Kenmore falls hard on the floor. She’s sweating buckets, she can feel the wet on her skin like a smooth damp layer that every inch of her clothing and hair wants to be plastered to but for some strange reason isn’t, and panting…Wait, she’s panting, out of breath but still breathing. Thank God, she gulps in a massive swallow of air while the side of her face is planted against cold flooring. Her lungs are fine again, she opens her eyes, and furthermore her vision isn’t distorted anymore and there isn’t any more purple around the edges either. Kenmore leans herself up on her hands and looks around.
The room looks almost exactly like the quarters they live in on Atlantis. What was it that Dorothy said, there’s no place like home? Except that this isn’t home. There’s a bed built into the right wall, which Atlantis didn’t have anything like that she’d seen so far but according to reports Kenmore read recently, the flying city’s original planet’s mobile mining platform did so she guessed some things were kind of like home. The whole room is decorated in the same rich, beautiful copper color with accenting tones of oceanic blues and greens and honey creamy light that she had come to get use to and identify as Lantean design.
“Kenmore,” Sheppard’s muffled voice comes from behind her.
Suddenly there’s a buzz sound. Kenmore looks back at the door. Only…It’s just solid wall now, no warble, just an Ancient doorframe like wall molding with solid wall in the middle of it. Through it she hears Sheppard hiss, or was that a curse, then…
“Kenmore,” he shouts, clearly worried that she hadn’t answered him yet.
“Yeah,” she asks loudly.
“Are you okay?”
“Where are you,” Doctor McKay asks through the wall.
“In a room,” she looks around her again.
“Let us in.”
Kenmore stands up, her legs operating and supporting her perfectly fine now. She touches the wall inside the door frame. It’s cold and thoroughly solid. There isn’t even a hint of warble.
“I can’t. There’s no door. It’s just a wall.”
McKay gives a hiss of triumph and snaps his fingers at Sheppard. Self-satisfied glory crowning the smug grin on his face.
“It’s in phase-shift,” he proclaims proudly.
“What,” Sheppard asks. He looks the warbly door over.
“That’s why they needed eight ZPMs. To phase-shift anything requires an enormous amount of power. You remember Lanna-what’s-it, that planet that phase shifted their entire civilization in order to keep it hidden from the wraith? You remember Weir went there, there was a civil war between the haves and the have-nots, she almost got eaten by a Wraith? Anyway…Their shield required power the equivalent of three ZPMs to cover a relatively small area.”
“So three ZPMs cover a city, why eight to torture one person?”
“Because the door is that thick. This was meant to keep out the Asgard just in case they managed to figure out a way to get access to that crystal that let us come up here or they managed to figure out a way to get up here without the crystal entirely.”
McKay pulls Sheppard’s lifesigns detector out of its pocket on his vest and hands it to him, “Look, see for yourself. That door is too powerful for anything even remotely of the same physical structure as the Asgard. But,” McKay starts heading back towards the ZPM room, holding court as he goes, “a human can withstand it with the right balance of chemicals and the right amount of energy to properly activate them,” he stops right in front of the doorway to the ZPM room and points inside it. The others walk up and assemble on either side of him. They see he’s pointing at the chair, “which means that in order to get out of here, we have to sit in that thing,” he finishes.
The team stares at the chair. It’s a daunting prospect. The still fresh and vivid memories of Kenmore strapped into that horrific thing suddenly flash through their minds. The usually so calm and collected, at least for her, Lieutenant sweating like she was drowning in her own body and crying and screaming. Finally Sheppard turns to Rodney.
“Are you crazy?”
“Look there’s only two ways for a non-Asgard to get out of this place so either we go downstairs and face an entire outpost full of really angry Asgard and most certainly die like every human that’s come through this place or we sit in that thing and see how an Ancient tricked the Asgard and got the hell away from here alive because as far as I can tell he’s the only one that has,” McKay confronts him.
John stares his friend down. He really didn’t want to do this, he really didn’t want to watch the rest of his team members, his friends, people he definitely loves and cares about a hell of a lot more than Lieutenant Kenmore sit in that thing, be tortured then stagger out of here like frightened monsters, and fall through a messed up doorway. No, there had to be some other way, Rodney just wasn’t looking hard enough.