Part Three-More Questions Than Answers
John looked around the observation deck. Daniel was leaning against the railing, watching him. “Were you and Rodney ever lovers?” John could feel the intensity of the gaze even though he wasn’t looking at the other man. Daniel was the kind of person that Rodney went for when younger. John could see under the stress and haggardness of his body that Daniel had been very beautiful when younger. Even now he was a looker; he drew too much attention from other men and women. O’Neill had warned him of that before they had left, warned him that Daniel never saw it coming. John could see the looks from Ronon and John made a mental note to warn him about what Daniel never saw coming.
“Yes, but it was never as strong as your bond. I knew of him from various circles. I was sent to try and get information out of him, the means didn’t matter. He knew it too, from the moment that I introduced myself to him. It was the only job I ever did for MI-5, and because of that they paid off several of my college loans over in Great Britain. We enjoyed each other’s company but that was it. When my handler figured out that I wasn’t going to get any information out of him I was pulled from Canada back to England and my time with them ended. I went back to America and to Chicago to finish some schooling there. I was never in danger of being hurt by Rodney. That was part of why they didn’t want a true agent going in. They see danger in everything.”
“And he still trusted you?”
“Yes, I couldn’t lie to save myself back then and he knew why I was being sent. MI-5 wanted an American because they thought he wouldn’t suspect one. What they didn’t know what that he figured they would throw a Canadian or an American at him. Everything after that you know from the SGC records.”
“What are we doing out here?”
“Saving the galaxy.”
“Yes, how are we saving it?” John was getting frustrated. Daniel knew what he wanted, he was sure of it but he was making John spell it out.
“There is a warrior who is trapped and we have to free him. We need this ship to do it. First off though, we have to get this ship up and running. That is going to take a while. You’ll love her when she is done. She will blow your mind. And we have to get this ship an A.I.”
“A.I.? Where are we doing to find one of those? How are we going to find one?”
“I don’t know. I know I will find her but I don’t know where.” Daniel looked off into space as he talked. John could see the loneliness crushing him. It wasn’t as bad and that was good but time would heal it, they all just had to let it happen. John was seeing the quality in Daniel that made people want to protect him. He was almost one hundred percent sure that was what drew Ronon in but it was Daniel’s depth and ability to love a world that had taken everything from him was what had kept circling Daniel. It was what kept Rodney around and what was pulling himself in.
“So you are not all knowing?”
“No, just mostly knowing.”
“Is that how you know where everything is on the ship?”
“Yes. You came out here and didn’t trust me?”
“I trusted that you would get us home safe because Rodney believed that. I didn’t know why you needed us out here so bad. Now I understand. This group that you brought with you will follow you everywhere.”
“Why does Ronon like me so much?”
“I think he has a soft spot for those who seem weak but aren’t. I don’t know. I think you intrigue him. He can’t read you like he can others. I think it has to do with whatever magical powers you have.”
“No magical powers, just Ancient powers. This ship is not all that it appears. I think you will find this ship very interesting once you see it at full power. First though it needs to be safe enough to travel that distance. There is a lot of work that needs done, but first off, I want to have a meeting with Rodney and you with all the civilians. I don’t think that they truly understand what is going on with the ship.”
Daniel was standing in the back of the room in a dark corner. No one had noticed him back there. John and Rodney were standing in the front waiting for all the civilians to enter. Radek was watching all the systems. After twenty minutes all of them had assembled.
“You all have been sent a copy of our orders from the President. Are there any questions?” John asked. His eyes passed around the room.
“Why isn’t Young really leading us?”
“Because the President thinks that you all are idiots and need someone like me to lead you. Your lack of respect for rules and regulations that you signed frankly frightens him. Because of you, all civilians on Earth will be grounded until they go through training and several tests to see how many are like you. Now General O’Neill will be here in about twenty minutes. Rodney and I have a few things to go over and then he will talk to you.”
“You really think that you can come in here and tell us what to do?” Wray asked as she stood up and moved to the front of the room. She stopped at the beginning of the chairs. She wasn’t quite in front of everyone but she was in front of the ones seated.
“Actually, I do. Go talk to the IOA when we are done here. They will tell you the same thing. The President and all of the leaders of the countries that have people out here have agreed that there needs to be one clear leader because they all want you home safe. In this case, I will be in charge of everyone but for the most part civilians will report to Doctor McKay.”
“Because that is who the IOA has agreed on putting in charge of all the civilians. It’s all in a packet that will provided to you at the close of this. Rodney and I will start making a list of punishments for infractions. A court will be held for most of the more serious offenses but if you decide to go with the court ruling, there will be no appeals. You will do what punishment is handed to you. Your reports will be filed away on a computer for later review by the IOA and your home country as long as it doesn’t deal with the direct safety of this mission. If you are American and you do something to harm another on this mission, you will face a charge of treason. If you are not American, your current country leader will decide your fate. I don’t want to even think on what some of your countries will do to you.”
“So we are going to live under martial law?”
“Not quite that bad. Just do what you are told while you are on duty. Don’t try any of the shit you were trying to pull with Young and don’t do anything that will put another person in harm’s way and we will get along. I think that those are very simple rules to follow. You all and Rodney are another thing. You will come to like me better than him, I promise. He is a hard task master and expects perfection. He also expects you to perform to the best of your ability, even if you don’t think you can. He will have more restrictions than that and that is between you and him. ”
“I can speak for myself, you know.” Rodney’s voice sounded hard but there was affection there.
“Yes, Rodney but I can speak for you better.” John smiled at Rodney.
Rodney just glared at him before clearing his throat. “You can expect to hate me for the rest of your life if you are lazy. You will do what I ask or you will be on permanent grunt duty. I expect all you to get into shape. There will be two training sessions a day with the military men. I expect you to be at one of them a day. Missing one will make me very upset. You will not like me upset. I know that you are not military and I don’t expect you to get as fit as them but you will be the main reason we live so you will be expected to live up to that. If you miss the first because you don’t want to go to it, and are on duty for the second, that doesn’t get you out. That means that you will be leaving duty to go to it and then coming back and making up the time. If it happens a lot, you will deal with me. I want to bring you all home and that means that you need to be in better shape.”
“I have asthma! I can’t be expected to do physical labor.” Someone from the crowd called out.
“Yes, I can. Doctor Keller has your file and has approved you for whatever I can throw at you. She also has inhalers for you. Really, quit complaining and suck it up. Ah, here he is.” Everyone followed Rodney’s gaze to the side door into the mess.
Scott walked into the room. He stood a little off from what he normally did and that clued everyone in on the fact that it was not Scott. John saluted him and Jack saluted back.
“As you were. I have had a fun few hours. I need to speak to all six of you plus Young when we get done here.” Jack turned from John and Rodney and faced the crowd in front of him. “All of the orders stand. The President it seems was more in the know than the people at the SGC. As of the second they walked onto this ship, Colonel Sheppard was in charge.”
“General O’Neill?” Wray asked.
“Right in one. Are we done here?” Jack waited for Rodney to nod and then he turned to walk from the room. John and Rodney could tell that he was mad. They knew that he would be. Daniel was the one who was going to have to calm him down.
John looked back where Daniel was standing. Daniel nodded before leaving through the back door. Daniel looked around the hallway he was in then he started off to the right. He found one of the bathrooms and entered it. He didn’t come out.
Radek was the last to enter the office that John had taken over. Everyone but Daniel was already in the office. Jack was sitting in John’s chair but he didn’t mind. The five newcomers were standing on the other side of the desk.
“He’ll be along shortly. I expect that you found that the house we three were sharing is no longer being rented and that Jennifer and Radek closed down their houses?”
“Yes. Security teams tried to enter Daniel’s home but couldn’t. They couldn’t even break the windows. What is going on, Sheppard?”
“What do you mean?” John asked. Jack gave him a hard look but didn’t say anything. “I don’t know the details but it seems that our new President has decided that Daniel can see the future or at least possible futures. We are here to stop one of those futures from happening.”
“I see. Why should I not be going back to the SGC right now and starting the process of getting you all pulled from the leadership of this mission for insanity?”
“Because the Jack O’Neill that used to believe Daniel is still in there.” Rodney moved to stand in front of Jack at the desk.
“So he has you believing that Sam is controlling me as well, huh?”
“Nope. All I had to do was watch and I believed it. You wouldn’t let Daniel go on the mission to Pegasus and there was a better chance of him coming home from that than there is of him coming home from this. Yet you let him go because Sam wanted it. Just look at the facts, Jack.”
“I think that’s enough from you, Doctor McKay,” Jack replied icily.
Rodney could tell that Jack was breaking. He was seeing what he was doing but didn’t like it, so was hiding behind anger.
“Actually, on this ship I am the leader. You have rank over me General, but not here. This is my outpost and I control it.” John crossed his arms and looked at Jack with a hard stare.
“How did you know that the committee was going to pick you six?”
“Daniel,” Ronon answered. Jack looked over at him.
“We believe him and in him, General,” Radek stated.
“We are going to save the world and we were given the right to do it.” Rodney smiled at Jack. It wasn’t a nice smile, it was one of the ‘get away and never come back cause you won’t like it if you do’ type of smiles.
“Itself,” Daniel replied. Everyone in the room started looking around. There was no one else in the room. “I am here.” Seconds later, Daniel was visible behind Jack. Jack jumped up out of his chair and looked at Daniel.
“After everything that has ever happened with me, you can’t answer that? Let’s just say that when I came home from RepliCarter killing me, I came back changed. Slowly, my DNA has shifted so that I am Ancient. All those fears I had after I came back, they are true, Jack. No one would listen to me so the Ancients did some things. Rush was pushed to do what he did. They knew about the attack by the Alliance and they pushed things.”
“So they have been interfering?”
“Yes, some of the older ones have, a little. There is a greater enemy than the Wraith out there and it has been sleeping and it will wake up. Much of their life, a long time ago, was spent fighting these creatures. There was a recorded history that has lost to our knowledge. They destroyed all of creation to fight these monsters and yet they still live. I have a very small window of chance to get to where they are and destroy the rest of them for good. If the world continues like it does, we will lose everything. Do you want that?”
“Then leave us alone.” Daniel turned and left the room. He wasn’t going to go over the plan again and again until Jack was happy with it. He had a plan that he felt was good. Getting Jack to believe what he was seeing would take forever and every second counted. They had to get going to fix up the ship.
Daniel found Rodney sitting in the room with the chair. Rodney had three laptops open in front of him and a tablet in his hand. He was looking back and forth at each one.
“This chair is barbaric.” Rodney stated as he stood up from the bench and stretched a little.
“It wasn’t meant for a human or an Ancient.”
“What?” Rodney stopped what he was doing and turned to look at Daniel.
“This whole ship hides what it truly is. Yes, when Destiny was launched she was very old but she was upgraded when the Ancients fled the Pegasus Galaxy. She was upgraded to fit the needs of me.”
“I swear you are speaking English, I just don’t understand it and that is saying something.” Rodney handed Daniel a tablet that showed the systems that were not working. The ship was still four hours away from going into hyperspace.
“John is locking down all personnel in the mess hall. There are no guards in the halls or the ‘gate room. When he is done, he and Radek will join us here and we are doing to change Destiny.”
“What?” Rodney looked at him. He hadn’t been told so that he wouldn’t worry about it.
Daniel didn’t answer. He walked over to a console that Rodney had never been able to get power to. Daniel laid his hand on it and it changed. Rodney felt a charge through the room and then a blinding light. The console in front of Daniel looked new. Rodney nearly jumped out of his skin and walked over. He could read what the console said for the first time. The words were in English and not the strange version of Ancient. A noise from the door alerted them to the fact that John and Radek were back. Rodney didn’t even look up. He just stared at the console.
“Ronon is babysitting all of them. Now what are we have control…that’s new. I can read it.” John’s eyes fell on the console. He and Radek walked to the new console. Radek touched it and nothing happened. John touched it, second, and still nothing. Rodney touched it and it lit up. They all three looked up at Daniel who just smiled.
“Right now I have it programmed so that only Rodney can activate it. Once we have upgraded the ship, well then I can add more people. What we are about to do to the ship will not change the repairs that are needed. Instead the ship is getting a facelift and a brain transplant.”
“Why?” Radek moved to the bench as he asked the question. Rodney joined him as they looked at one of the laptops and then looked at Daniel for the answer.
“Because this ship is ugly? The metal that is going to be uncovered helps charge the ship better. There is a metal cover that is going to come out of reservoirs on the ship and flood over these consoles. It will be non-conductive, it’s a living metal that they were only able to produce in a small quantity and they tried it on Destiny. Once the upgrade was complete, one of their Elders got a vision of what is to come. It was so horrifying that once he had recited it all to the rest of the Elders, he Ascended to set in motion all of this. This metal will be able to heal itself, not quite a nanite but very close. Hull breaches will go away and when new ones pop up, they will heal themselves fairly quickly. It’s going to cover every wall, floor, and console but seats and bunks and other things like that won’t be changed. John, when we start this, send a message for everyone to pull their feet up and don’t let them touch the ground.”
“Wow.” John, Rodney, and Radek all said at the same time. Daniel just smiled at them. John nodded that he was going to send the message. He sat down at the bench beside the new console. He patted the seat beside him and Rodney sat down.
“I need you to shut down all the consoles in the ship. Once you have done that type in my mother’s name. It will start the process. This room will be last, we can’t be touching anything once it starts, other than the floor and seating. The whole process will take two hours. Ronon has been prepped to control the others. The mess hall will change the least.”
Rodney started to bring up menus and shut down all the consoles. It took over ten minutes before the computer confirmed they were shut down. Rodney typed in Claire Jackson and the entire ship started to shake. Daniel didn’t react at all; he just turned on his ear piece. He listened to the chatter. Ronon had his set up so that it picked up background noises; that way he could hear the chatter in the mess hall.
The first hour of the face lift went fine. It was in the middle of the second hour that things got interesting. Daniel was sitting on the bench with his eyes closed when he suddenly leaned forward and was typing on the console.
“Why are you powering that up?” Rodney asked, looking over Daniel’s shoulder. He watched as Daniel typed as information flowed over the screen. It moved too fast for Rodney to read what Daniel was reading or what he was typing. The ship started to shudder harder and Rodney nearly fell off the bench. Daniel leaned back from the console and sighed. Rodney looked in Daniel’s eyes and they were white.
“I see words all the time. They flash on the walls and in the air. Ancient words that talk of destruction and floods. I see the name John flashed too. I don’t know why.” Daniel turned to Rodney as he spoke and his eyes started to go back to normal.
“What were you doing?”
“Setting up a few subroutines. I can’t risk it, Rodney. I have to protect you all. The facelift is done and the new computer OS is running fine. Now we need to repair things. Once we jump in about two hours, we will be at a planet we can stay at for a while. It will have food and water and everything we need to finish repairs. Then we go get our Hero. I want everyone to rest. We start fresh in the morning. It’s been a long day.”
“I’ll tell everyone.” John left the room and Rodney tutted and followed him. Daniel stood up and left, Radek and Ronon followed him. They all went to their room and settled down. Daniel opened his laptop and pulled up music.
“You guys mind?”
Ronon said nothing but shrugged and Radek just waved and opened his book.
“We have much to do yeah?” Radek asked with a smile.
“Yeah, we do. Once we repair the ship, then we send the people home we want to go, then it’s off to find this hero that I see.”
“Who is he?”
“A lone warrior stuck on a ship where no one knows where he is. He is alone in more ways than one. He thinks that he is the last of his kind. I have news for him.”
“You still scare me sometimes, Jackson.”
“I scare me sometimes.”
“So we are going to a habitable planet?” Ronon asked as he pulled one of his knives from his hair and started to sharpen it.
“Yes, for the two month repair, we will be in orbit of a planet that will shelter us but we have to be off before winter.”
No one asked why. There was silence in the room as each man kept busy. The sharpening of the knife, the rustle of the book pages, the clack of keys, and music were the only noises. Daniel looked up from his computer and there on the wall was a word: Mox.
“Soon.” The whispered word caught the attention of the other two. Both looked up and stared at Daniel for a few seconds.
“What?” Radek asked as he closed his book and set it down. Daniel didn’t act like he had heard. Ronon set down his knife and sharpener.
As Daniel looked at the word, it turned from black to red. It was blood. Daniel watched as the blood started to drip down the wall from the X. It streaked off into paths it wouldn’t take if it was just normally running down the wall. It formed another word: Cortana.
The name rung in Daniel’s head. That was who they needed. Their AI, the one that was going to become the brain of the ship. Now he just had to find her. He shook his head to clear it and looked at the other two.
“You were talking of a woman,” Ronon said as he picked his things back up and went back to his task. He looked disappointed.
“Cortana, the AI that I am looking for. She will become the brain of the ship. I have seen her in an avatar form but I didn’t know her name before now. That helps me to recognize her when I find her.”
“What does she look like?”
“I only see her in a hologram and she’s not human looking. She’s blue but I can feel it that she is what we need.”
“Blue?” Ronon asked.
“Blue and has a bad attitude.”
“So where are we going?” Rodney asked. He looked behind himself again so that he could confirm that no one was following them.
“Calm down, McKay!” John said his voice full of exasperation.
“Please, you are killing my happy mood!” Radek looked back at him with a glare before turning back to Daniel.
“I’m lost. I know all the parts of the ship that we have been in and this isn’t any of them and I know we have passed that console three times now!” Rodney stopped and pointed before turning to look at Daniel.
“I know. Just a little more and we will be there. I want to make sure that Rush didn’t have Eli send a Kino to follow us.”
“You can’t just magic that out of your ass?” Rodney asked with a smile on his face as he started to follow the other three again. Daniel laughed but didn’t answer. Finally after a left turn, they started into new areas. Rodney still hadn’t been in any of them but they looked well used from a previous time. After another minute of travel, Daniel stopped in front of a set of doors. He turned to face the group.
“Do you want to know the secret to this ship?” Daniel asked even though he knew that he didn’t have to.
“Yes,” the other three replied.
“Good.” Daniel turned back to face the door and it opened after few seconds.
“The Bridge,” Rodney nearly yelled as he pushed past John and Radek. Radek was right on his heels and they spent several minutes looking at all the screens. Neither touched any of them not wanting to mess anything up. “I wondered how you were going to stop the ship and make it stay at this planet of yours for two months while we complete repairs. Now I know. This will make things a lot easier.”
“Except for one thing. We can’t deviate from the path much. There is a reason that we are on the path we are on. We have to make sure we have enough energy to get from here to there and that means we have to stop at certain stars.”
“Yes, yes I know, now can I?” Rodney asked waving at the pilot’s chair. Daniel waved him on.
“With the upgrades we did yesterday we can limit access to certain places. We can do DNA scans for people in here and even limit when they are allowed.”
“That’s good with the Lucian Alliance on the way.” John smiled at Daniel. He looked down at the scientists and then back at Daniel. “So Radek tells me Ronon was jealous of an AI named Cortana. I will say I never saw that one coming.”
“Ronon being gay?” Daniel asked.
“Yeah.” John shook his head.
“From what he has told me when we were talking about Sateda when you guys came back from Atlantis, the Satedans have been known to love one person and if that person is lost they rarely fall in love with another of that sex. If they ever fall in love again at all.”
“Interesting. I guess that explains why he never went after Jennifer seriously.”
Daniel nodded and smiled as Rodney and Radek talked back and forth in a jumble of English and Czech. He wasn’t sure if either really understood all that each other was saying but he figured that they would figure it all out over time.