Episode Four- Veritas- Chapter Five

Chapter Five

Stone, stone, and…more stone.  If the Ancients were here, the process of ascending really buzz killed their ability to decorate.  Atlantis was beautiful, a place you could really understand why it had been worth preserving rather than destroying in order to prevent the Wraith from chasing them back to the Milky Way Galaxy and Earth.  This place is everything you saw in Middle Ages set movies.  No surprises, just everything you expected to see.  Dismal gray large-cut bricks with no discernible mortar, but it had to be there even if you can’t see it.  On a pretty routine basis there are black cast iron holders mounted to the wall holding wooden clubs.  Great orange flames on the clubs top tip, illuminating the hallway with a warm golden-orange glow that was all at once cozy and making you realize just how dark the place you’re walking in really is.  Like night.  Other than that, nothing really to mention.  Empty, except for the torches, walls, and clichéd décor.

The team of Ancient gene using four walk through the hallway.  As the group move forward, they keep occasionally looking behind them.

“Does anybody else find it really spooky that we haven’t run into anybody yet?  I mean not even so much as an Ascended energy puff,” Rodney asks.

“Well maybe you keep offending them,” Sheppard answers.

“How?”

“Name-calling,” Kenmore offers.

McKay scoffs, “What?  What name-calling?  When did I call them names?”

“Of course you didn’t, McKay, every Ascended being loves to be referred to as an energy puff,” Lorne throws his two cents in.

“Oh and how do you know that they don’t?”

The other three stop and look at the scientist like ‘Really?  You just said that?’ for a moment before continuing walking again.  They come to the end of the hallway, it turns left.  Sheppard and Kenmore slow up to the corner then peer around it.  Nothing.  Still no one.  But there are doors finally.  Short, medieval-looking, rectangular, thick wooden doors decorated, not exactly ornately, near its top and bottom by large bars of black iron.  They have black iron door handles that are nothing but pull rings too.  Again, they’ve seen this in period movies before.  Nothing new, at least from an interior design standpoint.

Kenmore moves out into the corridor, much to Sheppard’s irriation, she’s always going to do that, isn’t she?  When nothing jumps out and attacks her, Sheppard follows as do the other two men.  Kenmore walks up to the first door, one on the left about five feet away from their corner’s sharply square edge.  Without hesitation, the Lieutenant reaches out and pulls open the door.  Sheppard clenches his teeth again, she didn’t even bother to check to see if it might be boobytrapped.

The Lieutenant gazes at what she sees inside.  Thoroughly bored and unimpressed.  The others come up beside her and look inside too.  Empty.  Not a damn thing.  Just more brickwork, and not even a single sconce.  Just a ten by ten empty room.  Kenmore puts her arm in and flaps it up and down, just in case there might be some threatening field there they can’t see, you never know until you try.  Both Sheppard and Rodney roll their eyes, Lorne looks just as bored with it all as Kenmore does, then she pulls her arm back out and closes the door.  Quietly, again just in case that armed enemy horde is around another hallway corner up ahead…or at the end of this hallway…or hiding behind one of the other doors here, but somehow she seriously doubts that last idea.  They move on.

Three feet away and on the right is another door.  Again Kenmore totally abandons caution and standard military protocol for a situation like this, kidnapped and being kept in what might be a hostile stronghold, and opens up the door without so much as an attempt at hesitation.  This time she leans her head against the side of the door with a sigh and her body slumps against it as well.  Again the men come up beside her and look in.  The room is just as small as the one on the other side and it’s just the same.  Ten by ten, brickwork, no torch sconces, nothing.  Yea.

Kenmore turns around and faces the rest of the hallway they need to go up and kicks the door closed behind.  It swings shut with a loud bang.  Sheppard and McKay wince.  Sheppard hissing a curse under the cover of the ricocheting noise.  Kenmore keeps walking, Lorne walks past the cringing waiting other two to join her.  Sheppard comes out of his cringe, blatantly noticing that Lorne didn’t even so much as look at his superior officer and hadn’t taken the same cue Rodney had to brace for whatever the Lieutenant drew to them.  Her lack of respect, Sheppard could do without that in Lorne.  He trusts the Major, has known to trust him from almost the very beginning of Lorne’s tour in Atlantis and John didn’t need that man putting friendship, and its subsequent lack of professionalism accompanying it, ahead of what John expected and respected most in Major Evan Lorne:  his professionalism.  But, again, nothing comes at them.  Nothing answers the bang or even bothers to come investigate it.  Rodney uncringes and Sheppard and he head off after their ‘companions’.

Not what Sheppard had been expecting them to do, Kenmore and Lorne wait at the end of the hallway for John and Rodney to catch up.  Once joined up into a group of four again, they look around the hallway’s corner going right.  There’s only one door on the left about four feet away in this hallway.  Other than that, it’s empty.  Again.  And again Kenmore, this time accompanied by Sheppard however, walks up to the door and boredly pulls it open.  Both she and Sheppard, side by side, look inside.  Again a ten by ten empty brick room with no torch sconces whatsoever.  Nothing…Again.  God…, she’s too bored to sigh anymore.  Kenmore nudges the door forward and it swings closed.  Quieter than John had expected it to but still with more than enough of a bang, just not thunderous like the one before had been.  The group heads to the end of the hall, this time it ends in a T-shaped intersection.  Not something usual they’ve come across before in this ‘castle’, but it’s a welcome change…kinda.

They look left.  That part of the new perpendicular hallway is only a nubbin, about four feet in length ending in a single doorway.  Then they look right.  This side is much longer but it’s still more empty, doorless, brickworked, equidistant torches for wall sconces hallway.  The group looks at each other and nods.  Sheppard and Kenmore lead them over to the lone door to the left.  This time Sheppard opens it.  A small…empty…friggin’ room.  This time Sheppard fights the urge to sigh boredly as he nudges the door forward out of his hand and lets it swing closed.  It did so as quietly as he’d expected it to.  See, this is how bored he is in this place, has become bored in this place; he’s evaluating and physically measuring the requirements of pushing a door closed with enough exertion to figure out how loud it’s going to sound when it shuts…see, bored.  Really, really bored.  Right now he’s regretting ever mentioning the idea of weapons being in here or Ancients being in here or anything armed with said weapons being in here.  Apparently he’d really built up this place with absolutely no excuse for it.

The group turns, walks past the part of the T-section leading back to the hallway they’d just come from, the bottom shaft of the T, and start walking down the new doorless hallway.  Although describing it as ‘new’ now seems a pathetic description because nothing’s changed except location and even that is now becoming just as un-‘new’ and pathetic as describing the appearance of the hallway…all the hallways technically.

“Okay then, Rodney,” Sheppard pipes up, anything to break up the monotony, “what’s your explanation so far ‘cause let alone haven’t we found any Ancients, Ascended or not, but we also haven’t found any of those weapons I was hoping might be in here and you were so afraid of?”

“I wasn’t afraid of them,” Rodney gets defensive.

Kenmore scoffs and Lorne tries to hide his smile by simply lowering his head, but he doesn’t actually bother to lower it enough to really hide it from McKay’s view of his profile.

Rodney rolls his eyes, “Look I wasn’t afraid of them.”

The snickering continues.

“Fine then, you tell me how many times we’ve run into that particular situation where we’ve gone into an unknown place like this, taken against our wills, left on our own until whoever took us comes back for us, and have not, I repeat not, stumbled on people wanting to kill us and their armed with, Oh, what are they called again, yes, of course, weapons?”

The three soldiers exchange looks between each other.  Okay so the scientist does have a point, for once the entire time they’ve been wandering around in this castle.  They all keep walking on in silence, letting McKay have his point, and looking around themselves for any of those ‘particular situation’ well-armed bad guys that had a tendency to pop up.  They come to the end of the long hallway and turn the only corner it offers them, the left.  None of them are exactly happy with this occurring; they haven’t been so far with all the other you-can-only-go-this-way hallway corners, but okay.  They really don’t have a choice and it just makes it that much easier to escape if it—and it usually does—come to that.  Unfortunately, it’ll also be easier for whoever’s after them to follow them.  But that’s okay too, they’ll just have to run faster than the bad guys, no stragglers.  John glances over at Rodney, okay, ‘no stragglers’ as in John will physically drag Rodney by the ears or let Kenmore or Lorne trail behind the man drop kicking his ass and putting the fear of that time he’d been shot in the butt by an arrow back into his thick scientist skull to get him to move faster.  He hadn’t liked his butt becoming a victim then and he definitely won’t like it becoming a victim now.

Sheppard and Kenmore ease up to and peer around the corner again then move out into it.  They end up in another long hallway that looks exactly like the one they were just in.  And the one they were in before the door-lined hallway…and the one before that one…and the one before that…and the one before that.  Rodney and Lorne, bringing up the rear as usual since entering the castle, look behind themselves again.  Really, this is starting to spook the hell out of them while simultaneously numbing their skulls…

Again McKay nominates himself to be the one to speak first, “Is anyone else worried that we won’t be able to find our way out of here again?”

“Yeah, it’s like a labyrinth,” this time Sheppard can hear the mocking in Lorne’s voice as the major feigns actually sounding on Rodney’s side, knowing full well that there’s nothing confusing about the place.  It isn’t a labyrinth, it’s just winding.  Going this way then that then this again then that.

“Well, we’ll just run around until we find our way out again,” Sheppard answers sarcastically.  He wasn’t much for people questioning his ability to command, especially since, as Rodney pointed out, this isn’t exactly a situation that they haven’t found themselves in before.  It’s not like they haven’t gotten out of stuff like this before.  And he especially doesn’t like the questions coming from Rodney.  Judging by the sounds and the silences—Kenmore—of it, the soldiers of the group won’t have any problems at all finding their way back out of here.  So it’s like John was thinking before, the only problem that should arise is going to be getting out of here fast, i.e. Rodney.

And like practically every one of those times before, Rodney isn’t cowtailing to John’s sarcasm one bit.

“Well gee, I guess I’ll just have to remember all those hours of playing Zelda when I was a kid.”

“When you were a kid?”  Lorne can’t help teasing him.

Kenmore comes to a stop, effectively stopping the whole group with her, and looks back at McKay.

“You and Zelda?”  She asks.

“Yes, me and Zelda,” Rodney answers, fully prepared for the next round of their own personally version of Whack-a-Mole, i.e. Beat-on-Rodney.  Yes, please, by all means bring on the ribbing.

But Lieutenant Kenmore points at herself instead, “Me and Zork.”

“You and Zork,” he can’t believe it.

She nods at him enthusiastically.

Rodney smiles at her, Ursula smiles back at him.

“Oh God, please do not bond,” Lorne sighs, bowing his head to pinch the bridge of his nose between his fingers and rub it.

“Oh, like how you and that chick from Kinthia’s planet bonded,” Kenmore accuses sassily.

Lorne suddenly glares at her over the knuckles of his pinching fingers.

Both Sheppard and Rodney would like to know more about that.  Lorne ‘bonded’ with a woman on an alien planet?  Neither Sheppard nor Rodney can keep the sarcasm out the way they’re thinking that particular thought.  They also can’t help but follow it up with a children’s song but revising it just a little.  Lorne and Some Alien Woman, sittin’ in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…John’s smirk is even more teasing and smug than the ones he’s been leveling at Rodney while they’ve been teasing him and Rodney’s smirking, well that’s just in a whole new level of smugness all its own.  Rodney crosses his arms over his chest and John casually puts his hands in his pants’ pockets, both waiting patiently for the inevitable punchline at Lorne’s expense…

Kenmore obliges by leaning over to Sheppard a little and he returns the move too a little, “Country music. Ugh,” she shudders.

Sheppard smiles.  Lorne’s glare darkens, turning his whole face more dower, more like a look most often found on Ronon’s face.  Now that’s more like it.  That’s more like the team dynamic Sheppard’s used to, Ronon ticked off at Kenmore.  There you go.  Sheppard and Kenmore turn back around and the group starts walking again.

After a few more handfuls of moments of silence…

“Country music isn’t that bad,” Evan defends his taste in music.

“Eh, the only good thing about you back then was Van Halen.  The good Van Halen stuff too,” his best friend answers.

“David Lee Roth in the 80s.”  Sheppard wagers.

Kenmore nods, “But I was always partial to the Sammy Hagar in the 90s stuff though.  Much more than the David Lee Roth, but don’t get me wrong, the David Lee stuff is just classic.

Sheppard nods as they come up on the end of the hallway.

“Me too.  Right Now is a great song.”

Kenmore flings her head back, her eyes widening, “Oh My God, yes,” she friendly reaches out and slaps the back of her hand against his stomach as her head returns to its normal position and her eyes return to their usual size, “The best.”

“Oh don’t you two go bonding either,” Rodney comments.

Sheppard and Kenmore scoff.

“Yeah right,” they say in unison.

“Like that’s gonna happen,” Kenmore adds.

Once again the group come to the end of the hallway, again Sheppard and Kenmore ease up to its corner and peer around.  Still no one.  They look back at the others and roll their eyes with a sigh.  Really, this is getting out of hand.  It’s gone from creepy to mind numbing boring and that’s even more dangerous than being creeped out.  Creeped out keeps you on your toes, granted it had you freaking out at every sound or perceived sound or shadow around you, and that could be excessive, but it still kept you aware of your surroundings.  Bored makes you blind to the little things that should prick both your mind and your senses that something’s not right, and that includes perceived sounds and shadows as well as the real sounds and shadows.  They head around the left turn corner.  And abruptly come face to face with Ganos Lal.  The Ascended Ancient woman once known and forever known on Earth as the infamous Morgan LeFay.  The Bane of Camelot.

She stands before them.  Calm and unassuming.  Beautiful in a classical Raphaelite way, the smooth angular brow line, cheekbones, jaw line, and chin that masters of fine sculpture would envy to carve and smooth into eternal marble or granite.  Even her ears have a perfectly carved quality that shapes and defines her face to angelic proportions, like the statues of angels or the Virgin Mary herself found in churches or cemeteries.  She’s radiant in her gorgeous Ancient and Medieval hybrid clothing in hues of luminous whites.  Twin spaghetti straps frame both of her shoulders as they elegantly slump down away from her Venus de Milo neck, which bears an ornate choker made up of strings of crystals and pearls emanating and cascading down from the base of her neck ending in a fine oval pendant that seems to be made up of light trapped in the heart of a water-clear smooth crystal like glass nestled just above her breast line.  Draping from her de Milo proportioned biceps are folds and folds of the most flowing and luxurious white chiffon-like fabric.  The same fabric flows from a sweetheart-cut top framing her Michelangelo bosom all the way down her body to the floor, hiding her most likely just as refined as the rest of her gown and jewelry shoes from view.  She doesn’t need a halo or an aura of light to surround her, the voluminous folds of her gown cover her body more than adequately to convey the hopes to the faithful of an angel.  She smiles a kind demur smile at them.  In every way a mimic of Mona Lisa to the point one would think she’d modeled it for Da Vinci herself and knowing how old she is, she probably could have.  And one can definitely see how there’d be a slight condescension to it too although there isn’t any of that in the painting.  It’s not necessarily enigma so much as patronizing school marm.

“I’m so glad that you decided to come inside,” she tells them in her attractively sumptuous tone of voice complimented with a sophisticated sounding English accent, “And might I ask, who is Zelda?”

The four SGC members stare at her.

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