McKay was called to the gate room because the gate was according to observers "looking a bit ill," when he got there he realised that this was an understatement. First of all the event horizon which was intermittent was a pale chartreuse, a sort of puke green that looked entirely unnatural and like it belonged in a sci fi horror movie. The event horizon itself kept flickering on and off.
"Okay, that's just wierd." Sheppard drawled from the door, "it's never done that before."
"None of the chevrons are locked, sir." The science monkey at the desk said. It was true the dial was just spinning, and it was doing it backwards.
"McKay," Weir said from the doorway, "is this something I should be aware of?" She had her arms crossed under her breasts and her usual scowl.
The spume flicked out once, stopped, then flared out again.
"I can honestly say," McKay agreed, "that I was in the lab and i had nothing to do with it, I've never seen anything like this before and I'm sure it's just a glitch that this person," he glared at the technician working the controls, "did and I'll fix it."
The stargate coughed. It was the only way he could think of to describe it. It coughed once, then twice, and then spat something out, with a splat and heap of slime that skittered and then slid across the floor.
It was a dark haired man unconscious on the floor. "Carson, we need you in the gate room stat." Weir said on her comm as Sheppard managed to cross the room, without any look of hurry but still military fast and point the handgun he felt naked with out and pointed at the man, cocked and safety off.
"For god's sake, colonel." Beckett said coming out of the city wide transport, "you could at least wait until they wake up to shoot them, give me one thing to work on at a time." Beckett was the complete opposite of Sheppard in that even when he moved slowly he looked like he was in a race.
"Fine," Sheppard said holstering his weapon, "Cadman, I want you to accompany the doctor to the infirmary and if the stargate vomit looks like it's going to even move without permission shoot it."
Many questions flickered through Dr Carson Beckett's mind as Rodney barrelled past him popping open a previously unseen panel on the gate itself. "Are you going to take him to the infirmary or not, the stargate vomit is in the way, how am I supposed to work like this. Where's Zelenka, I need coffee!"
"Stargate vomit?" Beckett asked the orderlies put the slimy figure on a gurney.
"Oh, yes, sir," Cadman said in a tone that promised exposes and only the most salacious gossip, "the stargate spat him up."
"So," Dr Weir said as she surveyed the leaders of the respective departments sat around the conference table, and Teyla, "what can you tell me about our visitor?"
"Stargate vomit?" McKay asked. "The slime he arrived in was completely inert, in fact it was so inert I've managed to save some of it for bacterial growth cultures." He looked inordinately proud of himself, "he drinks more coffee than most of the science department and has holed himself up in his room reading scientific journals."
"But has he given us a name."
"Oh yes," Sheppard drawled, "he's given us his name, rank and serial number." Then he paused, as if for dramatic effect, or possibly because it was just too much effort to string all his sentences together into one lump. "And a two page treatise on why female military personnel should wear miniskirts on base and hot pants off world." He stopped again, "most of the female personnel are prepared to walk through fire for him."
"He is a very attractive man," Teyla agreed and even her voice was a little dreamy, "and when he talks to you he listens so very intently."
"You too?" McKay asked, "I thought you were a militant lesbian."
For a second three emotions flickered across Teyla's face, confusion, insult and then professionalism. "He asked me about my people, he listened intently and then asked insightful questions that suggested that he listened. He poured my tea." She said as if it was the best thing a man had ever done for her.
"So he's handsome and charismatic?" Dr Weir continued.
"Very," Sheppard growled, "and in his galaxy, because clearly he isn't from this one, he outranks me."
Teyla giggled, honest to goodness giggled, "perhaps we should make him military commander of Atlantis." She said.
"Also," McKay said ignoring the rest of the conversation, "he appears to be a scientist of some kind, though he uses the word alchemist," there was disdain at that, "and claims that he can control fire. I have Zelenka testing this theory in one of the abandoned labs at the edges of the city."
As if on cue an explosion had them all running for the windows, a plume of flame erupted from the southwest pier, raising a good kilometre in the air before turning into a phoenix shaped comet then exploding in a shower of sparks. "So," Dr Weir said, "do we have any further questions about the Stargate Vomit." She shook her head, even she was calling him that now.
"I believe he could be a powerful ally against the wraith." Teyla started.
"He is a scientist in his own galaxy," McKay agreed, "and if he did, well THAT then I for one would like to know how."
"I get the impression if I shot him I'd face mutinous insurrection from the female members of my staff." He did some quick maths in his head, "but it would still leave me with two thirds of the military force of Atlantis."
Dr Weir took a deep breath, "that is all very well and good, but does anyone actually know his name?"
"Colonel Roy Mustang," Teyla answered as Lieutenant Cadman, who had been manning the door, sighed.
Dr Weir knew she was going to be constantly surprised by Atlantis when she took the job, however she also knew that if she didn't roll with it she would be rolled over. Which is why two days later Colonel Roy Mustang crept from her quarters an hour before dawn with a smile on his face and the remainder of a bottle of wine, and the promise of court martial if he ever spoke of it again.
What Dr Weir didn't know was she was now one of a select women on the Atlantis base who secretly wore miniskirts and were never "spoken of again".
Chapter 2: Sam Carter meets Roy Mustang
Sam Carter knew that the Atlantis project had it's own rules but one of the ones that caught her completely unawares was explained to her before she had been there long enough to take her shoes off and have a cup of coffee. "Roy Mustang," Zelenka said, "is the reason that DADT doesn't really hold here." Then he laughed and said "you'll see why when he gets back from off world." Then he sort of squirrelled off and she didn't see him again for three days.
By that point she had heard more than one story about Roy Mustang, and because she had known Vala she disregarded them all instantly, including the one where he did this thing with his tongue that.... because that just wasn't possible.
Roy Mustang's file read like a fantasy novel, a particularly unrealistic one at that. He had come through the stargate as the result of a scientific experiment but he wouldn't say if it had failed or not, and had come from a country called Amestris which had been on the verge of a terrible war. He had not been glad to leave. He was a notorious womaniser but none of the women on base held it against him, and despite literally having all the women none of the men held it against him either, except possibly Colonel Sheppard who had shacked up with Mckay because he was jealous that this handsome man could do everything he could plus a bit more.
And he could control fire and perform scientific miracles by clapping his hands- That Sam would have to see for herself.
So when three days later Team Sheppard came through the gate Sam appraised the five of them, there was Teyla the alien warrior princess, Sheppard, McKay, those she knew, a monolith of a man whose muscles she just wanted to lick in a pair of leather pants she knew would be as soft as warm butter, and a small man in bdus who looked utterly unremarkable.
They were also covered in a thin sheen of white film. "How many times do I have to remind you, Mustang?" Sheppard growled in that entirely laconic way of his that didn't sound so much pissed as clipped. "The wraith are insects, if you set fire to them they explode." As if for effect McKay picked a large and offensive glob of whatever it was from his hair.
"You would rather i have shot towards the children to distract it, I was thinking on my feet." Mustang answered calmly.
In surprise that the person who spoke was not the caramel coloured adonis but instead the small dark haired fellow at the end she had assumed was a member of the science department Sam dropped the coffee cup she had been holding. After all she had spent seven days being told of all the virtues of this person and she had expected something more, well, impressive.
He was beside her in an instant, looked at the broken shards of the coffee cup on the floor and then clapped his hands. There was a flash of light and then he handed her the cup again. "I can't fix the coffee," he said and his eyes were like the abyss, she didn't want to stare into them for fear she would be lost, but she couldn't quite help herself, "but I hope that's better." He tilted his head, "you look like someone i loved once, but her hair," he reached out to touch the side of her face, "it was longer but she wore it strictly tied back." He sighed and she sighed with him. "I'm sure we'll get along like a house on fire, Colonel."
Behind him Sheppard made a harrumphing noise and McKay prattled some kind of reassurances to him as the caramel adonis chuckled and Teyla just gave her this look that said, welcome to the club.
all of a sudden all that fuss about Roy Mustang in his file, suddenly seemed true.
Most planets had a secondary name despite their designation. This was sometimes the name that the locals gave it, the name the locals used for themselves, or a brief and rather pithy description of the unnamed locals, flora, fauna or weather. These were marked out on a board in the marine's recroom with a "Hot" to "not" scale over five categories, from subzero to nuclear.
Planet of the creepy pointed columns mostly came in mostly in the middle, it was temperate, the people were friendly, but at the same time it was populated with really creepy spikes and worshipped some sort of miniature warrior god who cast out the wraith on a semi regular basis and had absolutely no tolerance for military of any kind. Lorne had come back through the stargate saying that they had nothing worth trading and something not entirely unlike tinnitus, but there was a very large ancient ruin, which was where mini-warrior god was living.
So in went Team Sheppard.
And then ran out again chased by small explosions and more of those creepy pointed columns which sprung of the ground chasing Ronon and McKay all the way back to the village with a rather ear shattering amount of shouting. Standing in the village Sheppard decided that this planet had moved down a notch, where Teyla who had been talking to the village elder, and bouncing a fat toddler on her knee, reached for her p90 but Mustang, who had been using his excessive amounts of charisma on the sehlat wrangler in the hopes of trade, perked up. "I know that voice," he said brightly. Then, supporting his p90 he ran off towards the temple.
He came back dragging a small wild haired creature in the tatters of a red coat by the hood. "Look," he drawled in his most excited tone of voice. "I think it's a wild Elric."
Sheppard quirked an eyebrow as the "wild Elric" let loose a volley of ear blistering insults about a bastard colonel which were mostly punctuated by kicks, punches and bites. Roy just ruffled the creature's hair, "I missed you too, Edward."
Washed, dressed and deposited in Carson's medlab Edward Elric had not stopped swearing, cursing or attempting to bite. He had created a flat pointed pillar out of a wall which sent Ronon sprawling down one of Atlantis' corridors and started an argument about star gate travel as an alchemical process which had caused him and McKay to argue like cats all the jumper ride home.
He was wearing a vest and shorts as Carson took innumerable x-rays of his prosthetics, eating the athosian's not quite Brioche slathered with almost butter when Roy came in with Sheppard. "Edward, this is Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard, he's the military commander of Atlantis." Edward clearly had lost whatever people skills he had had before as he threw the plate at him. Sheppard just side stepped it neatly. "Sheppard, this is Major Edward Elric, the Full Metal Alchemist, one of the brightest minds of Amestris, if not the brightest."
"The wraith call you the golden destroyer." Sheppard said. Then there was a laconic pause. "They hate you even more than they hate us." It might have been with a hint of admiration, but it was hard to tell. Mustang had put about the theory that Sheppard talked slowly to counteract the speed with which McKay talked.
"Yeah, well," Edward said and flicked his hair, then he looked at Roy. "can you, um, will you, willyoufixmyhair?" Roy blinked in shock as Ed handed him a comb. "It gets caught in the joints."
It was around then that Sheppard suspected that this young blonde man was going to stay, and that he possibly he might be an invaluable addition to someone's gate team, perhaps Roy had earned his own.
Of course that was before Ed discovered the labs.
Colonel Carter liked the more informal nature of Atlantis compared to the SGC, here she could sit at her desk, supposedly doing leader things as she tinkered with small ancient devices and sipped her coffee, and no one cared. As long as she did what she had to do on time no one cared, they didn't bombard her with extra duties, or strange expectations unless it was Sheppard swinging in from the doorframe to invite her to movie night.
But that laxness sometimes included personel, whom they were happy to adopt from anywhere, everywhere and some places in between. As long as they had killed a wraith or two they were given shelter and the chance to prove themselves. Roy Mustang had been Elizabeth's decision and she couldn't always blame her, a quirk of those lips, a flash of those black eyes and Sam herself had been ready to roll over and show him her belly. Edward Elric, however, did not have that easy charisma. He was handsome, in a sort of blonde blunt way, but he was also little more than a child, certainly younger than most of the marines on base. His clothes were frayed around the edges but generally in good upkeep, especially the bright red coat he wore. His suitcase, which he had insisted on going back for had been full of blueprints which the engineering department were treating like high class European porn but were for his metal arm and leg.
His eyes were like metal beads, completely without mercy and had clearly seen things that no human should ever see, it hardened a pretty face into blunt edges as he toyed with some broken crystals, working out which pieces went with which. "I told Roy we should leave this place, that you wouldn't understand."
"How did you come here?" Sam asked twisting her pen in her hands.
"Through the gate," he answered, surly. "Your pet gorilla brought me in sedated, as you might recall." Ronan had been forced to use a tranquiliser because aparently he'd had something of a panic attack in the jumper that could have brought it down and killed them all.
"Yes, but how did you get to the planet in the first place?"
"The fishmen stranded me there." He could see she didn't understand. "The men, the ones that look like catfish."
fishmen... she thought about it for a moment, "oh, the wraith." They did look a lot like catfish now she thought about it. "So why did the wraith strand you there?"
"Because i crashed one of their ships and killed one of their women." He said this like it was the most obvious answer in the world.
"You crashed a hive ship and killed a queen?" She was incredulous and with good reason.
"I, sort of, well I didn't." He stopped, "We were in space, I didn't know that, I sort of made a hole in the wall on the outside. I was going to make my way there. Their ships are flimsy okay." He didn't look that apologetic, "and once you tear them open a little way all those ligaments and vein things just rip open even more and before you know it, you've got half a ship. So they took me to their woman, queen." He deliberately used Sam's word. "And she shouted and said some things she shouldn't have said and I kinda lost my temper and stabbed her."
"And how did you get weapons on board ship?" Sam asked. He pulled off his glove and then clapped his hand, the metal of his arm forming a small sharp blade.
"So she started shreiking and one of the catfish dragged me on board a little ship and dumped me on the planet."
"So you forced a wraith commander to put you on the planet..." Sam had worked at the SGC long enough to know a straight out obfuscation when she saw it. "And then..."
"He took off as fast as his little fish legs could carry him. He hadn't hurt me, so I didn't hurt him, okay." He fixed his arm and went back to putting together the broken crystal pieces on the table. "and then i made it clear that i didn't want anything more to do with them, you kill enough of them with the ground itself they leave you alone for the most part."
"The wraith don't do that." Sam repeated blankly. "They come back and extinguish the planet."
"Well, their alchemy is a bit shit, truth be told, it was easy to look them out of the device, you just isolate their resonance and then program the device to recognise it and send it to another device."
"you rerouted them, that means another planet was culled because of you."
Edward rolled his golden eyes, "no, the gate i sent them too was in space. Once I figured that out the rest was easy, "and when they came by ship, a smaller ship this time, I crashed it. I think that's when they started calling me a blonde haired demon."
"So how long were you on the planet?"
Edward laid the crystals down, as he thought about it, "three seasons." He said finally, "give or take. It's hard to work out the date because of all the different calendars but at least 100 days, on the Amestrian calender."
Sam scribbled that down. "Mustang can set things on fire, he calls this alchemy, is this what you can do?"
"Sort of," he said and then happy with the fit of two of the crystals he put them flat on the table, clapped his hands and mended them before her eyes. "Alchemy is complicated, and I know Alkahestry and Pharmacy too, Roy specialised a lot younger than me, but it's not the only option, fire, most people specialise, it's easier to remember all the chemicals and things that way."
"But not you?"
"I had questions. Did Roy tell you about Nina? about why I forced the Truth to bring me here." Sam scribbled that down too. "My father was a famous alchemist too, so is my brother, I can't do the things with fire that Roy does, but I can do a lot of other things he can't. It's just science, if you know what goes in, you can make it come out right."
Sam was starting to get a headache. "It's not complicated at all." He continued, "like McKay, he had me working in the salination plants whilst they fix them, he gave me a big trough of water and wanted me to boil it to extract the salt, though why I don't know, he didn't even think of trading it, I think he was just trying to keep me busy, so I used alchemy and seperated the water and salt, leaving the water in the bowl and the salt in a pile. Easy, but I couldn't make salt where there was none, yanno, it had to be there, you can't make someting out of nothing. Equivalent exchange, it's the first rule of alchemy, to get something you must give something equal in exchange. We take some of the energy from the water, from the air, from the light, and some from ourselves. Alchemy can be exhausting in huge scale or over very long periods." He was lecturing but she appreciated it. "That's how the gate works afterall, the circle is the gate, the chevrons the symbols, it draws in energy, but it has to have a central source because there is no way it could work otherwise, i'm thinking it's the red crystal in the dialing device, but if I am right we should disable them all because it's just cruel."
"I'm sorry, I think I missed a bit of that."
"The red crystal, if I'm right about it, then it's a philosopher's stone, that's made by condensing human souls through a terrible reaction. Each red crystal can be millions of lives that can be used to power devices."
"The ancients built the gate network." Sam said that completely on reflex.
"And they clearly used alchemy to do it, this city was built alchemically, look," he held up a mended crystal. "Can I go now?" He asked. "Look I'm sure this is important and all but I could be desalinising or however McKay described it."
"One more question." Sam said although she was pretty sure she knew more than she ever needed to. "You said you forced the truth to let you come here. How?"
"Well after the coup we were exiled, Mustang, Olivia Armstrong and me, I mean you overthrow one government and the new government is a bit worried that you'll do it again even though you're the ones that put them in power in the first place, so they sent Armstrong north to drachma, Mustang east to Ishval and me to Xing, which was a bloody stupid idea because it just meant I had new types of alchemy to learn, and Armstrong was from Briggs which is on the drachman border so you know that they never sent her on past the fort. But Mustang got caught up in some experiment or other that sent him here so when i found out I got the Truth to send me here too."
"The Truth? is that some kind of ruler."
"No, it is the space between worlds, when you perform alchemy on yourself you can see him, he demands a high price for his transactions but he can create wonders."
"And what did he demand from you?" Sam had this fear that it was thousands of lives, although if Edward was telling the truth he had done that with the Wraith as soon as he arrived here.
Edward just grinned, sharklike and sharp. "Nothing i couldn't pay, Colonel. Now if we're done here, i have like a hundred or so things to do, I swear, i've been here three days and i'm wondering how you got anything done without me, I mean look at these." He handed her the now complete crystals. "How did you work the interface with them broken, I wonder if you even know what these do." He shook his head. "Now kill me or let me go, as I said I have a pile of things that need my attention, not even including what the engineers want me to do, which seems to be flexing my fingers or something."
"The natives on the planet, they said you were immune to wraith stunners but yet Ronon hit you with one."
"I have a metal arm and a metal leg." Edward said, "I was told you were brilliant, it's hardly a leap."
Oh god, she thought, if Mustang reminded her of Sheppard then this boy was clearly a mini McKay, that was all she needed, a second one.
Chapter 5: Edward and Woolsey
Mister Woolsey didn't last a whole day on the Atlantis expedition before he was physically manhandled back on to the Daedalus by several large marines, military police and accompanied by one recently shorn scientist.
It had all been something of an accident.
It started that morning, when Derek Kavanagh had walked into the main office to complain once again about Edward Elric. During the course of their work it seemed, according to Kavanagh, Elric had pushed him into machinery, which caused his hair to get caught between some moving gears. Elric had the audacity, then, to change his automail arm into a knife and shear away the offending locks. To make matters worse, he had also cut off Kavanagh's tie.
In his defence Elric pointed out that Kavanagh's hair was incorrectly bound and just asking to get caught in machinery. Even if he wasn't pushed, which which he hadn't been, in fact, Elric had been stood on the other side of the room pointing and laughing. A fact that could be verified by the marine who had accompanied them in case something jumped out of the walls and attacked them.
But McKay had reacted like any sane person, immediately approving Kavanaugh's transfer request to Earth. There were many reasons for this, most of which included the fact that Derek Cavanaugh was a whiny bitch.
As a punishment, though McKay wasn't sure he deserved one and not some sort of Athosian gift basket for getting rid of Kavanagh, Elric was sent fishing with the Marine biologists, and their honour guard. It was there that the rumour started.
When asked his opinion on the arrival of Mister Woolsey Elric had sat Indian style, with his back against the wall, scratched his head with his flesh hand and, never one to refrain from speaking his mind, said "I think he looks like a child molester."
By lunch the mess was buzzing with the words that Woolsey was a child molester, and that they were worried, because Edward looked like a child, even if the supercomputers were still working at his actual age.
By 15:30 Earth time the rumour had reached the botanists, the worst gossips on the entire city, and had already changed to reveal the Woolsey had tried to molest Edward. Neither Edward nor Woolsey was asked their opinion on this. But at 17:00 hours Colonel Caldwell arrived in the Wolsey's office with what was clearly not an honour guard, two military police and a glare that should have cracked stone.
He properly escorted Mister Woolsey onto the Daedalus where he was promptly confined to quarters. Caldwell maintained that this was for his own safety, and absolutely nothing to do with Caldwell's own ambitions.
When he heard, Col John Shepherd immediately called Edward Elric to his office, a feat made easier by the fact that Elric followed his second-in-command around like a duckling. He asked, in very circumspect turns, if anything untoward had happened with Mister Woolsey. That was when Edward heard the rumour. It was also the second time that day he pointed and laughed.
Of course, by that point, the damage had been done. The weekly data burst to earth had included a private message between botanists and it mentioned how Woolsey had perpetrated vile deeds upon the poor, young Elric involving honey and a dead fish. This had caused the rumour to continue through the SGC where Gen O'Neill found it hilarious. The reason for this being all aliens that the SGC had ever encountered had been entirely kick ass and Woolsey Looked like a stiff breeze would break him. The added information Edward sparred with Ronon on a daily basis was enough to prove to him that the rumour was just that, a rumour.
However, he wasn't above taking advantage of the fact that the entire SGC had declared Woolsey persona non grata, which gave him the excuse of removing him from the base, with the instructions that he was never to return. This was, of course, his own safety.
On Atlantis it was generally decided that Elric's supposed abuse was reason enough to him to spend a week with the Athosians, under the cover of counselling, but mostly to get out of McKay's hair. Elric's experiments in the lab were proving ... educational. And all the questions about the way he followed Lorne around.
That this left Atlantis without an official leader didn't seem to bother anyone, the science team did what the science team did -- blew things up regularly, and the military contingent did what the military contingent did, shoot first run for cover second as they tried to find things for the science team to blow up. The IOA tried to appoint Camille Wray as the commander. However, she immediately shook her head and refused point blank to go anywhere near the Amestrians again, that ambition be damned, she would rather hold ice skating competitions on the sun.
Atlantis had always been looked upon as an asylum for deviants, weirdos and expendables. None of the other IOA officials wanted anything to do with it. Each one of them had a grudge with some member of the team. There was talk, for perhaps 10 minutes, of Bill Lee taking over. When the laughter subsided it was agreed that Carter would return until someone could be properly appointed -- without mentioning that that person would probably have to be forcibly volunteered. Even if Daniel Jackson was jumping about like a trained monkey shouting "pick me! pick me!"
And so everything returns the status quo on Atlantis, with one new rule implemented by Lorne, who everyone knew secretly ruled the city, Edward Elric was not to be allowed near the marine biologists again.
Chapter 6: Edward's age
Edward Elric claimed that he was 22. He had known Roy Mustang for over 12 years. He had spent the years between 12 and 17 directly under his command. And five years travelling the world to find answers about alcahestry, as it was called in Ishbal, and pharmacy, as it was called in Xing. Mustang confirmed that he had spent three years in Ishbal before he had come through the Stargate. This matched the two years that he had spent in Atlantis before they had discovered Edward.
The problem was that Ed didn't look 22, in fact, he looked more like he was 12. Miko had immediately adopted him, much to the surprise of everyone else in the science department, because Miko wasn't maternal. Nevertheless, she tended to appear at random opportunities with a wet towel to wash his face, which was generally smeared with food. She had several elastic bands around her wrist for when he invariably lost the one holding back his braid, and had been heard to chide him loudly about the state of his underwear and the holes in his socks.
He followed Lorne around like duckling whenever he was out of the labs, which was adorable, and not at all adult. Lieutenant Cadman left him speechless and tongue tied whenever she spoke near him after he had walked in on her topless when changing. This hadn't bothered Cadman at all, she had served in the Marines long enough that nudity was no longer an issue as long as no one was shooting at you.
There were other concerns, but despite his protestations of his age, he was really too young to be there. The IOA had a field day with this, however, Edward was tried in combat, capable in the labs, and revered as some sort of hero when the wraith ran from him. There was even a case where he had been accidentally caught in the culling beam, and the wraith brought him back two days later, with the wraith looking harried and worse for wear. Edward remained stoic about the ordeal, to the point that the only complaint he had was that their roast chicken was a little dry and he hadn't cared for their wine.
Atlantis did not want to lose any of their members, especially to bureaucracy and the penny-pinching of the IOA, they were also concerned that if Edward was removed from the city that Roy would go too, leading a mass exodus of the women on base, a figure that had been steadily rising since he had appeared. And so Doctor McKay spent three days working out Edward's age before he had had to pass it over to the supercomputers on earth.
The problem was complicated.
Edward had a record of every day that he had spent since leaving Amestris, but this led to the problem of not one, but four calendars each one having a different set of hours per day. The Amestris clock was worked out around Edward's Silver pocket watch and seemed to be almost the same as Earth's, give or take as there were 67 minutes to the Amestris hour. There were 28 Earth hours in Atlantis, and 15 on the planet where they had found him.
To compound the matter there were two small details, one it had almost been definitively proved that the Stargate not only paused time through translation, the molecules it transferred being held in a form of stasis, but through travelling faster than the speed of light, it actually rewound time the duration of the journey. Often this was only several seconds, it took seven minutes to travel from Earth to Atlantis, and the only guide that they had on how long it had taken from amestris was the price that Edward had paid the truth.
After some negotiation, and literal arm wringing, Edward had revealed that the price was 1500 days. He had assumed that these would be from the end of his life, and had been more than happy to pay them. The physicists immediately jumped on this figure and worked out the amount of Earth seconds that it would take to travel the distance. They had then immediately doubled it, inputted it into the supercomputer, and gone to get coffee. There had been some literal scratching of heads, some panicked paperwork, and the general consensus was that the news would travel by Daedalus which would take six months.
So it was as Carter was explaining to the engineers, again, why they couldn't move Edwards automail that the information popped up in her e-mail. She explained that she could understand why they would want to remove it for easier study, however, she was reliably informed, the entire process was incredibly painful, and that he needed to be conscious for the entire affair, and as torture was prohibited under the Geneva Convention it wasn't going to happen under her command. She had done this while skimming through her mail, with Kim, Edward's accidental chimera, purring on her lap.
She swore, half standing, just enough to shift the cat--lizard onto the floor, where it landed with an undignified squawk and scurried up the wall to the ledge and comparative safety. She immediately summoned the heads of departments, Roy, and Lorne, who everyone knew really ran the city, for an emergency meeting.
The only person she didn't invite was Ed.
They talked into the early hours, many suggestions were put forward, that ed be housed with the Athosians; that he be sent back to Earth and put in education, as they had done with clones in the past; that some sort of compromise could be made allowing him to stay on Atlantis because they knew that the IOA would have a problem with this. Edward had, according to calculations, just turned 13. He wasn't just underage, he was very underage.
That Ed was capable didn't seem to matter into the equation- he was a minor, and would be for nearly half his life again, the fact that he had artificial limbs seemed to make the problem worse, for he would have to be registered disabled, which would make him ineligible the Stargate program- Even when he was old enough.
It was Lorne who finally broached the solution. It was simple, elegant, and best of all -- legal. The diplomats drew up the paperwork as quickly as they could, it was then translated into three languages, a feat made easy by its simplicity. It was sent back, by e-mail, with the weekly data burst. Signed, sealed, and delivered, ratified by two generals the IOA didn't really stand a chance.
Of course, the first that Ed heard about it was from the Marines, he and Ronon had been sparring, and were about to unleash hell on the Marines, which they called training, when one of them snickered.
Edward had hair antenna, it was remarkable, whenever someone comments about his height, his arm, or one of the other things that he found fault with, and turned him into a blonde screaming daemon, two pieces of his hair would stand to attention like radio aerials. They would turn in the direction of the perpetrator, which was then followed by the Demon himself.
The turning of these two locks of hair was the only warning that anyone got before Edward attacked in a flailing mass of limbs. It was well known about the city that he did this, Roy, for example, thought it was hilarious and set it up every opportunity, using every short joke the world had ever created.
The marine silently thanked God that among Edward's amazing powers he did not have laser vision, because otherwise he would have been a smoking pair of boots. Instead, Edward growled "Do you have something to share with the class?"
Never one to back down from a fight, especially one with ammunition like this, the Marine stood his ground, and asked "If we hit you are you going to tell your mommy?"
After he escorted the Marine to the infirmary, where Doctor Keller had given a low whistle at his injuries, Edward had not bothered to wait for the inevitable summons to Carter's office. He had marched there still angry, trying to find out, a) what the hell was going on? B) what it had to do with his mother?
Carter had learned from Mustang that the best way to deal with Edward's tirades was to sit back and enjoy the show, then when he was over to talk quietly, politely, and sound generally amused. when he was done, she explained quietly, politely, and in an amused tone, the findings regarding Edwards age, that the problems it had raised with the IOA, and Lorne's speedy solution.
Miko had adopted him, and because he was disabled, though she was quick to point out that this was not in any way a slur upon him because he was one of the most capable members of the team, that he had to be with her as she was his registered carer. This meant that they could not remove Ed without removing Miko, a feat Carter didn't believe was possible as she knew from past experience that Miko may have been quiet and sweet on the inside but she was a tiger in defence of her work.
Edward groaned, it seemed that not only did he have to survive puberty again, which he considered a miracle the first time, but now he had to do it with an overprotective mother, citizenship of a country whose language he didn't speak, and a bureaucracy that considered him physically impaired.
It was almost enough to make him wish for father and the homunculus again, because at least he never got tongue tied at the sight of Lust's boobs.
When the expedition started there had been three diplomats. Doctor Weir, who ran the expedition, Doctor Markoff, who had taken seven days before launching himself at the top of the spire -- the first time anyone had that something was wrong was him fall past the window-- and Cmdr Davenport, who had managed six months before being killed accidentally on the job -- it had not been the failure of democracy that killed him, or even a translation error, whilst negotiating with with a desert people. He had taken the opportunity to relieve himself in a small bush, this was not a holy bush, or even food, but it was the hiding place of an incredibly venomous snake which had not reacted well to it's nap being disturbed by a stream of warm water. He had been dead before he hit the ground.
This left diplomacy in the hands of the military, which was mostly made up of Marines who believed in shoot first negotiate if no other option was available and then only under duress. The Athosian Princess Teyla had managed to paper over most of the cracks. However they were in desperate need of a diplomat.
When Roy Mustang had peered through the Stargate, sliding across the floor in an inert goop, he must have seemed like a gift from God. Handsome, intelligent, charismatic and charming it was not long before he became the diplomatic corps of Atlantis. As their only serving diplomat he was a regular feature on just about every team, even when being shot at by the Genii they made a special effort not to hit him.
Matriarchies swoon when he smiled. Kings were over ruled by their Queens in their determination to please him. Civilisations that swore never to trade made exceptions for the Lanteans. Even when they would not trade he was charming allowing them to keep open lines of communication, just in case there was something that they needed later.
When the great storm hit Mustang was off world, trying to discover- through what might be mistaken as interpretive dance- what it was that the Tua'haan'i wanted in exchange for a plant whose beans could be substituted for coffee. it was well known that the city did not run on naquadah but caffeine.
The Tua'haan'i were, in fact, the selfsame desert people who had seen the end of poor commander Davenport. Years of living on the hell world that they considered their own had seen them mutate into a sort of lizard hybrid who lived primarily in caves. Their planet had immediately been nicknamed Arrakis and the Tua'haan'i themselves, who looked like cross between a man and a velociraptor, the Gorn.
He was also under very strict instructions not to pee on the bushes.
The Tua'haan'i were respectfully apologetic, about the terrible death of poor Cmdr Davenport, to whom they had erected a shrine which had immediately been torn to shreds by the vicious desert winds which could apparently flay a man alive. The Tua'haan'i city was a marvel of underground excavation and Roy had said so, their water accumulation techniques were nothing short of revolutionary and he would be more than happy to share what he knew in exchange for the technology, but The Tua'haan'i didn't trade. They had a healthy distrust of wetlanders and only bothered to host him because they had seen the end of Davenport.
To the The Tua'haan'i all wetlanders or offworlders were soft because they had not lived on their planet and learned what it was to survive. In fact the conditions there were so harsh that even the wraith left them alone, and yes the offer of relocation was very kind but they had absolutely no intention of taking him up on it because after all they didn't want their children - hard faced raptor like creatures - to grow up soft.
So when he returned to Atlantis, his team burdened by sacks of the beans from the C'raat'ni plant, and as he looked around at the devastation he asked "what did I miss, oh and by the way do we have any salt to spare?"
Chapter 8: Field of memories
In a distant galaxy, registered on Earth Star Charts as Pegasus, there is a small unnamed planet. It is densely forested and bears the signs of thousands of years of volcanic activity. It is part, though mostly ignored, of the Stargate Network but that is not the reason for it's infamy.
In a ring of mountains there is a small inland lake, and upon it is a smaller circular island that was once the cap of a great and now inactive volcano. On the island there is little vegetation but a jetty that grants access from the water's edge through the hexagonal rocks to a natural amhipitheatre.
Every morning at dawn the woman pulls up her hood and settles in the boat as her servants row her to the island. Today she brings with her a small child who will one day inherit her duties.
At the ampitheatre she lowers her hood before removing her cape completely, hanging it on the rock that people have used for this purpose for hundreds of years, and indicates the child copies her example. It is a great honour to be chosen for this.
"This," she tells the child carefully, "is the great temple of the Golden Child who came through the stargate," the child is still looking around with awe, "who cast aside the great shadow hunger of the wraith and with the Lanteans delivered us all. This is his legacy."
Within the amphitheatre, risen from the rocks are statues. Perhaps two hundred of them although the woman knows exactly how many and the names by which the faithful call them. It is her duty to care for them, to carry buckets of water from the lake to wash them clean.
"This is Lizbeth," she says touching the statue of a woman with soft curls, all of the statues are fluid, like people turned to stone in a moment of carelessness, Lizbeth tucks a piece of hair behind her ear and smiles faintly, "who was the Lantean's Queen and died in battle." The child is fascinated and holds out the ladle of water to the priestess.
The second statue is a man, crouching down to aid what appears to be a child though it is half formed, "this is Karsahn", the priestess says, "who was part of the god's pantheon and could cure all sickness."
As the priestess looks around, "all of these are representations of the giants of Lantea and the pantheon of the Golden Child."
The child nods, there are images of the Golden Child throughout the galaxy, the one who cast down the wraith and could bend matter to his will, with Roi who could twist fire, and Jonshepard who could fly, and Roandex who was impervious, and Teela whose beauty swayed even the wraith and Dammitmackay who built fabulous machines. They do not have statues here.
"These are those who fell in battle against the wraith, this is Haukai," she says, the statue of the woman is aloof, pose strict, at her feet is an animal that the child has never seen before, "and Hate her beloved companion."
"Mama," the child asks moving to the central statue. "Who are these?"
"That is All." the woman says softly. It is a giant mechanical man with a faceplate, unlike the other statues which are made of the hard black volcanic rock the stone here is a soft grey with iron oxide marking the feather in the helmet. He is sat on a stone bench, and sat on his thigh is a small boy with short spiky hair. The boy is laughing and another of those strange creatures sits at his feet. There is a girl there with the animal, with her hair gathered into a tail, and an old woman who stands barely knee high on the statue. "And that," the woman gestures to the girl who has her hands buried in the animal's stone fur, "is Victory, and that is Pinko, who taught the Golden Child."
The child knows the legend and how the Golden Child sacrificed everything amongst the gods for All, although no one is really sure what it was, and how as punishment he was sent to the mortal plane, and how with All he had fought the Seven temptations of man and was victorious, the story has always been kind of vague on that point, only that Roi and Haukai were there as was Hate before he came through the Stargate.
She will learn, the woman thinks watching her daughter pour the water over the statue of Grownin, caught there laughing at a joke that Fored is telling. She will learn all their names and their histories, she thinks, and she will pass them on to her daughter as her grandmother has told me. She will welcome the pilgrims that come here to see the statues, and she alone will know what it is that they are, the lost companions of a god who destroyed himself to save them all.
If at first you don't secede
What surprised Sam was that talk of secession didn't actually start with the Amestrians, well it sort of did, but this time it wasn't their fault.
It started with Miko.
Miko popped her head around Sam's door and asked, politely, if it would possibly be possible that she could get some high school science level text books for Ed. She pointed out that they didn't have to be in hardcopy, that electronic would be fine because he had actually figured out his tablet now, but she would really appreciate it – if there was room in the budget.
So Sam noted it down and spoke to the quartermaster.
The quartermaster, a man called Aldernay, said certainly, as they weren't using the vast majority of their budget allowance anyway because over the years they had gotten more and more self sufficient, and there should be plenty of room on the Daedalus. He understood the chemists were having problems with Ed because although he understood the science he used different names and said he was quite surprised no one had thought of this earlier. So he signed off on it, Sam signed off on it, and away it went with the weekly data burst.
It came back refused as being over budget.
Aldernay said what and went to tell Sam, who couldn't maintain a conversation with him without remembering that AA Milne poem about the cow, and the two of them went over the figures. Then they went over the figures again. And again.
Convinced something was going wrong somewhere they blamed McKay.
McKay went over the figures, complaining all the while, and pointed out that it wasn't just that there was a superfluity of money in the budget, that they were, thanks to patents on devices that had started in Atlantis actually making money so there should be no reason to refuse a couple of $20 text books.
They signed off on it and sent it off again.
Again it came back refused as being over budget.
Sam decided that she needed to talk to someone about this and prepared to go through, with Aldernay, and her sheaf of budget reports to find out why she couldn't just get a set of text books, even used ones. She suspected it might be a computer error. She was prepared to buy the damn things herself and carry them through the gate on the way back, as Lorne was complaining that the money was going somewhere and that they got what they ordered and nothing more. “This wouldn't be a problem,” Lorne admitted, “if we were a science installation not a military one.” Everyone looked at him. “Well, then we wouldn't have to deal with military funding.”
And McKay said, “we are basically self sufficient,” this wasn't a surprise because apart from twinkies and superhero comics there wasn't a lot from Earth that they couldn't live without, and they were getting the comics in electronic format these days anyway. “We could just secede.”
Everyone looked at Roy. Roy spread his hands with a “it wasn't me” gesture and added, “people have gone to war for less.” And that was, until Sam came back from her budget meeting, that.
It was a computer error in fact.
The person who input their order had to use two systems, one for the items and one for the price to be deducted from their budget. The second form over wrote whatever was written with an autofill so it didn't matter how much they asked for they always deducted the same, large, amount without actually adjusting for inflation. This was worse than working out Ed's age, Sam thought, and wondered how the hell no one had noticed a couple of extra million floating around. Perhaps that was the reason for all those promotions.
She hadn't gotten a promotion though, or even a couple of old chemistry text books, and when it was all gone over they actually reduced her budget because she clearly didn't need that much.
“So,” she said when she got back, sliding her ipad, patent to a shell corporation owned by the US govt and sold to apple, across the table. “how do you establish yourself as an independant colony anyway?”