By Any Other Name (Stargate Atlantis)

Originally Posted: Jun. 19th, 2008
Length/Rating: 621 words, PG, Gen
Pairing/Warnings: none
Summary: Sequel of sorts to Pegasus Logic for Beginners, plus obligatory cameos by Imaginary Gate Team 5. Written for the sga_flashfic Animal, Mineral, Vegetable challenge. (AU: Imaginary Gate Team 5)

“STARGATE ATLANTIS”, “STARGATE SG-1” and other related entities are owned, (TM) and © by MGM TELEVISION and DOUBLE SECRET PRODUCTION in association with GEKKO FILMS and THE SCIFI CHANNEL. All rights reserved. No copyright infringement is intended nor implied.

The incoming marines aren’t newbies by anyone’s definition, Stargate Command knows better than to send anyone less than their best. But it’s still fun to watch their faces those first few seconds out of the gate, when it really hits them. This is Atlantis, with all the weight and majesty her creators had gifted her, and she takes some getting used to.

Ant had never been much of a people person, even back when he’d been on the fast track to doctor-hood, but Pegasus has mellowed him. He scoops up the newcomers with a half-smile and a quiet confidence that reassures them. It might be another galaxy, but there’s still ‘home’ here, nestled in among the alien. Ant’s found it helps if they divert the new arrivals back into accustomed routines. Military life is military life no matter the planet, and they anchor themselves on that familiarity.

Matt watches in companionable silence as the old guard trades one-up stories in order to impress the ‘kids’ with their amazing tales of derring-do. Every so often someone would prod him to ‘tell the one about the sheep’, but he just grins and Ant sighs and proceeds to redirect the conversation.

There are more important duties than ‘greeter’ to be had, but Ant and Matt enjoy the break from long hours off-world. The city beats the country any day, especially when the country keeps trying to kill you.

Plus there’s something comforting in being able to admit that Atlantans’ definition of ‘normal’ is wildly out of whack. So they show the earth-born the barracks and the mess hall; lead them through doors that open automatically to those who carry ATA genes; point out the way the lights brighten in greeting when certain people walk into a room.

They show them all the ways that Atlantis isn’t a city –isn’t just another set of corridors and gunmetal walls– and at the end of the tour, they show the new arrivals Atlantis proper.

It’s no secret what Atlantis is, not anymore, but there’s a vast difference between knowing the city is alive and seeing her Guardians melded into the cybernetic core.

John knows they’re coming, it’s hard for any of the six to miss what goes on inside their walls, but he loves to make a show of it. He normally gives the tour a few heartbeats to take in the view, then ‘wakes up’ to continue their orientation.

This time his grand reveal is ruined by Chuck’s abrupt entrance. The technician brushes past the group, steps up onto his pedestal, and leans back into the wall. There’s a muffled yelp from one of the marines as the city liquefies, enveloping Chuck and lifting him until he hangs beside the others, perched like living gargoyles eight feet off the ground.

John’s already sinking down onto his ledge as Chuck relaxes into the city’s hold. Although his exit isn’t nearly as impressive as it would have been without the interruption, it’s still enough to capture the group’s attention. He deftly redirects them back into the corridors, makes jokes, tells really bad puns, and cheerfully badgers them into forgetting that he’s not quite human anymore.

They only lose two –sent back to Earth for ‘failure to adapt’– which is impressive given Chuck’s shudder-inducing introduction to what the expedition has become. They have the luxury of choice now, to take that long step back home, or to take that next step forward.

But even those who go home again have changed. There’s something to be said for being forced to redefine your concept of what counts as life. To move into a world where ‘animal, mineral, vegetable’ is nothing more than the start of a longer definition.

Martha Bechtel

My name is Martha Bechtel and I write fantasy and science fiction stories, paint small model horses silly colors, cast resin and plaster magnets, code random code (and Wordpress plugins)... Come on in and join in the fun!