Vignettes 2

by Domenika Marzione

Atlantis as the Fulda Gap

Nobody thinks the Atlantis forces can stop the Wraith from reaching Earth, although that is their mission. That doesn't mean that they aren't going to try, that they aren't willing to lay down their lives in pursuit of that goal. Just that they don't think it's enough. There are too many Wraith with too many weapons and not enough of the good guys. Will and skill they have, but in the end, it's a numbers thing.

Increasingly, though, common knowledge starts to include the 'fact' that Atlantis may not even be a stopping place on the way to Earth. Why bother? Why waste weapons and manpower on destroying the equivalent of a rest stop? If the Wraith can figure out how to get to Earth, they're just going to go and not risk getting sidetracked or, worse, giving Atlantis a chance to warn Earth of what's coming. They can hope that this won't be the Wraith thinking, that ten thousand years of not needing to strategize beyond picking what they want for dinner tonight has made them soft on both the operational and tactical level. They can hope that Atlantis's intelligence-gathering will give them some kind of warning.

The Soviets imploded; maybe the Wraith will, too.


The marines, if left to their own devices, do things that maybe their commanders (both military and civilian) wish that they would not. With that in mind, giving them direction is good. Giving them explicit instructions is better. Revising those explicit instructions to quickly close the loopholes the marines have found is best.

This is a given when it comes to training, both off-world and in the city. That it is also a necessity when it comes to recreation is something that is quickly learned.

Which is why the marines' first swim call is five nautical miles away from Atlantis, their second is in the bay between the southwest and southeast piers, and then the third and all subsequent ones are between the north and east piers because there are no buildings close enough to the water for anyone to turn a window into a diving platform, thus ending the "what story is too high to jump out of?" debate before it can be resolved to marine satisfaction.

The Gods Must Be Crazy

Teyla watches videos with them and will look at the photographs in books and on hard drives, but she has no real concept of the media, of how they are created and what they represent. She doesn't understand why Ford gets flummoxed when he asks her to stay still while he takes a picture or why he doesn't need her to stop moving when he is using the video camera. She is frozen in awe the first time she sees the photos and videos uploaded to one of the laptops.

"The Wraith take so much from us," she says quietly, eyes not moving from the screen. "We are left only with our memories and those passed on to us from our forefathers. When the Wraith take us, they steal from us everything we have not yet passed on."

"We have a long history of oral tradition," Elizabeth tells her. "Some of our stories were passed on for centuries before they were committed to print."

The Athosians don't have print. They have a few pictograms, but that's about it.

The oral history project starts almost immediately -- the social scientists with their mp3 recorders and their video cameras listening as the Athosians tell the tales of their families, of their people, of their world. The Athosians line up for photographs, happy to pose for mugshots because this way, they can outwit the Wraith, put something of themselves beyond the Wraith's grasp.

Until the Wraith come for Atlantis.

"We sent the files to Earth," Elizabeth tells Teyla during a quiet moment in the preparations. "If anything we sent got through, then our people will be able to learn all about yours."

Teyla nods. "Then, in a way, we have already won."

Tour d'Atlantis

The bicycles start appearing during the first Christmas of regular Daedalus delivery service. A dozen flat cardboard boxes that get whisked away to Little Tripoli before anyone from Higher can see them, a dozen mountain bikes spotted racing around the city by curious scientists and, eventually, by curious Air Force officers who might or might not have been tipped off by Medical about a few instances of road rash appearing during sick call.

"Get helmets, please," the captains are told after failing to adequately explain how a dozen bicycles is now two dozen ("Did they breed?") and completely failing to confess to anything else that might have been shipped to Atlantis without letting the CO and XO know.

Eventually, a course is plotted through the city that avoids all major civilian worksites. Exactly one week later, the first road rally takes place, which is part roller derby and part time trial. Sergeant Clavell, a tiny guy from Bravo First Platoon, wins.

Two days after that, the civilian MWR board petitions for their own bicycle stash and a separate course for non-aggressive riding. Both are approved after Medical points out that getting exercise remains a challenge for most civilians in the city and letting them pedal anywhere near the marines would only make more work for the doctors.

The marines' course is marked out in olive drab paint. The civilians expect pink, since it is the marines doing the painting, but they instead get a nice shade of medium azure that two men in the city immediately recognize as Air Force Blue.


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15 August, 2009