Episode Three- The Ruins- Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

The team and Kenmore beam into a new transporting area once again and immediately spread out to the sides of the opening.  They stalk forward down the new shortened hallway.  From what they can tell, there are still no guards, which had gone from vaguely disheartening to downright mind-messingly irritating as Hell.  Ronon and Sheppard peer around their corners.  Nothing.  The walkway is clear just like the other two they had been on before.  Dead ahead Sheppard sees, just like before, an open door.  This time though it’s room is more brightly lit than the cell room he and Kenmore had been kept in or the Asgard filing cabinet room.  It didn’t help though.  Sheppard can make out a machine at the end of the room but any further details other than it was a machine would be a big fat ‘No.’  However the wall on the other side of the machine had something new, rust.  John couldn’t imagine the Asgard leaving something in regular use to rust, lose its aesthetic appeal maybe like the awkwardly industrialized service shaft/air vent hole but not rust.  Apparently no one had been down here for years.  And that was actually a really comforting thought.

He and Ronon start around the perimeter, leading the others slowly, just in case.  Still nothing.  No one.  Not even red flashing lights like in the cell room.  Sheppard stops just before the door frame.  He looks over at Ronon, a couple of steps behind him, and nods.  The Satedan nods back, edges up to Sheppard’s side, then rushes across past the open door and takes up position on the other side.  There’s a heartbeat of setup then both men jump in front of the opening, weapons up and faces determined to fire.  Then Sheppard’s determination falls away, replaced by shock, really bad shock, and their weapons drop.  Although John’s drop is considerably slower than his best friend’s.

“Holy crap.”

Not good.

The team and Kenmore step into the room and Sheppard’s initial shock quickly passes to Teyla, Kenmore, and McKay.  Sheppard had been right.  It was a machine that filled the square niche in the wall directly opposite the open door and what a horrific sucker it is.  The contraption is rigged all the way up to the ceiling with a gleaming frame.  It had some sort of strange deep bowl attached to an arm that extended from underneath a solid metal slab, the base of the frame bowled out from underneath the slab, and what John had thought was rust was definitely not rust.  The whole machine and that metal wall behind it are splattered in old, dried blood.  In fact, the wall looked practically painted in it.  John didn’t lean forward, he really didn’t want to know what the bowled out base’s paint job looks like.  He looks off to the right wall.  In rows and columns from the ceiling to the floor, there’s a sort of widely spaced, maybe two feet max, grid of more of those cabinets again.  God, how much information did you need to store?  How many people did they take?  The vision of that army he had hoped for but never got comes back to mind.  Sheppard looks away, again.  On their immediate left, the wall is covered from half the wall down in Asgard databases.  All brightly lit themselves, clearly not at a loss for power, the only thing they were missing were operation stones but Rodney could make quick work without them anyway.  They take it all in.

“What is this place,” McKay asks, utterly enthralled by the contraption ahead of him.

Kenmore gestures at the bank of computer databases, “Maybe one of those could tell you.”

“Huh,” Rodney looks over at her, she nods towards the databases, and he follows her view.

“Oh,” Rodney shakes his head, snapping out of it, whatever ‘it’ was.

He walks over to the databases.  Kenmore hadn’t needed to point them out to him, John knew Rodney had noticed them the moment he walked in but it was just taking in everything else that sort of gave him pause first.  Rodney plugs his computer tablet in and Teyla walks over to be at her scientist friend’s side.  John returns to looking at the cabinets again.  Their locking mechanisms bore little green lights just like the other ones had except for one in the middle of it all with a single bright red one.  He made a mental note to keep Kenmore away from that one.  It was sort of like the dangling carrot and he didn’t need this rabbit biting and getting her lucky foot blown off.  There’s a strange sound and suddenly the entire upper half of the database wall lights up with displays not unlike the jumpers’ HUD popping up from the top of the databases now undoubtedly controlled by the one Rodney was plugged into and Rodney announces unnecessarily…

“I’m in.”

“Then where the hell are we?”

“It’s not a database like that.”

Sheppard turns to him, “Then what sort of database is it like?”

McKay looks over the display immediately in front of him.  The screen shows lines in three columns; the first takes up half of the screen width and the rest is split between three definitely smaller columns, the first of the three about a ¼-inch larger than the following equal sized two.

“They’re records.  See here,” Rodney points to one of the lines, “That’s a name followed by two dates.”

“What is this place,” John walks up behind him, eyeing the display like John could understand it.

“I don’t know yet.  There aren’t any defining markers like I’m used to.”

“Since when has that stopped you?  Figure something out.”

“No, really?  Because I was thinking that’s exactly what I mean.  As far as I can tell, this is it.  They’re just names and more names and, oh would you look at that, more names.”

Suddenly the sound of a well-oiled cabinet sliding smoothly open comes from behind Sheppard.  He turns quickly as his team’s attention is drawn to exactly what he figured it would be drawn to but had hoped it didn’t have to be, Kenmore’s standing next to one of the green-lighted cabinets now open.  She looks in it, doesn’t look particularly shocked or anything else, just pretty normal for her, then she reaches up, pushes the light of the locking mechanism, and the cabinet easily closes.  She bends over and opens another one, same reaction, she closes it then turns around and does the same thing again.  McKay and Teyla go back to the Asgard computer database.  Sheppard looks over at Ronon and the Satedan’s eyes meet his.  John casually gestures his head back towards Kenmore, Ronon nods and goes back to keeping an eye on the Lieutenant like he was already doing just a little bit more blatantly than before, and Sheppard goes back to Rodney and the database.  Sheppard points…

“What do those dates mean?”

“Those aren’t dates, they’re times,” he points at the screen heading, “That’s the date.  I think I might be able to access more of them.”

As McKay starts working and Sheppard and Teyla wait and watch the door, Kenmore, reopening and leaving open one of the bottom cabinets, stands on the tiny rims of its sides and starts opening and closing the cabinets that had previously been out of her reach.  Balancing herself carefully, and it is tricky in a pair of combat boots, Ronon watches Kenmore out of the corner of his eye stretch to unlock the cabinet above the red-lit one.  He watches her hand pass in front of the red mechanism and suddenly the red-lit mechanism goes green and its cabinet opens.  With a yelp of surprise, Kenmore jumps off her twin tiny balance beams and runs away from the newly opened cabinet in her freak out like a poltergeist opened the thing just to spook her.  The others look back at her.  Sheppard turns a disapproving glare on Ronon for a moment, I thought I told you to watch for that, before looking at Kenmore.  What the—she actually looks kinda scared as she stares from a distance at the cabinet.

“I didn’t touch it,” she says.

Like that’s believable.

“You’re hand passed in front of it,” Ronon says.

Kenmore looks at him.

“But I wasn’t that close.”

She raises her hand to gesture with her next words then starts again as the cabinet suddenly slides closed and the locking mechanism goes red again.  She stares at it then at her hand then back at it.  Then she moves over to stand at Sheppard’s side, positions herself, and waves her hand again.  Again the locking mechanism goes green and the cabinet slides open.  She straightens.

“Wow, I really underestimated the range on that thing.”

No kidding.  Those things usually required you to be swiping up close and personal in Atlantis not across the room.  Kenmore walks back over to the cabinet and looks inside.

“Oh my God,” That wasn’t good, John keeps his eyes on her, “Well, I think I found out what this room is,” she looks up at Teyla, Rodney, and Sheppard, “It’s a morgue.”

McKay turns back to her with a sour expression.

“How would you know that?”

“Oh gee, I don’t know.  I think the body in the drawer was a huge indicator.”

Kenmore looks back down at the cabinet’s contents.  Sheppard, Teyla, and Ronon walk over to her, Rodney keeping as big a distance from some most likely diseased corpse as he possibly could.  Sheppard steps up beside Kenmore while Teyla and Ronon take up the other side.  Yep, she was right, there is a body in the cabinet.  Not that John thought she was lying, but still…

“The only problem I’m having—,” Rodney began.

John looks at him, “The only problem?”

Ignoring John’s interruption, Rodney goes on, “Is I don’t know what these symbols mean.  I’ve encountered a lot of Asgard symbols but I’ve never met these before.”

“Are they something new that only these Asgard have come up with like a sort of regional dialect thing?”

Kenmore looks up and suddenly points at the symbol designating the last column with the same enthusiasm as the smart kid in class bounces in their seat with a very raised hand when they know they know the answer.

“I know that one.  It’s the same symbol Hermiod and Thor used over their suicide countdown.”

Then suddenly she seemed melancholy at her words.  John looks over at her; wow, that was new.  McKay was not granting sympathy however.

“How would you know that?”

“Excuse me were you the next to last person Hermiod ever hugged before he beamed off the Daedalus?  No so Ha.”

Then she looks funny at the display screen for a moment then up at the ceiling…

“What is this?  Sarcasm?  Why, why am I right?”

Kenmore looks back at McKay’s back as he continues working.  Teyla gives the Lieutenant the oddest look she’s ever given anyone and that was saying a lot considering how long she’s been around Rodney.

“Who are you talking to,” she asks.

“God,” Kenmore replies, “Any deity with a sadistic sense of humor who’ll listen.”

“Uh-oh,” McKay suddenly pipes up.

“What,” Sheppard asks, suddenly alarmed.

“Teyla…”

There was a pause, a really uncomfortable pause.  Oh this is not going to be good.

“What?”

“I found your father.”

There’s a moment of horror.  Teyla’s look is clear distress, the skin between her eyebrows pinches, her eyes look pained, and the rest of her face becomes drawn and taut.  Sheppard hasn’t seen her this bad since her and Keller had returned from her new home planet after discovering that her people had been taken and she worried that her partner, Kannaan, was dead.  Slowly, Teyla walks to Rodney’s side.  He points out a particular line on the new list of names he’d brought up.

“I used Athosia as a baseline and this is what came up.  Emmagan, Torren.  Athosia.  The time he was taken and the date and time, according to how Lieutenant Kenmore is understanding things, he was…killed.  He lasted four days here.”

Teyla’s silent.

“There is a note here beside his name though,” Rodney adds, although he looks like he thought he should be thinking better of telling her it.  Teyla looks at him, waiting, “It says his last words were ‘Teyla’.”

Teyla can’t breathe for a moment.  After so long…this was it.  She had found something of her past.  Something she could reach out and touch, even if it is only a computer screen.  Something she could hear if even the words are coming from someone reading them from a computer screen.  She had secretly always dreamed that one day she and her friends would stumble upon a world in which she would discover family, a brother or sister she had lost either before she was born or so long ago that she did not remember them ever being there.  She had imagined the bad with it and the good.  Them blaming her for their being left behind, for her surviving and growing and flourishing among their people while they languished in the cell of a hiveship and escaped somehow.  She had imagined a warm welcoming embrace…Tears.  John can see the tears welling up in her eyes from here.  What that must have meant to her…to know her father’s last thoughts were of her then…

“Are there, are there any others…that I might know,” she recovers enough of herself to manage to ask.

Rodney goes back to work and brings up another list, looking much more comfortable in this element than the other.

“This is the culling that you and Sheppard witnessed at the end of our first year here.  Your friend Orin’s village.”

“The Wraith took everyone,” she informs him.

“Not quite.  I think Lieutenant Kenmore was right.”

“What do you mean?”

“How long into the culling were the two of you when you saw that beam weapon go off in the middle of the village?”

“Two hours perhaps, it would not have been much longer than that.”

Rodney nods, “That’s when the Asgard’s culling stopped,” he goes on, “And how many were taken?”

“Two hundred.”

“According to this, the Asgard took fifty-three percent of Orin’s village.  The mass beaming must have alerted the Wraith to the fact that the Asgard were using them as cover and they deployed a massive EM beam that could counteract the Asgard beaming technology without disturbing the darts.  Looks like the Wraith didn’t like anyone infringing on their food supply.”

Teyla stares in horror at the screen.  Never, never had she imagined a reunion like this.  As the others wait for their cue to come to Teyla’s aid, Kenmore turns her attention to the body then looks up at Ronon.

“Does he look familiar?”

Ronon glares at her and Sheppard stares.  Who’d have thought she’d do something like that at a time like this?

“Are there any defining marks on him?  Anything that might betray any cultural significance the way your tattoos do or Miss Emmagan’s Glenda the Good Witch of Atlantis routine does?”

Ronon’s glare at her deepens in silence and Sheppard was right there with him for the remark about Teyla especially with the way she was feeling now then the Satedan brings up his weapon and points it at her forehead.

Kenmore holds his look then sighs, “Okay, no help.”

She looks down at the body.

“Sorry dude, the big, strong, silent type’s a little bit slow.”

Kenmore starts to look the body over, stops then smiles, and looks back at the guy’s face.

“Well your wife was a very happy woman.”

Sheppard rolls his eyes, Oh my God, and he quietly pushes his friend’s weapon down, he’d really rather Ronon waste the ammo on Asgard soldiers right now rather than the Lieutenant as long as she was activating things like this drawer still, as Kenmore starts looking back down the body again then stops and pulls the drawer all the way out.  She lifts up on her tippy-toes, stretches, and reaches out for the body’s left big toe and, shocker of shocks, the small metal medallion embedded in the nail.  It’s slightly smaller than the tracking device Teyla’s father had made into a necklace for her when she was a child and she’d been forced to give up when they discovered it was leading the wraith to their presence everywhere they went but other than the slight size difference the two objects looked exactly the same.  Kenmore’s fingertip touches the medal’s center indent and a blue projection shoots out of it:  lines of Ancient writing not Asgard, that much John could tell.  Her fingertip reaches again and the writing vanishes.  Kenmore stands back on her heels, biting her lower lip with a weird expression on her face, then she looks up at Ronon again.

“Would you mind activating that again for me?”

Ronon glares at her for a moment.  Yes I mind.  No I’m not doing it.  He seriously considers saying it out loud but that might lead to the Lieutenant responding back to him and Ronon is always game for never hearing her voice again.  But then his second favorite thought came to mind.  He looks towards Sheppard.  Can I shoot her now?  Sheppard makes a nodding gesture towards the body.  Ronon stares at him.  Are you serious?  Sheppard makes the nodding gesture towards the body again.  Ronon stares his friend and commander down for another moment then begrudgingly obliges him.  John untenses, that was close.  He isn’t sure how long his friend’s consideration for his judgment is going to last.  John has a feeling he’s been pushing it since Athosia.  And he knows Ronon’s tolerance only stretches so thin before it snaps, especially since Michael.  Nothing happens at the Satedan’s touch.  That can’t be right, John reaches over and the toe activates for him.  Kenmore looks at Sheppard.

“What’s the only thing we have in common?”

“The Ancient Gene naturally.”

Suddenly Kenmore dives over and deactivates the toe then looks over at McKay.

“Doctor McKay,” Kenmore says sweetly with a smile, dripping with sugar syrup, “would you come here please.  I think we found something, something Ancient,” she butters him up exaggeratedly.

McKay doesn’t look back.

“Then activate it yourself.”

Kenmore lets out a dramatic sigh.

“Fine.  I guess I’ll have to and then I can be the one to save the day…again.”

Rodney immediately drops everything and walks over.  Sheppard stares at her, Oh you’re good.  McKay cringes but reaches down anyways, Oh you’re really good, and presses the medallion then yanks his hand back as quickly as possible.  But again nothing happens.

“That settles it,” Kenmore says.

“What,” Rodney asks her.

Kenmore reaches forward and activates the toe again.

“Can you look up names on that thing?”

McKay doesn’t respond.  He leans in and angles his head, reads the writing, then rushes back to the computer and the mad scientist is off.  He easily brings up a new screen.

“So what is it,” Sheppard asks him.

“A toe tag.”

That wasn’t what John meant but anyway…

“His name was Dhrian Lawl.  He was taken…ten thousand one hundred thirty-eight years ago.”

They all look back at the body.  Damn.

“What if he was put in here because he knew something,” Kenmore says.

“What,” Rodney asks.

“It makes sense, doesn’t it?  The only way you could find out who he is is with the Ancient Gene naturally.  What if the only way you can get into the drawer is with the Ancient Gene?  That would explain why all the other drawers are empty.  The Asgard couldn’t get in to this one.  No matter how hard they might have tried, and they would have tried.”

“And according to the timeline, this guy was taken when the Ancients were still around.  If you’re right, and I stress the ‘if’ part, that means an Ancient was overseeing this place and the Asgard’s experiments at one point in time,” Rodney adds on.

“What if he saw something that that Ancient didn’t want the Asgard to know about?”

An Ancient like Janus, McKay starts snapping his fingers.  The wheels are working, “We know that the Asgard can reanimate bodies.  The Ancient would have installed precautions, made sure the Asgard had no way of getting to the victim.  So he entombed him in here.”

John sees something click in McKay’s brain.  Without hesitation, Rodney reaches in and starts lifting the body out.

“Help me get him out of here.”

No one wonders why, no one asks why, they all just pitch in and pretty soon they’ve got the body out.

“Get him on the slab,” Rodney orders, gritting his teeth from having a helping hand in supporting the weight of a semi-frozen corpse, “At the very least he might know a way out of this place.”

It’s a struggle but they get the man’s body onto the metal slab.

“Okay, now we have to look for anything, any chemicals, any implements, that might be able to reanimate him.”

They stand back and look at the machine.

“There’s a lot of blood in that bowl,” Sheppard points out, “Looks like it dripped off this slab here.  Are you sure this thing was made to reanimate people?”

“It has to be,” Rodney keeps searching around it, “Why else would it be here?”

“Execution,” Ronon says.

McKay’s face sours momentarily, he does have a point, oh eww, as he examines the bottom part of the frame for clues, a hidden computer panel, something.

“No.  The guy was locked in here because it’s probably one of the only places that can store him and the Asgard have kept this room fully powered ever since the Ancients left the Pegasus Galaxy, that much I was able to find out.  So, taking into account that and the fact of what this room is, this machine has to be for reanimation.  We just need to find the control panel.  You know what indications to look for.”

Ronon, on the right, helps McKay, on the left, dig his fingernails into any seam they can see or feel on the bottom part of the frame.  Sheppard checks the right side of the frame going up to the ceiling, and his hands off cautious inspection makes it clear he isn’t sure he’s buying that this thing was meant to reanimate people, while Teyla carefully checks the wall immediately to the left of the frame for any computer panel seams.  Kenmore leans against the lever so rusted by time and, if anyone bothered to look hard enough at its joints and its own seams, blood that it can support her weight and looks up at the part of the frame on the ceiling.

“Good God, the blood even got up there.”

Ronon straightens up and both he and Sheppard look up at the ceiling then back at Kenmore with mutual frowns.  If she wasn’t going to help…Shut up, Ronon feels his throat vibrate with the deep, barely audible, guttural growl then he goes over to help Sheppard struggling hard with a seam he’s found.  The Colonel’s managed to get more than just the tips of his fingernails in between, he might have stumbled onto something here.  Kenmore’s eyes narrow and she leans forward slightly then she stops leaning on the lever, she takes a step back from it, and looks at it.  She mutters a quick prayer in Latin, Sheppard hears it behind him, that was unusual these days perhaps her education was as Ivy League as his was, as she makes the sign of the cross over herself then lunges at the lever, throwing her entire weight and gravity down on it.  Suddenly an ocean blue sheet of laser light drops down from the ceilinged part of the frame.  Teyla turns and tries to get clear of the machine just in case but only manages to brace herself in a panic against the wall beside it.  The light passes through the body’s neck.  The severed head hits the bowl, the bowl’s rusty arm dips stiffly which causes the head to bounce out of it rather than staying in it.  Kenmore dives and catches the head like a football player cradles the perfect catch and looks back to see a piece of the metal wall behind the machine slide down.  The slab suddenly flips up and flings the body inside the opening then the slab goes back to being a slab and the opening in the metal closes back up as seamlessly as before.

Sheppard and his team go from gapping at the machine to gapping at Kenmore.  Drop jawed, she honestly looks shocked.  She looks down at the head, the dead face looking up at her with foggy eyes.

“Sorry,” she tries at the severed head.

 

 

There’s complete silence in the transporting area.  From inside the semi-circular interior, Ronon takes up guarding the left side of the hallway with Sheppard at his elbow while Teyla guards the right side. McKay is plugged back into the panel of buttons working on getting them able to beam to another level.  And Lieutenant Kenmore stands in the center of the circle by herself, quietly and trying to be abnormally resilient in light of the fact that she’s holding a severed head upside down, face out in front of her, between her hands.  Rodney makes another one of his occasional glances at her.  She keeps staring straight ahead with a strained, almost hysterically perky smile on her face.  Wow, she really is trying.  John had stopped looking back, it was too creepy.  Finally, Rodney can’t take it anymore…

“Will you stop smilinglike that?  It’s creepy.  And why are you holding it that way?”

Kenmore’s smile becomes just a bit more hysteric.

“I’m afraid.”

McKay looks at her, even Teyla, Sheppard, and Ronon do.  They hadn’t expected her to admit to something like that, especially to any of them.

“Why,” the scientist asks.

“I’m afraid if I turn him over and hold him by his hair,” her voice breaks in a squeak on that final word.  Oh God, Sheppard feels himself brace against Ronon.  She takes a moment to collect herself, “that…,” the smile breaks a little and her brows furrow almost in a panic, “that stuff might fall out.”

McKay suddenly recoils like he’s trying to be the wall.  Sheppard grimaces.

“Rodney get back to work,” he orders.  If Kenmore can feel that thing thawing in her hands, then Sheppard didn’t want her turning that thing over either.  And the sooner they could get rid of it, the better.  It might be a key but it was a God-awful one.

McKay begrudgingly goes back to his work but he keeps as far away from Kenmore and the head as possible.  Any closer for an extended length of time and the fibers of his jacket would fuse with the wall.

“I’m going to beam us to the first normal level.”

Kenmore nods, “I’m good with that.”

McKay rolls his eyes.

“Good, I’m so glad I could accommodate your wishes.  I wasn’t asking you.  There.  Here we go.”

In a flash, they were gone.

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3 Responses to Episode Three- The Ruins- Chapter Nine

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