Asunder

by Domenika Marzione

The joke in Little Tripoli is that the Ori have done more for inter-service cooperation than the Goldwater-Nichols Act ever did.

Along with all of the civilian refugees from the Milky Way come military personnel. Most are from Earth, most are American since the stargate is still housed on a USAF base, and all of them are deeply frustrated to be in Pegasus instead of back where the action is. But since they can't go back yet, it's up to John and Lorne to figure out what to do with them until they can.

In some ways it's simple -- the Navy personnel join the Daedalus and the airmen they get tend to be either SFs, medical, or techs and so they just get assigned to do in Atlantis what they'd done at the Mountain, which in turn cuts down on how badly they overstretch the marines and engineers, and that all works out as if they'd planned it.

In some ways, though, it's really not -- with no new officers, they have to figure out a chain of command for non-marine military and how to integrate them into a culture that has been dominated from the beginning by the most cultish of the services.

And, for the first time, the barracks go co-ed.

The co-ed barracks turns out to be a minor complication -- one floor is turned over to the women and the men are told that if they so much as step foot without invititation, their next step will be into Office Hours. Dealing with the non-marine personnel whose billets put them under civilian supervision, on the other hand, is a nightmare. They eventually acquire a young Navy ensign and tell her she's in charge of the 'irregulars' and to report to whichever captain she can find. But the creation of Miss Gantry's Home for Wayward Souls (aka Delta Company, First Platoon) doesn't solve all, or even many, of their problems. The marines are, for the most part, accommodating and accepting, but... but. The new personnel are viewed as lesser beings because they are not (a) marines and, especially, (b) not pointy-end-of-the-spear types. Combat versus non-combat is a source of strife that dates back to the spears-and-shields days, but has been absent in Atlantis up until now. There's a reason John's never asked for any kind of headquarters unit or a complement of support personnel. But he has them now and they are seen by the marines as fobbits and pogues, domesticated creatures, indoor tabby cats to the marines' cheetahs in the wild. The marines say that they look down on them for not being warriors, but John knows that it's as much about the marines seeing themselves as fobbits in Atlantis, stuck far from the action, as it is the historical derision.

It doesn't help that the SFs, having assumed the duties of policing the city, end up arresting a marine officer for assault.

"Well?" John prompts as he strolls into the brig. This is the first time in a long time that John's had to handle any kind of marine discipline; early on the captains and their staff NCOs chose to handle it on their own and John's never seen cause to change the practice. But this is different and not just because it's someone John has trusted to keep the peace and not pummel a physicist into a bloody pulp in the commissary during the lunch rush.

Hanzis gets up, looks like he might actually stand at attention, and John frowns at him before he gets too far.

"I'm sorry, sir," Hanzis says, moving into parade rest and looking straight ahead except for the quick glance over at John to gauge his reaction.

John's reaction is more resignation than actual anger; he's annoyed and he plans to clearly communicate that to Mike, but he can't say that he hadn't envisioned something like this happening at some point. Just not from one of the officers. The marines had acted out en masse after the original announcement that they weren't going back to fight the Ori, but that rebellion had been quashed quickly and without any real effect on the civilians. There were periodic flare-ups within Little Tripoli, invariably tying into bad news from Earth or some kind of assignment that had people from Atlantis going back to the Milky Way, but John and Lorne had figured -- hoped, maybe -- that the worst was over and that would be as bad as it got. They'd figured wrong, obviously.

"I know you're sorry," he sighs, leaning against the wall. He'd been in Lorne's office doing paperwork when a shocky Lieutenant Murray had radioed. It had taken John and Lorne a minute to realize that he wasn't sounding wary because there were Ori in the gate room, but instead because the SFs had just arrested his CO. "But this was pretty fucking stupid. Even for Marine values of 'stupid.'"

Lorne is off tracking down Zelenka; the SFs have taken witness statements and whatever it is that SFs do when there are no OSI types to hand the case off to, but this isn't really anything that needed investigation. At least not beyond finding a punishment that would maintain the city's sense of law-and-order and not cripple Little Tripoli during its duration -- or hamper Hanzis's effectiveness within the city once it is done. Which is why Lorne is off getting a sense of what kind of justice is expected and what, if anything, Doctor Perotelli did to set Mike off.

"No excuse, sir."

"No," John agrees. "But care to offer up a reason?"

Assault is assault and this was a thorough beat-down, but knowing what triggered it might end up being necessary to explain why Hanzis isn't spending the next year or so in the brig. There has to be a punishment and it has to be more than a slap on the wrist; they can't create any situation where some people are above the law because they are too important to the city's function or safety. And yet... Balancing wartime realities with the standards everyone has come to expect of a free society isn't easy; Elizabeth had pondered but ultimately rejected codifying any kind of Sedition Act. John's tried to change as little as possible within Little Tripoli, but maybe now that will have to end. It depends on what Zelenka says; Lorne and Zelenka have a good professional relationship, better than John's with Zelenka or Rodney's with Lorne, and maybe that comes into play a little here. Rodney, back on Earth, would not have settled for much less than a public lynching and while John hasn't had much of any reason to be glad Rodney's not here, he's maybe a little relieved that they have a chance to avoid throwing Hanzis to the wolves for the good of the city.

Hanzis sighs and closes his eyes for a long moment, then opens them. "I hear them talk all the time about how this is a blessing in disguise, sir, how they're getting more done now than they ever would have otherwise, and I let it roll off my back. If it really gets me, I go down to the range, I go for a run, I go back to Little Tripoli so I can be around people who can't find a fucking silver lining to our planet being taken over by the Ori."

"What stopped you today?" John asks when Hanzis doesn't continue immediately.

"It's my wedding anniversary, sir," Hanzis says, meeting his gaze. "Seven years. Haven't heard from my wife in four months, don't even know if she's still alive. She's all I've thought about today.... I don't even think I need to see her, if I just knew that she's okay -- as okay as anyone is back there. This guy, he was going on how his current project was going to be brilliant and he'd never have been able to do it on Earth and he'd probably have to thank the Ori during his Nobel acceptance speech... I know there are folks here who don't have anyone back home they're worried sick about and maybe their lives aren't too different apart from the lack of Doritos or the latest sports scores. Some of my marines are like that, so it's not like I can pin this on the civvies. But I pray to God every day that Cathy's safe and that I'll get to see her again in this lifetime and... I lost it, sir. Plain and simple."

John nods. He's heard the gist of what the witnesses -- and Perotelli -- had told the SFs; they'd all said that Perotelli had been talking shit a little loudly and that Hanzis had told him to pipe down. When Perotelli instead told Hanzis to buzz off, Mike decked him and did't stop until he was pulled off by some marines who were also in the commissary.

"There's gonna have to be a thing," he says. Because there is. They may have to wait for the Daedalus to return to round up enough senior officers to convene a court-martial or they might be lucky enough to come up with some sort of solution before then. Depends on what sort of magic Lorne can work with Zelenka and what John can work out with Elizabeth. He's sure Elizabeth will be understanding -- Hanzis's grief would matter to her -- but he doesn't want civilian involvement in what is still a military disciplinary case. It's not a precedent he wants to set.

"I understand, sir," Hanzis replies. "But for the record, I'm not interested in pleading my sob story. I set a lousy example to my marines already; it does nobody any good by making it worse."

Little Tripoli is already abuzz. Most of them want to throw Hanzis a parade.

"So noted," John tells him. He pushes off the wall. "I'll send First Sergeant Wrubelski down later; he can get you some things from your quarters."

"Thank you, sir," Hanzis says. "I'm sorry, sir."

"Me, too."

feed me on LJ?


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26 July, 2008