we have had to take extreme measures to improve our overall technical capabilities" Teyla sighs

"Because of Earth?" Wray guesses

"With relations as currently strained as they are..." Teyla shakes her head

"I'm sure things will blow over" Wray counters with a reassuring smile

"So each zone is a separate school?" asks Brody bringing up the rear of the small group.

"Actually each zone is to have its own high schools, colleges and eventually academies but as we said we have built the gateways in system"

"In the end though, the children will also be free to switch and choose for themselves at set points in their education, after all, it is their education, it ultimately has to be their choice" Caleb emphasizes.

"Sport and physical fitness is also high on our agenda" All children will have mandatory self defense training" Teyla says firmly.

"Studies have long shown the benefits of exercise" Jeannie adds

"How many kids are here so far?"

"Roughly 18 percent, which considering we only opened eight days ago, I think that in it self is pretty amazing"

"The lack of teachers and chaperones is our biggest problem, even using Lantian holographic technology the teachers we have are spread thin" adds Teyla.

"I'm sure Earth will come around Teyla" Wray emphasizes once more.

"I do hope so"


"This is amazing!" Young grins as he pulls his fighter into a tight spin hot on the tail of the sleek white fighter out in front.

[Come on Everett I know its been a while but McKay could do better] Sheppard's grin translates over the air waves causing Young to merely laugh.

"Bite me Sheppard" he says throwing the starfighter into a dive hot on his tail once more.

"Jesus sir" Lt Scott shouts from the rear seat

"Relax Lieutenant, she can handle it"

"It's the contents of my stomach I'm more worried about sir" Lt Scott groans

With a playful grin Young kills the forward momentum breaking to a complete stop within the space of a few feet the sudden change in velocity only noticeable by looking out the fighters canopy due to the inertial dampeners negating any physical sensation of stopping.

"Twice the speed of sound to hovering standstill in less than 6 feet that's got to be a record"

[Everything OK Young?]

"Lt Scott wishes to travel at a more sedate pace it would seem" Young laughs

[Don't worry lieutenant, believe it or not the lack of inertial bleed through has taken a lot of our pilots a while to get used to] Sheppard's fighter glides into view alongside Youngs [Lets head back]


"The boys are great" Lorne beams "I can't believe how much they have grown"

"Eight and a half months will do that" smiles Alex, whilst handing him a coffee.

"So?"

"So what?"

"What's happened? What's gone on? What's the Gos?"

"The gos?" asks Alex confused

"You know, gossip" grins Lorne playfully

"Oh" he stops to give it some thought as he pulls his eyes from the data pad in front of him.

"Not much" he shrugs

"What?" A small smile begins to blossom on Alex's face causing Lorne to glare "I'm gone months and nothing interesting has happened"

"Well Lt Craig is pregnant, airman Simms got married, Reed is back with Denara, wait, hang on" he laughs "Sorry Denara was last week he's with Roshara this week"

"The man is an animal" Lorne laughs "So, how's the gate modifications going?"

"John was kinda pissed at McKay for a while" Alex can't help but break into a grin.

"Why?"

"Well Rodney being Rodney he kind of took it upon himself to point out to me that modifying the gate was a vagrant breech of the cities guiding principles" he shrugs at Lornes frown "You know the whole I'm here to guide, serve and protect thing"

"OK?" Lorne says hesitantly

"That was until I showed him that changing the operating frequency of the gates literally involved three key strokes and even airman Lazinsky could have figured it out"

"Three key strokes?"

"Not every Ancient was a genius you now" Alex laughs "We had our own klutz's"

"No one could beat Vadim" Lorne smiles broadly "Lazinsky has broken almost every machine he has come in contact with, McKay has banned him completely from Nautilus duty"

"16 laptops, 2 malps, and a 302 broken in 6 months is an impressive record" Alex rolls his eyes at Lorne chuckle.

"Janus was trying to alter the gates manually without the Astriaportium" he notes Lornes frown "Gate factory, well without that altering a gate in this manner is, well hard would be an understatement"

Lorne merely nods in understanding "So what you going through?" he asks pointing to the pad

"Destiny's logs and stuff, nothing to important why?"

"There are a few people that I would like you to meet"


"It's an honor to meet you" Alex says to Eli with a smile.

"Me?" Eli says blushing slightly "but you're I mean"

"So you're..." Young says glancing at Sheppard for conformation.

"Atlantis yes"

"This is incredible" Wray says taken aback "so you're what an android or robot?"

"Actually, Alex is flesh and blood Ms. Wray same as you and me" says Sheppard cheerfully before dropping back into his seat at the lunch table the group had been sat around before Lorne and Alex joined them.

"I was an Ancient many aeons ago but now I am a part of the city, a link if you will"

"Earth must have found out that you have a living Ancient" smirks Young knowingly "that's why the council has got it knickers in a twist"

"As far as I know only O'Neill and key SGC personnel know about him" Sheppard shrugs "But I guess anyone of our people that have gone home could have told them"

"I have to agree that Colonel Young, it would explain the councils sudden strange shift in policy and behavior" says Wray "They may believe he is behind this drive towards getting organized"

"Then they would be wrong" says Alex "Teyla and her administration have worked tirelessly for months now"

"Since the alliance was formalized not a single member world has been successfully culled by the Wraith, we now have 249 worlds that protected from space by the sentinel satellite detection system and on the ground Viacastra system and we aim to have the remaining 114 member worlds covered within the next 2 months" McKay says with a satisfied smirk.

"Because their food source is becoming rarer by the day the three remaining Wraith factions have begun tearing into each other with a new ferocity" grins Sheppard

"That's probably not going to last forever" Young notes ominously.

"We Know, but we had hoped that by the time they have finished fighting each other they'd have worn themselves down to a point that we would be capable of taking them out once and for all"

"So not that I'm ungrateful or anything but why..."

"Why did we need Destiny?" Sheppard guesses cutting Eli off

"Don't you already have the blueprints and I mean after all" Eli point to Alex "couldn't he just, you know.."

Alex shifts uncomfortably "Alex may be an Ancient but like his ascended brethren he's still bound by certain rules" Lorne says placing his hand firmly and supportively upon his team mates shoulder "He's here to help, but he's not here to solve our problems for us"

"No matter how much we may want him to" McKay grumbles causing Sheppard to glare at him.

Alex merely smiles


"So, if I may ask" Camille says with an honest open smile as she and Young take their seat's opposite Teyla, Larin and Sheppard "How bad are your relations with Earth currently?"

"We barely have any contact" sighs Sheppard whilst running his hand though his hair frustratedly.

"We have had little communication from Earth for over six months now" adds Teyla

"No check ins?"

"Oh they check in every Monday regular as clockwork but its..." Sheppard sighs "Its all been through Midway"

"There as been no direct contact with Earth for some time now"

"They are going through the motions" Larin merely shrugs "How are you? Fine. And how are you? Fine" she shakes her head in frustration "politics" she mumbles causing Young to smile.

"What you are building here in Pegasus" Wray smiles "I think there are many that see what you are accomplishing and they are..."

"Jealous?" say Sheppard.

"We" she flicks her thumb indicating Colonel Young "well, we discussed it on the way here"

"No stock market, or monitory system, no companies or jobs markets to protect" says Young

"No set class or social systems, no crime" Camille laughs "I mean, do you even have a police force?"

"It's on our to do list" Sheppard shrugs.

"The only thing really holding you back is a general lack of education, but thanks in part to Larin's people and the work the Millers have put into Ludas that's is only possibly a generation away from changing" Larin grins at Wray's frankness "Earth's progress is in danger stuttering to a complete halt if they fail to get the religious and political zealots in check, they could easily find themselves sliding backwards not forward"


"You are sure?"

"Seriously? You doubt his calculations" Cairns can't help but smirk at McKay whilst flicking his thumb at an amused Eli.

"The doc and I completely dismantled and rebuilt the whole system from the ground up on the flight back" grins Eli

"We even filled the tank on the way home, just in case, to check we had got it right and the make sure Destiny's capacitors charged like they are supposed to" Cairns laughs handing Rodney a pad triumphantly.

"Energized Photon Module, EPM, I guess that works" McKay shrugs nonchalantly.

"A single ZPM puts out roughly 876 terawatts per hour for roughly 3000 years" McKay merely nods in agreement at the figures.

"We think an EPM should be about roughly a third the power, putting out somewhere in the region of 300 terawatts per hour for about a thousand years" adds Eli.

"Woah..." McKay holds his hand up stopping the over enthusiastic duo "Aren't you forgetting something, this is all well and good but unless you have figured out the shield problem" McKay suddenly sighs at seeing the beaming face on Eli "Kids" he huffs.