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Week Seven: The Last Launch

Title: The Last Launch
Author: stella_pegasi
Genre(s): Friendship, memories
Rating: pg
Character/Pairing: John Sheppard, Rodney McKay, Evan Lorne
Spoilers: None…not even a score…
Warnings: None
Het/Slash/Gen: Gen
Word count: 1684
Disclaimer: I do not own them, I would have treated them better.
Summary: Even a fun gathering can lead to treasured memories.
Prompt: Week Seven: Launch

Note: Even as a small child, I was enamored with NASA. I was young but I remember where I was when men landed on the moon. I remember being excited about the shuttle program and have been fortunate to see several shuttle launches, one from the VIP viewing section, compliments of a US Senator from the state I lived in at the time. Seeing a shuttle launch in person is the single, most exciting thing I have ever witnessed, the light from the engines during lift-off was the most brilliant light I have ever seen. However, the biggest impact was the pounding on your body as the concussion from the sound waves created by the engines, washed around you. I took advantage of this prompt to pay homage to the men and women of NASA. My hope is that someday, soon, we reach for the stars again.







THE LAST LAUNCH

By stella_pegasi

Sheppard hurried through his shower, throwing on his most comfortable pair of jeans, a t-shirt, and a hoodie. He raced out the door headed for the large rec room; the Daedalus had arrived last night, and with her came the latest sports videos. General Landry was a major sports fan, who saw to it that Atlantis did not go without a steady supply of sports videos of all kinds. Granted the games were a few weeks old, but they didn't get the scores in advance, so the games, and the betting that accompanied them, was unspoiled.

On the way, he tapped his COM, to chide Rodney about his refusal to join them. After listening to Rodney tell him one more time that he didn't like sports and he wasn't coming, Sheppard decided to play the one card that always trumped Rodney's excuses.

"Ah…come on, Rodney; don’t be such a sourpuss, watch the games with us. Caldwell brought beer and pizzas," Sheppard cajoled.

"Pizza, where did Caldwell get pizza?"

Sheppard snarked, "How do I know? From the pizza store, I reckon. All I tell you is that the mess is baking the pizzas now and serving them in about twenty minutes. Now, are you coming?"

"Well, pizza…I guess I could come."

"Bring your pad, so you can play games or work, so you don't get bored. See you there." Sheppard tapped off his COM while Rodney was still talking; he felt like a babysitter telling a kid to bring their crayons and coloring books to keep them happy. He was going to force McKay to play nice with the Atlantis personnel, even if he had to bribe him with food, or coloring books, whatever worked.

When he arrived in the rec room, a chorus of hellos from the soldiers and the geeks, who were already there, greeted him. Sheppard was pleased to see so many of the science staff. More scientists had started attending game nights, since he had asked for soccer to be included. However, he suspected their interest peaked when they discovered Chuck Campbell's gaming operation. The scientists had made a sport of their own trying to devise mathematical formulas and game statistics to beat the odds.

There were three areas set up with a large screen and chairs, which allowed for three games playing simultaneously. Beer and snacks had already been set up on a table along the wall of the large room. Sheppard grabbed a beer and a handful of pretzels and headed for a large chair, his favorite. Over the last couple of years, they had collected comfortable couches and chairs from around the galaxy and one in particular, an old beat up chair, upholstered in a faded green fabric was the one he preferred. As he sat down in the plushy chair, he thought at least there was one perk to command; no one sat in his chair.

Major Lorne and Corporal Rodriguez were sorting through the DVD's, deciding on what to watch first, while Dr. Radek Zelenka was setting up the monitors. Sheppard laughed as he saw Sergeant Dusty Mehra sorting through the stack of games, then toss a DVD to Lorne.

Sheppard chuckled, as he watched Mehra walk away, "Do I need to ask, Lorne?"

Lorne was grinning, "No, sir; Women's Soccer World Cup, surprised?"

"Hardly, since she played soccer in college. What else is on the agenda?"

Lorne looked through the DVD stack, "We have baseball, including several Yankee's games; Jeter's chasing his 3000th hit. Five NASCAR races, along with Indy and Formula racing, soccer, beach volleyball," Lorne looked up at Sheppard, grinning broadly, "always a favorite, sir."

Sheppard's eyebrow rose in response to his half-grin, "I hear you." He was about to ask what Lorne was planning to show first when he heard McKay enter the room, already complaining. He turned in his chair to see the scientist standing at the food table, Ronon beside him.

"I thought there was pizza; there isn't any pizza here," McKay sputtered, indignantly. "Sheppard just told me that to lure me here."

"Little man," Ronon growled, "Is that all you can think about, food?"

Rodney scoffed, "Right, like you don't think of food all the time."

Sheppard sighed; he didn't want to spend the evening listening to his two friends bickering. "Rodney; pizza will be delivered shortly, just hush. Grab a beer, some snacks, and come sit down."

"Colonel," at the sound of the deep gruff voice, Sheppard looked up to see that Caldwell and some of his crew had joined them. He started to rise in respect to Caldwell, who did outrank him, but Caldwell motioned him back down. Sheppard indicated for Caldwell to take the empty chair next to his.

"Colonel Caldwell; thanks for bringing the pizzas, and the beer." He lifted his beer can toward the Daedalus commander.

"No problem, Sheppard; my crew likes hanging out with the Atlantis crew." Grinning slyly, Caldwell quipped, "No accounting for taste, I suppose."

Sheppard feigned anguish, "Now, colonel; we're not that bad." Sheppard could relax around Caldwell, finally, after all these years. They had managed to learn how to respect each other and although, neither would admit it, like each other.

The aroma of fresh-baked pizza filled the air, and Sheppard glanced back to see trays of pizzas coming through the door. The Marines who were waiting in line had wisely allowed Rodney move to the front; smart move, he thought. He started to rise, he was hungry for pizza, when Caldwell spoke.

"Sheppard, before we watch some games, I have something else I would like for you to show your command." He pulled a DVD from a pocket on his jumpsuit and handed it to Sheppard, who quickly read the label.

"Hard to believe, colonel; I never thought that we'd let this happen."

"Me, neither but it happened; this video had quite an effect on my crew."

"Let's wait until they get pizza and get settled, then we'll watch this."

Sheppard called Lorne over and asked him to round up the rest of Atlantis' staff to come down for a short time to watch the video. He ordered more pizzas cooked, then waited for everyone to arrive.

When all was in place, Sheppard turned to Caldwell, "Colonel, would you like to introduce this?"

With a slight smile, Caldwell declined, "This is your command, colonel; it will mean more to them if you show them this."

Sheppard stood up, facing the crowded room, "I know a lot of you were not planning on joining us for game night, but Colonel Caldwell brought a DVD that we need to watch. An era in US history has ended, and I agree with the colonel that we need to observe this moment. Rodriguez, hit the lights, Radek, go ahead."

As the title of the DVD scrolled across the screen, the room fell silent. The film was entitled, The Last Launch: The Story of STS-135. The final voyage of the Space Shuttle Atlantis." For the next hour, the crew of the Pegasus Atlantis watched as the crew of another Atlantis readied themselves for their final launch into space. The film gave a retrospective of the US Space program, ending with the successful touchdown of STS-135, and the end of an era.

When the film ended, Rodriguez flipped the lights on, and Sheppard was somewhat surprised at the group's reaction. Many of the scientists, regardless of their nationality, were teary-eyed; many of the military looked as if they were trying hard not to be emotional. Crap, he thought; they were going to expect him to say something.

He scratched his head, a bit nervous, "Well, the end of an era; looks like we're it, except for a few who will fly to the space station compliments of the Russians." A whoop came from Dr. Dmitri Rolancov, a Russian biologist, prompting laughter from the crowd.

Corporal Brenner asked, "Colonel Sheppard; how much does NASA know about us?"

"It's my understanding, corporal, that only the top managers at NASA know about the Stargate Program, and I don't think they are privy to everything. They may know that we have had alien contact and that alien ships have been to Earth. I believe that only the NASA director knows about the Daedalus or the other ships in the fleet."

Another Marine asked, "Wonder what the people on Earth would say if they knew, sir?"

"I imagine, sergeant, they would react the same way we all did. I was extremely shocked when I found out, and I've seen many weird things, as most of you have. Scientist or solder, we've been trained for the unexpected, although," he made a sweeping gesture with his arms, "this was quite unexpected. For the average person on Earth, this would be a major surprise."

McKay said, "They'll find out sometime."

"Yes, they will; however, in the meantime, we do our jobs."

Corporal Brenner spoke again, "Colonels, thank you for reminding us what's going on at home, and what the public really believes. I grew up wanting to be a Marine, but I was a major fan of the space program; fancied myself an astronaut. I never thought I would be able to do both. Looks like it's up to us to do the Shuttle Atlantis justice, sir; we owe her that."

Sheppard smiled, "Yes, corporal; we do."

Major Lorne stood up, "A toast to Atlantis, the Space Program, and the men and women who journeyed to the stars." He raised his beer in a salute, as did the crowd. The Marines yelled "Ooh-rah" and applause filled the room.

As the applause died down, a voice in the crowd called out, "Time for baseball, Jeter's close to 3000 hits, people!" That prompted laughter, followed by a few renditions of "Let's play ball."

Everyone settled in their respective areas to watch the various games or races. Sheppard noticed that a line of people, cash in hand, was forming around Chuck. He smiled, it may have been the end of an era for the Shuttle Atlantis, but the Starship Atlantis was still in business.

The end…

Note: I took the liberty of giving STS-135 a safe voyage home. Gods speed to the crew and may they return safely.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
admiralandrea
Jul. 11th, 2011 06:22 pm (UTC)
Awesome, a wonderful tribute to them all, very nicely done!

(And of course they're gonna get home safely!)
stella_pegasi
Jul. 11th, 2011 09:07 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much; I really appreciate your comment. And thanks for the reassurance that all will be well, I hesitated to even mention them landing for fear of jinxing them!

Thanks again!
esteefee
Jul. 11th, 2011 06:31 pm (UTC)
you made me all teary. I loved the cheer from the Russian biologist. :)

here's to STS-135 and all the astronauts over the years and the support personnel who worked for the dream and kept them safe. and to the crews of the Challenger and the Columbia.

I *know* in future SGA and shows like it aren't going to be our only window to the universe.
stella_pegasi
Jul. 11th, 2011 09:10 pm (UTC)
Oh...didn't mean to make you teary...it was a teary event for me when Atlantis launched.

Thanks so much for commenting, I really appreciate it!
hoktauri
Jul. 11th, 2011 06:41 pm (UTC)
This is beautiful and poignant. Thank you for this. I was in Titusville Friday to see the launch and it was very emotional.

My heart goes out to all the men and women facing layoffs after Atlantis' return.

I know we still have kids out there dreaming of space, and I hope this doesn't dampen their enthusiasm.

And I love the snark b/t Rodney and Ronon in this. :-)
stella_pegasi
Jul. 11th, 2011 09:13 pm (UTC)
I couldn't agree with you more, I certainly hope there are kids who are dreaming on traveling in space. I know you enjoyed the launch. I have been to about five now, we used to drive up from Naples or Miami when I lived in those areas. It is a sight to behold.

Thanks so much for your comment, I really appreciate it.
sexycazzy
Jul. 11th, 2011 07:22 pm (UTC)
oh this made me feel teary! Just lovely and so right for the people of Atlantis to make a toast to the people of the other Atlantis!

Nicely done! :-)
stella_pegasi
Jul. 11th, 2011 09:14 pm (UTC)
Thanks so much. Sorry to make you teary but I understand, the launch made be feel the same way.

Appreciate your comment, glad you enjoyed.
goddess47
Jul. 12th, 2011 01:21 am (UTC)
I love it when Sheppard and Caldwell get along... and pizza delivery!

Good story and, yes, here's to a safe return...

Nicely done!
stella_pegasi
Jul. 12th, 2011 02:56 am (UTC)
Thanks so much! I'm glad you enjoyed.

I like writing Sheppard and Caldwell as friends. I really wish TPTB has shown a change in relationship with Sheppard and Caldwell...they hinted at it but never really carried it though...but then they didn't do a lot things they needed to do, did the?

Thanks again!
vicki_rae
Jul. 12th, 2011 04:48 am (UTC)
Love this. A seamless blending of Stargate and NASA. Atlantis paying tribute to Atlantis.

I still vividly remember the first moon landing. This will not be the end of the space program.

Good luck and good landing to Atlantis and her crew.


Edited at 2011-07-12 04:58 am (UTC)
stella_pegasi
Jul. 12th, 2011 01:17 pm (UTC)
Thank you very much. I agree with you, this will not, can not, be the end of the space program.

Glad you enjoyed; thanks again.
shaddyr
Jul. 12th, 2011 06:04 am (UTC)
The space program and humanity's future among the stars is something that is near and dear to my heart. I was thinking about writing something to commemorate this, but had no idea what - thank you for writing this and sharing it. It's wonderful!
stella_pegasi
Jul. 12th, 2011 01:19 pm (UTC)
It's near and dear to me, as well. I am pleased that you enjoyed this story, thanks so much for your comment.
saphirablue
Jul. 12th, 2011 05:21 pm (UTC)
A wonderful tribute and a great peek into the daily live of the city of Atlantis. :)

Thank you! :)
stella_pegasi
Jul. 12th, 2011 08:51 pm (UTC)
Thank you, I appreciate it. So glad you enjoyed!
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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