Ivan waves Carson away from the chair once word comes back that the drone's been stopped, ignoring the wary look the doctor sends his way as he makes good his escape. He'll have to make sure that Carson has a better idea what he's doing later, because that had been one of the more annoying failures. It would be easier if he could operate the chair himself, but at the moment, he's short a gene, and the project to rectify that isn't yet ready for testing.
Reaching up, he ruffles the feathers of his cockatoo, murmuring nonsense at it in Russian. He enjoys the wariness it instills in the assistants that don't understand him, and the rolled eyes it earns him from Zelenka. At least there's one person here who doesn't require he speak their language to be understood.
"You're making Carson look ill again." Zelenka makes a note on his tablet, watching the other bay out of the corner of his eye, speaking Russian for Ivan's sake. "He probably thinks you're insulting him."
"Everyone does." Ivan shrugs, a brief smile crossing his face. "It doesn't matter. All I need is not to require his assistance once we arrive in Atlantis."
"That could take many more months."
"Than it takes months." Ivan looks over as the lift opens, letting General O'Neill out, and a younger man that has to be his pilot. "A pity we'll have to tell the General that." He watches the younger man - Sheppard, the name tag reads - as he wanders away from O'Neill. "Though at least it won't take years."
"Or decades." Zeleka nods, handing him the tablet. "You're the head scientist. I'm not telling O'Neill we're getting behind schedule because of Carson."
Ivan chuckles, reaching up again to stroke the breast feathers of his bird as he pushes off the wall. "Keep an eye on Sheppard. I don't think he'll listen to the General's admonishment not to touch anything." There are too many interesting things, and Ivan doubts Sheppard is the sort to always listen to orders. If he had been, the man likely wouldn't be in Antarctica.
"What do you want me to do if he does touch something?"
"Tell me if it does anything, or if he breaks it." Ivan shrugs. "It doesn't matter if he touches it, it matters what happens after that."
For a base that doesn't technically exist, O'Neill's destination is really pretty boring, at least at first glance. Scientists - and the things scientists do - stopped interesting John after his first time in an airplane, save as a stepping-stone to being able to fly himself. It's strange, though. O'Neill has clearly seen action, and a lot of it. It makes no sense for someone with that sort of background to be in charge of a scientific mission. However, it's not the least logical thing John has seen during his time in uniform. Far from it. Maybe O'Neill has a black mark too.
Black mark or no, it's clear that the general is going to be busy for a while. John's knee is aching a little from the cold, and the idea of standing around for an hour or so doesn't really appeal. There's one chair, and even though it's near some sort of control panel, no one is sitting in it. So long as he doesn't touch the control panel, no one should mind if he sits down.
The instant he settles himself into the chair, he realizes he's just made a serious mistake.
Zelenka stares at the chair as it comes on, turning to grab his tablet after a brief second of shock. "Ivan!"
"What...?" Ivan turns before he gets a chance to say anything to O'Neill or Weir, surprise briefly crossing his face before he smiles. "Perhaps not so behind schedule as I thought." He doesn't bother to speak English, or to even apologize for interrupting their conversation for an update that will now have to wait. He chuckles, coming back over to the chair, looking down at Sheppard a moment, trading tablets with Zelenka without even looking at it.
"Sheppard. Surprise." He glances at the tablet a moment. "Perhaps a map? Sun and planets." Ivan does speak better English than he usually gives the impression he does to those around him, but right now, it's not worth the effort, and the curt sentences are at least to the point.
John's not even remotely sure what's going on. He can feel the chair - the whole base - in his mind. From the little scientist's reaction, whatever is happening is a big deal - and somehow, he's managed to put himself right in the middle of it. O'Neill is going to be pissed.
"Sun and planets," the other scientist - Ivan - says. The memory of a trip to a science museum in fifth grade pops into John's head, and suddenly he's looking at an intricately detailed hologram of the solar system. He can see Earth, and when he wishes for a better look, the display zooms in on the planet in question.
"Good." Ivan makes a note of the command pathway, smiling briefly. "Useful." He looks up as O'Neill and Weir join them, nodding his head a moment. "I could use Sheppard a bit more often than this once, General. And on Atlantis, since you cannot come with the expedition." He doesn't care if Sheppard's been read in or not, or how much he knows. All he cares is that he will be able to get his computers hooked up to Atlantis, and have them be able to talk to the Ancients' computer when he does. On time, instead of the longer period of waiting with Carson.
Jack is looking at Sheppard with consternation written all over his face. He'd given the Major permission to accompany him because he'd already seen the drone. He hadn't been expecting to have to convince the Air Force to give him the Major for the expedition. And he's not inclined to argue with Ivan, because he agrees with him, it would be useful for them to have someone who expresses a stronger ATA gene than Carson. "I'll consider it, Doctor Vanko. No promises."
Ivan shrugs, slipping back into his native Russian. "You never make any promises, General, and yet still, when you say such things, I get what I want. It is enough."
"Permission to speak, sir?" John asks, standing up. It feels weird to lose the connection with the chair, but he doesn't have anything like the rank to talk to O'Neill while sitting. O'Neill nods, and John takes a deep breath before saying anything.
"May I ask what's going on, General?" He's not sure he wants to be handed over to the scientists, and if it means he won't be able to fly any longer, he knows he doesn't.
Jack pauses a moment, looking almost thoughtful before he opens his mouth. "The thing with the chair is preparing for an expedition to the Ancient city of Atlantis." He shrugs. "Different galaxy, no guarantee you'll make it home, some arguments over you going along. It'll be fun."
"Sheppard is pilot, yes?" Ivan lifts his arm to let his bird step from his shoulder to his arm, the tablet handed back to Zelenka. "Forgot ships on that list." He fishes a nut out of his pocket as he leans against the wall, handing it to the bird to crack.
"If there are more, and the time machine wasn't the only one." Jack doesn't like the idea of there being more of the little ships like the time machine... unless, of course, they don't have something that makes them travel in time. But there's no promise of that, and he hadn't planned on dangling that particular carrot in front of Sheppard.
Another galaxy? For one wild second, John thinks this is all part of some elaborate joke. Then he looks at the faces around him. Another galaxy. The thought of it - of going there - is amazing, and incredibly tempting, especially if there are spaceships. The possibility of never coming back doesn't really bother him. He wears his country's uniform, and that risk is part of the job. What does bother him is the fear that if he does decide to go, his black mark will keep him on Earth anyway.
"There might be a problem with that, sir." John can only imagine the sort of background checks they run on people for this project, and he doesn't want O'Neill to go to the trouble if there's no chance in the first place. "I'm not exactly the Air Force's favorite pilot. I was reprimanded and sent here for disobeying a direct order in a combat situation." That's not how John sees it, but it's how it's written up in his file, and it's probably how O'Neill will see it, too.
Jack snorts. "You didn't leave your men behind." That's more important to him than a strict adherence to orders, though he can promise the colonel who's already been picked as the head of the military on the expedition isn't going to like it. He'll live, though. "Only person who can actually veto you is Doctor Weir."
He nods his head to Elizabeth, who smiles, and crosses her arms. "I'm staying out of this, gentlemen. I'll welcome someone else who has the ATA gene, though." The more they have, the better.
"It's settled, then." Jack smiles briefly, almost relishing telling anyone who objects what to do with those objections. Now all he has to do is have the Major put through a crash course on the Stargate project and the Atlantis expedition. This ought to be fun.
O'Neill's flat acceptance of things from his point of view is unexpected, but incredibly welcome. Any lingering doubts about his decision vanish at that point.
"Thank you, sir," he tells O'Neill, and means it. "Ah - could someone maybe tell me what I just signed up for?"
Ivan feeds his bird another nut, chuckling. "For now? More sitting, isolating command pathways. Later, trouble, adventure, aliens. Many things." He waves a hand at the chair, watching Sheppard patiently. As far as he's concerned, other things, like explaining the Stargate and all the expedition to Atlantis entails, can wait.
John glances at O'Neill, who nods, before sitting back down in the chair. The returning connection feels almost like it's filling a hole he hadn't entirely known was there.
"Aliens, sir?" he asks Ivan. It makes sense, and explains O'Neill's command of the operation in a way that John isn't entirely sure he likes. "These aren't the friendly, ET kind of alien, are they?" It's not a question, and O'Neill's expression is all the answer he needs.
Ivan adjusts the uniform jacket to try to make it more comfortable, silently promising himself he'll switch back to his usual working clothes once they're settled on Atlantis. He has a separate uniform for venturing out beyond the gate in the Pegasus galaxy, and it'll see more use than this one. After a moment, he shrugs, leaning one shoulder against the wall, reaching up to ruffle his bird's feathers as it starts preening his hair. Waiting patiently for Weir to make her speech, and for the gate to be dialed.
He spots Sheppard among the military gathered on the other side of the room, and raises a hand in greeting. Ivan hasn't seen him since Antarctica, though he's heard the major's been given a whirlwind introduction to everything he needs to know before going to Atlantis. He's also heard Colonel Sumner objecting loudly to having Sheppard along. Once, at least. O'Neill hadn't let him object a second time, though Ivan had almost hoped he would. If only so he could tell the man what he thought of him.
"Can I have your attention?" Weir is standing on the ramp, and Ivan turns his head to watch her, though he tunes out the speech, the usual humanitarian rhetoric. His reasons to go have nothing to do with selflessness or humanitarianism, no matter what's been said. Just a simple choice between rotting in Siberia as his father once had, or going where he has equally little chance of seeing home, while his father is given a chance to live the rest of his remaining years someplace a bit more comfortable than the flat in Moscow. He prefers the latter, and the chance it provides him to resurrect his father's broken dreams.
"And the heir to a family of murderers and thieves shall have nothing so great as that which the family his destroyed will be given," he murmurs to himself in Russian, knowing that no one in earshot will understand him. This is a victory he had no intention of ever passing up.
"... Dial the gate." Weir's finishing her speech, stepping off the ramp to give the gate room for it's usual flare, chevrons lighting one by one. Eight lit and locked, and soon the brilliant blue of the event horizon is beckoning.
Ivan strokes a soothing hand down his bird's back before he picks up his duffel, hefting the strap onto his shoulder as he heads for the gate. Keeping his bird as calm as he can while they step through the wormhole, though he knows he's going to get an earful from the cockatoo when they arrive in Atlantis.
The white bird screeches as soon as they're through, taking off to land on the railing of a balcony, scolding him loudly. He's annoyed the staff at the alpha site and at the SGC whenever he's gone through the gate, so long as it hasn't been on a mission where the bird would be in danger or a liability. Not that he'd actually been on one of those.
"Hush, bird!" he calls back at it, moving out of the way, and heading up the stairs. The duffel is dropped on the balcony, and he calls Zelenka to come up as he pulls sheets off what he has no doubt are control consoles. "Radek, the laptops come up here."
His first priority is getting connectivity, and checking the power level on the ZPMs that will be powering the city. He doesn't know what the lifespan is supposed to be on them, and he wants to be sure they're fine before anything else.
The entire thing is surreal, John thinks, lifting a hand to return Ivan's greetings. Even after the lightning-fast introduction to the Stargate program, and the backlog of ten years' worth of mission reports he's spent the past week reading, he still can't quite wrap his head around it as fact. Until the gate is dialed, anyway. John doesn't even try to hide the delighted grin he can feel spreading across his face, and the step through the event horizon is one of the easiest he's ever made in his life.
John's first view of another galaxy isn't terribly impressive, but the fact that he's in another galaxy is incredibly cool.
Sumner is barking orders at the Marines, but none of his commands are directed John's way. That's fine with John. Sumner seems determined to treat him as if he doesn't exist, and he's happy to return the favour. Putting his bags down, he abandons being ignored in favor of looking around. Putting his hands in his pockets is technically a dress code violation, but John doesn't want to touch anything in here by accident.
"Sheppard." Ivan leans against the railing a moment, waiting impatiently for Zelenka to bring the laptops up. "I could use you up here." Since Sumner isn't making use of him, the extra hands to help coax the city to do what he wants will be useful. And as lovely as the city is, they do have a job to do, and he has a nagging feeling the faster he gets this done, the better.
Zelenka is coming up the stairs before Ivan finishes asking Sheppard to come help, and Ivan pushes away from the railing, snagging one of the laptop cases, and stripping the computer out of it rapidly. "Start with the one that has the gate controls. I'll find where I need to connect to check the power levels." He's already identified that panel, and is settling at it with the laptop and connections.
John takes his hands back out of his pockets and climbs the stairs, making his way to Ivan.
"What do you need?" he asks. Apparently, his term as human light switch is about to begin.
"To turn on the console." Ivan waves a hand at it, already making the connections. "Just your hand." A touch should be enough to wake it up, and he knows what command pathways to use to get the information he wants. "Turn on the rest, too." He's typing away, the interface he's using not the one he'll have to load for those who'll usually be monitoring this, but he's happier with his own system.
Well, perhaps more comfortable is the better phrase, as he's not particularly happy with the information that's displayed on his screen. "We have a problem, someone tell Weir and the Colonel." He's already searching the command pathways for what's using what power is left in the nearly-drained ZPMs, to find out where they need to take the load off the circuits. "We need to keep everyone in the gate room, and here. Two of the three ZPMs are drained, the third is loosing power rapidly."
If they're losing power, turning things on might not be the best idea, but John doesn't argue, largely because he trusts Ivan's expertise, and Zelenka's as well. He reaches out and puts one hand on the console - and nearly jerks it away again. It's like sitting in the chair, only stronger, and the city itself seems to be babbling at him, a thousand different messages that he can't sort out. There is one that comes through clearly, though; a welcome, with the impression of homecoming.
Hi, he thinks; then, Turn on, turn on, turn on.
"Good, Sheppard." Ivan keeps working, trying to isolate what's causing the power drain. The city is more complex than the outpost, as expected, and it's taking time to find what he needs to find. "Can you connect to the city?" He looks up, raising an eyebrow. He knows it should probably require a chair, but with the strength of Sheppard's ATA gene, he's willing to ask otherwise.
Zelenka's waving frantically at him from behind Sheppard, but Ivan gives him a quelling look - he'll find out what he needs in a moment - and looks back to Sheppard, waiting.
"I think I already am," John says. His voice sounds oddly distant in his own ears. "It's incredible." Which is an understatement, but John can't think of a better way to say it. "I think she's happy to see us."
"Can you find out why we're about to lose all power?" Ivan has a suspicion it has something to do with the legends saying Atlantis is a sunken city, but he's not going to come to a conclusion on merely a legend. "And find out if there's anything that can be done to correct the drain?"
John closes his eyes, trying to eliminate distractions, and does his best to separate all the data he's receiving, focusing on the power supply. The answer he gets is more impressions than anything - water, a force-field, the sense of surfacing - but they make perfect sense to John.
"The city has a shield, and it's up right now, because we're at the bottom of the sea. Once we get to the top, we can turn the shield off, and that should stop the drain on the power."
He can see Zelenka relax behind Sheppard; the city being underwater probably had something to do with what he'd been trying to tell Ivan. At least now he doesn't need told twice.
"Raise the city, then." He doesn't have time to isolate the command pathways, and using Sheppard like this will allow him to reboot the laptop with the interface for the English-speaking users sooner rather than later. And let him return to using his tablet, and start in on his own work.
It's not easy. The city wants to cooperate - John can feel it - but she's sluggish, slow to respond even when he tells her that they'll die if she can't get to the top. By the time she gives a reluctant shudder and starts to rise, John is sweating and badly wants to sit down. He's not too tired to smile in satisfaction, though.
"That should do it."
Ivan can feel the motion under his feet, and returns Sheppard's smile a moment. "Good." The laptop is booting nicely, and Ivan leaves it with the console as he checks the others, making sure connections are in place, and the laptops are ready for their operators. He glances over a moment as the gate shuts down, the last of the expedition in the gate room, milling about and looking a bit confused by the sensation of motion.
"Radek, find the engineers who were working with the generators and the outpost, and go find a place to set them up so we have power to work with." He heads for the balcony again, leaning against the rail as his bird walks along it, and up his arm to his shoulder. Preening his hair as if to say all is forgiven for taking it through a wormhole.
"Do you need me any more?" John asks. Sumner is casting unpleasant glances in his direction, and the thought of finding a bed, and maybe a shower, is looming large in his mind.
"Not now. Later, yes." Ivan waves Sheppard off, his gaze drawn to Sumner's scowl. He gives the colonel a brief smile, almost predatory. Here, he doesn't have to play quite as nice as he might have to back home. Nice enough to keep everyone alive, and to keep them from doing something unpleasant to him, but he doesn't have to play the same sort of politics as he had to on Earth.
As he sees it, Sheppard will be the better ally to play nice with - Sheppard has the ATA gene, and doesn't have the reputation for being the stickler for rules and regulations that Sumner does. And Sumner's already taken a dislike to Ivan, since he knows what got them the physicist, if not the reasons Ivan was given the choice he was. Those secrets neither he nor the Russian government is particularly interested in sharing.
In the end, though, it still only matters that he's here, and has a chance he shouldn't have gotten. Ivan's smile widens slightly, and he turns away from the railing to get back to work.