Episode Four- Veritas- Chapter Six

Chapter Six

The sky is a brilliant light blue, a perfect colored sky.  A few long, puffy, cotton ball clouds float about here and there, not rendering the beautiful sky ‘cloudy’ and certainly not ‘overcast.’  The ocean isn’t as light a blue, it’s more like a sapphire.  A deep rich jewel tone that conveys an element of Old World royalty.  In the middle of this engrossing, idyllic landscape is the city of Atlantis.  Floating on the surface, in the shape of a snowflake with six oddly-shaped piers sticking out as the flake’s branches and a core center of dozens of towers of varying heights and widths with a Central Tower rising from the middle of them all to reign supreme over the whole flake.  It is typical of the city during a beautiful midday to stand like the notorious icon it is.

 

 

Sunlight pours in through the open doorway, illuminating the whole room in golden hued light over the pale rust-colored walls trimmed with textured copper moldings designed to have the panels of walls look like representations of a Zero Point Module’s silhouette.  The Lantean computer lab’s walls, except for the wall with the door, are lined by Ancient piano-style computer consoles, it’s corners are lined by six feet tall light sconces that look to be a combination of the chiclet sconces and the normally three-feet tall, wall mounted ‘dogbone’ sort of designed sconces.  They’re not exactly unusual lights in the city and are most often found in the lower levels and occasionally in the city’s laboratories.  Doctor Jennifer Keller sits at an Earth laptop hooked into the Ancient piano-style computer terminal underneath it.  On the laptop’s screen is a log of the Ancient database handily translated mostly into English by Radek and many of the other scientists of the Expedition, but much more of it is untranslated Ancient.  Even after basically six years, the Expedition still hasn’t even begun to scratch the surface of discovering the mysteries of the Ancient database.  All this time and they’re still only scratching the surface.  This is going to take forever, but Jennifer carefully analyzes each and every line, decipherable or not.  Reading what she can understand and trying to translate from her own limited well of knowledge of the Ancient she herself works with on a daily basis and what Rodney’s added to that over the course of their months long so far intimate relationship and a little over a year long working relationship and friendship.  Ronon sits in one the Earth brought, white sturdy mesh and chrome metal teamed with silver plastic chairs, very IKEA, beside her.  Bored out of his mind and edgy.  He shifts uncomfortably and grunts at the slight pain caused to him by the movement, cast or no cast his wrist is aching and itching.  The shifting and grunting draws Jennifer’s attention.  Not like his only swinging his chair lazily from side to side with his back turned to let alone the Ancient computer terminal but the laptop sitting on it as well wasn’t already catching her eyes…and mind.

“What is it,” she asks him.  She’d set everything properly, put in the screws, everything should be fine.  Nothing more problematic than the usual recovery issues like minor aching or throbbing, localized and general, and itching, patients regularly report itching from the injured tissues knitting themselves back together.  No complications should be arising, the stress of the crisis shouldn’t be causing any difficulties.

Ronon doesn’t say anything, just checks his injured arm for himself.  Holding his cast up in front of his eyes, touching it, rendering the sling useless.

Jennifer suddenly sits up at this, “Don’t do that.  You just have to let it rest so it can heal properly.  Refit it back in the sling.”

Ronon still doesn’t say anything, doesn’t even look up at her, and isn’t doing what she’s telling him to do.  He just keeps twisting his hand, and subsequently the muscles of his whole forearm, left and right.  Picking at bits of his cast.  Apparently forgetting the point for having a sling.  Jennifer watches for a moment, biting her lower lip.  Making her mousy features even more guileless and timid looking.  Then she finally sighs, the apples of her cheeks reddening ever so slightly with the burgeoning frustration she’s trying very hard to hold back…

“How long are you going to keep this going,” she finally asks him.

That catches his attention.  Finally he looks up at her.

“What?”

“Not doing what I tell you.  It’s not going to heal right if you keep messing with it.  Do you want it to get worse?  Do you want to be stuck in the Infirmary?  Do you want it to heal wrong?  Do you want to be able to fire your gun at Wraith again?”

“No…and yes, to that last one.”

“Then do what I say and stop treating me like this,” she orders sharply.

“Treating you like what?”

Jennifer’s whole cheeks suddenly flush bright red as though she’s suddenly gotten a sunburn, “You can’t even look at me since I chose Rodney over you.”

Ronon looks away.  His brows lowering and his gaze darkening even further than it already does.  He goes back to turning his back on the computers and the database.

But that only pisses Jennifer off further, See, see, that’s what I’m talking about!

“And it’s gotten worse since Amelia left,” she points out.

Ronon’s head suddenly snaps to her.  Glaring at her.

“You should really stop talking about that now,” he warns her.

Against her better judgment, and how much she really, really wants to yell at him for all this, this crap, Jennifer goes back to the database.

“You’re right.  Fine.  You keep doing what you’re doing,” she bites bitterly.  An unusual tone and emotion for her towards anybody.

…And Ronon doesn’t like it.

“I will,” he snaps back.

Suddenly Jennifer slams the laptop shut and yanks its plug out of the Ancient computer.  Rodney would have screamed at her for doing that.  In one swoop she gathers up the computer and its wire in her arms.  Pressing the components against her chest.  Then standing up so sharply her chair bounces off the back of her legs and rolls about four feet away.  Its sheer luck the thing didn’t flip back onto the floor.

Ronon gapes.  Jenn-Jennifer’s never done anything like that.  She’s nice.  The quiet one.  The mousy one.  The, the, the not angry one.  The not lashing out one.  The, the, the—

“What are you doing?!”  He exclaims.

“Getting my boyfriend back,” she snaps at him, her face taking on the pissed off threatening look of the bullied girls of high school whose finally had enough of the bratty, God damn Mean Girls picking on them.  And Jennifer knows the look well, she gave it to Sarah Brittany Matthews when the rich blonde snob had one of her little goon girls hit Jennifer’s Chem. Lab books out of her arms, “Just do whatever it is your doing back in the Infirmary, will you!  Because, you know, it’s proving to be such a big help and all!  Getting yourself injured and being lazy about it!”

She storms out, her sneakers stomping loud and clear on her way out.  If there had been a swinging door, she would have kicked the thing closed behind her with the unmitigated resounding slam that could shake the walls.  Ronon just stares.

*                      *                      *

Now the midday light is shining starkly into the hallways of Atlantis that either themselves have windows or are adjoined to rooms, via opened doors, that have windows.  Richard and Teyla leave one of the cordoned off hallways of the city’s core that leads to the hologram room, their expressions show that Doctor Zelenka’s investigation is not going well.  Nowhere near well…and it’s putting them in a tough predicament.  It’s hard enough to track down friends and family when they’re taken while being offworld, but to be stolen in the very heart of Atlantis.  It reeks too much of when the Asgard had penetrated the city as if her shielding were none existent and kidnapped Rodney and Daniel Jackson, two men.  And that was by only three soldiers from a once believed to be friendly race!  Now it’s four friends and family taken by God knows who.  Even then they did manage to take down one of the Asgard soldiers, open up their armor and discover that they were Asgard.  But this time…To be at a loss…Like this?…it’s…it’s…

“I’m not exactly sure what to ask Radek next,” Richard admits to Teyla, “How do I expect him to conduct an investigation when there’s nothing there?”

“Radek will continue anyway.  He is much like Rodney that way, he does not like being unable to answer questions.  He will not stop even if he has nothing to work with,” she soothes him.

But it does little for Richard.

“That’s one of the things that I have an issue with.  It’s one thing for our own devices to be unable to register this anomaly, but the Ancient technology isn’t registering it either.  It’s not just as though we have nothing to work with, it’s as though we have less than nothing to work with.”

Teyla nods.  She had been thinking the same thing as well but unwilling to put a voice to it.  It meant that there might be a chance of failure, and while they have always faced that chance before, it seems far more palpable now.

Woolsey goes on, “All that we do know for sure is that the second time it appeared, all who were present saw it, but when it first appeared, only Colonel Sheppard, Lieutenant Kenmore, Major Lorne, and Doctor McKay saw it.  And we also know that all four of them have the Ancient gene to varying degrees.  And, with the exception of Doctor McKay, they have it naturally and are three of the most powerfully adept Ancient Gene possessors we have.”

Teyla agrees, “It should also be noted that, even though Rodney has his Ancient abilities through the gene therapy, he is the strongest of those whose Ancient genes have been activated in such a way.”

Woolsey stops and looks at her.  That had never occurred to him before.

“You’re right.  I had never really thought of describing Rodney’s abilities that way before, but you are right,” Richard considers something like suddenly being given new evidence in a case; normally when new evidence is sprung in the middle of a case, it’s extremely off-putting, throwing everything off and into utter chaos, making the ambushed side completely unsettled and left reeling to try and get their feet back under them, but in this case, “Perhaps we should put more emphasis on Doctor Keller and Ronon’s research than we already are.  Right now it’s proving to be the only useful thing we have.  The only anything we have.”

Teyla nods as Jennifer comes down the hall towards them.  They look up and see her turn abruptly down another hallway.  Muttering to herself rather angrily by the looks of it and clutching an SGC laptop to her chest with a coil or two of it’s Ancient technology jack’s cord and the rest of the cord as well as the jack itself trailing on air buffeting off of her swift wake beside and somewhat behind her and her billowing white lab coat.  Teyla, confused, looks to Richard, whose equally confused but playing it a bit more closely to his vest than she is.  With a controlled face he nods at her, giving her the okay to follow.  Teyla hurries after Jennifer.

 

 

This lab of all the lab’s in Atlantis is the one considered the most like a sanctuary.  Well, a ‘sanctuary’ to one.  Rodney McKay’s personal lab is one of the only room’s in Atlantis that is this extensive and meant for the sole use by one person and others, if he so chooses.  Which he usually didn’t.  Instead opting to rub the room’s mere existence and privacy in the faces of everyone in the Expedition whether they’re a scientist or not.  Its turquoise patina walls trimmed and framed with textured copper moldings are lined abnormally, almost as though to mimic exposed pipes in an industrial loft by the light grey chiclet lights, whose glowing white crystals slats Rodney always kept the majority of off.  He claimed he found their ambience distracting.  If a wall isn’t lined by metal tables holding up computers, then it’s lined by large flat screen monitors on their own personal wheeled carts that came up to the same height, waist high, as the tables.  And in every space that a table or a monitor cart is just too big to fit in are computer cabinets.  Large light up things brought over from Stargate Command complete with push buttons, dials, and switches.  For the members of the Stargate program that had absolutely no clue what the cabinets’ functions are, these units are simply referred to as the ‘Blinky Light Units’.

Jennifer stomps in, her beige and grey sneakers smacking loudly on the floor.  But, knowing full well the ‘sanctum’ she’s in, gently puts down the laptop and it’s cord on a spare piece of unoccupied stainless steel tabletop.  She gingerly opens the computer back up, pulls over a stool and takes a seat as the computer comes back online.  In here, Rodney managed to hook the database to the room in a sort of wireless way.  She didn’t have to plug the jack into any Ancient computer console because there aren’t any in this room, but she still maintains access somehow to the Ancient database.  Once the computer is up and running, she resumes her research.

Teyla Emmagan walks in and immediately catches on to how much Jennifer is not happy, that was not the difficult part, not in the least, but there is something that still eludes her…

“Jennifer, what is wrong,” the Athosian leader asks calmly and quietly.

“I can’t believe it!  I can’t believe he’s doing this!  Still!  Now!”  Atlantis’ Chief Medical Officer explodes.

“Who is doing what, still, now,” Teyla asks.

“Ronon!  He won’t let me help him.  And he certainly isn’t helping me help Rodney and the others.”

Teyla understands now.  And slowly walks over to her friend’s side, trying to come up with the right words to say for this situation on the way over.  As a leader, it had been a long time since Teyla had first learned to never compound an already dire situation by exasperating another unexpected situation that presents itself during.  Only once before had Teyla ever failed to do this since she first learned that lesson…Sergeant Bates.  It was in an argument with Sergeant Bates that Teyla let her own personal anger at him get out, their argument was an old one stemming from when she first encountered the scout team, which included both Sergeant Bates and then Major John Sheppard, and then later Teyla’s joining of John’s team after the death of the Expedition’s original military leader Colonel Sumner, a man Bates was close to and admired greatly…and a man who had treated Teyla like she was an unintelligent, unimportant ghost.  Although both Teyla and Colonel Sumner had come to an understanding with each other in the cell of a Wraith hiveship, Teyla and Sergeant Bates had not…and they never have.  Something which resulted in Sergeant Bates’ initially requesting and later being granted a transfer away from Atlantis and the Pegasus Galaxy by way of an Honorable Discharge from his service in the United States Marine Corps due to his injuries suffered at the hands of the Wraith during internal attack during the city’s first year Siege, a siege some incoming members to the Expedition refer to as the Battle of Atlantis.  It also had not helped that John’s crush on Teyla—yes, she had known about it even back then—had made John make several mistakes in his leadership by being excessively harsh to the Sergeant and questioning Sergeant Bates’ ability to do his own job as part of the Expedition as its Internal Head-of-Security in defensive of her.

When Teyla and Sergeant Bates’ argument exploded, it was during the crisis of the city being under the siege.  The Sergeant had always been suspicious of Teyla and her connection to the Wraith, the explosion of their tense emotions around the whole situation they were all facing in Atlantis had been ignited, for Teyla, by the man’s accusing her of being a Wraith collaborator, a great and vile slander not just among her own people but among almost every denizen of the Pegasus Galaxy.  Teyla’s emotions, her anger, got the better of her in that moment and she had punched him.  It had been wrong.  But it was something Teyla could not control in herself at the time.  Even when John had intervened between her and the Sergeant, Teyla had tried to plead with John that Sergeant Bates had been out of line, trying to tell her friend what the other had called her…it is something that Teyla is ashamed of now.  Was ashamed of then.  Let alone striking out at Sergeant Bates, but then also using John’s more than just mere friendship and camaraderie affections for her to help justify her actions, to make the punishment for her action less.  Thankfully John had exacted the proper punishment to both Teyla and Sergeant Bates.  An equal measure of confinement to quarters for both of them.

The fact of the situation was that both Teyla and Sergeant Bates had been out of line.  There had been greater things than just their own prejudicial differences at stake then…the same as now:  people’s lives.  And the wellbeing and safety of the city of Atlantis herself.

“I do not think it is personal, Jennifer,” Teyla finally says, although she does not exactly believe that herself; they are the words that need to be said now, “Ronon would never jeopardize Colonel Sheppard or Rodney let alone Major Lorne and although the same may not be said of Lieutenant Kenmore, you know he is not good at just standing by and doing nothing.”

“But this is not nothing,” Jennifer gestures with her hand like a stabbing blade at the screen of the laptop.

“But it is not physical,” Teyla points out.

Jennifer shakes her head, frustrated.  That’s not good enough.  Not by a long shot.  She’s not buying that ‘physical’ crap anymore.

Teyla takes a long breath.

“Ronon would be the first person to tell you that this,” she gestures at the computers and papers and other scientific and research things around them, “is not anything of what he knows or cares to know about because he does not understand their use nor their purpose.  He does not see it.  It is nothing against either you or Rodney or the relationship the two of you share, it is just that he has been asked to do something that he does not understand how it will help them.”

Okay, maybe that’s something Jennifer can understand, something she can take.  But…

“That isn’t everything,” Jennifer tells her heavily, “He still can’t look at me…won’t talk to me…ignores me.  I’m trying to help him and he’s, he’s…”  She trails off, at a loss for words.

Again Teyla understands.

“Losing Amelia has been exceptionally tough on him—“

“It started before then.  It started when I told him I was interested in Rodney more than him,” Jennifer cuts her friend off.

Teyla takes a moment, again she is not entirely sure how to go about this.  Intimate relationships are by their very nature very personal.  Teyla had felt the burn of it more than once here in the city…and among her people on New Athos as well.  Teyla had never thought before that simply paying an honor such as naming your child after his, what was the Earth term again…Godfather, would be seen as some sort of indicator of who his biological father is.  Had she known that people were going to continue to believe, despite Kanaan’s presence in Atlantis with Teyla and their mutually biological son Torren, that John Sheppard is Torren’s father simply because her child’s second name is John, she…she would have still named the child in honor of his Godfather.  Teyla does care what people think of her, but she believes more in people caring about the truth and knowing it than in blind faith in ignorance and gossipy rumors.  Torren will grow up knowing the truth, that is all Teyla needs to know about that.  And what other people needed to know about it, well…

“You were the first since Melena,” Teyla tells her, “The first he wanted to care about…and wanted to care about him.  And after you would not have him then he discovered Amelia…I think he is afraid.”

Jennifer looks at her, willing to listen and perhaps understanding as well.  After all what she is feeling now is most likely what the man is feeling as well…or has been feeling for a little over a month now since Amelia’s promotion and transfer back to Earth.

“And you know how he reacts under fear,” Teyla goes on.  “I believe that this is simply a manifestation of that fear.  People he cares about are in trouble and there is nothing we can do about it.  Nothing he can physically do about it.  We have no clues as to what that anomaly was or how it took them or who created it.  He is growing restless because he is afraid for them.  He does not want to lose any more people he cares about, he has already lost so many.  All of his past.”

Jennifer nods, but Teyla can still see the reservations on her friend’s face.

“But with no other evidence, the only clue we have left is that they all have the Ancient gene.  That’s something.”  Jennifer presses.

Teyla nods, “It is, which is why Mister Woolsey has asked me to tell you that we are now putting extra emphasis on this part of the investigation.  Its truth is all that we have.”

Jennifer opens her mouth, but Teyla…

“And I will talk to Ronon on your behalf.  Right now, we need everyone on this.”

Teyla glances at the computer with a subtle smile and a subtle offering gesture with her hand, hoping she is luring her dear friend back to what is really important right now…not squabbling, not bickering, not fighting.

Jennifer nods and goes back to reviewing the database.  Teyla keeps it to herself, but she breathes an interior sigh of relief.  She can feel her ribcage expand greatly and quickly then constrict steadily, but there is no sound of the air passing through her nostrils.  Some measure of tension has ebbed away from her shoulders and her gut, but the major bulk of it is still there…and she knows where it is coming from.  Teyla leaves just as quietly as she had entered.

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