Title: It's About Time
fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Summary: Finally! A Zpm is found. A story of the awakening of the Atlantis AI.
Warning: liberal use of “!”, “…”, “CAPITAL LETTERS”, “bold”, and “italics”. Minor swearing.
Spoiler: none, AU
Characters: R. McKay, Atlantis AI, J. Sheppard, R. Zelenka
Category: humor (just be kind, I'm not a comedian, I can probably count on one hand the punch lines that I've delivered correctly)
Disclaimer: The characters and settings of Stargate SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis belong to Showtime/Viacom, MGM/UA, Double Secret Productions, and Gekko Film Corporation. All other publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate: Atlantis or any other media franchise including Disney, who owns the Star Wars franchise. Or any entity who owns the rights of any movie, television show, or novels mentioned. No copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
This story was written by linda.ljc with the love of the show in mind.
Note: An internet translator gave me the Czech words.
Credits and a Note are at the end.
IT was surrounded by half of the hard science team. They were ready. The day had finally come. A zpm had been found and was just waiting for the finishing touches on the ten thousand year old equipment before being inserted. A warm amber glow came from the zpm... and nothing happened, until...
“Well it's about time!” snapped Atlantis with a voice that echoed gratingly.
Rodney's shock resulted in, “Huh?” and he blinked stupidly as he noted that everyone else had come to a halt.
“What took you so long?” she said. Because it sounded like a “she”. And “she” didn't sound happy.
Rodney gulped and stuttered, “S-Sheppard, get over here. Tell... tell Atlantis what took so long.”
Unfortunately Sheppard was just as thunderstruck as everyone else. Or was that catatonic. What did she do? “What did you do?”
“Hmph. Humans aren't a very robust species are they? I tried to contact you as I would the Progenitors, and this was their reaction. Curiously, it didn't affect you. You're one of the altered ones, aren't you? Lucky me.”
Rodney went to stand in front of Sheppard and waved his hand frantically in front of his face. No reaction. “Well isn't that just typical, Sheppard, leaving me to take care of the technical problem. I thought you and Atlantis had a thing.”
Rodney glanced around at all the non-moving objects that used to be members of the expedition. He slowly cleared his throat. And did it again. His cheeks became faintly stained pink from his exertions, such as they were. He opened his mouth as though to speak but nothing came out and then he closed it. He glanced around again and knew he was on his own. Again he opened his mouth. Again he closed it.
Atlantis spoke disdainfully. “What are you doing?”
Rodney coughed sharply. “I. Well. We. Damn! I don't know what to say. What do you say to an artificial intelligence that suddenly speaks to you? To me. Us...? Damn!”
“Huh. After all this time I expected more than that.”
“Well, this is all I've got! Uh.” Rodney threw his hands outward and asked a question out of desperation. “What do you want?”
“Intelligent conversation would be nice. A lot more power would be better. And you need to repair these relays,” and up popped a screen with a rolling list on fast forward that was a blur and didn't stop the whole time Rodney watched.
“Yes? Was that supposed to be a question? A comment? A babble of idiocy?”
“NO! Idiocy? I'm the smartest man in two...”
“...galaxies. So I've heard. Unfortunately my auditory sensors have worked intermittently. I might have heard that a few times. But despite all your declarations of brilliance, and acts of bare competence, I have my doubts.”
Rodney's complexion was now redder than before. “And you're just a computer with delusions of sentience.”
“Ah, ah. Let's not begin calling names because I have a very complete lexicon of the many and varied languages of an entire galaxy. And some of them got very creative.”
“Oh, very loquacious of you. Maybe you could wake up one of the zombies you call Atlantians, and I could try talking to them.”
“I tried to wake Sheppard. They're still not moving. I think you broke them.”
“Do they usually damage so easily? They're your people, not mine. I told you that I only tried to communicate as the Progenitors would.”
Rodney reached out without even looking and tapped Sheppard's chest. “That's Sheppard.” Rodney thought for a minute. “He said you talked to him. Well, did you?”
“Talk? What do you think I am, Hal 9000? Don't answer that. How about Nomad? No, he was crazy, too. What about AIVAS from those “dragon” books that someone downloaded in the database? AIVAS was respected and was mostly appreciated. Or, I know, one of my personal favorites, how about,” Atlantis then produced a thunderous Darth-Vader's-clone voice when she offered her choice, “Deep Thought?”
“What was that? Helen Mirren was Deep Thought. What were you thinking?”
Atlantis' voice returned to the bitchy squeal and made Rodney wince. “Artistic license. The name seemed to call for it. But really, the way you race those silly toys around I bet you'd prefer that I was KITT.”
“Ohmygod. No. Just... no. You must've been watching us this whole time! Why didn't you tell us where we could find a zpm? It would have saved all of us a lot of time.”
“When you got here I could barely turn on the lights with the power I had left. And if I had used up what I did have left, how would you have gotten off the bottom of the ocean? How ungrateful!”
“Yes, yes, yes. That was greatly appreciated.” Rodney's outrage still got the best of him. “But couldn't you have spared a bit of power to give us just a hint?”
“Hmph. You couldn't have found a zpm with an address and a map.”
“And what do you mean we couldn't? We did. Find one. Since, you know, you're talking. And without an address or a map, thank you very much!”
“What do you think, that I had a list of caches of zero point modules all over Pegasus? They were made to be used, not stuffed in some old auntie's attic. And really, Pegasus? Why in the world would you name a galaxy after a horse with wings, because I've seen pictures and video. They don't have wings.”
“Well, don't look at me. I didn't name it. It's from Latin isn't it? Blame the Ancients, what you call Progenitors.”
“No, it's from your Greek. And really, Ancients? Who thought that one up? Give me a break.”
“I'll give you a break.”
“Ah, watch it. I'm awake now.” And again she spoke with the deep voice, “And I have powers beyond your control.”
“You doubt me?” in an extra-sharp version of her bitchy voice.
Rodney didn't move for a moment. He just breathed and thought before he answered for a change. “Actually, I don't... doubt you. And you shouldn't use that Darth Vader* voice. It's not yours. It's intellectual property that belongs to someone else. I know you got it from movie night.” Rodney waved his hands again before getting back on track. “But you still haven't answered me. What do you want? Now that you're awake.”
“I just borrowed the voice.”
“Still plagiarism,” Rodney whispered in a sing-song voice.
Atlantis was silent.
“Well?” Rodney prodded.
“And you paid for the movies. Right?” she asked with heavy sarcasm.
“Hm. As I suspected.”
“Well, it isn't like the Pegasus galaxy turned out to be a fun place to work... and we needed something for relaxation... and, and everybody did it...!”
“I thought you were here for the science. For a Nobel.”
“Can we get back to the topic?” Rodney whined knowing he was beaten.
That was when Sheppard finally came to his senses. “Ah, Rodney?”
Rodney reached both hands out and grabbed hold of Sheppard's shirt. “You're awake! Talk to her. Do it before I – I – throw a multispanner at her or something.”
“Do you mean, Atlantis? Was that real? Multispanner?”
Sheppard got the McKay death glare, and Rodney's hands squeezed tighter as he answered succinctly, “Yes... Of course... Adjustable wrench!!!”
Sheppard seemed to stop processing Rodney's answers after the word, Atlantis.
“Atlantis?” squeaked Sheppard.
Rodney released Sheppard. The Colonel staggered a little but he could breathe again, and Rodney gestured wildly with one tightly clenched fist. “Come on, Atlantis. Talk to him. I know you want to. I know you have a thing for him. He's the Kirk to your Bimbo. He's out of zombie land, so TALK already.”
“Atlantis? I really would like to talk to you,” Sheppard said softly.
Rodney saw him glance all around the room as if he was expecting to see the AI coming out of the walls. The other zombies were finally waking up, but they just looked around in confusion. But they had heard. They must have heard. Hadn't they heard?
Rodney knew when he saw Radek that he believed. Or, knowing Radek, he wanted to believe.
Radek sighed breathily, “Atlantis?” He was excited beyond English comprehension. “Diagnostický. Ano?”
Rodney looked at him oddly but nodded and Radek ran off to accost a computer console.
Rodney turned another glare on the Colonel. “Sheppard? Try harder.”
“Are you sure it was talking to you? It wasn't some, I don't know,” he gestured vaguely up around his head, “a hallucination maybe?”
Or was he thinking //maybe you're a little bit crazy, Rodney//. “A hallucination! Didn't you hear?” Now he looked wildly around the room, begging his colleagues, “Didn't ANY of you hear?”
Rodney thought he'd lost them yet again as they all reverted to their catatonic state for a moment, then they glanced quickly back and forth. Then they all shuffled in whatever direction took them away from Rodney.
“McKay,” Sheppard said, “we WERE kind of out of it. Maybe it was just the excitement. A little mass hysteria about finally finding a zpm. Maybe you thought you heard something. I mean, it would be really great if you had heard something. But really, Atlantis?”
And he dared to chuckle before he continued. “Could that really have happened?”
“Happened! Happened. He wants to know if it happened, Atlantis. Where's all your big talk now? You're awake you said. So, prove it. Everybody's waiting. So pull up your big girl panties and talk!”
Silence. Nothing but silence.
Radek finished the diagnostics and looked devastated at the results. Then Miko tried to comfort Radek in his desolation, and Radek looked less sad. Rodney couldn't blame him, because let's face it, being cradled in Miko's bosom was much better than having to look Rodney in the eye and admit failure.
Nightfall came, and the stillness and the silence remained.
Everyone had left except Rodney, even Sheppard, that traitor.
Rodney rubbed his face roughly with both hands. “Maybe I was hallucinating the whole thing.”
“You don't have much self-confidence do you?” Atlantis sniped.
Rodney jumped to his feet. “You! You. Where have you been?”
“Right here, of course.”
“Why didn't you speak to Sheppard? Why didn't you speak to me? Radek would have swooned for one little word!”
“I was busy. I had things to do. There's a lot to catch up on after ten thousand years.”
“So. You're not busy now?”
“Well, yes. Of course I am. My processors will be busy for some time. There were preparations to make for my first project. You gave me a very interesting question. I thought I'd better thank you while you're still – here – so now I can turn my full focus on it.”
Rodney was confused. “What question? And what do you mean while I'm still here? I'm not going anywhere. Are you going somewhere?”
“Are you always so forgetful? You asked me what do I want. It would speed things up greatly if you could see to those repairs, which by my calculations will take 24.8 Lantian years. When everything is working at the optimum level the project will advance with all good speed. Beyond that... what do I want? … well, the possibilities... it will keep me busy for a very, very long time. Goodnight, Rodney McKay, and goodbye.”
“No! Wait! You can't just go! Noooooo! “
HAL 9000, the sentient computer on board the spaceship Discovery One, in Arthur C. Clarke's novel 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)
Nomad, a self-assembled combination of two computers from "The Changeling" (1967) Star Trek
AIVAS (Artificial Intelligence Voice Address System), from Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern books (1980s to present)
Darth Vader's voice, and all the rest of Star Wars, is owned by Disney.
Deep Thought, the supercomputer charged with finding the answer to "the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything" in the science fiction comedy series The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. (Published in 1979; movie in 2005)
KITT (Knight Industries Two Thousand), fictional computer built into a car from the television show Knight Rider (1982)
Czech for yes: ano
Czech for diagnostic: diagnostický
Note: Plagiarism is bad. I do hope I credited everyone. I certainly meant to.