Day clings to Atlantis—well, actually—morning. The city’s spires appear all creamy and honey-colored in the light of its planet’s sun. But the city’s interior did nothing to quell the sunlight shining through the many windows of the city itself, regardless if they were stained glass or not. The city was kind of like NYC all day and all night long. Just light constantly streaming through her quarters’ window. In the beginning, she had welcomed the change in a way from the deep definitely dark woods that her backyard on Earth had ended at. Now she found it a nuisance. How was anyone supposed to actually get some sleep out here ‘cause the shades were worth crap…
The newly minted Lieutenant Kenmore, Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore still wearing her black t-shirt and green SGC BDU pants, walks around a corner with her head down focusing entirely on the computer tablet she’s carrying on her forearm. She’d been instructed before to get used to one of these things…Woolsey. Although she didn’t see why, it wasn’t like she planned on being here long enough to have to get used to using these tablet things. She hadn’t had to back at Cheyenne Mountain and she didn’t see why she had to here, now. Kenmore taps on it, waits for a moment, then taps again. And they are God-awfully boring too. The tablet’s screen is displaying a mission report:
Atlantis’s first mission. Well if she had to get use to using these things, Kenmore figured now was as good time as any to see just how screwed she really was being stuck here with these people. She taps the tablet and the text of the mission flips to the next page of Doctor Elizabeth Weir’s wordy report.
Weir was never really a succinct person, only when it came to detailing personnel progress reports, Kenmore’s noticed. And even then those were a good, solid page complete with some of the tiniest and probably the most unhelpful photos Kenmore’s ever seen attached to personnel files. Some things never change. From what she remembered from being back at the SGC, Weir wasn’t exactly liked there. Could you really blame her though in the beginning, she came in mowing over General Hammond which everyone had gone through Hell with and for more times than they had fingers and toes to count with. It would be easy to hold a grudge against her at first, then she opened her mouth and started using her new command position and you realized ‘Yeah, we were right to hate you in the first place; you have no business being here.’ Kenmore remembered a distinct mass exhalation of breath when Weir’d been removed from the General’s chair at Cheyenne Mountain and replaced with Jack O’Neill and an even more profound seen of barely restrained cheer when word had spread through the program that Doctor Weir had been put in charge of the Antarctica base and then the Pegasus Expedition. Kenmore distinctly remembered one of the line-cooks, of all people, saying “Thank God” when he heard. Then when the Expedition filled the base for the inaugural launch, you could have heard a pin drop from the sudden and tensely held intake of collective breath when Weir said the words “we may only get the one chance at this so if we are able to achieve a stable wormhole…” It was the “only one chance” and the “if” parts that had everyone’s heart racing behind the scenes for an entirely different reason than those down in the gateroom. If this didn’t work, they might just be stuck with her for longer, a lot longer. ‘Dear God, please let it make a stable connection’ sort of became the base’s collective prayer there for a moment in time.
Kenmore taps for the next page again, reading beyond the initial thrill of the city’s beauty:
It was more astonishing than anything I had dared to imagine. Never, not once, had I believed we would find Atlantis intact. At best I’d hoped for a vast ruin, undisturbed by looters and treated kindly by the ravages of time. At worst I’d imagined dust or a hostile reception from the descendants of the gate builders. But this…I tried to take it all in as I slowly climbed the stairs to the mezzanine level. I could see Major Sheppard and Doctor McKay already up there, their voices mingling with the constant chatter that drifted through the vast chamber and the stream of static and awed voices that came over my radio.
My people were spreading out, exploring and securing this most alien of environments. The first humans ever to stand here! It was a giddying thought.
Big freakin’ Art Deco whoop, and the extraordinary feeling of the city coming to life at the arriving expedition’s presence:
It was already clear we were talking about technology that far surpassed our current understanding, but if we could just make sense of a fraction of it, the possible advances were beyond the power of my imagination.
Oh good Lord, the lights came on not the clouds parted and heavenly choirs started belting out Hallelujah at the top of their lungs, then the horror that the whole place at least followed myth in one respect: it was entirely submerged and resting at the bottom of the ocean.
I was living a legend!
Oh my God…
Slowly I approached the glass. Outside lay a vast city of sweeping spires and arching walkways, a beautiful city of ethereal elegance, all covered by a thin skin of energy. I looked up and far above them I found the source of the mottled blue light that permeated the whole complex. It was sunlight, filtered through the shimmering surface of a vast ocean. We were underwater.
And the thin shield that was surrounding it and holding back all that water from crushing them was failing, and failing fast. Kenmore couldn’t take it anymore. She was just skipping as much of this crap she could from now on. And then Weir went on and on about how horrible that was, yadda yadda—flip the page—and more ‘Oh woe is Atlantis,’ there again, yadda yadda—flip again—the necessary decision to expel precious energy by dialing the gate with a randomly selected gate address for an evacuation site. Oh, well that was different; at least Weir had finally learned to make command decisions that didn’t involve sitting in a nice big chair behind an equally impressive desk. But then again there was going on and on about the randomness, spoke too soon, Weir was back in Weir mode, and looking soldiers in the eye and watching them leave, sending them to their deaths:
He came to a stop in front of the gate, glanced up at the control room and noticed me watching them all. I was frightened. I slightly lifted my hand in greeting. Major Sheppard acknowledged it with a nod and then turned toward Peter Grodin who stood in front of the Stargate….Tucking the GDO into his vest, Major Sheppard once more glanced up at me. I knew I must have looked pale and worried in the blue light. It was the first time I had to order my people into harm’s way, and so soon after arriving. Trying to reassure me, Major Sheppard offered me a thumbs-up. A ghost of a smile touched my lips, and with that he turned and followed Colonel Sumner, Lieutenant Ford and the two security teams through the Stargate.
Grab me a friggin’ hanky. Could this be a little less about her and a little more about the mission. No wonder Weir almost got thrown off the job when contact was re-established with Atlantis but no one was crazy enough to say ‘Oh no, stay here on Earth.’
Flip, more yadda, woe is Weir rather than woe is Atlantis; big frickin’ shock. Flip, and references to the following accounts being recorded here as third-person rehashed accounting from the following sources: Sergeant Bates (original military leader Colonel Sumner’s right-hand guy), no real need for him, he wasn’t here anymore, Lieutenant Aiden Ford, likewise, Major (then) John Sheppard, okay, that’s worth a look, and Teyla Emmagan (the Expedition’s first alien contact), ditto. Kenmore taps to the side of the report and brings up another window asking her what report she wants access to next and Kenmore types in two requests: Major John Sheppard, Mission One and Teyla Emmagan, First Contact.
It takes a second but then the two files come up in their own separate windows. Kenmore shuffles through Sheppard’s report’s first few pages. He was essentially rehashing what Weir had reported initially too although far more succinctly than she had, perhaps a little too succinctly. It was almost bordering on a boring read. You could tell command was not his thing, he wrote like it. Kenmore comes to the spot where Sumner’s team and Sheppard come out of the gate on the planet that they would later learn was named Athosia.
We stepped out the other side into darkness. Our feet crunched on dead leaves and twigs. We were near a forest. Through my goggles I could see trees and the rest of the team crouching in their shadows.
Colonel Sumner signaled for us to spread out, then move out. Still keeping low, I dodged to my right and kept on Colonel Sumner’s six as we began to make our way through the forest.
Gee don’t strain yourself getting all eloquent there. Flip, some about the true First Contact and how Sheppard almost shot a little boy in the dark.
Then Colonel Sumner held up his fist and we all froze. Waiting. Listening – a sound was close and closing fast. Someone – or something – was crashing through the undergrowth. I raised my weapon. The sound was behind us now. I turned. I could hear that there was more than one.
A shadow darted out of the trees thirty yards ahead. Small, fast, creepy. I signaled to Lieutenant Ford and we split up, circling to approach from opposite directions.
Alone in the woods, I moved through the undergrowth. A twig snapped somewhere ahead of me, the sound of a scuffle and a high-pitched scream. I started running.
In a small clearing up ahead I could make out Lieutenant Ford struggling to yank off his night-vision goggles while a short figure, I figured to be the source of the scream, cowered before him.
Another shape barreled out from the trees and broadsided the screaming creature and knocked it flying.
Then I heard a small voice say “Please don’t hurt us.”
Ford was staring, I slipped into the clearing with my weapon raised and asked Lieutenant Ford what did he have.
The second creature reached up and pulled off what was apparently its mask.
It was just a kid…
Oh that would have been a big help. Blow some poor innocent farmboy away. Oh gee sorry Luke Skywalker tell Uncle Owen ‘My Bad.’ Yeah that would have been lovely. Flip, then about how the boy’s father took them to met his people’s leader, Teyla, and the official First Contact…Whoopie, could this take any longer, maybe Sheppard wasn’t any better at this crap than Weir was…and then something about the discovery of a set of ruins of an Ancient city across a lake from Teyla’s village when dawn brought brighter light with it. Kenmore pauses there then taps over to Teyla’s First Contact report and flips through that till she comes to the part where Colonel Sumner, Sheppard, and Lieutenant Ford come to—or, well, at least asked—her about going into the city:
I accepted their information without speaking, but I was uncertain. Then I told them that my people have long believed that the Wraith will come if we venture into the old city, but that it was a belief that we had not tested in some time.
Colonel Sumner did not answer, his eyes fell on Major Sheppard. “Gentlemen,” he said then without further comment, he led Lieutenant Ford and Major Sheppard out.
After a few moments, Major Sheppard returned.
I asked him if indeed it was true that he and your people could not return to your world. Major Sheppard said that you could not. It was then that I believed I must show him the caves—
Kenmore stops in the middle of the hallway…Wait, what? She urgently brings back up Sheppard’s report, flip:
The something turned out to be quite a hike from the village. The forest was dense and foot-tangling.
We kept walking through the trees until I saw a short wall of rock ahead of us.
I asked her if this was it.
The sand-colored stone was broken in sharp angles, and vines and other forest life covered the entrance. A narrow, barely visible path cut through the dense undergrowth. Teyla led the way along the trail. She told me she hadn’t been there in a long time.
I followed her and saw a low, narrow doorway that had been cut into the rock. It looked like this place had once been a natural cave maybe that had been widened and squared-off and now hidden by the brush.
I knew it was a breach of protocol, but Colonel Sumner had ordered me to find out everything I could so, keeping my weapon ready, I followed Teyla into the cave which actually turned out to be more like a system of caves.
She told me she used to play in them as a child. She believes it’s where the survivors of her village hid from the Wraith during their last great attack…
Yeah, she had read it right. Cave, a system of caves in fact. And inside were drawings—no, carvings, he calls them carvings—and…Kenmore refers back to Teyla’s report, yes drawings and how they tell the story of the Wraith’s cullings of her people maybe dating back thousands of years.
Whoa, wait, ‘maybe’? Didn’t these people know? Kenmore goes back and forth between the two recounts of the private exchange and…that’s just it, ‘maybe’? What the hell’s with this ‘maybe?’ Didn’t anybody go back and check?
Kenmore starts walking again, still engrossed by the information on the tablet. She brings up a search directory and tries to bring up more and more files referencing these ruins, or these caves, after all the whole point of the mission wasn’t just to find a safe haven in case Atlantis’s dam decided to break but to find a Zero Point Module no longer being used to stop that from happening in the first place. With all of Atlantis’ power problems after the city rose, even after they survived the assault on Teyla’s village shortly after this exchange in this temple and Atlantis rising due to her failsafes so that temporarily alleviated the urgent need for power and translated it to a more pressing need for it, wouldn’t Weir, someone, anyone, have sent back a team to check things out on Athosia? Flip, flip, flip…But no, Kenmore tries every database this tablet is going to let her have access to, and there wasn’t a damn thing saying anything further about the Ancient ruins by Teyla’s village on her homeworld or those freakin’ caves. No one had been back since Teyla’s people had abandoned it in order to seek refuge in Atlantis amongst the Expedition. No one, not even a whisper of going back to check on it.
Kenmore stops dead in her tracks, finally looking up from the tablet with a look of disgust on her face. She flails her free hand…
“What the hell?”
…and it slaps against the side of her leg.