It won’t be long before sunset starts to close in on the planet’s horizon. As if sensing it, parts of the Ancient city are already choosing between turning their internal lights on or letting the natural light through her many windows keep control.
Well lit by his lamps and scones throughout the room, Richard Woolsey sits in his office behind his desk, writing something down on his opened notebook. His eyes flicker for a moment over to the chrome mesh waste basket beside his desk. He’d asked one of the Operations gophers to bring it to him whenever they could and of course the young man had brought it in less than five minutes after he’d asked for it. Its small metal grating currently encompassing several crushed up balls of lined yellow paper. Even from his distance above it, he can see the blue ink of his penmanship scrawled in between some of its lines. He sighs again.
This was like how it had been for him back during law school. Prepping for the Bar Exam. Desperately hoping that his attention to detail during his internship with what would eventually become the law firm he’d join as a fully fledged attorney would prove to be exactly that, an internship that would lead to fulltime employment… then, perhaps, partnership. It hadn’t resulted in partnership, but still. Cramming. Stressing. Making sure everything was perfect. Double-checking to make sure everything was perfect. Every line dotted or crossed with every ‘p’ and ‘q’ in its place such as the case necessitated. Yes, this was going to be just like taking the Bar Exam and feeling once again in the face of people who would become his peers, who he hoped would become his peers, that he desperately wanted them to accept him. Old anxieties come back to haunt his gut and demeanor. And it’s showing up in his writing too. He sighs again, but before he can put pen to paper again, his clear glass door slides open and in walks Rob and Brad, his Chiefs of Staff. The meeting with Ladon Radim must be over. Richard puts his pen down on top of the pad of yellow paper as the men remain standing in front of his desk.
“Well,” Atlantis’ permanent Commander asks, even though he feels he pretty well knows their answer.
“We’ve confirmed everything he’s said,” Brad Wright tells him.
That surprises Richard, but he holds the sentiment at bay for the moment, “To say I’m surprised he was so forthcoming would be an understatement.”
“That’s because apparently he’s in the crosshairs more than we are,” Brad tells him.
And that’s why you hold back the surprise because there’s always another surprise right behind it called the catch, Richard Woolsey smiles wistfully, “That figures as much.”
Rob Cooper goes on, “We’ve got more, but we’re waiting until Colonel Caldwell and Doctor Zelenka get here too.”
Woolsey nods. He’d been expecting something like that too when neither of his Chiefs of Staff had taken a seat. There’s just some things that either you personally don’t want to repeat more than once or there’s too little time to waste in repeating yourself to multiple people. Either way, he’s learned to rely on either one as their justification and trust in it.
“There’s another thing… Radim says the radiation poisoning from their nuclear research is starting to affect their food supply.”
Richard sits up a little more, “So that’s why the Genii are going after farmers.”
Rob nods, “Yes, Sir. Brad and I discussed it on the way over here and—“
Richard knows the man too well and knows exactly why he’d brought it up in the first place, “We’ll start working on a way to leave fruit baskets in front of their doors without letting them know it’s really us, Robert.”
Rob smiles at him, keeping his sigh of relief internal, “Exactly, Sir.”
All those ‘Sirs’, Woolsey knows what the formality means. Richard is going to have to act after this little debriefing and act quickly. The short brown hairs ringing his head prickle his nerve endings with the idea and all its implications. His shoulder muscles begin to tighten.
Colonel Caldwell and Doctor Zelenka enter the office. The glass door closes behind them. Unlike Robert and Bradley, the two men take up the guest seating in front of Richard’s desk. As they do so, Rob and Brad take that as their cue to move off to the room’s left side and sit down on the white sofa against the left side wall of the small office.
“Did Radim order it,” Colonel Steven Caldwell wastes no time getting down to the key information. Again.
Rob speaks up from the couch, “No, it wasn’t his Genii, Colonel. It’s what remains of Kolya’s.”
Caldwell looks over at him, “Are we sure it’s them?”
Robert C. Cooper nods without batting an eye in the three-quarters profile face of the Colonel’s condemnation, “Misters DeLuise, McCullough, and Gero spent the entire time we were talking to him confirming everything with all of the outside sources and reporting at our disposal. It has all been confirmed. It wasn’t him or any of his people. Ladon Radim is telling the truth.”
Caldwell returns his eyes to Woolsey, “So what’s next?”
No wonder so many found his bluntness so abrasive. However, a legal profession makes abrasion easy to deal with especially when it comes from the other side of the table. Richard leans forward a little, feigning getting comfortable in his chair in order to draw Caldwell’s attention entirely back to him. Richard succeeds and that allows any of his Chiefs to continue informing without Caldwell’s brusque interruptions or military-trained-into-him predilections towards physical intimidation.
Brad leads the briefing in the right direction, “We sent along preliminary information to Doctor Zelenka’s group.”
Radek takes over, “We believe we have a plan. It will require two maybe three naquadah generators, the use of the Daedalus’ Asgard plasma beam weapons, and a form of anti-virus that we have been working on ever since we first discovered the Genii computer virus in the first place.”
Sounds good, Richard has faith in Radek’s judgment and abilities. So that was what the holdup was, what the formality and wait till the others get here meant. No time to waste repeating themselves. Get it all out in one swoop and get it done. But there’s just one hang up and a big one at that.
“Do we have the ability to spare that many generators? That’s almost half of our supply,” Richard objects. It’s not as though he’s looking for guarantees, but his personal experience in situations right beside Radek aside, he’s going to need more assurances than just faith in Radek’s judgment and abilities to agree to these terms. If they lost any or all of those generators, it wouldn’t be like they had easy access to getting any extras. The Daedalus’ own on-ship supply was the least it could possibly cope with in case of emergencies, so no borrowing from there, and with the restricted ship movements between Atlantis and Earth now being implemented, getting new generators from Earth would take more time than ever since he’s taken command of the Atlantis Expedition. The drain on their ZPM would also make dialing Earth for those spare generators a null prospect as well.
Suddenly the office’s glass door slides open for Martin Gero. He walks in without losing any of the sure-footed pace with which he’d crossed the short walkway between the Command Center and here with. But he doesn’t go to Woolsey right away. Instead the Gate Team Secretary walks over to Robert and hands him a piece of paper. Rob reads it then looks up and nods at Martin. He hands the paper back to the young man and the youngest senior staffer takes the paper back. Finally he walks over to the desk and passes it on to his Expedition Leader. The Commander reads the paper and it’s information hits him like a brick. He’d thought Martin’s stony face had been due to the urgency to act and, in a way, Richard was right.
“Colonel Caldwell, Doctor Zelenka, your plan is a go,” he orders, “Rush everything and head out as soon as possible to the source planet.”
Radek doesn’t buy into that quick a decision even though it was the one he’d been hoping for, “What? What is it? What has happened?”
Richard Woolsey looks at the Czech scientist as he folds the paper back up in his hands, “Ladon Radim’s Genii contacts have reported and we have confirmed that the Wraith worshippers on M1W-001 have discovered that their Stargate is no longer active and believe it to be sabotage. They are currently hunting our team down and our team is quickly running out of time.
“On PWW-014, the people believe Kolya’s men have taken direct control of their Stargate and are holding our people as well as Radim’s Genii and the native farmers in the immediate area hostage.
“And on P1W-001,” here is the toughest part of all to report, “the native people panicked when they discovered that they could no longer use their Stargate. They believe it was an action taken by the Wraith to punish them for taking in the Hoffan plague survivors and being friendly with us. They have sacrificed both to appease the Wraith. All of the plague survivors and our people are dead.”
A weighty hush shrouds the room as Radek and Caldwell react. Steven tries hard to maintain the military discipline ingrained into him so well, but his jaw sets hard beneath the skin of his mouth. Radek’s horror is causing the breathing to seize in his chest and his eyes to widen, his mouth’s fallen open and his glasses are in danger of slipping down off his nose. Brad is the only one that keeps a sense of cool calm, he’d read the news over Rob’s shoulder. It was regrettably not any new information to him despite hearing it out loud.
“Like I said, Doctor Zelenka, your plan is a go as soon as you and Colonel Caldwell can get underway.” Richard Woolsey orders.
Immediately Radek and Caldwell jump up and leave Woolsey’s office as Richard tosses the folded piece of paper down into the waste basket beside his desk.