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
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
"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
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
"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,
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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.
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
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
"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
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
"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
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.
"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
"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
"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*
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
"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
The judge looked them over. "I see your contracts do state that
you are under no obligation to turn over anything that you find.
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
"Everyone but his," General Landry said, standing up. He saluted
his bosses then looked at the judge. "You needed my testimony,
"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
"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
"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."
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
"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
"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."
"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
"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
"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
"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."
"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
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
"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
"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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
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
"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
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
"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
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