Pandora's Box

by Domenika Marzione

It probably says a lot about the Stargate Program that Atlantis is back to some reasonable facsimile of normal within a week, that picking up a city and driving it most of the way across the galaxy and parking it on another planet doesn't cause more chaos than it has.

There is a list of repair projects, sorted by urgency ("right the fuck now" items having been completed already, they rank from "really urgent" to "assigned to Alpha Company", which is Little Tripoli-speak for "probably never") and marked to indicate whether marines are needed as escorts, pack mules, or can handle the entire task themselves because it's straight-up construction. The maps have been updated with a new overlay to reflect which parts are not open to civilians; purple marks the damage this time and those parts of the city have been locked out of the transporters so that it takes an override for the repair crews to get there. The clocks have been reprogrammed and IT has uploaded the patch for everyone's laptops; the desalinization tanks have been running since the first full day, so their ridiculous stock of bottled water from Earth is still ridiculous. There have been off-world missions since the second day, although they've canceled everything but the ones that couldn't be rescheduled -- no exploration missions, but the marines have gone out to fulfill obligations and conduct necessary business.

The running joke in Little Tripoli is that this is the easiest PCS ever.

"After we got here, after the siege, after we got back from Earth, now," Sergeant Horton had ticked off on his fingers, "We'd better have gotten good at this, sir."

Lorne hasn't had to do much in terms of organizing city repair; Radner has taken both the initiative and the bulk of the responsibility -- he led the large-scale repair job after the Wraith siege and he's got both a good working relationship with Zelenka and a keen understanding of the city's needs. A few items pop up in Lorne's email every day, but for the most part, he is free to focus on the rest of what troubles Atlantis now faces.

The physical damage, after all, is essentially the trivial part of the problem.

The command staff meetings are every day until lunch; officially it's because all of them have responsibilities elsewhere, but really it's so that they don't kill each other. Colonel Carter sits in Doctor Weir's seat at the conference table, but she's not trying to replace Weir. She knows she can't, knows that the rest of them aren't ready to accept a replacement, and so she keeps her suggestions from carrying the weight of command decisions and defers frequently to both McKay and especially Sheppard. Who in turn is far more involved than usual, even considering that the meetings are mostly about security and other issues that require him to not daydream or meditate or whatever he usually does instead of paying attention.

Sheppard is different out of meetings, too, quiet and industrious and Lorne wants to tell him that this isn't how Elizabeth Weir would want him to grieve. Instead, he makes sure there are English Breakfast teabags in the cannister by the electric kettle and whole milk in the mini-fridge even though he himself uses half-and-half for his coffee.

The security measures aren't that hard to implement -- they've had senior command elements compromised enough times that this, too, has a process. Passwords changed, IDC codes deleted, an across-the-board doubling of military presence on all scientific missions once they re-start, and most of the rest of the basics are covered by the fact that they've got a new gate address. They've sent envoys to allies who might be at risk, but the one small mercy of the situation is that they don't think they have to worry about that too much -- the Replicators aren't the Wraith, they're not out to destroy everything.

Gillick returns from Ipetia with condolences and a small, carved wooden figurine wrapped carefully in soft cloth.

"It's kind of a stand-in for a corpse, sir," Gillick explains as he hands it over to Sheppard, cradling it gently. "It's what they bury when they can't... when they don't have the body. They tried to make it look like Doctor Weir and the symbols on the side is her name in Old Ipetian."

The figurine, smooth and delicate and about the size of a hand, does not get buried. Lorne doesn't know where Sheppard puts it, but he's sure it's somewhere meaningful. Sheppard never gave up on Ford, hasn't given up on Forbes or any of the men they've lost to the Wraith thus far, and Lorne knows that Sheppard's faith here and now goes beyond simple optimism and a passing acquaintance with Daniel Jackson, the SGC's resident Lazarus.

Lorne's attended multiple memorials for the same person several times and has even been told that his own service was very moving, but he also knows first-hand how very, very close every single fight with the Replicators has been and how lucky they were to win any of them at all.

However, it hasn't been that long since Sheppard drove the Replicators out of Atlantis and Lorne's picked up more from his CO than just an ill-timed sense of whimsy.

feed me on LJ?


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29 December, 2007