I went to memories and tagged all of the previous chapters. Then I found that I hadn't posted chapter 6 to my journal, just to allthejellies, and it wouldn't let me tag it. I had to post it again to get it in the tag. I made the post private so that I wouldn't be messing up my friends page with an old posting. However it made the chapter out of order on the tag page, and I don't know how to fix it.
I find memories much easier to manipulate.
Anyway, here we go. Let's see if this works now.
Title: Watching Atlantis - chapter 8
See chaper one for disclaimers
A couple of hours after Giles had left with Buffy, Elizabeth assigned the visitors to guest quarters. Ethan lay on his bed staring at the ceiling, his mind humming with all the things he had seen and heard since they had stepped through the portal. The hell with it; he could sleep when he got back to Sunnydale. There was a lot of exploring to be done.
However, he had only taken a few steps when he was stopped by a guard.
“Sorry, Sir, Major Sheppard’s orders. No one to be allowed to move around unescorted.”
“Then escort me.”
“Sorry, Sir. Can’t leave my post.”
Ethan sighed. “For Janus’ sake man, do I look like I’m going to destroy anything? We'll be leaving tomorrow, this is the only chance I’ll have of seeing something like this.”
The guard was unmoved. “Sorry, Sir.”
Ethan briefly considered putting the man to sleep and continuing on his way, but discarded the idea. Normally he didn’t mind creating a little chaos when he knew he wouldn’t be returning to a place, but for some reason he felt reluctant. “Why don’t you call the major and have him send someone to escort me.”
“He said he wasn’t to be disturbed unless it was an emergency.” There was a gleam in the guards’ eyes as he anticipated Ethan’s next request. “He said that Dr. Weir wasn’t to be disturbed either.”
Ethan was re-considering putting the man to sleep when another figure came around the end of the corridor. Carson stopped. “Is there a problem, Sergeant Bates?”
“Orders, Dr. Beckett. Visitors are not to travel without an escort.”
Carson smiled. “Then I’ll take responsibility for showing the gentleman around.”
The guard gave Ethan an evil look, as if to say ‘Hurt him and I’ll make you pay’, but merely nodded and stepped back. Carson turned to Ethan. “Where would you like to go?”
“No place in particular, I’m just interested in seeing more of the city.” The two men headed down the corridor. “Is there someplace that we didn’t see earlier that you think is worth seeing?”
Carson walked on, thinking. He led the way to a flight of stairs. “I have a favorite place. I found it when I was exploring that first day. Hardly anyone goes there anymore, but I still think it’s remarkable.”
They continued in silence, Ethan looking around with great interest. After going down a second flight of stairs they turned left and entered a large round room. Filling the center of the room was a raised platform. Carson stepped onto what looked like a speaker’s podium, except it faced the platform, not the room. The room lights dimmed, and the hologram of a woman appeared.
Ethan listened in fascination to the brief message. He stared in wonder at the vision of the galaxy with all of the planets that the Ancients had settled, frowning at the mention of the powerful enemy. When the message ended and Carson stepped down Ethan shook his head.
"So the legends of Atlantis are true, just not entirely accurate. I can't imagine how desperate they were, to give all of this up. Going back to Earth must have been like being stranded in the Stone Age."
"Aye, they had hopes of rebuilding once they got back, but obviously something went wrong."
"I remember hearing one theory that the Atlantis legend was really about the destruction of a city on the island of Crete. Perhaps that was partially right too. Maybe the ancestors of the Atlantian's had been living there, gradually dispensing knowledge to the Greeks when the volcanic eruption that destroyed a nearby island ended their efforts."
Carson shrugged. "Perhaps. We'll never know." The men left the room and started walking.
After a few moments of companionable silence Ethan said, "I suppose the powerful enemy is gone too?"
"Unfortunately not. The Wraith are still around and stronger than ever. They haven't attacked us yet, but it's just a matter of time."
Ethan frowned. "You'll be safe here, right? You have all this technology to protect you."
"No, the ZPM's are totally depleted. We're operating on solar power along with the generators we brought with us, and they aren't powerful enough to operate the shields or the weapons. We can gate to worlds within this galaxy, but we haven’t found a single world that the Wraith hasn't visited in the past. And now that they have all been awakened the cullings are worse. No world in this galaxy is safe, and without a ZPM we can’t establish a wormhole back to Earth. We're stuck here."
Ethan stopped. "Awakened? Cullings?"
“On our first day here we knew the ZPM's were failing and we needed someplace else to go. The first gate address we dialed was Teyla's home world. The Wraith attacked while our team was there and some of them were captured. Lt. Ford saw the gate address and Major Sheppard took a team to rescue the people. He had to kill the queen for everyone to get away, but when he did that it woke up the entire ship."
Carson stopped, trying to find the right words. "You see, most of the hive was kept in hibernation and only woke every fifty years or so, when the human population had grown large enough to feed them. When this hive was awakened, somehow all the other dormant hives in the galaxy were awakened as well. They are out there, attacking worlds and stripping them of the humans. Teyla calls it culling."
Ethan was appalled. "These Wraith eat humans?"
"Not exactly. They don't consume flesh; they drain our life force. I suppose you could call them energy vampires."
"Vampires? Poor Ripper. He can't get away from his destiny even in another galaxy." The men resumed their walk. "Those things you're talking about, the ZPM's? What are they, some kind of super battery?"
"I suppose that could be one description. The technical name is Zero Point Module. It was what the Ancients used to power the city."
"And you don't have any more?"
"What about re-charging them?"
"We're searching through the archives but we haven't found anything that explains how to do that. Everything we've read so far says that once the power's been used, it's worthless."
"That doesn't make much sense. With all this technology, why would they make a non-renewable power source?"
Carson shrugged again. "We don't even know how they were made. There are no instructions in anything that we've translated so far. Rodney says that if he could find out how they were made he'd figure a way to re-charge one. It's just that there is so much information in the archives and so few of us who can read Ancient fluently. Not to mention the fact that we've been pretty much in crisis mode since we go here. Too much to do and too little time." Carson sighed.
"And I'm keeping you from your rest. I'm sorry. I'm ready to go back to my room now."
"No, no, that's quite alright. I seldom go to bed before midnight. Is there anything else you'd like to see?"
Ethan considered for a moment. "I am curious to see one of these ZPM's. Would that be possible?"
"Of course. The chair room is right along here." He pointed to a corridor to their left.
"While many things are automatic, the defense systems require human guidance. A person with the gene sits in the chair and directs the drones to their targets."
Ethan gave a little laugh. "Everything you say brings up more questions. I haven't felt so ignorant in a long time."
"No, not ignorant. How could you possibly know about these things? A couple of years ago I knew nothing about the Stargate, and could never have imagined that I would be living in another galaxy, let alone in the legendary city of Atlantis." They entered a room and Carson walked over to a strange looking silver chair.
“The outpost on Earth has one of these as well. Do you remember that unexpected meteor shower last year? The one that sank those Navy ships?” Ethan nodded. “That was the story that was released to the public. In reality it was an attack by a powerful race called the G’ould. General O’Neil used the chair in Antarctica to destroy the alien fleet. The chair is how everyone that came on the mission was tested to see if they had the ATA gene.”
“So all of you have this gene?”
“Heavens, no. Extrapolating from the sample tested, we think that 2% of the population of Earth has the gene in some degree or other. I’ve developed a gene therapy since we’ve been here, but it only works in 46% of the people we’ve tried. And, like the people who have the gene naturally, the degree of ability varies. Major Sheppard is the strongest of us here. He only has to walk in a room and the equipment turns on. Most of the rest of us need to concentrate to get things to work. Rupert appears to be fairly strong as well. He had no trouble flying the jumper earlier today.” Carson looked thoughtful. “The lights and other things in his room must have been responding to him, but since none of us had told him about the gene he probably thought the city worked the same way for everyone.”
Ethan must have looked as stunned as he felt, because Carson gave a little laugh. “Aye, Rupert has the gene. Like Major Sheppard told him, it seems he was fated to be here, one way or another.”
“One way or another?”
“Most of the people here were chosen because of their specialties. Rupert was approached about a year ago because of his abilities with languages, but he turned down the offer. So it’s rather ironic that he ended up here translating the archives looking for ZPM’s. Earlier this morning we thought he might have found one. We all felt he could use a break and he was invited along to check out the planet. As soon as he stepped into the jumper, everything turned on.”
“Ripper flew the machine?”
“Aye. He mentioned that when he was a child he wanted to be a fighter pilot, so Major Sheppard let him take the controls for a while.” Carson gave another little laugh. “He did a much better job than I did my first time.”
“Ripper may have wanted to be a pilot, but he’s never had lessons. At least not that I know about. So how could he fly such an advanced piece of machinery?”
“The jumpers are controlled by the pilots’ thoughts. After we checked out the planet from the data base, Major Sheppard took us through a gate that is in space and let Rupert practice flying. Since we weren’t in an atmosphere there was little danger of crashing, and that allowed him to relax and enjoy the sensation of the ship responding to him. He had a grand time. That was the happiest I’ve seen him until Buffy stepped through that portal of yours.”
Ethan nodded, slightly distracted. Something in the room was giving him the same kind of buzz that he got when he was around someone actively using magic. “You said the ZPM was here?”
Carson moved over to a triangular section of the console. It was plain, with three round panels in the top. Carson placed his hand over one of the panels and concentrated. There was a faint hum as the panel slid to the side and a large object that appeared to be made of crystal rose from the consol. “As I said, it’s depleted, but we’re keeping it in the hopes we can re-charge it.”
The devise was dark, but the buzzing in the back of Ethan’s mind increased. He walked over and reached out, touching a crystal on the side. His curiosity was rewarded by a painful zap of energy. He drew his hand back, shaking his fingers. “Bloody Hell!”
Carson looked at him in alarm. “What happened?”
Instinctively Ethan kept the truth to himself. “Static shock. I brushed against the cabinet and got a shock.”
Carson frowned. “That’s not happened before.”
“Must be my clothes, or my shoes. Nothing to make a fuss about; it startled me, that’s all.” Ethan smiled charmingly, using just the slightest bit of magic. “Just forget about it.”
Carson blinked, looking momentarily dazed. “Forget about it,” he murmured. He shook his head and gave a slight laugh. “Sorry, I must be more tired than I realized. I zoned out for a moment. Did you say something?”
Ethan raised a hand to his mouth to stifle a pretend yawn. “Just that I’m rather tired myself. If you would be so kind as to escort me to my room we can both get some rest.”
Carson nodded and led the way back to the guest quarters. Ethan asked a few random questions, keeping track of the path they traveled. They soon turned a corner and saw Sargent Bates standing guard.
Ethan smiled mockingly at the man. "See, here he is, safe and sound." Bates made a faint growling sound and Ethan chuckled. He turned to Carson. "Thank you again, Dr. Beckett, the tour and the information was fascinating. Good night."
Carson nodded. "It was a pleasure. Good night." He continued down the hall.
Bates put his hand on the wall next to the door. It slid open and Ethan entered the room. He waited until the door closed, then crossed the room to the small balcony. He spent the rest of the night looking up at the strange stars and thinking.
The sun was just peeking above the horizon when Ethan heard the door open. Looking around he saw Dr. Beckett and the rest of the Sunnydale group, minus Ripper and his Slayer of course. Carson looked towards the bed, then to the balcony. "Ah, you're awake. The others are ready for some breakfast and we were wondering if you would like to come along?"
"Of course. Will Ripper and Buffy be there as well?"
Carson shrugged. "No one's seen them yet. Perhaps they will join us later."
On the short walk to the mess hall Ethan listened to the others bombard Carson with questions. Most of the command staff were already eating, and their group sat at near-by tables. Ethan was startled when Willow touched his arm.
"Are you okay?"
"Yes, why wouldn't I be?"
"You seemed awfully quiet. I thought maybe yesterday was too much for you."
Ethan laughed. "No, dear girl, I was just lost in thought. This place is rather remarkable."
Willow nodded, wide-eyed. "It's so cool the way you can control everything with your mind."
Several heads at the other table whipped around at Willow's words. Xander looked puzzled. "What are you talking about?"
Now Willow looked puzzled. "You know, the lights, the doors, the shower. You just think at it and it works." She turned to Tara. "Right?" Tara nodded.
Anya looked disgruntled. "Our room must have been broken. None of the stuff worked like that for us."
Rodney looked sour. "You must have the gene," he told Willow.
Carson turned around and began explaining all about the gene, with a few unhelpful interruptions from Rodney. Ethan watched, quietly thinking about his own experiments during the night. It was what he expected after hearing that Ripper had the gene and after feeling the buzz from the ZPM. The technology of the Ancients wasn't just based on machinery. It was based on magic as well.
During the discussion he saw the native girl, Teyla, get up and leave. A few minutes later the others got that expression on their faces that meant they were listening to messages on their headsets. They stood and started to leave. Carson went and spoke to Sargent Bates, who was still watching them from a near-by table. He returned to their group.
"Rupert has agreed to have one last training session with us before you leave. We're going there now. When you've finished your breakfast Sargent Bates will bring you along." He nodded to them and rushed after the others.
Ethan continued to quietly eat as the others chattered excitedly about the things Carson had told them. He was more determined than ever to follow the course of action he had decided upon during the night. The only question was how was he going to get them to allow him to stay in Atlantis?