All around the planet and the city of Atlantis the day has ended. Sunset’s burnt umbers, deep golds, and brilliant oranges have quickly been engulfed by the freshly brewed black of night clearly taking hold of the planet. The change in exterior lighting affecting Atlantis as well as the ocean. The darkness punctuated by the pinpricks of city lights like a private cluster of amazingly beautiful stars. Everything is calm and peaceful and serene. Like usual.
The Stargate activates and its glow from the stabilized event horizon casts stark pale light all over the Gateroom’s rust-colored marble and silver banded flooring, it’s quickly dissipated by the thorough saturation of the overhead ceiling lights and wall sconces. Ladon Radim saunters up to the familiar mode of transportation with Richard Woolsey beside him and a security detail of still fully armed and willing marines behind them. With only a handful of feet between them and the active gate, the two leaders come to a natural mutual stop and face each other.
“I hope that the good relations between our two peoples will continue,” Radim tells Woolsey. Preempting the unwritten protocol of the resident leader speaking the usual goodbyes, whatever the lines may be, before the guest leader does.
“I agree,” Woolsey smiles, accepting the breach.
The two men shake hands and while they do…
Richard speaks quietly and discreetly, sending a message just for the two of them, “Mister Radim, I believe you need to clean your house. For both our people’s sakes.”
Ladon, just as quietly and discreetly, informs back, “You should consider doing the same, Mister Woolsey.”
Finally this is the comment that actually throws Woolsey. Let alone is Radim proud to see it, but he’s also proud to feel it in the sudden laxity in Woolsey’s normally equally as firm as his own grip. It’s the first proof he’s gotten that this man, this new leader of Atlantis, isn’t as implacable as he seemed, as put together and controlled as he seemed. Like Ladon himself. This man is fallible. As capable of being disturbed by something he had not previously known as Ladon himself. And like Ladon, the man didn’t let any sign of that disruption slip to any of his subordinates. Indeed, this Mister Richard Woolsey is very much like Ladon Radim. True leaders, the pair of them.
As soon as Ladon’s feet touch the soil of his homeworld again, he will re-enforce his attentions to the Atlantis Expedition with renewed enthusiasm. If the Lanteans now have a leader comparable to himself, he’ll have to be on his highest alert. He’ll also have to resume testing himself. That was always one of his favorite past times that he hadn’t been indulging in for quite some time: playing complicated board games with himself. If memory serves him correctly, he believes that the Lanteans have a similar game. Either Colonel Sheppard or Doctor McKay or perhaps even Doctor Weir mentioned it once, they call the game chess. With that and a final handshake, Ladon Radim turns and leaves.
The Stargate shuts down with its usual strange sound that wasn’t unlike the sound of a zipper zipping being distorted through some sort of sound machine.
Woolsey takes a few moments to think about Radim’s words. What did the man know about Atlantis’ relations that he didn’t? What had the Genii heard? What missions had let little things slip that might indicate even bigger problems? Was there a threat coming from within, much closer than Earth?… Or maybe the Genii leader is playing his customary mind games. Richard turns on his heels and signals the marine detail to return to their usual posts. For his part, Richard Woolsey starts heading back to the welcoming staircase that leads back up to the Gateroom’s upper level and the Operations Center half a level that or the rest of the city depending on which way you chose to go when you got to the staircase’s landing.
Suddenly the gate reactivates.
Woolsey freezes. His head immediately shoots up to Ops.
Chuck isn’t standing in view on the balcony, but he shouts from where he sits at his station, “Incoming wormhole!” Then the pause for the confirmation if any, “It’s Colonel Sheppard’s I.D.C.!”
Woolsey holds the breath in his chest as he and the detail rush back to the embarkation floor. Two hours late. Like usual.
“Let them in,” he orders as he rushes back to the very spot he said good-bye to Ladon Radim from seconds earlier.
Another few seconds later, Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard and his team and their fifth member, Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore, return to Atlantis’ Gateroom through the Stargate to the sounds of individual slurps from their mud-soaked boot soles. They aren’t wet, so it must have been from their trekking on the planet. Sheppard walks forward, leading his team right up to Woolsey.
As he walks forward, Sheppard’s cool grey-green eyes dart from side to side, blatantly taking in the sight of the security detail still sticking around behind the Expedition leader. John also takes note of Woolsey’s grim and on edge facial expression. The gate shuts down behind Atlantis’ flagship gate team.
“Expecting company,” Sheppard playfully inquires, leaning in to Woolsey a little with his usual swagger before coming to a standstill.
Richard sighs, “No more than usual, Colonel Sheppard. Why did you come back rather than check in?”
This time it’s Sheppard’s turn to sigh, “Well that’s because it was a big, boring bust, Sir.”
Richard’s thoughts are envious as the expecting tension that had kept him on edge while waiting for whatever shoe Sheppard may have had to drop ebbs away from him. If only he’d had the luck of the draw and gotten that easy day this time then he wouldn’t have to record messages for the families of the fallen later. However, it is nice that Sheppard’s team for once hadn’t run into any trouble be it from outside forces or their own rather fragile inside ones. At least it doesn’t look like infighting had won out over the mission, both the Lieutenant and Ronon had mud on their boots not on their bodies. Good sign. Hopeful sign. Moving on.
“Well, Colonel, you can give me your debriefing in my office as soon as you and your team return your gear to its proper locker room locations. Just you, Colonel, I’m sure I won’t need the others to tell me how much of a boring bust it was. Lieutenant Kenmore, you are to report to the jumper bay. Major Lorne is waiting there in Jumper Two for your pilot training. When his evaluation with you is done, tomorrow Colonel Sheppard and the rest of your team will join you in Jumper One, Major Lorne and his team will take over Jumper Two, and your two teams will engage in team jumper exercises for a couple of hours.”
Kenmore looks around at the rest of her team, catching a few of their ‘Huh?’ glances, then her eyes return to Woolsey and she nods, “Sure.” She hadn’t expected Woolsey to say any of that, it looked like neither of the other four had either, but okey-dokey.
Sheppard nods too, acknowledging the orders given to him as well, “Will do.” One-on-one debriefing time, oh yea.
Woolsey nods. At least he’s not getting a battle from anyone on that, that’s another skirmish won today. One of few. His shoulders finally ease up too. Richard Woolsey re-signals the security detail to break up as they had been trying to do before the gate registered an incoming wormhole. And he heads back up the staircase to the Operations Center and his office. God, what a welcoming sight.
Sheppard and his team and Kenmore begin walking out of the gate room while starting to unzip their vests and get out of their gear on their ways to their gender respective locker rooms and whatever’s next for them after that be it a debriefing, flight training in Ancient technology, a tray laden with dinner in the Mess, a quiet peaceful moment with family and a recounting of their day, or a nice long soaking bubble bath in a deep tub or dinner with the girlfriend… or both.