Disclaimer: Not mine. You know the drill.
Author's Notes: Thank you to sarka. She knows why.
Summary: New Stargate recruits get both the official and unofficial Atlantis tour.
"Thank you," Elizabeth beamed after she'd introduced the mission and senior staff. "And welcome to Atlantis." She stepped away from a podium tastefully decorated with red shirra flowers that resembled poinsettia the size of palm leaves.
The thirteen new science team members clapped in the required appreciation, but were goggle-eyed at the view behind her: glittering alien spires reaching for the sky. The ocean stretching for miles.
An ocean on another world.
Elizabeth understood their wonder. She'd chosen this orientation room specifically to emphasize the magnitude of their opportunity. Goodness knows, they'd need the encouragement. Science was the toughest department in Atlantis, with the highest rate of attrition once a return to Earth had become possible.
She sighed in satisfaction at their dazed expressions as Radek led them out.
"A good crew," she observed.
Next to her, John grinned. "Fresh meat."
"More like meatheads," Rodney groused.
Elizabeth flinched, hoping her new recruits hadn't caught that. Christmas always grated on Rodney. He hated the carols but was not allowed to ban them. With a sigh, she supposed they had to get used to him eventually....
In the hall, Radek turned a grim smile on his new scientists.
Of course they'd heard.
A round-faced Chinese fellow had a carefully blank look that had replaced his previous wonder. He would do well. A curly-haired woman, her mouth now in a hurt moue, glanced about, then locked eyes with a glaring tall woman. Good. Too soft, but with allies. The tall woman had large breasts that would act as an intimidating Amazon defense. Rodney would be incoherent in her presence.
An untidy young fellow, his glasses sliding halfway the bridge of his nose, seemed too startled to be offended. Vulnerable. Used to praise.
Radek skimmed the name on his badge, matched it to his mental list of qualifications, and swore under his breath. Peecha. Naturally, Rodney had already insulted their most brilliant puddlejumper and Goa'uld tech. Radek couldn't afford to lose him.
He gestured to the nearest transporter and tried to seem friendly as he silently imagined dropping Rodney down an elevator shaft. "If you like, I have a small get together for our new staff. It's the, ah, um... our unofficial orientation."
The group quickened their pace, exchanging meaningful glances. Unofficial orientations were legendary at Stargate Command. They had begun with General O'Neill's (then Colonel O'Neill) diatribe on ways people seemed to die but didn't (explaining everything from sarcophagi to Ascension to teleportation methods). Then there was the gateroom tech's unofficial guide to the most notorious stargate team understatements:
"not good" = we could die if you don't act now
"an issue" = we're likely to die soon if you don't act now
"a problem" = we'll all die immediately if you don't act now
"uh-oh" = we're dying at this moment and there's nothing you can do -- close the iris now
The teleporter deposited them in a dank underwater passage. Radek clicked on a flashlight and played the beam about the corridor, then across the faces of his new team. They seemed bewildered at the difference between this and the world above. "This way," he said. They had no choice or else they'd be left in the dark.
He shouldered open the door to the lab, their destination. The power had been out in this section of Atlantis for years, intentionally so. He waited as the thirteen scientists found places to sit about him in a semi-circle, mostly on lab tables or picking up overturned stools.
Radek cleared his throat. "I choose this place because it is the site of our head scientist's second-worst disaster. His worst disaster destroyed a solar system." The group stared, though a few seemed disinterested. Recruits from the SGC probably, steeped in mission reports as they chose Atlantis. "This one killed most of his science team--
--through virulent nanotechnology."
A stool clanged as it fell over. The young scientists had hopped down from the tables.
"The lab's been swept. It happened years ago," he reassured them. "And it almost killed me. Trust that I know it's safe."
None of them sat back on the tables however. He presumed from this that they knew a great deal about nanotechnology.
"You will all complain to me. So, first, let me tell you: Thank you. Thank you for all your hard work, all that you're going to do, and all your brilliant solutions." He looked around at them. "You should write that down. Thank. You." He waved a finger at their notebooks. "It is likely the last time you will hear it. Unless Elizabeth fires you. At that time she will say thank you and goodbye.
"From here on, all your good ideas belong to Atlantis." None of the recruits so much as blinked. Good. They were familiar with the military mind. "All your mistakes and failures will belong to you."
He gave them a moment to take in the implications. "You are the best in your fields. In fact, you were each picked by our Head of Science, Doctor Rodney McKay himself, the smartest man in two galaxies, so he says. No one else had any option in your selection." Radek paused, allowing them to recognize the name from the senior staff introduction, the culprit who'd just insulted them. "It is unlikely that you are meatheads. Or morons. Or monkeys. You did not get your degrees from a Cracker Jack box, or a McDonald's Happy Meal, or the University of Phoenix. You should write that down, too.
"--and also write down your name, so you don't forget it. Then you don't have to complain to me that everyone else does. Or that you, the brightest star from your university, has been called 'geek boy,' 'four eyes,' 'hey, you,' 'girl,' 'lady,' 'yo,' or any number of mispronunciations of the name on your vest. Your head of science knows only a few names." Radek's flashlight played about the room filled with memories, a shiver going through him. "He knows the name of every person who died in this room. He stopped getting my name wrong that day, too, when I was about to die. Suddenly, he knew.
"He knows every name of every science team member who dies, or almost dies. Especially when it's his fault. Or believes it's his fault."
Radek turned the flashlight beam back to them, to see if they understood. But they just blinked like moles. He'd have to wait and see.
"Okay!" he said with sudden determined cheer, leading them out from the lab back into the dank hallway. "Let's go! Back upstairs. There's food, and a party with balloons--and I think Elizabeth even bought Christmas lights." As the teleporter opened onto a bright hall with arching stained glass windows, a thin Christmas carol floated through the air, echoing like at a mall. Zelenka glanced back at them. "There are not many balloons in the Pegasus Galaxy."