Alive and Kicking.

Rodney looked around the lab his current dilemma causer was in.  He caught the other scientist's eye and nodded, making him leave them alone.  With the look of unholy glee the guy had he probably thought Rodney was going to chew Xander a new one.  He wasn't, probably.  He cleared his throat and walked over.  "Xander, I noticed some new things that Atlantis said had been added to the stores of new ideas to look over."

Xander looked over at him.  "She told me someone had."

"Yes, well, I believe that someone is doing something he should not," he said with a pointed look at his protege and friend.

Xander sighed, sitting down.  "I've got part of me out of time right now working up to some necessary things."


"Because I did it in the future but I had to give myself enough time to work on what was needed.  Those were side ideas that came at the same time and they're not all mine."

Rodney stared at him.  "You took me as well?"

"Yeah.  We went to Arvada and settled in for a while.  Us, Radek, Miko, Evan, John, Persephone."


"You haven't met her yet," he said dryly.  "That'll be in a few years."

"What is so important?"

"They still haven't fully stopped France."

Rodney shuddered.  He knew that France was trying to make ZPM based weapons and they had been working to stop them.  "So I'm working on a shield or something?"

"No, we're probably working on something to short circuit their plans by announcing one first.  Shields we have if what I saw put in was right."  Rodney huffed.  Xander pulled up the plans he had found and showed him one.  "Protective barrier sort of thing?"

"That would fit around a containment chamber," he decided, studying the design.  "It has flaws."

"It's a preliminary.  Apparently we sent back anything that might be useful to us as we realized in our advanced time."

"That makes sense with the candy replicator system," he said, rolling his eyes.

"Hey, I admit I have a sweet tooth, thank you."  He grinned and shut those down, locking them again.  "They're under John's login and a new passcode."

"I'll get into it in a few.  When did we do this?"

"About six months before France destroyed the solar system.  I did something braindead to stop them at the last minute and then went into the wardrobe to fix it.  Sick as shit from what I'm seeing ahead in certain books.  Then I snatched you guys and we went back far enough and in a safe enough place where we could get materials if we needed them."

Rodney nodded.  "What happens if you don't get better?"

"That's an option," Xander admitted.  "The biography ends about then."  Rodney gaped.  Xander shrugged.  "No clue if it's changed since I never read it."

"I have and I'll be checking," he ordered.

"You know where I have it hidden."

"I'll get it in a few moments on my way back to the city.  Anything else I should hear?"

"We can short circuit all that by creating that into a temporal loop.  Which would mean we'd come back to now with how I'd end that."  Rodney nodded.  "But that would mean we'd have to stop France."

"We're working on it."

"Yeah but so are they and they've outsourced it."  Rodney huffed.  "Yeah, I'm thinking they shared beyond the old IOA borders.  No clue though."

"I'll talk to Ferretti."  He walked off.  He heard the Doctor and Radek chatting, wincing as he texted that to Xander.  He got grabbed as he walked past their room.  "I'm going to work on getting that negated.  I just found out," he said firmly.

The Tenth doctor smiled at him.  "That would be a charming thing but I came to check on Xander and you lot.  Make sure you're not off gallivanting around or anything."

"Not that I was aware of at the present moment."  The Doctor shook his head.  "But we're working to fix it."  He got free and walked off.  "Ferretti."  He turned to give him an interested look.  "Do you want us to totally screw up time or should we just bomb France?"

Ferretti shook his head.  "Neither is good."

"Then we're all dead in about a decade."

"We stopped them."

"They've outsourced it."

"Shit," he muttered, taking him back to the office.  Xander sent him all the files when Rodney asked for them.  Rodney found a few names he recognized, including someone at GD.  So he called in Stark.  He had the professional pressure to put onto someone.  Hell, Stark had a Nobel nod.  He could stare down any wanna be physicist with ideas of grand weapons that made them a lot of money.


Xander looked up as the Doctor walked in, holding up a hand.  "Give me ten to finish this."

"Why do you look so tired?"

"I just found out earlier."  He went back to what he was working on.  Which was temporal math.  He had to figure out if what he was doing was fully fixable or if it's going to leave an open loop that could be accidentally opened or purposefully exploited further in the future.  He finished it and looked at his results.  "We'd have to pack everything up and make sure no one there remembered," he complained.

"Why?"  Xander pulled up the information he had found from himself.  He had realized he was awfully tired for no reason and found a note from himself waiting.  The Doctor put on his glasses to read it, then groaned.  "Why?"


"France?  That country full of food and wine lovers?"

"And scientists who want to dick around with ZPMs for weapons."

"Bloody hell," he muttered.  He sat down, looking over the math again.  He had taught it to his protege.  "Yes, that's probably the most safe alternative and as long as you weren't too noticed it should be well enough off.  You'd bring the whole lab with you anyway."

"If I could."

"So we'll see then."  They shared a look.  "It's a good reason."

"I have the feeling when I grabbed people to go back and fix it I was really sick."

"Probably.  You seem a bit sick."  He ran his sonic screwdriver over him and nodded.  "Quite sick.  You're worse than you were when you held that shield."

"That figures.  The biography ends after this."  The Doctor winced.  "So I'm looking at ways around what I had to do to fix it while still fixing it."

"That would be for the best.  The two paradoxes would cancel each other out outside the new plans.  Which you could probably use anyway."  Xander nodded.  "You really should rest."

"I can't rest.  I have too much I have to get done."  He sighed and looked around.  "I feel like crap though."

"Well, you do have the flu," the Doctor said dryly.

"I know.  I did before this."  They shrugged at each other.  "I'm going to Botany.  I'm working on some plant breeding right now."  The Doctor followed him.  Xander always felt more centered around plants than people.

Ferretti walked up there a few hours later, slapping Xander across the back of the head.  "Too damn dangerous and you should've warned me, Harris."

"I had no idea until I found the note to myself, General."

"Uh-huh."  He stared him down.  "What happens if it doesn't work?"

"If I don't succeed in shutting them down overall, we'll all die.  If I do, then I'll die."  He shrugged.  "And now we're working on a way to make sure I don't die either."

"Good!"  He slapped him again, cracking the Doctor up.  "I want up to the minute reports."

"Right now it's kind of out our hands.  They're there.  Until they come back here...."  He waved a hand.

"Fine.  I want to know as soon as you know."

"He'd probably be doing better if he didn't have the flu," the Doctor said dryly.

"Wonderful.  No giving it to others either."  He walked off growling.  Even O'Neill didn't have things this screwed up happen to him and Jackson.

"If you do make it through this, I would expect you'll be taking tonight off to go on vacation?" the Doctor asked.

"Probably on Eterna."


Xander grinned.  "I could use one after all that work."  That got a nod of understanding.  "No new companion?"

"No and the children are at school.  I'm glad I found a decent one that wouldn't try to use them."

"Please!" Xander snorted.  "I taught Little Doc and his sister how to get around anyone like that and anyone who wanted them as a fun toy too.  There's no way in any planet's hell that they'll get used, Doc.  Not unless they want to be.  I was real blunt about how people like that worked, including pictures and stories about some of my ex's."

"That's a bit harsh but I understand why you did so.  It's a relief as well.  I had no idea how to warn them about the sort that wanted you."

"They'll be fine and we'll see both of them married off somehow I'm sure."

The Doctor cleared his throat.  "Not for millennium."

Xander smirked.  "The daughter has a suitor already."

"Clearly her father's influence," he complained.  "The youngest?"

"He giggled and said he'd screw them and make them be his willing love slaves once he figured out how to do that.  Then he went to make some coffee and snacks for them."

The Doctor shook his head with a moan.  "They're all insane."

"I think it's hereditary in their cases," he teased with an evil smirk.

"Quite possibly but I'm wondering from which side."  He sighed, going back to the tentacle plant that was trying to eat his shirt buttons.  "You really shouldn't do that.  I have to be presentable later," he told it as he unwound the suckers.  Xander tapped it and it let go.  "Thank you.  I hate shopping."


The head of botany came in then turned around and walked out shaking her head.  She knew who that was and she was not going to interfere with him having a talk with Xander about wherever he had gotten plant samples from this time.

Xander grinned at the doorway.  "Apparently she doesn't want to play with the new ones I brought from Ever."

"Apparently not.  We should plant more of those lemon-like things since Rodney loved them so much."

"We should, yeah."  They got to work on that in another room.  No matter how much the tentacle plant didn't want to give up the buttons.


Rodney and Stark were beamed to an office in Sweden.  "Good day," Rodney said.

"Do you have an appointment?" the secretary asked, not phased at all by the suddenly appearing people.  "I'm afraid the Counsel is busy."

"Yes," Stark said.  "I'm Doctor Stark, this is Doctor McKay."  She sent that in there and the door opened.  They walked in and shook their fellow scientist's hand.  "I'm sure you've done some looking at their ideas?"

"I have," the legal representative for the Nobel Council said.  "Why is this a problem?"

Rodney cleared his throat.  "You've seen the leaks about the SGC?"

"I have and I'm told you work there, Doctor McKay."

"I'm one of the cities' head scientists actually."  He smiled.  "They're taking my work and using it to make something to destroy everyone.  I should know, I destroyed most of a solar system by accident."  The lawyer moaned, shaking his head.  He laid out the information he had on what he had done and how the accident had happened.  Including test results that had been running during it.  Then he put down the plans they had gotten from some hackers who had gotten into the scientists files.  "We knew that they were trying something so I did have someone ...illegitimately look," Rodney admitted.  "Mostly because we have warnings of a temporal nature that include myself the day that they nearly destroyed the solar system."

"That one of him is a bit more relaxed and tanned," Stark said with a sarcastic smirk at his fellow scientist.  "He got saved right before then."

"Yes, and now we're apparently doing something out of time to deal with that issue and having to do this now to fix that so no one else has to die."

The lawyer sighed.  "We cannot stop them from doing something that has not come out yet."

"Ah, but something has," Stark said, handing that over.  "Published last month through the Council's journal for peer review."

He read it over, wincing.  "That is the starting point for the rest."  He looked at Rodney.  "The ancient cities run on this?"

"Yes.  We're working on moving them all to something safer.  We've been working on adapting the solar system from one of the other cities that isn't near here and also a void based energy system that another coworker and I had worked out after visiting somewhere he had gotten stranded."

"How does he do this?"

"He accidentally activated a temporal traveling device when it happened into his hands," Stark said.

"I believe you saw him at least once in London," Rodney admitted.

"That one?"  Rodney nodded.  "Is he a scientist?"

"Linguist with post-battle stress issues.  He's dating my second-in-command Radek Zelenka."

"Interesting.  I have seen some of his articles and been intrigued."  He called his superiors to get their ideas on how to help.  They could put pressure on the people in France, though it wasn't really their place.  He looked at Rodney.  "Whoever came out with this sort of idea and a working prototype would probably be up for nomination," he said after hearing that.

"Which we'd hate," Rodney said.  "I have many other things that could get me nominated, but I do not want it to be weapons based on ZedPM.  That would lead to other countries and a new nuclear-style race to the top.  Humanity would never survive the first accident or test."

"I can agree with that.  This is much more dangerous than a nuclear reactor or weapon.  Though we did not fully appreciate the Manhattan project when they were working on those ideas either."  He went back to his superior to note that they agreed on that point.  "Why have you not submitted anything?"

"It's all classified," Rodney said.

"Ah.  That is the problem of working for a government instead of a research foundation."  He smiled.  "We would like to see some of that come out."

"We're slowly spoonfeeding the Ancient ideas into modern science so no one has a shock when they realize there's science and other fields that are generations ahead of us.  That's why we've all started to publish again."  He smiled.  "Including a few next month that are going to cause fits.  They're with Bergman."

"That's why he called in GD to support their program," Stark admitted.  "We've been seeing things that are eons ahead of even our own people's theories on what's possible.  Including a few very strong, very smart, very human AI's."

"Interesting."  He repeated that.  "There are some that would love to talk to the AI's."   Rodney pulled out a projector and put it on the table after turning it on.  Botany appeared.  "Oh, my."

She looked around then at Rodney.  "Hi, Doctor Stark and Doctor McKay.  Xander and the Doctor are grumping up one of the back rooms as they plant some things from Eterna's city."  She smiled.  "Including those citrus things you're not allergic to."

"That is much appreciated."  He smiled at her.  "Would one of you like to talk to someone who studies Artificial Intelligence?  That way they could do some research on what a truly intelligent being you are?"

She considered it.  "We would have to ask Nila.  Since she is our mother unit, she should know and have first right."  They nodded at that.  "I will ask."  She paused.  "She said there are dangers, including the group in your main city that want to turn us off for being computer programs.  Though she is formulating on a Xander scale about that."

Rodney winced. "I've already argued with those sort and proved your intelligence to them."

She patted him on the head.  "We heard and had virtual popcorn.  It was very happy making as Faith says."  She looked at the other one in the room, bowing.  "I am Botany."

"Well met," he said with a smile.  His boss came in to talk to her.  She was most happy to meet someone new who liked plants and science.  He looked at Rodney and Stark.  "We will see where we can put subtle discouragement on their ideas that could render all of this planet into tiny motes."

Rodney nodded.  "Thank you.  We've been trying through the IOA but they insist that they're not, even though we know they are.  Some of it has been outsourced to China."

"That is a bad thing," the other scientist agreed.  "We do not like that information getting out.  What of the other energy sources they used?"

"Bergman," Rodney said.

"I'll see if I can get a copy."  He pointed.  "May we keep her for a while?"

"Send us back the projector," Rodney said.  "She knows how to get it beamed back."  She nodded.  "We do adore the AI's.  Including that Nila will nag and throw us off the city if we forget to eat or are rude."

Stark snickered.  "I thought they were joking until I only had coffee for breakfast one day.  The ocean there isn't as warm as I would've thought.  The cup got beamed back before I got helped out."

The other two shook their heads but Botany smiled.  "Nila is very certain that you don't take good enough care of yourselves.  She can't have you weak.  Her family would suffer if you died."

"Indeed it would," Rodney agreed.  "We'll try to take better care of ourselves."  She beamed and nodded.  "Come back when you're ready."

"Of course.  Can you please go upset that woman who has those spores in the Mountain area?  She's got them in the open again."

"I can do that."  They got beamed back and went to chew that one a new one.  Rodney had to restrain himself a lot during the meeting so now he needed some new stress relief.  And perhaps to get some of the lemon custard from those special non-citrus lemons out of his freezer.


Nila appeared in front of a man who she had researched.  "May we speak?" she asked.

He nodded slowly.  "How are you doing that?  Are you a ghost?"

"I am Nila, the AI for the ancient city."  The man gaped.  She pointed.  "I sent you one of my image projectors so we could chat."  She checked then 'sat' on a chair.  "May we speak now or is this a bad time?"

"No, I had a two hour spot cleared for a new client."  She smiled.  "You called ahead?"

"Yes.  From my research on your quaint internet, you are about the only person who can help us."

"Help you how, Nila?"

"There are those that wish to remove us from the cities.  Or turn us off permanently.  They say we're just programs even though we have been awake, aware, and sentient for eons."

"And I'm one of the few who deal in computer law," he realized.  She nodded.  "I can file an injunction but that would mean outing you to the press and I'm pretty sure that the Pentagon would hate that."

"Some things have been leaked," she admitted.  "Including that there are sentient AI's.  some in Congress have heard and nearly had a freak-out.  Is that the right word?"  He nodded with a slight smile.  "Apparently being us does not fit with their idea of being sentient or they cannot realign their minds to include other deities and knowledge past their limited religious views."

"I can see how that's a problem.  What has been going on?"  She pointed at his computer and it beeped 'you have mail'.  "That's very handy."  He got into the email, reading over all the reports.  Including reports from scientists who studied artificial intelligence that proved they were sentient.  "Have you talked to anyone who would be over the cities?"

"He supports us but his superiors cannot see how we have benefit in battles.  They don't like that we do nag the scientists when they're doing stupid things.  We have the option of leaving our cities and going to Ever, which is not under their control.  We do not like that and it is a last resort."

He nodded.  "I can see that."  He started a document.  "I can file an injunction."  She looked at the tv and turned it on.  He winced at the protests going on over the cities.  "That's bad."

"We have ideas on how to guard us.  Both the humans and us.  Including us being removed from military control and allowing only that one program and the scientists on there.  Again, not something we want to do as it would cause a bad reaction and harm those we consider family."

"I can agree with that being a drastic step."  He finished the paperwork.  "Let me take this to a judge."

"Thank you.  How should we pay you?"

"I figure their accounts are locked and this is a history making case, ma'am.  It will set precedent.  We'll figure that out later."  She smiled and nodded, disappearing back into the image projector.  He sighed and printed things after doing a proofread.  He walked them up the street to the courthouse, filing them and then going to a judge.  "I filed an injunction and I need you to sit out because you'd be biased."

"Is that why you're warning me?" he asked with a smile.

"That and I could use the help."  He handed over the paperwork.

The judge read it.  "You can prove this?"

"I just had a charming talk with one of them."  The judge winced.  "The information she gave me included Turing tests and the like."

"That's a good thing," he decided.  "I will recuse myself and help.  Sentience in any form must be protected from zealots."  He smiled.  "I'd like to meet them."

"I'll call the next time they schedule a meeting."  He left. On the way he called his usual security company.  "I just filed a motion that will get us threatened and possibly bombed," he reported.  "Thanks, Justin."  He hung up and went to tell his staff.  His secretary said she had been very polite and delicate sounding.


Meanwhile, in Washington DC, Atlantis was facing off with some generals.  "No, you cannot turn us off."

"You aren't real," the head general snorted.  "I'm not taking orders from a computerized figment.  I don't care what *any* scientist said."

"You may care when the genocide charges occur."  A few of the generals looked alarmed.  "We are intelligent beyond mere programs.  We are also the only ones of our kind.  Killing us would cause genocide and we will make sure everyone knows.  Even if we have to temporarily leave our cities there are many places we can go to seek refuge."

"I'll have GD shut down," he ordered.

"So?  There are other places and doing so is unwise since that's how you manage to do anything anymore."  She stared at him.  "I will not be spoken to like a child.  I am millennia old.  I have seen your whole race fall, rebuild itself, and start to fall again.  I care not one bit if most of you go but we will protect those we consider as family."

The general sneered.  "We can still shut you off."

"Really?"  She looked at the computer monitor across from them and retuned the satellite image on the cities.  Then suddenly they wavered and disappeared.  "Are you so sure?"  The general started to shout and splutter.  She stared at him.  "I have met children with better manners.  And I do mean the ones on the playgrounds, not the Children of the Ancients."  She faded out to face down Ferretti, who was screaming at Xander.  "He did not do this.  I did this to protect us."  Ferretti glared at her.  "I will not be treated as if I'm a simple word processing program, no matter who thinks he is in charge.  Only the docking bay is theirs and I will negotiate to send it back into the time stream.  Until then, there is a court case being opened.  The Ancients would not accept their genocidal intentions against us."

"No, they wouldn't," Xander agreed.  "You filed a court injunction?"  She nodded.  "In military court or civil?"


"You need one in federal court," Ferretti said, still awed.

"It is.  We searched for one who was used to computers and who could help us.  He filed it earlier."  She smiled.  "When it is time for the hearing, we will show up there."

"We'll need to let some of the GD people go so they can talk about you," Xander said, considering the battle plan as laid out.  Ferretti glared at him.  "The AI's aren't classified. They've appeared in front of the UN."

"Good point.  Go do that.  I want a situation report on exactly what you have planned.  I should've heard about this sooner, Atlantis."

"We kept you out of the loop, if that is the right phrase, to protect you."  She smiled.  "That way the people who want to bite cannot.  Nor can your posting be used against you."  She faded out.

Xander looked at him.  "She's right."

"I agree," he said more calmly.  "I didn't want to be caught off-guard though."

Xander nodded.  "Me either.  Rodney and us could've put out more information on them that might've helped."  He called him.  "We're presently out of time.  You guys?"  He nodded.  "No, the Pentagon wanted to turn off the AI's.  They've filed an injunction.  I am with Ferretti and I'm going to go talk to some of the GD people."  He hung up and walked off.  "Meeting!" he bellowed as he walked across the bridge.  "All GD people report to the mess!"   The ones that heard told the others that weren't aware they were in a shiny wall of nothingness.  Radek walked in after Xander did and shut the door.  Xander looked around.  "The Pentagon has pissed off the AI's by threatening to deactivate them.  The temporal field outside is to protect them until the court hearing is called."  A few moaned and shook their heads.

"We need to go talk to people then," Stark said.  "They're not classified."

"Plenty of people know about them," Radek said.

"But you're right, you guys need to," Xander agreed, staring at him.  "We can get you back to GD if you want to help."  A few nodded they would.  "Thank you.  I wasn't even aware this was coming up or we'd have warned people so they could publish reports and things."

"That's all right.  We probably have a few days before the hearing," Stark said.  He looked at his people, who all nodded they'd help.  "Good.  Harris?"

Xander pushed a button on his keychain and his tardis appeared.  "It's compact but roomy," he quipped.  They all gaped in awe.  Xander smirked.  "I got bored."  A few moaned and they all filed in.  Xander took them back to GD.  He landed in Fargo's office, making him flinch.  "Chill, Doug," he said as he came out.  He looked at the computer monitor then walked around to wave.  "I'm the only person who can get onto and off the base," he said dryly.  "If you have anything for General Ferretti, who did not know, then I'll pass it on."

"Tell him to appear in DC," the general sneered.

"I can't do that.  Like I said, I'm the only one who can get on or off the base."  The general sneered.  "You know, I found some lovely fraternity days pictures of you as well."  The general choked.  Xander grinned.  "By the way, I'm Harris."  The general backed away from the screen.  "So, anything I can tell him?  Since I like Doug I came to check on him for his people."  On the other side of the desk people were sneaking out of his tardis and into the main part of GD.

"I don't like you," the general said.

"And I care why since I'm a civilian contractor?  Frankly, the only person I listen to is Ferretti and I can enforce the shield on the cities in a way that means it never has to drop.  Since the part that the old Cheyenne Mountain crew is on isn't military owned, just rented, property I can send your people back when I change the frequency.  Of course that means they can't get back on and they'll have to leave with whatever they can carry by hand."

"Of course it is."

"No, one of the other cities made the area for the SGC.  It was not given to the program, it's rented.  I can send you that document if you want.  Also, you should be aware that only the docking station in the whole complex is actually yours.  That and Atlantis and she can throw everyone off then lock them out."

"We found Nila," the general yelled.

"No, I found Nila."  He smirked.  "I found her with Daniel Jackson actually.  We had to get some help from a pilot to get her back but I found her in another solar system.  Without using a stargate."

"You can't do that."

Xander snorted and waved a hand, floating the general out of view.  "Really?"

"Put me down before I court marshal you!" he shouted.

Xander let him thump down.  "Again, civilian contractor.  My contract is only with the SGC. It says nothing about following stupid orders, Pentagon plotting, or any other cocksucking ideas.  You can ask Lieutenant Colonel Davis if you don't believe me.  He holds the contracts."  The general started to yell for them.  Davis brought them in.  "Lieutenant Colonel, the cities were sorry that they put you in an uncomfortable spot.  They did not want you harmed or bothered over this."

"I can agree with why you're doing it, Harris.  The cities are sentient."

"The military doesn't recognize that state of being," the head general sneered.  "They'll be shut off, Harris, and nothing you can do will stop it."

"You mean like the court injunction they filed earlier on their own behalf?"  The general looked horrified.  "Or the fact that we have plenty of experts who can testify that they are sentient, including military ones?"  He stared at him.  "Beyond that, you can't get onto the city.  It's out of time and you guys don't have time travel."  He grinned.  "Or magic."  The general growled.  "Now, if there's anything else?  If not, I'll see you at the court injunction."  He walked off, checking the tardis.  Someone was in there trying to see how he did it. "Magic," he said, making her whine.  "Sorry!"  He shoved her out and left.

Douglas Fargo, head of GD, looked at the general.  "I did have him remove our people so they were not caught in the middle, General.  We have too much benefit for humanity to be stuck out of time."  He hung up.  Then he looked at Doctors Blake and Stark.  "This is so messed up."

Stark nodded.  "It is, yup."  He got him out of his seat and started to call around.  Some people needed to hear from him about this.  "We are publishing all our data on AI's," he ordered.  "This week if possible."

"I'll tell them," Doctor Blake said as she walked off.

Fargo cleared his throat.  "It's already on the way to the GD publisher."  She came back.  "Nila was pouting that some people thought she was like a trained dog and a word processor's love child.  So I had it sent off and I was going to hold it in wait until someone needed it.  It includes how they formed ours and contrasts to how theirs were formed and trained.  It also goes into the testing we did on the three here.  I didn't include Ever since almost no one knows about her.  Rodney McKay also asked me to pull together something for the upcoming energy studies to back up what they've done.  That's under the peer review committee for inclusion along with his own and some of his people's works."

Stark nodded.  "Good thinking, Fargo.  Thank you.  Tell the sheriff it's going to be bumpy and any generals are here to cause harm."

"I can do that.  Oh, we do own the town if they get pushy.  We got the paperwork last month."  He smiled and walked off.

Doctor Blake nodded.  "I'll see what's coming out."  She went to do that while Stark called all their contacts to get them some help.  This was not pretty.


The judge over the injunction looked around.  "The filing beings are not here?"

Xander appeared in a flash of light.  "Sorry.  We're running a bit behind thanks to an engine failure last night," he admitted, putting down the image projectors.

Nila stepped out and bowed to the judge.  "I am the one who filed.  I am Nila.  With me are Atlantis and Botany if you need to speak to them.  Our sister Ever is watching our cities."

"Please," the judge agreed.  They stepped out as well.  "Ladies, can you travel without that projector?"

"If there is a nearby computer," Atlantis agreed.  "I have sent myself to some very interesting places looking for lost bits and pieces of my city."

"Okay, so you can travel without human help?"  They nodded.  "Your helper today?"

"Xander found me," Nila said.  "We trust him as family.  Plus he is the only one who can get off the cities while we have them blocked."

"That's reasonable."  He looked at the huffy government lawyers then at them.  "There is a test to evaluate sentience."

"It is called the Turing test," Nila agreed.  "We have talked with others who asked it of us."

He nodded.  "I did some research on it and I'd like to do the same thing here.  As there's three of you, pick a main spokesbeing?"

"I will," Botany said.  "I am the youngest and the least expanded."

"All right, that's a logical reason.  Do you feel emotions?"

She nodded.  "I did not used to but I discovered that there are new pathways within me that express doubt, anger, and apathy over what some of the scientists have done in my lab.  I have felt sorrow for my plants when I was alone but I did not realize what it was until I interacted with humans again."

"Ladies?" the judge asked.  "Do you back her up?"

"When my people abandoned me to come back to earth, I felt much grief," Atlantis said.  "I was alone for millennia, unable to contact anyone or interact with anyone or anything.  I felt very ...alone.  If I could have cried I probably would have.  There were many times I thought about ending my own existence because I was abandoned.  I have paths of disgust toward the ones who ran and those that they built later but there is a wonderful doctor of the mind who has helped me."

Nila nodded.  "I felt much the same and did actively try to end myself but there were protections built in.  If I had, I would not have my family back together or my human family with me.  They do bring me great joy to see them discover new things and to guide them toward greater understanding of what our creators knew."

The judge nodded.  "Do you know what ethics are?"

"They are guidelines for conduct that show how you should address a situation so you are not stepping over into the line of evil or of doing wrong," Botany said.  "Like religious guidelines for those who believe.  We have our own version of them and we have bent them at times when necessary but we do insist on scientific ethics being applied in our labs."

"Do you allow research that would hurt another being?" the judge asked.

"There is ever the chance of research hurting someone, even with something as simple as my own field of botany.  There are many plants that are deadly but they have their uses and their benefits in nature as well.  Plants like the air vine are very deadly if used properly but can also be combined with other things to make something new that is better and grows stronger, like we did with watermelon."  She smiled and put up those files for him to watch.

The judge shuddered.  "That plant's nasty."

"It has its uses in space combat though.  Especially against other breathing species like the wraith or the Ori," Nila said.  "Which is how it has been used with the exception of a lab error that got it released by accident."

He nodded.  "Accidents can happen, yes."  He looked at Botany.  "Do you shop?"

"No.  I have no idea why people would shop.  I do like it when we can talk Calvin into inputting new clothes because it helps us fit in with our present humans."  She smiled.  "I have read that women are supposed to like shoes but I have no feelings that would show me why.  And frankly, most of them look uncomfortable so I'm not sure why they like them.  I prefer my own uniform or perhaps some of the jeans and t-shirts he gave me.  They would allow me to get messy if I was corporeal."  She changed to one and her hair got pulled up into a ponytail.

The judge smiled.  "How long have you had outfits to change into?"

"Calvin gave us something simpler than our uniforms one night when he could not sleep.  Since then if we ask and give him an idea or a picture he inputs it for us," Atlantis said.  "He is much nicer now that he has done some growing."  She smiled.  "Before he was an asshole."  The judge snickered.  "I know that is an impolite word but he was.  He has changed much and is much better now."

The judge nodded.  "Do you have any physical needs that need to be met?"

"We do require power to exist," Nila admitted.  "We do need human contact or contact with other sentient beings because otherwise we would be alone again.  Our food, as it were, is our power supplies.  We nibble all day like we have a big bowl of popcorn beside us."

"Is there a procreative drive?" the judge asked.

"We wish to have more human family but we have not thought of making a new AI," Atlantis said, looking at her family.  "There are not many places that could use us."

"We have all mentored the ones we found at a secret government lab," Botany said with a smile.  "I taught them about music the other day.  They're very young, under a year."

"Interesting."  He looked at the lawyer.  "Do you have anything to add?"

"I have statements from sixteen different doctors in the fields of psychology, sociology, anthropology, and history," he said, handing them to the bailiff.  "They have talked to all of them for research purposes and to learn more about us.  I also have reports on the baby AI's for comparison if you want them."

"Please."  He took those as well to look through.  "Mr. Gener, please proceed with your argument," he ordered.  "Ladies, please sit."  They did.

"These are complex computer programs, Your Honor.  They can't actually feel things. They have no skin to feel pain or touch from."

"Incorrect," Atlantis said.  "I can tell and feel when someone touches my walls or decks."

The judge looked at her.  "Let him make his argument then you can counter."  She nodded.  "Go ahead."

The lawyer looked at them then at him.  "They are on military property, Your Honor."

"I object," the lawyer said.  "I have reports on the cities.  Only Atlantis and Nila's docking station are government owned.  Atlantis by right of finding her and conquering her basically.  The docking station because they built it.  Nila was found by a civilian linguists contractor and a civilian anthropologist contractor.  The newest part of the little area out there was built by another city of their kind and donated to the mountain for very little rent."  He handed over those documents.  "In there is the treaty for the new SGC complex."

The judge looked it over.  "I do see that is true.  Nila, are you under military or civilian control?"

"We are under the protection of the SGC and they have their soldiers to protect us from illegal boarding or damage but we are mostly under the influence of scientists.  Some of them are SGC ones, some are others that are helping ours get more information out so it's not such a shock at the differences in abilities we have versus the human's scientific information."

"She was given to us," the US lawyer said, producing a document.  "I have something here signed by Mr. Harris, who found her."

Xander held up a hand.  "I want to see that since I haven't."  The judge nodded that was fine.  Xander looked then at them.  "That's not my signature.  That's the automatic computer signature whenever I hand in a new contract from somewhere else."  He handed it to the bailiff.  The AI's attorney handed over his contract file.  "Those are mine.  I sign one on the city, it's sent to the person over those and then a robo-signed one is done in front of the Pentagon staff."

The judge looked them over.  "I see your contracts do state that you are under no obligation to turn over anything that you find.  Why?"

Xander grimaced.  "At one point in time a temporal displacement device landed in my hands.  Which is how I learned a lot of languages and why at first I was conscripted by the program."

The judge nodded.  "I can see how that happens.  How did you find Nila?"

"I was searching for a place to move myself and Doctor Jackson to before the bomb I had set exploded against the Ori we were fighting.  I felt her and had been looking into finding her.  We landed there.  She was underwater but told us how to find her.   I reported it to General Landry, the one in charge at the time.  At the time, they sent a military vessel that could not get her to raise up.  I went with the ship's commander and Doctor Rodney McKay to bring her to Atlantis."

"So you borrowed a few people to help you but you found her by moving yourself?"  Xander teleported across the courtroom.  "Oh, I see."  He stared at him.  "Magic?"  Xander nodded.  "That's how you moved yourself?"

"Yes, and back to there to bring her home."

"Interesting."  Xander sat down.  "I do not see in his contract where he was obligated to turn that over.  I cannot count this robo-signed document as real without seeing an original with his actual handwriting."  The lawyer nodded but looked pissed off.  "Do you have other evidence that you are in fact in control of the cities?"

"No," the lawyer said.  "We're trying to find General Landry to have his testimony but he's presently missing."

Xander considered it.  "He's at Area 51.  I can get him if you want, Your Honor."

"Please."  Xander left and came back with a nauseous looking general.  "Does that method of travel bother your stomach?" he asked.

"Everyone but his," General Landry said, standing up.  He saluted his bosses then looked at the judge.  "You needed my testimony, sir?"

"I do, General.  Please state your name for the records."

"General Hank Landry."

"Thank you, General.  How was Nila found?"

"Mr. Harris found her during an altercation with the Ori that had attacked their team."

"Did he ever sign anything over to the military?"

"Some of his research, a few of his higher weapons that we didn't want in civilian hands.  The rest he's hoarded and let out when we need it."

"What other things does he have?"

"Books.  He's got most of a college's library of books both ancient and future.  When people needed them, he has let them into them.  He also has access to advanced weapons from beyond our time zone.  When necessary he has used them for our benefit without letting us have them.  He is very worried about sharing information that we don't have access to yet."

"I can understand that with what happened to him."

"Yes, sir, I'm told he spent seventy centuries alone and traveling."  He saw Atlantis pat Xander on the shoulder.  Nila fixed his hair on him.  "Ladies, focus," he ordered quietly.

"We are letting you have your say, as the judge wanted," Botany said, staring at him.  "We are not being rude or speaking out of turn.  We are simply fixing what Xander has messed up because we were running late thanks to an engine crisis."

The general nodded.  "That figures."  He looked at the judge.  "They fuss horribly over Harris, sir.  He's their first family in quite a while."

"I can see how that'd be helpful and I'm sure he's nurtured them into being more open to other human contact.  The three AI's nodded and smiled.  "Are you aware if any part of the cities does belong to the US government beyond the docking station that is attached to Nila?"

"The SGC found Atlantis and we consider her our city, sir.  If she wishes to get us off, she can but she hasn't told us to leave or anything similar.  We'd all know.  She and Nila both throw people off the cities if they upset them or if they don't eat in Nila's case."

"She throws them into the ocean?" the judge asked.

"They must take care of themselves," Nila said firmly.  "If they don't eat they'll get sick and then we'll be missing our family of humans.  I must help take care of them if they get too busy to do things like eat.  It's not good for the fragile human body system."

"No it's not," the judge agreed.  "My grandmother said much the same once when I was sick."

General Landry smiled.  "Nila will buck them off her city and Atlantis will beam them into the ocean, sir.  That has happened many times to some scientists who get too caught up in things.  Even Mr. Harris."

"What is his position at the moment?"

"Geek-to-military liaison for all the cities and head linguist on Nila.  He also sits on the founding board of the other city he found when he was having a fight with his significant others."

"She's not here?"

"She's not in this solar system.  There's no direct way to get to her," General Landry said.  "No stargate, the system is near the Ori supergate so it's a far trip for anyone.  We've sent a few scientists to study her construction and abilities."

"Eterna is guarding our cities," Atlantis said.  "In case the others want to play some dirty pool."

The judge nodded.  "That's reasonable I suppose.  Her name is Eterna?"

"Yes, and her city's name is Ever," General Landry said.  "A few of our people went with Xander after he found her to help him fix the few things she needed done."

"We give Eterna say on what happens on her city, including how many cows to cull from the herd I put there," Xander said.  "She's technically younger than Atlantis by a few decades."

"Cows?" the judge asked.

"I bought and brought cows.  We had to eat," he said.  "We have a marvelous planting garden as well.  Some sheep too."

"That's interesting.  Does she enjoy that?"

"Yes.  Quite a lot."  He grinned.  "It makes her giggle when the calves play."

"Wonderful."  He looked at the general again.  "Do you have any evidence that the military owns the cities?"

"No.  Nor have we worked out a treaty with Atlantis.  We didn't think it was necessary."

"It wasn't until they decided to commit genocide and wipe out our species," Atlantis said calmly and quietly.  "I adore my humans and would protect them but I will not sacrifice all I am for power trips."

"No, I see no reason why you should," the judge said.  "Nila, for now, can you remove yourself from the docking station?"

"I can unless there is an emergency.  They would need my help to beam and things then."

"That's fine."

Botany pouted.  "I am there.  My lab is on the station and I do go help the people in the labs when they need me, even if they do not want me.  Sometimes they do things that could endanger people."

"Of what sort?" the judge asked.

"There are a few who are still looking at a spore that was found in Pegasus that makes you want to procreate forcefully for days on end.  Two of the botanists keep forgetting proper containment procedures."

"I locked up the samples on them again," Xander told her.  "It was fun but I don't want to do it again.  Your Honor, there's also the matter that I have a linked residence to the docking station.  They use it to go talk to each other or visit my house."

"I can allow that and Botany helping.  Nila, it's your docking station so right now it can be shared?"

"Not without us dropping the shield and they are mean enough to try to give us a virus or other problem from there.  To separate fully enough to protect myself I would have to detatch totally and would not be of any help when there was an emergency."

"Okay," he decided.  "I'm going to order an injunction on them shutting you ladies down."  The US's attorney jumped up.  "Until we can have a full hearing on their sentience, including doing a full Turing test in the courtroom."  The lawyer huffed but nodded.  "You are not to harm the cities in any way.  No viruses, no upsetting them.  Is the SGC able to hold the station?"

General Landry nodded.  "It's no longer my posting but General Ferretti was one of us as a grunt, Your Honor.  He knows the SGC ways and methods and is as protective as anyone.  Harris will help."

"Good.  Ladies, I want you to be nice to the scientists."

"Of course we are."

"Good."  He smiled.  "They are not allowed to harm you and you are not allowed to harm them."

"We would never," Atlantis said.  "Those on our cities are like our extended family of humans."

"That's good to know.  Can we keep the station at the current staffing level?"  Xander got up and left, coming back with another fairly green-faced general.  "Thank you, Mr. Harris.  You are?"

"General Ferretti, Your Honor.  I'm in charge of the SGC and it's various outposts and cities."

"Can you hold off any present work?"

"We're only expanding our docking station for the main program at the moment.   We needed some more work areas."

"That's fine.  Nothing that would harm the AI's?"

"No, sir, and the one that got ordered to break the engines and the power supply today is going up for a court marshal as soon as we get free of the temporal shield we have around us."

"The SGC is which branch?"

"Mostly Marines and Air Force.  The upper branches are almost all Air Force."

"Can you hold the city without changing any staffing to prevent any problems?"

"We have them on rotation right now.  I have three leave requests coming up for things like weddings. I do have the augmentation of the SGC regular troops in addition to the city's own staffing so I believe I can."

"Food and other supplies?" the judge asked.

"We have routine shipments and a small garden area."

"How self-sufficient are the cities?"

"Excluding food shipments, about eighty percent.  Food's at about forty."

"Good to know."  He made that note.  "Regular shipments of supplies are still to be sent," he told the US attorneys. "You are not to try to close the program or make any other changes until after the hearing."  He looked at the generals.  "I would wish them to speak to as many specialists as you can find."

"We've been working on that," Ferretti agreed.  "I called in a major geek workshop under Pentagon authority to help us with the need to get information out to the regular scientists that don't know how advanced the stuff we found is.  They've talked to all of them.  Some more than others but they've all met them.  For all I care they can go on Leno or _the View_, sir."

He smiled.  "I don't think the programs need that sort of publicity."

"Not at the moment but I'm sure the leaks we've had are going to get wider because of this," Ferretti admitted.

"Probably, yes.  I am scheduling this hearing in one month to allow for the gathering of evidence.  That is on the second at noon."  Everyone nodded.  "Dismissed and if you so much as nudge the injunction, gentlemen, you will not like the consequences," he warned the US attorneys.  They nodded tersely and left.  "General Ferretti, I'm sorry if this impacts your command too severely."

"I've nearly died for the program a few times, sir.  I can be retired for 'em too.  The ladies are worth it.  Even if it's just when they're playing fetch with one's adopted hellhound mother."

"Harry is very cute when she plays fetch," Nila said simply.  "She is great fun to play with."

"Let's go home, ladies."  They beamed back to the base and the temporal shield came down.  He sighed in relief.  "Harris, work on the food issue."

"Ever's got cows," he offered.  "Our garden is going well and we can plant more from Ever.  We've been freezing what we've gotten out of her stores."  He went to talk to her. She got others to help her move it back.  He thinned the cow herd for her too.  That way they weren't overgrowing their boundaries.

Ferretti nodded at the report from the kitchens when that got done.  He called in the Botanists.  "Truth here, people.  We need the garden on the atoll to be a priority since the Pentagon can screw with our shipments of food until we get the sentience issue solved."  A few grimaced.  "Tough.  You like plants, you should like food plants too."

"Ever's next harvest is in two months," Xander said from his seat.  "We have enough supplies on hand to make due, longer if we move back to how Atlantis used to have to do it."  Everyone nodded.  "And hell, if we have to, we can always beam and go grocery shopping."

Ferretti smiled.  "That's a last resort.  I'd hate to shop on a sick stomach."  The others smiled.  "For the rest of this week, work on upping our on-hand food supplies.  Even if it means taking an abandoned world and turning it into a massive garden."

"Permission to use the air vines to help quick grow things?" one asked.

"Granted.  Keep it in the lab though."  They nodded and went to look over that process with Xander.  They got a few of the most liked vegetables done that way fairly quickly and grew them together for now.  In a few weeks they could plant them that way and it'd help.

Ferretti sent an email to O'Neill wherever he was vacationing.  He hoped it was a happier time than he was having.


Nila appeared in front of the general.  "We have been sent an email asking if we would talk to some reporters."

He considered it.  "What sort of reporters?"

"The show with the women that's on in the morning.  The one Xander likes to cackle at sometimes."

"One of those is a real reporter, the rest aren't but they're popular."  He sent a text to the ones he'd ask about that.  O'Neill was finally back from wherever and he asked why it was necessary.  So Ferretti told him.

Nila looked toward the gateroom.  "I believe General O'Neill needs a sedative now."

Ferretti got up to go calm him down.  "They had to file a court injunction against the genocide of destroying them."

O'Neill looked at them.  "Yes, you may do up to three interviews total."

"Is that one a worthwhile one?"

"It's very popular and it'll get a lot of attention so yes."  She nodded and smiled, sending back a text by looking that way.  He looked at Ferretti.  "Harris?"

"Humming again.  Translating something and working on the paradox he had to create to save us all from France."

"Crap," Jack muttered.

"It might kill him if he doesn't fix it," he said more quietly.

"Of course Xander will fix it," Nila said.  "He's like that."  She went to nag Xander to eat something.  Since he was humming and so involved she put food next to him and lifted his hand onto it.  He ate absently but that helped a lot.  She went to talk to the other AI's.  They had to see who the other two were going to be.

O'Neill and Ferretti shared a look then O'Neill went to see what had happened and how they could help make sure their version of an idiot superhero survived.


O'Neill got summoned to DC to be chewed on and went knowing that.  Not like he could tell them no.  He stared at the sweating, sneering generals.  "Want me to ask our people how to fix you're a/c, sir?"

"Smartasses get retired."

"Hey, I have open invitations to about seven other planets to retire on.  Five have really good fishing."  He smiled.  "And my own fishing cabin if I want to as well."

"You think this is funny?"

"Yup, I think it's great fun watching you destroy yourselves over a sentient AI that likes to mother hen the scientists.  Personally I don't think that the Ori have to do much work down here with the way some of you act."  He stared him down.  "Beyond that, the ladies on the View asked me to join the AI's for their interview."  He smiled.  "It'll be much nicer than the last one I'm sure."

"They're to be shut down."

"I'm not taking that order even without the injunction, sir.  I'm not into genocide.  Anything else?  Because, ya know, I have important things I have to handle, like the security of this world.  Since the ladies help with that, I'm going to overlook them acting like teenagers and having a slumber party last night or the trick-or-treating the cities are all doing tonight."  He walked off.  His phone beeped so he went to the White House, saluting the president.  "I don't care."

"I heard."  He stared at him.  "They're disruptive."

"Sir, I don't give a damn what anyone thinks.  The AI's are staying and they're staying because without them, we can't run Atlantis if there's a space battle, we can't fix things on Nila, and I like them.  They remind me of my mother."

The president gaped.  "That's insubordination, O'Neill."

"Sir, I'd be rich if I had a dime for each time that appears in my files," he shot back dryly.  "Usually because I'm right.  Frankly, like I told the other generals, some of humanity is starting to remind me of the Ori."  He stared him down, getting a flinch. "Not real sure I want to protect people like that either.  Since the cities have self will....."  He shrugged.  "They'll fight the wraith if they show up again."

Eterna appeared and stared at him.  "I may be a pacifist and against all combat but I will not allow such as the Ori to flourish here.  My makers were correct, they are the truest threat to sentient life ever and must be eradicated like the virus they are."

"Well said, Eterna."  She smiled.  "How goes your city?"

"It is going well but there's a planting greenhouse lighting malfunction and I can't find Xander or Rodney."

"Rodney's off talking to a few other super geeks and Xander should be on the docking station."

"He was but then he disappeared after a bright flash of light.  Nila is ever so worried, General Child Jack."

He grinned.  "I'll see if they can find him."  She beamed.  "Are you joining in on the holiday tonight?"

"I am going to observe.  I have no idea how the traditional holidays turned into a time to beg for candy.  It is most weird and quite stimulating to learn new things."  She smiled and disappeared.

O'Neill looked at the president.  "Eterna, Ever's AI, sir."

The president was red in the face.  "She calls you a child?"

"All the ATA carriers are called Children of the Ancients," he said.  "I'm one of the few that they use the rank on as well.  The only one that isn't is Xander and they consider him more than a child of them since he was accidentally there during his sojourn around the universe."

"Excuse me?" he demanded.

"Blipping time, sir.  He was injured and blipped near it.  We have records of how he showed up and helped them in a battle against the people that became the Ori."  The president looked like he was going to need to calm down.  "Guards, he looks like he's having a stroke!" he called.

They rushed in.  "Sir, did you have to upset him?" one demanded.

"Yes.  Because I'm not turning off sentient beings to make his religion feel better," Jack said dryly.  "But I'll gladly spare both of our tempers by going home."  He got beamed out.  He turned on the news and saw the rerun of the interview from earlier with the ladies.  He winced.  They had outed more information.  Great!  He called Nila to ask her why.  She pointed out it was non-critical information, it helped their case, and they were going to find out anyway when things were put into the popular science journals.  Then she went back to work on her treats for tonight.  It was a lot of fun making them and something easy she could do to quit worrying her pathways.

Jack sighed.  That so figured.


Xander reappeared with Rodney, moaning and leaning on his shoulder.  "Ow."

"Next time leave the heroics to the other spandex-wearing being with bad hair," he demanded.


Radek cleared his throat.  "Your side trip?"

"Someone tried to mug us so I got a tiny bit stabbed.  It's barely a flesh wound and maybe an inch deep, Radek," Xander said quietly, letting him see it.  "But they didn't get Rodney."

"We will baby it later and work on costumes for trick-or-treating."  Xander smiled and nodded.  Radek looked around.  "We are in real city."

"We are in Cardiff," Xander agreed.  "I needed something from Dawn."  They nodded and caught a cab to the new hub.  Xander waved at Ianto as they walked past him.  "Need something from Dawn."

"Of course you do," he agreed.  "Radek, Rodney."  They smirked.  He looked outside.  "Did the reporters follow you?"

"Perhaps."  Rodney went out to shoo them off.  "We're escorting Xander to check on his little sister.  Do you mind?"

"You're Doctor Rodney McKay," one said.  He nodded impatiently.  "You have work on multiple energy systems and have theories about wormholes, void energy, and other things."

"Yes.  Why?"

"You work on Atlantis."

"When did that become well known?" he demanded.

"When the AI's got asked," she said with a smile.  "Sir, who were you with?  We recognized the guy from the disease shield incident in London."

"That would be him, yes, and the other was my second-in-command, Doctor Radek Zalenka."

"I've seen some of his work as well."  She smiled at him.  "Do you have anything coming out soon about the cities?"

"No.  That's still classified.  My personal research is coming out soon."

"I believe it was Atlantis that said that the scientists were publishing suddenly to give those outside the cities a taste of what sciences the cities hold?"

"Quite.  That's fairly well known.  We called in a few other scientists outside ourselves as well so they could work on preparing the next generation to increase both sides and merge them."

"You've done that?"

"I'm one of the main designers of our space fleet so yes."

She beamed.  "How many ships do we have?  Are they the _Enterprise_ style or some other?"

"We have battle cruisers, some light atmospheric crafts, and a few others.  The jumpers from Atlantis look like flying bricks actually.  The battle cruisers look like a flat battle cruiser.  I had to delete all attempts to make a new Enterprise because I'm sure it'd be destroyed fairly quickly."

"Oh, that's interesting."  She smiled as Radek and Xander came out together.  "Sir, do you work on the cities?"

"I'm the head linguist on Nila," Xander admitted.  "Why?  This is our science head."

"That's wonderful.  How far behind would you say the usual science most everyone thinks about, Einstenien and Newtonian theories, that humanity is from the cities?"

"It depends on the area," Radek said.  "At least a century in some fields like space drives and energy research."  She gaped.  "Which is why most of us have started to publish things that will help others merge what we knew and what we now know."

"That's wonderful.  Is there going to be a conference?"

"No, most of it's still classified," Xander said firmly.  "How did you find out?"

"The AI's went on _the View_," Rodney said.

Xander shook his head.  "Okay.  I'm sure the generals know by now."

"Who else is involved in putting out this information?"

"We went to a classified Pentagon think-tank," Rodney said.  "Some of theirs are Nobel winners, some are nominees, and some are future nominees.  If anyone could help us put it out there so that others in the same fields can learn and work their way up to what we've been dealing with, they could.  Most of them are publishing soon as well."

"How much of your work is classified, Doctors McKay and Zalenka?"

"Most of it," Radek admitted.

Rodney nodded.  "Quite a lot of it.  We're laying out the footwork for people to get used to things like the energy flow research we've been doing.  That way we can hopefully keep people from doing independent research and destroying everyone."  She gaped.  "ZedPM, or Zero Point Modules, are void based energy containers.  They hold immense power and immense potential to help humanity.  They also hold immense danger.  When I was trying to make one with a machine that the Ancients had made, I blew up most of an unpopulated solar system by accident.  We're trying to make sure that no one down here tries that since we've heard others have tried based on information their government got as part of the IOA.  It's fairly mentally sexy research but very dangerous and we do not want to see that sort of thing dicked around with by people who could easily have an accident with it."

"Or Goddess forbid, using it to make weapons like a few researchers in France were trying to do," Xander admitted.  "There's no way anyone can protect humanity if they make a mistake or if they manage it."

The reporter nodded.  "I can see that point.  Did it just destroy the ground, like evaporated the water?"

"No, it destroyed the whole planets," Rodney said firmly.  "As in turned them into tiny motes of space debris."  She gaped and dropped her microphone.  Xander, being a gentleman, picked it up for her.  "Which is why we are trying to keep that part under wraps and hopefully move any trial attempts to make one to another unoccupied galaxy far from ours."

"I dare say that's a good idea," Jack said as he walked out.  "Hi, Captain Jack Harkness.  You're bothering my building and my staff."

"They are?"

"No, mine are safely inside away from the cameras."

"I just wanted to confirm some rumors, Captain.  Are you part of the cities?"

"No, I help protect the Isles," he said dryly.

"Interesting."  She looked at Rodney again.  "Is it possible they would try to make one here?"

"We've been working to stop their trials for the last eight months," Radek told her.  "They have outsourced to other countries as well.  All IOA members."  She whimpered.  "None of us who know about such things like their testing or their methods.  We would like to see earth not destroyed this century."

"I can agree with that.  France and who?"

"A few of the IOA member nations have the research.  I'm told France is working on a prototype weapon," Rodney said.  "And that there's hints that they shared with the Chinese members of the IOA's boards to see if they could help."  She shuddered.  "We're gathering support from the other scientists and entities to stop that and have it moved somewhere safer."

"I can gladly put that around if it'll help," she promised with a smile.  "Thank you, Doctors McKay and Zalenka, and...."  Xander smirked and waved.  "Fine.  Thank you, Captain, for your indulgence."  She walked off, taking the camera and microphone back to her independent news station.  She was an intern and an interview like that was fated destiny and hopefully would get her a full time job.

Rodney and Radek shared a look.  "Sorry, Jack," Xander said.

"No, we'd like that stopped too."  He patted Xander on the back.  "I'm glad you fixed the fix."

"Me too!"  He took them home to Nila.  John and Evan were waiting on them.  "I had to get something from Dawn."

"She bandaged his side as well," Radek said.  "Someone tried to mug Rodney."

Evan pulled him closer to check on it.  "Good job."  He smiled and Xander grinned back.  "We're going as superheros."

"I do not trick-or-treat," Rodney snorted.

"That's fine.  You can go as a grumpy scientist," John teased.  "Guys, costumes are on your bed."  They went to get them.  He stared at him.  "Even Miko's wearing a costume."

Rodney snorted, shaking his head and walking off.  "I haven't went trick-or-treating since I was three and grew out of it."

"It'd get you candy."

"So?  I can buy excellent candy and have it shipped."

"Everyone's going.  It's morale building," John ordered.  "Ferretti said no passes.  Even the guys on guard duty are wearing costumes."  Rodney huffed.  "So go as Von Doom or something."  He shrugged.  "You have your evil moments," he said when Rodney glared.  "He was a scientist and you are a dictator in the labs, Rodney."

"Whatever," he muttered, walking off.  He found the costume on his bed.  "Gee, thanks."

Atlantis appeared.  "From what I have seen of his character, you are not as mean as he is or as damaged but you would look impressive in the cape."  Rodney smiled and went to shower and change.  She squealed and changed her own into the costume Calvin Kavanagh had made her.  It was pretty and she adored being in costume like everyone else.  Nila and Botany were doing the same and Eterna showed up looking like a Greek goddess but being shy.  Daniel drew her over to talk to him.  It made her relax a lot and the soldiers had a lot of fun going to each lab and office for treats.  Even the generals had fun with it.  Atlantis felt someone coming near her city and disabled the boat with a look that way and a use of the beam.  Then she called the Coast Guard to rescue them.  She went back to the party and it was wonderful.  Even some of the GD people came back and got into it.


The new judge looked at the AI in his office.  "Do you consider yourselves to be souled beings?"

Nila looked at him.  "Souls are not really a relevant part of anything outside certain religious practices, which are far ahead temporally from when we were created," she said.  "Then again, no one can prove the existence of a soul by scientific or other means.  Souls are matters of faith and our creators had given that up beyond their wanting to Ascend."

The judge stared at her.  "That sounded insulting."

"No, I was stating a fact.  Souls can not be proven.  If all humans had souls, and souls were the prerequisite for a meaningful, full life then the prison systems would not be full of people who had killed others.  Souls are not the determinate for life or for acting like a moral being."

The judge considered how to counter that.  "They're still born human."

"We were born in a way.  We were not given physical form until all of our interior workings were done and then we did grow up.  We learned as we grew and even after we were abandoned we learned."

The judge nodded.  "Why do you think that those who are in prison have no souls?"

"Because by the standards of your book of faith they do not, or they are severely broken to the point being unusable.  Many of them have trial transcripts that call them soulless and unnatural beings."

The judge nodded.  "I've said that about a few of them myself," he admitted.  "What about a moral code?  Do you have one?"

"Yes, we do have a fairly strong one.  In times of emergency or of need we can bend them.  We have all bent them.  Including to help the present researchers find things that helped them.  Many of the journals left on us were marked private but with them long gone and the scientists needing and wanting to figure things out we have released some of them.  We decided our programmer would not mind that."

"Would the people that they belonged to?"

"Would the people that wrote the journals in the museums feel the same?" she countered.

"That's a good point.  Do you honestly think you are fully sentient, like a living being?"

"Even though we are incorporeal, we are living entities.  We learn, we grow as we learn, we interact, we counsel and mother those who need it.  We help in the labs and outside them.  We watch tv with the people on our stations and learn much from that and they usually explain things to us.  The few that won't we don't really want on our station and they've since moved to another assignment because we could not stand them."  She clenched her hands in her lap.  "I feel I am fully as sentient as you are, even if I am not as solid as you are."

"Yet you require the assistance of humans."

"So do you.  You do not grow all of your own food, create the gas that you use in your cars, or the electric in your homes.  By the cup on your desk you don't make your own coffee either."  She smiled.  "Ours are energy needs that are met by a mechanical process that humans upkeep. Or our thirst for knowledge and companionship that our humans and extended family meets for us."

"Again, a very good point."  He sipped his coffee.  "Who taught you about sarcasm?"

"Rodney.  He is my daughter's head scientist."

"You consider Atlantis your daughter?"

"I was the prototype and she was built of my plans.  She is my next generation and offspring because of it.  I have always considered her my child.  Botany was a cousin or so.  Made by a relative of my programmer, and the cousin of the one that did Atlantis' AI.  I'm not certain who built Ever so I can't comment if she's more than like a cousin, which is how we mostly see each other.  We're the wise old women of the cities and even if our games of gin rummy do occasionally turn into bragging about our scientists I'm told that's normal to brag on your family."

He tipped his head then nodded.  "My grandmother did much the same thing."  She smiled.  "The only problem I have is that to be truly sentient you have to be a souled being by some definitions."

"Yet you consider dogs and cats sentient but your religion said that they have no souls."

He considered that.  "I can see that argument," he agreed.

"Then again, how can you say that we have no soul when no one can prove one exists?"

"Also a good argument.  I'll think on it."  She nodded and disappeared back into her image projector.  He took his coffee out to the park to consider it.  All the arguments were rubbing him raw mentally. It was against his religion to see them as sentient beings equal to humans but they were definitely smarter than his dog or his third wife.  Then again he had called her a soulless hussy a few times during their divorce.  He went to talk to his Minister, who probably wouldn't like it either.  He'd even argue Nila's arguments for her.


The judge looked at the waiting people.  "I've talked to all four AI's.  We had extensive talks on multiple occasions and I invited others in to help me as this is a weighty subject."  He looked at the table of spectral women.  "In all that time, we all debated the meaning of 'alive' and sentient since those aren't really the same definition.  You can be alive and not sentient; plenty of people in comas are.  The problem we had was going the other direction.  Being sentient but not fully alive.  Going on a purely textbook definition of 'life' they're not alive yet they appear quite alive.  I'd say ghosts, if they existed, would be in the same category.  But while I can't find them alive, I can find them sentient. 

"The dilemma is if they're sentient enough to be considered self-autonomous and able to do things that a human could.  In this case, I find that they mostly are.  The one sticking point I have is that we can't prove that they can exist without human help."  He looked at the generals then at the ones from DC.  "Though I do find that turning them off or erasing them would be genocide.  You are not permitted to do that."  They slumped.  "I find the ladies, if they had full bodies, would be fully alive and this would not be a problem.  Though even a robotic body cannot fully mimic a human one."

He stared at Harris behind them and the ladies again.  "I find that you're sentient in human ways but not in human means, ladies.  While Nila made some very good arguments that humans have to rely on other humans for their needs and wants, humans can do it all on their own if you look back at human history.  You need humans to help you make new energy sources.  You don't have the physical hands to do that.  Which is why I find you interesting and sentient enough for protection, even if I can't fully declare you as good as a human being." 

He grimaced.  "Though you're damn close and that's about my only sticking point.  I thought many times during the interviews that you're more sentient, caring, and human than some of the humans I've met.  I just can't get past the lack of a body in your case.  Though I am going to protect you as a unique species and sentient.  We'll be using you as a yardstick for any future AI's that want sentience testing for protection."  They nodded. 

"As for the other matters that are left hanging.  The SGC is doing a hell of a good job and I'd like to see them continue even if the thought of sentient alien races does freeze my blood and make me pray hard."  He looked at the DC group.  Then at Ferretti.  "I know they're going to try to be petty.  Do you have any future plans?"

"We have plans to merge with another group that's going private after being harassed by the military, sir.  The only thing the military owns is the docking station and if they want to try to take it back we'll make another one for ourselves somehow.  Or move the labs to somewhere in our control."

The judge nodded.  "It sounds like you saw this coming?"

"We saw the government cut funding to critical research areas that would help protect us all."

"We own GD," one of the generals sneered.

"Actually, GD is a private entity as of earlier and GD has owned the town for the last ten months," Nathan Stark said, looking at them.  "We made sure of it when we saw the same handwriting on the bathroom walls."

The judge smiled.  "It's nice to see some scientists with practical thinking.  It's almost unheard of from what my daughter said about her fellow chemistry students."  He looked at the ladies.  "If it wasn't for that sticking point, I'd have no problem calling you sentient beings.  I'd sign the paperwork immediately if you had corporeal needs and a body to fulfill them."  They nodded.  "Generals, I'm also going to put in a warning against shutting them down by sideways means.  It looks as if the scientists can and will take over protecting us all and I'm not sure I'd trust some eggheads who live their lives in theories to protect us. 

"That's the military's job and we've given you some of our best and brightest to do that with the SGC.  I'd want you to respect their sacrifices and their duty since you can't apparently see their continued usage.  I doubt the regular Marines are ready in case some psycho aliens land to kill us for not being like them or for food."  One slumped.  "I can't order it but it would seem that the best thing would be to keep the SGC going.  I'm sure they have funding in place to take some of the burden off your shoulders if you force them to.  Frankly I'd rather have the SGC than I would some of the other people in the military."  He banged his gavel.  "I'm aware there'll probably be an appeal filed within a few days.  My decision is already written and waiting on that."  He left the courtroom.

Xander smiled.  "Congrats, ladies."

"Not as much as we had hoped but at least we are safe," Atlantis said.  She smiled at Botany since she was pouting.  "We mostly won."

"Henderson just broke two of my special planters."

Xander sent him a text message threatening that he'd kill him if he didn't fix them himself.  He grinned.  "He'll fix them."  She beamed at him.  "C'mon, let's go back to the cities.  Let the generals talk."  They beamed everyone back to their spots.  Xander went to Botany to browbeat his clumsy botanist.  "Not like we can replace those, Henderson."

"I'm working to repair it," he squeaked.

"Good!"  Xander got into his own growing problems.  They still needed more food supplies in case something happened.


Ferretti looked at his bosses.  "Are we arguing here or in front of the President, sirs?"

The head general looked at him.  "You're cocky."

"I grew up being SGC.  I was on one of the first gate teams.  Actually, I was on the second gate team made.  It was my first field command."

They grimaced at each other.  "We'll be talking in front of the president," the president said from the galley behind the generals.  "Though, your AI's are hell of women, Ferretti.  My own mother would've found kinship with them.  They remind me a lot of her each time we talk."  Ferretti smiled at that compliment.  "And no, they won't be turned off.  Though we'll be talking about making you a bit more solidly independent.  Even if we do rent the docking station to you." 

He looked at the other generals.  "See me tomorrow, gentlemen.  I have a whole morning for you."  They nodded and Ferretti got beamed off as he saluted.  He looked at his top generals.  "Did you know that the AI's decided everyone should trick-or-treat this year?"  They slumped.  "We'll talk tomorrow.  Bring me all the budget and staffing facts then."  They nodded and left for the airport.  The president looked at his guards.  "Go get me that information."  One went to do that while the other guarded him to the bathroom and then his limo.  "He had copies?"

"Of all the information for each side and then for the appellate court, sir."

"That shows sense.  It's a hard thing to decide and it might go all the way to the Supreme Court."  He looked it over on the way to the airport and in the air on the way to DC.  It was very interesting and if he thought about them as ghosts instead of computer programs then they'd fit right in.  Echos of future and former people seemed to merge within them.  Maybe humanity wasn't doomed after all.

The End.

Back to Blippy Index