Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Twelve

Chapter Twelve

Boing. Boing.

He can feel himself sitting up. Why, he doesn’t know, but he can feel himself propped up somehow on a, John Sheppard opens his eyes, stool of some sort. Beyond his rounded boot tips, he sees floor. It’s pale purple-grey like the walls of the hallway before. Still concrete though. He wiggles his foot a little, pressing his toes down hard to feel through the thinner than he’s used to sole. Yep, definitely still concrete. So he supposes that’s a good sign. It means he’s still in the episode since he’s never seen anything like it in Atlantis and he’s been there for six years, he’s covered a lot of ground in the place over that time.

Slowly he lifts his head. Right off the bat his eyes note that Carson Beckett’s beside him and Radek Zelenka’s on Carson’s other side. Both of the other men lift their heads a heartbeat after Sheppard does, apparently they’d been waiting for his cue. Good boys. The second thing they notice is that something’s been added to their outfits. All three of them are now sporting silver belts with large round green buckles around their waists. Yep, it’s definitely tacky and cheaply made prop stuff right here around their waists. John thanks God that it’s only them in this part of the episode and no one can see him wearing this embarrassing getup. Third, they’re sitting at a large, T-shaped table, Easter pastel green with a black lacquer top and jaggedly cut rock with pearlescent shine for it’s just as large pedestal, with Rodney’s body sitting on John’s other side at the table. And that’s another good thing, Rodney’s still with them so whenever they get done with this part they can get Rodney’s body to wherever it is Rodney’s brain is at as quickly and easily as possible. Click. Number four, they look around at their new surroundings and see that the room’s guarded by what John can only assume are Morg men. One sitting at one end of the oddly shaped table with a bowl of something next to him, the man’s chewing and there’s another of the Eymorg, if he remembers the name Luma had said correctly, sitting at the table next to him. As John watches, the as-gorgeous-as-all-the-others-like-her woman reaches out and pets the Morg man next to her. Pet. Okay, now he gets it. Sheppard sits up straighter and confidently faces the eyes of every beautiful woman equally scantily clad in a rainbow array of colors sitting at the table across from him. Still the same arrangement of metallic halter top that’s barely holding their more than adequate cleavage in paired with a micro mini-skirt and matching thigh-high, gartered stockings/boots. And at the center of the rainbow is the woman in purple. Obviously the leader, her micro mini sporting an additional panel on it that acts almost like a sash, the embellishment normally reserved for leaders.

“What are you? Why are you here?” She asks in a beautifully soft and melodic voice that almost makes him get smiley and goo-goo eyed at her again. He must have shown a little bit of that because her gorgeous face suddenly lights on him specifically, “You have something to speak?”

If this weren’t a dire circumstance, John willingly admits to himself that he would and they wouldn’t be bitter or unhappy words either. But that’s not the circumstance and now is not the time for him to try playing the field. “Okay, Radek,” John asks in a low tone, “what now?”

“Kara took Rodney’s brain and you’ll discover she’s as informed about any of this as Luma is.”

“How is that possible,” Carson doesn’t think his mind can take much more of this, “If she took Rodney’s brain, then how can she not know about any of this?”

“The Controller,” Radek says simply.

Kara reacts. Her perfectly formed eyes widen. Her cheeks tightening as her mouth forms the gentlest of ‘O’s. “Controller?” She latches on.

“Yes,” Carson sees light at the end of the tunnel, but John notices Radek’s grim expression as the Czech’s eyes close and he starts shaking his head while Carson goes on, “Take us to your Controller, lovely girl.”

“No,” she snaps, shutting down his ‘lovely girl’ idea, “It is not permitted. Never!” Then it’s like something snaps in her, she becomes manic almost, “Controller is alone, apart. We serve Controller. No other is permitted near.” She comes around the table. Intentionally putting herself in between her fellows and the people that Sheppard easily surmises she’s coming to quickly view as enemies. This isn’t helping and it’s definitely not going to be easy.

John frowns. Surrounding himself with beautiful women to serve his mind? Like Kenmore said, that sounds exactly like Rodney. Damn him. And they’re even paranoid to be apart from him, willing to fight to keep him with them and them alone. Frustration sighs out of John Sheppard’s nostrils while his mind races for other ways of not detonating any hair-triggers.

“Please, love, we have to meet with him and get his brain back in his body.”

“Brain and brain! What is brain,” she roars at them. The picture of beauty crinkling into a fierce rage, a defensive rage. Not quite so attractive anymore. It vaguely reminds John of old artistic renderings he’d seen of the mythical Harpy. Suddenly Kara’s expression shifts again to one of wide, wary eyes. Her whole body seems to tense with her face like a cat coiling itself in the tall grass while it’s eyes keep trained on the possible prey in its sights that might well put up a decent fight for its own life, “It is Controller, is it not?”

“Aye,” Carson starts nodding, Radek keeps shaking his head with his eyes still closed, “aye, in a way it is. The human brain controls the human body’s functions. It’s what makes us who we are.”

Radek sighs noticeably. No longer shaking his head and finally opening his eyes.

“You’re not bloody well helping, Radek,” Carson’s desperate, “Rodney’s running out of time.”

“I know that, but this is not the way.”

“If talking with this woman isn’t the way, then what is?”

Radek’s piercing blue eyes fix on their judge and itchy-trigger finger executioner standing in front of them. “I believe you should play along, Colonel.”

Sheppard nods, “Okay, how do I do that?”

“In the episode, Captain Kirk falls on his knees before Kara and starts dramatically imploring her as a Great Leader and tells her that we have come from a far place to learn from…,” he trails off. Wary of prodding that particular hornet’s nest in the young woman.

“I’m not doing that.” John can instantly imagine how ridiculous William Shatner might have looked doing all that and he’s sure as hell not going there. Next. “What else did he do? That can’t have been the only thing he tried.”

Zelenka winces. He knows what’s coming next. He considers telling them, but decides to err on the side of the least he tells the Colonel and Carson, the better. Radek leans over and tries the best way he can to make amends for his omission, he warns Sheppard, “Colonel, you should tell her that we are his friends.”

John has no problem doing that; it’s the truth after all, “We’re his friends. Please, take us to him. Look, I’m begging you. You have to take us to him. He’s running out of time.”

Suddenly Luma gets to her feet on the other side of the table. “Do not take them, Kara. Do not take them to the Controller,” she begs. Imploring in genuine heartfelt distress. Dear God, she might actually lay down her life to keep Rodney’s brain with them.

“They will be prevented,” Kara condemns grimly. She reaches for her wristband again.

Whoops, John may have taken that a little farther than he was meant to. Apparently jumped too far ahead in the story? John gets to his feet, “You have to take us to him.”

Before John can try to reel things back, if he can, Kara pushes the thin green button on her wristband. Boing.

There it is, searing fire. Agony forces all three men to abandon their stools entirely and collapse onto the floor. Kara mutters something, John sees her mouth move between the squinting of his eyes. He can’t hear it. None of them can. John grits his teeth. Gnashes. Fighting off the consuming pain. Squeezes his eyes shut. When they open next, through the slits of his sight he sees she’s left with her fellow Eymorg and pet Morg. Only the guard Morg are left watching the three Lantean men writhe on the floor before mercifully passing out.

*                      *                      *


Richard Woolsey smacks his fist down on the armrest of the Ancient chair. Frustration, unusually, getting the better of him. Lieutenant Kenmore and Teyla Emmagan startle at the sharp smacking sound. Their eyes snap to him, surprised expressions on their faces.

Richard doesn’t bother to hide it, “Where are they? What’s taking them so long?”

“This is how the episode goes,” Kenmore tells him.

He turns the chair to face her. “I’m starting not to believe that.”

Kenmore glares at him. Woolsey is just as unrelenting. She opens her mouth—

“Us getting knocked out then finding the planet where Spock’s brain’s been taken to actually only takes up the first thirteen minutes of the episode,” the faux-hawked Technician cuts in.

Woolsey stares at the young Asian- American man then rises from the Ancient chair. He approaches the Technician’s upper deck station.

“Really,” Richard’s amazed, “Only that small an amount of time?”

“Yeah,” the Tech nods, his black faux-hawk not budging an inch from the movement, “The majority of the episode is this. All this.” He gestures around the Operations Center.

“We hold down the fort and they get the job done. It’s all them and we wait,” Ursula finishes.

Richard looks at her. Then his brown-eyed gaze travels back over Operations returning to rest upon the Gateroom and its monolithic standing ring of naquadah. Ironically, since taking this job, he’s never been good at simply waiting.


Ronon glances at the sealed door again and Lorne and the other marine blow on their steadily freezing hands. The three men huddling close to the rock face for what little protection it provides them.

“Do you think one of us should go find some of the locals and make contact with them? Their clothes looked warm, maybe they’d share?” The marine asks.

Lorne shakes his head, “Nope, we stay right here in case either Colonel Sheppard or Carson or Radek call us or this door opens.”

Ronon keeps vigil on the sealed door.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Eleven

Chapter Eleven

The elevator starts to slow. Let alone can they feel it, they can hear it. That blaring whine of power indicating how obviously fast they’re plummeting is easing back into a baritone note. Their artificially rocky room comes to a stop with a few trembling shakes and the door opens. Another incredible hot woman scantily dressed in yellow orange is standing there. Waiting for them. Clearly tripping the trap also somehow sent out a signal. Great, that’s all they need is for an entire facility that of the group of them only Radek knows how large it is bearing down on them in waves or all at once or however they want to really. It’s four, well three and a body with a remote control, against, again, only Radek really knows how many. Overwhelming hordes’ choice.

Standing in the weirdly colorful hallway broken up by beamed frames into sections the hues of child’s crayon box, it’s clear she’s shocked to see them as much as they’re shocked to see her. Her blue eyes peer at them, mouth ajar. Without any other recourse, she reaches for her wristband.

“Oh no you don’t.” John very vividly recognizes the gauntlet.

He acts quickly. Reflexively clenching the phaser pistol still in his hand. The wide stun beam engulfs her and the central burst of bright green hits her squarely in the chest with its apparently usual screeching echoing sound. The beautiful woman goes down in an elegant heap onto the floor. Does everyone have to be so melodramatic here? Really? They even fall like that.

Sheppard rushes out of the cave over to the fallen woman and snatches the wristband off of her while looking for anyone else in the halls. It isn’t as bad as he thought it was going to be, the odd assembly of colors seems to diffuse a lot when you actually step into the hallway. The new environment is actually more beige and pale mauve with accents of a really, really pale lavender. Good, John wasn’t sure how he’d handle forest green and bright prom dress pink or white, red, and indigo coming at his senses all at once. Moving silently, he tests the ground beneath his heeled Starfleet boots. Concrete, another good sign even if it is the color of a deep mauve. His grey-green eyes scan the ways as Carson hands Rodney’s remote over to Radek and hurries to the fallen woman’s aid. Sheppard sees that the walls are concrete too, colored pale mauve, and, as his eyes travel further down the hallway, the doors are the same as the one in the cave/elevator just pale beige-yellow rather than light blue. Radek follows them out, guiding Rodney to follow after him, as John plays lookout for a few moments more.

“Carson, use the silver cylinder in your tricorder case,” Radek instructs as he gets Rodney to plod the last few steps over to he and Carson.

Beckett looks up at him, “The what?”

Finally Rodney’s by them so Zelenka turns to his friend, “The rectangle device with the leather strap that you thought was a metal purse. It is hanging from your shoulder.”

Carson grabs the metal box dangling by his side, remembering all too well the rather comical conversation he and Radek had had when Carson discovered the science fiction device had replaced many of his tools. The Scotsman had thrown a fit, how was he supposed to work without all of his regular tools? What was he supposed to do with this thing? At that point, Radek had snorted behind his hand trying to cover up how hard he was laughing at Carson’s rather Bones McCoy-like anti-technology tirade. It was then that both agreed that Rodney would have found it both so hilarious that he would never let Carson live it down as well as so staggeringly uninformed of Carson that let alone would Rodney find it personally insulting but also would not let Carson live it down for as long as both men live. Live… In a panic, Carson looks the device over and over and over.

“How do you bloody well get into this thing?”

“Carson,” Radek sighs and holds out the remote to Beckett, “Here, give it me.”

Beckett eagerly makes the switch and with an easy finesse that leaves no doubt whatsoever that Radek Zelenka has an identical toy of this very object in his possession most likely in Atlantis with him, he easily opens the front panel and slips out the syringe-like ‘23rd century’ hypospray. He closes the tricorder and hands both back over to Carson in exchange again for Rodney’s remote control. The medical officer slips the tricorder’s strap over his shoulder again, but he stares at the silver cylinder in his hand. It’s solid metal, he can’t see a single detail of what’s inside and the outside has only four slender grooves running down the main shaft of the thing. There’s only a single finger tip-sized button. That disturbs Carson again; he can’t tell whether this is a measure of ’23rd century’ medical practice confidence or over confidence? It doesn’t look like any of his syringes back in the Infirmary and he doubts that its operation is just as simple as it looks.

“Place the end of the main shaft against her bicep and inject her,” Radek tells him.

“Now wait just a minute, Radek, I don’t what’s in this bloody contraption.”

“Neither do I and it does not matter, Carson.”


“Carson,” Zelenka warns, “I promise you it will not harm her. Now press the button and inject her.”

Beckett eyes the hypospray again. He doesn’t like this. This entire day has been one nasty surprise after another. First, he finds out about the Expedition’s new Lieutenant Kenmore and her little Michael. Then all this calamity. But like Ronon he trusts Radek, and this is after all for Rodney.

“God help us,” Doctor Carson Beckett prays and presses the free end of the cylinder against the young lady’s her upper arm and injects whatever he can’t see into her bloodstream. At least he hopes it’s into her bloodstream.

She comes to instantly, all elegantly gorgeous red-haired, porcelain-skinned, and covered up with a halter top of metallic gold lame with matching gartered thigh-high tights/boots and a very micro mini-skirt of some sort of orange and canary yellow patterned piece of soft material. Carson helps her to her feet as she utters her lines.

“You do not belong here. You are not Morg.” Her voice sounds so innocent, so sweet and child-like.

He’s not falling for this crap. If he didn’t fall for it from someone just as hot although wearing considerably more clothing in a Wraith holding cell years ago, then he’s sure as hell not falling for it now. Immediately Sheppard charges over and yanks her out of Doctor Carson Beckett’s kind hands. He spins her around to face him. Her hair making a classically beautiful sweep like something out of a luxury shampoo commercial. His grip on her biceps tightens.

“Where is he? Where’s Rodney?”

She’s the right sort of confused, but her words are paraphrases. The city yet again adapting to the differences in the situation.

“He? What is he? You are not Morg or Eymorg. I know nothing about a Rodney.”

“Where is she,” John switches tactics through gritted teeth.

The woman’s speechless. Torn between absolute confusion and absolute fear. Radek steps in before Sheppard starts shaking her like a ragdoll in frustration and determination to save Rodney in time. Being so close to an answer… This seems to be the place. The city pointed them here. Put them here. Where’s the God damn answer?!

“She does not understand you, cannot understand you, Colonel” Radek pleads with him, “Her mind is that of a child and so is her reasoning. Luma is telling you the truth.”

“I am Luma,” the woman picks up on the opportunity given to her, making Radek’s comment about her childlike behavior and mentality accurate, “I am Eymorg. You are not Eymorg. You are not Morg. What are you?”

Sheppard’s at a loss in the confused and frightened eyes of Luma, these big puppy things that keep narrowing and widening trying to make sense of everything that’s suddenly happened to her. To them all. Radek and Kenmore believed this place is it. Their final stretch. It’s getting to him, this whole thing is getting to him. His team’s made close calls before and usually getting to the final stretch is where the smooth sailing part comes into play. Somehow everything suddenly just clicks into place and it’s go on all cylinders till you reach the end, but that’s not happening here. That’s not happening with Rodney McKay’s life on the line. Not a second time. He watched him slip away from them to a parasite that brought Alzheimer’s into his friend’s mind last year. It forced him to say good-bye to the man over some beers on a pier one night, he still remembers… fondly, the… Rodney called him Arthur, laughter, he remembers their laughter, Rodney’s laughter. He’s not going to watch Rodney slip through their fingers as nothing more than a remote-control robot. He’s more than an RC car to John, he’s his best friend.

“Okay, okay, I’ll buy this,” John gives in, “What do we do now, Radek?”

Zelenka gets out his communicator and starts adjusting it, Sheppard notices. The little electronic device starts emitting a high pitched piercing whirring as Radek’s finger keeps pressing the right side of the two buttons on the communicator. Carefully tuning, switching through channel after channel.

Suddenly Luma tries to make a break for it, but Sheppard’s grip on her tightens and he easily tugs her back the two steps she’d managed to get away from his body but not out of his hands.

“Incredible. This is really amazing. There is so much going on and I’m not even thinking about doing any of it. It’s just happening,” Rodney’s elatedly prattling fills the air.

It sounds like pure golden music to the three men’s ears. Sheppard and Carson react. Smiles, relieved smiles all around. Radek grinningly hands the communicator over to Sheppard who grabs it eagerly, passing off Luma to Carson.


“Sheppard? Is that you? You’re playing too?”

“Not by choice.”

“What? What do you mean? What’s happened?”

Really? He doesn’t realize what’s happened? “There was a malfunction. Atlantis took control of the holoroom and expanded Kenmore’s and your holodeck,” God, what a stupid word, “to include the entire city. We’re all playing along.”

“Holy crap,” Rodney’s radio voice freaks out.

John starts nodding, “No kidding. Now we’re here trying to fix this.”

“The city has designated some of us specific roles. I am Scotty, Carson is Doctor McCoy, Colonel Sheppard is Captain Kirk,” Radek cuts in.

“Of course he is,” Rodney comments.

Sheppard simpers at the communicator in his hand. But feels completely relieved to be doing it, old hat is exactly what he needed. The first click of the final stretch turning into smooth sailing. All they need now is more clicks. More clicks and they’ve got it. They’ve got him.

“Rodney, for God’s sake,” Carson loses it, “we’re running out of time. You’re body’s running out of time. Now tell us where you are so we can finish this and save your life.”

“My body?! You mean this is for ‘real’ real?!

“Yes,” Carson nods. Finally the man gets it.

“Oh my God,” Rodney starts freaking out again, taking his panic to another level, “um, uh, I’m hooked into a computer in a room somewhere. Radek, you know this episode?”

“Yes, Rodney. I know exactly where you are talking about. We are coming to you.”

Sheppard looks over at him, “You know where to go?”

“I am supposed to be Scotty, am I not?” Radek declares proudly.

A part of John releases what he can only feel as a ‘sigh’ of relief. Another level of tension easing out of his body. Click. Click. Sheppard holds the communicator up to his mouth again, “Hold on, Rodney.”

“Like there’s anything else I can do.”

Sheppard snaps the communicator closed. Even with the usual attitude, he’s glad to have the Rodney McKay he knows somewhere near him in all of this snarking away at them. “Okay, Radek, lead the way.”

Zelenka nods and leads their group further down the corridor, remembering to use the remote to bring Rodney’s body along with them. It slows their pace considerably, but he knew it would. It could not be helped though, this is how the story goes. To push either the makeshift mechanism or Rodney’s body any harder than its slow plodding pace would be out of the question. Carson had already deemed it absolutely harmful back in Atlantis’ Infirmary and Radek had to err on the side of the Medical Officer’s caution.

John checks their six again as they round a corner. Why haven’t they seen anyone else so far other than the child-like minded Luma? Radek keeps leading them to the end of the short corridor towards another corner. It’s only a split second for Radek’s brain to register shadows. The Atlantis group stops at the sight of the woman in purple and the two uniformed Morg men flanking her as they come round the corner ahead of them. The two groups stare at each other then John Sheppard charges past Rodney’s body. Past Radek Zelenka. Radek may have said something, but John doesn’t hear him as he shoves past Carson and his captive.

“Where’s Rodney’s brain,” John shouts at the purple lady, “Where is it?”

Purple hits a button on her wristband, reflex in the face of her intruder’s charge. Boing.

Pain clenches Sheppard’s gut like a deft sucker punch. John tries not to, but he curls in on himself. Staggers back. Falls back. He feels himself go down. He can’t stop it. The pressure increases as though his stomach is collapsing in on itself. He can’t breathe. He can’t. Tight pressure grips Radek’s right arm, he drops the remote control. It clatters to the floor. If it were his left, he’d fear a heart attack, but— agony swiftly overtakes the intense pressure. Radek lurches forward. His shoulder hits the cold concrete wall. Every sense he has is overwhelmed in rapid succession. Radek Zelenka blacks out on his way down to the floor. Carson Beckett feels a knife in his back, he hadn’t known a group had come up behind them as well. They’re vicious bastards too, he feels the deep penetrating wound suddenly twist. All the wind’s sucked out of his lungs. His back arches. He crumples to the floor with his friends. Turning as he does, he realizes that there wasn’t anybody behind them. No knife, small comfort. His back hits the floor. His head. Unconscious. All three of them.

Leaving Rodney McKay’s body standing alone among enemies.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Ten

Chapter Ten

The chill isn’t doing anything to hearten the situation in him. Much more of this and he’s going to… well, he’s going to do what he’s normally been doing in this circumstance which is snapping at everyone that he thinks is holding him up. John never thought he’d come to a time in this galaxy when he wished for their usual run-of-the-mill missions. Life and death, but without having to wait so much on other people. He’s used to saving the day. John Sheppard admits it even if it’s only to himself that he likes being Captain Kirk. Always saving the day. A particularly freezing breeze gently glides through, he shivers and the little hairs on the back of his neck rise like hackles.

“Are you sure Carson and Rodney should come down here? In Rodney’s condition, it might be too dangerous for him and how can Carson bring his body down her—“

The words freeze in John Sheppard’s open mouth. A handful of yards away, Rodney suddenly appears with something similar to that weird and stupid-looking mechanical device on his head that John remembers being on that image of Spock’s head when they were in the transporter room DVD menu, only definitely Ancient looking and far more sinisterly elegant. Rodney’s expression is just as blank as Spock’s had been; at first John had chalked that up to the notorious lack of emotion that even people who have no clue about Star Trek know to attribute to the alien character, but seeing McKay’s face so devoid of anything that John would even remotely refer to as being distinctly Rodney McKay. No. That isn’t anything alien. It’s having your brain stolen from you. It’s called being striped of everything and anything that is you.

Carson appears out of nowhere behind Rodney with a remote control of some kind in his hands. He presses the glass surface of the computer interface on a detector? and Rodney turns to face the group waiting at the cave entrance.

Cold far more bitter than the planet they’re on courses through John. He swallows hard. Radek leans into him, averting his eyes from the image he’d helped create back in Atlantis.

“Colonel, tell them to come along.”

John stares.



“John, you must.” Radek’s whisper begs.

A shiver tries to shudder through his body again, but John holds still. Damn it, he has to hold still.

“Alright,” Sheppard hisses then speaks louder, marginally so, “Come along you two.”

“Keep to the right,” Radek adds.

Beckett pushes another ‘button’ and quickly fingers a sort of round ‘knob’-looking part of the interface display. Rodney’s stagnant form starts walking towards John and Radek. The Doctor following along beside and a step behind. There’s freakish clicking sounds as Rodney moves that reminds John of someone clacking two bones together. The shiver shudders through his body.

“Carson…,” Lorne trails off, horrified, as the duo pass him.

“Don’t, Major. I don’t want to have to think about this anymore than I bloody well have to.”

Evan nods and falls silent. Sheppard and Zelenka part to let Carson guide Rodney’s body into the cave. Carson continues to have his friend’s back with his focus intently on the remote and either Rodney’s shoulder blades or below; his eyes can’t go any farther up the man’s body than that otherwise he’ll start tearing up and then the water works’ll come the same way they do every time he talks or thinks about his elderly ailing mother. Bless her. Bless you, Rodney, you bloody sod.

“Now we may go in, Colonel,” Radek says quietly in their wake, “The only ones of us from here on will be Rodney, Carson, you, and I. The rest have to stay up here.”

“No,” Ronon says flatly. Bitterly avoiding looking at the state McKay’s in like everyone else is.

“You must, Ronon.”

“No. They can stay, but I’m going down there with you. With Rodney.” The Satedan snaps.

“You cannot. That is not how it works in the episode.”

“I don’t care—“

“I do!”

Everyone stares at Radek Zelenka. No one’s ever yelled at Ronon Dex before least of all a scientist other than his teammate and friend McKay.

“I do care, Ronon, because if we do not do this as accurately as possible, as accurately as Atlantis’ computers believe it needs to be done, then it may very well do something next that we cannot predict,” there’s a desperate ferocity to him that no one has ever seen before, “It may start altering the episode. And if it alters the episode too much, then we have absolutely no way of getting Rodney back. None, because we will not be able to predict what is coming next or what is expected of us next the way we can now. Our advantage will have been destroyed. I do not know about you, but I for one really want Rodney back and I will not let him die like this. I will not lose him like this. I will not let him down. And I will not allow you to do so either. You must stay up here and let the rest of us do what must be done to save Rodney.”

Silence. Again silence. Ronon doesn’t know what to think. His jaw begins moving, trying to figure out what to say, but— He does care too. He won’t jeopardize Rodney’s life. But… his eyes look over at the Canadian scientist. The unlikeliest of all his friends. The man he’d never really thought to expect much from physically but a lot mentally. A man who came up with the idea of saving his life when he’d been returned to Sateda and set loose there as a Runner again. A man… a man. To add emphasis, Radek steps in between Rodney and Ronon. The Satedan’s dark eyes find the Czech’s pale blue ones… he sees in them the kindred spirit of a Satedan fighter. A fellow being refusing to step anywhere other than remaining in between his ‘brother’ and whatever danger that’s threatening him.

“Okay,” Ronon Dex relents softly.

Zelenka exhales some ease. Clearly he thought that’d he’d actually might have to physically fight Ronon over this. “I know, Ronon. Trust me, I do,” Ronon Dex locks eyes with Radek Zelenka again. Searches the Czech scientist’s eyes, “It is not what you would like, but this is how it goes,” he finds more there, “I know this episode like the back of my hand. It is one of my favorites as well. We will be alright and so will Rodney. I promise you.”

“Yeah, I do trust you, Radek. All of you. And I have for a long time now.” He tells them. They’ve been through too much together not to. The Satedan’s whole demeanor changes. There’s a calm there that’s been missing ever since they returned to the Pegasus. Something like the ghosts of the recent past giving a slight reprieve to a creature seemingly doomed to remain in the shadows of their shades. A creature used to the darkness there, but somehow still managing to attain a toe in the light and not surrendering entirely to the dark. Shoulders sagging ever so slightly, Weapons Specialist Ronon Dex steps back. Radek nods to his alien friend then turns to Sheppard and nods to him as well. The two of them go into the cave.

Sheppard looks around the cave, not much here. It’s a small ‘room’. Crates of rudimentary weapons more evolved then blunt clubs and rocks picked up off the ground and some holding stores of food are stacked here and there. Not too many, but just enough to be an enticing lure. An obvious one at that, if the cavemen had weapons like this, had made them themselves, then they wouldn’t have had to throw the rocks and clubs stuff at them. Nope, Radek’s right, it’s a trap. Baited and waiting. Beside him, Zelenka points at part of the cave’s rock wall on the other side of a crate of weapons. A flashing device that doesn’t look too far off of from the standard design of a General Issue crook neck flashlights stands there. It’s black, not olive drab, but still, it’s pretty much a crook neck flashlight as far as John can tell just blinking away at them. How could anyone not see that? Perhaps to these guys, the food and weaponry prove the greater attraction. John would like to think he’d notice the strange flashing gizmo first, but then again he’s not Cro-Magnon and that might sway that particular judgment call towards the crates. As Zelenka’d instructed, John keeps to the right, but the soldier in him keeps his attention on the pale honey gold glow of the device’s steadily strobing light. Radek points almost right next to himself, John’s eyes follow, and sees the second part of the trip wire trap a little more than three feet away from Radek’s other side. The strobing crook neck’s twin aligned right across from it. Hello futuristic tripwire.

“You have to trip it, Colonel, and this elevator will take us down to the appropriate level.”

John gauges the tripwire and the soldier in him isn’t sure about any of this. Until his eyes light on the tips of Rodney’s shoes… his mind wanders to the memory of an agonized face, a beautiful face… a leader’s face— Sheppard steps forward. Suddenly a smooth gunship blue-grey metal door slams shut in front of the cave entrance. The whole room gives a staggering lurch as it starts its plummet. John handles the transition well, going along with it like he does in less than perfect elevators. It’s a controlled descent, but his stomach shifts a tad with it anyways. This thing could use a little bit more maintenance just to smooth the ride out a bit. Apparently his isn’t the only one feels that, Carson burps. Zelenka and Sheppard look over at the Scotsman.

“Gas. Sorry,” he says sheepishly, “I think it’s… lunch related.”

John and Radek look away, but the Czech can’t help but laugh a little to himself, “Rodney would probably make some sort of comment about that.”

Carson smiles faintly, remembering when he’d said something like that in an uncomfortable situation with Rodney before. He can even hear the irate Canadian’s condemning voice. Authoritative in the highly abrasive and self-absorbed way that only Rodney McKay can do. Ordering Carson to sit down. Strangely, the words echo in his mind. Play along as though Carson had somehow already answered back. Shut up and concentrate… “Aye,” he says at last with half of the dim smile pulling at the left corner of his mouth at the now fond memory, “that he would have.”

Sheppard can’t keep his eyes off Rodney, “How is he doing, Carson?”

The good Doctor looks at Rodney standing in front of him so un-Rodney-ly, “He’s bearing the ride well, Colonel. Radek and I’s discovery is keeping him as well as if he were still lying on that bed in the Infirmary.”

John looks over at Zelenka who absolutely refuses to look at Rodney in this confined space. “’Discovery?’” John repeats.

Radek nods.

“How did you know?”

“It stood to reason that since we do not have the means to create such a thing on Earth, that Atlantis knew of some Ancient technology that it was willing to give us in order to proceed with this play the way it needs to go on. All it was was a matter of finding it. With Carson’s Ancient propensity, it would only be a matter of time. It is a medical device, it had to be in the Infirmary. Simple as that.”

“Oh, it wasn’t as simple as that, Radek.” Beckett begs to differ, “You had to tinker with it in order to get it to help Rodney along with that other thing.”

“Is that what you were working on,” Sheppard asks him.

“I’d rather not talk about it,” Radek says to the dirt covered floor.

John’s eyes find Carson’s and yet doesn’t find Carson’s eyes. Beckett is also staring down at the ground. With no one else left to turn to except Rodney, John nods to himself. He gets the picture. They wait out the rest of the ride in mutual silence.

*                      *                      *

Ronon pounds his fists on the sealed metal door.

“Ronon, stop it!” Evan Lorne yells beside him. Giving up on trying to pry the Satedan back from the small gap that had once been a cave entrance carved into rock.

Ronon seethes. It’s taken his friends. Something’s gone wrong, he knows it has, and it’s taken his friends. His hands aren’t working. He steps back and goes for that stupid toy thing that’s supposed to pass for a weapon in all this.

“Oh, no, no, no, no. I can’t let you do that, Ronon.” Lorne steps in front of the metal door. His average soldier physique almost totally covering up the unnatural barrier.

“Something’s wrong,” the Satedan tells him. Gesturing at the door.

“To you it is.”

Ronon stalls, “What do you mean?”

“You’re not in there with them, that’s what you think’s gone wrong. Now put your phaser away and just wait like the rest of us and, yes,” he can already see Ronon thinking of an objection, “I know you’re not good at that, but it’s what we’re being expected to do.”

Zelenka’s words still fresh in his mind, Dex puts the gun back on his belt. This ‘entertainment’ sucks.

The other marine looks around, “Well, what do you think we’re supposed to do next in the episode, Sirs?”

Lorne looks around too, “I don’t know about you, but I’m freezing.” Evan rubs his hands together, breathes a couple of huffs of hot air on them.

The marine nods while Ronon remains focused on the closed door in his face as though glaring at it is going to get it to open for them. Evan switches to rubbing his forearms when his baby blue eyes lock onto the phaser on his fellow marine’s belt. He nods at it.

“Do you think those things can be set to warm something up?”

The marine looks down at his belt’s weapon and shrugs.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Nine

 Chapter Nine

Almost right on cue, he’s running five minutes plus late, Doctor Radek Zelenka runs onto the embarkation floor from one of the passageways leading into the Gateroom from the rest of the city. John Sheppard stops pacing in front of the reactivated Stargate to confront the man.

“’Bout damn time, Radek,” he snaps.

“I’m sorry, Colonel, but it could not be helped.”

“Helping? Is that what you were doing? You sure about that?”

“Trust me, Colonel Sheppard, you will see.”

“You’re expecting a lot of trust, Doctor.”

“Please, John, we do not have the time. Let us discuss this on the other side.”

John’s frown deepens. His short fuse only mildly blown and still in the dark about so many things, he nods, “Come on. Let’s go.” Better to explode off-world so to speak than in the middle of the room in front of everybody. If John has to be Captain Kirk, he’s got to hold himself in. If John’s John, he’s got to hold himself in. Bite someone’s head off, sure. He’s done that before. Rodney for reawakening the nannites in Elizabeth’s body to save her life. Teyla for being pregnant for so long without telling John about it when they kept going out on dangerous mission after dangerous mission… and for not mentioning earlier that she had a boyfriend of any sort and he was pretty much out of contention or at least barking up a tree that was already spoken for in that regards. Bates… well, Bates for being Bates. John Sheppard’s snapped at people in front of others plenty of times here, but he’s never ripped into anybody in public before. And now is not the time. However, after this might just be the right time to actually sit down and watch some Star Trek. He’d never thought that’d ever happen. The closest to sci-fi he’s ever liked has been the Alien series of movies. Who would have guessed that living in another galaxy for over six years would get him seriously considering watching sci-fi that didn’t feature Sigourney Weaver as Ripley in it?

Lorne and Ronon and one of the Gateroom marines, Sheppard’d requisitioned the man to be the second security officer of their group twenty minutes ago on the off chance that Radek was overstating his time allowance and would be joining them in front of the waiting Stargate any moment then, head through the reactivated gate.

All under the watchful eyes of Richard Woolsey standing on the Operation’s main balcony. Like usual.

It wasn’t necessarily an unusual ride through the wormhole. The somewhat typical sequence, but instead of the winding journey zipping past stars and other worlds, whole solar systems with a strange buzzing sound, it was a loop. Like one extraterrestrial lap around a racecar circuit that was completely empty and dark. Only a single flash of starlight that zipped past, most likely the sun of their planet’s solar system. No other lights though. Nothing like the usual ride. And the exit—

— is extremely unusual too. Instead of walking out of the Stargate, although they feel like they have, they just appear on the planet’s surface with a fine sheen of ice crystals on their bodies and the lingering feelings of a tingling sensation still coursing through their remolecularized physiques. The tingling’s the unusual part and the ice crystals too really. It’s been a long time since the icy feeling of Stargate travel’s gotten to any of them. For some it’s been since they first started with the Stargate Program and for one of them it’s been since he was a small child with his family. All four men brush themselves off as they look around, the movement working out the disconcerting tingling as well. Their scouting eyes catch another anomaly: no Stargate. Environment. That’s it. Landscape and atmosphere. They don’t even get the pleasure of seeing the holoroom’s doorway.

They’re the only ones here. Pure and simple.

“Is it just me or was that—“

“It is the city’s attempt to mimic the feeling of the Enterprise’s transporters utilizing what it can of the Stargate’s wormhole physics, Colonel. I believe that the Stargate’s looping connection only served to increase our velocity inside the wormhole, making us colder and the tingling feeling of the transporter effect even more pronounced when we were demolecularized.”

He knows that it was meant to, but that doesn’t make John feel any better, “I’ve never actually felt the chill of gate travel before. Except that first time.”

“You have gotten used to it over the years, I would suppose,” Zelenka comments. He does not have that particular problem, his field experience has been very limited with the Expedition. Only recently has that matter begun to be changed. Beginning with that ‘training exercise’ with the Colonel’s team, Radek has begun to receive field training in order to be able to assist Major Lorne’s team on their missions more often.

The others nod as they continue looking around. John turns to get a better three-sixty of their environment and sees one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes stately presiding not too distantly behind them. Really, the Alps have nothing on this. He remembers them as a child when his family went on a skiing trip there for Christmas. Being out there, even on the bunny slopes, the mountain range embedded itself in his mind and stayed there. His personal vacations to Aspen don’t even begin to compare either. Now both memories have been replaced by some hologram image that Atlantis is showing them for Rodney and Kenmore’s playing enjoyment. Before his mind starts wandering too much into maybe commandeering this part of playtime for some really incredible snowboarding, his mind registers that they’ve landed in some sort of valley in between two of the mountainous region’s converging ranges… and that he’s never brought his snowboard with him to Atlantis. Damn. His eyes start analyzing the rust colored dirt underneath the group’s feet and following it right up to the foot of the mountains and huge craggy rock formations their heights or less all around with random drifts of snow from the higher elevations still clinging in the shadows here and there. There’s scraggily twigs trying to pass themselves off for trees sticking up here and there; they’re all present and accounted for like he remembers them being when he’d seen them through the holoroom’s doorway. He starts to open his mouth and ask Rodney what he’s getting on the lifesigns detector… but stops himself, Rodney is why they’re here.

“Radek, what do you know about this place?” John gets down to the business at hand.

“There should be scattered life-form readings. They are humanoid, large builds, primitive and aggressive. I should tell you, Cap—,” he gets a sharp, frowning look but goes on talking, “Colonel,” he corrects himself of the near gaff; how could he not make it, it’s STAR TREK The Original Series and, well, it is John Sheppard after all, “Sheppard, that they are called the Morg. There are also no structures above ground, what we are looking for is below ground. Extensively so.”

“Can you remember anything else about this place, Radek? Come on, I mean if you really try hard.” John smiles, knowing the sarcastic teasing well. Rodney would too.

Radek smiles back, “There is a group of five Morg hiding behind those rocks over there. They have come to investigate us due to our unexpected arrival.”


“Yes, but only with clubs and rocks that they can throw.”

“Anything else,” Ronon asks, looking like he’s itching for a fight even if it’s going to be an unfair one.

“Yes, there will be a cave entrance five hundred meters that way,” Radek points past the rocks he knows the Morg are hiding behind. A wide and tall formation several yards away and, judging by the grey it is, the same rock composition as the mountains rather than the soil. It’s a remarkable dichotomy worthy of further exploration when they find Rodney again. Radek has no problem believing that quite a few people from the Geology Department would absolutely love to get in here and start researching. He’s surprised Major Lorne isn’t showing any signs of itching to get a closer, hands-on look at the rocks around him, considering his geology background. The Major did start out as a geologist on a gate team at Stargate Command back in Cheyenne Mountain.

“Which means in order to get to the cave, we have to get past the Morg first,” Lorne remarks.

“Yes,” Radek confirms, slipping a side glance at Evan. Apparently he’s come quite a long way since his first days in that Mountain. Less scientist now and more soldier. Still, he does have a tendency to spend his lunchtimes in some geology lab or other in the city. Handling alien geodes… and trying to hit on any of the more attractive female scientists in the room with his knowledge of their area of expertise as well as his with that boyish smile that’s just as apparently enticing to the fairer sex as Colonel Sheppard’s but perhaps a little more boy-next-door than the Colonel’s.

Sheppard pulls his phaser off his waistband/belt and feels ridiculous as he does it. How old is he and he’s playing with cheap, tacky, science-fiction toys he thought were ridiculous even when he was a kid? Thankfully only a few people are here to see it and he’s commanding officer to most of them so there won’t be any teasing. Well, at least not to his face and even if it is behind his back, there’s definitely a shortlist of who he’s going to dress down. So there’s a good chance that his hopes of burning this entire day out of his mind forever after they get Rodney back will pan out… but not those mountains. Slopes, like surf, are forever. “Okay, let’s go then. It’s not like we haven’t taken on guys like this before.”

“Uh, Colonel,” Radek holds the group up again, “you’ll want to set that to stun. We all have to set,” he smiles, trying to contain the laugh, “our phasers to stun.”

Lorne stifles the giggles, and a snort, as John Sheppard stares at Radek Zelenka. Oh no. No, no, no. God, do I really… he looks down at the gun in his hand and ‘gun’ is putting it really, really nicely. It’s a, it’s a, it’s a toy! There’s nothing about this thing that says ‘gun’ to him and everything that says ‘ridiculous’. Okay, so the basic shape is roughly that of a firearm, but the rest. It’s too… too… pretty. Guns are not meant to be pretty or look aesthetically pleasing, they’re practical. What says practical about blue (*whatever the blue components are) and (*whatever the silver components are)? John rolls his eyes. Forget burn, he’s going to sear this day out of his memory. He huffs a sigh.

“Radek…,” he can’t believe he’s doing this, really can’t believe he’s doing this, “how do I set this thing for… Nope, I’m not saying it,” he resolves, “Not gonna happen. No.”

Radek Zelenka nods with a smile that is obviously fighting off a torrent of laughter on his face, he understands. Zelenka walks up to Sheppard and takes the phaser out of the Colonel’s hand. Is that pity he sees in the Czech scientists eyes?… Deftly, Radek handles the small handheld weapon that he’s had numerous toy copies of since he could get his hands on them. His eyes marvel at the Type II phaser with the black and antimony palm-sized Type I nestled snugly in it the pistol’s top. His amazed eyes trace quickly from the tip of the beam shield, surrounding the beam emitter, past the photon accelerator and the dilithium crystal cell and over the Type I to the force setting dial. He cannot believe that he is actually holding one of these for real—well, somewhat real. More real than perhaps if he was holding the genuine prop from the Original Series. Radek pinches the small black nob between his thumb and pointer fingers and twists till the black marked antimony of the saucer section of the dial is set to the number ‘3’, stun. After all these years, his parents were enthusiastic that he became a scientist because of his love for this series; he wonders now how they would feel to think that his adoration for this television show was proving more useful than a successful job with the American government? He hands the device in all its blue-gray, antimony, and glossy black glory back to Sheppard, who nods his thanks. Ronon Dex steps forward and holds out his weapon to the knowledgeable Czech scientist without hesitation.

“Hey, Radek, could you set it for me too,” the formidable alien warrior asks.

Radek nods and does the same thing for Dex. Then the other Red Shirt marines come up to him and Radek does the same for them too without question. He had expected on having to do so. It is the same all over Earth, for the most part ‘jocks’ as their called aren’t necessarily familiar with Star Trek, some are, but for the most part, there is no familiarity with the program whatsoever. Major Lorne walks over too and Zelenka instinctively holds out his hand for the Major’s phaser. But Lorne doesn’t hand over his new weapon to Radek. Instead he holds it up and points at the force setting knob himself.

“Okay, uh, Urs tried showing me this once, but I wasn’t really paying attention because, well, you know, it’s dorky,” Evan smiles, Radek understands, smiling back; like before, for the most part unfamiliarity. “Is this what I turn to set it,” the Major asks.

Radek nods, “Yes, Major, just turn it to the number three.”

Lorne nods as he does so and Radek follows suit with his own phaser pistol. Now the whole group’s ready to go. Finally, finally, Sheppard starts for the rocks with Zelenka at his side and the rest at his back.

“You need only stun the first one, Colonel. He’s the leader. Once he goes down, the others will run away out of fear.”

John nods. That sounds good to him. He hoped this fight wasn’t going to take up too much of their time. In the quiet of their march, Radek falls a step back to give John the sense of control he’s been sorely in need of since this thing first started. John hadn’t realized that his edginess was starting to let slip through his sense of powerlessness. He’s never really liked that in himself, but it’s a part of his rebellion against his father’s dominance. Or so that’s what the shrink said in her report on him given during his court martial hearing for his disobedient actions that ended his tour of duty in Afghanistan and began his duties at McMurdo. Yeah, that was a lovely time. In the very moment of one of his greatest humiliations, the kind of which his father just loved to rub in his face about how John should have led the life his father planned out for him rather than join the military and become a pilot like John wanted to do, his father gets mentioned. Oh, and not just mentioned, used as an example of John’s issues with authority figures like incompetent Generals leaving their subordinates out there to die forsakenly in the desert weren’t a better and more applicable to the situation examples of his issues with authority figures.

Sheppard flexes his grip around the handle of his unusual weapon as he leads them cautiously past the rocks and… right on cue, he supposes, the weirdly and cheaply dressed mountain men that actually only look big because of their clothes not because of any actual physical bulk pop up from behind the stone outcroppings. Every single one of them looking like Grizzly Adams auditions rejects. They roar. Not even scarily, just—yeah, John isn’t sure what the hell they’re thinking they’re accomplishing sounding like that. He’s heard better coming from villagers that have tried to jump them on different planets all over the Pegasus for years now. He’s heard better in D-movies, not even ‘B’. Now that’s some terrible acting. Truly hammy. And then they throw rocks and fake-looking wooden clubs at the team. The Lanteans duck the ballistic onslaught easily. What types of throws are that? Even the littlest kids on the Children’s planet could lob things better than that.

Sheppard grits his teeth. Okay, he hasn’t got time for this. The Colonel aims his phaser and pulls the trigger. It feels awkward beneath his finger. A weird screeching sound fills the chilly air. There’s a wide flash of green with a central point that finds its mark squarely on the center of the nearest animal hide-covered chest. The mountain man goes down and his four buddies immediately turn tail and run. Leaving their fallen man behind. They’re not here to do that, John’s not here to leave his man behind. He takes his cue from Radek’s information and starts his group moving again. Past the rocks and the unconscious man.

“Leave him, he’s fine,” John orders. Since Radek already knows where to go, they don’t really have to ask this Morg guy anything about the place or even if he knows what they’re looking for.

Radek opens his mouth and sputteringly tries to suggest that they go to the man. John turns on him.

“Radek, is he going to tell us anything that I can’t already get from you?”

“Well, no.”

“Then leave him. He’s fine.”

“But, Colonel—“

“What, Radek?” John snaps sharply.

The whole stopped group watches the tense exchange.

“What if Atlantis does not know how to adapt if we skip large parts of the episode?”

That catches him. Okay, okay, that is a good point. Radek’s got him there. Sheppard’s eyes go back to the rocks… then back the way he was leading them. He looks back at Zelenka.

“Would the city hurt Rodney’s brain if we do,” Sheppard tentatively asks him.

“That is exactly my point, Colonel. I do not know.”

John feels the tick of the clock inside his brain. Inside his mind. He closes his eyes and can practically hear it in that weird echoing way that television shows and movies do for dramatic or comic effect depending on the mood of the show. It’s dramatic. Pounding in his head. Distinctly not his heart. There’s nothing funny about this. He growls his irritation as he opens his eyes. Sheppard charges past Zelenka back to the rocks where’d they left the downed Clan of the Cave Bear leader. He walks back around the rock and—

“Where is he,” John looks around. They all do. Eyes scanning the landscape for a groggy man limping his way back to wherever it is he came from, but nothing. No movements of any sort anywhere.

“That is impossible. He should still be here,” Radek complains.

“Good,” Sheppard nods, “Apparently the city doesn’t have a problem with us skipping some things. Good to know. Let’s go.”

Radek nods, not sure he feels safe about that, as Sheppard leads them back the way they were headed in the first place. Good. With every step he takes, he feels good. By skipping past some things they can get some time back from how long it took Radek to help Carson do whatever to Rodney’s body. He has no idea how much they just got back by skipping that conversation with the cave guy, but it is some time. Even seconds count. He starts to jog… then run. Seconds can turn to minutes if I do this right, and Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard is going to be damned if he or anyone else is going to waste that.

It doesn’t take any time at all to find the cave entrance Zelenka told them about. It’s so obvious. A big gaping hole in the side of the base of a mountain. Just the right size for an average height man. John starts to head in, but Radek grabs his arm. Again.

“What Radek?!”

“We cannot go in. It is a trap.”

“But you said—“

“Yes, I know what I said, Colonel. It is how we get down to the facility, but we cannot trigger the trap yet. We need Carson… and we need Rodney to come with us first.”

John stares at him. We need Rodney? Why do we—How?

Zelenka soberly and solemnly gestures down at Sheppard’s belt, “Use the communicator to contact Teyla. It is alright, Colonel… John, Carson and Lieutenant Kenmore are already expecting it. Everything should be in place by now.”

In place? What the hell is about to happen? What the hell has already happened that I don’t know about? Sheppard eyes him for a moment more before drawing the handheld communications device and flipping it open with an easy flick of his wrist. For once in all this he actually feels sort of suave doing something dorky like that. The communicator does that familiar chirping/beeping thing and he pushes the transmit button.

“Teyla, it’s us,” he says into the speaker, “You can tell Carson we’re ready for him… and Rodney.”

“Rodney,” Teyla breathes the name. She looks over at Woolsey. Lieutenant Kenmore standing beside him. “What does he mean,” the stunned Athosian asks.

Without being prompted, the faux-hawked technician signals the Infirmary, “It’s alright. He’s been standing by since the landing party left.”

Woolsey turns to Kenmore, “Radek put them on standby? Or should I say you, perhaps?”

The Lieutenant shakes her head, “No, Radek must have before he came up here after helping Doctor Beckett. It’s all part of the story so if you know the story…”

As she trails off, Richard starts nodding, somewhat regretting his not so subtle accusation, “You know what to do next before it even happens first.”

Ursula nods.

“So what is going to happen next?” He asks.

Ursula slowly turns and takes a few steps towards the overlook of the Gateroom. Woolsey follows her. Teyla looks over at the Technician and he nods her on. The Athosian abandons her station, keeping her odd earpiece with her and goes to stand beside Richard as he and Kenmore look down upon the embarkation floor.

From the forward right side entrance to the Gateroom enters the body of Doctor Rodney McKay… with some sort of mechanical device on his head. A single wide metal band crowns his head. Holding it in place are rectangular-like shapes of more metal on either side of his head. The silvery naquadah gleams dully in the light of the Gateroom and the amber and oceanic teals of the lights on either side of seem to flare with life. The life of Rodney McKay’s brainless body. Teyla gasps as Rodney steps onto the rust-colored marble floor with slow, stiff mechanical movements. Like some horrific version of Frankenstein’s Monster stalking across the floor towards the Stargate followed a few steps behind by Doctor Carson Beckett with a controller device in his hand, guiding Rodney— no, he corrects himself, guiding his dear friend’s body like one of Rodney’s or John’s RC cars. Try as he might, Carson’s eyes and thoughts wander to the godforsaken item in his grasp. To a non-analytical eye, it would appear to be a lifesigns detector. Same shape, same general appearance, except that this thing does not register lifesigns. Radek had Carson and everyone else in Atlantis’ medical ward search for the thing. He knew, the man knew he couldn’t build something like that out of thin air or any of the Earth equipment around him, there had to be something Ancient that he was meant to find and do something with that would help them. It took hours, precious time before Carson Beckett’s own hand passed over a panel of wall, just an ordinary panel of wall that he had never thought anything of, and a small piece of it slid open and this thing was sitting inside it. Neat as you please. The same way the detectors in the puddle jumper do. Radek set upon the hidden treasure like a fiend and quickly went about activating it, with Carson’s touch of course, then figuring out every part of it he needed. Radek had put a single fingertip against the glassy surface of the ‘detector’ and the scanner suddenly descended over Rodney’s prone form. Strange bright green lights projected from it. Not the usually grid but more like laser beams. Each laser reaching a different point on Rodney’s head then tracing around it. Literally creating or beaming? the awkward and unsettling headpiece that now served as a surrogate mind for the tragically brilliant man standing in front of him in the olive drab jumpsuit that they managed to scrounge up for Rodney to wear right onto his head. In minutes the process had ben complete. After the stun of what they’d witnessed wore off, Radek Zelenka had quickly shoved this thing into Carson’s hands, gave him a quick verbal tutorial on how to operate it, then dashed to the Gateroom to join Colonel Sheppard wherever it was the man had gone off to. Carson hopes even from a distance that everyone can see the patented disassociation of a doctor operating on a friend. That incredible need and desire to not think about what he’s doing at all cost, what he can’t think about it. If he thinks about all the many ways things can go wrong, he’ll lose his friend’s life. So Carson Beckett operates. Without looking up. Focusing on the task at hand. Being how a physician is during a personal crisis. Capable.

Richard Woolsey blindly gestures over at Chuck, but the young Canadian man isn’t paying attention to him. Richard looks over and he takes a moment’s pause to allow Chuck Campbell the instant of open mouthed disturbed grief and shock as he stares down at the embarkation floor below before Richard clears his throat loudly. The sharp, gruff noise sounding like a canon blast shattering the silence causes many around him to jump including Teyla and Ursula. Chuck’s eyes immediately snap to Woolsey.

“Dial the Stargate, Mister Campbell,” Woolsey orders. Ursula can definitely hear why the city picked him as the administrative side of Captain James Tiberius Kirk in the tone of his voice, something she hadn’t ever really expected. Woolsey sounds like he could snap someone out of themselves with a quick stern dressing down in front of everyone on the Bridge. Has done so before, Ursula remembers facing the brunt of that force when Anubis entered the city. Yep, he can definitely be the distinctive commander. She wonders when he found that in himself… and when the city began to assess that potential in the man.

Chuck shuts his mouth with a nod and retakes the seat he’d partially risen from. Quickly his fingers find the requisite buttons he’d committed instantly to memory thanks to Colonel Sheppard’s help before. The Stargate flares to life then settles and Carson says a silent prayer that he doesn’t have to halt Rodney’s body and its progress as he guides it through the Stargate’s event horizon… then follows behind his friend. All under the intent, watchful gazes of the Gateroom’s personnel.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

The sky’s so blue it bleeds into the horizon as though the massive planet-covering ocean and the great sky are one single expanse. A few puffs of clouds, light but thick like slightly pulled apart bits of cotton fluff, decorate the pale blue sky for the only clue really that it’s the sky; albeit the reflections on the undulating currents of the oceans give a good try at carrying on the optical illusion. If only it were that easy, if only all of this were an illusion…

Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard gazes down at the matte finish of the polished and poured-molded edges of the steely grey naquadah. His grey-green eyes trace every line of the thin, sleek paneling of something akin to dark blue mottled marble, analyzing the pinpricks and dotted lines of LED-like constellation formations seemingly embedded in the blue, and the sky blue frosted glass, thick and sturdy in stripes and chevron shapes all around the monolithic ring, stay quiet and dull. Lifeless. He turns away from the railing of the jutting bit of Operations Center balcony overlooking the vast Gateroom and its embarkation floor below to look at Radek Zelenka.

“You’re telling me you want to use the Stargate as a transporter?” He reconfirms the outlandish proposal more for his own mind’s sake than Zelenka’s.

The Czech scientist is quite serious though and not seeing any problem with his idea, “Yes, Colonel,” he repeats, not for the first time since relaying his idea over the communicator, which had prompted the Colonel, the Lieutenant, and Ronon to come right back to here.

Sheppard knows he should be used to it by now, but he can’t believe his ears. His mind can’t really process the concept it sounds so… so… so…, “Is that even possible?” John’s heard of a concept similar to this from one of SG-1’s old missions and it’s not like they haven’t accidentally stumbled into that similar facet before. He’d thought a botched command decision of his had cost Teyla and Ronon their lives until they discovered that the two had been jumped to a second Stargate on the same planet in mid wormhole transit because of it. But this alteration to that idea… John’s not sure about this and he’s not willing to bet more lives on it. The potential disaster is just too costly, even if it is for Rodney.

Ursula stares at the Stargate from the bank of windows inside the Center then out of the blue says, “The Antarctica gate.”

“What?” Sheppard asks, but she looks over at Radek, dodging Sheppard’s eyes as he looks over at her.

“You’re thinking it’s something like when Jack and Sam accidentally discovered the Antarctica gate, aren’t you?”

“Přesně,” Radek nods, gesturing ta-dah at her with both of his hands, “We do not need to dial another planet, we need only to dial Atlantis.”

“And you’re sure it’ll be like when a planet has two gates on it, the wormhole will just rebound back to this planet?” Kenmore’s brows furrow.

Radek nods all over again.

“But how can we be sure that it will,” John can’t help but keep replaying how scary and iffy things had been when that accident had happened, he’d even turned in his wings to Elizabeth as a sign of his resignation in lieu of a written statement. He’s sure Radek came up with this whole weird and crazy solution by referencing that mission Elizabeth dubbed ‘Casualties of War’.

Radek looks down at the floor, that is the snag he hasn’t quite worked out yet. How to test this? They are running out of time so it is his belief that they must use people to test his hypothesis. But which people? Should they draw straws? Or perhaps make it an order? How do you order people to their deaths? While he is confident in the Colonel’s abilities and Mister Woolsey’s now that his command of Atlantis of lasted this long, both have ordered men to their deaths with hesitation, but—

“Phasers,” Kenmore suddenly snaps her fingers.

“What,” Ronon says.

“The landing party all had phasers to defend themselves with,” she reaches over and snatches the sci-fi gun off of the wide black waistband of a nearby marine, “We send a phaser through the Stargate and someone can watch the holodeck’s doorway and see if it goes through successfully. If it doesn’t, then we know we have to come up with another way of getting through that shield. If it does, then we have our answer.”

“Now that’s a plan,” John points at her.

“Radek,” Woolsey turns.

“It is as safe an option as any we have.”

“Do it,” the Expedition Commander orders.

“Ronon and I’ll watch to make sure it goes through,” Sheppard starts to head out with Ronon.

“You can’t,” Ursula tries to stop them.

“Wanna bet,” Ronon challenges as the two men head for the entrance.

“She does not mean it like that, Ronon,” Radek explains, “She means that if it works, then we will need you both here to go through the Stargate as soon as possible for Rodney’s sake. Remember time is running out.”

For a moment there’s a sense of shame that he had to be reminded of his friend in the Infirmary and the countdown of twenty-four hours they had been given, less than that now… and shame that someone thought he had to be reminded of that. With Ronon’s silence as well, John reluctantly leads the two of them back into the room. As he does, he feels a crawl of aggravation and frustration at yet again having to wait here. Having to stand around and do nothing. How was this supposed to be entertaining? How was this supposed to be fun? What was with Rodney liking this episode? John’s never been good at leaving the stuff that needed to get done to other people and waiting around for them to do it. Never. Neither has Ronon. John had a severe reprimand from Afghanistan that came with a transfer to McMurdo to illustrate that part of his personality and Ronon has, well, Ronon for his illustration. It’s also one of the reasons he’d passed on the job offer of promotion to Expedition Commander after Elizabeth’s death when the military came to him with the offer of throwing his name onto the nominees’ list. He’d never told anybody about that, never told Rodney about it when the man was absolutely convinced that McKay’s personal scientific know-how made him an undeniable shoe-in for the vacant position. If McKay only knew. Sitting or walking or standing around doing nothing other than waiting for teams to get back from being on missions or sending out teams to go cover those that were in danger was the major reason he’d told the SGC and General O’Neill that he wasn’t interested in being the Expedition’s Commander despite their pressing him to take the job. If he took the job, he wouldn’t be able to go out on missions and look for Elizabeth. He’d been sure she’d survived… and she had… in a way. Even when she’d shown up last year as a disembodied life essence then took on the body of a Replicator that looked nothing like her original self, he still lobbied Woolsey to allow ‘Elizabeth’ to stay in Atlantis with them, with him, if she wished to. He’d planned on convincing her to stick around, but matters changed that… And he lost her again, she’s floating out there somewhere in space, frozen and surrounded by other hibernating Replicators.

“Rad—,” Richard begins but the Czech scientist gestures over at Teyla and Woolsey switches his attention accordingly, “Teyla, send Major Lorne’s team to the holoroom to observe instead and remind them to remain outside the room and not to touch the doorway’s iris shield.”

Teyla nods and begins working, looking even more like the beautiful and able Lieutenant Nyota Uhura as she presses buttons and listens to her redesigned earpiece. Quickly and astutely relaying everything with a strong confident voice. Grace and poise incarnate.

Ursula walks over to the front of Zelenka’s console, his eyes rise to gaze out over the top brim of his glasses to meet her eyes.

“You know what you have to do now,” she tells him.

It’s not a question, it’s a statement of fact. Plain, simple fact. Sheppard, Ronon, Teyla, and Woolsey look over at the pair. Sheppard and Ronon with evident suspicion; it’s not that they think Radek would be involved in anything that would seriously endanger Rodney any further, it’s that they’re getting tired of being so in the dark about pretty much everything going on. They know from the fast pace of everything, the ticking clock, that the people in running it all from Operations don’t necessarily waste time with exposition. Sometimes, but not all the time. For two men so used to being in control, so used to having just as much information or more than those in the Command Center, this whole crisis is driving them nuts. Like when it was pretty much up to Rodney entirely to solve the problem of a universe-jumping Daedalus. Ronon got so frustrated with being not in control and fed up with not knowing how to fire the Daedalus’ weapons that he started pounding his fists on the ship’s console. John admits he wasn’t exactly thrilled with leaving everything up to Rodney, but he trusted Rodney enough to have faith in the man to pull them through pretty much alone—Is that it? I don’t trust Radek as much as I do Rodney?

Radek Zelenka nods at the Lieutenant with a heavy sigh. He knew it was coming ever since he saw on his screen that the city had designated him the character of Enterprise Chief Engineer Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott. This had to be coming… but he had been hoping that if he remained up here long enough, remained at this station and being one of the key helpers in Operations long enough, that someone else would step in and do it for him. But that is not so. He is sure that Carson has done many things already concerning the delicate and extremely uncomfortable matter, but now it is Radek’s turn to get involved. Honestly, he wished he did not have to. He is not sure he can do it, he has never been good at things like this. Crises are Rodney’s forte, not his; although he has had his shining moments here and there over the years, but not like this.

Teyla and Ronon begin to wonder if what the two are talking about might be anything to do with the episode, some unfortunate requirement that the city has dictated for Radek to do via it’s giving him a certain role to play. If so, then what?

“I know, I was trying to put it off,” he says quietly, confirming their ruminations.

“That’s not a help,” Ursula says so softly and gently John can hear why Atlantis ordained her some sort of unnamed confidante for the personnel here.

“I know. It’s just…”

She starts nodding, “I understand. Trust me, I do.”

He smiles weakly at her, ruefully. Their eyes meeting again and she offers him a supportively regretful smile back. Yes, he can see it. She does understand. A part of him wonders if the look in her eyes is the same look she had had when staring down at her husband’s coffin with her tiny son in her arms. Another part of him remembers some of the mission files he had secretly read when the young Lieutenant first arrived here, both some of her SG-team files as well as her military files from her service time in Iraq as well as Afghanistan, bet Colonel Sheppard does not know about some of those wartime experiences. Radek nods again. Sighs again. Then stands up. He tugs the bottom hem of his red engineering uniform shirt down to a straighter, crisper, and more comfortable fit. Yet another ruse, he knows, a pathetic gambit to buy him a few more seconds time before he has to do what he does not want to. He turns to Woolsey.

“I am going to the Infirmary to help Carson,” Radek Zelenka announces.

“Is there a need for that,” Woolsey asks, not sure what the exchange had been mysteriously about and not liking anything that has Radek Zelenka lagging on his duties and in fact doing everything he can to intentionally put his responsibilities off. It’s not like the Czech scientist, especially when lives are in danger. It must be something pretty, Richard doesn’t even want to think of all the—Wait, is he going to operate on Rodney with Carson? That doesn’t sound right. Richard Woolsey knows he doesn’t know STAR TREK very well and he hasn’t got the faintest clue who Radek is supposed to be in all this, but he does know that the city is trying it’s hardest to keep people in their fields of expertise at least and Radek is not medical, nowhere near it. He’s science.

“Yes, Mister Woolsey, there is,” Zelenka confirms like a death knell.

He steps down from the upper deck and starts to head for the short staircase that leads out of Ops and into the rest of the city.

“Why,” the Satedan asks as the Czech reaches the threshold.

“I have to help Rodney’s body keep functioning. For his sake.”

Silence follows as Woolsey gestures for another technician to take Radek’s place at the rededicated science station as Sheppard and the rest of his team watch Zelenka leave.

“You know what he’s talking about?” Ronon looks over at Kenmore.

She nods.

“Tell us.”

“It’s the same problem as before, Rodney’s body is running out of time.”

“What does that have to do with Radek, he’s not medical,” Sheppard asks.

She hesitates then, “It’s not…,” Her mind and her voice catch and she lets the breath finish in an awkwardly failing sigh. This is difficult for her to talk about. Of course it’s always been difficult to figure out how to tell anyone stuff like this. She wracks her mind for the first reference—it surges to her mental forefront almost immediately. A well lit room in a trailer in the middle of a desert. A briefing calling for a group of four who are normally pilots and co-pilots to suddenly become Infantrymen. Patrol the perimeter with four regular Infantrymen in two teams of four. Take up abnormal duties out of the blue. She’d taken a sniper shot to the heart that time because one of the Infantrymen decided it’d be great to treat the perimeter patrol like free time to film a home movie. Thank God, she’d modified her ‘body armor’ with some pieces of precut sheet steel that her mother had sent in a recent care package from home. There was one hell of a bruise. Took three days to heal. That’s how long her arm spent in a sling with gentle ribbing from her friends and not so gentle ribbing from a bunch of guys who’d thought that carrying a weapon in combat required a penis and a jockstrap and also apparently being a total racist asshole to pretty much everyone and everything.

The technician Woolsey requisitioned, a young Asian-American with a fauxhawk, jumps in for her, “Colonel Sheppard, it’s not anything nasty or like that. It’s just, it’s a friend, Sir, and no wants to see this happen to a friend and no one wants to be the person who has to hands-on see it happen to them either.”

Okay, Sheppard nods, he understands that. He feels that. But that still doesn’t answer his question.

“You have grown quite close to Rodney,” Teyla says before Sheppard can open his mouth again and demand an answer to what’s Radek helping Carson do with Rodney’s body.

Ursula turns and looks at the woman. More than a little shocked at the spot on calculation. How’d she know that? “Not super close, but—“

Teyla starts smiling, it’s so bright and warm that Ursula realizes it’s okay for her to smile too.

“Not close. Then what?” Comes the gruff question. Of course, Dex would jump in.

“They are friends, Ronon. Like how he is with Radek. They share common interests and enjoy each other’s company in them.”

He looks at his friend as she casually goes back to her coordinating responsibilities.

“When did that happen,” he asks.

“When we sparred in the woods and he kicked my ass with a stick.”

“So someone has to kick your ass—“

“No,” Kenmore interrupts him with a coy smile, “they just have to know the right techniques.”

He eyes her. A part of him responding to her playfulness. Intrigued by it. There’s a glitter in the mahogany depths of her eyes that entices him. Something that reminds him of the refreshing, eye-opening scent of peppermint.

“Mister Woolsey,” Teyla speaks up again with one hand on some of the buttons of her station and her other hand’s fingertips keeping her communications receiver lodged firmly in her ear, “Major Lorne reports that he and his team are in front of the holoroom. They are ready and waiting.”

Richard nods and moves over to stand by Chuck. Operations’ personnel’s attentions switch to the Stargate.

“Dial Atlantis,” Woolsey orders.

Gate Technician Chuck Campbell nods and reaches over to start dialing… then hesitates with his fingers over the wedge-shaped, constellation marked buttons. Unnerved, his eyes dart from symbol to symbol a tad out of reach for the moment. He analyzes each one. Swallows even though his mouth is dry.

“What is it,” Woolsey asks him.

Chuck laughs a little, embarrassed, but not too much that he can’t admit the problem, “I, I don’t know the gate address for Atlantis, Sir.”

They all look at him.

“I’ve never had to dial us before, Sir,” he defends, “I’ve always had to dial other planets, never us before. I’m not exactly sure what buttons to press.”

Smiles and an actual snicker or two go around the room. Despite the gravity of the situation with Rodney, it’s the little thing that’s broken the stress. They can all pretty well imagine how Rodney would have reacted to Chuck saying that. Decisive accusations of sheer unadulterated frustration leveled specifically at the Stargate Technician or mind blown sputtering as he struggles to rein in his emotions and process his thoughts on he’s surrounded by stupid people. The Rodney McKay Reign of Terror… who’d ever thought that any of them would miss that. Somehow, without any of them realizing it overtly, Doctor Rodney McKay going on a warpath all over the place was their unifying force. They could unite over McKay’s hyper exaggerated blustering and condemnation as not what any of them need in the crisis right now, but somehow the drama continuously put McKay on his A-game, at his best. And the pseudo-brevity always put them at ease knowing that McKay was at his best under the highest stress. When Rodney McKay blew a fuse, they were sure to win whatever fight they were in…

It’s scary now to think that the fuse blowing is all in their minds. The win is uncertain… when they need it most.

Sheppard has mercy on the young man’s embarrassment and walks over, “It’s these,” he starts dialing for the gate technician.

The Stargate’s chevrons ka-chunk into place and the kawoosh of an actively established wormhole flourishes to life then settles back in on itself at the center of the gate. It’s amazing to see it. Sheppard’s shocked to see that there actually is an established wormhole, waiting and ready for anybody to step through it and take the wormhole’s ride. It technically shouldn’t be happening, but the Ancient city itself is making it possible. Unbelievably possible. Richard Woolsey walks over to the main balcony overlooking the gate. His eyes find the marine standing by down on the embarkation floor with a phaser in his hand.

“Send it through,” he orders with a nod of his semi-bald head.

The astute marine nods back, steps over to the waiting Stargate, and tosses the phaser through the stilled yet undulating event horizon.

The waiting begins.

Reflexively Teyla presses her unusual earpiece deeper into her ear as if that will help it achieve better reception. The beautiful Athosian leader listens intently for the first hints of coming information— A smile breaks across her face, a breath of relief escapes her smooth delicate lips.

“Mister Woolsey,” she announces, “Major Lorne says that he and all the members of his team have seen the phaser come through. As far as they can tell, it has arrived perfectly intact.”

Sheppard immediately turns to Woolsey. Woolsey nods. Sheppard and Ronon bolt for the exit, rushing down the Ancient script-decorated stairs to the waiting Stargate.

“Remember the landing party consisted of Kirk, Scotty, Chekov, and two security officers,” Kenmore reminds, hurrying over to Operation’s threshold to yell down after the men.

“I’m the Kirk, Ronon counts as one of the security. Who does the city say is Scotty and who’s Chekov?” Sheppard calls back to her without looking, all of his attention is zoned in on the waiting Stargate and its holding wormhole connection. They’re so near. His eyes focus on the rippling event horizon. He can taste how close they are.

“Zelenka’s Scotty and that’s a good thing. He knows this episode like McKay and I do.” Now as for Chekov, Ursula turns to Radek’s replacement technician. The tech checks his console.

“The city says Major Lorne is Ensign Chekov,” the technician reports.

Navigation as well as Security, with Evan’s naturally born, genetically inherited Ancient abilities as being one of the few people in the city that can fly Atlantis the city-ship as well as an apt pilot of the puddle jumpers and being the leader of Atlantis’ number two team, that sounds about right for him to be labeled as the closest personnel they have to Pavel Chekov. Even the bit about becoming a science officer on board the USS Reliant, Lorne started his time out in the Stargate Program with a full embrace of his geology degree, a science degree.

Woolsey nods again, “Very well, Lieu—Teyla, tell Major Lorne to leave his team to continue observing what they see through the holoroom doorway. He is to report to the Stargate immediately, tell him he’s Chekov. Then recall Radek to the Gateroom, I’m sure he’ll know why.”

Teyla nods and gets right on it, hoping that Radek has finished whatever help he is supposed to be administering to Rodney and Carson. Within a few minutes, Major Evan Lorne reports to the Gateroom. But Zelenka is another matter.

Her eyes widen dramatically at her friend’s words. How can that be? So long? So very, very long? Teyla takes a moment to collect herself. If she has this poor a reaction to the information, then John will have, what is the expression her Milky Way friends often use, a fit? She clears her throat quietly and as discreetly as she possibly can then announces, “Doctor Zelenka will be at least…,” she trails off. She had thought she had an appropriate way to this say this when she first opened her mouth, but now that the words are actually coming out of her mouth, she is not so sure that they are the right ones. Eyes are starting to find her from around the room and her silence is becoming decidedly noticeable, “four hours more,” she finishes.

There are gasps. Perhaps I should not have emphasized the length of time.

John freezes then shakes his head. Nope, not good enough. He turns sharply. “Tell him to get his ass down here,” Sheppard barks up to Operations from the embarkation floor.

Teyla relays the message far more politely but with no less urgency. She turns away from attentive eyes, bowing her head for more privacy.

“Radek, Rodney is running out of time,” she hisses at him, “Four hours is, is—“

The explanation she gets in return causes her a moment’s pause again before she passes it on, her eyes find Woolsey’s.

“Radek says he cannot come here any sooner. What he is doing is both very important and very delicate and he cannot hand it over to anyone else.”

The Expedition Leader’s eyes go to Lieutenant Kenmore. Her demeanor is earnest, but her nod is confidently emphatic. Woolsey goes to the balcony, “Colonel Sheppard, your group will have to wait. Whatever he’s doing, Radek has to do it and he can’t move any faster.”

“And, trust me, you don’t want him to,” Kenmore adds in an unusually conservative tone of voice from her.

Teyla’s dark eyes dart to the young woman maintaining her distance from her fellow female team member. Woolsey errs on the Lieutenant’s knowledgeable sense of caution.

Sheppard opens his mouth to object, but Woolsey holds his hand up to stop him before he starts, “No, Colonel. You and your men wait. End of discussion.”

The Administrator quickly turns away from the balcony and the men in the Gateroom down below. No yells of dissent follow after him as he retreats further into Operations. Sheppard is probably too seething to speak. If waiting these minutes is driving him up the walls of Atlantis and pushing his temper to its edge, then of course waiting hours would render him practically catatonic. Either way it’s a few moments of restraint from the Colonel. Richard comes to stand for a moment beside the Ancient chair, sensing all eyes on him. While he’s always been good at waiting, it’s a professional trait in attorneys especially those with the extensive courtroom experience he has, but he’s never been good at waiting with an audience watching him. It’s an uncomfortable mental phantom of being bullied for most of his life. Still, he keeps his head down and his hands clasped behind his back. Countering one phantom with another, the silhouette he’d assume in courtroom’s during questioning when he was deciding how to proceed next under the eyes of a jury or a judge and the other council members of the case he was pleading as well as the witness awaiting his next probing question.

Then as now, Richard Woolsey knows what’s at stake and he knows and feels the emotions roiling down on that Gateroom floor and in this room just as perceptively as he did when the witness fidgeted or squirmed or glared him down from the raised seat beside an even higher sitting judge. Every day is a courtroom battle in one way or another here. He no longer wears his fine, tailored suits, but his Atlantis uniform is very well fitting on him, he much prefers the new Carter-style ones to the more athletically designed Weir-style ones, and the running of the city is very much like his life back at his old law firm. Bizarrely enough, he’s found a second far more comforting home in a lost mythical city residing on a vast ocean on an alien planet in the extremely foreign Pegasus Galaxy. In a way, it is as though his entire life’s plan has been training him for this position. Yet he, he… Woolsey looks over at 1st Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore.

“Lieutenant?” He asks.

She faces him.

“What am I supposed to do?” He asks. Filing papers, reading reports, writing reports, the day-to-day business of his normal routine seems out of place to pursue at this moment.

A breath raises and lowers her chest. Relief. That hadn’t been anything like she’d expected him to say. In fact, she hadn’t expected that question at all. There’re so many other things going on right now, she’d been anticipating to be asked to tell them what Radek’s doing with Carson and Rodney and she still wasn’t sure how she was going to explain that one. Better to answer this question than that one, “Well, whenever Captain Kirk is forced to wait, he usually sits in his command chair and keeps order from there.”

Woolsey looks over at the chair, at least no paperwork that might give the appearance that he doesn’t care about Doctor McKay’s predicament… or would it convey the idea that Woolsey is so confident in their ability to restore the good Doctor’s brain to his body that he has no need to worry or be on edge like the rest of them? He not sure about the answer to that one.

Kenmore sees the consternation and irritation at having to wait in his body and other thoughts that she can’t readily read but can easily guess that their swirling around in his mind, wreaking havoc.

“Look, in truth, Zelenka should have been down there helping Doctor Beckett the moment we found Rodney in the Infirmary, but he didn’t. He’s lost at least two hours time. In the episode, it takes Scotty and Doctor McCoy over fifteen and a half hours to do what needs to be done for Spock.”

Woolsey’s head snaps to her. His jaw hanging loose in his mouth.

Ursula nods at him, “Exactly. Be thankful, he’s finally gotten over there.”

“Why was he stalling? That’s not like Radek, especially in a crisis.”

She takes another big breath. He’s not the only one, she’s been trying to dodge explaining this part all along too. And she’ll dodge it again. “You’ll see,” she says simply and hopes he’ll leave it at that.

Richard Woolsey turns back to the incredible chair beside him. He reaches out and his fingertips caress its headrest again. It’s responds to his touch just like last time. Illuminating in that beautiful icy light blue that it does so very much like the oceanic color of the chevrons of the Stargate along with a darker oceanic blue like the depths of the vastness of the ocean waters themselves as the light reaches the headrest. So delicate in its impression of power. Richard Woolsey takes his command chair yet again and once more it feels as comfortable and empowering as it did before. He casually turns the Ancient chair smoothly and soundlessly to face the Lieutenant and notices her faint smile at how comfortable he is being Captain Kirk in the Big Chair.

“Question,” her demeanor suddenly becomes serious at his prompting, “If it took Scotty and Doctor McCoy over fifteen and a half hours in the episode, then how is it only taking Radek and Carson about four hours?”

“I don’t know really. I really don’t. All I can think of is that Scotty and McCoy had absolutely no idea what they were dealing with, none whatsoever. But Radek does, he can help guide Doctor Beckett specifically to where this needs to be. You know, it is easier to get to a certain point when you know exactly what that point is let alone where it is. And most likely Atlantis herself has given them some sort of a considerable helping hand. The technology here is different than the Enterprise’s and there might be something in the Ancient database that might have proved to be of some use or at least get them along the way way further than starting with absolutely nothing. Not to mention that the ATA capability of everything is a considerably game changer from the technology of Starfleet in the series.”

Woolsey nods, feeling some measure of comfort in the knowledge that the Lieutenant’s explanation is somewhat true along with the coolness of the armrests beneath his palms. It’s amazing how a ‘cool head’ so to speak always gives a sense of calm and confidence. And it’s not as though they haven’t encountered Ancient technology before that had some sort of a stabilization and hibernation factor to its use. Like the stasis units. One kept an alternate universe version of Elizabeth Weir alive for over ten thousand years. Another kept General Jack O’Neill alive in the Antarctica outpost when SG-1 had no other way of contacting the Asgard to help get the Ancient repository’s considerable information out of his mind before it killed him again. Another also kept the clone of Carson Beckett alive when Doctor Jennifer Keller nor anyone else, including Carson’s clone himself, could figure out a way of keeping him alive without Wraith Hybrid Michael Kenmore’s serum. Atlantis helping Doctor McKay, the Ancient Touch Activation sensitivities of the Ancient technology towards someone’s DNA, it all makes plausible sense to him and in lieu of no other optional answers, he’ll take her word for it. No other Trekkie personnel here seems to dispute her theory.

Something else occurs to him. “The city has given us all roles to play, Lieutenant, who are you supposed to be?”

She looks down at her light blue Starfleet uniform. Her hands touching it. It’s so different than the Command gold one she’d sewn for herself so many years ago, so different without its Command department patch. Ursula reaches up and touches the new gold and black patch and its circular atom-like symbol. Science. She wasn’t ever all that interested in the scientific fields of Starfleet, Mister Spock notwithstanding. Yes, she does realize that science is an inherent part of space exploration, but when she costume-played Star Trek, any of the series, she was never in any of the Science Department designated roles. Never envisioned herself in the powder blue uniform. Command Gold or Engineering Red. Those were what this little girl’s dreams were made of. She looks up at Woolsey again, her strides take her away from the threshold opening, and carries her over to the Captain’s Chair.

“I’m not sure, but there must have been a generic blue skirt in the episode and I guess I’m her,” she shrugs. When this is all over, she’ll have to recheck the episode for that.

He nods and pats the armrests a few times, getting more comfortable in his temporary seat and situation. He turns the chair back to facing the bank of windows looking out over the Gateroom. A subtle sigh escapes him, it’s going to be a long wait of… he moves his hand, gently caressing the armrest yet again and suddenly stops as a sense of time abruptly comes to him. A bit of a smile tugs at one of the corners of his mouth, he wonders if this is what it’s truly like to interact with Ancient technology on that mental level that comes so easily to Colonel Sheppard and Doctor Beckett and Major Lorne. They’ll have to see how Lieutenant Kenmore does in the chair, she’s been reticent to go anywhere near the Chair Room since that mission he’d ordained ‘The Ruins’. And no wonder, he doesn’t blame her or chide her for her fears about the chair somehow torturing her again even without the hideous addition to it. Some things are not easy to forget. Not for the first time Richard wonders whether it’s a matter of thinking and the chair thinks with you or is it talking with your mind with the chair’s mind talks back to you like an internal conversation? Even doing it himself, he’s not sure which. He’ll have to ask all three men what they think it is, what they feel it is. For all Richard knows, it could be a matter of both concepts. Think and it thinks with you and it also talks with your mind. They have three hours and fifteen minutes more before Radek shows up. Plenty of time for Richard to come to his own conclusions on the matter. Plenty.

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Seven

Chapter Seven

The unlikely remaining three of Atlantis’ flagship team walk the hallway rather casually in spite of the fact that one of their number is running dangerously out of time. They’d rather be thorough and make sure they don’t overlook something amiss that might prove valuable than hurrying and accidentally overlooking key details. They check the rooms that lead off of the hallway, but they keep coming up empty. Not to mention discovering that changing Atlantis to be more accommodating of the television episode hasn’t actually changed the décor of the rooms even if it has changed the setup of Operations. Everything else seems to be like usual. Nothing switched or moved or removed from anywhere else. Nothing added either. They come up to yet another hallway junction and cross paths with Major Evan Lorne’s team.

“Anything, Major?” Sheppard asks.

“No, Sir. You?”

Sheppard shakes his head and the two teams do what they’ve down before when crossing path with the other search teams, they continue on with their individual search directions. But before they entirely pass each other, one of Lorne’s team, Coughlin, stops Kenmore by latching onto her forearm. He quickly leans into her. But her shocked and fearful face pulls away from him. Coughlin doesn’t take the hint, leans in further, and hurriedly whispers something in her ear—Her eyes widen. She blinks a few times then Coughlin rushes a few steps to catch up with the rest of his team, they continue on. Ursula finally finds her feet again and starts moving, slowly stepping along to catch back up to Sheppard and Dex who had stopped during the bizarre and uncomfortable exchange.

“What was that about,” Sheppard asks as they go back to searching.

“I really don’t want to say.”

“Why not?” Ronon asks sharply.

“Because I’m not really sure that I’m allowed to.”

“What does that mean?”

“I think it has to do with whatever character the city’s assigned me to be.”

“And what do you think that is,” Sheppard asks with a casual look down the rest of the new hallway. They’re coming up on some doors in about twenty feet.

“Some sort of ship’s counselor I think.”

“Why is that,” he glances back at her.

“When people stop me, they keep telling me really personal private things about themselves. Definitely stuff they’d only ever tell the local psych doc.”

“Like what?”

“I believe that’s privileged.”

John looks back at her and she’s smiling. He faces forward again with his own lopsided grin. Should’ve known.

“Are we supposed to believe that,” Ronon snarks, “Who’d tell you anything?”

“Hey, it’s not like people here don’t tell me things. Like the rumors about Sheppard and McKay or Sheppard and Emmagan.”

John grimaces, “You know I could do without this line of talking.”

“If it makes you feel any better, there’s a few people here who think Dex and Woolsey are shacked up together.”

The men freeze and look at her. Raised eyebrows. Wide eyes. Jaws that don’t know whether to drop open or tighten up so end up in a confused somewhere in between.

“See, see. That’s what I mean. Now Woolsey, I can kind of see why they think he might be gay, but you,” she gestures at Ronon, “I don’t get why people think you’re gay. Not to mention what is up with this city’s obsession with bedroom antics. I mean my god, we’re dying out here and the biggest form of entertainment people can come up with is who’s playing Atlantis’ own in-house version of sexual Survivor.” Ursula Kenmore walks over to another room off to the left, “Out wit. Out last. Out date,” she swipes her hand in front of its sensor. It opens and she leans in for her look around.

Each time, it’s the same. There’s a part of her that’s honestly bummed that none of the rooms have gotten anything even remotely like Original Series quarters detailing, although her favorite quarters aesthetic were from Star Trek The Next Generation. Now those rooms, good God, those babies were beautiful. And huge! The size of small yet incredibly spacious apartments! Fantastic apartments with these beautiful vistas of star dotted space. Brick-ish red lush carpeting, long comfy looking pastel sofas and armchairs, elegant coffee tables, and knick knacks and house plants galore. Chaise lounges. The most sophisticated and elegant laptops ever. Replicator systems embedded in the walls. Small bathrooms that were still pretty damn spacious. Could use some that luxurious accommodations stuff here in Atlantis, but it’s not like the Original Series crew quarters didn’t have something to offer the eye either. Not that the glittery reflective panels that seemed to do nothing other than be ‘futuristic’ interior design accent was what was on her mind, she’d been looking forward to the bright red chicken fencing blocking off areas of the room from each other like a ‘futuristic’ half-wall screen. She’d always liked that detail of the rooms. It stood out to her the most. Come to think of it, that was probably the point of the things’ coloring. But not in Atlantis, no. Nothing like that anywhere so far. No jutting slab of a bed with truly hideous bed linens of a grid pattern of gold and brick red with a pillow to match. Or rather severely Spartan wall aesthetics. Nor are there—well, she has to mentally strike that one off the list; there are some absolutely tacky knickknacks in the crew quarters here already. Really, there’s a wide range of butt ugly and who-on-God’s-green-Earth-collects-that stuff that makes her rethink that those awkward chochkis from a ‘60s television show aren’t nearly as awkward as she’d originally thought. There are even bits of macramé still hanging around that someone brought with them for their orchid or potted fern. Some things apparently never change. She does admit to herself that she misses those Original Series desk chairs. The bowl-like rounded seats padded with somewhat shiny black vinyl that covers the narrow necked backs of the chairs to form a blunt-topped teardrop shape balancing on a shaft of black metal ending in a cross-shape for feet. She’s always loved those chairs and intentionally remembered every itty-bitty detail about them too because she hunted through thrift store after thrift store after thrift store since she was a child shopping with her mother for one of those chairs. One of those really, really great chairs. Never found one… damn it!

Another ‘Damn it!’ is that she also isn’t seeing anything amiss in the Lantean interior design. Same ole, same ole. Green patina walls, textured copper accents, and rust-colored marble flooring with white furniture and naquadah and clear crystal slat chiclet scones to go with the pyramid groupings all over the ceiling, not to mention Frank Lloyd Wright-ish stained glass windows in autumn colors if the room has a window. Yep, great big yawn. Kenmore walks on to rejoin Sheppard and Ronon Dex as they keep moving along and the empty room’s door closes behind her.

“You know, this could actually be worse,” she comments, easily resuming her spot alongside the Colonel’s free side.

“Rodney’s brain was taken by someone we can’t find. How is there anything worse? Were you hoping he was dead when we came to?” Ronon snarks at her, making up for the lack of Rodney being there in his own way and venting some of his frustration while he’s verbally filling in all at the same time.

“Despite your smartassing,” Kenmore answers, “I was talking about the episode choice.”

Ronon grunts dismissal and goes over and checks another room. It’s empty. He comes back to their trio.

“Okay, I’ll give,” Sheppard preempts what might brew up to be yet another Ronon versus Kenmore sniping contest that escalates into violence. It might not, Ronon’s been quite subdued towards the Lieutenant since she’d successfully and easily took out the man as well as Sheppard and Teyla during their recent training exercise, and Rodney too eventually, but still, John can’t be too cautious. Ronon had grabbed the Lieutenant so hard he actually made her wince. There was probably bruising, but her healing abilities might have made quick work of that. Anyways, John doesn’t need escalation right now… well, maybe. It would be a taste of the usual that they’ve come to accept on missions. Like how Rodney prattles on about his supposedly ‘high’ metabolism or ‘delicate’ fair skin or anything of the everything else the scientist gripes about on missions that require more footwork than he thinks they should, which just so happens to be every mission they go on. “What episodes would be worse than this one,” John asks.

“Well, there’s my favorite episode that so happens to be McKay’s second favorite.”

“What happens in that one that’s worse than what’s happening in this one?”

“That depends on how much worse you think it would be for there all of a sudden to be a Wraith hiveship in orbit and suddenly there’s twelve Wraith wandering around the city lookin’ for shore leave?”

The men look at her.

“Oh, and that isn’t even the worst part,” she tells them.

“Wraith using Atlantis as shore leave isn’t the worse part of that scenario,” Ronon asks.

She shakes her head, “Nope.”

“What is,” Sheppard asks.

“Tribbles,” she answers, “Lots and lots of tribbles.”

“What are tribbles,” the Satedan’s never heard of such things.

“Cute little furry creatures that are so adorable,” she beams, clearly familiar with them, “They purr and cuddle.”

Ronon stops and turns to her with a blank, unimpressed face, “Cute furry cuddly things are worse?”

She nods emphatically, “You see the dangerous part about them—“

“They’re dangerous,” he repeats, still blankly.

“Yes, because they’re born pregnant. You can’t feed them anything otherwise it kick starts they’re gestation cycle and in a few hours you’ve got yourself a mommy tribble with an average litter of ten baby tribbles.”

“They reproduce when they eat, so what?” He shrugs.

“Assuming every tribble has that average litter of ten, which they do, and they also give birth twelve hours after that first little nibble of food, you have a population of one million seven hundred,” Ronon’s eyebrows jump up and Sheppard’s do too, “seventy one thousand five hundred sixty one at the end of just three days time. So let alone are they really prolific, they can get into tight spaces too. Air vents, food processors, ever space you can possibly think of that would be really, really bad for those cute little furry buggers to get into.”

Holy crap, Sheppard’s stunned intense eyes turn away from her and he starts them moving again. Slowly. Okay, so she’s right. That would be worse. Tiny little baby-farms breeding Atlantis out of usable service with Wraith in the city let alone orbit. His mind starts trailing to all the many ways that bad. Air vents, Radek can barely fit into the smaller versions of those and Kenmore managed to squeeze in with full gear on and if every single one of those became a nesting area… John blinks at the flooring passing away beneath his feet. Food processors, while Atlantis doesn’t have any of those, they do have a kitchen and food storage areas and if those little things can get into the vents, why would the fridges suddenly be off limits? Every space he can possible think of that would be really, really bad… He almost freezes: The drone rooms! “Okay,” he swallows hard, “so what was your guys’ second choices?”

“Worser still. For me, it’s ‘Mirror, Mirror’. We’d be battling the evil versions of ourselves. Well, actually in that episode it’d be you, Woolsey, Zelenka acting as Scotty, Emmagan acting as Uhura, and Doctor Beckett as McCoy battling evil versions of the rest of us in an evil parallel universe of this one. Oh, and whoever the city thinks is Chekov will end up trying to knife you and Woolsey in the back at some point in time and hiring a couple of marines to help him do it.” Conveniently skipping over the fact that her second favorite Trek episode of all time is the Deep Space Nine episode called “Crossover” featuring that series’ Mirror universe. Ursula can just envision Teyla Emmagan as both the Lantean DS9’s Bajoran Major Kira Nerys as well as the Lantean Terok Nor’s Intendant Kira Nerys. Her mind fleshes out the rest of the roles and how the action would go… she shivers and covers it up as an awkward stretch. Spooky and scary as hell is what that would have been.

John’s imagination takes that stabbed in the back thing and runs wild with it, “Well, isn’t that nice,” he says sourly, “And what was Rodney’s second choice?”

“You mean after ‘The Trouble With Tribbles’?”

He nods.

“Another really bad choice for Atlantis, his third favorite is ‘Balance of Terror’.”

“What happens in that,” Ronon asks and John wished he hadn’t, what good can come of a show named ‘Balance of Terror’?

“Atlantis would be going head to head against a hiveship just as powerful as the city is and we’re both in space on the brink of Wraith territory. We’d be duking it out until basically both ships are pretty much dead in the water, the Wraith slightly more worse off than us, and then the Wraith commit suicide and we try and try and try to limp our butts back home. Oh, and while we’re fighting, you, and consequently Woolsey, get chummy and chatty with the Wraith Queen aboard the hiveship until she blows herself and her ship up to kingdom come. You two’ll even like her so much that you both regret that she kills herself and she might even like you two right back and regret having to off herself too. She’ll tell you that you three are of like kind and had this been a different universe you three could be friends, but that won’t stop her from doing what she feels she must and blowing herself and her ship up. Great huh?”

Ronon looks at her, not caring about that sarcastic last sentence, “You call that fun? Something like that is entertainment to you?” That’s brutal everyday life in the Pegasus Galaxy. How is what he and his people have endured for hundreds, thousands of years fun?

Kenmore nods at him, “Hm-mmm. Actually it’s how a lot of us got interested in science and space exploration in the first place.”

“Science?” The Satedan can see the space exploration part, but the other, no.


“How does anything you’ve just said involve science?” Still not seeing it.

“Don’t ask,” Sheppard says. At least, he knows the answer to that one.

“All of the devices in it from the ship itself to Teyla’s earpiece to the marines’ phasers to the communicators was imagined by that series and geeks like Rodney and Zelenka made them a reality. You probably wouldn’t find this hard to believe, but we didn’t even have computers until that show came out and inspired someone to make one.”

“Really,” he looks over at Sheppard and the Colonel reluctantly nods agreement.

“Everything we take as a modern convenience on our planet owes its origins to this television series.”

The Satedan looks ahead of him, “That’s pretty sad of your people as a whole.” Perhaps it was because of thousands of years of interactions with the Ancestors and their technology, but none of what he sees here in Atlantis and has seen over the years is anything he hasn’t seen before. None of it he would consider a ‘modern convenience’.

Sheppard’d been fearing that comment was coming. Kenmore nods, but it’s mostly because, taking into account the philosophy of that series and it’s spinoffs, her people as a whole still have a lot longer way to go.

They keep walking down the hallway… checking doors as they come to them… plenty of doors… still coming up empty for Rodney’s brain or the intruder woman… whole lot of nothing…

“I should have expected this from McKay the moment I saw the images from the episode selections on the transporter pad,” Kenmore scolds herself after their long silence continues into another hallway, down its long doorless length, and into a more hopeful hallway with doors lining both of its sides. It’s only a handful of doors on the left side and on the right, but at least there’s doors.

“Why?” The Satedan looks over at her.

“An, even by Star Trek standards, scantily clad hot chick who only wants him for his mind? I know I haven’t known McKay for that long, but how is any of that not in his wheelhouse?”

Okay, on that, Ronon has to agree with her; he nods.

“Okay,” Sheppard gives in too, “that does sound like it’s right up Rodney’s alley.” But now that it gets brought up, “To be honest, I thought he’d go for that hot chick on the platform.”

Kenmore shruggingly nods, “I can see that one too, but that one would kind of be boring for everyone else. He’d be schmoozing the enemy chick the entire time on her ship with her all hot and bothered for him while we basically sit on our hands in Atlantis. Not really fun except for a machismo ego stroking.”

“Wait, you’re telling me that Rodney would be hit on by and hitting on a Wraith Queen?” Ronon finds that hard to believe.

“Not exactly, Wraith are our enemies like the Romulans, yes, but her race is supposed to be a sister if not cousin race to Rodney’s, so Wraith Queen, no. But,” her mind searches for a connection, “maybe some Ancients, he at least has the gene therapy, that aren’t exactly friendly to our cause. Maybe some that think an awful lot like the Ori but aren’t the Ori. It is possible. I mean it’s not like you guys haven’t encountered Ancients here that have totally abandoned the people of this galaxy to the Wraith in lieu of saving their own asses.”

John remembers all too well the sanctuary of Ancients he’d gotten stuck with for months due to time dilation. Although he wouldn’t call them going into that sanctuary in the first place ‘abandoning the human population of the Pegasus to the Wraith’, he does admit that it was pretty cowardly of them and not at all in keeping with the stories about them that Teyla’s people and a lot of other peoples in the Pegasus tell about the great and good Ancestors. And it’s also not like they haven’t run into incredibly hot Ancient chicks on ships of their own before. Rodney did get pretty drooling about that Ancient commander on the Aurora, so did John, until they found out it was a Wraith using her body in disguise to get access to privileged information from the Aurora’s Captain. Hell, even after finding out it was a Wraith guy’s mind in that body, Rodney was still pretty panty after her and John had to remind the man that it was a Wraith. Rodney, you’re drooling over a Wraith, John can still remember Rodney’s honest and funny retort to him, I know, I disgust myself sometimes. John smiles, McKay, he shakes his head, McKay

The three of them come around a corner and see the holodeck room’s door is still open—They stop.

“Why is it glowing,” Kenmore points.

“Is that a forcefield,” Sheppard seconds. Squinting.

The trio slowly walks up to it. There’s some sort of shield over the opened doorway not unlike the Stargate’s iris. It’s remarkable. They’ve never seen the iris cover anything other than the Stargate’s center gap. Ursula peers through its peacock iridescent haze. There’s been changes to the room. In fact there’s no room at all. She sees beautiful blue sky the likes of which would be featured in the most enticing photo of a summer’s day at a park, quintessential for a calendar piece. But no park, alpine mountain range instead. Craggy snowcapped mountains etch the background like a painting with picturesque and flowing snow drifts winding down from the grey rocky peaks like frozen water rivulets slipping away from their sandy river bed. The rocky terrain itself starts out grey at the top and as it gets closer to flatter ground changes color to a reddish brown like the soft powdery dirt of the valley between the mountain chains. Bare reddish brown ‘trees’ are sparsely arranged around here and there around the environment like a giant child stuck random leafless twigs in the ground upright in an innocent bid to get the dead limbs to come back to life and grow leaves once more. It takes her a moment, but Ursula recognizes the new environment thanks to the reference they’re all already going through courtesy of McKay.

“It’s the planet that the woman Kara took Spock’s brain to,” Kenmore reaches out towards it and her hand hits the shield.

A shock of pain rips through her knuckles. She yelps as she recoils. Holding her hand. The pain tingling through her bones. Her arm from the elbow down to spasms uncontrollably. Sheppard pulls her farther away from the shielded doorway before he takes a look at her injured hand. Two of Kenmore’s fingernail tips are scorched like she’d put each one into a light socket. His nostrils flare at the distinct smell of burnt bone. He has to remind himself that that is exactly what nails are, extremely thin and exterior grown bones. John fears for her for a moment, before he starts watching the blackened bits turning grey then healing even further and returning to their normal coloring. He can feel her arm’s tense spasms easing and the big puffy blisters steadily and noticeably deflating. Thank God she’s half Ancient and can heal herself of third degree burns like that. But he remembers his rudimentary First Aid training, third degree burns often do more damage underneath the skin than on the surface; her muscle spasm tell him that much. His eyes lock with hers to ask the unspoken question, Ursula nods at him even though her expression is agonized. Yes, she’ll be fine.

“I should have known not to touch it,” her voice is breathy while she pants.


“In the episode, when they find the planet where they think the woman went with Spock’s brain, only Kirk, Scotty, Chekov, and a couple of security officers, you know Red Shirts, went to the planet. Not whoever I’m supposed to be.”

Sheppard and Ronon look over at the doorway. The city is definitely going out of its way to adhere to the episode’s storyline including doling out punishments to whoever fails to adhere to the storyline too. They’ll have to pass that little tidbit along to the others.

“Try it,” Sheppard gives his friend the go-ahead, “Maybe you’re one of the Red Shirts that’s supposed to go along.” That would explain Ronon’s outfit color, there’s probably no one else more dedicated to the security of Atlantis than the Satedan who’s learned to call this place ‘home’, and it makes even more sense for him to come along since a situation like this would call for Atlantis’ flagship team to be all hands on deck. If John had to go into a fight, Ronon is the guy he’d take in right beside him. Always.

Ronon reaches over cautiously till his fingertips hit the shield. He feels the shock of pain and jumps back. Yelling. Cringing. Clamping his fingertips in his free hand, trying pace this off. Kenmore rushes out of Sheppard’s hold on her biceps over to the injured Satedan. Quickly she takes his severely burned tanned fingers gently in her hands, careful of the swelling blisters doubling his fingers size in large round spots at random. She can feel in the heat of his skin that there’s worse beneath the surface, but thankfully his nails aren’t burnt. She closes her eyes. His dark eyes focus on her as she concentrates on his wound. Suddenly he’s distracted by the golden glow of her healing abilities. Ronon looks down, the light on his hand feels warm; comfortably so, not hot and searing like the electricity of the iris-like shield. A calming sensation infuses his whole arm and he can genuinely feel her curing him of his burn.

While Kenmore repairs Ronon’s hand, John Sheppard walks up to the forcefield. Okay, so maybe Ronon’s not the Red Shirt that comes with him through alpine country here. He can’t imagine why, he’d definitely chose Ronon to come with him… Wait, ‘here’. John is Captain Kirk here along with Woolsey. Doesn’t that mean that the forcefield should let him through if it lets any of the three of them in at all, shouldn’t it? He starts to reach for the iris-like shield.

Just as she’s finished with Ronon, Kenmore opens her eyes, turns, and sees Sheppard.

“No! You can’t,” she dives for his hand. Stopping him in time.

“But you said Kirk is supposed to and the city thinks I’m—“

“They transported to the planet’s surface. You know, beamed down.”

John looks back at the shielded room full of Earth-like environment, “How do we beam down?”

The Lieutenant shrugs. He taps his earpiece, gets the irritating piercing beep series, yanks out his earpiece, and watches it transform in his hand the way it had with Woolsey. He hadn’t done that before, the city must be catching up to the rest of its fine tuning. For some reason, it feels to him that they’ve lost more time off their clock as if the city’s slow process to acclimate itself to the full parameters of the episode somehow affected Rodney. Without him saying a word, Kenmore shows him how to use the communicator just like she had for Woolsey and, “Radek, this is Sheppard, we found something. The holodeck room’s changed into a planet’s surface, but there’s a forcefield over the doorway. We can’t get in and there’s no touching it, it gives you a nasty burn if you do.”

“Has anyone been injured, Colonel?”

“Nothing Kenmore’s healing abilities couldn’t handle.”

He can here Radek nod over the handheld communication device’s connection, “Then that would figure, Colonel. On the show the landing party never just walked onto a planet’s surface, they beamed down using the transporter or flew there in one of the Enterprise’s shuttles.”

Sheppard, Ronon, and Kenmore look back at the entryway from the hallway they came from. There is a transporter back there, but it was Woolsey’s express decision over the city-wide that no one was to use the transporters until further notice in case the city had done something that changed their usual operating parameters to be in accordance with the television show it’s playing out.

“Maybe it’s time to put the transporters into use,” John asks.

He can hear some buttons clicking and switches snapping then, “According to what I am understanding from the city’s computers, those are operating like the turboelevators on the Enterprise, which means that they are operating as they normally do for us. They are not the right sort of transporters you require.”

“Well, what else do we have in the city that can transport stuff?” Ursula asks loudly enough for the radio link to pick up. “It’s not like we can fly one of the puddle jumpers around the hallways and through the doorway.”

From his position in the Operations Command Center/Ship’s Bridge, Doctor Radek Zelenka looks out their bank of glass windows at what he can see of the Gateroom… his eyes travel directly down to the Expedition’s usual mode of planetary transit.

“Actually, I may have an idea about that,” he tells his own opened communicator.

Sheppard, Ronon, and Kenmore exchange looks between each other. What the hell does that mean? She leans closer to Sheppard’s communicator, “You know I was being flippant about that flying the jumpers through the hallways stuff, right?”

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Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Six

(To my horror, I’ve realized that I’ve made a mistake.  No one tells you that helping to plan a wedding gives you Bride Brain even if you’re not the bride.  This story should actually have not been published yet.  So not to rob people of the rest of this story, I will continue to publish it and later re-categorize it correctly as Episode Ten.  Then I will publish the real Episode Nine after this one.  So if there are any references that no one gets, don’t worry, just give it until the next story gets published, and hopefully everything will then make sense.  Till then, finish reading, thank you for not bashing my ignorance of this site, and I will fix this all as time will allow.  Thank you.)

Chapter Six

For some reason, even though it’s in between shifts and the halls are most certainly usually this empty this time of day, the case of the situation makes the emptiness eerie. It’s a feeling, a sentiment that keeps gnawing at them every step they take. No running this time. There’s urgency to be sure, but it all seems irrelevant to run when they don’t really have anywhere to go. It’s not like they’re rushing off to physically save the day. They’re at the beginning… with nothing to do except get all the information gathered. At that’s up to other people right now, not them. Every step they take makes a sound in the empty corridor. Normally the soles of their shoes stifled that sound, but these different shoes, these fancy leather boots that speak of a uniform far more fashionable than anything they normally wear on a mission, don’t stifle a thing against the stone flooring. It’s distracting. It’s irritating as hell. It’s something that he wishes he’d stop hearing, he picks up the pace and the clacking of their boots start sounding off like salvos of P-90 fire. It rankles his hackles further, tensing his shoulders tighter than they already are. As they hurry back, Richard Woolsey taps his earpiece in the hopes that he’ll find something to take his mind away from fixating on the clopping sounds of their boot heels on Atlantis’ hallway’s rust-colored marble floor rather than fixating on the sound of their bootsteps to take his mind away from worrying about Rodney’s predicament. He needs that metaphorical bread trail of—There’s that piercing beeping communicator chirping sound. Woolsey winces and fumbles to yank his earpiece out. He rubs his ringing ear.

Before he can say ‘What the hell was that?!’, the compact, hook-shaped, Earth device turns into a large, compact, rectangular, Earth device. One not of this century. He freezes. Staring down at it filling up the palm of his hand. The Original Series communicator’s gold grill is already flipped open. It’s central dial rimmed in silver with its inner image spinning in a black and white psychedelic way with a low buzzing hum. On a silver plate beneath the dial, the outer two of the three small L.E.D. lights, the yellow and blue ones, are glowing at him. What the…, he looks up at the others.

Ursula reaches out and presses the button, of the two silver buttons beneath the lights, nearest the small, square, silver vent on the device; somewhat misreading his confusion. At her pressing of the transmit/receive switch, the center red L.E.D. starts flashing. She nods at him.

“Doctor Zelenka, this is Woolsey,” he tries with more than a little flummox. He’d been thinking that he had no clue what the hell the device was doing in his hand and why had their usual communications device suddenly transformed in the palm of his hand in fact. Well, when in Rome, he brings the device closer to his mouth unsure and awkward of its proper use, “Please get everyone and anyone who knows the STAR TREK Original Series episode,” he looks to Kenmore to fill in the blank.

“‘Spock’s Brain,’” she whispers.

“‘Spock’s Brain’ into stations in Operations. In this case, Trekkies need apply.”

Teyla turns to Sheppard beside her, “Trekkie,” she asks.

Woolsey answers for him, “A Star Trek fan.”

Teyla nods and Sheppard looks at the former attorney.

“You,” he asks Woolsey. If it’s true, he… well, he never knew that about the rigid and rather closed off Expedition leader.

Richard shakes his head, while waiting for Radek’s response, “Not the Original Series, STAR TREK Voyager.”

“Really?” John never knew that.

“Yes, I felt a particular kinship with the Doctor on that series,” Richard waxes reminiscent for a moment. All business and very good at it, yes, there is definitely a kinship. In truth, it’s that fondness that originally sparked Richard’s interest in possibly donning a Stargate Program uniform. He thought the Doctor looked good in one, why not himself? And now, frankly, Richard can’t fathom taking the Expedition uniform off. He’d held his old ‘uniform’, his suit and tie, up to himself in front of his full size mirror in his quarters not too long ago when his residency here as Expedition leader was being called into question by his former employers the International Oversight Advisory. It was then that Richard had discovered that he’d ‘outgrown’ his suit and tie, in fact, he didn’t want to wear them all that much anymore. Sure, they’re fine to wear for a bit of a whiskey night cap with a lovely cigar on his private balcony overlooking the elegant nighttime vistas of the fabled city of Atlantis that he presided over, but they weren’t anything he wanted to wear on the daily basis of his work anymore. A suit and tie aren’t his work anymore.

“You felt a kinship with a hologram,” Kenmore asks bluntly. Her brows pinched in a ‘Really?’ expression.

“Yes, some people even say we look alike.”

Kenmore squints at him, tilts her head a little to one side, then shrugs it off, “Yeah, sure, why not.”

Woolsey frowns at her. There is something to be said about that TREK doctor including a huge fan base for that character alone. A large female demographic if he remembers correctly from the last time he visited the fan sites the last time he was on Earth and had the free time to do so. A large female demographic with the rather fervent opinion that let along does the man croon like Sinatra to them, but his semi-bald head is very kissable indeed. Extremely kissable if the lip marks of the actor’s co-workers were anything to go by, the likes of the refined sophistication of the highly thought of actress Kate Mulgrew or the smiling countenance of Roxann Dawson in the ridged forehead make-up of her half-Human, half-Klingon character or the Maxim model physicality and beauty of Jeri Ryan. But something’s nagging at him, “Radek, are you—“

“Uh, Mister Woolsey,” there’s something in the man’s voice, “I believe you should get back here immediately.”

Eyes go from one person to another all down the assembly of the group of five. More? There’s even more now?

Woolsey doesn’t even bother to ask any questions like his thoughts, “We’ll be right there, Radek.”

The five of them start moving again, picking their pace back up to that all out run to the Infirmary under the alarm of Jennifer’s scream. Richard Woolsey and Lieutenant Kenmore leading at the front followed by Colonel Sheppard and Teyla Emmagan with Ronon Dex bringing up the rear. Honestly believing they’re heading from worse to borderline catastrophic.

As soon as Woolsey, Kenmore, Sheppard, Teyla, and Ronon trot in, their eyes catch the hard to miss sight that everyone in the control room is understandably engrossed by. No wonder it took Zelenka a couple of minutes before he told them to get their butts back here. It was probably spent in debate among them of which one gets to draw the metaphorical short straw and try and tell the Expedition’s senior staff about this new wrench in the works. Lucky Radek. As the most senior person there in the absence of the senior staff, he draws the short straw automatically and Sheppard and Woolsey can understand why the man didn’t get into the specifics over the communications line. None of them would have believed it even with what Doctor Beckett’s just told and shown them.

Sheppard points at the discrepancy, “How did the Ancient chair get in the middle of the room?”

Woolsey carefully walks the extensive perimeter of breathing room he automatically gives the powerful Ancient device and over to Radek Zelenka shaking his head of Beethoven hair, “I, we do not know. It just appeared. The, the main control console and the communications console with the DHD suddenly slid, literally slid, over to share the space the environmental console used to be, it simply disappeared. Then the Ancient chair appeared in the middle of everything.”

“Where did the environmental station go?”

“The upper deck,” Radek gestures, “and that is not all.”

“What else?”

“The communications console has been altered.”

Woolsey stares at the specified station, “How?”

“It is designed more like a navigation console.”

Woolsey turns to him, “So where is communications then?”

“The upper deck along with the sensors console and the environmental station.”

Woolsey looks and Radek is indeed right. And now that he’s looking specifically at the room itself and not everyone’s unusual clothing, there is a third central console on the upper deck and somehow the upper deck’s platform has expanded its footage to compensate for the addition. Now that he sees it, now that it’s sunken in what exactly he’s seeing, it’s as alarming a sight as all the Ancient screens and equipment that apparently accompany the Ancient medical scanner when it’s in full proper use.

“How can you tell they’re navigational systems,” Sheppard asks.

“Because they are the exact same systems I observe when the chair is flying the city,” Zelenka answers.

John startles, “You mean part of the chair’s systems have been transferred to that station there?”

Radek nods.

John stares at the console, but he’s afraid to touch it. Afraid to compound the situation by accidentally lifting off the city. “So that means that really only I or Carson can use the console.”

“No,” Radek disagrees with a shake of his head.

“What?” John’s eyebrows rise.

“Anyone can use the console, Colonel. Just as they always have.”

“So anyone can fly the city now?”

“Yes, for the time being,” Zelenka nods, “Anyone.”

Sheppard’s not sure how he feels about that.

Complications. Everywhere he turns, every time he moves, there are more complications, Richard Woolsey walks up to the Ancient chair keeping a heavy sigh in reserve in his chest, and now this. If the city comes into danger, if a Wraith ship should somehow find them, somehow show up out of the blue, how will they defend themselves? Is the chair even functioning at that sort of a level? As far as he understood, the Captain’s Chair was mostly a figurehead piece of furniture in the middle of the bridge. Atlantis’ Ancient chair is anything but that. It’s pretty much the city’s sole form of defense… and as it stands that defense is in extreme question, probably impossible. Woolsey rests his hand on the top of the Ancient device’s headrest—it lights up! Woolsey yanks his hand away as he jumps back. Everyone stares. Richard looks at his palm staring back up at him, it doesn’t look like anything’s changed in him, then his eyes return to the lit Ancient chair, but that looks like something’s changed in him. Richard Woolsey looks to Zelenka.

“But how can it react to me? I don’t have the Ancient gene.”

“It’s possible if that’s meant to be the Captain’s Chair and you’re supposed to be the Captain,” Ursula breaks in. More and more, she’s getting her footing back to normal.

Sheppard’s aren’t the only eyes that turn to look at her, but he’s the one that asks the question. And he seems like he’s more than a little hurt to say it.

He’s supposed to be Captain Kirk?” The whole Expedition goes around calling him Kirk after Rodney first started the joke they’re first year here and now all of a sudden Woolsey’s Captain Kirk?!

“Well, it makes sense,” she goes on, “Look at this place. At the consoles. The control chair has to be here as the command chair. This is the bridge now like it’s always been for Atlantis, both the city and the city-ship.”

“She is right,” Radek agrees, “It would seem your holodeck has expanded beyond its original room.”

My holodeck? You and McKay argued for half an hour over who got to use it first.” Oh yeah, she’s back.

Radek looks sheepish about that and John gravitates to the more important part of Zelenka’s sentence. “What do you mean it’s expanded beyond the room?”

“You said you were on the bridge of the Enterprise, did you not? With,” Radek takes a moment, smiles at the fact that he’s about to say this and in some way actually mean it, “the actual Captain Kirk?”

“Yeah,” Ursula’s not getting it.

Radek goes up onto the upper deck and checks what he guesses would now be considered the science station, Mister Spock’s station. He sits down and starts going to work. Sheppard exchanges looks with Kenmore before he walks up to the console’s front.

“What is it, Radek,” he asks.

Zelenka keeps working, “Wait just a moment, Colonel.”

A beat then…

“Radek,” John asks again.

Zelenka ignores him. John lets it pass for another beat, but the urgency and his own being fed up with how stupid this whole ‘playing’ thing is is pushing his patience to the brink. He opens his mouth and finally the Czech scientist looks up from the console at him.

“It is as I suspected. The city is attempting to make this as realistic as possible by including the entire city in its programming and turning it into as close to a representation of the starship Enterprise as it possibly can.”

“Okay so how did everything get switched around up here?” John asks.



“It is quite fascinating really. If it is as you believe that we are enacting the episode ‘Spock’s Brain’, then Atlantis is going out of its way to endeavor to be as accurate to the details of the U.S.S. Enterprise’s bridge, which is exactly as Lieutenant Kenmore stated, the Operations Center is to Atlantis, the bridge.” Radek casually pushes up on the bridge of his glasses from where they’d slipped down his nose.

“Is anything damaged?” John presses. That’s all they need is for all these changes to be permanent.

“No, that is the good thing. As far as I can tell, everything is working as it should be.”

“Yeah, but you said the same thing about the hologram podium in the first place.”

Radek takes the Colonel’s hit with a closing of his eyes in a short moment of silence before he opens them again and continues, “We had not anticipated an apparently very key thing. You see all of the holorooms around the city are connected together in a sort of network. When Lieutenant Kenmore connected her gaming system to the holoroom’s control podium, the podium itself tapped into the gaming system’s own ability to network to its own companion gaming systems. It is such an unlikelihood that I do not even think it ever entered into Rodney’s thinking and certainly did not enter mine. Lieutenant Kenmore would have no way of knowing this as well.”

“How does this affect the city exactly?” Really, John thinks, the entire city somehow got messed up by a DVD and a PS2? If this mission gets reported anywhere near accurately, no one back at Stargate Command will let him live this down. Nagging fears of the city about to explode or spontaneously alerting the Wraith to their location or anything else hazardously stupid for them pulls at his every grating nerve. What a time for the Daedalus to not be here for any evacuations if the Stargate proves to be too dangerous to try and use to get to the Alpha or Beta sites or if the puddle jumpers prove a no-go too in case the bay doors whether up top or underwater aren’t working either.

“Both systems utilize a form of artificial intelligence that can cause the computer itself to adapt to game play, but whereas the Lieutenant’s gaming system’s A.I.’s ability to adapt is extremely limited, Atlantis’ ability to adapt is not,” Radek keeps on explaining. At least it’s not only Kenmore that has the answers.

“So the city adapted to the parameters of playing inside a television episode on a DVD,” Woolsey sighs, his frown deepening as he finds this as hard to believe as ever. But he’s quickly getting used to that feeling in this situation. At least it’s not something entirely unfamiliar to him. There was an SG-1 pseudo-mission in which Teal’c had inadvertently trapped himself inside the so-called ‘Avatar’ training system due to both his own arrogance and stubbornness, something the ‘Avatar’ computer intelligence picked up on and held to with a more than metaphorical death grip. The powerhouse Jaffa’s own thoughts and disposition had nearly killed him. However his team had not given up on him and it was Doctor Daniel Jackson who entered the gaming system and helped his friend finally end the ‘Avatar’ system’s ‘game’ for good. Later, the part of the programming that made Teal’c’s entrapment possible was recalibrated to be less… perceptive to its trainee’s personality.

Zelenka nods, “Yes and it is endeavoring to make the playing as accurate as possible as well. According to Atlantis’ computers, as of the exact moment we awoke, we became the characters of the episode. Both you and Colonel Sheppard are acting as Captain Kirk since the city knows to identify both of you as leaders of the Expedition, both administratively and in terms of the military. Teyla is Lieutenant Uhura, Lieutenant Kenmore is a generic Lieutenant from the episode and Ronon is a generic security officer. Chuck is considered to be Sulu, which makes sense considering that Sulu always plotted in the ship’s course and here Chuck keys in the gate addresses for the gate teams travels on his console.”

John gets the idea. “What else is the city telling you,” he nods at Radek’s station. Why not get the information now since the city’s computer’s being so accommodating with the Czech.

“Good news actually.”

“Good news,” Ronon questions.

Teyla comes up to Radek’s console, “It has found Rodney’s brain or the woman that took it?”

Radek kind of makes a shrugging gesture and gets a strange wincing expression on his face, “In a way. The good news is that the city says that this situation is contained to just the city. There are no indications that the city has activated any of its spaceship systems whatsoever.”

“Then that means that Rodney’s brain has to be somewhere in the city. In the episode—“

Radek starts nodding at Kenmore with a smile, she’s beaten him to the punch, “The Enterprise went on a manhunt to another solar system,” he finishes for her and goes on with his original information, “Yes, the city has not seen a need for becoming a spaceship again, it is keeping the entire episode self-contained to its elements of being a city. Both Rodney’s brain and the woman that took it are still here somewhere. Rather than a manhunt, the city has dictated that we endeavor in a sort of treasure hunt.”

John can feel it. In fact he does it. A breath, a release of stress, suddenly vacates his—it catches in his throat.

“Are the city’s sensors working,” he asks quickly.

Doctor Zelenka nods, but there’s no smile, “Limitedly, like on the starship it is supposed to be mimicking.”

Sheppard doesn’t care. They’ve got a start. “That’s still good enough for me,” he turns to the nearest Gateroom marine dressed in a red shirt security STAR TREK The Original Series uniform with—John’s mind stutters a little when his eyes see that the man isn’t carrying their usual P-90 or even their usual Beretta pistol. Instead there’s a phaser? Is that what they’re called?… Is that what they’re supposed to look like? Okay, so they’re playing with toys here. Fantastic. Ronon’s going to love this whenever he has to get armed. “Get all the personnel that you can into groups and start searching the city. I want that woman found and,” John turns to Radek, “am I right in believing that she’ll be the only person not looking like us?”

Radek nods.

“Good,” the Colonel turns back to the marine, “Go.”

The man nods and hurries off. Picking up, with a point of his finger, another red shirt marine on his way out of Operations.

One problem down, Woolsey takes them on to solving the rest of the issues that have cropped up. This is good. This is how they get things done. How they always get things done, “What else do we need to be doing according to the episode?”

“We are doing it,” Zelenka tells his superior.

“Colonel Sheppard…”

John’s already ahead of Woolsey on that one, “We’re heading out there too,” he tells the Expedition Commander.

A communication chirps on a console far to Radek’s left, from the right side of the upper deck. Everyone looks over at it. That’s never happened before. Zelenka smiles, remembering a ship’s bridge layout he used to dream about, still does truth be told, as well as knowing the reconfiguration he’d witnessed firsthand. He gestures at the chirping console, “Lieutenant Uhura, I believe you are being called to duty.”

“What,” Teyla says with Radek’s eyes looking right at her.

“Lieutenant Uhura was the communications officer onboard the Enterprise,” he clarifies for her, “The city has designated you as Lieutenant Uhura. Now you must coordinate all the communications of the city as she did for the ship.”

The shocked Athosian leader looks to John Sheppard. He doesn’t know what to tell her. Captain Kirk aside, it’s not like he’s running the show here. Literally. Atlantis is. He doesn’t want to say it, but he’s genuinely spooked to see what the city might do to Rodney or them if anyone decides that they don’t want to play along. He’s also scared to see what the city will do if someone doesn’t know how to play their part well enough, but Teyla does know something of the computer systems up here, she was pretty handy on that dimension jumping Daedalus some months back so that might throw the odds in her favor.

“We have to play along with the episode’s course,” Radek tells her gently, automatically picking up on the silent exchange between Sheppard and Teyla, “Teyla, you have to assume your role.”

She keeps her eyes on Colonel Sheppard and he does the only thing he has left to do, he nods at her. Ushered on, Teyla Emmagan turns her attention to the beeping console. Her earrings bouncing noticeably against her cheek as if to remind her of their predicament and her place in it. Another ushering perhaps? The city telling her to move on? She slowly strides up to the upper deck. She has never done anything like this before. It has never been one of her responsibilities in the city, especially in this room. That unusual mission onboard a multiple universe traveling Daedalus had been one thing, she had learned enough from the kindness of the Daedalus’ personnel to be able to assist Rodney in some small way in his endeavors to return them all to their own universe, but this may indeed be something quite different. Somehow to her Atlantis has always seemed more fragile than the Earth vessel. Maybe it’s the design aesthetic, the Daedalus is grey and solid and large bulky lines that signify thickness and density to her; things not easily broken. Meanwhile Atlantis is full of light and its structure is far less bulky signifying gentility to her; things very easily snapped with a minimum of pressure even though she knows that’s not true. Furthermore she has had no such preliminary training for any of the Operation Center’s computer systems despite her years of familiarity with the city and she doubts very highly that the Daedalus’ computer systems and Atlantis’ are similar enough for her to manage her way through this. Then there is the console itself. She has never been shown anything to do with the operation of this console even though she knows what it’s primary and secondary purposes are. Yet, she is here to try and provide what assistance to Rodney she can as she had onboard the Daedalus.

Teyla hesitantly sits down behind her city appointed computer station and answers the chirping with a push of a button that was flashing on her board. Abruptly Teyla gasps and touches her earpiece. Sheppard reacts with worry. Stepping closer to her station, debating on whether or not he should reach out to her.

“What, Teyla?”

She holds stock still as her earpiece transforms beneath her fingertips. Growing far larger and more substantial. It suddenly stops being hooked around her ear and she holds onto the soft molded plastic piece in her ear via some plate like attachment as the slim hook-shaped part of it becomes bulbous and corrugated. The smile that starts to spread across her lips should be a big ease to his tensions. Her fingers pull away from her earpiece some to reveal its drastic shape and configuration change. The silver and black cylindrical device sticks out of her ear at an awkward angle that looks absolutely painful, but she does not mind it at all. It is quite comfortable actually. She continues to keep her fingertips pressed against the small square retention plate holding the new earpiece in her ear, leaving the fat corrugated cylinder end of the mechanism to stand out freely, “It is alright, John. The messages are coming through into my earpiece. It is alright. Go on, I will help coordinate the search teams from here.”

John eases, she looks happy enough at least. He nods. He doesn’t like doing this without her, but it would seem that he has no choice in the matter. Lieutenant Uhura is needed on the bridge. Besides, he’d rather have Teyla in the thick of it in some way if not with his team anyways and there’s no better way to be in the thick of it than being the one directing the search teams. Even as he retreats from her station, Teyla’s already settling into her new position too. Turning her attentions to her computer station with her fingers following Atlantis’ helpful guides of making whatever button or ‘key’ of the piano-style console flash at her until she presses it. She begins talking to two other search team parties that have already started to call in for instructions. The marines have indeed moved fast to answer the distress of their city.

Teyla presses another flashing button then another and another in a series, “Sergeant Stackhouse, please have your team begin searching Grid One-A-One of the city… Yes, Major Modha, I believe that your team is needed to search Grid Five-A-One…”

As she goes on sending out team after reporting in team, Sheppard lets go of the console and heads for the nearest exit. Teyla/Uhura’s got the situation in hand… and he’s going to have to stop doing that so blatantly. Teyla’s perfectly fine at handling herself and has been for years since before John and the rest of the Atlantis Expedition ever showed up in her galaxy. It’s not like either of them is incapable and the more the two of them keep looking to each other for backup or leadership or guidance or whatever they so obviously look for from each other in front of other people, the more it comes across as neither of them knows how to function without the other. If it’s done anything, that ‘Teamwork’ mission has taught them that the members of Atlantis’ flagship Reconnaissance Team need to start weaning themselves off of each other. This, it would seem, is a good enough mission as any to start trying that. No, not trying, succeeding, John corrects his thinking. They have to be the best team they can be for Rodney’s sake. That means they divide, yes, and also conquer.

“We’ll make our way back to the room this whole thing started from and go from there,” he tells Woolsey as he passes him.

Woolsey nods as Sheppard leads Kenmore and Ronon out of the Operations Center…

…then Richard’s eyes go to the Ancient chair… His command chair. He’s never mentioned it to anyone except the therapist who conducted his mental evaluation in preparation for his assuming command of this Expedition that he’s always wondered what it was like to operate the thing, what it was like to be able to activate anything Ancient just by touching it or thinking at it. It’s a natural born gift that he’s never had, but had always wished he did. It was truly a dream bursting moment when the Ancient Gene Therapy injection didn’t work on him. Being ATA capable was not for him. But… he goes over to it, well aware that every set of eyes in the room, no matter how covert about it they’re trying to be, are watching his every move towards the extremely powerful and meaningful Ancient device. Richard looks down upon it for a moment, weighing the decision to brush his fingers over its armrest again. But now he has that dreamt of opportunity again. How many people are allowed to have the same dream twice? How many people are allowed that chance? So why just start and stop with grazing an armrest? Quietly and outwardly calm, but anxious like a child with an exciting new toy inside, Richard Woolsey comes around to the jutting footrest of the Ancient device. He turns and sits in Atlantis’ Ancient chair.

The illuminated mechanical wonder adjusts to conform itself to a more comfortable upright position for him. Every squishy porous part of it suddenly taking on the chiropractic traits of memory foam. How… cozy. Somehow he never thought it’d be cozy. Who would every think looking at it that it could possibly be referred to as cozy? On second thought, everyone who’s ever sat in one of the torturous looking chairs of the puddle jumpers always comments on their incredibly nice comfort factor. Some have even commented that things feel almost like cushy recliners. And it’s warm too. He hadn’t expected that. All the cool colorings of the naquadah and ocean blues have never ever indicated to him that the Ancient chair could or would heat itself to accommodate the comfort of its controller. Oh and he’s tempted, really tempted. Sorely tempted. He wants to lean back in the chair and think of something, anything just see that beautiful display of light and information the artifact would show to tell him and everyone around them how attuned they are to each other. He restrains himself in that, has to lest he accidentally ends up firing off one of the city’s drones the way Doctor Beckett had when he’d sat in the chair the first time and thought of something. Instead he opts for gazing down at what he can see of the Gateroom below from the new viewing vantage he has in the Operations Center. And smiles.

So this is what it feels like to be Captain Kirk?

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