Episode Ten- The Games People Play- Chapter Eight

Chapter Eight

The sky’s so blue it bleeds into the horizon as though the massive planet-covering ocean and the great sky are one single expanse. A few puffs of clouds, light but thick like slightly pulled apart bits of cotton fluff, decorate the pale blue sky for the only clue really that it’s the sky; albeit the reflections on the undulating currents of the oceans give a good try at carrying on the optical illusion. If only it were that easy, if only all of this were an illusion…

Lieutenant Colonel John Sheppard gazes down at the matte finish of the polished and poured-molded edges of the steely grey naquadah. His grey-green eyes trace every line of the thin, sleek paneling of something akin to dark blue mottled marble, analyzing the pinpricks and dotted lines of LED-like constellation formations seemingly embedded in the blue, and the sky blue frosted glass, thick and sturdy in stripes and chevron shapes all around the monolithic ring, stay quiet and dull. Lifeless. He turns away from the railing of the jutting bit of Operations Center balcony overlooking the vast Gateroom and its embarkation floor below to look at Radek Zelenka.

“You’re telling me you want to use the Stargate as a transporter?” He reconfirms the outlandish proposal more for his own mind’s sake than Zelenka’s.

The Czech scientist is quite serious though and not seeing any problem with his idea, “Yes, Colonel,” he repeats, not for the first time since relaying his idea over the communicator, which had prompted the Colonel, the Lieutenant, and Ronon to come right back to here.

Sheppard knows he should be used to it by now, but he can’t believe his ears. His mind can’t really process the concept it sounds so… so… so…, “Is that even possible?” John’s heard of a concept similar to this from one of SG-1’s old missions and it’s not like they haven’t accidentally stumbled into that similar facet before. He’d thought a botched command decision of his had cost Teyla and Ronon their lives until they discovered that the two had been jumped to a second Stargate on the same planet in mid wormhole transit because of it. But this alteration to that idea… John’s not sure about this and he’s not willing to bet more lives on it. The potential disaster is just too costly, even if it is for Rodney.

Ursula stares at the Stargate from the bank of windows inside the Center then out of the blue says, “The Antarctica gate.”

“What?” Sheppard asks, but she looks over at Radek, dodging Sheppard’s eyes as he looks over at her.

“You’re thinking it’s something like when Jack and Sam accidentally discovered the Antarctica gate, aren’t you?”

“Přesně,” Radek nods, gesturing ta-dah at her with both of his hands, “We do not need to dial another planet, we need only to dial Atlantis.”

“And you’re sure it’ll be like when a planet has two gates on it, the wormhole will just rebound back to this planet?” Kenmore’s brows furrow.

Radek nods all over again.

“But how can we be sure that it will,” John can’t help but keep replaying how scary and iffy things had been when that accident had happened, he’d even turned in his wings to Elizabeth as a sign of his resignation in lieu of a written statement. He’s sure Radek came up with this whole weird and crazy solution by referencing that mission Elizabeth dubbed ‘Casualties of War’.

Radek looks down at the floor, that is the snag he hasn’t quite worked out yet. How to test this? They are running out of time so it is his belief that they must use people to test his hypothesis. But which people? Should they draw straws? Or perhaps make it an order? How do you order people to their deaths? While he is confident in the Colonel’s abilities and Mister Woolsey’s now that his command of Atlantis of lasted this long, both have ordered men to their deaths with hesitation, but—

“Phasers,” Kenmore suddenly snaps her fingers.

“What,” Ronon says.

“The landing party all had phasers to defend themselves with,” she reaches over and snatches the sci-fi gun off of the wide black waistband of a nearby marine, “We send a phaser through the Stargate and someone can watch the holodeck’s doorway and see if it goes through successfully. If it doesn’t, then we know we have to come up with another way of getting through that shield. If it does, then we have our answer.”

“Now that’s a plan,” John points at her.

“Radek,” Woolsey turns.

“It is as safe an option as any we have.”

“Do it,” the Expedition Commander orders.

“Ronon and I’ll watch to make sure it goes through,” Sheppard starts to head out with Ronon.

“You can’t,” Ursula tries to stop them.

“Wanna bet,” Ronon challenges as the two men head for the entrance.

“She does not mean it like that, Ronon,” Radek explains, “She means that if it works, then we will need you both here to go through the Stargate as soon as possible for Rodney’s sake. Remember time is running out.”

For a moment there’s a sense of shame that he had to be reminded of his friend in the Infirmary and the countdown of twenty-four hours they had been given, less than that now… and shame that someone thought he had to be reminded of that. With Ronon’s silence as well, John reluctantly leads the two of them back into the room. As he does, he feels a crawl of aggravation and frustration at yet again having to wait here. Having to stand around and do nothing. How was this supposed to be entertaining? How was this supposed to be fun? What was with Rodney liking this episode? John’s never been good at leaving the stuff that needed to get done to other people and waiting around for them to do it. Never. Neither has Ronon. John had a severe reprimand from Afghanistan that came with a transfer to McMurdo to illustrate that part of his personality and Ronon has, well, Ronon for his illustration. It’s also one of the reasons he’d passed on the job offer of promotion to Expedition Commander after Elizabeth’s death when the military came to him with the offer of throwing his name onto the nominees’ list. He’d never told anybody about that, never told Rodney about it when the man was absolutely convinced that McKay’s personal scientific know-how made him an undeniable shoe-in for the vacant position. If McKay only knew. Sitting or walking or standing around doing nothing other than waiting for teams to get back from being on missions or sending out teams to go cover those that were in danger was the major reason he’d told the SGC and General O’Neill that he wasn’t interested in being the Expedition’s Commander despite their pressing him to take the job. If he took the job, he wouldn’t be able to go out on missions and look for Elizabeth. He’d been sure she’d survived… and she had… in a way. Even when she’d shown up last year as a disembodied life essence then took on the body of a Replicator that looked nothing like her original self, he still lobbied Woolsey to allow ‘Elizabeth’ to stay in Atlantis with them, with him, if she wished to. He’d planned on convincing her to stick around, but matters changed that… And he lost her again, she’s floating out there somewhere in space, frozen and surrounded by other hibernating Replicators.

“Rad—,” Richard begins but the Czech scientist gestures over at Teyla and Woolsey switches his attention accordingly, “Teyla, send Major Lorne’s team to the holoroom to observe instead and remind them to remain outside the room and not to touch the doorway’s iris shield.”

Teyla nods and begins working, looking even more like the beautiful and able Lieutenant Nyota Uhura as she presses buttons and listens to her redesigned earpiece. Quickly and astutely relaying everything with a strong confident voice. Grace and poise incarnate.

Ursula walks over to the front of Zelenka’s console, his eyes rise to gaze out over the top brim of his glasses to meet her eyes.

“You know what you have to do now,” she tells him.

It’s not a question, it’s a statement of fact. Plain, simple fact. Sheppard, Ronon, Teyla, and Woolsey look over at the pair. Sheppard and Ronon with evident suspicion; it’s not that they think Radek would be involved in anything that would seriously endanger Rodney any further, it’s that they’re getting tired of being so in the dark about pretty much everything going on. They know from the fast pace of everything, the ticking clock, that the people in running it all from Operations don’t necessarily waste time with exposition. Sometimes, but not all the time. For two men so used to being in control, so used to having just as much information or more than those in the Command Center, this whole crisis is driving them nuts. Like when it was pretty much up to Rodney entirely to solve the problem of a universe-jumping Daedalus. Ronon got so frustrated with being not in control and fed up with not knowing how to fire the Daedalus’ weapons that he started pounding his fists on the ship’s console. John admits he wasn’t exactly thrilled with leaving everything up to Rodney, but he trusted Rodney enough to have faith in the man to pull them through pretty much alone—Is that it? I don’t trust Radek as much as I do Rodney?

Radek Zelenka nods at the Lieutenant with a heavy sigh. He knew it was coming ever since he saw on his screen that the city had designated him the character of Enterprise Chief Engineer Montgomery ‘Scotty’ Scott. This had to be coming… but he had been hoping that if he remained up here long enough, remained at this station and being one of the key helpers in Operations long enough, that someone else would step in and do it for him. But that is not so. He is sure that Carson has done many things already concerning the delicate and extremely uncomfortable matter, but now it is Radek’s turn to get involved. Honestly, he wished he did not have to. He is not sure he can do it, he has never been good at things like this. Crises are Rodney’s forte, not his; although he has had his shining moments here and there over the years, but not like this.

Teyla and Ronon begin to wonder if what the two are talking about might be anything to do with the episode, some unfortunate requirement that the city has dictated for Radek to do via it’s giving him a certain role to play. If so, then what?

“I know, I was trying to put it off,” he says quietly, confirming their ruminations.

“That’s not a help,” Ursula says so softly and gently John can hear why Atlantis ordained her some sort of unnamed confidante for the personnel here.

“I know. It’s just…”

She starts nodding, “I understand. Trust me, I do.”

He smiles weakly at her, ruefully. Their eyes meeting again and she offers him a supportively regretful smile back. Yes, he can see it. She does understand. A part of him wonders if the look in her eyes is the same look she had had when staring down at her husband’s coffin with her tiny son in her arms. Another part of him remembers some of the mission files he had secretly read when the young Lieutenant first arrived here, both some of her SG-team files as well as her military files from her service time in Iraq as well as Afghanistan, bet Colonel Sheppard does not know about some of those wartime experiences. Radek nods again. Sighs again. Then stands up. He tugs the bottom hem of his red engineering uniform shirt down to a straighter, crisper, and more comfortable fit. Yet another ruse, he knows, a pathetic gambit to buy him a few more seconds time before he has to do what he does not want to. He turns to Woolsey.

“I am going to the Infirmary to help Carson,” Radek Zelenka announces.

“Is there a need for that,” Woolsey asks, not sure what the exchange had been mysteriously about and not liking anything that has Radek Zelenka lagging on his duties and in fact doing everything he can to intentionally put his responsibilities off. It’s not like the Czech scientist, especially when lives are in danger. It must be something pretty, Richard doesn’t even want to think of all the—Wait, is he going to operate on Rodney with Carson? That doesn’t sound right. Richard Woolsey knows he doesn’t know STAR TREK very well and he hasn’t got the faintest clue who Radek is supposed to be in all this, but he does know that the city is trying it’s hardest to keep people in their fields of expertise at least and Radek is not medical, nowhere near it. He’s science.

“Yes, Mister Woolsey, there is,” Zelenka confirms like a death knell.

He steps down from the upper deck and starts to head for the short staircase that leads out of Ops and into the rest of the city.

“Why,” the Satedan asks as the Czech reaches the threshold.

“I have to help Rodney’s body keep functioning. For his sake.”

Silence follows as Woolsey gestures for another technician to take Radek’s place at the rededicated science station as Sheppard and the rest of his team watch Zelenka leave.

“You know what he’s talking about?” Ronon looks over at Kenmore.

She nods.

“Tell us.”

“It’s the same problem as before, Rodney’s body is running out of time.”

“What does that have to do with Radek, he’s not medical,” Sheppard asks.

She hesitates then, “It’s not…,” Her mind and her voice catch and she lets the breath finish in an awkwardly failing sigh. This is difficult for her to talk about. Of course it’s always been difficult to figure out how to tell anyone stuff like this. She wracks her mind for the first reference—it surges to her mental forefront almost immediately. A well lit room in a trailer in the middle of a desert. A briefing calling for a group of four who are normally pilots and co-pilots to suddenly become Infantrymen. Patrol the perimeter with four regular Infantrymen in two teams of four. Take up abnormal duties out of the blue. She’d taken a sniper shot to the heart that time because one of the Infantrymen decided it’d be great to treat the perimeter patrol like free time to film a home movie. Thank God, she’d modified her ‘body armor’ with some pieces of precut sheet steel that her mother had sent in a recent care package from home. There was one hell of a bruise. Took three days to heal. That’s how long her arm spent in a sling with gentle ribbing from her friends and not so gentle ribbing from a bunch of guys who’d thought that carrying a weapon in combat required a penis and a jockstrap and also apparently being a total racist asshole to pretty much everyone and everything.

The technician Woolsey requisitioned, a young Asian-American with a fauxhawk, jumps in for her, “Colonel Sheppard, it’s not anything nasty or like that. It’s just, it’s a friend, Sir, and no wants to see this happen to a friend and no one wants to be the person who has to hands-on see it happen to them either.”

Okay, Sheppard nods, he understands that. He feels that. But that still doesn’t answer his question.

“You have grown quite close to Rodney,” Teyla says before Sheppard can open his mouth again and demand an answer to what’s Radek helping Carson do with Rodney’s body.

Ursula turns and looks at the woman. More than a little shocked at the spot on calculation. How’d she know that? “Not super close, but—“

Teyla starts smiling, it’s so bright and warm that Ursula realizes it’s okay for her to smile too.

“Not close. Then what?” Comes the gruff question. Of course, Dex would jump in.

“They are friends, Ronon. Like how he is with Radek. They share common interests and enjoy each other’s company in them.”

He looks at his friend as she casually goes back to her coordinating responsibilities.

“When did that happen,” he asks.

“When we sparred in the woods and he kicked my ass with a stick.”

“So someone has to kick your ass—“

“No,” Kenmore interrupts him with a coy smile, “they just have to know the right techniques.”

He eyes her. A part of him responding to her playfulness. Intrigued by it. There’s a glitter in the mahogany depths of her eyes that entices him. Something that reminds him of the refreshing, eye-opening scent of peppermint.

“Mister Woolsey,” Teyla speaks up again with one hand on some of the buttons of her station and her other hand’s fingertips keeping her communications receiver lodged firmly in her ear, “Major Lorne reports that he and his team are in front of the holoroom. They are ready and waiting.”

Richard nods and moves over to stand by Chuck. Operations’ personnel’s attentions switch to the Stargate.

“Dial Atlantis,” Woolsey orders.

Gate Technician Chuck Campbell nods and reaches over to start dialing… then hesitates with his fingers over the wedge-shaped, constellation marked buttons. Unnerved, his eyes dart from symbol to symbol a tad out of reach for the moment. He analyzes each one. Swallows even though his mouth is dry.

“What is it,” Woolsey asks him.

Chuck laughs a little, embarrassed, but not too much that he can’t admit the problem, “I, I don’t know the gate address for Atlantis, Sir.”

They all look at him.

“I’ve never had to dial us before, Sir,” he defends, “I’ve always had to dial other planets, never us before. I’m not exactly sure what buttons to press.”

Smiles and an actual snicker or two go around the room. Despite the gravity of the situation with Rodney, it’s the little thing that’s broken the stress. They can all pretty well imagine how Rodney would have reacted to Chuck saying that. Decisive accusations of sheer unadulterated frustration leveled specifically at the Stargate Technician or mind blown sputtering as he struggles to rein in his emotions and process his thoughts on he’s surrounded by stupid people. The Rodney McKay Reign of Terror… who’d ever thought that any of them would miss that. Somehow, without any of them realizing it overtly, Doctor Rodney McKay going on a warpath all over the place was their unifying force. They could unite over McKay’s hyper exaggerated blustering and condemnation as not what any of them need in the crisis right now, but somehow the drama continuously put McKay on his A-game, at his best. And the pseudo-brevity always put them at ease knowing that McKay was at his best under the highest stress. When Rodney McKay blew a fuse, they were sure to win whatever fight they were in…

It’s scary now to think that the fuse blowing is all in their minds. The win is uncertain… when they need it most.

Sheppard has mercy on the young man’s embarrassment and walks over, “It’s these,” he starts dialing for the gate technician.

The Stargate’s chevrons ka-chunk into place and the kawoosh of an actively established wormhole flourishes to life then settles back in on itself at the center of the gate. It’s amazing to see it. Sheppard’s shocked to see that there actually is an established wormhole, waiting and ready for anybody to step through it and take the wormhole’s ride. It technically shouldn’t be happening, but the Ancient city itself is making it possible. Unbelievably possible. Richard Woolsey walks over to the main balcony overlooking the gate. His eyes find the marine standing by down on the embarkation floor with a phaser in his hand.

“Send it through,” he orders with a nod of his semi-bald head.

The astute marine nods back, steps over to the waiting Stargate, and tosses the phaser through the stilled yet undulating event horizon.

The waiting begins.

Reflexively Teyla presses her unusual earpiece deeper into her ear as if that will help it achieve better reception. The beautiful Athosian leader listens intently for the first hints of coming information— A smile breaks across her face, a breath of relief escapes her smooth delicate lips.

“Mister Woolsey,” she announces, “Major Lorne says that he and all the members of his team have seen the phaser come through. As far as they can tell, it has arrived perfectly intact.”

Sheppard immediately turns to Woolsey. Woolsey nods. Sheppard and Ronon bolt for the exit, rushing down the Ancient script-decorated stairs to the waiting Stargate.

“Remember the landing party consisted of Kirk, Scotty, Chekov, and two security officers,” Kenmore reminds, hurrying over to Operation’s threshold to yell down after the men.

“I’m the Kirk, Ronon counts as one of the security. Who does the city say is Scotty and who’s Chekov?” Sheppard calls back to her without looking, all of his attention is zoned in on the waiting Stargate and its holding wormhole connection. They’re so near. His eyes focus on the rippling event horizon. He can taste how close they are.

“Zelenka’s Scotty and that’s a good thing. He knows this episode like McKay and I do.” Now as for Chekov, Ursula turns to Radek’s replacement technician. The tech checks his console.

“The city says Major Lorne is Ensign Chekov,” the technician reports.

Navigation as well as Security, with Evan’s naturally born, genetically inherited Ancient abilities as being one of the few people in the city that can fly Atlantis the city-ship as well as an apt pilot of the puddle jumpers and being the leader of Atlantis’ number two team, that sounds about right for him to be labeled as the closest personnel they have to Pavel Chekov. Even the bit about becoming a science officer on board the USS Reliant, Lorne started his time out in the Stargate Program with a full embrace of his geology degree, a science degree.

Woolsey nods again, “Very well, Lieu—Teyla, tell Major Lorne to leave his team to continue observing what they see through the holoroom doorway. He is to report to the Stargate immediately, tell him he’s Chekov. Then recall Radek to the Gateroom, I’m sure he’ll know why.”

Teyla nods and gets right on it, hoping that Radek has finished whatever help he is supposed to be administering to Rodney and Carson. Within a few minutes, Major Evan Lorne reports to the Gateroom. But Zelenka is another matter.

Her eyes widen dramatically at her friend’s words. How can that be? So long? So very, very long? Teyla takes a moment to collect herself. If she has this poor a reaction to the information, then John will have, what is the expression her Milky Way friends often use, a fit? She clears her throat quietly and as discreetly as she possibly can then announces, “Doctor Zelenka will be at least…,” she trails off. She had thought she had an appropriate way to this say this when she first opened her mouth, but now that the words are actually coming out of her mouth, she is not so sure that they are the right ones. Eyes are starting to find her from around the room and her silence is becoming decidedly noticeable, “four hours more,” she finishes.

There are gasps. Perhaps I should not have emphasized the length of time.

John freezes then shakes his head. Nope, not good enough. He turns sharply. “Tell him to get his ass down here,” Sheppard barks up to Operations from the embarkation floor.

Teyla relays the message far more politely but with no less urgency. She turns away from attentive eyes, bowing her head for more privacy.

“Radek, Rodney is running out of time,” she hisses at him, “Four hours is, is—“

The explanation she gets in return causes her a moment’s pause again before she passes it on, her eyes find Woolsey’s.

“Radek says he cannot come here any sooner. What he is doing is both very important and very delicate and he cannot hand it over to anyone else.”

The Expedition Leader’s eyes go to Lieutenant Kenmore. Her demeanor is earnest, but her nod is confidently emphatic. Woolsey goes to the balcony, “Colonel Sheppard, your group will have to wait. Whatever he’s doing, Radek has to do it and he can’t move any faster.”

“And, trust me, you don’t want him to,” Kenmore adds in an unusually conservative tone of voice from her.

Teyla’s dark eyes dart to the young woman maintaining her distance from her fellow female team member. Woolsey errs on the Lieutenant’s knowledgeable sense of caution.

Sheppard opens his mouth to object, but Woolsey holds his hand up to stop him before he starts, “No, Colonel. You and your men wait. End of discussion.”

The Administrator quickly turns away from the balcony and the men in the Gateroom down below. No yells of dissent follow after him as he retreats further into Operations. Sheppard is probably too seething to speak. If waiting these minutes is driving him up the walls of Atlantis and pushing his temper to its edge, then of course waiting hours would render him practically catatonic. Either way it’s a few moments of restraint from the Colonel. Richard comes to stand for a moment beside the Ancient chair, sensing all eyes on him. While he’s always been good at waiting, it’s a professional trait in attorneys especially those with the extensive courtroom experience he has, but he’s never been good at waiting with an audience watching him. It’s an uncomfortable mental phantom of being bullied for most of his life. Still, he keeps his head down and his hands clasped behind his back. Countering one phantom with another, the silhouette he’d assume in courtroom’s during questioning when he was deciding how to proceed next under the eyes of a jury or a judge and the other council members of the case he was pleading as well as the witness awaiting his next probing question.

Then as now, Richard Woolsey knows what’s at stake and he knows and feels the emotions roiling down on that Gateroom floor and in this room just as perceptively as he did when the witness fidgeted or squirmed or glared him down from the raised seat beside an even higher sitting judge. Every day is a courtroom battle in one way or another here. He no longer wears his fine, tailored suits, but his Atlantis uniform is very well fitting on him, he much prefers the new Carter-style ones to the more athletically designed Weir-style ones, and the running of the city is very much like his life back at his old law firm. Bizarrely enough, he’s found a second far more comforting home in a lost mythical city residing on a vast ocean on an alien planet in the extremely foreign Pegasus Galaxy. In a way, it is as though his entire life’s plan has been training him for this position. Yet he, he… Woolsey looks over at 1st Lieutenant Ursula Kenmore.

“Lieutenant?” He asks.

She faces him.

“What am I supposed to do?” He asks. Filing papers, reading reports, writing reports, the day-to-day business of his normal routine seems out of place to pursue at this moment.

A breath raises and lowers her chest. Relief. That hadn’t been anything like she’d expected him to say. In fact, she hadn’t expected that question at all. There’re so many other things going on right now, she’d been anticipating to be asked to tell them what Radek’s doing with Carson and Rodney and she still wasn’t sure how she was going to explain that one. Better to answer this question than that one, “Well, whenever Captain Kirk is forced to wait, he usually sits in his command chair and keeps order from there.”

Woolsey looks over at the chair, at least no paperwork that might give the appearance that he doesn’t care about Doctor McKay’s predicament… or would it convey the idea that Woolsey is so confident in their ability to restore the good Doctor’s brain to his body that he has no need to worry or be on edge like the rest of them? He not sure about the answer to that one.

Kenmore sees the consternation and irritation at having to wait in his body and other thoughts that she can’t readily read but can easily guess that their swirling around in his mind, wreaking havoc.

“Look, in truth, Zelenka should have been down there helping Doctor Beckett the moment we found Rodney in the Infirmary, but he didn’t. He’s lost at least two hours time. In the episode, it takes Scotty and Doctor McCoy over fifteen and a half hours to do what needs to be done for Spock.”

Woolsey’s head snaps to her. His jaw hanging loose in his mouth.

Ursula nods at him, “Exactly. Be thankful, he’s finally gotten over there.”

“Why was he stalling? That’s not like Radek, especially in a crisis.”

She takes another big breath. He’s not the only one, she’s been trying to dodge explaining this part all along too. And she’ll dodge it again. “You’ll see,” she says simply and hopes he’ll leave it at that.

Richard Woolsey turns back to the incredible chair beside him. He reaches out and his fingertips caress its headrest again. It’s responds to his touch just like last time. Illuminating in that beautiful icy light blue that it does so very much like the oceanic color of the chevrons of the Stargate along with a darker oceanic blue like the depths of the vastness of the ocean waters themselves as the light reaches the headrest. So delicate in its impression of power. Richard Woolsey takes his command chair yet again and once more it feels as comfortable and empowering as it did before. He casually turns the Ancient chair smoothly and soundlessly to face the Lieutenant and notices her faint smile at how comfortable he is being Captain Kirk in the Big Chair.

“Question,” her demeanor suddenly becomes serious at his prompting, “If it took Scotty and Doctor McCoy over fifteen and a half hours in the episode, then how is it only taking Radek and Carson about four hours?”

“I don’t know really. I really don’t. All I can think of is that Scotty and McCoy had absolutely no idea what they were dealing with, none whatsoever. But Radek does, he can help guide Doctor Beckett specifically to where this needs to be. You know, it is easier to get to a certain point when you know exactly what that point is let alone where it is. And most likely Atlantis herself has given them some sort of a considerable helping hand. The technology here is different than the Enterprise’s and there might be something in the Ancient database that might have proved to be of some use or at least get them along the way way further than starting with absolutely nothing. Not to mention that the ATA capability of everything is a considerably game changer from the technology of Starfleet in the series.”

Woolsey nods, feeling some measure of comfort in the knowledge that the Lieutenant’s explanation is somewhat true along with the coolness of the armrests beneath his palms. It’s amazing how a ‘cool head’ so to speak always gives a sense of calm and confidence. And it’s not as though they haven’t encountered Ancient technology before that had some sort of a stabilization and hibernation factor to its use. Like the stasis units. One kept an alternate universe version of Elizabeth Weir alive for over ten thousand years. Another kept General Jack O’Neill alive in the Antarctica outpost when SG-1 had no other way of contacting the Asgard to help get the Ancient repository’s considerable information out of his mind before it killed him again. Another also kept the clone of Carson Beckett alive when Doctor Jennifer Keller nor anyone else, including Carson’s clone himself, could figure out a way of keeping him alive without Wraith Hybrid Michael Kenmore’s serum. Atlantis helping Doctor McKay, the Ancient Touch Activation sensitivities of the Ancient technology towards someone’s DNA, it all makes plausible sense to him and in lieu of no other optional answers, he’ll take her word for it. No other Trekkie personnel here seems to dispute her theory.

Something else occurs to him. “The city has given us all roles to play, Lieutenant, who are you supposed to be?”

She looks down at her light blue Starfleet uniform. Her hands touching it. It’s so different than the Command gold one she’d sewn for herself so many years ago, so different without its Command department patch. Ursula reaches up and touches the new gold and black patch and its circular atom-like symbol. Science. She wasn’t ever all that interested in the scientific fields of Starfleet, Mister Spock notwithstanding. Yes, she does realize that science is an inherent part of space exploration, but when she costume-played Star Trek, any of the series, she was never in any of the Science Department designated roles. Never envisioned herself in the powder blue uniform. Command Gold or Engineering Red. Those were what this little girl’s dreams were made of. She looks up at Woolsey again, her strides take her away from the threshold opening, and carries her over to the Captain’s Chair.

“I’m not sure, but there must have been a generic blue skirt in the episode and I guess I’m her,” she shrugs. When this is all over, she’ll have to recheck the episode for that.

He nods and pats the armrests a few times, getting more comfortable in his temporary seat and situation. He turns the chair back to facing the bank of windows looking out over the Gateroom. A subtle sigh escapes him, it’s going to be a long wait of… he moves his hand, gently caressing the armrest yet again and suddenly stops as a sense of time abruptly comes to him. A bit of a smile tugs at one of the corners of his mouth, he wonders if this is what it’s truly like to interact with Ancient technology on that mental level that comes so easily to Colonel Sheppard and Doctor Beckett and Major Lorne. They’ll have to see how Lieutenant Kenmore does in the chair, she’s been reticent to go anywhere near the Chair Room since that mission he’d ordained ‘The Ruins’. And no wonder, he doesn’t blame her or chide her for her fears about the chair somehow torturing her again even without the hideous addition to it. Some things are not easy to forget. Not for the first time Richard wonders whether it’s a matter of thinking and the chair thinks with you or is it talking with your mind with the chair’s mind talks back to you like an internal conversation? Even doing it himself, he’s not sure which. He’ll have to ask all three men what they think it is, what they feel it is. For all Richard knows, it could be a matter of both concepts. Think and it thinks with you and it also talks with your mind. They have three hours and fifteen minutes more before Radek shows up. Plenty of time for Richard to come to his own conclusions on the matter. Plenty.

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