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01 April 2009 @ 06:42 pm
Help from Unexpected Places: Inferno  
Inferno. Previous chapters are here. Enjoy!







The ship on Taranis was badly damaged, much worse than Aurora had been, but she was still in one piece which was all John cared about at the moment. The volcano under their feet was threatening to erupt at any moment; with any luck, the ship would provide some protection.

Rodney was working at one of the consoles; Norena, slightly shellshocked, was standing just off his shoulder, watching carefully. John took a step back, leaning against the wall and watching the group. The ship still had power, there should be...

There. A man identical to Rory was standing behind Rodney, eyeing him with distaste. John cleared his throat, catching the AI’s eye.

“I wonder how many more ships like these exist,” Teyla said thoughtfully.

“A few more like this and we can give the Wraith a serious fight,” Ronon agreed.

“Life support should be back up and running in a few minutes,” Rodney said.

“Good. That's good,” John said absently, The AI was considering him carefully, but there were too many people in the room for a conversation.

“And I have, uh, discovered the ship's name,” Rodney added. “It's the, um, Hipapheralkus.”

“The what?!”

“Hipapheralkus,” the AI repeated. “One of our greatest generals.”

John made a face. “Well, we're not calling it that!”

“Oh good, then what about, um ...”

“And we're not calling it the Enterprise either!”

“I wasn't gonna say that!” Rodney snapped. “Look, for my second choice, though, I'd go with, um ...”

“How about we name it later?” John suggested.

“Fine.”

“Whatever its name, this ship is large enough to fit many people,” Teyla pointed out.

“Could fit all the settlement if we had to,” Ronon agreed.

“Let's hope we don't have to.”

John’s radio beeped. “Colonel Sheppard, this is the Daedalus.”

“Go ahead.”

The radio hissed static and he grimaced, looking at Rodney. “Signal's having trouble breaking through. We're gonna have to boost it. Can you get communications online?”

“Right, I'm on it...Right, try it now.”

“Yes, sir, we're here,” John told him radio. “Where are you?”

We've just arrived in orbit above Taranis. Where are you? We've scanned the base and found no life signs.

“Well, this part of the base must be, uh, shielded,” Rodney said in surprise.

I hear you could use some assistance?

“Well, the Stargate on this planet's been swallowed by lava and we're in a volcano that could erupt any second, so yeah, yeah, we could use a little help.”

The AI blinked, studying him more closely, and John frowned. Had he actually not known what was happening?

Get yourselves out into the open where we can get a lock on you,” Caldwell ordered.

“Well, sir, we promised to help these people. We're gonna need the Daedalus to evac `em back to Atlantis.”

From the number of people that we're detecting, that's at least four trips.

“But the Daedalus is quite large,” Teyla protested. “Surely you could fit more ...”

This is a spaceship, which means that our life support resources are finite. Four trips would already stretch those resources to the limit.

John glanced at Rodney. “Do we have enough time for that?”

“Estimated time to eruption twelve point nine two four hours,” the AI said abruptly.

“All the tremors have stopped,” Ronon pointed out.

“For the moment,” Teyla agreed.

John nodded. “Alright, Beckett's on his way back to the settlement to treat the wounded. Teyla and Ronon can join him – organise people into groups that can be beamed aboard. In the meantime, McKay and I are gonna stay here and continue our work on Plan B.”

“No. No-no-no-no, we need to get out of here,” Rodney protested.

“We can start the process, but if things get worse and the Daedalus can't get everyone offworld, we're gonna need another lifeboat.”

And Plan B is what?” Caldwell asked.

“We've found a sister ship to the Aurora ... called the ... Orion.”

“Hipapheralkus,” the AI corrected him.

“McKay's trying to get the sublight drive online,” John added.

Really? Well, a ship that large, you should be able to get everyone else out in one trip.

“Yeah, well, whether or not we live or die is all up to Rodney.”

“This is so unfair!” Rodney protested, flouncing off. Norena followed him.

Sounds like a plan, Colonel. Let's get to it.

John nodded to Teyla, flicking his radio off and heading down a corridor. The AI didn’t follow him; he paused in a small room, glancing around. “AI?”

“No one on this world perceives me,” the AI said from behind him.

“We’re not from this world, we’re from Atlantis.”

“Atlantis is asleep.”

“Not anymore.” He fished the life signs detector out of his vest, placing it on the nearest console. “We’ve been living there about a year and a half.”

The AI studied the detector. “You renamed my ship.”

“No offence to...”

“Hipapheralkus.”

“Right. But I can’t pronounce that. Who was he?”

“He led a fleet in a great battle against the Wraith. At great personal risk he protected the people of a small planet and defeated the Wraith attempting to harvest them. Who is Orion?”

“Greek hero. Saved people.” John waved it off. “Can the ship be fixed in time?”

“We’ve been sleeping a long time.” He was standing on the other side of the room. John frowned, turning to follow his movement. “Our structure is intact. Power supply is not. Several systems are receiving no power at all.”

“Can you help? Discretely. Let Rodney think he’s doing the work.”

He nodded. “Yes, I can. Are you my captain now?”

“For now. But my friends don’t know about you. I can’t talk to you when they’re around.” He started to turn away, hesitated, and looked back. “And your name is now Ryan.”

“My name is AI. Or Hipapheralkus. Or Orion.”

“Ryan’s easier. Trust me.”

He nodded slowly. “Accepted. I will now answer to Ryan.”

“Good man.”



In the control room, Norena was still shadowing Rodney as he moved from console to console. “I have already learned so much from you just in the last few hours,” she said earnestly. “Perhaps one day I could study under you.”

John rolled his eyes, tuning out the rest of the stilted conversation. Ryan was watching with interest, until he vanished and the room began to shake.

Rodney dived under the console he’d been working on; John steadied Norena, fighting to keep his feet.

The earthquake trailed off; Rodney scrambled out from under the console, brushing himself off. “OK, that was a big one. That was a lot stronger than the, uh ...”

“You alright?” John asked Norena, one hand still around her waist.

“I'm fine,” she assured him.

“All good under there,” Rodney said pointedly, tapping at the console. John nodded quickly, dropping his arm as Norena turned away.




Several hours later John came back into the control room. “Beckett and Norena are helping people get on board. It's getting pretty tense, but nobody's trampled each other ... yet.”

Rodney looked up as his computer beeped warningly.

“What?” John asked.

“Two large fissures just opened up near the base. One of the lava flows just covered the hangar directly above us. We're talking over thirty feet thick.”

“Is the door gonna hold?”

“Yes,” Ryan told him.

“I don't know – I-I-I think so, but that's not the bigger problem. Even if I can get the engines fixed, there is no way to fly this ship out of here. We're stuck.”

John glanced questioningly at Ryan. “There’s only one entrance for the ship,” Ryan agreed. “The lava very effectively blocks us.”

“Time for a military solution.”

“For which problem?” Rodney protested.

“We've got an armoury full of drones on board,” John reminded him. “Maybe we can blast through the hangar door.”

“The hangar door is directly above us,” Norena pointed out. “The molten lava would destroy the ship.”

“Not if I can get the shields operational,” Rodney said suddenly.

“Tell me you can do that,” John begged.

“It can be done,” Ryan said.

“I can do that. Once they're operational, we'll be able to provide enough protection to, uh ...” He trailed off thoughtfully, already wrist deep in circuitry.

“To what?” John demanded.

Rodney glanced up, barely seeming to register him. “Talk amongst yourselves.”

“What are you doing?”

“I have an idea.”

“What kind of idea?”

“Can't talk, busy.”

“Something about the hyperdrive,” Ryan said thoughtfully. “Those are hyperdrive control systems.”

John grimaced. “Just give me a basic ...”

“Not now, please.” Rodney didn’t look up.

“I hate it when he does this,” John muttered to Norena, who nodded quickly.

With nothing else to do, John went to check on the refugees still pouring into the ship. Carson was directing them, steering the flood of people into the crew quarters.

“Carson, how're we doin'?”

“We're just about ready,” he said absently. “There should be another group of refugees coming on board now.”

“Teyla? Ronon?” John asked, glancing around for Ryan.

“Well, they helped the last family.” Carson stopped, thinking. “God, I haven't seen them.”

John tapped his radio. “Teyla? Ronon? Teyla? Ronon? Please respond.” There was no answer, and he turned to Carson. “Don't leave without us.”

The doors outside were too hot to touch. John moved from one to another, getting more and more frustrated as his radio refused to contact the Daedalus.

“OK, not that way either. Rodney, come in.”

Go ahead.

“I've run into the last group of villagers. I'm trying to get them back to the ship. Looks like the base is going into emergency lockdown. We've got doors sealing off everywhere. We could really use some help trying to find another way back.”

Alright. I'll have Norena call up the base schematics to see if she can, uh ...

The lights went out as the ship shook violently, pitching everyone into the wall.

John pushed himself upright, tapping his radio. “Rodney. Rodney. Do you copy?” If Rodney answered, it was obscured by static. John cursed quietly, flicking the radio back off and digging a torch out of his vest. The handful of refugees had picked themselves up and were huddled together, watching him. “Alright. This way, people.”

They started back towards the others, taking a roundabout path to avoid the sealed doors. Some of them had frozen half closed when the power went out, and they found themselves climbing over debris and ducking under doors.

John paused after a few minutes. “I'm starting to smell sulphur dioxide here,” he told the refugees. “Stay close, stay calm, try not to take too many deep breaths.”

The sulpher dioxide was taking its toll by the time they reached the last door. It was closed, but it wasn’t sealed, and between them John and two of the men got it open.

On the other side was the balcony overlooking the Orion; John gave them ten seconds to stare before hurrying them along to the stairs.



Ryan was standing just inside the door. “They’re planning on leaving you behind,” he reported, as though talking about the weather.

John made a face at him, directing the refugees to join their friends and hurrying towards the bridge. Rodney’s voice was just about audible as he reached them.

“... just about ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“Oh, thank God!” Carson blurted.

“What took you so long?!” Rodney demanded, grinning.

“Just about ready for what?” John insisted.

“To activate the shields.” Rodney glanced as his tablet again.

“You said the blast from the eruption would wipe out half the continent,” John reminded him.

“It will, and after four point one seconds of those extreme temperatures and pressures, our shields will be depleted.”

“Well, as much as I'm all for living for another four seconds ...”

“That's not very much time for anything, Rodney,” Carson agreed.

Rodney gestured widely. “It's plenty of time to open a hyperspace window.”

“Oh, he is very smart,” Ryan said into the silence. John hid a grin at the opinion most of the outposts seemed to hold about Rodney.

“What? That's my plan. Didn't I tell you about that?”

“No,” Carson said sharply.

Echoing him, John said “No, you didn't.”

“Well, you were too busy running around looking for people.”

“Well, tell us the damn plan!”

Rodney began speaking very quickly. “Fixing the sublight engines was impossible in the amount of time we had left. They were just too badly damaged, but I devised a sort of a patch that in effect diverts auxiliary power to the hyperdrive. Only enough for a fraction of a second, mind you.”

“That won't get us very far.”

“We don't need to go far. Any old orbit will do.” Rodney grinned, satisfied.

“And then what?” John asked.

“Well, then, Norena and I were planning a small dinner for us all, nothing fancy ...”

“Rodney,” Norena protested.

“Well, what does he mean, "Then what"?! Then we won't die horribly!”

“So your plan is to not blow a hole in the hangar but to sit here and wait for this cataclysmic eruption to take place,” John clarified.

“With the shields and inertial dampeners at full strength, yes.”

“I think I may be missing something,” Carson said hesitantly. “Correct me if I'm wrong, but when the volcano erupts, don't we as well?”

“That's the plan,” Rodney said brightly.

“That's the plan?” John repeated.

“That's the plan!”

“That plan sucks!”

“This ship will be ejected along with the magma and steam several thousand feet into the air,” Rodney explained.

“The ship can survive that?”

“For exactly four point one seconds, yes. Look, the hangar should disintegrate. The moment we're clear, we open a brief hyperspace window, jump to space before the explosion depletes our shields and incinerates us, hmm?”

“That could work,” Ryan agreed thoughtfully. “Of course, if the math is off even a little the ship will be destroyed instantly.”

“OK,” John agreed, a little nervously.

“Are all your people that smart?” Ryan continued. “I can understand how you were able to raise the City, if so.”

John grimaced, watching Rodney duck under the console for a final check. Norena quickly squatted beside him, tilting his computer screen so he could see it; John and Carson hunkered to watch. They couldn’t see much, until Rodney snatched his hand back, yelling, and rolled out into view.

“What?” Norena asked anxiously.

“Oh! I bent my fingernail back! I hate that!”

“Yes, that can be painful,” Norena agreed uncertainly. Carson was making faces behind Rodney’s back to relieve his feelings.

“Yeah, will you look at that?” Rodney displayed the finger to her, rubbing at it with a wince.

“Are you done?” John demanded.

“Almost. Look, does anyone have nail clippers?”

“Rodney!” Carson protested. John smacked Rodney’s leg, making him jump.

“Ah! Not helping! Alright ...” he adjusted something on the console, watching it carefully. “So ... hyperdrive's ready, inertial dampeners engaged, shields are up ... We're good to go.” He stood up, caught his balance and blinked several times. “Whoa!”

“What?” Norena demanded, patience running low.

“Got up too fast.”

“Where's the PA?” John demanded.

“Arm of the chair.” Rodney gestured to the Captain’s chair, settling into another one and examining his tablet. John sat into the chair, flicking on the PA.

“Alright, folks, all chairs and seat backs into your upright and locked positions.”

“What?” Ryan said blankly, but he was ignored as the floor around the chair lit up.

The ship began to shake, the vibrations increasing until they were blasted upwards. Carson and Norena hung on, eyes screwed shut; Rodney watched his tablet, one hand pecking at it.

“Hyperspace...now!” he barked, smacking the control. The hyperspace window barely registered before collapsing, leaving the Orion floating serenely in orbit.

“It worked!” Carson said in disbelief.

Norena smiled at Rodney. “You really are a genius.”

John glanced at Rodney, expecting him to lap that up. Rodney, however, was staring vacantly at the viewscreen.

“Rodney?” Norena said uncertainly.

“I'm good,” Rodney said vaguely.

“Is he always so shocked when his plans work?” Ryan asked, turning away from him to walk towards the screen.

The comm. crackled. “This is the Daedalus. Are there any survivors aboard?

“Yes, sir,” John said. “In fact, we have a pretty big passenger list.”

Acknowledged. Can you get back to Atlantis under your own power?

“One moment, sir.” John looked at Rodney. “Rodney?”

“What? No. Hyperdrive’s fried, and the sublights can’t be fixed in the air.”

We’ll start ferrying you home,” Caldwell said. “Dr McKay, how long will repairs take?

“Hmm? I don’t know.”

Do you want my engineers?” Caldwell said patiently.

“Oh. No, not that quickly.”

Alright. Sheppard, I’ll take the first load now and come back for you.

“Aye sir.”




A little while before the Daedalus was due back John excused himself, ostensibly to go check on the refugees. He even did go to check on them, assuring them that their lift home was almost due and that they’d be gone very soon.

On the way back to the Bridge he slipped into an empty room. “Ryan?”

“Yes, Captain.” Ryan walked through the wall at the back of the room, eyeing him calmly.

“When the Daedalus gets back, we’ll be leaving.”

“Yes,” Ryan agreed calmly.

“But we’ll be coming back to fix the engines. Can you take yourself offline until then?”

“From now?”

“No. Not until we’re gone. Can you do it, or do I need to?”

“I can do it. Are you going to be my new Captain?”

“I won’t be commanding the ship,” John said carefully. “But I will be back.”

“And will my new captain be able to see me?”

“I don’t know. I’m sorry. If he can’t, you can go offline.”

“Is that an order?” Ryan asked warily.

“No,” John said in surprise. “Stay online if you want. But you don’t have to if you can’t help.”

“There are ways and ways of helping.” Ryan grinned, and for a moment he looked exactly like Alice.

“Alright.”

“Your ship is arriving.”

“Thanks.” John headed back to the bridge to greet Caldwell.



After the debrief on Atlantis John went to walk the city, not surprised when Alice joined him.

“The Orion,” she said thoughtfully.

“Hip...Hipapheralkus,” John corrected her carefully.

“Yes, well, it wouldn’t do for you to fall over the name of your own ship, John. That won’t strike fear into the hearts of anyone.”

“You’ve been watching movies from Earth again, haven’t you.”

Alice shrugged. “I have a lot of time and no actual work.”

“I told Ryan he could go offline if he wanted.”

“And did he?”

“No. He said he’d find ways to help even without being visible.”

“We’re designed to be resourceful.”

“The Orion will be coming back to Alantis,” John said quietly. “You can check in.”

“With my long lost brother? It doesn’t work that way, John, I’ve told you that.”

“Yeah. Well, at least one of your ships is coming home, huh?”

“Yes.” She smiled. “I’ve missed them.”

“Tell me something.” John halted in the doorway of a transporter. “Will Ryan take orders from you?”

“Over his captain, you mean?”

“Yeah.”

“That depends. I can’t contradict an order from his captain, unless the captain’s order threatens his crew or civilians and mine would save them. In that case, yes, I can override. And if he is captainless, or orderless, he will take my orders. But I cannot ever command him to self destruct. That order must come from a captain and be verified with the proper codes.”

“Rory accepted my order.”

“You had his captain’s codes and authorization.”

John stepped into the transporter, absently hitting the residential level. “I don’t have codes for you.”

“You don’t need codes for me. I’m self aware. I’ll self destruct on your word, more or less.” John blinked, and she added, “I told you the last time the Wraith were attacking, John. Death by computer-wiping.”

“I’m not sure computer-wiping is the technical term,” John drawled, leaning back against the wall.

“I’m not sure you could pronounce the technical term,” Alice said sweetly, vanishing before he could retort.
 
 
 
shanachie13shanachie13 on April 9th, 2009 09:38 pm (UTC)
I think John is smarter than she thinks he is. :-) Glad to see the return of these stories!
Acting my shoe size: Alicewild_force71 on April 10th, 2009 10:05 am (UTC)
I think he probably is, but she was programmed by the Ancients, and we all know they're arrogant SOBs. :) Glad you're enjoying, thanks for the comment!

PS Icon love. Where is that from?
shanachie13shanachie13 on April 10th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
Yes they are all arrogant SOBs.

That is Eliot from Leverage which is like my new guilty pleasure. Actor is Christian Kane whom you might know better as Lindsay from Angel. The actual picture is a promo shot and the verbiage was me being really slap-happy and silly. Eliot is a tough guy, macho man. He beats people up for a living, hates guns, and that just seemed like a comment he would make. It tickled my fancy when I thought of it and since I am completely weird that way...yeah. Anyway...it's a TNT show--currently on hiatus, but they *happy, happy dance* got signed for a second season and start filming on Monday. So they shall return.

Basic premise--theives con bad guys to help people. (Sometimes bad guys are the only good guys you get--Parker) It's really surprisingly good. And I promised a friend I would write something up about it--so I may just stick it in my journal...shall I send you a link if I do?
Acting my shoe sizewild_force71 on April 10th, 2009 02:51 pm (UTC)
Please do! I love Chris Kane, and I hadn't heard about this show...stupid living in Ireland! :D
shanachie13shanachie13 on April 10th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
LOL well I'd love to visit Ireland...not sure I want to live there. Okay, as soon as I do my write up...I'll link ya. But it'll take a few days. I have to do one for my trip to Savannah first.
shanachie13shanachie13 on April 17th, 2009 02:37 am (UTC)
Ha! I finally found your message (I seriously need to clean out my inbox). Anyway I finally got this all coded and finished and here's your introduction to Leverage with pictures, videos, and linkies!

http://shanachie13.livejournal.com/129746.html
shanachie13shanachie13 on April 20th, 2009 09:39 pm (UTC)
Hey, I just thought you might like to know that I've established a secondary journal at: http://shanachie-quill.livejournal.com/

It'll have all fanfic, wallpapers, writings, etc that I do for Leverage, Numb3rs and Stargate, so you can find it all in one place. You are welcome to friend it if you want or just check back. I'm also more than likely going to do commentary once the new season starts up.