Sparks shot out, Rodney shouted something unintelligible, and Teyla lept away from the device as the bitter smell of burnt plastic filled the small space. Shielding his face with one hand, John reached up with the other. He winced as sparks hit his skin, but managed to reach the wire and yank it out of its socket.
"That didn't go quite as well as I'd hoped," Rodney said sheepishly. He waved a hand to clear the smoke, eyes still on the device they'd found here in the room. "At least the place doesn't smell like old socks any more."
No, now it smelt like old socks and burnt wiring. John wiped the back of his hand against his pants to ease the sting, then began wrapping the cord around the thing. "Next time it might be better to wait before you activate a device you've found on an alien planet."
"But the plug was right there," Rodney said, and John could tell from his tone how ridiculous he knew that sounded. The scientist had known there was still power flowing through the complex. Which John supposed was why he'd plugged the device in.
John raised a brow and looked wryly at Teyla. "I expect more from you at least."
"Sorry, I did not realize I was supposed to be babysitting," Teyla said, her attention having already gone back to the room around her. "Next time, I will ignore the pictographs on the walls, and instead focus on keeping Rodney out of trouble."
John's own gaze moved to the symbols she'd mentioned. If he himself hadn't been so engrossed, he'd likely have noticed Rodney's actions. Still, Rodney should have known better. But John could understand Rodney's inattention. They'd all been exhausted lately, what with the loss of Ford, and all they'd gone through on that one. He still didn't like to think about it.
"Do you think the device is something useful?" Teyla asked, bringing the discussion back to its focus.
Rodney shrugged. "Actually, I think it's a toaster."
"This is a kitchen," Teyla said. "Or... I believe it is, based on what these symbols seem to be saying."
John looked around, the purpose of some of the items in the room becoming clearer with that knowledge. Over against the wall looked to be something that may have once contained a grill of some sort. There were counters nearby, shelves, but Rodney had found the only actual device so far.
John could tell that the place hadn't been used in some time - dust covered every surface, and part of one faded wall was beginning to crumble. He wondered why it had been abandoned. Where had the people gone? Why had they left? Wraith, or something else? The very thought put him on edge. "I'm going to check outside."
John stepped out onto the empty plaza, his footfalls echoing against the walls of the buildings that surrounded him. When he stopped, a silence fell heavily, so dense it was eerie. He'd never experienced what a complete lack of animal and plant life could do to a planet, but other than his own breathing, there was literally not a sound. He inhaled. The placed smelled... odd. Hardly a scientific observation, but it just didn't smell right. Scuffing his boot against the dusty stone beneath him, he traced a small curve in the powder, sending up soft clouds of the stuff. He was probably the first living being to set foot on this place in what? A hundred years? A thousand? Remarkable, that these buildings were still standing; that there were actually still energy signatures - faint, but present - in some of the buildings, after all this time. He let his gaze move up, past the buildings, to the bright blue sky above them.
"I want to check the next room," Rodney said, coming up behind him, Teyla in tow.
John nodded, and lead the team as they went in through the next opening. As they entered, he heard the hiss and pop of old tech powering up after long rest, activated by his ATA gene or something else, and he had to smother a smile.
Lights came up around them, and the room gave an immediate impression of long disuse. Dust motes floated in the air, puffs of dust rising from where their feet disturbed the ground, equipment lying, undisturbed but for their presence, on every surface.
He could tell that Rodney was pretty excited about the tech. Any time they ran into stuff like this - lots of things with buttons, knobs, and so on - Rodney was like a puppy in a candy store. Or something. And sure enough, Rodney let out an, "Ooh, cool," as he stepped forward, eager to touch/feel/play. John held up a hand, stopping him. He did a quick visual recon of the place - nothing seemed imminently about to explode, so he set Rodney free with a, "Be careful, McKay."
As Rodney approached the nearest table, actually rubbing his hands in anticipation, John met Teyla's gaze, and she nodded. Knowing that she'd keep an eye on their enthusiastic scientist, John used his scanner to read - sort of - the text on the devices. Rodney had told him that the language used on the stuff here seemed to be an old form of Ancient. All John knew was that their computers were having some trouble with it, as the device in front of him seemed to say that it was for "The redness of that within one," which while poetic, was not particularly useful.
As Rodney began to prattle on about this device and that, John explored the space around them. This room might be a lab, or a library, or hell, could be the processing room for a museum, for all he knew. Still, Rodney seemed pleased - obviously, as his excited discourse would indicate. Even if none of this ended up being useful, it was nice to see Rodney so animated, after all they'd been through with Ford. But still, sometimes, he had to admit that he wished he could just explore some of these places in silence, rather than having to hear Rodney going on and on about six million things. Not that he didn't like the man - he did - it was just that sometimes, every once in a while, just this once, he wouldn't mind if Rodney just... well... shut up.
John looked up sharply when he heard Rodney say, "That's different." Different, in this universe, had never been good, so he stepped forward quickly, placing himself between Rodney and the thing the scientist had been looking at. The device, if that's what it was, was almost like an open shoebox with a dark, shiny interior bottom. Nothing more - actually, it was very simple in design, sleek, not at all like the rest of the stuff they'd found so far. Nothing gothic and Ancienty about it - it was far more modern looking, in its way, but certainly old.
John peered into the box, careful not to touch. The shiny surface at the bottom should have been reflective, but was not - he couldn't see his reflection in it. Some sort of screen with extreme anti-reflective coating?
John looked at the readings on his scanner, brow wrinkled. No power readings at all. Looking at the thing again, he saw something flash across screen. "Did you see that?" he asked.
Rodney had already moved on, and was fiddling with another device on the table. "See what?" Teyla simply shook her head.
John frowned and looked back at the box. "Maybe nothing."
"If it looks interesting, grab it," Rodney said, playing with yet another item on the table. "We'll take it back to Atlantis and figure it out there."
John reached out to take the device. His hand fell on it, and -
Falling. It felt like falling. Then he was gone.
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