Episode Six- The West Pier- Chapter Nine

Chapter Nine

The City of Atlantis looks thoroughly unfazed from the outside, clean steel lines and beautiful deep blue ocean lapping lazily against the sides of her piers. But on the inside…  Richard Woolsey hurries down one of the darker hallways with one of his Chiefs of Staff, Robert C. Cooper, and two thoroughly armed marines. It’s hard not to forget that he’d taken this very same path, this very same hallway with other people when the life essence of Elizabeth Weir had returned from the death of her body and was creating and taking a new body for herself. A Replicator body. Against the will and safety of everyone in the city. Something, a line no one ever thought she would cross, not their Elizabeth, not the Elizabeth they knew. Not with the tortures she had suffered at the hands of the Replicators, hallucinations, pain, near constant recriminations for past mistakes, haunting her with every decision she’d ever made that disturbed her. But she was desperate. So desperate to have life back, to be some semblance of human again. All four men’s strides are sure even though rushed, harried and dedicated.

“He seems unruffled by anything that’s happened so far, but that’s not exactly strange coming from Ladon Radim. From what we’ve seen of him over the years, he never lets anything show that he doesn’t want to show.”

Richard nods, “I understand. I brushed up on Doctor Weir’s and Colonel Carter’s reports on him while Major Lorne’s team and the Daedalus were getting him.”

Rob nods beside him. There’s a pause as they round the corner and pass the room, the laboratory that the essence of Elizabeth had walked out of in the replicated body of FRAN, a copied body of Rodney McKay’s Friendly Replicator ANdroid. They continue on to the other rooms down in this end of the city and Robert decides to broach the subject.

“I think your strategy here is a sound one especially against Radim. While this is going on, you should consider giving attention to the other issues raised during this morning’s briefing,” his eyes carefully slip to Woolsey to observe the reaction.

Richard’s eyes dip down to the floor ahead of them, but only for a moment, “I’ll take that into consideration, but right now those fives gates and those stranded gate teams take precedence.”

Robert nods. It’s the reaction that he’d been expecting, “We’ll be in the room when you need us.”

Richard nods again and Robert breaks off from their mutual approach, taking a separate hallway that leads back into the main part of the city again while Richard and the ever silent and ever present marines continue on down the extremely under lit hallway with its black scuffed marble floor and patina green, square-paneled walls.

 

 

Windowless, save for the bank of full-length windows a full story overlooking the area, he has no doubts as to who might be watching from above. It’s an observation area for a reason. There wasn’t anyone standing there looking down at him, but he’s sure that there are guards most likely standing just out of his sight, but not theirs. Armed and ready to shoot down through the glass at him trapped in this room if need should arise. There is a large frosted over window off to the side of the room, but he has no doubt that that’s simply a false hope, a lure to escape without a guarantee of it. He won’t give them that need. In one of Atlantis’ quarantine holding rooms, Genii Leader Ladon Radim stands in the middle of the room. Refusing either of the two comfy looking Lantean chairs of grey wood and plush looking pale grey leather. He takes into account the two Atlantis guards standing on either side of the room’s sole door. Another reason he’s refusing the chair and everything else in the room. His eyes continue to observe the room.

Going from the door, a tall geometric rectangular-shape rising from the matte-finished black marble floor tiles and set into a silver frame with similarly shaped geometric wall designs equidistantly placed around the tall circular maroon-colored room. To the overhead and surrounding spotlights of honey colored light giving all the instant impressions of an intense interrogation with the average man’s height layered scones in key positions around the room reduced to little more than ornaments and accompanying mood setters. It’s dark and ominous and signifying subconsciously that there’s more to this place than can initially be revealed; hidden depths. A corner of Ladon’s mouth rises slightly with approval at the hint whether intended to be a clue or not.

With a telltale pneumatic hiss, the dark-colored sole door splits open at its middle and Richard Woolsey enters. His appearance is tight and crisp. The lighting reflects in his eyeglasses, momentarily blocking his brown eyes from sight. His shoes make no sound. His hair, what there is of it, is well groomed. This man in a way is a mirror. Ladon mentally notes that the new leader leaves a further two guards outside as the door closes behind him.

Ladon Radim throws on his best, most ingratiating smile and assumes the mantle of all ease and congeniality, “Mister Richard Woolsey, I don’t think we’ve met, I’m Ladon Radim of the Genii and might I say it’s always nice to enjoy the hospitality of Atlantis.”

Richard doesn’t let Radim’s attempt to throw him by knowing his complete name get to him. If Ladon’s go-to tactic is to not let anything show that he doesn’t want to show and throw people with little tidbits of information, then Richard won’t show his hand either, but he is not going to let a single bit drop. If Radim wants that, he’ll have to give up a lot more information than he’ll get first.

“No, I don’t think we have, Mister Radim,” Woolsey smiles, coming forward with hand extended.

The two men shake hands.

“Please have a seat,” Woolsey offers cordially with a gesture.

Both men take seats. Richard eases his back flush with the back of his chair, taking an air of common conversation like two old business men sitting down to have a chat about the day’s ventures that they might endeavor into together. An informal business luncheon. Richard was used to this from his time back at his old law firm. He sat for depositions or some informal preemptive meeting at a conference table or over drinks at some lush bar or restaurant in an expensive CEO’s playground hotel. What tension had been in his shoulders while heading to this room eases with the familiarity of being in his element. Not something he got to do all that often in Atlantis, he usually was called upon to be more militaristic commander than litigating commander. Richard inhales and exhales softly as he tugs the bottom hem of his zipped closed uniform jacket. His legs cross and he rests his joined hands on his knees. Comfort. Old hat. This is his house, his law firm. His meeting.

Radim, for his part, doesn’t rest back flush with the chair, but he wiggles mildly into the cushioning and looks to take on a posture that seems easy and common enough for him. No crossed legs, his hands are joined and resting between them though. There’s an element of waiting to the man, expectation.

“Is this an interrogation,” Radim asks casually.

Richard is all business as well, “How do you want this to go, hard or easy? And yes, this is an interrogation.”

Ladon finally leans back in his chair, his back flush with it like Woolsey’s. He smiles. A very different sort of posturing than Mister Woolsey, “You have a very different style than Doctor Weir. My condolences on the loss of her by the way, she was an excellent leader and I enjoyed our many encounters over the years since your Expedition’s appearance in our affairs.”

“She was a far better person than I. How do you want this to go,” Richard replies flatly, again not being thrown by the Genii leader’s knowledge and name-dropping. Richard was one of the people who gave Elizabeth Weir the hardest time during her tenure as Atlantis’ leader… and was one of the few in the I.O.A. truly saddened to hear of her passing at the hands of the Replicators. He’d attended her memorial service on Earth, he’d stayed at the back of black clad crowd, but he had attended and paid his respects to the good and honorable former U.N. negotiator’s mother and ex-fiancé Doctor Simon Wallace. In a moment of haunted grief, the man had admitted to Richard that he’d made up a story about meeting someone else while Elizabeth had been away for Atlantis’ first year because he’d thought that she’d respond better to that and it’d be more final to her than him telling her that he just didn’t want to leave Earth. Richard had meant to tell the Replicator version of Elizabeth in FRAN’s body that, but during the crisis of encountering her and the sudden subsequent arrival of her fellow Replicators, he never got around to it… and now there was no chance of that opportunity coming again. Richard went back to demanding the best of this Expedition’s leadership even if he wasn’t the best person to be giving the criticism in the first place when SG-1 team member Colonel Samantha Carter took over. Now he’s the leader and he still demands the best, it’s just he demands it of himself now. And when Elizabeth as life essence without a body then as a life essence in a Replicator’s body showed up in Atlantis last year and told him that she was glad the city was in such good hands, in his hands, Richard felt a wave of relief and personal redemption wash over him. He takes that wave of confidence into hand in the presence of Ladon Radim.

“What exactly is the difference between ‘hard’ and ‘easy’,” Ladon asks. His smile never wavering.

“I’m easy,” Richard answers, “The military leaders of this Expedition are hard.”

Ladon takes the information with a polite nod. “I’ve met both Colonels Caldwell and Sheppard before—“

“Colonel Sheppard isn’t here,” Woolsey interrupts, “It’s Major Lorne.”

Ladon takes the information again with another polite nod and slightly, ever so slightly the amused smile dims, “And I have met Major Lorne before as well. Our history together is personal and Colonel Caldwell is a… gruff man. He reminds me of someone.”

“Who?”

“Commander Acastus Kolya.”

Richard takes that information. It was another try to throw him and an attempt to sow the seeds of doubt and civil unrest. If Kolya could turn, then Caldwell could. The hard and tense feelings between anyone from the city and those who occasionally visited via the Daedalus was no secret to anyone who’s spent any time around the Expedition. It was also no secret inside the city that Colonel Caldwell had wanted Colonel Sheppard’s job if not the full administrative duties of this Expedition. His not taken well by Doctor Weir security and military protocol changes that Caldwell had made during his brief tenure as Sheppard’s fill-in when the flagship team leader had started to mutate into a version of primordial Wraith was notorious. The argument between the two in Caldwell’s office had been heard in the hallway. Doctor Weir’s vehemence in Colonel Sheppard’s defense led to rumors amongst the Expedition members as well as the Daedalus’ crew members that Elizabeth and John might be engaging in an unregulated personal relationship. Although, truth be told, the same people were thinking that John and Teyla were engaging in the same sort of personal relationship back then at the same time as well, so everything got relegated to exactly what they were: rumors. However, the problems between Atlantis and the Daedalus could not be so easily dismissed or disregarded, there was always tension and Colonel Caldwell is indeed incredibly ambitious. But there’s a code of conduct in Earth’s military and, indeed, Colonel Steven Caldwell exemplifies that. He would never go so far as to stage a coup or open rebellion, Earth’s military is very different from the Genii’s.

“In this circumstance,” Radim continues, “I believe I prefer ‘easy’.”

Woolsey nods, “Good. Two hours ago five Stargates in a localized area of the galaxy went dark. They’re offline. Our scientists have traced it back to the initial gate to fail and why it failed. It was due to a computer virus downloaded into that specific gate and spreading to the other four. The computer virus is of Genii creation. Believe me, we do know this. Our scientists are very familiar with Genii computer code ever since we helped you create and deploy your nuclear bombs. I have three gate teams trapped on three of those worlds. What are your terms?”

Ladon is the placating portrait of innocence, “What makes you think it was my Genii?”

Woolsey frowns at him critically, “Are there any others?”

Ladon raises his eyebrows while he maintains his silence.

Richard takes the hint. The former attorney sighs and shifts in his chair, “You’re having dissention in your ranks.”

Ladon Radim actually laughs at this. “There has always been dissention among the ranks of the Genii. How do you think it was possible for me to come to power over my predecessor Cowen?”

Woolsey’s patience is already wearing thin, but he’s absolutely sure that neither Colonels Caldwell or Sheppard or even Major Lorne for that matter would have lasted this calmly this long in the face of Ladon Radim. “Who are they,” he demands.

“Despite Colonel Sheppard’s removal of him, Commander Kolya left many of his constituents behind. You’ve encountered a few of them as have we. The matter of the attempted disposal of Queen Harmony from her throne for one,” Ladon name-drops again.

This time Richard mentally bites at that one. That might actually be plausible. As with the tension between Atlantis and the Daedalus, tension between Radim and Kolya was equally notorious to anyone who’d even heard about the Genii. He’s still apprehensive though and his expression shows it, “That wasn’t you?”

Ladon shakes his head, amused even more than he had been when first smiling, “No, I have no interest in the matters of a twelve year-old girl or her inconsequential people.”

“And yet you know her age?” The former attorney comes back at him easily.

Ladon maintains his amused smile. Not caught in any clever trap.

“I need to know the details of a matter before I consider it to be inconsequential, don’t I,” the Genii answers him.

Woolsey figured the man wouldn’t be tripped up so easily, but he still had to try.

Richard sighs again, “What do you know about the remnants of Commander Kolya’s people as well as the three inhabited planets? I’m sure you know which planets I’m talking about.”

“I do. We detected the five gate failures the same time you did apparently. Believe me, Mister Woolsey, when I tell you that we have interests in two of those planets as much as you do.”

“Which ones?”

“Does that matter to you?”

“It does to my people trapped on those worlds.”

Ladon smiles again. He likes this Mister Richard Woolsey. Atlantis’ new leader is like him.

“What do you want me to tell you,” Ladon Radim asks accommodatingly enough.

“I need you to tell me everything accurately, and I will be crosschecking it.”

Radim sighs and gets even more comfortable in his chair’s cushioning, now crossing his legs and resting his joined hands in his lap. “Where do you want me to begin?”

“You won’t be talking to me,” it’s Richard’s turn to smile. Without amusement but it’s accommodating enough.

That actually surprises the Genii but he covers it up.

“Whom will I be talking to?”

“My senior staff,” Woolsey informs him.

“But you said that Colonel Sheppard, and most likely his team as well, are—“

“Colonel Sheppard and his team are the senior field team of this Expedition, they are not my senior staff.”

Ladon nods. He hadn’t actually known that.

Woolsey stands up. Good. Opponents that could be surprised were his favorite to litigate against in court.

Ladon, without being prompted to, follows suit.

Richard Woolsey turns and heads for the door then realizes he’s walking alone. He stops and looks back at Radim.

“What are you doing,” Richard asks.

“It is customary when a fellow leader leaves a room for—“

Woolsey interrupts him, “You’re leaving the room as well. You will be escorted to the main briefing room where my senior staff is and you will remain in that room talking to them till such a time as they see fit to end the discussion. Then they will talk to me and I will decide whether or not I will talk with you again.”

Ladon’s semi-slicked back, dirty dishwater brown hair flutters slightly as he nods. That excruciatingly irritating smile returns to the Genii leader’s collected face again. This Mister Woolsey really is like mirror of himself, especially with how much he senses the Lantean leader wants to slap the smile off of his face. A reflection. That’s why he keeps the smile and has perfected it so well. If you can push your opponents to such emotion, they will inevitably make a mistake that you can take advantage of to their detriment.

Ladon Radim walks over to Mister Woolsey, Woolsey turns again, and leads Radim and the two guards out of the holding room to be joined up by the other two guards that had been left outside of it. The four marines take up position around Radim and the group walks away as the room’s door closes.

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