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Aberrant: StarGate Atlantis - They Want Him Were? [Finally - FIN]

Adrian Moss

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Captain Phillips, battalion S-4 of third battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, sat in his tent inside Camp Zulu, Afghanistan. It was dusty, hot, and dry - in other words, just another day in the armpit of the world. It was another day of letting some other lucky bastard get out of this Hell Hole, while he remained behind. At least his latest case was something new. Usually you got out when your enlistment was up, you had Emergency Family Leave, or you got promoted. This order was something ... else.

[Private First Class Paul Rivets - no middle initial] Serial # xxxx-xxxxx

Date of Birth xx-xx-xxxx

Enlistment Date xx-xx-xxxx

Current Assignment - A Co./4Ba./23Reg./2ID/CFLCC

Reassignment (effective immediately) - SSG/21SW/CMD/AFSC/USSTRATCOM

--Upon receipt of these orders, the above mentioned person(s) is to be directed without delay to the assigned departure depot for immediate reassignment to the above mentioned facility. Travel Status is Grade I. Personal equipment is to follow per procedure SMC 9.1C. Any inability to follow this order is to be immediately reported to the above command.


The Captain had to look up most of these command designations and the more he looked up, the less he liked these orders. He reviewed Rivets file then read it again - it didn't take too much time. The Private had all the right certifications without accumulating anything special in his three years of service. No commendations except a notation for no sick leaves and a selection for holiday duty. Nothing to warrant a promotion, except longevity. There were no demerits either, which was a tad unusual. Hardly worthy of promotion. Hell, if it wasn't for the facts staring him in the face, the Captain would have not even believed a Private Paul Rivets had been in this unit for - three years. Phillips had only been in the battalion for two.

Phillips went back further. The guy had low grades in high school, barely graduating. He scored low in his Entrance testing, qualifying for Combat Infantryman. He failed to qualify for any other designation. Clearly this guy wasn't going anywhere on his intellect.

Further back than that: the family history. There was nothing. Nobody in his family stood out. Everyone was alive. There were two brothers - one in prison and one ... apparently unemployed. His mother worked in a canning factory. His father was on disability from a car accident seven years prior. The guy was poor white trash. There was no indication that he had ever met anyone of any influence what so ever. This guy wasn't a cipher. He was a non-entity.

"Private Paul Rivets, reporting as ordered, Sir."

Within hours, the Private was back at battalion and standing before the Battalion's Logistics officer. The S-4 let him stand there for a moment while he pulled up the relevant material.

Phillips looked over the orders again: SSG was Special Studies Group: 21SW was 21 Space Wing (blink); CMD was Cheyenne Mountain Directorate (wasn't that NORAD?); AFSU was Air Force Space Command (blink) (blink); and USSTRATCOM was United States Strategic Command (what the he-ck?)

'The anti-brainiac grunt is going to Space Command? God, there has to be another Paul Rivets in the US military.'

So, Phillips looked. No such luck, he had the only Paul Rivets in service. Hell, the only other Rivets was a female dive instructor down in Pensacola. So what did they need a nobody like Rivets to do? Kick the tires on a Space Shuttle? Wait, those were in Florida. Maybe he was going to chase birds off the runways.

The dusty, weary looking soldier snapped a salute and remained at attention. Phillips looked him over. Not ugly, or handsome. He was a grunt's grunt. He had the look of a man who did his duty, no more-no less. 'How totally unremarkable.'

"Like Afghanistan, Private?" Phillips began. He leaned back in his seat and studied the man before him.

"Not sure, Sir. I go where they send me."

"Know anyone in the World, Private? Someone who owes you a favor? A BIG favor?"

Paul seemed perplexed, furrowed his brow, and seemed to be thinking really hard. After nearly thirty seconds he finally spoke.

"Can't say I do, Sir."

"Not very verbose, Private." Verbose seemed to confuse the non-com. "Maybe you can help me with something that's bothering me. Why is someone with your qualifications being sent to an Air Force facility in Colorado Springs?"

Paul looked perplexed.

"That's Space Command, Private."

"No Sir. I mean, I don't know anyone like that, Sir."

Seeing the Captain wasn't satisfied, the Private added, "Not a clue. Never volunteered for anything like it. I don't much like flying for that matter. I'll go where they send, Sir."

There was a long silence. Phillips was hoping somehow the Private would enlighten him, but it was clear the orders were as much, if not more, a conundrum for him. The man stared blankly over the Captain's shoulder, as per standard military drill.

"Okay then, Private. You're off to Space Camp. Have fun back in the World. Anything you need taken care of before your go?"

"No Sir. I'm good."

"Your mail will be forwarded, as will your belongings."

Phillips handed Rivets a packet (it had come with the orders). "Take these. They are your transit papers, as well as your assignment documents. DO - NOT lose them."

"Sir! No Sir. This Private will not lose his orders, Sir."

The Captain stared at him for another long second.

"Get out of here."

Rivets gave a strong salute, spun around, and marched back out the door. The smallest amount of dust swept its way in, as usual. This day was going to be another long, hot one. The dust kept sneaking in. Some grunt would come in and sweep it out. Everyone's war went on. Phillips went back to the mountain of paperwork that an army ran on. The nature of that strange re-assignment would last in this Captain's mind for a long time, but somewhere around lunch the name of Paul Rivets had already receded into the fog.

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The man looked rough. Really, he looked like someone had plucked him off a desert highway and deposited him in front of his nice clean desk just to piss the Air Force Technical Sergeant Kevin Warren.

"You forget your dress code ... Private?"

"No ... Sergeant. My kit has yet to catch up with me Sergeant. The plucked me right out of the field."

"That's Technical Sergeant to you, Private," Warren growled. "Don't they teach you any cross-training skills in the Army?"

No reply.


"This private has no cross-training experience, Technical Sergeant!"

"Fine," The TSgt. griped. "Let me see your paper work."

The Army puke handed the NCO his travel orders and re-assignment sheet. Warren discarded the former and reviewed the latter.

"Oh, great," he sighed. "Another one of those."

The TSgt had seen plenty of people get cycled into the SSG, and had no idea exactly what they did. They weren't even housed on base, but way over at Cheyenne Mountain. His curiosity wasn't all that high for the place. His job was to see that those people that need to go up, went up, and everything else was someone else's headache. As long as the Secretary of the Air Force decided that one Technical Sergeant Kevin Warren's paperwork was done in the proper fashion, the man was happy. Curiosity was not a hallmark of career logistics people ... unless you counted those damn Trekkies.

TSgt. Warren picked up the phone and dialed the proper extension.

"Lt. Meade, this is Technical Sergeant Warren. I have another person for the SSD. Yes sir. In my office right now, sir. I don't know, sir, but he looks rough. Right away sir."

He hung up the phone and looked up at the private, still standing at attention.

"Someone will be around to pick you up asap. I wouldn't hold my breath, though. These things normally take time."

Of course, Warren could have told the Army puke to stand easy, but he wasn't in the mood. This cast off from a lesser service was getting sand and dust all over hid floor ... HIS floor. Those thoughts were still peculating in his mind when the door opened and an Air Force Captain walked in hurriedly.

The TSgt. stood and saluted. Rivets turned and followed suit.


"Save it Sergeant," the officer snapped. "Rivets, you're with me. Let's move it, Army."

Without preamble, the Captain swiped the orders off the sergeant's desk and bolted out of the office.

"You are late, ... um Rivets. Not your fault, but there's been a SNAFU. You are being tasked for a very special assignment - one few people will ever be able to take. Are you ready?"

Rivets knew the last part wasn't really a question. If an officer asked you if you were ready, there was one, and only one, acceptable answer. It was unspoken. As for the rest of it, he shrugged. He wasn't being blamed for being late (always a good thing) and after all, SNAFU meant Situation Normal All Fucked Up, which pretty much covered most of Paul Rivets military experience. Hell, his last assignment, Company C, was called Chaos Command.

'A special assignment?' Rivets thought. 'The third thing they taught you in Basic was NEVER volunteer for ANYTHING. The first two were, of course, "Don't call a DI "Sir", he worked for a living" and "If you lose your gun, you lose your life - usually in the worst possible way the DI could come up with."

The helicopter was warmed up on the tarmac when the Captain led Rivets outside. They raced for it (well, the Captain raced for it and the Rivets followed). They boarded, another Air Force non-com buckled them in, and the copter rose up rapidly. The Captain motioned the Private to up on his head phones. Rivets did and the Captain immediately started talking.

"I'm Captain Kyle Ellison. Welcome to Star Gate Command. I'll walk - well, run you through the process. There will be some paperwork to fill out, but that is mostly a formality."

With the way the Captain grinned at him, Rivets knew that formality was spelt t-r-o-u-b-l-e. A smarter man might have been wondering what he was getting into.

"You are going to the far side of existence, Rivets. Boy, you are going to another galaxy. How does that sound?"

This time Rivets suspected he was supposed to give an answer. Well, the pat answer had always worked before.

He grinned at the Captain, "I go where they send me, Sir." Then, in a fit of pure, unadulterated gall, he added, "Do you think they will let me shower first?"

The Captain looked the scraggly PFC over and laughed.

"Sure thing Rivets," the officer said, looking at his watch. "I'm sure we can swing a five minute shower before you get sent through." The last bit was said with a BIG grin.

'Through ... through what?'

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They cleared him through security quickly. Rivets was kind of surprised. No, change that; he was totally confused. Everyone was treating him like he was somebody. The Captain kept him close at hand. Another Air Force NCO joined them at the gates to .... the MOUNTAIN. If not for those two, Rivets would have gotten lost.

To add to Rivets nervousness, everyone seemed to be running around like they were preparing for a big push. Everyone looked so ... efficient. By the time the approached medical (at least they all had white lab coats on) he had calmed down though. The Captain had pressed Rivets with all kinds of paperwork. Sign this - you are getting inoculations. Sign this - if you ever talk to anyone about this assignment we will kill you (just a joke - in reality, he would go to prison for Treason - some joke), Sign this - Notification of Next of Kin Right to Insurance, in case we can't retrieve your body - for whatever reason. Sign this - I've read the US Military Code of Conduct concerning Human and Non-Terrestrial Civil Rights and Liberties (what's a non-terrestrial? for that matter, what's a terrestrial?). It went on and on. A 'lesser' man might have questioned his surroundings and posed questions to his guides. Rivets didn't. The Captain and NCO mistook that for a stoic will to do one's duty. In reality, Rivets didn't really care. The Army (now Air Force) wanted him to do a job. He would do the job. The question "why" never entered his head. Orders were orders.

The Doctor was examining him carefully. While doing so, she chatted, or more likely chastised, the Captain.

"We really should wait to see if he has any reactions to these boosters and broad spectrum anti-bodies. Besides, aren't there course requirements? Aren't you supposed to give him some Atlantis 101? Come on now, you are shunting this boy trillions of Light Years away with little idea what's he's getting into."

"Private, you are in excellent health. When your blood panels come back, I'll clear you for the mission."

The Captain smiled at her then addressed Rivets.

"Private, do you have any questions?"

Rivets hesitated. "That shower you promised me, Sir?"

The Captain said, "That's next," while the Doctor snorted. "Private, there will be plenty of water were you're going."

Paul missed the inside joke. He figured it was above his pay grade.

The shower had felt good. In fact, after leaving the World's Armpit, it felt grand. Now, the Captain was giving him a quick lecture before the mission was scheduled to begin.

"Some quick points, Private: There are these devices called Star Gates. Two are here on earth. They were created by aliens for the purpose of rapid interstellar travel between synchronized gates. We call these people the Ancients. Got that so far?"

"Sir, yes Sir," Paul nodded. Meanwhile, what the hell did interstellar mean? When his DI said the Willies Jeep was Ancient, did he mean it was like these Star Gates? If so, how did they get spare parts?

"Now, the Ancients also built a station called Atlantis. It has a gate on it too. You have heard the legend of Atlantis, of course. Well, it is based on some real facts. We have it. It is on the far side of the Pegasus Galaxy, and we mean to keep it. We, Humanity, have gathered together in a coalition to explore both the technology of the Ancients and the far reaches of the Pegasus Galaxy. Any questions?"

Paul felt this was the time to say something ... anything. "Are there ... Indigenous Personnel on this ... Atlantis?"

Something in the way that Rivets said 'Atlantis' sent off warning bells in Captain Ellison's head. The problem was, he was so rushed, he had to put down those doubts on plow ahead. Besides, the question was moderately clever.

"Yes, there may be IP's on site. They are to be considered 'non-hostile'."

Non-hostile meant "don't shoot them", but was well away from "friendlies". That was the situation Paul had just come from. His Sarge had laid out the complicated plan for dealing with NH's - keep your weapon down - if you see a weapon, go to weapons up and tell the NH to put the weapon down/away - failing that, shoot the SOB. Which begged the question:

"Sir, will we have imbedded translators?"

The Captain smiled. That was two semi-intelligent question in a row.

"Not at this time. The mission will have a few experts in the Ancient language, but you shouldn't need any imbedded."

The next thing Rivets expect to hear was that the population was most likely primitive and unsophisticated. They would pose no real threat to the mission!'

"Will the Captain be joining us on this rotation?" Paul pressed.

Kyle Ellison laughed. "Oh, I wish. I wasn't selected for this round, but I'm hoping to get assigned soon. This is a great adventure. You'll see."

'Oh crap,' Paul thought. 'Weren't the Taliban supposed to be primitive and unsophisticated? Look how well that was working out. This guy could make all the assessments of the opposition he wanted to - safely back here at Logistics Base. Out in the field, it would most likely be another story.'

The Captain's watch beeped. "Time to go get you equipped. This way."

Their standard BDU was different, but clean. The main firearm was compact, made for close quarters combat. The rest was ... high tech. All Rivets could hope for was that their logistics guys on his end could keep it all functioning. Examining his gear, he totally zoned on the lecture on nannites, stunners, power staves, and about a dozen other really neat toys that dealt damage, but didn't go boom the way a good, old fashion firearm did.

Grenades - check

GTA missiles - not qualified for (which brought some concerned stares)

Grenade Launcher - check

Side Arm - (why not, I mean) check

Medkit - (a 90 minute course crammed into 2 minutes) - check

Miscellaneous Goods - (I'll figure out what to do with them when I get there) check

The Captain slapped Rivets on the back. "You're good to go. Let's get you down to your staging area."

The gate was ... awesome (and it wasn't even open yet). Rivets looked at it and thought, 'How do they keep it clean?' Surely, it was some poor bastard's job to climb on top of that damn thing and scrub out the symbols and angles. He was sure it was punishment duty. There were Sergeants around and were there were Sergeants, there was punishment duty.

Rivets set his (new) kit down and began going through it.

"I'm sure everything is okay, Private," the Captain said light-heartedly. Rivets tried hard to not show his shock. Going through your own kit before a mission was Army Gospel. The Captain seemed to have read his mind.

"There will be plenty of time to go through your gear when you get to the other side. We aren't jumping you into combat. All your gear has been triple checked - we knew you would be coming in on a tight timeline. Trust us. Now, here's your mission commander."

"Captain (name not relevant - there were sergeants roaming around), this is your last man. Private ... Paul Rivets. He's the replacement for your replacement."

'Oh, I'm liking this better and better. Two guys went down so I get the slot. Not good,' Rivets thought.

Captain (NNR) looked Rivets over. "Army huh? I'm with Special Forces. Who were you with?"

"C company, 3rd Battalion, 4th Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Sir!"

The Green Beret snorted, "Well, you're with Star Gate command now, Private." Then, after a pause, "You were just in it, weren't you?"

"Sir, yes Sir! I was Weapons Hot twenty -four hours ago, Sir!"

"Twenty-four ..." The Green Beret looked at the Air Force Captain skeptically. "Ah, frak me," the Army Captain muttered, then walked away. Now he had at least one body on his ticket that didn't know what the hell was going on. If this Private ... What's His Name was in Afghanistan one day ago, that meant nil time to train him up.

(NNR) summoned Ellison over. "What the? I need to see this guy's jacket pronto."

"The file has been downloaded to your PDA. I tell you, he's okay. The Project picked him out especially for this mission. I guess he's a real hotshot of some kind."

"Listen to me, Ellison, he's got three tour badges and he's still a private. That means he is either a discipline case, or he's retarded. Neither one is a good thing for me. I'm used to working with the elite of the elite, and I can tell you, this guy does not have the right stuff. Pull him. I want him off the mission."

The first alarm was sounded. The Gates locking mechanism was retracting. Next would come the dial up.

"Too late for that now, Captain," Ellison said, grin plastered painfully across his face. If this was somehow a fuck up, it was his, Captain Ellison's, ass on the line. "Leave it for Sumner to figure out. That's why he's in charge."

"Don't do this to me, Ellison," (NNR) growled menacingly.

"Sorry, Bub. It's out of my hands now."

The Grean Beret's growl deepened.

"Damn it," he hissed. He was saddled with this piece of dead weight. Might as well get some use out of him.

"Private," the Army Captain bellowed at Rivets, "whatever your name is, grab that crate there and move it to the side."

The Private did so, quite handily.

The portal locked and the gate opened.

"Wwwhhhooooaaaaaaaaaaaaa ... " Rivets whispered. He wanted to go out and touch.

One trooper next to him spoke to another. "Now I see why they say stay way the fuck back when one of these opens. One touch and your atomized." The other trooper nodded.

'Atomized? Whatever that means, it can't be good,' Rivets thought. He made a mental note : Cool water-like effect BAD.

The reflective surface of the gate settled down to a calm rhythm.

"Saddle up, People," (NNR) said. "Sling your gear, grab your container, and head out."

The Green Beret lead the way. Rivets came along, second to last. When his face hit the "water", he had his second "wwwhhhoooooaaaa" moment of the day, his last day on Earth.

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