January 3-4, 2006

Disclaimer: do not try this at home unless you are a pop star have the ATA gene are fictional. Written for muj. Many thanks to elynross and Mary Crawford. Do not archive this story without permission.

Objects in motion

"That's it, I'm sending him back," McKay said. "We can still get that Argentinian who thinks cold fusion is when the ice cubes in his drink stick together." He stabbed at the transporter controls. "Or a goat. It couldn't possibly do a worse job than Chavez."

Sheppard toggled his radio. "This is Colonel Sheppard. I'm stuck in transporter two with Dr. McKay, and I'd appreciate it if someone could get us out as fast as possible."

McKay stabbed at another control. "I thought I could trust Zelenka to supervise him. It's probably too late to trade Zelenka for a goat."

"And when I say as fast as possible," Sheppard said, "I mean Dr. McKay hasn't had any coffee yet this morning."

"That is terrible," Zelenka said, and it was difficult to tell by his voice whether he'd heard the goat comment or not. "I will send Chasez to get you out." That would be a yes, then.

Sheppard leaned back against the wall. "Was Zelenka this vindictive before he started working with you?"

"How should I know?" McKay slapped the controls with his palm. "Chavez. Great. We're doomed."

* * *

JC borrowed Zelenka's toolbox when Zelenka wasn't looking, and walked off to transporter two, stopping now and then to try to get a better grip on the laptop that kept wanting to slide out from under his arm. He met a few people along the way who gave him commiserating looks, as well as Bass the bass, who reminded him that the next madrigal society meeting had been moved to just after dinner that day. JC hummed to himself as he went on.

When he got to the transporter, he put the toolbox down and the laptop down and dug out a few things from his pockets. JC knocked on the door and got no answer, and bent and picked up the lifesign detector and checked it, and frowned. "Hey," he said, and then remembered to toggle the radio. "Hey, McKay? Where were you trying to go, anyway? I mean, which destination did you put in?"

"All of them, at this point," Sheppard said. "Rodney, you're going to break something if you keep that up."

JC popped loose the cover on the circuit panel by the door and started to hook up his laptop to it. "Cause you're not here any more, and it would be good to know where you went."

McKay said something he must have picked up from Zelenka.

"We were going to the mess hall," Sheppard said. "Maybe we're here and the doors are just stuck. We never tried to force them op—" The radio went dead.

JC finished hooking up the laptop and started to run a diagnostic. Then he tried the radio again. "Colonel Sheppard? Don't do that again, okay?"

"Chavez, when you were working on this transporter, did you just put the components back in at random afterwards?"

"Don't do what again?" Sheppard asked.

"With the doors, cause if you try to force the doors when you're in between destinations it triggers a sort of emergency response thing, and the thing is, Ancient technology is a bit like Microsoft, it always thinks it knows what you want to do better than you do yourself, so it probably took you to a secure location, but it might be a bit messed up about where that should be. Gimme a minute. McKay, did you try your override code?"

"No," McKay said, with enough acid in his voice for a whole dorm full of undergrads to take a bad trip on, "I just stood here and wrung my hands like a damsel in distress."

"It's a good look on him," Sheppard said. There was a thumping sound.

JC tapped away at his keyboard. "Cause I think if you do that and then—"

"Oh, finally," McKay said.

"Wait," JC said, "then you have to—"

"Possibly if I get some coffee this day will finally start to make sens—" The radio went dead again.

JC sighed. He sat down cross-legged and pulled his laptop into his lap and started typing again, reaching up now and then to pet the interior of the control panel on the theory that a bit of hands-on encouragement couldn't hurt. Fortunately, the Ancients had had the same idea at some point, so it didn't take him that long to set off another emergency response. He tried the radio again. "McKay?"

"Chavez. What did you just do?"

"I, um, just disabled the transporter controls a little. Sorry, but I can't find you if you don't stay put. The destination protocol's screwed up somehow. Just stay where you are and I'll get you out, okay? You can, I dunno, play chess or something."

* * *

"We actually pay him for this," McKay said, poking at the controls, which stayed dead. "We pay him to lock us in a transporter while he runs around out there in flip-flops and does whatever he wants." He slumped against the wall. "If he doesn't have us out of here in ten minutes—"

"I'll probably have gone deaf," Sheppard said. "And if we're on the other side of the city, it'll take more than ten minutes just to get here. Give the man half an hour, and then we can try the doors again."

"Coffee," McKay said darkly. He slid down the wall until he was sitting on the floor. "Yes, well, may as well make the best of it, king's pawn to e four, and did I mention that I'm hungry?"

Sheppard shook his head. "I don't play chess," he said.

McKay stared at him. "You don't play chess?"

"No. With or without a board." McKay went on staring at him. "Look, I like things that go faster than 200 miles an hour. Does that sound like chess to you?"

"You know, Colonel," McKay said, "there have been times that I've suspected you of having hidden depths, but this is not one of them. Would you like to play I Spy, or does that sound too advanced for you?"

"Not really," Sheppard said.

* * *

JC got hold of Hartmann in the control room, and through a fairly simple process of elimination, they figured out which two little dots of light were McKay and Sheppard. Unfortunately, JC couldn't get the transporter protocol to believe that there was actually a transporter in that location. He got himself some coffee and though about it for a while. Then he went back to the lab and got hold of Zelenka. "Did you store all the programming for the transporter destination protocols on your computer? Cause I'm not sure I got the whole thing."

"Yes, I have it," Zelenka said. "But if you try to reprogram, that will take days, and I think we have about twelve more minutes before Rodney tries to do something drastic."

"No, no," JC said. "No reprogramming. We'll just wipe the memory circuits and then reboot the whole thing through your laptop."

"Oh," Zelenka said faintly. "And here I was worried that Rodney was going to do something drastic."

JC had to agree that it would be kind of pointless if McKay and Sheppard were just going to end up stuck again if the transporter protocols didn't boot cleanly, so he modified his plan a bit. Hartmann went on general broadcast and told everyone to stay out of the transporters, and once they were clear, except, obviously, for McKay and Sheppard, JC locked the doors to be on the safe side. Then he took a deep breath. "Um. McKay?"

The reply came a bit slower than he'd expected. "Yes, what now?"

"In about five minutes, the control panel in the transporter is going to come back on. And—"

"Finally," McKay said. "What did you do, stop and take a nap?"

"Wait, wait, listen. And when it does, I need you to use your override code and then input the coordinates of the default location manually."

There was a bit of a silence. Then Sheppard said, "And we won't be able to use the map to get to our destination because...?"

"Because the point and click interface is kinda broken," JC said. "We're going back to DOS." He looked at Zelenka. "You ready?"

"Yes," Zelenka said and hit enter on JC's laptop.

Wiping the memory circuits went faster than JC had thought it would. Zelenka hung over the laptop screen and made little worried noises, but there were no glitches. JC took his laptop back and started to persuade Atlantis that yes, he did want the transporter two controls operational again even though there were no destinations programmed.

"Okay," JC said after a while. "McKay? Whenever you're ready."

There was another little pause. "Oh, he's ready," Sheppard said.

Then nothing happened for quite a while, and JC had just started to wonder whether it was, in fact, just remotely possible that his idea hadn't been quite as spiffy as he'd thought, and then the doors rattled faintly, and opened.

Colonel Sheppard came out, carrying his jacket in one hand, and nodded at JC and Zelenka. "Thanks," he said, and then, over his shoulder, "Hurry up, Rodney."

McKay came out of the transporter. He held his jacket in one hand, and his boots and socks in the other hand. He did not look pleased, and when he caught sight of JC and Zelenka, he looked even less pleased.

JC did the only thing he could think of, which was hand over his coffee mug. "Here."

* * *

"He did get us out," Sheppard said.

McKay bit into his toast. "Never again," he said.

"What, you're going to be walking everywhere from now on?" Sheppard raised an eyebrow.

"No, I'm—" McKay took another bite and glared.

"I'm not sure Atlantis needs two barefoot scientists, though," Sheppard said. "He might sue for copyright infringement."

McKay threw a shoe at him.

* * *

Well bedded

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