Fandom: Stargate Atlantis
Characters: Rodney McKay
Word Count: 1987
Summary: A power drain in the middle of the night leads Rodney to an amazing discovery.
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Rodney woke to the light trill of a priority two notification alarm coming from his tablet. He rolled over to grab the tablet from the bedside table and saw the time. Why the fuck does it always have to happen at 3:13 in the freaking morning? He didn’t even get to sleep until one. Seriously, doesn’t he have a night crew to monitor these things?
He flipped through screens to get to the notification and track it on the schematics. Hmm…what the hell is causing power interference out on that side of the city? Doesn’t matter, need to check it out.
He reached over to get his earpiece and quickly adjusted it to the city services band. “Perkins, where are you now?”
“Dr. McKay? Is that you?” Perkins replied with surprise.
Seriously? “Seriously? Who else would it be?”
“Shouldn’t you be asleep now?” Perkins asked.
“As a matter of fact, I should. But I’m getting power drain readings from the north side of the city, and since no one on duty acknowledged the system report, it escalated to me. So why isn’t anyone checking the system reports? Where are you?” Rodney started pulling on his clothes. If he were going to deal with incompetence, he would at least be dressed when he did it.
“I’m at command. Someone…um, well something was spilled on the console and…”
“What is Chuck doing there at this hour? Never mind, remind him what I said would happen the next time he had an open coffee container at the control console.”
Rodney grinned maliciously when he heard the “Oh, come-on Doc, I said I was sorry,” whined through the communicator.
“OK, you’re on priority 1 repairs, that leaves you off the hook. Who was on duty with you? Mistle…Mastl…the bald guy.”
“Mikelson was called out to Marine crew quarters. Sewage leak into Corporal Dixon’s quarters.” Oh, right, not surprising. Radek will be pleased, after Rodney reams him out for the timing.
“Alright, fine. I’ill take this one.” Rodney put on his shoes and then grabbed his tool pack and essentials while changing channels. “Who’s got the duty tonight?” he asked on the military channel.
“This is Lt Hansen. Is that you, Dr. McKay?” Hansen inquired, and really is his voice so unknown around here that they have to ask every time?
“Yes, This. Is. Dr. McKay.” He sighed. “I need a couple marines for an escort to the Northern zone for an energy reading. They can meet me at my lab while I grab a few things.”
“Yes, sir. I’ll send Lewis and Sams.” Rodney nodded, those two were competent on city exploration and never touched anything without permission.
“Fine.” Rodney headed to his lab and finished the packing just as they arrived. He strapped on his own pack, put his LSD onto his leg strap and grabbed his tablet to pull up the schematics and readings. Pointing at two packs that were ready on the table, he turned to the door and headed out. They were jogging behind him with packs on and weapons ready within thirty seconds. He pointed out their destination on the tablet as they walked to the nearest transporter. Once inside he selected the closest working and tested transporter to the location and activated it. Luckily the stairwells and main corridors in this area had been checked for structural integrity and physical safety already. But the rooms were on an exploration schedule, so none of them have been checked.
Two flights of stairs and about one and a quarter kilometers of corridor later brought them to a stop in front of a door with ancient text. Rodney had often seen this and basically it translated to Restricted Access. He moved up to check the door, and the marines braced their weapons. It was a more intricate locking mechanism than the standard on these types of doors, but he had a lot of practice hacking past locks.
He prepared to remove his pack to access the laptop but touched the lock once to verify the power. At his touch, the lights changed, and the door slid open. “OK, well…keep watch and don’t touch anything.” Locked doors that open easily are something to fear on Atlantis and for good reason.
The marines had a first look at the room from the doorway, and it was clear there was no wraith, humanoid, or visible creature inside. Rodney entered and moved around the control panels, avoiding the central dais. The consoles had the minor glow of Ancient equipment on standby. One console on the far side was blinking in that yellowy-orange color that indicated system warnings. He sat down at the controls and tried to pull up a diagnostic.
Lewis started to enter the room, and a force-field appeared at the doorway that threw the marine back. Rodney ran back to the door and traded a frightened look with Sams who hesitated between the doorway and his colleague.
A groan from the floor sent him into action, checking on Lewis and calling for assistance. Lewis shook him off and sat up. “No, I’m good. Just knocked me out a sec there.”
“Being knocked unconscious is not ‘good’ in general. What is it with the military? Are you all indoctrinated into the Sheppard insanity club?” McKay raised his hands higher while speaking.
“Hey, you ok in there, Doc?” Lewis asked from his sitting position since Sams wasn’t letting him up.
“Yes, fine. If you call stuck in a room fine.” Rodney rocked back and forth in front of the doorway while searching for the internal controls. There weren’t any. He carefully reached out toward the field and pulled back before touching it. Behind him, the console started making that half beeping-half alarm sound that indicates something is about to happen.
Rodney hurried back to the console and did not notice the door of the room close behind him. “What are you up to now?”
The translation came across his screen, and the phrase ‘Initialization Complete, GNI activation in 14’ caught his attention. And, let’s face it, a bit of fear as that 14 was cycling in a countdown. “Nonononono. I didn’t initialize anything. No one initialized anything. And if someone did, I’m going to hunt them down and destroy even a hint of brain activity.”
He quickly tried to hack the system to determine what was happening, but he was completely blocked. The amount of code running in the background was staggering. As the reading clicked down to zero, he paused to just look around. All panels showed active now, but nothing seemed to be happening.
It was a reflection on his laptop that caught his attention first. He spun around to see a woman standing about four feet behind him, watching him intently. “Who are you?”
“I am the Gene Neutral Interface system. Those who once lived in this structure called me Gini. It is good to finally meet you, Doctor McKay.”
“Gene Neutral Interface?” Thoughts were flashing through his mind before the obvious conclusion was reached, “Are you an AI…um..an artificial intelligence? Or are you just an advanced computer interface for those without the ATA gene? Oh, ATA…”
“I am aware of the designation, ATA. The answer to your question is, yes.”
“Yes, to which?”
“Both. I am an interactive interface originally designed to aid those born without the genetic key while they live and work within my structure. I have, however, adapted and grown beyond my original programming to coordinate data and manipulate the environment both physically and via a mental component for those who have the genetic key. In that regard, I believe I fit the definition of A.I. that you may entertain.” Her movements were stiff but natural.
“I knew there had to be something more, but no one listened to me. Why are you just showing yourself now?”
“There is finally enough power for activation now that my repair protocols have completed. This is my first opportunity.”
“And your purpose, Gini?”
“Your wish is my command, Doctor McKay. I exist to protect and serve those who live within my structure. As the, I believe your term would be, Chief Scientist aboard Atlantis you have the final say and override access to my systems. I caution you to use that power with care.”
“Can you harm anyone here?”
“No Doctor, though I am able to restrain them if they are taking action to harm themselves. I have reviewed security recordings of the time I was sleeping. Your people seem unfortunately inclined to such activities. I will require your input into controlling future interactions.” She acknowledged. “Might I suggest restricting such access to the one you designate, Kavanaugh? I feel he needs monitoring.”
Rodney fought a laugh and started to wonder that no one had attempted to contact him during this conversation. “I need to know, Gini, are you capable of killing?”
“I would prefer to never be asked to undertake the ending of a sapient life form. I have in the past been instructed to kill all wraith within my structure, but that instruction was superseded by your predecessor for the purposes of study. If you preferred that instruction be reinstated, it would take the combined agreement of the Commanding Triad to do so. In an emergency at least two of the three would need to be in agreement and be determined fully cognizant of that decision in order for me to terminate life.”
“Ok, checks and balances…good. So, is there anything I need to know now?”
“Yes, Doctor. I show our primary power sources are depleted. The second Potentia you installed has only a twenty-two percent charge. That is insufficient.”
“We know that. We’re working with what we can find here. If you have a better idea, let me know. Trust me, my greatest wish is for more power sources.”
“At your command, Doctor. Please authorize the initialization of the recharging platform, and we can solve our current power issues until such time as you wish to reactivate the Potentia factory.”
“Recharging…Potentia Factory? Gini, you are my new favorite.” She grinned and almost appeared to blush. He reached up to trigger his radio and received static and paused. His eyes squinted, and he stared at her with a flat expression, ““Why are you interfering with the communications?”
“It is through your work that I live once more. I sought only an opportunity to speak with you first. To thank you. And to lobby for your support in not shutting down my program. I have reviewed much data as I awaited repairs to allow communication. Your entertainment media has several examples of artificial intelligence that seeks to harm humans. I was uncertain if this is the general consensus. I have missed the interaction and would not want it to end.”
“I’ll admit we are hesitant because of the complexity of programming you would require and the autonomy that grants you. But if you are willing to allow us to study your programming and provide the proper assurances as to our safety, I’m certain we can accommodate one another. Especially if you can provide ZPMs.”
He looked at her carefully then nodded, “Can you release communications now?”
Suddenly multiple voices were yelling through the communicator, the loudest being John. “Where is that cutting torch?”
“Don’t you dare cut through my doors, Sheppard!”
“Rodney? Are you OK?”
“Yes, yes. Perfectly fine. I need you in here now Sheppard. Chop, chop.”
“Well, that’s kinda the plan, McKay. Got any idea how to open that door?”
Rodney looked at Gini and smiled, “Say the magic words, Sheppard.”
He could practically hear the teeth grind. “Now McKay.” The doors slid open, and the forcefield dropped. Rodney could see John’s worried and surprised face staring at them.
“Sheppard, let me introduce you to Gini. She’s going to make our wishes come true…starting with ZPMs.” John looked at him questioning, and Rodney just smirked.