Episode One- The Fifth- Chapter Six

Chapter Six

Even in Atlantis’ darkest hour that first year and all her darkest hours every year since, through the tense discussions of an unthinkable alliance with Michael’s Hive Queen to the loss of Elizabeth Weir, the Expedition’s first Commander, to the abduction of Teyla and her then unborn son to Woolsey’s first meeting as Atlantis’ newest Commander in this very room, the conference room had never ever been this uncomfortable, quiet, or stressed.  The members of Sheppard’s team as well as Doctor Jennifer Keller sit in their usual spots around the rectangular conference table Woolsey had brought with him to the Pegasus Galaxy when he assumed command of Atlantis.  Waiting.  Sheppard raps his fingertips against the top of the solid mahogany table.

“So the lights were flashing yellow,” he asks Rodney.

“Yeah, it was probably just some weird little power surge,” Rodney blows it off.

“Hey, weird little power surges don’t usually go well for us.”

Rodney gives him a dry look, “Well nothing’s exploded.”

John returns the look, “Yet.”

Then suddenly the fan of doors marking the entrance to the room start to turn open.  They all look up prepared to greet in their usual manner their boss but instead Lieutenant Kenmore is literally shoved through.  A staffer armed with a handful of files follows her through.  Kenmore has barely enough time to recover from her stagger and realize she’s in a room full of probably the last people she wanted to see before the staffer grips her upper arm and marches her over to the empty seat next to Ronon.

“You are supposed to sit here,” he tells her.

Kenmore looks around at all of their faces.  It’s clear she’s flustered.  She starts moving her mouth, “But, but, but I was supposed to meet Woolsey privately.”

The staffer looks like he’s had about all of her he can take, which was saying a lot.  Those guys take a lot of crap all day and John hadn’t seen one of them crack even once in over five years.  The guy shoves her down into the chair and slaps the files down on the table in front of her.  Sheppard sees her purse her lips so tight they almost disappear, she tightly rolls her head slightly on her shoulder a little, and her fingers strain in their resistance to ball into a pair of tight, white knuckled fists.  She’s fighting the urge to deck the guy.  Sheppard felt himself nod a little, that’s a good thing.  Restraint, at least she’s finally proved she has some of it.

You are supposed to sit here,” the staffer repeats.

As Kenmore starts to protest, the staffer turns on his heels and heads for the doors.  Kenmore takes one glance at Sheppard’s watching eyes and bolts after the staffer, repeating her complaints about meeting Woolsey privately.  The doors turn and shut in her face.  They all watch her.  Again…waiting.  She stands there face-to-face with the door panels for a moment then lets her forehead slowly lean forward and hit the panels.  Sheppard can’t help but get the feeling he’s staring at the back of a caged animal.  Then silently Kenmore lifts her head back up, turns on her heels, and walks back to what the staffer had implied was ‘her chair.’

Kenmore sits down next to Ronon, who’s just as displeased to be sitting next to her, and Sheppard can’t blame him, knowing how she was even here in the first place.

The silence takes over again.  Sheppard resumes rapping his fingertips on the piece of tabletop in front of him again except he took care to do it as gingerly and therefore as silently as possible so as not to disturb the whole new uncomfortable silence…and, frankly, he was quietly wondering how long this silence was going to last—well, and, of course, all of them are still waiting for Woolsey to come.  Rodney, not surprisingly, was finally the one to break the silence.

“Why did you bring your kid?”

John rolls his eyes, Oh my God Rodney.  And, not surprisingly, John could have broken the silence without using that particular question first.  Ronon roll his eyes too, Jennifer closes hers and mouths Rodney’s name, and Teyla can’t help but turn her head away in exasperation.  But the desire to know if there was going to be an answer is too much a temptation for them to deny themselves.  After a moment, all of their eyes come out of hiding and look towards Kenmore.

Kenmore is stiff, but answers, “Like I said, I thought there was a school here for him.”

Well, since she’s willing to answer questions—well, not willing, but she is answering them…

“And where was ‘here’ supposed to be exactly,” John asks her.

Her eyes address him.

“A former Goa’uld outpost.”

Sheppard isn’t just speaking for himself when he sits up at this.  Everyone sits up at this.  They’ve all read the reports from the SGC.  They all knew the battles, the years, the SGC fought against the Goa’uld.  Hell, one, using the thoroughly corrupt misguidance of the Trust, managed to get into Atlantis and had a pretty close run at sabotaging the Stargate let alone the city itself.  McKay leaps first.

“You were taking your kid to a Goa’uld outpost?”

Kenmore behaves like a good little soldier being questioned.

“Former,” Kenmore states firmly, “It was taken by the Tok’ra and is heavily guarded by the Jaffa.  I had no fear for him there.”

A smirk from McKay is a tell-tale sign, he can’t pass this up.

“And why is that?”

“It was the closest Goa’uld outpost to Earth, practically on our doorstep.  It was the farthest away from what remains of the Priors still unaffected by the Ark short of leaving him on Earth.”

“And why aren’t you still on Earth,” Ronon asks.

Kenmore doesn’t look at him but remains facing the bulk of the assembled as Sheppard knew she was trained to do in an interrogation situation.  Interrogated, she feels like she’s being interrogated.  It told him a lot about her and how she viewed being in this room let alone this city.  And it told him a lot about how she got here.  Perhaps Teyla and Rodney were right, perhaps she really had been tricked into coming here.  But why?  And why with a kid in toe?

“There’s nothing there for us anymore,” she answers.

Keller makes a funny face.  That didn’t fit with her report.  There was a record of the Lieutenant giving birth in the medical ward of the SGC and of a Doctor Kenmore being present for the birth of a baby boy.  Jennifer had naturally assumed that he was Lieutenant Kenmore’s husband, the baby’s father, seeing as how Kenmore’s personnel file didn’t list her as having a doctorate of any sort; there was no record of the loss of him anywhere in Kenmore’s file.  Surely, if she had lost her husband, divorce or something, there should be something listed about it in the section of her medical file labeled Psychological Counseling.

“Isn’t there a Mister Kenmore,” Jennifer asks.

Kenmore finally breaks poise and shifts uncomfortably in her chair but she doesn’t say anything.  Its whole meaning doesn’t escape Sheppard’s notice, knowing a soldier’s training, knowing the training Kenmore had been exhibiting up until this point.  No one breaks poise, it’s against the rules.  No one else shifts uncomfortably but he knows just by catching the look of each and every one of his team out of the corner of his eye it’s in their guts to want to shift too, well except Ronon.  Even John feels it in his gut that this is wrong but he does it anyway.  He decides to press the issue…

“Well?”

Kenmore takes a moment to collect herself, return to her soldiers’ stoicism.  Sheppard felt in the light of her current situation, he may not have wanted her here but that was no reason to send her away with any hard feelings, that he should give her credit for gathering herself back up.  In her silence, the team seems eager to hang on her every word.  Finally Kenmore speaks but clearly under duress…

“My husband was a Doctor at the SGC, a scientist.  He was working on an experiment.  A weapon to use against the Ori.  There was an explosion.  He didn’t make it.”

At the very end, it’s clearly detectable.  A small crack in her voice, a slight warble that shouldn’t have been there but was absolutely beyond her control to restrain.  Sheppard lowers his eyes for a moment.  Why the hell did he have to do that?  Why did he have to push?  The shift in his gut tells him that that was definitely the wrong thing to do.  Sure, leave her with no hard feelings just bring back up the memories of the death of her husband which she clearly still hasn’t gotten over.  Yeah, sure, no hard feelings.  If he and Nancy hadn’t divorced, if she had died like that, and anyone brought that up again, he would have decked them, all of them, no matter how long it had been since.  As luck would have it, he and Nancy’s divorce had been bitter and nasty and that had finally aged into a barely tolerated hostility and general distrust of the other; although she had attended John’s father’s funeral and come to the wake at home thereafter a couple of years ago and had helped him when a Replicator had gotten loose on Earth during that same time.  That had been nice, but there was still a lot of baggage there neither one particularly cared to go through or climb over at any future point in their lives.  Nope, not gonna go back there, but if things had been different…they would have been a lot different.  Yeah, he’d pretty much have decked everyone in this room and would have been trying to work his way through the city before anyone would have even had the chance of stopping him.  He glanced at Kenmore and fought the urge to nod approvingly, sympathetically, at her.  Yeah, that sort of restraint he could admire…were it anybody else and not a representation of the question of his authority.

“I’m sorry for the loss of your husband,” Keller said quietly, humbly.  After all it was her boyfriend who had started the questioning in the first place.  She should have known it was coming.  They knew Rodney, Kenmore didn’t.

Kenmore’s head shoots straight to Keller with a look of clear and present hostility.  Sheppard’s head shoots up at Kenmore.  She had been quick, but if she was going to make a move, he was going to be there before she could do it.  After all, she had a table to climb over, he didn’t.

“He is still my husband.”

Well there was definitely a bite of venom in that.  Sheppard lets it go, but Ronon glares at Kenmore as Keller sheepishly backs down and looks away like the rest of the team.  And Sheppard didn’t think the ill, tense feeling in the room could get any worse.

The doors open again.  Woolsey walks in and takes up his usual spot at the head of the table amidst another ensuing uncomfortable silence.  His disposition isn’t unusual for him, perhaps a glint of sun shining just beneath the surface at Kenmore’s presence at the table.  He immediately lays out two stacks of files, neatly arranges them, and gets his notepad ready.

“Well, we have quite the mission to get underway,” he chirps.

“I really don’t see why I’m here considering I’m not a part of this team,” Kenmore wastes no time and no kindness in getting straight to her point. And Sheppard, due to his close proximity to Woolsey, clearly sees the sunshine obliterated from the sky.  Woolsey firmly addresses Kenmore with a cold face and a cold voice, neither of which any of this team had ever seen or heard from him before not even when he was bluffing one of repli-Weir’s cronies into destroying the city and thus destroying the Replicator’s hopes of returning to a body again.

“I think you’ll come to find out you are.”

It was frostier than Sheppard had been expecting and without missing a beat, Woolsey takes up the first stack of files he laid out, divides it, and passes one stack down one side of the table and the other stack down the other side.  Each team member takes one of the files and continues passing the stack on.  It’s business as usual but they’re waiting intently for the next shoe to drop between Woolsey and the new Lieutenant.  Ronon tosses the final file in his stack in front of Kenmore.  Sheppard glares at him.  It was already quite clear that she didn’t want to be there anymore than either one of them wanted her there and right now she was working overtime to get Woolsey to see the same light and that was perfectly fine with John.  No need to rock the boat she was already swaying.  It might tip the damn thing over.  And they all might end up really screwed.  John looks over at her.  She doesn’t come across as offended by the blatantly hostile gesture, in fact Sheppard isn’t even sure that she’d noticed it.  She was too busy glaring at Woolsey.

“I didn’t sign up for this,” Kenmore states firmly, bordering on growling.

Drop.  The team freezes and only their eyes look up and move from Kenmore to Woolsey.  For the first time, Sheppard senses and recognizes the sidelines as the need for survival.  And apparently so does the rest of his team.  Woolsey meets her gaze and Sheppard realizes for the first time since he met the man that Woolsey was genuinely scaring him, and he meant it, really scaring him.  The expression on the man’s face looks so…

“I have paperwork that speaks to the contrary.”

Was that actually a chill going up Sheppard’s spine…or was it down?  Holy Crap, it really is a chill.

“And what if I go home,” Kenmore asks, no less deadly sounding.

“Impossible.  There are no further gates back to Earth.  I’ve restricted all gate activity back to normal mission status.”

“And what if I go home,” Kenmore says slower, and Sheppard didn’t think it was possible, but even more lethal sounding.

Woolsey offers the usual wry smile he gives when he’s in a situation he knows he’s going to win, it usually irked the hell out of John but now it just seemed spooky, then he returns to sorting through his notes as he goes on to respond, returning once more to his usual tone of voice which John found even scarier now than the absolutely lethal sounding Woolsey.

“Then you’ll be in breach of your contract.  I’d have to list you as AWOL and be forced to arrest you for desertion,” he shifts the papers in his hands into a neat and orderly stack with a sharp clack on the tabletop, “I wonder what would happen to your son if you were in prison?”

Whoa…Sheppard sits up and he isn’t the only one to suddenly stiffen up.  Everyone stares at Woolsey in shock, even Ronon was and that was a significant stretch, nothing ever shocked Ronon.  Richard continues to stare at Kenmore with a dark but thoroughly at ease countenance as if he had just sat down in a big fat comfy leather chair to a nice concerto, a good book, and a glass of truly expertly poured wine.  They look at Kenmore.  Her resolve seems no less firm.  In fact, it doesn’t look like her own countenance has shifted at all but her eyes give away that she’s heard Woolsey’s threats before and knows how good he makes them.  And judging by what he sees in her eyes, John figures they weren’t threats, so much as guarantees.  Quietly, without looking away from Woolsey, Kenmore reaches over and flips open the file that had been handed out to all of them.

“Oh look, it’s a mission.  Whoopee,” she says flatly.

The others look back at Woolsey.  John can actually feel himself start to shrink back into his chair.  That shiver was threatening his spine again.  As if the room hadn’t been outrageously tense before.  Richard smiles, looks down at his notes, then starts the mission briefing.  John’s, and he was pretty sure everyone else’s even though their heads are down and opening their own mission file’s in front of them, eyes travel to watch Kenmore.  She too has her head down, seemingly pouring over the first page of the mission file, but it’s clear to see that she isn’t reading any of it.  The look in her eyes, no matter where anyone is in the room, is that of someone who knows they’re trapped and frustrated at the fact that they know they can’t do anything about it.  Stuck is never a very calm emotion on anyone’s face.

“We’ve received reports of an abandoned city,” Woolsey returned to his regular happy briefing self, “I’ve sent one of the other teams to scout it out but they couldn’t get close to it, the Stargate on this planet is quite far from the city, but from what they could get, it is still abandoned.”

Sheppard didn’t like the sound of what got so nonchalantly passed over, but before he could mention it.  Ronon grumpily speaks out.

“Then what are we needed for?”

“We’ve also received word that there has been an increase in Wraith activity near the planet.”

Ah-hah, there it is.  Why the scout team couldn’t get any closer to an abandoned warehouse far from a Stargate, jumper or not.

“And you need us to go in and check the place out before the Wraith get to it,” Sheppard asks.

Woolsey nods.  Well that seems pretty easy.

“The reports tell us that there’s a series of warehouses abandoned a few years ago near the city.  The report says the city started going quiet around the same time the warehouse did.  It’s a familiar scenario I’m afraid.”

Kenmore perks up.  At least she’s trying to join the briefing.  Good soldier, Sheppard thought but that didn’t change his opinion about her being here in this room right now.

“How so,” she asks.

The team and Keller exchange looks between themselves.  Sheppard shares their knowledge too, but doesn’t allow himself to show it.

“We’ve had dealings with a Wraith that had been experimenting on people.  He had a tendency to create laboratories in places near cities and use the people of the cities as guinea pigs,” Woolsey carefully answers her.

Good job, Sheppard was wondering how Woolsey was going to deliver the news about that.  Sheppard had pictured it sort of along the lines of sitting her down in Woolsey’s office and telling her ‘Oh gee, we had a psycho Wraith-hybrid-thingy guy running around here doing a mad scientist impression that gave the city a run for its money and, oh yeah, he had the same name as your son.’  And then Kenmore promptly freaking out and having to be tossed back through the gate, sedated.  That would have been just lovely.  Actually now that John really thought about it, yeah it really would have been just lovely.  He’d already hurt her feelings, why not hurt her ass?

Kenmore doesn’t look particularly fazed.

“Sounds like Nirrti.  She had a mad scientist knack.”

Woolsey, although sour at Kenmore’s nonchalance, nods.  Sheppard shifts in his seat.  Okay, so maybe Kenmore wouldn’t have freaked out and need to be sedated.  But she still needed to be tossed back through the gate.  She could at least give him that, couldn’t she?

“Yes, quite…we dealt with him a long time ago but…”

The team and Keller exchange looks with each other as Woolsey trails off knowing full well they didn’t particularly agree with that statement.  They all felt that that particular Wraith should have been Woolsey’s top priority when he first took command of Atlantis, especially Teyla seeing as how her new family had just been saved from him, but Woolsey had thought better of that and overridden the entire team and, whether or not he knew it, the whole of the Atlantis Expedition.  It was only when Wraith Michael—whaddya know, Sheppard was already starting to think in terms of separating the newly arrived Michael Kenmore from the Michael Kenmore they had created their second year here—had launched a damn good precision strike at the heart of Atlantis itself that Woolsey had agreed his previous judgment call had been an error.  But Michael had ended up dead at the end of it so there was really no harm, but there were still some pretty hard feelings.  Then Kenmore said something that jolted Sheppard out of his private thinking.

“Ba’al.”

The name was still a mind-jerker for any member of the Stargate Program, be they in the Milky Way Galaxy or the Pegasus.  McKay was the first one to crack, not with any note of fear, but with absolutely every note of his own personal symphony of derision.

“What?”

“This Wraith dude, oh and by the way I love him being described only as,” she reads off one of the files she had brought with her from the mess hall, “’Wraith Male’,” John thought it was a nice touch Woolsey referred to him as that rather than the typical ‘Patient One of the retrovirus experiment’, “I think dude has such a funkier sound to it, don’t you?  Anyway,” she tosses the file back down in front of her, “he’s like Ba’al.”

No one catches on and McKay can’t help but continue the conversation with his usual rancor.

“And how did you get that?”

“From a one,” Kenmore picks up one of the other files she had brought with her and reads its tab, “Doctor Carson James Beckett.  By the way, love the red-tape special on this one.”

She tosses the file in Woolsey’s general direction but it skids to a stop on the table more towards Sheppard than it does Woolsey.  Sheppard reaches out, picks up the file, and opens it.  He looks over at Kenmore.  She nods.

“Yeah, literally,” she tells him.

She wasn’t lying.  Sheppard holds open the personnel file exposing its papers to be practically covered in lines of red tape blocking out obviously the material Kenmore was not allowed to see.  If you added a square of white star-marked blue in the corner, the file would look like the star spangled banner, each and every page of it.  Kenmore goes on.

“The real Carson Beckett died at the end of your third year here and you lot discovered him alive at the end of the next year.  He now currently works here with plague survivors and on the odd occasion at Area Fifty-One, right?”

McKay begrudgingly nods.  Kenmore continues.

“His clone currently works here.”

Sheppard finds it hard not to glare at her.  It had been a long time since anyone made the distinction, since anyone cared to.  Fact, their Carson as they originally knew him was dead; new fact, now they knew their Carson in a different way.  But both facts rang with one truth, he was still their Carson either way.  McKay begrudgingly acknowledges her again.

“And apparently, according to Sam’s report—“

“Colonel Carter,” Teyla cuts Kenmore off.

Kenmore stares blankly at her for a moment then returns to addressing McKay again, “Sam’s report, the ‘Wraith Male’ created a perfect clone of Doctor Beckett, not just body but brain patterns, personality, and memories as well.  Ba’al cloned himself just as perfectly, body, Goa’uld symbiot and all, as well as brain patterns for both, personalities for both, and memories for both.  Every time we thought we’d killed Ba’al for good he’d pop up somewhere all over again.  It was a bit before we’d discovered what he’d done to himself.  In fact, at one time at the SGC, we had twenty perfect clones of Ba’al in prison.  We had to keep them apart, they kept trying to kill each other.  But—“

“And how does this help us,” Ronon cuts in, clearly offended more than Teyla was at Kenmore’s blowing her off.

“The problem with such perfection is that we couldn’t tell whether or not we had the real Ba’al, the original, or just another clone.  Maybe what you dealt with before was a clone of this Wraith and not the real one.  Maybe your Carson Beckett was a test run at perfection.  He passed and so this Wraith guy went on to clone himself.”

“Wait, wait, wait. He didn’t pass,” Rodney objects, “We ran him through every test we could throw at him.  We absolutely distrusted him.”

“He’s still here, isn’t he?  He’s still your friend, isn’t he?  He was still accepted, wasn’t he?”

Rodney’s silent.  They know she’s right.  She knows she’s right.  It had been a long time since they had made the distinction that their new Carson was exactly what he was, a clone made by the enemy.  Rodney was right too though.  They had ran Carson through every test in the book and he had been viewed with every sense that the word ‘distrust’ entails here, but in the end their compassion prevailed and they accepted Carson because he was after all, clone or not, their Carson, family.

“So he passed,” Kenmore didn’t have to say it, but she did.

The others stare anywhere they can except at her in discomfort at Kenmore’s point.  If they accepted that point, then they might have to accept the other.  It was terrifying to think that Michael could do something like this because he could and probably would have.  But they had had the body recovered from one of the lower piers of the city it had landed on, and it was a disgusting recovery.  No one should fall from almost the very top of the city like that.  Keller and Carson, clonehood regardless, both had done the autopsy on the remains and then the body was unceremoniously burned.  Sheppard’s whole team and Teyla’s partner, Kanaan, had taken a flaming torch to the guy’s body.  And they had all stayed, with baby Torren in Teyla and Kanaan’s arms, to watch the body burn to ashes.  Afterwards, Keller and Carson gathered up the ashes, put them in a canister, then the three of them were beamed aboard the Daedalus, flown to the system’s sun, and the canister was jettisoned into the burning mass.  Nothing was too good or too much to make sure Wraith hybrid Michael was truly dead and gone.  It had given them all, Teyla especially, so much peace of mind.  But here came Kenmore, with that rank and that last name of all last names, and blew a hole straight through the heart of their comfort and reasoning.

“I think that that is highly unlikely.  Ba’al was using Goa’uld technology—“

“The Goa’uld are scavengers,” Kenmore cuts Woolsey off abruptly, “Sam also said that this Wraith was also using scavenged technology.  She also said that the technology was science that’s been around for ages and has long since become easy and simple if you have even the slightest hint of knowing what you’re doing.  I think it’s safe to say it’s highly likely.”

“It is,” McKay adds soberly and sadly.

No one had really wanted him to do it, but Rodney had that uncanny knack of telling the truth regardless.  And who wanted to admit this?

Woolsey looked like he definitely didn’t like the turn this mission briefing had taken in Kenmore scoring an undeniable point.

“And I say that I don’t believe it,” he says defiantly and Sheppard knows that tone of voice.  It’s the ‘my opinion is the only opinion that matters and I said no’ voice.  She was going to be fighting an uphill battle and perhaps, John thought, she already knew that.

“You don’t have to believe it for it to be true,” she bit back.

John sits up.  Here we go, Round 2.  Ding ding ding ding ding.  Front seats.

“Well until I have proof in front of me,” Kenmore gestures at Beckett’s file still in Sheppard’s hands, Woolsey is still unmoved, “In front of me,” he continues.

“Oh throw the stupid file at him,” Kenmore snaps.

John side-glances at Woolsey, Can I do that?

Woolsey continues once again, ignoring both John’s look and Kenmore’s snap, “I refuse to deal with this any further.”

Kenmore sits up.

“Ba’al enslaved dozens of worlds, used hundreds of thousands of people both when he was a System Lord and when he picked up the scraps left over from the others when they fell,” she addresses them all, “How many planets had this guy gone after?”

Who was going to answer this one?  McKay speaks up rather quietly.

“We’ve lost count.”

Kenmore stares at Woolsey, “And you’re ready to ignore that?”

“And what would you have me do?”

“Make sure there aren’t anymore.”

“We took care of the matter Lieutenant Kenmore.  Those people are already gone.”

“Just because a corpse isn’t on paper doesn’t mean you can pretend like it’s not there.”

“The matter is done with.”

Kenmore stands up, slamming her fists on the table, “You can’t ignore a body count!”

Woolsey shoots up out of his seat as well, “Enough!”

The others jump back.  Sheppard had to admit he liked her passion for something that truly didn’t even slightly involve her but no one’s ever lashed out at each other like this in this room before.  No matter how dark the hour had been.  John hadn’t even gone after Caldwell that way when the guy had insinuated that it might not be in their best interests to go rescue Ronon from Sateda and the Wraith.

After a long tense moment, Woolsey sits back down, gathers himself again, and calmly states, “The matter is done.”

There’s that lethal tone to his voice again.  It takes a few more moments and she hesitates at every step of the way down, but Kenmore sits back down too.  Woolsey straightens a stack of files in front of him although it didn’t need it as his way of continuing with the briefing on his terms.

“I don’t think I have to tell you that it is of the utmost importance that the Wraith do not get their hands on that laboratory or any of its contents.”

Kenmore scoffs.  Woolsey tries to ignore her, but glances at her before continuing nonetheless.  But Kenmore isn’t going to let him get away with this.

“Is this what it’s like when the IOA is in charge of an SGC operation?  Your heads are shoved so far up your butts you can’t see daylight?”

Sheppard wanted to laugh and had the remark come from anyone else he probably would have but the speaker and the situation in general wasn’t very funny.  No one answers her.

Kenmore can’t take it anymore.  She gets up and heads for the doors, they open at her presence, and she walks out, leaving her files behind.  They all watch her go.  When the doors turn closed again, all eyes turn to Woolsey.  He keeps watching the doors.  Without removing his eyes from them, he addresses Sheppard…

“I don’t think I have to stress the importance of this mission to any of you.  Michael was a threat, yes, but so are the Wraith in general.  As far as they know, we still have their only means of surviving the Hoffan drug anywhere near safely.  If they get their hands on Michael’s research of the drug, they might be able to find their own method of survival and…”

As he trails off, Woolsey finally looks over at Sheppard.  Sheppard nods his head.

“There goes any leverage we ever had,” he says.

Woolsey nods.

“The alliances between the various Wraith factions have always been tenuous at best.  Right now, we have an alliance with one of them only because we can provide him with a means of not falling victim like everyone else,” it was nice how Richard managed to glean over the facts that Todd thought they were trying to kill him when they came up with the first cure and in turn tried to kill them all and then there was that time Todd had tried to cure himself and everyone on his hive ship ended up either dead or psychotically de-evolved and came to Atlantis seeking help; it had taken a lot to build that alliance back up, “Todd will stay on our side only as long as we prove useful to him.  If other Wraith or if even Todd himself gets access to Michael’s research on the drug…”

Sheppard picks up his slack again, “We’re back where we started from.”

“But didn’t we give them our research, which included Michael’s research, on the drug last year?  The Wraith’ll discover their own way to survive the drug anyway.  Todd managed it, even if the curative process is dangerous and it was a last ditch attempt at survival.  He still found it,” Keller interjects.

Woolsey, Sheppard, and McKay exchange looks.  Keller stares at them, especially McKay.

“That’s not entirely true.  We didn’t give them all of the research,” Woolsey informs her.

Keller starts at him.

“But I told them—“

Woolsey cuts her off, “It was for the best Doctor Keller.”

“What best,” she objects but her eyes stray towards Sheppard, he gently shakes his head at her, and she backs down.

Suddenly Woolsey looks like he wants to say something but doesn’t know exactly how to put it, but after a few seconds he does, “The reports also state that there are signs that the warehouses do contain the remnants of a laboratory.”  He lets silence take hold for a moment.  With the whole Kenmore debacle only cooled by seconds ago, it’s hard news for everyone to take, “Colonel Sheppard, you and your team are supposed to go there with Major Lorne’s team and find out if it is one of Michael’s labs.  And if it is, if it’s truly been abandoned…”

“We’ll download as much of its database as we can,” McKay adds.

“Then we’ll destroy it,” Sheppard finishes.

Woolsey adds, “And if it hasn’t…”

“We’ll download as much of its database as we can,” McKay repeats.

“And we’ll blow it up,” Ronon finishes.

Woolsey nods his head.

“Then Colonel Sheppard, your team has a go.”

Richard Woolsey collects his files again into the neat stacks he had carried them in as as the team gets up from the table and start to leave.  Sheppard had only ever heard an exit from this room be this quiet when a very pregnant Teyla had been taken from their ranks and they all felt they had only one job to do, one mission:  get Teyla and her baby back, safe and sound.  John glances over at her.  She seems to be her usual steadfast self but John senses the same undercurrent passing through all of them.  She’s unhappy with the whole damn situation.  And John knows there’s nothing any of them can do about it.

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