Episode Three- The Ruins- Chapter One

Chapter One

Atlantis’ conference room isn’t as tense as it usually was since the new Lieutenant Kenmore’s arrival.  In fact, it was really quiet, really quite normal.  The fan of presence-opening doors at the far end wall are closed.  The long, rectangular mahogany conference table Woolsey had expressly ordered shipped with him to Atlantis and had heralded almost single-handedly Woolsey’s taking New World Order control of the city was manned on both sides like its owner believed it should be.  Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard and the rest of his team, affectionately referred to back at the SGC as Team Atlantis he’s discovered, and their new Lieutenant, although he really wouldn’t call her theirs, sits in what has become their usual spots around the conference room table, there again with Kenmore as far away as possible, as the Expedition’s leader, Richard Woolsey, sitting at the table’s head, starts briefing them on their newest mission:

“It never hurts to have a beta-site,” Or a quiet mission, John thought but Woolsey continued, “And this planet called…”

Woolsey trails off to check his notes on the matter but Doctor Rodney McKay, the team’s resident genius, steps in like usual…

“Nerea, we believe it’s a play off the word—“

“Nereid, from Greek mythology referring to Sea Nymphs,” Kenmore spoke up, cutting him off.

The team starts at her, it was the first time she hadn’t responded with a snarky attitude, but only Rodney glares.  He didn’t like being interrupted by anybody especially if they’re saying the same correct thing he’s about to say.  Kenmore never even looked up from whatever she was so intently studying.  A computer tablet from what John could see from where he was, diagonally up across the table from her.  While the others’ eyes go back to either their own mission files or Woolsey, Sheppard’s opt to remain on Kenmore.  True, this was only their third mission briefing with the newly arrived Lieutenant, but she never paid this much attention to a mission report even one that came very, scarily very, close to killing her and, likewise truthfully John got the feeling, she never really cared to.  What was on that thing that had her attention like that?  Sheppard’s eyes return to Woolsey as the Expedition leader decides to go on.

“Yes, well, according to the Ancient database that would be exactly right.  The planet is covered in dense forest of varying types.”

“That sounds good.  Plenty of ground cover,” Ronon could always be counted on to think of the tactical element.  Sheppard took his ball and ran with it.

“Plenty of top cover too.  It’d be pretty hard to use darts effectively.”

“Jumpers too.  Not to mention the F-302s.”

Sheppard looks over at Rodney, leave it to his friend to rain on his and Ronon’s parades.

“Not really.  The jumpers have cloak.  That does stack the odds a little in our favor.  And the F-302s have trained in heavily wooded areas back on Earth,” John just couldn’t resist breaking out an umbrella.

Rodney scrunches up his face at John in that usual manner he did before coming back at somebody with a snarky remark of his own.

“And so have Wraith darts.  You know it isn’t exactly like we’ve never come across a heavily wooded planet here before.”

Sheppard begrudgingly gives McKay that.

“But the Wraith have only ever culled in the open,” Teyla interjects, “My people as well as many other peoples have fled into the forests surrounding their villages to hide from the darts during cullings.”

John smiled, leave it to Teyla Emmagan, Super Mom, to save the day.  This time it’s McKay’s turn to shrug as a means of begrudgingly granting someone their point.  They return their attention to Woolsey.

“Indeed, the information we’ve acquired from the database is promising but…very minimal.  All we have on this planet is a brief description of the various plants that are apparently very effective as medicines and this world’s name but other than that…nothing.  That’s why I’m sending you in.  I want you to evaluate this planet and explore it.”

Ronon rolls his eyes, he hated exploring.  Woolsey catches this and chooses to address his next remarks to Ronon directly.

“I know it’s been a while since we’ve had the chance to explore anything but in light of recent events…,” he shoots a glance at Kenmore that again goes ignored by her, “A little calm might suit us all.”

That doesn’t exactly calm Ronon but Sheppard knows how Woolsey had been downright terrified he’d lost his shiny new ‘weapon’ on her first outing and frankly John was backing him all the way on this.  He hadn’t liked sitting across from Woolsey’s desk a few weeks ago, almost a month now, trying to figure out how he would have told the Lieutenant’s five-year-old son about his mother’s death.  It wasn’t something John was ready to maybe face again quite so soon.  And then there was the whole she assassinated another world’s leader thing, a couple of weeks ago that posed a problem too.  John would never hit a woman, he was too much of a gentleman, but he had shoved the Lieutenant back with his boot, practically kicked her.  He was ashamed of that, but she had pushed him to his limits let alone anyone else’s and John had had enough of that for the time being too.  He nods at Woolsey.  Woolsey nods back.

“Well then, if there’s nothing else—“

“Why didn’t any of you go back to Athosia,” Kenmore suddenly pipes up.

Everyone gapes at her and finally Lieutenant Kenmore looks up from the computer tablet.

Leave it to McKay’s slack-jaw to recover and answer first.

“What,” he exclaims.

“According to the original mission reports, there were ruins just across the lake from Miss Emmagan’s village,” she holds out the computer tablet she had been so engrossed by and points at it like they could read what it said, although Ronon might be able to since he was sitting closest to her, “You people thought that it might have had a ZPM somewhere in it, but after that first attack by the Wraith—“

Teyla cuts in, “It was not their first attack.”

“God, I know that, whatever…,” Teyla rolls her eyes, which was saying something about her tolerance for the Lieutenant right now, “Why didn’t you go back?”

“I don’t know maybe it had something to do with the fact that the Wraith already knew we were there,” Rodney snipes.

“So?”

Rodney stalls, he had not been expecting that, “What do you mean ‘so’?”

“The Wraith already knew you were there, they also, if there is any intelligence to their race, have gone back there and seen that the whole village had either been evacuated or, or,” she takes back the report and scrambles through it for a quick second then she finds what she was looking for, “…culled.  Culled?”  She looks closer at the tablet and wrinkles her nose at the sound of the word.  Well, John was somewhat happy to know their new Lieutenant at least didn’t like the sound of the word let alone the word itself or, and this was judging by the way she was suddenly working her mouth around the word as though it were a disgusting piece of food she was trying to get out of her mouth, that she didn’t like the taste of saying it either.  “Either way,” she went on, “you were clear because it was a place they already knew was empty.  They relied on you never going back and you played right into their hands.”

Ronon sits up.  He didn’t like anyone, especially the new Lieutenant with her last name, insinuating that his or anyone else in Atlantis’s actions were in any way governed by the Wraith.  And, of course, Rodney took offense too.

“We were busy trying to figure out just how screwed we were.”

“You had already figured out how screwed you were before you even went there in the first place.  That’s why you went there.”

Ooh, she had a point there.  It was Grodin’s discovery and Rodney’s belief in how screwed they were that had ultimately led to Elizabeth’s decision to send Sumner and John out to a gate address that Rodney had personally chosen from what part of the Ancient database he had been willing to use energy to access.  John wanted to smile, he always loved watching Rodney and Zelenka butt heads and frankly this was getting to be just as funny.  John turned his chair to look at Rodney.  He was game for a tennis match, besides the briefing had been pretty much how this mission was supposed to go:  boring.

“It was decided from let alone the Wraith attack on the village but also Sergeant Bates’ report that the ruins were going to be a dead end anyway.”

“But no one ever proved that.”

“We were busy trying not to die out here.”

“You were too busy to look for a power source to save your ass on your front lawn?”

McKay sits up, Sheppard fought the smile and the giggle starting to tickle his stomach, Oh he was revved up now, “It was not on our front lawn,” Rodney snarks.

“It was on hers,” Kenmore sticks her arm out at Teyla.

Rodney rolls his eyes although Sheppard felt the urge to do the same too, he didn’t, and he could see Teyla restraining herself on Rodney’s other side.

“Look we’ve already given it what consideration we could and it’s a ‘No’.”  And that was it.

McKay turns his chair back towards Woolsey so the man could finish up the briefing and each one of them could go to their own personal get-ready corners then meet back up in the Gateroom in an hour or so.  But like before, Kenmore didn’t back down easily in the face of adversity, apparently, especially in this room.

“Well I want to go there.”

McKay turns his chair back to face the Lieutenant, his mouth dropped open like a dead fish and absolutely horrified that anyone was questioning him.  Again if it were anyone else, John again had to fight the smile that threatened to naturally spread across his face and the giggle at Rodney’s expense that was now clawing his stomach, trying to get out.  Instead, John leans his arm on the table, extends a finger across his closed lips, and looks with raised eyebrows over at Rodney, and swivels his chair from a little bit from side to side just to make sure it was in good working order so he’d have no trouble watching the tennis match keep going.  Ding, ding, ding.  Players to your sides.   Doctor McKay, your serve…

“And I said no.”

“Maybe you didn’t hear me, I want to go there.”

And then she did something that surprised the hell out of Sheppard, she turned her chair to defer to Woolsey for back up.  McKay does too and John can’t help but turn both his raised eyebrows and his chair slowly towards Woolsey too.  Woolsey looks at Rodney then at Kenmore and rubs his hands together for a moment.  Sheppard’s eyebrows lower, he knows that sign.

“I think right now, we should stick to our current plan and visit Nerea,” at Woolsey’s proclamation, Kenmore, just like Sheppard had expected, scoffs and slumps back into her chair, “But I will take into consideration your proposal Lieutenant and ask that one of our other teams go over the database for any further information and I will also ask Doctor Keller and Teyla,” he nods to Teyla and she returns his nod, “to inquire further among the Athosian people about the ruins in the meantime.”

Kenmore doesn’t look happy but she keeps silent.  Woolsey takes that as an acquiesce, he claps his hands together.

“Well, since no one else has any further business, Colonel Sheppard your team has a go for an hour from now.”

With that, Woolsey begins to gather up his files and his notepad, signaling the end of the mission briefing.  Sheppard stands up and stretches, Well that was fun, as the other members of his team exit in their usual manners.  Quiet and graceful, an unhappy stalk, or a quick hot-footing while muttering exasperatedly under their breath.  Kenmore silently gathers up her mission briefing file, that had gone unopened, and her computer tablet.  For once she didn’t look like she wanted to break something or someone as she practically clawed her way out of here or like she thought whatever they had just been ordered to do was the dumbest thing she’s ever heard a team be ordered to do and why were they doing it.  John follows her quietly out of the room.  He hoped this quiet, calm, even, complaisant demeanor was signaling that she was learning to pick and choose which battles to fight and which ones not to and not make them suffer through her attitude in the meantime.

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