Pegasus Tax Code
by Noel Goddard
Original Pub. Date: March 2005
Summary: This ficlet was written for celli for her annual taxfic challenge in 2005.
After sweeping the empty lab to verify that it was safe, Sheppard motioned for McKay to enter. “Let’s see if they have any Wraith-fighting goodies stashed in here.”
Rodney entered the room, placing his pack on the floor in the corner. “I’ll tackle the console on the far wall. Why don’t you see what’s on the lab bench over there?”
Sheppard wandered over and picked up a palm-sized device. Sheppard was turning the oddly shaped Ancient device over in his hands for the third time when McKay’s voice caught his attention.
John shook his head. “No, Rodney, I thought I would just admire its aesthetic values.”
“Ooo, another Mensa word? Just keep rubbing it in.”
John put down the seemingly useless device and turned his best sarcastic glare on McKay. “Look McKay, I’m sorry that I ruined your stereotypical view of the military, but gimme a break! We’ve got to focus on finding something, anything to beat back the Wraith.”
Rodney sneered, “Well, Major, I am trying, but apparently your Ancient gene is feeling a little pissy today and doesn’t want to work the equipment.”
Rodney turned and stalked across the lab while John picked up the remote and began to fiddle again in earnest. Maybe if he concentrated more...
Suddenly, a holographic projection of a man appeared across the lab and began speaking, “Atlantean municipal code 127643 Each Atlantean is responsible for providing financial support to the infrastructure of the city proportionate to one’s income. This is to be considered one’s civic duty. There will be no exemptions to the financial withholding unless certain criteria are met...”
John and Rodney exchanged an amused look before John spoke, “Only on Atlantis could they have polite, holographic accountants.”
Rodney scoffed, “Oh, that’s good. Maybe we’ll just attack the Wraith with an audit. That ought to do the trick. Try that console over there. See if it says anything more about the control systems for the chair.”
The holographic accountant droned on in the background for several minutes before shutting off.
Grudgingly, John went and started to punch buttons at random on the console, succeeding only in setting off the lab’s fire alarm. As the loud screeching noise filled the room, the Ancient sprinklers kicked in, spraying the lab with water.
Rodney had the fire alarm shut off in minutes, but not before he and John were soaked through. “Major! What the hell did you think you were doing?”
John ran a hand through his wet hair, sending a fine spray across the console, “I was following directions. Remember, the whole punching buttons plan?”
Before the squabble could escalate, the holographic accountant reappeared and interrupted them. “Atlantean municipal code 127643 subsection F If fire should destroy the living or working quarters of any Atlantean citizen, they are exempt from fulfilling their civic financial duty for the period of one Atlantean year. During that time, they will receive an amount from the civic fund commensurate with the value of said living or working quarters to facilitate reconstruction and economic rejuvenation.” The hologram stopped speaking and then shut off.
John smirked, “Well, apparently, I’ve managed to activate a lifetime accountant to serve all of our accounting needs.”
Rodney snapped back, “Well, that’s just delightful. Maybe we should send him up to Elizabeth so she can give us some imaginary money for our imaginary fire!”
“Come on, McKay. You have to admit that their tax code seems a bit more fair. They took care of their own. Wouldn’t you want someone to reimburse you for your loss if it happened to you?”
Rodney was quick with his reply. “Just because I’m a Canadian does not mean that I’m a socialist, Major. I’m all for the American dream, making it on your own, and capitalism at all costs. However, I’m certain the socialist tendencies of the Ancients will make some political historian-anthropologist very happy. Maybe Johnson should come take a look...”
John absently ran his other hand through his wet hair, “McKay, I don’t think Johnson is going to care much about anything if the Wraith kill all of us in a week!”
Both men were silent as they first heard a soft hum and then saw the hologram flicker to life again, “Atlantean municipal code 127643 subsection W In the event of a Wraith attack, if the person survives, he or she will be exempt from fulfilling their civic financial duty for what remains of their natural life cycle. If however, the person does not survive a Wraith attack, their survivors will receive a compassionate survivor’s benefit from the civic fund commensurate with the number of working years lost.”
This time Rodney spoke first, “See! See!! Now that is exactly what I was trying to tell General O’Neill before we left.”
John stared incredulously at Rodney. “Now what are you talking about? Fire insurance is not okay, but survivor’s benefits are?”
Rodney was bouncing with indignation. “Work with me here, Major. Trying using the gray matter that actually qualified you for Mensa. Anyway, I told him that the civilians on this mission should receive the same exemption from taxes that all of you military types receive for serving in a combat zone!”
John smiled, “I’m sure that went over really well.”
“Not really, no. Anyway, I don’t understand what his problem was. On this expedition thus far, we’ve lost far more civilians than we have military, and most of us have had to resort to carrying weapons of some sort. Why should we have to pay taxes while you don’t? Ridiculous!”
“Well, Rodney, if we actually survive and make it back to earth someday, I, for one, will support your proposal that you shouldn’t have to pay any back taxes.”
That seemed to mollify the scientist. “Well, as long as we’re in agreement. Now, get back to work. In order to benefit from my proposed new tax status, I actually have to survive this attack. Go find some large killing weapon or something while I study the files in this console’s database!”
John just smirked at the astrophysicist. Who knew the prospect of a tax refund would cheer up the cranky scientist?
Rodney glanced up briefly, “What are you waiting for? Work! Work!”