"Excuse me for saying so, but I find it hard to believe that the few of us that are willing to fight, have any chance of defeating the Wraith." Laura Devonshire interjected from her seat in the royal council chambers that the Lady-Provider, or Mara, was allowing them to use.
It was a simple hall that looked like something out of Lord of the Rings. A large fire, fabric decorations and wooden furnature only reinforced the medeval theme of the room. Sheppard glanced at Stevenson, then back at Devonshire.
"We do have our own Ancient now." John indicated to Stevenson.
"Yes, I noticed, but we've lost all support from Earth. No ships, no weapons, no soldiers and no food." Laura countered.
Stevenson jutted a thumb at his chest.
"I think that means he's got it covered." Ronan speculated. Laura raised an eyebrow.
"How, exactly?" The Ex-Lieutenant asked.
Stevenson opened the case lying in front of him on the table. He pulled out a small vile with gray dust inside.
"Nanites!" Laura exclaimed.
"You mean Replicators? That's an insanely bad idea." Sheppard replied, stunned.
Stevenson shook his head
"Toooollls," He said, not quite getting the pronunciation right.
"Wait a minute? Are you saying we can use those things to build whatever we need?" Ronan said, leaning forward in his seat.
"Cool, why didn't we think of that earlier?" Ronan asked looking to Sheppard.
"Because Replicators have a habit of not taking orders, I'm hoping these are different somehow?" Sheppard said.
Stevenson nodded emphatically.
"I'm wondering, is this how the Ancients originally built Atlantis?" Laura inquired.
Stevenson rotated his hand side to side in front of him.
"That means 'sort of.'" Sheppard translated.
"Good enough for me, as long as you know what you're doing." John said, glancing at Stevenson.
"Do you mean to involve the humans in the Pegasus galaxy in our fight, or do you intend to build an army of Replicators to fight for us?" Devonshire asked both Sheppard and Stevenson.
"I had expected to bring volunteers here and begin training them. Starting with the Athosians." Sheppard said hesitantly.
Stevenson nodded his approval.
"As for using Replicators, you already know where I stand on that." John added.
"But does he?" Ronan asked.
All eyes fell on Stevenson.
He reluctantly pulled out a data pad that he'd managed to grab from Atlantis before they'd left and meticulously typed in a message. He slid it across the table in disgust at his own inability to communicate, temporary as it may be.
"What did he say?" Laura asked when John didn't immediately say anything.
"Seems he isn't opposed to using the technology, but he doesn't like the way the Lanteans built them to fight their war for them. At the least he intends to build some to use for security in the city." Sheppard said, shaking his head.
"I am not going to agree to that unless you can 100% assure me that what happened the first time isn't going to happen again." John added.
Stevenson motioned for the data pad back. He typed a quick message, and then returned it.
"Lanteans were stupid, they programmed them to be autonomous and aggressive. Ours will be neither." Sheppard read aloud for the others to hear.
"Forgive my bluntness, but if you have the Replicators, what do you need humans for?" Laura asked.
"Good point." Ronan added.
"Much." Stevenson said, almost normally.
Laura raised an eyebrow.
"Like what?" She asked.
Stevenson retrieved the data pad again. This time he slid it to Laura when he was finished.
"He says that machines can only do what they're programmed to do. They can't think for themselves, they have no sense of right and wrong. They are only tools. Nothing more." Laura read it out loud.
Devonshire placed the data pad back on the wooden table, already feeling better about Stevenson.
"I agree and perhaps Teyla can convince the Athosians to help." Laura offered.
"There's an idea." Sheppard said, pleased.
"Ronan, how do you feel about training ourselves an army to fight the Wraith?" John asked.
"About time." The Satedan smiled.
"Alright then." Sheppard said, standing.
"Stevenson, your the only one who can properly repair the city. We'd just get in your way." John half joked, half seriously said.
Stevenson stood, gave him a thumbs up, and then left the room through the guarded door.
"This whole not talking thing is starting to get annoying." Ronan said after he'd left.
"It is a little weird, but he doesn't have a choice. His mind was reprogrammed to speak Ancient the same way General O'Neill's did. I'm just glad he can understand us." Sheppard admitted.
"Perhaps he'll be able to relearn English again, He has managed a few words." Laura suggested.
"It's either that or he gets to carry a blackberry around the rest of his life." Sheppard said sarcastically as they left the briefing room.
Forty three minutes later, Sheppard ventured into the city to bring Stevenson some food. It took about an hour for John to actually find Stevenson in one of the lower levels of the Control Tower. Now that they'd switched planets and addresses, it was unlikely that Earth would be able to find them again if they were going to look for them at all.
Sheppard wasn't sure what they would do. They had wanted out of Pegasus pretty bad, but now that he'd stolen key personel from them they were sure to be pissed he just didn't know how far they'd go to come after him and the others who'd chosen to go rogue.
And he really didn't like the idea of having to throw down against their own battle cruisers, but he knew that was a distinct possibility.
At least their new location would buy them some time to get organized and re-geared for their self-proclaimed war against the Wraith. Sheppard still had no idea how they were going to fight that war, but Stevenson had been adamant that they could win without assistance from Earth, and after what he'd shown Sheppard in the Milky Way, he was eager to see how this was going to play out.
Sheppard enetered the room and immediatly looked at the clear container Stevenson was carrying.
"That's a lot of nanites, where did u get them from?" Sheppard asked.
Stevenson merely tapped his nose with his index finger while continuing with his work.
"Whatever, so are those the security Replicators?" John asked.
Stevenson shook his head 'no' and stepped over to a control panel where he brought up a map of their current location. It rotated until they could see both the city and several kilometres beneath the surface of the planet. The Captain highlighted several deposits of Naquadah and Neutronium in close proximity to the city.
"Mining." Ryan said, again managing a word in English.
"Cool." Sheppard said as Stevenson stopped the inflow of new nanites. The two canisters disappeared downward into the floor.
"Where are they going?" John asked leaning over to try and locate the canisters.
Stevenson brought up another schematic that showed the canisters being moved down a shaft to the underside of the city. From there they would be released into the soil and work their way down into the bedrock, building micro-conduits as they went that would funnel the raw material back up into the city for the repairs to begin. Stevenson then handed Sheppard a case of vials and a data pad.
"What's this?" He asked. He looked at the screen and found it to be another translation.
Take the canisters and release the contents on the following worlds. They are pre-programmed to activate ten seconds after the seals are broken. Don't open them until you are in position. These nanites will begin gathering other materials we need and will report back to the city via subspace.
Sheppard glanced down at the two dozen addresses listed below the message and was suddenly glad for something to do other than follow Stevenson around.
"Will do." he said as he picked up the case and left Stevenson to his work. He radioed Devonshire and Ronan to have them meet him at the gate.
"What are those?" Ronan asked.
"Our cargo. We're going to make some deliveries." Sheppard told him while signalling the sparse control room staff to dial the gate.
"About time we had a mission, we've been sitting on our butts for too long." Ronan remarked.
"I agree, it's time we got back to work." Laura smiled. Sheppard smiled as the kawoosh retreated back into the event horizon.
"It's good to be back." He said as the three stepped through the gate together.