I love themed Christmases, they’re yet another chance to be festive with the things you love. For my neice, it was Spongebob Squarepants when she was little and now that she’s an adult, it’s anything nautical/Kracken themed. For me, it’s Stargate. One big problem: There is NO Stargate themed festivites anywhere. Unless you make them yourself! So I did. I found some great wrapping paper that just so happens to be the same colors as the Stargate chevrons of SG-1 and Atlantis, not exactly difficult. Then I went around to my family members and asked them which was their favorite series and who was their favorite character in that series. Then I bought narrow ribbon the matching color of my paper and printed off fantastic pictures of those characters and the SGC logo in color for my tags. How did they turn out? Stargate Christmas, you have a go!
The sun sets on the ocean’s horizon, splashing waning piercing orange sunlight over Atlantis. Through every window of the formerly lost city facing the setting sun, the light beams in. Giving everything a warm autumnal glow. Woolsey’s office is no different, although his light is tamer, but that’s mostly due to the fact that the light has to come through the massive, ZPM-shaped, stained glass window directly behind the inactive Stargate tens of yards away. The light has farther to travel, more interior lighting to overcome in order to shine in Richard’s office, but it does reach there. It’s a haze of rich color. Going almost half and half with the stark triangular-shaped overhead lighting and the chiclet and dogbone-shaped wall sconces. Normally he’d find it comforting. Normally she would find it comforting. But nothing is comforting this coming evening. Still sitting and waiting for anything from anyone, Richard Woolsey and Teyla Emmagan each heave a heavy sigh in each other’s presence. Nothing is ever easy in this city, ironically both would really like something, anything to go easy for once. Just once. That isn’t too much to ask, there was the odd occasion when the SGC had one easy moment, one easy thing. Why not Atlantis? Why can’t Atlantis have that?
Then the Stargate suddenly comes alive. Its chevrons working quickly to lock into place the rotating LED glyphs and establish a stable wormhole. Richard and Teyla start, sitting up in their chairs, staring down at the Gateroom below from their seats. Teyla looks over at Richard and he immediately gets up. She follows suit and they both head for his office door. He leads across the bridge and into the suddenly frantic Command Center. Richard Woolsey walks straight up to the Stargate DHD technician, Chuck Campbell.
“What is it? Which one of the gate teams is it?” Woolsey demands, even this fear, this dread, is coming to pass now. Great, just great. But they’ll roll with it since they have no other choice but to have to.
Chuck works confidently and efficiently at his console, “It’s an incoming wormhole, Sir—“
“Put up the iris,” Woolsey doesn’t hesitate to order.
“—From New Athos.” Chuck finishes.
Woolsey looks over at Teyla at his side, she’s looking at him too. Trouble? On New Athos? That would certainly be a surprise. Teyla looks back at the Stargate then a thought suddenly comes to her, one that should have been there all along. She looks down and shakes her head, how could she have forgotten?
“Teyla?” Richard dips down his head to try and catch her lowered eyes. He does. Her head raises and she looks over at him again.
“You do not need the iris. They are not in trouble. I am ashamed to admit that I had forgotten that Lieutenant Kenmore had sent her son to New Athos this morning for schooling.”
Richard starts nodding, he had forgotten too…and breathing a very obvious sigh of relief. Easy, finally.
“There’s an incoming radio transmission, Sir. It’s Halling,” Chuck reports.
Richard and Teyla again look at each other. They both know how the Lieutenant feels about Woolsey around her son especially when the Lieutenant herself is not here to supervise it. Richard, frankly relieved that something so relatively simple has cropped up in their midst, has absolutely no hesitation in backing down from its responsibility. He knows full well it would not be advisable for him to take it on. A small smile pulls at the corners of his lips and he nods at Teyla, a relieved smile spreads across her lips.
“I believe you should take this,” he tells her.
Teyla nods, still smiling, and Richard turns and walks leisurely, almost lazily, back to his office. When he is back across the bridge, in his office, and getting settled in his chair behind his desk again, Teyla turns her attention fully to the Stargate and looks down at Chuck’s computer console. She closes her eyes for a moment. Breaths in a deep inhale, lets it out smoothly. Then opens her eyes and shifts her gaze to Chuck. He is waiting for her, hand poised over specific controls.
“Let me hear it,” she tells him and his fingers finally come down on the buttons.
Halling’s voice is as kind as it always is and fills the room rather discreetly, something that few other people sending radio transmissions through the Stargate manage to do, “Atlantis, this is Halling. I am sending Lieutenant Kenmore’s son back to you. Is the iris down yet?”
A glimmer of Teyla’s smile flits across her lips, Halling knew very well Atlantis’ protocols, “No, Halling,” she answers, “The iris is not down yet.”
“Teyla,” he sounds joyed at hearing her voice…then concerned, “why is it not?”
“Is Lieutenant Kenmore’s son with you now?”
“No, he and Jinto are farther back along the path. I came ahead in order to pave Michael’s way.”
Good, at least the Lieutenant’s child would not hear this, “Halling, there is a situation.”
There is a pause on the other end of the communication. Yes, Halling knows full well the things that happen in Atlantis. Let alone had he, like most of the Athosians, live in Atlantis for the early part of the Expedition’s first year in charge of her, but he had, also like Teyla, been a guide as well as a team member of one of Atlantis’ teams, Sergeant Stackhouse’s team.
“Is everyone safe,” he finally asks.
“No,” she has to admit, “no, everyone is not safe. Lieutenant Kenmore, Colonel Sheppard, Major Lorne, and Doctor McKay have been taken by some unknown force.”
There is another pause and Teyla can see in her mind’s eye an unsettled and suddenly unsure Halling, holding a handheld radio up to his mouth, looking back down the path from their planet’s Stargate to their village. Searching, fearing perhaps that at any moment he may see his own son arrive with the missing Lieutenant’s son…the child not knowing that his mother is gone. The feeling does not need to be voiced, it is felt by them both as parents: What to do?
“Is the city safe?” The Halling of Teyla’s mind’s eye turns back to the Stargate again.
She shakes her head even though he cannot see her doing it, “No, they were taken while in the city by some sort of distorting of the air here.”
Another pause. A longer one. Like she, Halling is a parent of a child being raised in this galaxy, a son as well no less…and single like the Lieutenant, his wife culled in a Wraith attack long ago when Jinto was younger than the Lieutenant’s son is now and not the teenager Jinto has become. Halling is thinking. Teyla waits. She hopes Halling will come to the same conclusion she has about this since first realizing her forgetfulness…
“I will keep Michael here with Jinto and I,” Teyla smiles; yes, he has, “Do you think the Lieutenant will be angry with that?”
“No,” Teyla alleviates his concern quickly, “I do not. I believe she trusts you as Major Lorne does. I do not think she will be angry with you for keeping her son safe away from Atlantis while there still may be great danger here.”
Then Teyla pauses. Another consideration comes to her. One, again, that should have occurred to her before now…
“Do you know what you will tell him when he asks about not being returned to his mother?”
Again a pause on the other end of the Stargate’s wormhole, but only about the span of a breath, “I will tell him that your team was called away on an unexpected mission and that his mother will return soon, but not as soon as anyone might expect. Till then he will stay with Jinto and I.”
Teyla smiles, Halling is essentially telling the boy the truth. Maybe not the finer details of the situation, but it is none the less the truth. She can always count on Halling. She breaths her own obvious sigh of relief, eyes sparkling with the pleasant release of yet another stress, “Thank you Halling.”
“Think nothing of it Teyla. I believe Michael will like to spend the night with us, he and Jinto are getting along very well.”
“Please say hello to Jinto for me.” She knows she does not have to ask him to continue to not alarm Lieutenant Kenmore’s son.
“I will, Teyla, and send good greetings to Torren and Kanaan for Jinto and I as well.”
Teyla nods as the communication is severed on New Athos; a heartbeat later, Atlantis’ Stargate shuts down, disconnecting it’s wormhole to her new homeworld of a little under three years now. Teyla looks over at the Stargate then turns her head and looks down at Chuck beside her. He is already looking up at her. She smiles and nods at him, relieved. He nods back. Easy.
* * *
The last vestiges of Atlantis’ planet’s sunset gleams from one end of the hallway. The bright piercing light is now nothing more than a waning glow, more like the dying embers of a quickly cooling fire than the blaze it had been a handful of minutes ago. It is a blatant showing of the day’s passage of time that they did not need, he did not need…
Doctor Radek Zelenka stands in front of the closed doors to the hologram room as he has been all day since their comrades were taken. He no longer has his scanning equipment, but he does have a computer tablet balanced on his science department blue, longsleeve shirt-covered forearm, like Rodney would in this sort of a situation. There are about three other scientists still working the area with him, most of the rest he had ordered to go back to their regular laboratories and continue working on the situation from there. It was more a matter of too many chefs in the kitchen and it was not a matter of spoiling the broth so to speak so much as one of overcrowding. With so many people jostling around this small section of the corridor, there was simply no hope of getting their work done properly. They might miss something critical due to a random bump or shove from behind. And that is simply not acceptable.
The scientists currently around him are not working on what he’s focused on. And that was another reason for ordering people back to their respective laboratories or offices, let alone were people stepping on each other’s toes physically, they were also stepping on each other’s toes figuratively. Too many people working on the same exact thing at the same time in the same room. By forcing everyone to disperse, Radek hopes to spread their interests to their absolute limits but with specific direction. Before telling everyone to go, Radek had also giving said laboratories or offices specific things about the kidnapping to analyze. Even after doing that, so far…He taps at his computer and its display shows him graph upon graph upon graph of wavelength analyses and other scientific data all of them have gathered so far. He sighs, taps again…and again… and again…And again…and again. Suddenly he stops and looks up at the closed doors in front of him, his mouth hanging slightly agape at them. Why hadn’t he realized this before? Why? Perhaps it was his agitation before and it had taken this long for his mind to go numb that it finally caught this…this scrap.
He starts forward, the door swings open inwards and he goes inside where there are five more scientists working the hologram room itself. The other scientists stationed around the platform’s perimeter ignore him, absorbed by their own large pieces of scanning equipment among the many other pieces crammed in here, as he makes a slow steady approach up to the hologram platform’s console. He looks down at it then at the hologram platform then at his computer tablet. Then mutters a revelation in Czech…
“Oh můj bože , proč jsem to neviděl dřív? Je to procenta . Je to energie procenta.”
…then runs back out of the room. That catches everyone inside’s attention.
The dying orange glow of sunset on the planet casts its dim rays through windows on the other side of the Infirmary. Even more now than before, the darkness of Jennifer’s work area folds in on them and the stark white light of the chiclet lights against the walls around them and the glow of her now on desk lamp shine brightly. Lightening the gloom…and the boredom. Jennifer and Ronon, working closely side by side, continue to pour over the database. Even though their translations are really more or less guesswork, but their friends and loved ones are on the line, so it’s a level of obstinate dedication. It’s also not doing them much good, they’ve been at it for hours now and nothing. From what they’ve been able to manage so far it’s just mostly records of either the technical specifications for the room, for its purpose as a classroom, or people, the Ancients living here at the time, complaining about the room, its maintenance and its purpose. It is painfully obvious that the Ancients that had lived here before had the same issues with the room being a power hog that the Atlantis Expedition does now. Still they keep leaned in and focus on the laptop’s screen. Suddenly Zalenka bursts in, causing both Jennifer and Ronon to jump on their seats; Ronon winces at the sudden jolt of pain in his casted, slung wrist. They stare at the Czech scientist, his expression says it all.
“What is it? What did you find,” the words rush out of Jennifer’s mouth.
Radek rushes over to them and immediately shoves his way in between the two. Shoving his computer tablet into Jennifer’s hands before he takes control of the laptop computer they’ve been working on. He starts guiding the computer’s programming to two different subjects of interest, splitting the screen between them. The SGC files on Daniel Jackson and Vala Mal Doran’s encounter with Ganos Lal/”Morgan LeFay” in that very same room a few years ago and the recordings of the energy readings from that time which the Expedition has kept in their own personal archives in a separate database located on a server system in one of the secure rooms in the inner part of the city. As he does so, Teyla and Woolsey run up to the opened doorway.
“What have you found,” Woolsey asks out of breath.
Radek doesn’t acknowledge them, he keeps working. Keeps typing. In particular he’s bringing up the play by play graphs of not the room’s energy readings, but of the podium and the hologram platform’s energy readings. Once up on the computer screen it only takes him a second to study them before he slaps the tabletop with the flat of his palms and shouts a Czech word of triumph.
The slap is loud and harsh enough sounding that Jennifer jumps again, wincing. For a moment Ronon fears for her safety. She’s so close to the erratic scientist. Woolsey rushes forward with Teyla hot on his heels.
“What have you found, Doctor,” Woolsey repeats sternly.
Zelenka immediately straightens up like a Jack popping out of its box and faces Woolsey directly. Radek’s glasses slip down his nose enough to give the look and control of a very studied man on a very specific mission. It’s a reassuring sign. He gestures as much.
“I was going over the energy readings we have from before the incident, during, and after for the twentieth time. And all those times before, I did not see it. But, but, it finally occurred to me…Doctor Jackson.”
They stare at him. That’s it? Woolsey waits for hopefully the rest of this. Jennifer already had the idea, has been working on it with Ronon practically all day, “…Yes, Doctor?”
“It is not just what Jennifer at first hypothesized, it is not the room in general. It is the hologram platform and its control podium specifically. Look,” Zelenka goes back to the computer and the others crowd in around him trying to see, “The energy readings for the room when the hologram system is activated are incredible. This we know. There is no disputing it.” Woolsey nods, Radek continues. “But how much of that power is actually being used? What percentages? And where exactly? A large percentage, the majority of the room’s power consumption, about sixty percent, comes from the hologram platform itself. Of the remaining forty percent, thirty comes from the podium and the remaining ten is the natural consumption that of every room in Atlantis uses when someone is in it, i.e. the lights coming on at their presence.”
“What does that mean Radek,” Teyla asks.
“That if there is a specific gateway between the void where the Ascended Ancients are and our dimension of existence, it is not the entire room that is the gateway but the hologram platform. And it also may have a connection to the control podium.”
“And how does this help us?” Woolsey wonders. How does this help Colonel Sheppard and the others simply being able to narrow down the gateway to a specific location?
But Radek is already there, “I have isolated the exact energy spike on the hologram platform and the podium when Doctor Jackson, Vala Mal Doran, and Doctor Weir reported that Ganos Lal was pulled away from them by the other Ascended.”
Okay…So? Teyla, Ronon, Jennifer, and Woolsey again wait expectantly. Their minds aren’t jumping around as quickly to whatever connections Radek’s are. Yes both the podium and platform had been activated, put into standby but still active, when that had happened, but…
“How does this help us,” Ronon asks.
Radek turns to him, “I have isolated the exact wave frequency the other Ascended were using in order to open whatever gateway they were using to pull her back to them. And according to the readings, we can use it too. It does not go just one way like the Stargate’s wormhole like we originally thought, it in fact goes both ways.”
The others stare at the computer screen he’s gesturing to as though he’s offering it to them. Is that what those graphs mean? Jennifer searches the readings for a moment, like with reading Ancient, she isn’t understanding really any of what she’s seeing…then she looks up at Radek.
“Do you know what to do next,” she asks urgently. All that matters is that Radek knows what those graphs mean.
Zelenka stares over the top of his glasses still slid down to almost the end of his nose at Woolsey’s profile. Back to looking like the eternally focused scientist.
“I do,” Radek says.
Woolsey’s face immediately turns and stares at him head on.