Episode Five- Bloodline- Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fourteen

The door splits apart with all the familiar sounds of Atlantis, but the room inside is definitely not like any of the ones in Atlantis. It’s like an Ancient version of a tomb. Except it’s not like the one Kenmore and Lorne’s team, and later Sheppard’s team, had encountered on Athos, the small tomb of the Ancient known as Nemesis in the front yard of the ruined Ancient college campus’ main building. First of all, the room is essentially not unlike a normal lab in Atlantis; in fact, it reminds Sheppard of the lab that he and his first year team had found a ten thousand year old Elizabeth Weir in. The one exception is the Ancient stasis chamber isn’t embedded in any of the walls like a prominent display, it’s lying on a raised dais in the middle of the room… and rather than being crystal clear and exhibiting whoever’s inside it, it seems to be filled with white smoke. Blocking any view of the interior. The creepy sense of ‘Not good’ seeps into the Colonel’s shoulders.

Sheppard and Kenmore walk into the circular room. They take note of the Ancient computers and lab equipment lining the walls right away. Oh great, bad signs galore, Sheppard and Kenmore look around at the rest of the room. No Worm God energy creature. No one’s here. At least no one outside of an eerily familiar and all together bad news stasis pod in the middle of the room. As if he didn’t need any more bad memories showing up as bad omens, the damn thing reminds John of the stasis chamber they’d found a psychopath mad scientist named Dorane in. It was one of their first missions of the Expedition.

Sheppard keeps eyeing it with visions of Dorane and the psycho’s hideous Koan dancing through his head. John peers at it, trying to distract himself. Well, he supposes that the white smoke contained in the chamber could be the creature’s ‘hair’, but judging by how much is filling up the stasis chamber, that is a lot of ‘hair’ and a lot less black smoke ‘body’. Too little and way to go on the distraction bit there, John, switch out one first-year disaster for another. Gold star for that one. Anyways, he highly doubts that that thing could fit into the chamber unit period. Especially if the child/baby version was able to fit into the cage unit the Ancients had set up for it in Atlantis. He looks around but he can’t help but glance at the chamber again, well, actually, the thing probably could fit in there. The stasis chamber is much bigger than the cage unit had been. Aw crap. He makes a mental note to keep his attention on the stasis chamber at all times. And to quit making such damn stupid choices on how to distract himself.

Elsewhere in the facility, their comrades have entered the doors at the end of their hallways as well.

 

 

While Ronon stands guard at the entrance, Rodney rushes over to one of the computers. Before he touches it, he hesitates and checks his detector one last time. He sighs and taps his earpiece.

“Please tell me you are all still alive?”

 

 

The others look at who they’re paired with. Sheppard reaches up and taps his earpiece first.

“We’re here, Rodney,” he reports as he keeps his eyes on Kenmore.

“As are we, Rodney,” Teyla’s voice comes on over the radio link loud and clear.

Both of them sounding confused and unsure of what they just heard.

 

 

Rodney breathes a sigh of relief again and Ronon does too although he doesn’t let any signs of it slip.

“Any chance on explaining why we aren’t shielded anymore,” Sheppard’s voice asks over the radio.

Rodney finally feels safe enough to reach out and touch the computer console. It comes on and he starts up whatever programming on it he can get while answering, “We’re still shielded, but apparently we are all now within the same shielded area so our radios work again. The lifesigns detector is still relatively useless though, but it did register enough random power signature ghosts that let me know our radios might be working again.”

“Speaking of ghosts,” Daniel’s voice interrupts, “Teyla and I ran into—“

“Crom-Crúach,” Kenmore’s voice abruptly answers.

“If you mean that energy creature we encountered our first year in Atlantis, then yes, we did,” Rodney amends.

“That wasn’t the creature from our first year, Rodney,” Sheppard interjects.

Ronon looks back at Rodney as McKay looks up at the computer’s screen, but not seeing it, with a confused expression on his face.

“How do you know that,” he asks.

“Because the energy creature we encountered our first year in the city didn’t have scales or an eye or hair,” Sheppard reprimands like isn’t that the most obvious thing in the world to recognize.

Rodney looks back and meets Ronon’s gaze. The two exchange wary and confused looks between each other. And they aren’t the only ones.

 

Daniel aims a questioning look at Teyla, but he finds just as many questions in the look she’s returning him. Her head is angled away from him a little. Her normally smooth and elegant features are tight. The corners of her mouth are drawn down gently and when he pairs that with the knitting of her brows together, he sees everything he could possibly ask and then some. He knows that the both of them are looking for the same answers that neither of them have.

 

 

“What scales, eye, and hair,” Ronon asks.

 

This time it’s Sheppard and Kenmore who exchange confused looks between each other.

“We ran into an energy creature that had scales and an eye and hair, I think,” he looks over at Kenmore for confirmation.

She shrugs while nodding. Sounds like an accurate enough description of what they’d seen to her. Sure, why not call it hair.

“The one Ronon and I ran into looked just like that first one,” Rodney’s radio voice objects, “It’s the exact same size as the one I got it to go through the gate.”

“As did the one Doctor Jackson and I encountered,” Teyla’s voice seconds.

Kenmore and Sheppard’s looks at each other change. No confusion though this time. Just a whole lot of ‘Holy crap’.

“Apparently what you two ran into was its head. And what the rest of us ran into was the rest of its body,” Daniel’s conclusion fills in the silence over the radio link.

Okay, for the time being, John’s just going to let that one hang out there and not touch it.

“We’ll discuss that later,” he moves on, “right now Kenmore and I are in this sort of lab with a stasis chamber in the middle of it. Kind of looks like the one we found that Dorane guy in.”

 

 

Teyla looks around her again. Her eyes careful to avoid looking too directly at the stasis chamber for her comfort. “As are Doctor Jackson and I,” she replies. That mission had compromised her to the team, to Atlantis, and especially to John and Rodney in a way she hadn’t known was possible before. It was the mission that had proved to her that she is indeed fallible far more than she has ever realized. It is an acknowledgement she does not care to stare in the face of ever again.

 

 

“Us too,” Ronon adds. He turns furrowed sharply angled dark eyebrows to Rodney, silently asking ‘Who’s Dorane?’

Rodney stays silent with a heavy shrug and an exasperated roll of his eyes. God, he does not want to relive that one and there is simply no way he’s talking about it right here, right now. He’ll tell Ronon when they get back to Atlantis, probably over both of their considerable trays full of breakfast.

 

 

Sheppard eyes the stasis chamber. He knows that both Teyla and Rodney know this design of stasis chamber very well. They’d both been on that Dorane mission back when the team’s fourth was Lieutenant Aiden Ford, not Satedan Specialist Ronon Dex. It was a haunting mission for Sheppard, as well the other two he guessed, he wasn’t exactly sure about them. All he knows is that he still wakes up in the middle of the night sweating and scared as hell and immediately bolts out of his bed, heads straight for the jumper bay, gets into Jumper One, sits in the pilot’s seat, and thinks at the little ship. And every time the jumper comes on for him at his thought, he breathes a heavy sigh of relief, keeps panting, wipes the sweat off his face, and thanks God that he still has his own genetic makeup back. Thanks God that he’s still human and enough Ancient for the jumper to recognize him. Waking up and having to test yourself to make sure your humanity is still there is not something you easily shake. But it definitely shakes you. And keeps shaking you like you’re a ragdoll.

“Any idea what’s in the stasis pods,” he asks.

 

 

“Give me a second,” Rodney works on the piano-like Ancient computer console, “Okay, this might help clear things up.” And if there’s anything in there that looks remotely like that nut job Dorane or one of his weird creature-feature friends then Ronon can shoot the hell out of it.

Rodney pushes in a command and the smoke clears from all of the pods. Revealing a woman in each of the entirely glass chambers. A very much human looking woman… although Dorane had looked very human too before they found out that he was a crazy, self-experimenting serial killer with a truly severe revenge complex.

Two of the women have black hair, the ones in Rodney and Ronon’s and Teyla and Daniel’s pods. But the third woman has white hair with beautiful lowlights of lavender purple woven throughout it and its plaits. The black-haired women are wearing ancient gowns accented by dark brown that seems plum purple where the light catches it full on. The white-hair woman is wearing an ancient gown accented by a reddish brown the color of dried blood. Yet another bad sign. They all stare at the women, Rodney returns his attention to the Ancient computer as Ronon moves closer to the pod.

“Who are they,” the Satedan asks, weighing whether or not he’s prepared to kill an innocent woman wearing clothes so sheer that despite the shade of their dyes he can clearly see her voluptuous body underneath… and the blatantly obvious fact that apparently she’s very, very cold inside her glass box. Even lying down, her breasts are perky and he’s not sure whether to be turned on or not. There’s also something about the lines of her facial features. They’re so soft, serene, but sharp in a regal way. This is definitely a woman he’d sleep with.

“They’re Ancient scientists. Sisters. I’m getting three names: Macha, Nemain, and Morrigan,” Rodney answers.

 

 

Daniel and Kenmore start. The archeologist can’t help, but gape at the stasis chamber. His blue eyes wide and focused exactly on what is so bad. The Worm God, Demon God of Death is one thing, this, this is so much more. This is so much more helpful. It’s one thing to encounter a mythologically evil entity, it’s another to be around a mythologically good one. He doesn’t know what they’re going to do next, but whatever it is, he hopes that it involves waking these women up. Ursula quite simply can’t believe her eyes, she keeps her mouth shut, but she can’t believe her eyes. This can’t be possible. It can’t.

 

 

“The Badb Catha. The War-Witches,” Daniel answers reverently.

 

 

Kenmore stares at the stasis pod, fixated, “My family.”

 

 

Rodney pauses. That’s, that’s somehow not good and even more not good all at the same time. Does that mean that these ‘War-Witches’ as Jackson called them are among the very few scientists that were a part of the Veritas project? Three of the assistants that had helped the main five geneticists? Or are they more Ascended Beings that retook human form from the Lieutenant’s bloodline, replenishing? Even though Kenmore said that she doesn’t remember any others than that Nuada guy, it doesn’t mean that there aren’t any that she hadn’t known about. It’d floored Kenmore to realize the Ancient ancestry is so clearly there just on the trip from the Stargate to the village.

Rodney quickly returns to working on the computer. Bringing up any further information on the Ancient scientist sisters and expanding his search parameters to include any mention of the word ‘Veritas’ or Athos, Athosia, or Athosian or any of the other possible terms he can come up with even remotely associated with the Athosian star system, it’s planets, the Asgard, and genetics experiments, hideous or otherwise. God, please be ‘No’.

“I don’t know what’s going on,” he says as the computer’s first search brings up a negative on anything connected to Project Veritas, he holds in another sigh of relief while feeling every ounce of it, as well as bringing up the results of his other searching, “but somehow they’re all three tied in to each others’ pods as well as the rest of this facility. This place is huge by the way. Not quite the size of Atlantis, but more like its medium-sized littler sister.”

The theoretical astrophysicist takes the computer into the finer details of its search…  That’s odd, “It looks like their pods are sending out some sort of signal set to a specific brain frequency.”

He digs a little deeper into the information…  Okay, that is definitely not good.

“According to this, the frequency is apparently the Fomorians. They’re controlling the Fomorians. They’re the ones causing them to attack the village.”

 

 

Teyla stares down at the beautiful passive Ancient face beneath the sheet of clear glass in front of her. It is just as with the world Gian of her home star system, something thought of as so beautiful, a guiding light of sorts, is revealed to be tainted. Danger lurking underneath the surface… or hidden by it. How quickly the mask falls away when all one does is dig even the slightest bit deeper? Teyla Emmagan knows that her friend Rodney is both swift and skillfull when he comes to his talents with computers, any and all of them from what she’s seen over the years, but not even he is this fast or this talented with one so quickly despite it being an Ancient computer console with which he is very familiar. It is Athos all over again.

“How is that possible,” she asks.

She still marvels. How can someone so angelic be the origin of so much brutality? However Teyla also remembers how Jennifer had looked at her when they had both been stranded on New Athos and had discovered that Teyla’s people had been kidnapped… the Earth doctor had never looked so horrified as when she’d witnessed Teyla fiercely take on the Bola Kai scavenging the remains of her people’s village. Of course, Teyla considered it ‘fierce’ perhaps Jennifer considered it brutal… and, of course, Teyla knows that many men as well as women of the Atlantis Expedition consider her to be very beautiful. According to Lieutenant Kenmore, Teyla also seems to be a fantasy woman of sorts to many of them. So why not these women, why not this gorgeous face before her be so attractive and lethal a combination? What makes Teyla herself so different from them?

 

 

Rodney keeps staring at the computer’s Ancient floating screen, shaking his head. He’s not sure either, “I’d need more time to read more of their research. There’s a lot of it here.”

“It was believed that the Hy-Brasilians worked with sound-based advanced technology. They used it for a variety of things ranging from masonry to healing to weaponry,” Daniel interjects over the radio link between the pairs, obviously hoping that the information might be a help in some way.

Luckily, it is.

 

 

“Well we’ve seen the weaponry part,” Sheppard says, thinking of the Stonehenge weapon defending what’s left of the village.

 

 

“Yeah, and this looks like the brainwashing part,” Rodney analyzes the information scrolling down the hanging screen like rain trailing down the surface of a window pane, “Look I can try and bring these women out of stasis. It looks like that might shut off whatever they’re doing to control the Fomorians and their freakish winged friends, which by the way appear to be the genetically engineered creations of these women.”

 

 

Sheppard glances over at Kenmore, she’s a genetically engineered creature here too. And she’s knows it. No one’s letting her forget about it, at least not on this mission.

 

 

“That may not be the wise thing to do, Rodney,” Daniel informs him, with the turn of events his excitement to meet them is gone and the most likely reality has easily settled into its place, “In a battle frenzy, the Witches were known to be just as violent and vicious as the Fomorians, if not worse. Think in terms of the Greek mythological Harpies. If we wake them up…”

 

 

Rodney swallows hard. His Adam’s Apple bobbing. Okay, so don’t wake them up.

“I could partially pull them out of stasis. It’d be kind of tricky, but I could get the pods offline enough to stop them from controlling the Fomorians and possibly stop the attack while still keeping the women unconscious.”

 

 

Sheppard nods, sounds like a plan, “Do it McKay.”

 

 

Rodney goes to work and after a few moments…  “Uh-oh.”

 

 

“What,” Sheppard asks. His eyes lock with Kenmore’s. Even though the Lieutenant’s been with them for only a little over a month now, she knows the sentiment already: Gee, how familiar is this?

 

 

“There’s a feedback coming from breaking off the mind control. Probably a failsafe to prevent someone from doing exactly what I’m doing. It’s sending extra power to the stasis pods. Bringing them fully out of stasis.” Rodney works at the computer frantically. Trying to outrace the system protocol.

“Well stop it,” Sheppard’s radio voice demands like it’s as easily said as done.

“I can’t,” Rodney snaps… then gives up on the computer. He really can’t do it this time. The failsafe program is moving too fast. Way too fast. He can’t keep up. “Look, I’m doing things, but I’m just not fast enough. Anyone got a Plan B and,” he rechecks the computer screen, “we better be able to pull it off in less than thirty seconds.”

 

 

“Oh, that’s bad,” Daniel immediately answers. He looks over at Teyla.

“What should we do,” she asks. Equally without any idea as how to proceed.

 

 

There’s silence as everyone tries to think of something. Anything

 

 

“Shoot them,” Sheppard says, staring at the white-haired woman in the pod in front of him, Morrigan. Encased in a clear glass stasis pod etched with elegant Celtic knots and scrollwork of frosted glass on all fours sides of the squared-off rectangle. A pretty tomb. Snow White. The stasis chamber is one form of final encasement already, why not turn it into another, a coffin?

 

 

“What,” Teyla breathes. She cannot believe John is purposing this. These women, unlike the Bola Kai, are defenseless and they do not yet know for sure that any of these women pose any immediate or direct threat to any of them if brought out of stasis. It has only been the rumors and conjecture by Doctor Jackson that have brought up the possibility. These women may not have anything to do with what happened to Teyla’s people during the years of the Veritas project that created Lieutenant Kenmore, but if Kanaan has taught her one thing since their argument in Atlantis, it is that she should blame the Ancient people directly responsible for the betrayal of hers and her people’s faith in them. Not all Ancient people, no matter how much she would like to. Teyla Emmagan is not prepared to kill an innocent let alone three.

 

 

“Shoot them,” John repeats the order.

 

 

The others look at each other for a moment then Ronon takes aim at the pod as does Rodney. Somehow the phrase ‘Better safe than sorry’ comes to their minds and so far all of the arrows are pointing at all the wrong signs.

Teyla reluctantly takes aim at the pod in front of her, but only after Daniel has absolutely no problem taking aim at it first. Even then she feels in her mind and body that she will not be the first one to pull the trigger if indeed she pulls her P-90’s trigger at all. Her anger at the betrayal by the Ancients has taught her many things, this is one of them. While he doesn’t know her memories, his motivation is a single outstanding one, one he’s mentioned before: Anubis’ clone. A terrible pet project in how to create an advanced human to use as a host. Now these women may not be advanced humans, they’re Ancients, but so had been the clone to a degree. Sometimes, and come to think of it maybe this is what Jack was trying to get at about Reese, advanced beings have to be dealt with the same way Jack had dealt with Reese. Sometimes you have to kill them, sometimes no matter how much potential they have, their potential for incredible evil is more. Their survival means almost certain catastrophe. When Jack killed Reese, Daniel had leaned over the Replicator-creating android’s body and in his grief called his best friend a stupid son of a bitch. Daniel believed so much that they could counter the Replicator threat with friendship, Reese’s friendship, but that had wrong and he experienced firsthand how wrong when he was killed by a Replicator version of his good friend Samantha Carter, Gemini. He’s ultimately come to terms with Jack’s choice. Daniel had come to terms with it so much that he personally advocated Jack’s same belief when they’d dealt with the clone Khalek, a man who was both Anubis’ creation, son, and Anubis himself, father. You have to kill them before they can kill anyone else.

 

 

Sheppard aims at the pod, but notices that he’s the only one. He looks over at Kenmore, she seems frozen in a moment of time. Staring down at the pod. Staring down at the sleeping face of the striking white and lavender-haired woman inside. A dancer’s lithe body, but the voluptuousness to insinuate exotic dancer. Youth, stunning vitality. Seductivity. Wavy hair so curly it’s naturally sectioned itself into almost dreadlock like chunks… the same way Ursula’s hair does when she doesn’t bun it up… So that’s where she gets it from?

“Kenmore,” he says her name.

She doesn’t respond. What else did she inherit from this woman or her sisters?

He watches her eyes. They’re focused. Not intense, searching. He gives her the time she needs. She’s gone, distant again. More memories? He can’t tell this time whether or not these ones are good, bad, or both. It’s only a few more moments of waiting before she snaps herself out of her reverie and takes aim at the pod as well, she nods.

“Let’s do this,” Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore agrees with him.

“We better do this quick. We’ve got ten seconds left,” McKay’s radio voice announces.

“Alright,” Sheppard braces, “In three, two, one.”

The six of them open fire at the pods. Their lead bullets and bright orange energy blasts shatter and burn holes through the glass. Slamming into the women’s bodies within. Their pale milky smooth bodies yanking this way and that. Jerked around by every piece of ammunition. Spurts of blood flecking, painting the pods’ interior. After a handful of seconds it’s all done.

 

 

Rodney hurriedly rechecks the pods’ status on the computer.

“That did it,” he confirms, “We got to them in enough time that they never fully regained consciousness. They won’t be able to heal themselves either, there wasn’t enough of the mental component re-established to allow for it. And the computer’s showing so much damage done to the pods that there’s not enough power getting into them to keep them going. They’re dead. All three of them.”

Everyone breathes a sigh of relief, somewhat…  Rodney’s got something else on his computer screen.

“The Fomorians and their flying monkeys are still fighting the villagers. I’ve lowered the shielding and it looks like that energy creature went further into the facility.”

“He would,” Daniel says, “If the War Witches have been taken out of the picture, then he simply slides in to fill the void.”

“‘He’? How do you know it’s a ‘he’,” Rodney questions. Where are these people coming up with this stuff?

“History,” the archeologist answers; McKay rolls his eyes, oh please like that’s a real answer, and Daniel goes on, “The Worm God, not goddess please note that Doctor McKay, or the Evil Eye as he was sometimes referred to as, lived in the inner sanctum of Balor’s Palace of Ebony. In a room that was said to be a realm that lied both in this world and the next.”

Rodney looks up from the computer, alarmed, “’The next.’ What ‘next’?”

 

 

Ignoring the back and forth of McKay and Jackson, Sheppard leans over to Kenmore.

“You okay,” he asks quietly enough for the radio feed not to pick up.

“She was family. She was a cousin of sorts. A consort of Nuada in his delirium.”

“I’m sorry,” Sheppard offers, he knows now how much this Nuada means to her.

“I’m not so sure I am,” she meets his eyes. He gauges what he sees there, some sort of cold, fiery confidence. Her brown eyes are unflinching, maybe unapologetic. Yet he sees in them sorrow that it had to come to this. He sees in her eyes every tough decision he’s ever had to make in this galaxy, things they don’t train you for…

“McKay, figure a way out for us,” John orders.

They can hear Rodney working on the computer console, “Got it,” he announces shortly.

That was a cinch. “Okay, let’s get out of here,” Sheppard calls.

He and Kenmore turn and head away from the pod… they hear clicking sounds coming from behind them. Sheppard and Kenmore stop at once; Sheppard’s jaw clenches, Rodney said that the damn things were out of juice, that the women couldn’t heal themselves anymore even if they wanted to, then why the hell are the damn things clicking?!… they slowly turn… and look back at the clicking stasis pod.

A small hidden compartment has slid out of the stasis pod’s base. The ¼-inch thick, clear crystalline plate is holding a silver gauntlet balanced lengthwise on it. The gauntlet seems to be silver or at least it looks like it’s made of silver with fine, far shinier strands of silver and gold wiring woven over its surface in the forms of delicately intricate Celtic knot designs swirling over and under and paralleling each other. There is a small paper punch-sized chip of ruby on the back the main forearm part of the gauntlet near its top and there’s a smaller piece of gauntlet, a rectangular-shaped piece, embedded with a large teardrop-shaped ruby surrounded by angles of thicker gold wiring with accents of the silver wiring. Equally as thick latticework of the silver wiring connects the rectangle to the rest of the gauntlet. It’s a spectacular representation of craftsmanship. It truly is a piece of art. For more than a moment, Ursula’s heart stops beating. She feels the sudden hollowing in her chest and can’t breathe. She feels her veins, her entire body, warble. Her, her, her heart, her fam-family. Ursula tries but she can’t breathe. She holds herself in check, restraining the tremoring, and forcing herself to think. Her breathing returns. Shallow, but rhythmic and focused.

Sheppard and Kenmore stare at it, weighing the pros and cons of the term ‘booby trap’. They come to a mutual decision at the same time and walk back over to the pod.

“Did anyone else’s pod give them a surprise present,” Sheppard asks over the radio.

 

 

On the thresholds of their stasis rooms, the other four freeze. Oh that’s not good, in all their years, that is never good. The other four mission members twist on the balls of their feet and look back at their stasis pods.

“No,” Rodney and Daniel report at the same time. Their disturbed voices ironically harmonizing.

 

 

“Well ours did,” Sheppard reaches out and picks the exquisite gauntlet up off its artist’s pallet. If anything’s going to blast him, Kenmore’ll shoot it and if it’s like the Evil Eye, Kenmore can touch it, so he figures he’s covered. Suddenly that nasty little voice, that obnoxious goddamn thing that’s been so silent for a long enough while that he thought he’d finally gotten rid of it suddenly echoes in the back of his mind, making it’s all too familiar loop: … guinea pig

Shut up. I don’t think of her that way anymore.

It loops again… do you?… another loop… have you really put that behind you?…

Yes I have. Now shut up.

Another goddamn loop, slithering past the forefront of his mind…I’m still here…

John’s eyes flicker to Kenmore, analyzing her as she analyzes the gauntlet in his hands in awe and wonder and on the brink of incredible emotion. In the fraction of a second he catches her lower lip quiver and then steel itself at what she’s looking at. The last time he saw her lip give it was in the horror of recounting, reliving her husband’s death. John had held her then, been a warm rock for her to lean against, to cry against, to grieve against. They bonded in a way… and yet ‘I’m still here’. How? How can that be?…  His eyes return to the treasure he’s holding.

With the gauntlet in his hands, nothing happen. The voice goes back into silent mode and he and Kenmore step away from the pod with their pretty new trinket. The Lieutenant carefully reaches out and touches her fingertips lightly against the cool surface of the Silver Arm. The filigree starts glowing gold despite the silver and there’s the sound of a soothing hum like an ‘ohm’ that permeates his entire body. Edges of his tense muscles loosen ever so slightly, hinting at the possibility of the best massage ever. The mythical gauntlet hadn’t activated for Sheppard, but at least it’s getting its motor running for Kenmore.

“It recognizes more than just the Ancient gene,” she says, her voice utterly fascinated, “it recognizes a specific bloodline. His bloodline. My bloodline.”

Sheppard looks at her again, but Kenmore keeps her eyes on the glowing and humming piece of history. He hopes her pride in at least this part of being half-Ancient holds out. They could use that.

“What did you find,” Daniel’s voice comes over the radio link.

“The Silver Arm,” Ursula answers.

 

 

Daniel’s shoulders droop. To say he wished he was there with them would be an understatement. It’s things like this that he dreamed about his entire and he’s done many of them. He’s touched a pyramid of Giza on another planet. He’s touched Thor’s Hammer, broke it actually. He’s seen Thor’s Chariot in the sky. He’s even seen the famed sword Excalibur in action in the hands of Cameron Mitchell. Daniel has done many things, touched many myths and legends and he wants to touch more. To see more. He bucks himself up, forcing a tight smile. Although he’s not there to see it and feel it, that doesn’t negate that they’ve actually found it. They’ve actually found the Silver Arm.

“You said it recognized you, your bloodline, how,” Daniel Jackson asks. Ever the inquisitive scholar.

“Sheppard picked it up, but it didn’t activate until I touched it.”

Daniel nods at the answer over his earpiece. Makes sense. Lieutenant Colonel Sheppard may have the Ancient gene, but it’s her DNA that actually makes the gauntlet work…  Oh he’d love to see it. This particular item has been a matter of Irish historical importance for centuries and here it is, they’ve found it. Ursula found it. How fitting.

“Okay, so you’ve activated it. What is it doing now?”

“Humming,” Ursula answers again.

Daniel’s brows furrow, but before he can go on, Teyla says exactly what’s on his mind, “Did you not say that the Hy-Brasilians used sound-based technology?”

Daniel nods, “Yes, yes I did.”

“So what does this Arm do,” Ronon’s gruff voice issues from the radio link.

“It was a healing device. It connected Nuada’s hand back on after it got cut off,” comes Kenmore’s reply.

“Urs is right. It was also reported to have been given to him in the Other World during his delirium,” Daniel adds.

 

 

Ursula nods, but purses her lips so tightly together they practically disappear. Sheppard can’t let a display like that slide.

“What is it,” he asks knowing full well he’s talking more than loud enough for the radio link to catch it all.

Kenmore eyes him. Biting her lower lip awkwardly. If she weren’t hiding something that is so blatantly making her think twice, he’d think it was kind of cute how fidgety she’s acting.

“I, I know how it works…  Exactly how it works…  To the detail.”

 

 

Daniel starts, “Uh, what?” Did he hear that right?

 

 

Sheppard is thinking the same thing.

“What details?” He asks in the same tone of voice in which he all too often speaks the name ‘Rodney’ warningly. Letting his voice rise in pitch at the end in order to let whichever one, Rodney or now Kenmore, know that they have a very limited ETA of testing his temper before he snaps at them. A very short ETA.

She bites her lower lip again, looking anxious. You know that really is cute. “Like…,” she begins slowly, God she really doesn’t want to have to do this, “it’s an old family secret. Passed down from one heir to another. To whoever has the Ancient gene apparently.”

Sheppard keeps eyeing her, if he holds the look up long enough, she’ll break. Nope, can’t let you wiggle out of this one. You can squirm all you want, you just can’t squirm out of it.

“What details,” he orders.

She winces. Squeezing her eyes shut. Then blurts it out a mile a minute. “It works best when the patient is naked, like a newborn. Starlight gathers around the wound, each point of light massing over it. The stars will start to quiver. The four elements and ice mix to make crystals so fine and tiny that they’re like white sand from the stars. They form the new limb or heal the wound from pure light, purest silver. Then a beam of crimson flame embeds itself into the silver making it pulse with life. Then a flash of blue lightning coils around the patient’s whole body and fuses the silver with a burst of radiant energy. And after that the starlight falls away and the patient is as good as new.” She opens a single eye to peer at him.

Sheppard is staring at her. From his slightly tilting head, his brow for once is only a hint of furrowed. His whole face looks all at once taut and frozen in a moment of looseness and his eyes focus solely on the ‘What the hell’-moment he’s just witnessed. Reflecting his brow line, his eyes are ever so slightly narrowed with the moment’s question in them. Kenmore winces before him again, squeezing her opened eye shut again, and this time shrinking her body down like a child who’s about to get the biggest scolding of her life, bracing for the audible impact.

But John isn’t going to scold her. In fact…

“That, that, that’s really detailed,” he commends while nodding at her, his chin pressing flat to push his mouth into an attempt at a smile.

She opens both eyes and starts nodding emphatically, but there’s no such thing as a smile on her face. Her facial expression went from wincing to looking forlorn like a puppy that got caught messing up the house when its owners came back from wherever they went. He wonders why, it’s not like he yelled at her, until she says hopelessly, “My mother’s going to haunt me till the day I die and then she’s going to ride my dead ass for the rest of eternity.”

Sheppard nods, understanding. Ouch.

“Really? That’s all you have to say? ‘Really detailed?!” Sheppard and Kenmore roll their eyes at McKay’s exclaiming ranting in their ears.

 

 

“It’s a play-by-play! Does she have a manual? Seriously is she reading that from one of the computers in your room,” Rodney demands.

He gets silence in return and scoffs, looking around his and Ronon’s room. How was he supposed to do anything about their situation when Lieutenant I-Make-Strange-Crap-Work keeps finding the manuals to said strange crap and doesn’t tell anybody about it until Sheppard orders her to? Yes he is a genius, but it’s not like he’s psychic!

“We’ve seen that lightning coil engulfing a person thing before,” Ronon says out of nowhere. Remaining calm in the presence of McKay’s complaining.

Rodney looks at him, not getting it for a moment then… all of a sudden the Canadian astrophysicist starts snapping his fingers rapidly.

“He’s right,” Rodney announces, “The Ascension Machine.”

 

 

Daniel looks over at Teyla, “The what?”

Teyla’s face quirks and her mouth moves. She is not exactly sure where to start in reference to that particular occasion. Whether to begin with the medical emergency that followed Rodney’s encounter with the device in which he proclaimed himself, not for the first time, that he was a dead man or after that occurrence when they returned from a mission covering another team in a firefight in which Rodney declared that he had been the one to jam the enemy’s weapons… with his mind. Or perhaps later, when they landed, in which he recounted his beliefs about jamming the enemy’s weapons to both teams as well as Elizabeth and proved his point by levitating Doctor Carson Beckett into the air several feet off of the jumper bay’s floor… with his mind. Or after that how Rodney could hear everyone’s thoughts… became even more incredibly intelligent than he already was at that time… how his ever growing intelligence threatened his life to the point where he started being nice to everyone… how he had healed Radek from death with only the power of his mind and his hands… healed Ronon of his torturous wounds at the hands of the Wraith… how he had engaged in the Athosian Tea Ceremony with Teyla in honor of her father’s death… Teyla shakes her head lightly as the corners of her lips curve upwards in a polite demur smile, she does not know where to begin.

 

 

Kenmore looks at Sheppard, squinting at him then raising a quirked left eyebrow. Her ‘What the Hell?!’ look amping up the possibly cute factor just a little bit further by how utterly comical and genuinely unattractive she’s looks with that expression on her face.

“You have an Ascension Machine,” both Daniel and Ursula say in unison to their companions.

 

 

Teyla switches easily to nodding with a kind and relieved smile. Grateful that that answer at least she can give him with certain clarity.

 

 

Sheppard eventually nods, “Yeah.”

Kenmore thinks about it a moment… then, “Why?”

Good question, Sheppard starts nodding again, and he doesn’t have an answer and he hopes if he keeps nodding long enough that one will come to him.

“It was the Ancients,” Rodney volunteers.

Sheppard’s nodding turns more vigorous, “Yeah, it was them.” See, all he had to do was keep nodding and eventually an answer came.

Kenmore looks at him funny.

Sheppard looks back at her, What?

 

 

Rodney continues on, “I accidentally activated it in Atlantis when we were investigating the systems the returning Ancients had activated after their short stay in the city courtesy of the Replicators. When I touched it, there was a flash of blue lightning that coiled around my body. I don’t recall feeling a burst of radiation, but that would explain the alterations that started happening to my body in order to speed up the Ascension process.”

Rodney looks around his and Ronon’s room again. His blue eyes tracing over the wall paneling that in Atlantis would normally be rust red and decorated with raised details of geometric shapes in a matte silver, but here are brilliant, antiseptic white and still decorated with matte silver. The computer consoles, designed like the multi-tiered keyboard of a pipe organ and nicknamed ‘piano’ consoles by the Expedition, are matte silver finished like the walls’ details rather than the familiar rust red again like back in Atlantis; the clear glass operating ‘keys’ of the computer’s keyboard are the usual though. The walls, well, wall considering that the room is round, seem to glow. He can’t tell whether or not that’s because the walls—wall is actually lit from behind all the way around or if it’s because the white of it is so brilliant in all the relative darkness or dark colors they’ve been around so far that it just appears to be a source of light all its own. His eyes continue traveling the space around him. Down the walls to the non-matte finish silver, but still not shiny silver. Polished, buffed and polished. Then over to the downright gorgeous woman shot to hell in the glass stasis pod stationed in the middle of the room on a small, three-inch thick raised platform of buffed silver. He has to say it, “I think it’s safe to say that these women may have been the ones that personally created that machine and they used some of their knowledge to help create this Silver Arm device.”

“It’s an arm,” Daniel says over the radio.

“Yes, it’s an arm. We got that already. It’s why we’re here. Would you please keep up with the rest of the class, Daniel.”

“No, I mean it’s a device that fits on your arm in order to be used.”

Rodney’s about to comment on how slow the archeologist is when he gets what Jackson’s getting and Rodney starts another round of finger-snapping, “Goa’uld healing devices.”

He can practically hear Daniel nodding over the radio link, “We know that the Goa’uld were scavengers, they took the Stargate network and made it their own. We know the sarcophagi were developed from an Ancient device—“

“That cube thingy.”

There’s an audible sigh, “Yes,” Daniel corroborates in a flat tone of voice, “Telchak’s Fountain of Youth device, the cube thingy.”

“A device so powerful that rather than heal humans it messed them up.”

“Devastated their minds and bodies,” Daniel adds onto Rodney’s thought in his regular voice.

“So where does that leave us,” Ronon asks. As far as he can tell, all the scientists’ chitchat added up to was nothing useful.

“The Silver Arm could be the original device that the Goa’uld healing devices are based off of. They’re handheld,” Daniel offers.

“Handheld is your only idea,” Ronon criticizes.

“No, but it’s a start,” Daniel justifies his beliefs, not for the first time in his life let alone his career, “This healing device combines elements from what you guys’ describe of this Ascension Machine as well as the Fountain of Youth device and the Goa’uld healing device as well as requiring it to be Ancient gene activated and not just Ancient gene activated, but a very specific genealogy of Ancient genes.”

There’s a moment of silence to let what Daniel said sink in.

“So what else does this Silver Arm do,” Ronon asks.

“Crom-Crúach,” Kenmore answers, but there’s something in her voice, something to her voice.

 

 

John looks over at the Lieutenant, he heard it too. The numbness that sounds like it’s born out of resolve.

“What are you resolving to do,” he asks and the question actually manages to surprise her.

She looks at him, her whole face ease and also shock. He really has caught her off-guard with that one. Strange thing though, she doesn’t look like she seems to mind that and John likes knowing that she can be caught off-guard every once in awhile, that her whole Lone Wolf routine didn’t always work as well as she thinks it did. John just hopes that none of the Wraith will be able to catch her off-guard like that on a mission.

“I, I, I,” she stammers, “was thinking that I have to go after the Evil Eye. He can’t be left unchecked. Someone has to control him.”

“That’s not you, Ursula,” Daniel’s voice startles Sheppard; it’s abrupt, loud, and commanding, so unlike Daniel, “The only person that controlled the Evil Eye was Balor and he was prophesied to die at the hands of his grandson, Lugh the Il-Dana, which he did on Earth.”

“But Lugh married into the family and led the Tuatha Dé Danann as leader of the Shi. And if what we’ve learned here is to be believed, then I’m the only one with any sort of a tie to him here. I’m the only one that can do this. I’m the only one that’s got the right bloodline.”

“But you’re not of his bloodline, you’re of Nuada’s.”

“I’m of both! He became family. That was enough for us then, it’s enough now.”

Silence. Uncomfortable and stark. Exactly the same it had been after the flare up about the exposure of the Stargate Program.

John can hear Jackson trying to calm himself down at one of the other ends of the connection. He can see the archeologist in his mind’s eye look away from Teyla, look towards the door to their room. Maybe pinch the tip of his nose between his thumb tip and the side of his pointer finger as a useless means of wiping his nose, something he’s seen Jackson do more than once before when he’s so stressed about a situation that he can’t speak for a moment but he can move. John hears the man sniff a little, confirming his mental imagery.

“No, it’s not and you know it,” Daniel reprimands sternly. Sheppard guesses taking those few moments to calm himself down really hadn’t worked. Either that or what Kenmore’s purposing to do pushes Jackson to the max and he isn’t taking his friend’s stubbornness anymore.

“I’m all they’ve got Daniel.” Her voice soft, almost pleading. “And you know it.”

“We’ve got more than just you,” Ronon snaps defensively over the radio link.

“She wasn’t talking about you people,” Daniel bites back.

Another silence.

Ursula waits for her old dear friend’s decision. Maybe she’ll decide to take his advice or maybe she won’t, but she’ll allow him to have his say first, she owes him that much.

Then it comes. Daniel finally sighs, but it’s not exactly a sigh of defeat, “The Silver Arm was always written about as a healing device, a medical device, not a weapon, Ursula. That was Lugh’s Spear of Light.”

“So where’s that,” Ronon barks. One tail after another after another. Going in circles. One device here, dud. Another device there, dud. Now another!

“Wherever Crom-Crúach is. Balor would never let something like him go unguarded. I think it’s a measure that Crúach even came out to us and tried to make a play for us.” Sheppard hopes Jackson can hear it in her voice, the Lieutenant’s got her game face on.

“And what the Light has laid claimed to the Darkness cannot touch,” Daniel agrees. If they were in the same room, he would have seen his old friend smile at the words her mother often spoke to her coming out of his mouth. If they were in the same room, she would see him smiling fondly at the thought too. Dammit Lynn, you just keep haunting people don’t you? Living up to the banshee, huh?

“What stupid saying is that,” Rodney interjects.

“One that saved our asses, Rodney,” Sheppard reprimands. He may not exactly like Kenmore, but that was a handy little tidbit of information courtesy of her mother and the Lieutenant’s particular brand of Ancient DNA that’s proven useful here.

“Oh please, you cannot be agreeing with the little psycho about going after that energy creature, are you?”

Suddenly it is Teyla that is the voice of reason and putting a thought in the discussion that hadn’t occurred to Sheppard but had to Kenmore, living up to her mother’s teachings about the vow her heritage had made about the land of Ireland and its people, “We cannot let such a creature roam free, Rodney. If these Ancient sisters were controlling the Fomorians, what is to say that they were not controlling this Evil Eye as well? The villagers must be—“

“Protected,” Sheppard finishes for her while eyeing Kenmore.

The young woman standing next to him’s rich brown eyes locked with his.

“Will this thing start going after villagers if we just leave now,” he asks her.

“The Fomor won’t stop fighting unless their leader is dead. Now, here they don’t have the leader I grew up with, they have these ones,” she gestures down at Morrigan in the stasis pod, “The Badb Catha were on our side during the Second Battle of Moy Tura. Nemain and Macha were killed by the Evil Eye in hideous ways during that battle and Morrigan fled at the sight of it. They shouldn’t be controlling the Fomor at all. All three should not be here. Their power was broken.

“But they are here and they are—were controlling the Fomorians. But the Fomor are still attacking, aren’t they,” John nods, no one’s come into the complex to stumble upon them so yeah, that would be his guess too, “I think that’s because Balor was one of their last leaders and he controlled the Evil Eye. Without Indech ruling them on the ground, Balor was all they had left, and now there’s no Balor… but there is still the Eye.”

“But Rodney discovered that the Badb were controlling the Fomor here,” comes Daniel’s voice.

“What if that’s the thing,” Kenmore begins, “What if instead of killing the sisters, like it was said he did on Earth, well at least two of them, what if he took them hostage? What if he used them? They’ve been kept separated from each other, but only just barely. It’s like keeping prisoners dependent on each other in adjacent cells in order to keep them working for you because they know each other are okay.”

Silence greets her theory.

“We have to stop Crom-Crúach. That will stop the Fomor. That will bring peace back to the groups here,” Kenmore tells them.

Sheppard eyes her for a long time. She’s a rousing orator, he’ll give her that, but it’s also the look in her eyes. Ever since he first met her, he’s startled himself with how much he notices her eyes. And now he knows why. She is in her eyes. The faith of her beliefs… the confidence of it all… the dedication to that…  It’s all there. Every time she looks at a situation, every time she looks at a person, it is all there. You can either go along with her or not, but you are never going to stop her, she won’t let you. At least for this moment, this mission, he didn’t want to stop her. There are villagers and his people being God knows what out there by these giant Fomor people and their flying genetically engineered monsters. Those things have already downed a jumper and they haven’t felt any more shockwaves from the villagers using the henge weapon and he highly doubts they’re deep enough in the mountain to have not felt it if it was used again, which meant that it was probably only good for the one shot.

“Rodney, can you use any of the computers where you are to track this Crom thing? The lifesigns detector maybe,” the Colonel asks as he keeps his eyes locked with the Lieutenant’s.

 

 

For a moment Rodney isn’t sure he heard that right, did he? No…yes, holy crap, yes he did. Oh my God! The insanity is catching.

“I’m not looking,” Rodney puts, slams his metaphorical, “I’m putting my foot down. I’m standing right where I am,” crossing his arms over his chest, and not budging one damn inch. “If you,” Sheppard, “want to go chasing giant energy creatures with Lieutenant Brat, then you can go by yourself. Doctor Rodney McKay is done.”

And judging by how still and unmoving Ronon is, the great big Satedan feels the same way. Neither of them are going to follow her lead even if Sheppard is. They’re tired of this.

“I’ve got a detector too,” Sheppard’s voice warns over their earpieces.

“Still not budging,” Rodney answers.

Ronon nods while standing stock still across from McKay, him too. Sheppard’s lost his edge with his Satedan friend.

“I have a lifesigns detector as well,” Teyla’s gentle voice suddenly comes over their earpieces.

Ronon and Rodney stare at each other. Okay, that might actually change things for them. It’s one thing for Sheppard to go along, but it’s another if Teyla does. She hasn’t developed this sudden bond with the Lieutenant so they are giving her decision more credence than Sheppard’s, something they’d never thought they’d ever do, ever have to do, but…

“I can try,” Rodney gives in to Teyla.

Ronon escorts him back over to the computer console he’d used before, the Satedan keeping his focus on the stasis pod as they go. Just in case. The Wraith popped back up after being all shot up, why not evil Ancient hot chicks?

Rodney starts working on the computer… but quickly discovers that it really isn’t meant for what he’s trying to get it to do. He moves over to another computer, brings it online… and it doesn’t do what he needs it to do. He goes on to another. Nope, not that one either. Another. No. Another. Still no. Another, last chance… and nope. He turns to face Ronon.

“The computers are a no-go,” he reaches up and pulls out his detector from his vest, Please be useful

It’s not.

Damn it, the detector’s still useless,” he puts it back in its pocket, “Anyone else got any other bright ideas because this genius is out of them?”

 

 

Daniel and Teyla look around their room, ignoring the computers seeing as how Rodney has now proven they’re not of any use, they need not waste any of their time on them. That really only leaves the stasis pods themselves. They glance at each other, exchanging the thought, then they slowly approach the destroyed containment unit. Doctor Daniel Jackson’s face crinkles in analytical thought at it, if the Colonel and Ursula’s stasis pod gave them the Silver Arm, what if the other pods give up things too? Maybe not another Silver Arm, there was reportedly only ever one Silver Arm, but what about a map or something else? Like Lugh the Shining One’s Spear of Light maybe? Conceivably it might be meant to be used in tandem with the Silver Arm the way a shield and sword are. Combat during this time period at least in Earth’s history did utilize a pairing like that especially among elite warrior sects and the Tuatha Dé Danann definitely count as an elite warrior sect, at least they do to him. Or another reliquary maybe? Another Ark of the Covenant, only this one left behind and not taken to the Milky Way? U’dana said Merlin was from the village, his library is still there for God’s sake, it’s not exactly out of the realm of possibility.

Teyla aims at the pod again as a precaution as Daniel kneels down beside the pod; he’s careful to keep one of his hands on his own P-90 as he reaches out to the damaged glass construct’s base. His fingertips feeling along the cool smooth metal for any indications of loose paneling or hidden touchpads or iconography of any sort. Any indicators. He goes down one length, nothing. He goes down another and touches upon some bumps and groves, but as far as he and his years of experience can tell it, those are merely blemishes due to the metallurgy process. Nothing more, nothing else. He moves his fingers on, blindly caressing like he’s reading a book written in Brail. Suddenly he feels heat. It’s not actually hot per say, but it’s definitely warm. He leans down and looks at where his fingertips are touching more closely.

At first there doesn’t appear to be anything there, but when he turns his head a little to get a better angle of view, the light catches the ever so hairline seam. Daniel pauses, what if it requires Ancient DNA to open? He may have been an Ascended Being once, but he isn’t now and hasn’t been for awhile. And even when he was, he wasn’t actually Ancient nor one of their descendants. That would be Jack… and Urs. But as quickly as the idea came, he pushes it aside, not letting it go but not letting it take up residence in the foreground of his mind. He pushes on the seam. It splits open at the pressure and out slides a single crystal slat with circuitry embedded in it on a clear plate, like it’s being presented to he and Teyla. Daniel takes the Ancient control crystal and holds it up in the light of the bright room to examine it better.

Looks familiar enough, simple enough. It measures two and a half inches long by three-quarters of an inch wide by a quarter of an inch thick to his well-honed archeologist’s eyes, even with eyeglasses. His blue eyes look past their prize to Teyla Emmagan’s waiting face, asking the question: Any ideas?

She shakes her head at him, a swift movement that causes her amber hair to bounce in its swinging back and forth. It reminds him of Vala’s black pigtails when she shakes her head, although with far less bounce. A part of him hollows for a moment, he’s missing her. His eyes return to the crystal slat.

Miss Emmagan does not have a clue as to what to do with the control crystal, but she does agree with the Doctor that their discovery does not particularly look like an incendiary device or anything else harmful or strange.

“We have found an Ancient computer crystal concealed in a secret compartment in the base of the stasis pod,” she announces for the rest to hear.

 

 

Ronon and Rodney look at each other again. What the—? Then they look over at their pod. Ronon walks over to it, kneels down, and starts feeling around the un-shot up metal base. His harsh pushes quickly find the secret compartment. Its seam splits open and he retrieves a circuitry-containing Ancient crystal slat from the extended plate. He holds it up to look it over better.

“We’ve got one too,” he announces over the radio link.

 

 

Sheppard and Kenmore look down at their pod again. Okay, they’re two for two. Maybe it’s really three for three—or actually maybe it’s more like three for three Part B. Sheppard kneels down and starts feeling around the pod’s metal base as the Lieutenant reports to the others.

“Hold it a sec, Sheppard’s checking ours for extra prizes.”

John feels blindly and fast, pressing his face right up against the bullet hole-pocked glass of the stasis pod. He can smell the acrid combination of spent ammunition, fresh spilt blood, and stale processed air. It’s an uncomfortably familiar scent… but he’s not about to let memories of Afghanistan get a sudden foothold in his mind right now especially with his own worst thoughts lingering in there somewhere. He’ll deal with the ghosts of pre-Atlantis military life later, probably tonight in bed. He’ll fall asleep then suddenly come up swinging, sweating, and panting and trying like hell to blink away the nightmare—nightmares. The lingerings of PTSD. Terrific, something to look forward to, yea.

Suddenly his fingers find purchase on the tiniest of peculiarities. He presses and the other hidden compartment splits open and another crystalline plate slips out. He angles himself for a look down and picks up the waiting crystal slat. He holds it up, looking it over as the other’s had as well; curiosity seems to be a common trait among SGC members. The Ancient control crystal looks common enough. His eyes flit to Kenmore.

“We’ve got it now,” Kenmore informs the radio link. Waiting for further instruction or other discoveries from the others.

 

 

Rodney looks back at the computers lining his and Ronon’s room again. Scanning each console. There was something on one of them that had nagged at him, bugged him. At first he’d thought that it might be why the computer wouldn’t let him do what he wanted it to do because of course the stupid computer wasn’t all there but now there might be a reason for that. Aha, there it is. Rodney hurries over to the third console he had gone to in order to try and track the energy creature.

“Okay, everyone find the computer console in your room that’s missing a crystal. It should seem obvious that it’s missing one or at least it was obvious to me that it was missing one.” He reaches out his hand behind him to Ronon as he hears people moving around in their rooms over the radio, quickly doing what he’s told them to do. Good.

Ronon brings the crystal over to his friend and puts it in Rodney’s waiting hand.

“Got it,” Sheppard announces.

“I have it as well,” comes Teyla’s much more formal confirmation.

“Okay,” Rodney begins, “Put the control crystal you just got from the stasis pods in the hole. But wait till I say, I’ll count this down that way if this was meant to be done in unison by all three sisters, we’re not totally screwed.”

Ronon shrugs. Sounds like a good plan to him. He hopes it does to the others too. There’s silence. Hopefully that means ‘yes’.

Rodney poises his crystal slat over the console’s hole, “Okay, in three, two, one.”

He puts it in.

Nothing happens. To say he’s disappointed would be a severe understatement of how relieved he is. He cannot even begin to count out how many times they have encountered worse things happening when they’ve done something like that than nothing. Thank God this is not one—industrial lock sounds start coming from the pod’s immediate area. Oh, but that does sound so very much like the sort of worse they’ve met up with before when they’ve done something like this. Rodney and Ronon immediately turn around and look at the pod, Ronon’s weapon snapping to the pod.

It sounds like something huge is moving there, but they aren’t seeing it. They keep staring but it doesn’t look like anything’s happening there. Retaking up his P-90, Rodney and Ronon move around the stasis unit. Semi-circling it. Rodney lagging a couple of steps behind Ronon like usual. Their weapons up, aimed, and ready for the unexpected… the men pause, the floor. The floor on the pod’s other side, the side that had been out of their view from their place at the third console, is moving. A wedge of it is sinking down beneath its original level. As they keep watching, the wedge continues to sink a smaller slit at a time into a descending spiral staircase. Elegant design, effectively hidden. Ronon and Rodney exchange looks. It’s much less ‘Do we go down there?’ and much more ‘Do you want to go first?’ Then familiar egg-shaped Ancient light sconces come on on the walls down inside the revealed hidden descending passageway.

“Shall we go down,” the two men hear Doctor Jackson ask over the still open radio link, obviously to Teyla.

Silently Rodney thanks God that he and Ronon aren’t the only ones who’ve opened up the very real possibility of Pandora’s box.

“We are. Meet you down there,” Sheppard answers.

They can hear the Lieutenant Colonel and Lieutenant’s movements over the radio. The rustling of their BDUs is crisp and clear. He knew the sounds of Sheppard’s clothing well, the bare whispering of well worn fabric, not starched. It sounds like Kenmore’s taking the lead though, her clothes are starched. Already Ronon Dex knows the sounds of her well tended to, well cared for battle dress uniform. He barely fights off the urge to roll his eyes, instead gripping his blaster tightly in his hand again. No twirl. No flourish. Just intense certain pressure.

“Okay,” Daniel replies, “You kids have fun.”

There’s the sound of a snort, maybe. Then there’s the increasing sound of static and, of course, more sounds of movements. Ronon knows the delicate sounds of fabric moving as gently and surely as a dancer’s refined movements and clumsy sounding movements, Teyla and Jackson are heading down their room’s staircase.

Ronon’s black eyes shift to Rodney, the scientist was already looking at him.

“Rock, Paper, Scissors for who goes first,” the Canadian asks.

Ronon starts heading down the narrow stairs.

“Okay, so no then.” Rodney follows him.

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