"What about the discharges?" Elizabeth asked pointedly. "Didn't the one you just experienced nearly damage the jumper?"
"I was kind of curious about that part myself," John admitted.
"Well, obviously, we'll have to land outside the installation." Rodney huffed in exasperation. "And I don't see that we have a choice. It's either leave the Mirror and chance the Wraith detecting it, or find out we've left open a portal to an invasion fleet from another reality, or-"
"I understand that, Rodney," Elizabeth reminded him. "Dr. Zelenka, what do you think?"
Zelenka folded his arms, looking uncomfortable. Sounding reluctant, he said, "This is too dangerous to ignore, Dr. Weir. If nothing else, we must try to shut it down."
L C John?"
John shrugged. He didn't see they had a choice either. "They're right."
The SCBAs, or self-contained breathing apparatus sets, each had an hour tank and a couple of spares, which could be refilled from the jumper's environmental system with a setup Zelenka had jury-rigged last year. Ronon had never used one of the breathing sets before, and John wanted to make certain Zelenka and Miko remembered their training with them, so he had everybody put a set on and they did a brief twenty minute sweep outside.
Also, everybody really wanted a look at the spaceport.
They could have spent a couple of days here, and John just hoped they would have a chance to come back. The place had been built to hold hundreds of jumpers and larger craft, the shape only teasingly hinted at by the landing slots high in the walls. They found passageways leading to two other domes, and even if all were empty, it would still be worth it to send a team back to look for tools and equipment in the repair bays.
Standing with the others at the edge of the hatch that opened into the broken dome's lower levels, John shined his P-90's light into the depths. He could see it was mostly filled with the reddish sand, with a few straggly plants growing in it. "That's kind of depressing," he commented, his voice muffled by the breathing mask. It fit over the mouth and nose, and the tank attached to a stan dard pack.
Teyla nodded, frowning. "So much work went into this place. I hope it was not in vain." She looked up, directing her light over the empty racks. "I hope some of them escaped."
"I don't know." Rodney sounded grim. He turned around, looking up at the cracked roof far overhead. "The fact that this dome was wedged open isn't a good sign. Whoever was here last had to leave in a hurry, and lost power in the process."
"There is no sign of blast scars," Zelenka pointed out, obviously trying to sound optimistic.
"If the dome was stuck open the Wraith could have used the culling beam,"John pointed out. Miko made a little choked noise and Zelenka stared upward nervously. Yeah, probably shouldn't have brought that up, John thought with a wince.
"Thank you, Colonel," Rodney said, witheringly. "On that note-"
"Right." John nodded. The Mirror wasn't getting any less dangerous. "Let's go."
John brought the jumper in low this time, barely skimming over the ground. The HUD stayed active without him having to think about it, the sensors scanning for stray energy that might mean another discharge, as if the jumper was as nervous as they were. As they neared the building, Rodney leaned down to point over John's shoulder. "There. There's a door."
"Saw it." It was triangular, and set into the base of the structure above a short flight of steps. John put the jumper down about fifty feet from it, stirring up a small cloud of dust.
When John got the board locked down and stepped into the back, everyone was gathering their packs and fumbling with the breathing sets. He clipped his P-90 to his vest and asked, "Now what's rule one?"
"Ah, I know this one," Zelenka said, looking up with his brow furrowed earnestly. "That would be to not scream, unless something is eating us, and we need your attention immediately."
John slung the pack with the air tank across his back. "Okay, that's a rule, but it's not rule one."
"Oh, ah…everybody stay together?" Zelenka tried again.
"The rule is `don't be stupid! "' Rodney said with an irritable grimace, checking his tablet one last time. "That's the only one that matters."
Teyla interposed, "The rule is to stay with us at all times, do not rush ahead no matter what the temptation, and always let us examine an area first before you enter."
"I don't think you have to worry about that with us." Zelenka consulted Miko with a look. She nodded earnestly.
"Yeah, that's one of the reasons I agreed to bring you guys," John told him.
When everybody had their breathing sets on and their packs ready, John opened the ramp. The air released from the cabin caused another dust cloud, billowing out and away from the jumper. John went down the ramp first, Teyla with him. The ground felt weird under his boots, the fine powdery dirt shifting over the more solid rock, and he paused to take a long look at their surroundings. There was nothing they hadn't spotted from the air; the dusty pink plain, patchy with dry grasses and a few scrubby bushes, stretched away for empty miles, toward the foothills and then the mountains that rose in the north. The gas giant hung low in the sky, the red-brown bands a familiar sight now. John signaled the others to come out.
Rodney strode down the ramp first, his eyes on the life signs detector except for one wary glance around. Zelenka and Kusanagi followed him, with Ronon on their six. John used the jumper remote to close the ramp and set the cloak. Each team member had their own remote to get back in, and if something happened to John, both Rodney and Kusanagi could fly the jumper, though Rodney had a lot more experience at it than she did.
They moved toward the door, Ronon facing away from it to keep watch as John examined it thoughtfully. It was made of blue-green metal set into a stone frame, with square patterns embossed into the surface. Studying the detector, Rodney said, "Huh. I'm getting readings suggesting that the power is on inside." He sounded intrigued rather than worried. "This isn't a ZPM signature. I was right, it must be drawing power from the Mirror."
It meant they might not have to manually pry the door up. "Can you get it open?" John asked him.
Rodney eyed it, then stepped to the side, touching a small square set deep into the stone wall. The door started to slide upward, moving a little sluggishly. Rodney looked at John, chin lifted. "Of course."
Teyla stepped to John's side to cover the growing opening, but their lights showed the chamber inside was empty. John moved to the doorway, and soft white recessed lights came on in the ceiling, revealing a space that would have been just big enough to slide the jumper into, if the door had been large enough. The walls were tinted the same blue-green as the outer door, and the floor embossed with strips of dull silver metal. There was another sealed triangular door just opposite, and a steady breeze.
Rodney held out a hand to feel the air flow, frowning. "It's pressurized." He looked at his tablet. "I'm reading close to twenty-two percent oxygen."
"Well, we knew the power was on." John stepped cautiously into the room, signaling the others to stay back. This was the part where he made sure the inner door was going to open and the outer wasn't going to shut and trap them inside. He crossed the room, pausing to hold a hand up in front of a silver disk set into the wall. Close up it still looked solid, but it was emitting a strong flow of air. "This is a vent."
"But the power should have been on standby," Rodney objected from the doorway behind him. "That's how Ancient systems work. And there hasn't been time to pressurize this entire structure."